Call for Action on housing for vulnerable Indigenous people 

By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – As I sit down to write, my heart weighs heavy with the memory of my cousin Karen Rabbit. Her story is not just about one individual’s tragic end but a stark reminder of the silent struggles endured by countless vulnerable Indigenous women.

Karen’s journey, fraught with unimaginable hardships, ended tragically on the train tracks. She faced indescribable challenges, her suffering ignored, her pain misunderstood. Witnessing her distress and desperation was utterly heart-wrenching.

It felt as though she was punished for being a victim, pushed into a cycle of despair that deepened with each passing day. Her sense of self eroded, and fear seemed to guide her final, desperate act – an attempt to escape the harsh realities of winter and the profound lack of care she experienced.

This tragedy highlights the pressing need for housing and support for vulnerable Indigenous women. Our housing policies must prioritize and embrace the inclusion of women and children, addressing the systemic neglect leading to such devastating outcomes.

As a top housing advocate in Canada and a journalist, I sit on the Native Women’s Housing Association of Canada and the Pan-Canada Women’s Housing initiatives. I advocate fervently for LGBTQ rights and shed light on the struggles faced by vulnerable Indigenous women.Collaborating with my mother, Lavenia Schug, we’ve taken our voices to Ottawa, speaking directly about the challenges Indigenous people face, particularly those like Karen, left homeless due to overwhelmed support systems.

For years, I’ve tirelessly fought for LGBTQ rights and highlighted the dire circumstances of vulnerable women facing domestic violence without adequate support. Karen deserved a safe haven, a fundamental human right that was denied her. She needed protection from a community that failed her, from exploitation, from psychological bullying, and from a mean-spirited population.

The truth is, Karen didn’t find that safe space on the reserve or in rural Alberta. We urgently need to reassess how funding is allocated to Indigenous women in rural Alberta. The failure of the reserve system to provide for her requires immediate action, demanding specific policies that ensure funding for Indigenous women without political interference.

There must be dedicated funding streams within rural Alberta, tailored explicitly to support vulnerable Indigenous women. We cannot afford to let more stories like Karen’s fall into the depths of neglect and despair.

Karen’s story is not just a tragedy; it’s a wake-up call to the collective conscience of our society. We must ensure that vulnerable Indigenous women receive the care, support, and safe spaces they deserve. We must act now; their lives depend on it.

As I write these words, I implore each of us to rise, advocate, and work towards a world where no vulnerable soul is left behind or neglected, where every Karen Rabbit finds her safe space and her peace.

 Chevi Rabbit is an advocate for Indigenous Rights, LGBTQ+ Activist.


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