Saturday, February 24, 2024

Nunavik: The housing shortage is contributing to the slowdown in housing construction

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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Entrepreneur Daniel Gadbois usually makes a hunt around this time of year. He currently works 10 to 12 hours a day. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Kuujjuaq – Typically hunting businessman Daniel Gudbois this time of year herds of Canada geese reappear in V formations in the Nunavík skies, returning to their northern Quebec nesting grounds.

This is the signal for him and many other fishermen from his hometown of Kuujjuaq to survey the fishing grounds.

But these days, the electrician works 10 to 12 hours a day as businesses and governments scramble to fill an acute housing shortage.

“The North is growing very fast,” Gadbo says.

Census Canada’s 2020 population projections show that Nunavut and the Northwest Territories will have an average younger population in Canada over the next four decades, well below the Canadian average. A study of the population of Nunavic between 2006 and 2016 showed that it grew at a much higher rate, 22%, than the rest of Quebec at 8%. During this 10-year period, a third of the population of Nunavík was under the age of 15.

Daniel Gadboa, Head of Ecomac Services, comes from a family of businessmen. One of his brothers owns a plumbing and heating business, and the other a carpenter.

These are the local companies that work on housing construction in northern communities. But even for craftsmen in the field of housing, there are housing problems in this area.

To honor his contracts, Daniel Gadbo hired the services of eight workers from a company located near Val d’Or, in Abetepe Timiscaming, by paying for their travels, food, accommodation, and salaries.

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Mr. Gadbois finds that all of his profits are invested in renting lodgings for a person going back and forth.

Daniel Gadboa and his family lived in southern Quebec while earning his degree. He missed his home in the North, but he also wanted his daughter to get the best education possible in the South.

When it was time to return to live in the North, the family sold their house and applied for housing in Nunavik; There I learned there was a three-year waiting list to get one.

So Daniel Gadboa built his home in Kuujjuaq, but is well aware that it’s not something everyone can do, especially since the short construction season and remoteness of the suppliers add to the challenge.

The Canadian government’s latest budget allocated $150 million over two years to support affordable housing and related infrastructure in the north.

Last Friday, the House of Commons Member of Parliament for Churchill-Kiwatinuk-Aski, Nikki Ashton of the New Democratic Party (NDP), declared that this amount was never enough to solve the housing crisis in Indigenous communities.

In his response, Indigenous Services Secretary Mark Miller said housing commitments would be a game-changer, while acknowledging that they are not enough.

The Inuit Social and Cultural Organization Tapiriit Kanatami describes the budget commitments as an important step in the right direction. Its president, Natan Obed, notes that the housing crisis in the Inuit is particularly acute and long-standing.

At Services Ikumak, Daniel Gadbois employs three workers from Nunavik and works to encourage more young people to learn the craft.

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“There are a lot of young people who are interested in getting out of their hometowns to leave their overcrowded homes, because that’s really the problem. You can easily find seven or eight people in a two-bedroom house.

Mr. Gadbois would like to see the establishment of a trade school in Nunavik to train the next generation. Right now, most of the aspiring nunavik residents do what he did: head out to the southern regions, to schools in Quebec and Ontario.

However, Daniel Gadbois notes that “for someone who has never been to the South, and who has spent their whole life in the North, this is kind of a culture shock.”

However, he remains optimistic, reporting that he sees positive changes happening, considering that nothing happened overnight.

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