Iglutaasaavut (Our New Home): Neither “New” nor “Ours”: Housing challenges of the Nunavut Territorial Government

The Government of Nunavut inherited from the Government of the Northwest Territories a long-standing problem affecting nearly every Inuk in the newly minted territory. The housing crisis in the new territory has a long history, dating back to the mid-1950s when Inuit in Frobisher Bay (Iqaluit) were first provided with wood-frame housing. A rapidly growing population, low incomes, the subsequent need for social housing, the cost of providing housing in a demanding physical environment, and ideologically driven biases in relation to housing as a market commodity are all factors that help explain the crisis inherited by thenew administration. Serious problems of suitability, adequacy, and affordability confronted the Nunavut Housing Corporation, which is also facing a decline to zero over the next 30 years in Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s contribution to the existing social housing inventory. By August 2000, 1,100 families in Nunavut were waiting for some form of housing assistance. The demand for housing was projected to be 260 homes per year over the next 5-year period. Sixty percent of Nunavummiut live in public housing, 98% of whom are Inuit. This essay examines the problems that have confronted the Nunavut Housing Corporation—a stand-alone corporation—and looks at program and policy initiatives undertaken to address the situation, as called for by the Bathurst Mandate, tabled in October 1999, and establishing principles, goals, and objectives for the new government and the Nunavut Housing Corporation.

Publication Date: 
Journal Name: 
Journal of Canadian Studies