Inuvik Warming Shelter society is looking for a new board of directors following a heated Oct. 7 meeting at the Midnight Sun Complex that almost saw the society and the shelter itself shut down completely.
A public meeting was called to explain the board’s plans to dissolve the society after a deadlock between board members and staff was deemed unsalvageable.
The outgoing board told the crowd, which included clients of the shelter, staff and the general public, that the Inuvik Homeless Shelter had agreed to take in the people staying at the Warming Shelter until a new society could be established. The board also stated the shelter had been closed for the last four days following a dispute with staff.
“For some time now the centre has been struggling,” said outgoing chair Ruth Wright in a prepared statement at the start of the meeting. “From issues of stable staffing and management to finding an adequate location, especially in light of Covid-19, there has been many obstacles to overcome and unfortunately the society has not resolved all of them.
“Due to the nature of the issue the board has considered all of its options and sees no other choice but to dissolve the society.”
Initially, the meeting was to be divided into three sections to comply with Covid-19 restrictions — first the general public was to be informed of what was going on, then a closed meeting with residents of the shelter and then a second closed meeting with staff to air any grievances.
However, the open meeting quickly broke down into a flurry of accusations against board members, staff and even people who stay at the shelter. Eventually, several citizens stepped up and said they would be willing to take over board functions to keep the society going.
At the end of the first hour, five members of the board resigned, leaving only Maxine Larocque and Lorreta Rogers. Joining them in an interim working group is Eliza Firth, Mary Cockney, Shirley Kasoon and Melissa Rogers.
“If there’s anyone who wants to help us get this going, they’re more than welcome,” said Melissa Rogers, who has taken over as spokesperson for the interim working group. “At the end of the day, it’s the residents that matter.
“We’re here to help you guys.”
She thanked the outgoing board members for their efforts and wished them the best going forward.
The working group will meet today to assess the Warming Shelter’s situation and to set up a special meeting to elect a new Board of Directors. That meeting will require a quorum of 25 people for the election to be considered in good standing.
It’s been a tumultuous year for the Inuvik Warming Shelter, whose society is currently undergoing an audit. The shelter had temporally moved into Aurora College’s residence area over the summer pandemic, but had to move back at the end of July so the school could prepare for its fall intake.
Among issues facing the shelter are safety issues related to Covid-19. The shelter, which normally houses between 15-20 people over the summer and more than that over the winter, has also been without an executive director since August.
However, for people who depend on it for their survival, the fact it will remain open is good enough for now.
“It was a bit intense at first, because we had everyone going against one-another, but we got the board back to moving forward,” said shelter resident Adam Kaglik. “It’s a roof over our heads, a bed to sleep in and food in our stomachs.
“So all in all it went good.”