Thirty-four local organizations and individuals with experience of homelessness have released the final report of Connecting the Circle: A Gender-Based Strategy to End Homelessness in Winnipeg. It is the first of its kind in Manitoba and likely in Canada. It identifies the gaps that diverse women, trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people fall through that lead to homelessness.

“I know this first hand. As an Indigenous single mother who experienced homelessness for 15 years, I am proud to have shared my knowledge and helped others share theirs to root this strategy in lived experience,” said Jolene Wilson, chair of the Connecting the Circle First Voice Advisory Committee. “There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all plan for ending homelessness: women, trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people experience unique pathways into homelessness.”

This research is crucial because:

  • Women, trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people are not adequately captured in statistics or programs regarding homelessness.
  • They are mostly Indigenous, have experienced higher rates of violence than homeless men, and are less likely than men to stay in a homeless shelter.
  • At least 1/3 of those experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg are women, 11% are 2SLGBTQ+.

“Connecting the Circle provides a complement to Winnipeg’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, highlighting the need for a gender-based analysis of homelessness: for example, how women and 2SLGBTQ+ communities are impacted by homelessness,” said Lucille Bruce, president and CEO of End Homelessness Winnipeg. “This strategy aligns with End Homelessness Winnipeg’s efforts to make the shift in our city from managing homelessness to ending it.”

Connecting the Circle included people with lived experience of homelessness as leaders from the very start. Their knowledge and personal experiences guide all decisions of the strategy, ensuring it is rooted in the priorities and strengths of diverse women, trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people.

“This report is only the beginning of our efforts to end homelessness for all women, trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people,” said Lisa Spring, project lead for Connecting the Circle and Director of Community Engagement at West Central Women’s Resource Centre. “We see the impacts of system gaps, gender-based violence, and discrimination every day. This is our opportunity for community and government to work together towards lasting change.”

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