This is the story of Hucksterland: Jordan Jamieson is a landlord. His working hours are spent crafting leases, uploading low quality photos of properties to Kijiji, coming up with creative yet technically legal ways to retain damage deposits, and answering emails from pesky tenants whining about leaky faucets. But Jordan’s world is turned upside down by the prospect of rent control legislation snaking its way through the local city council. Hucksterland is about the lengths a landlord will go to when his way of life is undermined by the one thing all landlords fear: the threat of the unwashed masses organizing for a reprieve.
While renting may not be considered a traditional ceremony for Indigenous communities, the land on which houses are constructed is the heart of Indigenous identity, spirituality, and health. Colonial notions of property ownership stand at odds with Indigenous traditional stewardship of the lands, and that conﬂict is represented in Hucksterland.
Beyond opposing philosophical views, there is a real material harm being done to Indigenous people, both urban and rural, by our current housing system. Urban Indigneous people are less likely to own homes and more likely to rent substandard units at more expensive prices than their non-Indigneous neighbours.
“Although affordability is the primary concern, non-reserve Aboriginal households exhibited reduced levels of suitability and adequacy. [...] 28 percent of all Aboriginal households experience a crowding problem, or live in a dwelling identiﬁed as in poor shape (23%). At levels more than twice that of non-Aboriginal households, affordability is a serious problem confronting Aboriginal renters and homeowners. This is compounded by the fact that non-reserve Aboriginal incomes are much lower, coming in, on average, at only 83 percent of that of non-Aboriginal households.”
-Dr. Yale D. Belanger, Gabrielle Weaselhead, Dr. Olu Awosoga, aboriginal policy studies, Vol 2, no. 1, 2012, p. 15
Indigenous communities are living in inadequate housing conditions disproportionate to the general Canadian population, and highlights the racism experienced by Indigenous renters. I take this data very seriously; as it aﬃrms my experience as a Metis renter and emphasizes the need for immediate action. However, renters are also exploited as a class, with intersecting identities exacerbating this exploitation. I hope to build solidarity across racial lines, to highlight our intersections, and hold space for collective actions that beneﬁt renters regardless of racial background, gender, or sexual orientation.
I don’t know how else to say this - literally all the wealth of any nation is generated by its poorest people - workers. Property owners exploit, oppress, and leech off the working class to enrich themselves. Plain and simple. This fact is at the heart of all my work. Organize.