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Nigerians in Canada sleep in cemetery, temporary camps due to high rent 

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Nigerians in Canada sleep in cemetery, temporary camps due to high rent 

Nigerians and other migrants in Canada have resorted to sleeping in cemeteries and the streets due to the recent unprecendented increase in rent and housing in the country.

Reports said tens of thousands of migrants, thousands of Africans and hundreds of Nigerians have started living on the streets of Canada, which remains a top destination for immigrants and refugees.

According to a new study in September, one in two homeless people in Quebec can be located in rural areas of the eastern province rather than primarily in Montreal, as was previously the case.

Vancouver Sun reported that in a Quebec government assessment, nearly one in every 17 homeless persons is a Nigerian and has ended up on the street after being evicted from housing.

The number of homeless people in Quebec rose by 44 per cent between 2018 and 2022, reaching 10,000 this year.

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It said indigenous people, who make up 5% of the Canadian population, are overrepresented in the streets, particularly Inuit, according to a director of a local anti-poverty organisation, Karine Lussier.

“In Granby alone, we need at least 1,000 affordable housing units,” Lussier said.

The report revealed that some people have been living in a temporary camp in a cemetery in Granby, a town of 70,000 people 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Montreal.

One of the affected Nigerians, Thompson Kolawole, has been living in a temporary camp in a cemetery in Granby, for months after being evicted from an apartment he shared with his girlfriend in June.

He said, “I work five days a week, the little housing there is much too expensive,” he stated.

Mayor of Granby, Julie Bourdon, said, “Visible homelessness did not exist three years ago in Granby, [but] rents are very high now compared to two years ago.

“Rather than destroying the camps and transferring the residents, the city chose to keep what it called “places of tolerance.”

According to France Belisle, Mayor of Gatineau, a city of over 300,000 people across a river from Ottawa, the issue could simply be the tip of the iceberg because these are “the figures compiled a year ago.”

While the costs of living soar in Canada, the government data said there are around 235,000 homeless people in Canada, but this only includes people who use shelters.

This was revealed by the University of Western Ontario professor Cheryl Forchuk, who, like Belisle, believes the true picture is significantly worse.

“We are largely underestimating the number, we could probably triple the current federal estimates,” she stated.

“We now find ourselves in a situation where even well-off people have difficulty with housing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted in September.

Despite the housing and rent challenges confronting Canadians, the North American country is still receiving immigrants from across the globe including Nigerians.

Recently, the Canadian federal government announced an aggressive plan to take in 500,000 immigrants a year by 2025, with almost 1.5 million new immigrants coming to the country over the next three years.

In 2022, the country landed 437,120 permanent residents, a nearly eight percent increase from the total number of PRs in 2021.

“The immigration levels plan will help businesses find the workers they need,” Sean Fraser, Canada’s immigration minister said in a statement.

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