New plan, identity for End Homelessness

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This article was published 04/11/2019 (1009 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

End Homelessness Winnipeg announced a shift in its identity at a ceremony held at Circle of Life Thunderbird House (715 Main St.) on Oct. 28.

The organization, which focuses on reducing homelessness in Winnipeg, has transitioned into an Indigenous organization. This announcement was made at the same time that the group revealed its new five-year plan to end housing insecurity across the city.

“The transition of becoming an Indigenous organization was sort of a natural transition for us because End Homelessness Winnipeg works from the principles of truth and reconciliation, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and the inclusion of people with lived experience, in being sort of the drivers of this plan,” said chief executive officer Lucille Bruce.

Photo by Sydney Hildebrandt At a launch on Oct. 28, End Homelessness Winnipeg announced a new five-year plan to reduce housing insecurity across the city, in addition to becoming an Indigenous organization. Lucille Bruce (above), chief executive officer, presents the group’s latest strategy.

Indigenous peoples are disproportionately represented on the street, Bruce said. They make up 12 per cent of the population of Winnipeg, but a study from 2018 shows that they represent 70 per cent of homeless people in the city.

“So we knew we had to do things differently; we had to include Indigenous people in providing us with the leadership and the solutions in terms of how do we address homelessness in a way that will have a positive impact on the people who are directly affected — and that’s Indigenous people, primarily, in Winnipeg,” Bruce said.

Becoming an Indigenous organization means adding a cultural lens to End Homelessness’ five-year plan.

Last week’s announcement was accompanied by a pipe ceremony and a women’s drum group which performed traditional songs. Bruce said this was an important component of Monday’s gathering because it reflected what the organization will focus on moving forward.

Due to the impacts of events like colonization and the residential school system, Bruce said the organization will integrate culturally relevant and trauma-based approaches into its programming.

“We want to make sure that there is Indigenous leadership and involvement, and that we ensure that how we respond we integrate a holistic approach to how we do things,” she said. “(We) need to do it in a way that also respects the cultural values and provides services and access to ceremonies if that’s what people need and want.”

End Homelessness’ 2020 to 2025 plan details seven targets which aim to provide more housing, reduce the representation of Indigenous peoples in emergency shelters, minimize entry into homelessness, implement a coordinated access system, and prevent a return to homelessness.

Currently, End Homelessness (216 Pacific Ave.) is the interim community entity for Reaching Home, Canada’s homelessness strategy. The organization is hoping to transition into a permanent role, which would allow the group to access and distribute additional funding.

“I think there’s excitement and there’s hope from the Indigenous community, that by End Homelessness becoming (an Indigenous organization) that we’re going to be able to create responses that are culturally relevant and meaningful and have a positive impact on reducing Indigenous homelessness in our city,” Bruce said.

For more details on End Homelessness’ five-year plan, visit https://endhomelessnesswinnipeg.ca

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