An Indigenous advocate for the homeless population is responding to recent comments on Indigenous people and homelessness from a Regina city councillor.

At a recent council meeting, where homelessness was a topic of discussion, Ward 7 Councillor Terina Shaw stated an Indigenous leader told her there are Indigenous people who prefer to be homeless. Shaw cited Regina Treaty Status Indian Services (RT/SIS) as her source.

The comments drew criticism from many Indigenous people across the province and the executive director of RT/SIS says the comments have caused her organization harm.

Erica Beaudin is now publicly speaking out against Shaw’s comment and believes a previous conversation the two had was taken out of context. Beaudin says she spoke with the city councilor on the topic of homelessness in November. She says, during their conversation, she mentioned a “very small minority” of the homeless population prefers to not have the responsibility of their own home.

Beaudin, however, believes Shaw then took this comment to apply to Indigenous people alone.

“In this setting, I was being asked my opinion on the state of homelessness and the different stages and supports a person requires to achieve a safe place to live. I stated that, within the subculture of the population of homeless people, there are those who prefer not to have the responsibility of their own home. They could be called wanderers,” Beaudin told MBC Radio News. “I further stated that those would be in the very small minority and we must concentrate on providing access to homes and services for the rest who need them.”

Beaudin said she believes Shaw had a “conscious or subconscious bias” to add Indigenous to the topic.

“It could be either, to giver her the benefit of the doubt… is that she thought I was speaking on Indigenous homelessness,” said Beaudin in reference to Shaw hearing the message from an Indigenous person. “And in not giving her the benefit of the doubt these were comments meant to inflame.”

Beaudin says she offered to meet with Shaw after the comments were made. She says this was met with a response saying Shaw’s lawyer must be present and according to Beaudin the meeting was canceled by Shaw.

Councillor Shaw offers MBC Radio News her perspective

In a conversation with MBC Radio News, Terina Shaw says the conversation with Erica Beaudin did take place in November and was also with Regina mayor Sandra Masters and other members of city council.  Shaw claims she distinctly heard Beaudin speak on the idea of “wanderers” as an Indigenous subculture and not just a general subculture of the homeless population.  She said after the conversation she spoke with an Indigenous social worker who agreed that idea of “wanderers” was an aspect of Indigenous subculture.

Terina Shaw says she was contacted by Erica Beaudin in the days following the comment to set up a meeting.  Shaw says she did want a lawyer present during the meeting because she was concerned about a possible breach of confidentiality brought on by her comments.  In an email provided to MBC Radio News, Shaw attempted to reschedule the meeting to either June 28 or June 30, but was informed by Erica Beaudin that those dates would not work.

When asked why she wouldn’t accept the comments as problematic following the outcry from Indigenous leaders and the original message bearer claiming her words were misrepresented, shaw says if “wanderers” exist in the City of Regina that is something that needs to be addressed.

“The rapid housing is not going to address people that don’t want a home, so if we are trying to end homelessness we need to address every aspect of homelessness,” said Shaw.  “This is not disrespectful.”

When pressed further on Beaudin’s claims and what a possible resolution could be, Shaw doubled down on her claims on what she heard in that meeting.

“We all heard the same thing,” she said.  “We all heard it and the mayor was there too.”

MBC Radio News has unsuccessfully attempted to reach the Mayor’s Office for comment.

Other organizations weigh in

Joining The RT/SIS executive director in calling out the comments and asking for the City of Regina and Councillor Shaw to address the issue is the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council.

“What Councillor Shaw said was racist and she heard what she wanted to hear,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a media release. “The comments made by Councillor Shaw must be addressed by Councillor Shaw and the City of Regina, or further action by our organization may be taken.”

“Comments like Councillor Shaw’s that are left unchecked put the relationship and the current FHQTC and City of Regina Protocol Agreement at risk,” echoed tribal chief Jeremy Fourhorns. “Trust must be re-established. We look forward to working with the City of Regina to address the unfortunate comments by Councillor Shaw and working on building upon our understanding and strengths.”

(PHOTO: City of Regina Ward 7 Councilor Terina Shaw.  Photo courtesy of