Homeless in Six Nations

The traffic in downtown Ohsweken is becoming horrible and unbearable.

Imagine if in 100 years the intersection at Chiefswood and 4th Line is completely urbanized like downtown Toronto and stays that way. Maybe all this construction is giving us a glimpse of the corporate future our community is facing.

The youth of Six Nations battle many different types of expectations and social pressures growing up. A huge focus of attaining Western education is the lucrative promise of solid careers that command huge salaries and benefits — basically buying into the capitalist system, full throttle.

Parents are simply pushing their children in this direction because they want what’s best for them. Our ancestors have always wanted what’s best for us — thinking of the future generations is a staple of our society.

It seems predetermined that Six Nations kids must individually possess their own land, house and car someday, but the statistics show there are approximately six and a half people in every house here on Six Nations (that is if we figure 14,500 members living on reserve with 2,200 mailing addresses here as well).

Our housing problem may have different characteristics than those the people of Attawapiskat face, but it still exists. Six Nations has its own housing crisis.

Because of our population explosion many of these youth are now adults who are still living with their parents or on a siblings couch. The Six Nations Housing department is chronically underfunded and some band members have been waiting on the list for decades.

And when your name comes up you have to hope that you have some extra money set aside or you go to the back of the line again.

Many young adults are forced to rent an apartment in satellite towns and cities beside the reserve because of all of the difficulties in building their own home.

It’s even worse when our band continuously spends millions on failed projects and you are just sitting there on the waiting list hoping you can have your own house someday.

We have homeless people here on Six Nations, but we don’t recognize them. They aren’t strangers begging for cash on the streets, they are your neighbours or your kids asking to “borrow” 20 bucks. They strangled by poverty, have horrible credit and will never qualify for a loan for a house.

And they aren’t alone.

An official report by the Assembly of First Nations showed that 23.4 per cent of First Nation adults live in overcrowded housing on-reserve. The same data suggests that 27 per cent of us may be technically homeless.

The Federal government has kept Indigenous nations in perpetual poverty because they restrict our finances, but fully enjoy our land that is under claim.
Meanwhile, Six Nations has enough young adults to fill a high rise apartment building so we need to start exploring our options and find a serious solution.

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