Ensuring respectful and equitable partnership with Aboriginal Peoples in all stages of your PiT Count (e.g. planning, leadership, execution, analysis and dissemination of results) should be a key priority. Not only are Aboriginal Peoples significantly overrepresented among homeless populations and disproportionately at risk of becoming homeless, but existing services for Aboriginal Peoples are often overburdened and inadequate.
Homelessness among Aboriginal Peoples is intimately connected with centuries of federal and provincial laws and actions that have harmed Aboriginal Peoples. Many scholars have emphasized the connection between historical and cultural intergenerational trauma and the disproportionate number of indigenous peoples experiencing homelessness. Structural societal factors, such as racial discrimination in the workplace or the housing market, also contribute to higher levels of homelessness among Aboriginal Peoples.
In cities, Aboriginal Peoples are 8 times more likely to experience homelessness than the rest of the general population (Social Planning & Research Council of Hamilton, 2015). Given that Aboriginal Peoples are both overrepresented and underserved – across Canada – Aboriginal Peoples should be involved but more importantly, play a leadership role in any PiT Count. It is to the benefit of the entire community for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups to work collaboratively throughout the process.
Given the diversity of Aboriginal groups throughout Canada, culturally specific and culturally sensitive approaches should be employed to ensure that local practices are represented and respected during your community’s PiT Count. To capture the unique experiences and dimensions of homelessness among Aboriginal Peoples in your community, your PiT Count should draw on the insight, leadership, and expertise of local Aboriginal Peoples. This should include, where possible, Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal Peoples with lived experience, including youth, should also be consulted throughout the process. HPS’ Aboriginal Community Snapshots contain useful contact information for local organizations that could help to identify key stakeholders.