According to Émélie Rivard-Boudreau, a student-aid worker for First Nations students at the Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Val-d’Or’s current housing crisis might hinder some Cree students from setting foot in a classroom this fall.

“The housing crisis is not exclusive to the First Nations or Cree students here, it is a big problem that is happening in all of Abitibi-Témiscamingue. For institutions like the Cégep, this is a real problem,” said Rivard-Boudreau.

Rivard-Boudreau said she has been calling landlords and even pounding the pavement to look for signs advertising rooms or apartments for rent on behalf of the students her office is in charge of housing, but she hasn’t been having much luck.

While the Cégep may have a brand-new residence to house some of the students attending the Cégep and neighbouring Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, many Crees will not be able to use these student lodgings. Many of the Cree students relocating to Val-d’Or bring their families and the single-dwelling residence cannot accommodate them.

“Sometimes the students will actually have to cancel their registration because they don’t have a place to stay,” said Rivard-Boudreau.

Unfortunately this scenario is all too common for Rivard-Boudreau. She said it is not just First Nations students who have had to pull out of their registration because they can’t find some place to live, the problem is shared by all students attempting to move to Val-d’Or or nearby towns.

At the time of this interview, Rivard-Boudreau said there were seven Cree families staying in local hotels at the Cégep’s expense while the department scrambled to find them housing.

Because accommodations are so scarce within the city, Rivard-Boudreau wondered if there would be any interest within the Cree nation to build special student housing for Crees studying in Val-d’Or so that more Cree students would be able to attend the institutions.