Mental Illnesses and Homelessness: Experiences of Francophone, Anglophone, and Indigenous Persons in Northeastern Ontario

By Carol Kauppi, Henri Pallard and Arshi Shaikh.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 1, 2015 $US5.00

Homeless Francophones in northeastern Ontario are proportionately overrepresented when compared to homeless Anglophones and Indigenous people among those who self-reported that they suffered from mental health problems during the previous year. This study compares levels of physical and mental illness amongst the three main ethno-cultural groups—Francophones, Anglophones, and Indigenous People—in the three principal urban areas of northeastern Ontario, Canada. This study utilises data collected using a service-based survey of poor and homeless people accessing front line services in the cities of North Bay, Timmins, and Sudbury. Participants provided information about their physical and mental health in the year prior to the survey and described their health-related issues. The sample is composed of 2,148 men and women either absolutely homeless or at risk of homelessness. Of the total, 352 are Francophone, 594 Indigenous, and 1,202 Anglophone. In 11 previous studies, Francophones were consistently underrepresented in comparison to their proportion in the general population. However, the current study shows that homeless Francophones have a greater incidence of mental and physical health problems than the other homeless groups studied. They are proportionately overrepresented when compared to homeless Anglophones and Indigenous people who said that they suffered from mental health problems during the previous year. Culturally and linguistically specific services are required to address mental health issues for Francophones and Indigenous people.

Keywords: Homelessness, Mental Illness, Francophones, Anglophones, Indigenous Persons, Northeastern Ontario

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 9, Issue 3-4, June 2015, pp.9-19. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 1, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 415.894KB)).

Dr. Carol Kauppi

Professor, School of Social Work, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Carol Kauppi is the Director of Poverty, Homelessness and Migration, a five-year multi-discipline and multi-methods research project dealing with homelessness and migration in northern Ontario. She is also Professor of Social Work and Director of the Centre for Research in Social Justice and Policy at Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Her research interests have focused in recent years mainly on girlhood, adolescence, motherhood and homelessness in northern communities. Professor Kauppi is also the Director of She has published many articles and reports dealing with homelessness and housing, racism, family issues, young mothers, parenting including postpartum depression, and child and family poverty in Sudbury and northern Ontario. Between 2003 and 2008, she completed a multi-year, province-wide and national project on girlhood. She is the 2011 recipient of the Laurentian Unversity Research Excellence Award.

Dr. Henri Pallard

Professor, Department of Law and Justice, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Henri Pallard is an Associate Director with the Poverty, Homelessness and Migration, Director of the International Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Law and Professor, Department of Law and Justice, Laurentian University. For the last twenty years, he has worked extensively with an international team of researchers on the challenges facing the implementation of human rights, the rule of law and democracy in North Africa. Of particular concern is their relation with culture and how culture affects a society’s understanding of human freedom, constitutional government and free and fair elections. He is now using his expertise in cultural diversity and human rights with various projects on homelessness, such as relations between homeless people and police, and homelessness in First Nations. He is the recipient of the 2008 Laurentian University Research Award, and the 2010 Prix d’honneur Saint-Jean, University of Alberta.

Dr. Arshi Shaikh

Senior Research Associate, Centre for Research in Social Justice and Policy, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Arshi Shaikh is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Research in Social Justice and Policy, Laurentian University, Canada. Her research interests include homelessness, migration and poverty, women's mental health issues, environmental justice and human rights, and social and health policy analysis. Arshi teaches Research Methods courses to the students enrolled in the Master of Social Work Program at Laurentian University.