Serious housing shortage in Nunavik - Inuit sounds a warning to federal

QUEBEC CITY, March 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Inuit leaders meeting today in Quebec City in their capacity as board members of the Makivik Corporation sounded a wake-up call to spur the Government of Quebec-and especially the Government of Canada-to invest heavily to resolve the serious housing shortage in Nunavik.

"It is unthinkable that in 2010, up to twenty people are living crammed into a single home. Yet this is the sad reality facing thousands of Inuit today in northern Quebec. These overcrowded living conditions are increasing the risk of violence and sexual abuse. It is our duty to put a stop to this unacceptable situation," claims Pita Aatami, president of the Makivik Corporation.

Despite the Inuit Housing Agreement between the Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec, the Makivik Corporation, the Kativik Regional Government, and the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau (OMHK) signed in May 2000 and renewed on two occasions, and the 2007 Katimajiit Housing Agreement under which the Government of Quebec committed to fund the construction, management, and maintenance of 50 new housing units over a 20 year period, the housing shortage continues to worsen. The crisis has reached a critical point, and urgent joint action is required.

"We can't afford to wait. The shortage, which is estimated at nearly 1,000 housing units and growing, is affecting the physical and mental well-being of the members of our communities, including our children. Quebec's Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse has stated that overcrowded living conditions are one of the main causes of the mistreatment of children," declared Kativik Regional Government president Maggie Emudluk.

According to Statistics Canada, overcrowding rates in Nunavik reached 68% in 2001-the highest in the country. The desperate shortage of housing units is having a catastrophic effect on the health and quality of life of Nunavik residents, especially the children. Infant mortality rates among the Inuit are four times higher than the Canadian average, and seven of every ten Inuit children don't get enough to eat.

"The federal government's lack of action in the face of this situation is seriously jeopardizing the development and safety of thousands of Inuit children and young people. It is imperative that the governments of Canada and Quebec and the elected officials of Nunavik work hand-in-hand to develop and implement an immediate action plan to ensure the Inuit of Nunavik enjoy a sufficient and acceptable level of housing," explained Pita Aatami.

The mandate of the Makivik Corporation is to see to the socioeconomic development of northern Quebec and the improvement of the living conditions of the Nunavimmiut. It is also tasked with protecting the Inuit language and culture, and the natural environment. Makivik, which in Inuktitut means "to rise up," is a fitting name for an organization mandated to protect the rights, interests, and financial compensation provided by the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the more recent Nunavik Inuit Land Claim Agreement that came into effect in 2008.

SOURCE Makivik Corporation

For further information: For further information: Kitty Gordon, Communications Officer, (514) 745-8880, Cell.: (514) 910-0169

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