A new national study of nutrition among First Nations has found rates of obesity and diabetes that are significantly higher than the general Canadian population.

The study, a decade-long examination of diet, nutrition and whether traditional food and water sources are safe, also finds that almost half of all Indigenous families have difficulty putting enough food on the table.

The final report of the First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment study concludes that Indigenous communities struggle with food insecurity, a perpetual problem that has a dramatic impact on health.

Conversely, the study also finds that when traditional food is present, nutrient needs and diet quality improve.

A United Nations report is highlighting the role “abhorrent” housing conditions play in the poverty and exploitation that Indigenous people face in Canada and around the world.

“(Indigenous people) are more likely to suffer inadequate housing and negative health outcomes as a result, they have disproportionately high rates of homelessness and they are extremely vulnerable to forced evictions, land-grabbing and the effects of climate change.”

Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur on adequate housing, noted that housing shortages are severe enough in Canada’s North that some people in Indigenous communities are forced to sleep in shifts.

“There’s 15 people living in a home that’s the size of a trailer, so of course they have to sleep in shifts when there’s only so much room,” she said.

The report also highlights poor water systems on many Canadian reserves.

“In a country with more fresh water than anywhere else in the world, 75 per cent of the reserves in Canada have contaminated water, with communities such as Attawapiskat declaring a state of emergency,” it reads.

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.