Giiwe and the Indigenous Supportive Housing (ISHP) program

Program Coordinators: Diane Giroux, Rachel Paterson, Ronat John

Phone: 519-371-1147



Giiwe, an Indigenous-led initiative, was launched by M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Center in March 2018. 

Giiwe – an Anishinaabemowin word meaning “s/he goes home”(The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary, 2015).  Giiwe creates a safe space to build relationships, foster meaningful collaboration and nurture trust between Indigenous and non-Indigenous agencies and organizations.

Initially conceived to address urban Indigenous homelessness, Giiwe established a coordinated housing-related response to Indigenous-specific housing needs and preferences in Grey and Bruce Counties. 

It has been recognized nationally and internationally at the 2022 International Union for Health Promotion and Education conference as a successful model for Indigenous health promotion.

As it evolves and extends across multiple sectors, Giiwe guides Reconciliation and healing processes for all and is a pathway to moving forward together in a good way on this shared journey.

            This initiative is led by M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre facilitated by:

Diane Giroux – Giiwe Coordinator
Office: (519) 371-1147 ext. 249



Indigenous Housing Outreach workers will assist individuals and families in securing safe, affordable and appropriate housing.  The ISHP support and emergency resources are available for individuals and families in crisis situations, transitioning out of hospital or living with the many challenges associated with homelessness within the community.

The Outreach Staff will co-design an individual plan with each participant as well as their critically important informal supports. The plans will be culturally sensitive and trauma-informed, assisting to identify challenges, highlight strengths and work together, towards important goals as determined by program participants.  The Indigenous Outreach workers will assist in:

  • obtaining housing,
  • moving,
  • transportation,
  • rent/utility supports and deposits, and
  • transitioning to other forms of housing including home-ownership.

As a partner agency in this project, Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) provides a wide range of wellness services to First Nations, Inuit and Metis people in Southwestern Ontario, including traditional healing, mental health and addictions services, and clinical services such as primary health care (nurse practitioners, physicians, registered nurse), diabetes education, nutrition, harm reduction services, and more.

Rachel Paterson – Indigenous Support Housing Program Worker
Office: (519) 371-1147 ext. 248
Cell: (519) 375-1468

Ronat (Ronnie) John – Indigenous Support Housing Program Worker
Office: (519) 371-1147 ext. 256
Cell: (226) 379-8048

Emily Wickens – Transition House Worker
Office: (519) 371-1147 – non urgent
Cell: (519) 502-6233

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