The Cree Nation of Eastmain faces a significant housing shortage and problems with housing stock in poor condition. This situation affects individuals, families and community well-being and undermines social and economic development. The Nation is actively addressing these issues by developing culturally appropriate and accessible houses for Elders, families and the community.
Assessing housing conditions and the suitability of housing interventions for remote northern Indigenous communities can be a challenge, however. The Improving Community Well-Being through Housing Project is creating a sustainable research platform to understand and monitor housing conditions.
To ensure that Cree values, ethics and experiences guided the research, the project followed community-based participatory research approaches and used Indigenous research methodologies.
3 Key Insights
The research reaffirms that systemic challenges and economic, architectural and social issues need to be addressed and are key to creating culturally appropriate and sustainable housing.
The information and data gathered will pave the way for the Nation’s community-based sustainable research platform.
Housing solutions and best practices identified can be used to inform future housing development strategies in northern Indigenous communities.
Completed project update
Exploring the relationship between housing and well-being
The report presents the results of consultations with members of the Cree Nation of Eastmain. It documents the connections between housing conditions and well-being in the community. Six key themes emerged from the data analysis:
- Having control and making choices: Participants put particular emphasis on making their own decisions in terms of housing needs and preferences, such as design, construction, placement, size and payment options.
- Integrating cultural design, materials and house types: Participants value a home that reflects the community and their local practices. It is designed and built by local builders and uses locally sourced materials.
- Housing programs and community services, maintenance and affordability: The community needs readily available resources to fill housing gaps and meet evolving and diverse needs. Maintenance predictability is important for optimizing scarce resources and keeping housing stock affordable.
- Family relationships and housing: Participants value a home reflecting family members’ space and their interconnections.
- Cultural and social dimension of house versus home: Feeling secure and comfortable and maintaining a culturally appropriate environment is key for Cree families. Home should reflect cultural teachings and traditional knowledge and be a place where they are learned and passed on.
- Homeownership: To encourage homeownership, the community may offer a wider range of choices, including materials and housing design based on specific needs.
The research identifies that a more holistic approach is needed to support the Cree Nation of Eastmain’s housing well-being through their housing and development plan. As next steps, research information and data will pave the way to the Nation’s community-based sustainable research platform. This will set the foundations of the community’s housing strategy, which will be based on a local and user-driven approach.
Addressing systemic challenges, such as housing costs and maintenance, as well as economic, architectural and social issues is key to culturally appropriate and sustainable housing. Housing solutions and best practices identified in the report can inform future housing development strategies in northern Indigenous communities.
Lead Organization: Cree Nation of Eastmain
Location: Eastmain, Québec
- McGill University
- Memorial University
- University of Montréal
Activity Stream: Research Project