Gimme Shelter

It’s amazing what we take for granted.

As a Canadian, with a large family and a fairly comfortable life, I never thought that housing was going to be a major concern at any point in my life.  That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles, but there were always options – fairly reasonable ones at that.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered just how dire a housing crisis can make it for a person moving to a new city for a new job opportunity.

daily dose of imagery, 2005

For those of you who have been following our other blog, I’ll Have Nunavut, you’ll know that Ian and I are in temporary accommodations for another two weeks…and then…?  Well, that all depends on what happens during that time.  Things are not completely bleak.  We still have some avenues to explore, but we are actually some of the luckier ones.  If we are able to find a place to stay, we will be able to afford it.  There are so many out there who are not even able to make enough money to afford a basic apartment.

Iqaluit is a bit different.  The relatively remote location means that homes are very expensive.  By virtue of the costs of shipping building materials by boat or by air to Baffin Island, as well as the short construction season (only a few months to construct the pile foundations, and a few more months before the snow, wind and sub-zero temperatures make it impossible to work outdoors), everything here is two, three and even four times more expensive that down south.  A small one bedroom apartment can run you $1600 to 1800 monthly – and that’s if you can find one available.  There is a housing crisis here, where overcrowding is the norm.  Families live with extended family members.  All the property management companies have waiting lists, but unless you know someone in the know, that can mean months or even years of waiting for a unit to open up.  And since the arctic is no place for outdoor living, the consensus seems to be that it’s just the way things are.  And complacency breeds contempt.

Alas…I did not mean to turn this into a rant about the state of housing in my new territory – I would have reserved that for my other blog.  This is a discussion about being fortunate.  Up to this point of my life, I have never truly feared being homeless.  But with the current economy, there are thousands who are merely one pay cheque away from not having shelter.  It’s something that we likely don’t consider all too often.  Not until the threat begins to become reality.

As the holiday season approaches, and both the Canadian and American versions of Thanksgiving have passed, I truly hope we can all take stock in what we have.  That we can all be thankful for the fact that we have a roof over our heads, four walls, and heat in the winter.  That we can share our shelter with those that we love.  That we can feed ourselves and our families.  That we have our health – or at least enough of it to get us through life in a reasonably comfortable manner.  Because there are so many out there that are missing pieces of that puzzle.  Some are missing the puzzle in its entirety.

Don’t take your health, your ability to buy and prepare groceries, your ability to stay warm in the cold season, and your home for granted.  Be thankful for these things every day.  I know that I will certainly be much more aware of what I have in the future.  It’ll be easier to do that now that it’s been threatened to be taken away from me.


20 thoughts on “Gimme Shelter

  1. Good thoughts. Situations like this also give me desire to help the “have nots” when I am one that “has”. Others have done similar for me over the past year. When I get the chance again, I will be sure to return the favor.

  2. Wow! I didn’t realize parts of Canada were so bad off. Sounds worse than in the US. I just sort of assumed that if y’all had health care, y’all had a housing safety net too. I sure can empathize on the being hungry thing. There was a time when we didn’t know how we were going to eat. We are extremely fortunate and our home is warm in the winter, cool in the summer. You’ll be in my thoughts.

    • Well, Nunavut is a unique place. There are no roads to other settlements anywhere in the territory. Everything is only accessible by air, or sometimes by boat. They’re building housing as quickly as they can, but the population is growing at twice the rate of anywhere else in Canada – it’s hard to keep up!

  3. Hope you get that living arrangement thing sorted out real soon.
    Would have been nice if they would have told you BEFORE you moved that your accommodation had changed. Such is life though, stay warm and remember what’s important.

  4. Amen to everything you said, Suzanne…seeing what’s been happening in other parts of the world this week has really served to point out how lucky we are here…

    I hope your housing crisis is solved soon!


  5. We live in my mother-in-law’s house, my husband is unemployed and we have tons of hospital bills to pay. But, I know that I am so very lucky. We have shelter, we have heat, we have food for us and our dogs. We’re going to be okay, it’s just a temporary slump and we have help. I know that so many don’t have the resources that we do and live in fear of sleeping on the street or going hungry. I can’t even imagine what that must feel like.
    Good luck to you in your housing situation!

  6. Considering my medical issues, I stopped taking my health for granted a while back. I did a sarcastic version of what I am thankful for in today’s post but I am truly thankful for a lot. I’ve just had to learn to laugh a little. I’ve been following both of your blogs and admire both you and Ian for making the move. You are braver than I, for sure!

    • Ah yes…medical issues can cause so much worry and concern. It is great to see that you are able to feel thankful…despite all that. I don’t even want to become bitter because of circumstances I find myself in…being positive really can make a big difference.

  7. It’s so cold here tonight while I’m reading this and I am in a comfortable place. I try to be thankful for that as often as possible, but I am grateful for this eloquent reminder. Good luck finding “home.”

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