A national study of Indigenous youth homelessness in Canada

Public Health. 2019 Nov;176:163-171. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2018.06.012. Epub 2018 Aug 22.


Objective: This study was designed to address the need for more detailed information about Indigenous homeless youth, a group overrepresented in the homeless population, using a national-level data set.

Study design: The study used a cross-sectional, self-report survey design.

Methods: Surveys were used to gather demographic, mental health, and quality of life data from a sample of 1103 Canadian youth accessing homeless services with data collected in 2015. This article focused on the 332 Indigenous respondents, using both comparisons with non-Indigenous youth and within-group comparisons across key domains.

Results: These findings suggested greater mental health and addiction challenges among Indigenous homeless youth compared with non-Indigenous respondents as well as evidence of a more problematic role of child protection. Within-group comparisons suggested that female and sexual and gender minority youth are particularly at risk among Indigenous youth with some added child protection and justice implications for reserve-raised youth. Child protection history and street-victimization were particularly relevant to the current distress levels.

Conclusion: Overall, such findings reinforce calls for Indigenous-specific interventions for these populations-including policy-driven prevention initiatives to address the legacy of colonization.

Keywords: Aboriginal; First Nations; Homeless; Indigenous; Marginalized; Youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Homeless Youth / ethnology*
  • Homeless Youth / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Population Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult