Photograph of Dianne


“I would get really sad, mostly at night. You are in this tent just thinking about your day and what your mom is going through. You could see it, you could feel it. It was heartbreaking.”

Born one of five girls, Dianne was raised here in the Yukon by her mother, a member of the Teslin Tlingit Council.

As a single mom with five children, the family lived in wall tents when housing wasn’t available. Dianne’s mother balanced finding places close to Whitehorse where they could access water and food, but that wouldn’t alert Bylaw. This led to many cold, sleepless nights, with the older girls caring for the younger girls while their mother went into town for supplies.

“For the most part, we didn't have a lot of fires because she knew she was in the city limits.”

“It was devastating. Heartbreaking. Knowing the things that we had to go through in our own country, in our own (Territory) where we grew up. Our whole lives we've been here and just not being able to have a home.”

Now as an adult, Dianne recognizes the racism and discrimination that her family faced back when she was a child, and that they continue to face today. And how the cycle of homelessness and increased cost of living leads to poor mental health, substance use and trauma.

 “Having a roof over your head is the whole thing, your whole physical, mental well-being. If you don't have that, then how does a person carry on? You know? Survival is a hard thing. I still feel like I'm in survival mode every day just because of the cost of living."

Thankfully, Dianne was eventually able to access the supports she needed.  She now spends a lot of her time working as a housing advocate. She knows the entire system needs to change and more supports are needed to address the housing crisis.

“What gives me hope and strength is pretty much my family. The way I feel about myself. What I want for myself. Just to keep going. Being that survivor."

“I'm very proud. My mom taught us well how to survive. She taught us good life skills. She would say ‘You girls keep your chin up. Hold your head up high. Never walk with your head down’. “

Portrait by GBP Creative