Throughout her graduate program, Master of Science student Takara Motz (BHSc ’15) managed a permanent-supportive housing facility called River House. The facility provides wraparound health supports for men with complex health needs and who have experienced chronic problems with homelessness. As the Manager of River House, Takara recognized that housing plays a role in stress and trauma. One year into her Master of Science program, Takara decided to research racially-motivated housing discrimination with her graduate program supervisor Dr. Cheryl Currie.

To gain perspective on the subject, Takara pored over published literature to perform a scoping study of the emotional and physical tolls of racially-motivated housing discrimination. Despite the small number of published articles, there were reports of significant increases in depression and disease, and reduced motivation to pursue post-secondary education. These findings provided the foundation for Takara’s study on the effects of housing-related discrimination on the Indigenous student population here at the University of Lethbridge.

Using information collected through a series of surveys, Takara found that 17.6% of Indigenous students and 2.9% of non-Indigenous students experienced racially-motivated housing discrimination within a year prior to the interview. The affected students described these experiences as hostile, blunt, and deliberate. Upon further analysis, these discriminatory experiences correlated with increased post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and increased university-related stress.

Considered together, the data suggested that the stress of racially-motivated housing discrimination negatively affected the well-being of Indigenous University students and their motivation to pursue further education. Following her research, Takara argues that policies and support programs are needed to mitigate these housing-related stressors and improve the students’ well-being and educational success.