Inuit People Struggling Financially

Inuit people struggle financially nowadays and face multiple problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, heavy borrowing and indebtedness, bad credit, unemployment, and social problems.

Social Problems

Housing and Nutrition

Inuit people face social and health problems and have a shorter life expectancy compared to average Canadians. This can be explained by a combination of factors, including unsanitary conditions, over-crowded housing, higher suicide rate, and higher accident rate. Many families live in houses that are in need of serious repair. Some of them lack basic services such as wastewater systems and water services. Water contamination is a serious problem as a result of this. Overcrowded housing conditions are the major reason for diseases and epidemics in Inuit communities. Poor diet is also a risk factor that contributes to the lower life expectancy in many communities. While hunting used to be subsidized in the recent past, this is no longer so. There is a new program in place – Nutrition North which aims to offer low-cost food by giving subsidies to retailers. At the same time, food products and basic necessities are transported long distances and the result is a more limited choice, higher food costs, and poor food quality.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Suicide Rate, and Family Violence

The higher suicide rate is also a serious problem that can be addressed by offering enhanced social, health, and mental services. Drug and alcohol abuse is also more widespread in Inuit communities and is often accompanied by problems such as abuse and violence to children and family violence. Investment in support and prevention programs has the potential to solve these problems as least in part. This is an important step in light of the fact that young people are the most affected. The effects of tobacco use and alcohol and drug abuse on unborn children can be quite serious. Illicit drugs contribute to the problem.

Unemployment, Poverty, and Indebtedness

Unemployment is one of the major reasons for the higher poverty rate and indebtedness in Inuit communities ( Higher unemployment levels can be partly explained by the fact that only about 50 percent of Inuit have postsecondary education. A number of studies highlight that employment opportunities, income, and educational levels are directly related. Moreover, in traditional Inuit culture, learning takes place in an informal environment and through discussion, listening, and observation. Culture-sensitive programs can help close the education and income gap between Inuit and the rest of Canada.

Still, educational levels vary by region and community and in Nunavut, for example, some 21 percent of Inuit have a college or university diploma. The fact that there are fewer employment opportunities is also a serious problem. One of the reasons for this is the poor infrastructure in and near Inuit communities which fails to support housing for workers and employees and doesn’t meet industry standards.

Unemployment is a serious problem in many Inuit communities, and studies confirm this. Research shows that the unemployment rate is 4 times higher compared to the national average. What is more, Inuit people have lower income levels than average Canadians which contributes to higher poverty rates. While the median income for non-Aboriginal Canadians was slightly over $60,000 in 2005, the median income for Aboriginal populations was little less than $16,700. Obviously, indebtedness, heavy borrowing, and bad credit are the result of unemployment, poverty, and related social problems that plague Inuit communities. The fact that there are lenders that offer zero down payment loans ( and instant approval contributes to these problems. In light of the lower income levels, many Inuit people are unable to keep up with payments and have average or poor credit.

Migration to Urban Centers

Because of the combination of social and economic problems, more and more Inuit migrate to cities and other urban centers in search of employment and better living conditions. In fact, a study in 2011 reveals that more than 37 percent of Inuit people live in large cities outside Nunangat. Nunangat or Inuit’s homeland spans territories across the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, northern Quebec, and Labrador. This is a sharp increase compared to 2006 when the figure was just 22 percent.

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