Housing security, homelessness and resource development in the Northwest Territories

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, North Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, housing, economics, resource development, homeless

Principal Investigator: Christensen, Julia B (4)
Licence Number: 14210
Organization: McGill University, Department of Geography
Licensed Year(s): 2009 2007
Issued: Jul 27, 2007

Objective(s): This research explores how homelessness increases amidst unprecedented economic growth in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The project identifies causes of homelessness in the NWT; assesses impacts of economic growth on issues of housing and homelessness, and projects patterns of homelessness as they relate to expected economic growth through the Mackenzie Gas Project.

Project Description: This research explores how homelessness increases amidst unprecedented economic growth in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The project identifies causes of homelessness in the NWT; assesses impacts of economic growth on issues of housing and homelessness, and projects patterns of homelessness as they relate to expected economic growth through the Mackenzie Gas Project.

Fieldwork for this research project will be conducted from 2007 to 2009 in the communities of Yellowknife, Inuvik and Paulatuk. Reports indicate that homelessness in the NWT increasingly results from migration from smaller communities in the territory to larger centres (GNWT 2005; Webster 2006; YHC 2007). Among these larger centres, Yellowknife and Inuvik are observing the largest increase in the amount of homelessness. Both communities are key hubs in increasing resource development in the territory. Communication is already actively ongoing with the Yellowknife Homeless Coalition, Centre for Northern Families and homeless advocates in Inuvik. Preliminary field visits will be made to the study communities in the summer of 2007 to consult with and discuss research and community participation objectives with community members and relevant organizations. In 2008, I plan to begin fieldwork of approximately three months per study community. Data from each community will be collected through qualitative and quantitative methods. The first stage will involve interviews with government representatives who work in the areas of housing, policy and economic development in the Northwest Territories, as well as secondary data collection. The second stage will involve in-depth interviews and focus groups with advocates and NGO representatives who work closely with the homeless population. In the third stage, I will conduct participant observation at shelters in Yellowknife and Inuvik as well as community surveys to assess the scale of hidden homelessness. This stage will be followed by in-depth interviews with people living homeless in all three study communities. As a fifth stage, willing participants will be identified to participate in a visual methods project using participatory photography to increase informant participation and broaden research accessibility. Further context will be provided through secondary data analysis of newspaper and other media reports, publications from government and NGOs and relevant archival material. Follow-up visits to the study communities will be made in 2009 to present research findings and exhibit participatory photography results to informants and relevant community groups.
In-depth workshops will be conducted with community and government organizations working in areas of housing security and homelessness. Additional workshops will be conducted for the general public. Results from the participatory photography project will also be exhibited. This photography project is intended to provide a visual element to the research findings and to broaden public accessibility of the research. Copies of the final research project will be distributed to relevant community organizations. Plain language summaries will be made widely available to any interest individual or group. Research results will be also be delivered through press release to popular Northern media outlets (i.e. CBC North).

Fieldwork will be conducted from January 01 to December 31, 2008 in Yellowknife, Inuvik and Paulatuk.