Authored by: Marleny M. Bonnycastle, Maureen Simpkins, Annette Siddle

Grant: Partnering for Change: Community-Based Solutions for Aboriginal and Inner-City Poverty - 2012-2019
Category: Housing and Neighbourhood Revitalization


Dominant approaches to homelessness often exclude the voices of those without a home, when solutions are designed. We argue that attempts to develop meaningful and long-term initiatives without including the voices of homeless people run the risk of failing. Traditional interventions tend to be designed and implemented by experts and authorities, ignoring the accumulated knowledge of homeless people. Acknowledging the structural causes of homelessness and the specific historical, cultural and economic uniqueness of northern Manitoba, this chapter reflects on the knowledge of homeless people living in Thompson, Manitoba, and looks at how this can be incorporated into the co-construction of the concept of home. We will document their process using Freire’s ‘Praxis’ approach of learning, action and reflection through a community-based research experience that uses photovoice when possible. We will also use group and individual interviews, using an appreciative approach. By highlighting the stories, concerns and concepts co-constructed using photographs and discussion, a number of key themes have emerged. In discussing the meaning of home, themes such as the importance of family, of safety and the connection to “the bush” emerged. In discussing both the pathways to homelessness and possible solutions, themes such as overcrowded housing on and off reserve, a positive sense of belonging and the development of trust were identified.

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