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Legislative Assembly Debating Housing as a Human Right

Another major bill is coming to the tables of the 20th Legislative Assembly this week.

Two MLAs, Sheryl Yakeleya and Kieron Testart, will be presenting two motions to the Assembly to try and establish housing as a human right in the NWT.

These motions are aiming to help the NWT’s housing standards become consistent with several global standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The motions are also demanding that the GNWT provide a response on the matter, and apply a rights-based approach to housing in all relevant legislation in the NWT. These motions will also request that the NWT Housing Forum be brought into law, and enshrine the right to housing into law.

Sheryl Yakeleya, who represents the Deh Cho community where housing is less available, stated that people need a roof over their head in order to live better lives. She adds that safe and suitable homes are one of the most important factors of building a better society.

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“For Indigenous People housing as a right is the only way we can achieve reconciliation and make up from the wrongs of the past inflicted by colonial governments that robbed our people of their homes and livelihoods.”

In a similar statement, Kieron Testart said that housing is a core need that demands attention, no matter where an individual lives. As a Yellowknife based MLA, he acknowledges that Yellowknifers have many more options than those who live in smaller communities, but that there are still housing needs that must be met.

“Making housing a human right will require a new approach from the GNWT that puts Northerners first.”

The two motions are known as “Affirming Housing as a Human Right” and “Taking Action on Housing as Human Right.”

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