Since 1876, when the Indian Act first forced First Nations people to live on reserves, the federal government has been responsible for providing First Nations housing. And it has done a bad job.

That’s why First Nations leaders say the next federal government, elected on Monday, must relinquish its bureaucratic grip to help fix the ongoing crisis in First Nations housing.

Nationally, half of First Nations people living on reserve — and one-quarter of First Nations in the country overall — need serious housing repairs. Another third live in overcrowded on-reserve housing, while nationally 20 per cent live in overcrowded homes on and off reserves.

Indigenous people are spending fewer nights in homeless shelters than non-Indigenous users, a finding from federal researchers who warn in internal documents that the result points to more problematic – or even insidious – issues in the country’s housing system.

The study found that no matter the community, Indigenous people were over-represented in emergency shelters, making up about 30 per cent of users despite only being about five per cent of the national population.

They stayed more often, but for fewer nights – almost five fewer nights per year, on average – which federal researchers say isn’t “necessarily a positive outcome.”

NiGiNan Housing Ventures is scrambling to provide services for families in need in Edmonton’s north end after its permit to serve meals and offer referrals at the former Transit Hotel was pulled last week.

“We need (a new) space. We’re looking right now,” said Carola Cunningham, CEO of NiGiNan. “It’s starting to get cold and people need a place to come.”

NiGiNan is a registered charity formed to address the needs and requirements of Indigenous people living in Edmonton.

Seventy-two Indigenous children connected to child welfare died in northern Ontario, where three Indigenous agencies covering most of the territory were underfunded approximately $400 million over a five-year period.

The number of deaths jumps to 102 Indigenous children when looking at the entire province between 2013 to 2017.

And almost half of the deaths, 48 involving Indigenous agencies, happened in the two years it took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to respond to multiple orders made by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that first found Canada guilty of purposely underfunding on-reserve child welfare in its historic decision on Jan. 26, 2016.

The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation in Yellowknife is taking a unique approach to helping the homeless or people with addictions.

Starting this week, volunteers with the program will be providing transportation to a camp and will serve up a hot meal to kick off the day.

“A lot of the people that are on the streets today are stuck in a place where they feel they can’t fix what happened to them,” says William Greenland who, not so long ago, lived on the streets.

While premiers and territorial leaders meet in Saskatchewan today to discuss the well-being of Indigenous children, youth and families, a new report released today co-authored by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) says First Nations children experience the highest levels of poverty in Canada.

“Canada is not tracking First Nations poverty on-reserve so we did,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The findings of this report are shameful and underscore the urgent need to invest in First Nations children, families and communities. Our children face the worst social and economic conditions in the country. They deserve an opportunity to succeed. Canada has not been tracking poverty on-reserve and that’s one reason the situation is not improving. We need a combination of political will, action, cooperation among governments and sustainable investments in water, infrastructure, housing and education to help First Nations children succeed and get a fair start in life. It’s beneficial to all Canadians to close the gap in quality of life between First Nations and Canada.”

Advocates who work with Montreal’s homeless say the deaths of 12 people since December is related to the closing of a downtown shelter.

“Everything that we said was going to happen when we moved has happened,” said Open Door intervention worker John Tessier.

The Open Door was located near Cabot Square, a park in downtown Montreal and a gathering spot for the city’s homeless.

It was the city’s only shelter willing to accept clients who were intoxicated, as well as the only one to welcome pets.