Initiated in October 2019, a gap analysis of programs and services provided within Yellowknife for women and girls was prepared for the Yellowknife Women's Society (YWS). The purpose of the gap analysis was to identify areas of concern for women and their families in Yellowknife, specific to the social issues they are facing and the supports they are receiving in order to deal with them. In order to present a broad picture of the perspectives within the Yellowknife community, the gap analysis report is comprised of a survey open to the general public and interviews with community organizations and media companies. In the next year (2022), the YWS board will work on the next strategic plan and the organizational approach to advocacy. The findings from the gap analysis are an important part of both of these processes.
The Gap Analysis is summarized below, and available to download in full through the link the bottom of the page.
The main social issues the public finds to be the most pressing in Yellowknife is addictions and substance abuse, followed by homelessness, violence/abuse and housing challenges. The 2017 City of Yellowknife Citizen Survey report classifies poverty and homelessness, addictions and drug abuse and housing challenges as the top three growing public concerns in general for quality of life (City of Yellowknife, 2017). Community and media organizations also identified similar social issues as the public including: substance abuse and addictions, family violence/violence, homelessness, mental health, lack of healing resources, employment and housing/shelter challenges.
The public identified social issues that predominantly affect women and girls to be: violence, economic challenges, substance abuse and addiction, and lack of family and child supports. Media personnel identified housing, homelessness, family violence and safety. Many identified the precursor of such issues to be trauma related (i.e., PTSD or intergenerational). For many organizations that provide community programs and services, social issues were described as complex, and holistic approaches of working as a community are best to support program and service users who face interconnected issues.
Based on survey results, respondents do not feel that the services and programs offered in Yellowknife are doing enough to address social issues. Most respondents (75%) think the different levels of government do not give enough support. Most respondents (64%) think that community organizations do not provide enough support, but remain supportive of their activities and attempts to address the issues. Government is also seen as a barrier by most interviewed community organizations and media personnel. Most community organizations rely on government funding, and funding issues may interfere with organizations delivering services and programs as they would like. Organizations also struggle with capacity, resources and disconnection from other organizations. Media interviewees identified government as creating challenges because there is a lack of communication and support from them when it comes to providing needed information, resulting in gaps within published stories.
Poverty and homelessness have been identified by many as being one of the most serious social issues in Yellowknife and women have been identified as the fastest-growing group that are at risk (City of Yellowknife, 2017; Bopp et al., 2009). Some characteristics that places one into homelessness include, high cost of living, inadequate access to appropriate social services, and lack of affordable and accessible transportation systems (Bopp et al., 2009; Levan, Bopp, McNaughton, & Hache, 2007). As recently as 2011, the GNWT did not have a dedicated position to manage and focus on the homelessness challenge, whereas there is now a manager of homelessness and community planning with a homelessness specialist under them (Falvo, 2011; GNWT, 2020; Levan et al., 2007).
Based on the findings from the surveys and interviews, women face a variety of pressing social issues and while there are a multitude of programs and services to support them, significant gaps remain. Due to the broad nature of survey and interview responses, specific recommendations for addressing these gaps are not possible. However, the responses provide perspective on the perceived focus areas for advocacy or expansion of program and service delivery by the YWS.
The full report is available here.