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Paulie Chinna, centre, the minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation and for homelessness, cuts a ribbon on Nov. 13 to officially open the Moving Forward Emergency Shelter for Men and Women. Assisting the minister is Angeline Villebrun, a board member with the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities, while holding the ribbon are housing corporation president and CEO Tom Williams, left, and Pravina Bartlett, the executive director of the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

An emergency shelter for the homeless in Hay River has celebrated its grand opening.

On Nov. 13, Paulie Chinna, the minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation and for homelessness, cut the ribbon to officially open the Moving Forward Emergency Shelter for Men and Women.

The shelter has been operated since Sept. 1 by the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities with funding from the housing corporation.

“The new emergency shelter in Hay River is an important step in providing support to our most vulnerable residents,” said Chinna in a news release. “This shelter is more than a roof over their heads, this is the first step to helping our residents get back on their feet. I am proud of the collaboration between the GNWT and the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities to get this shelter up and running.”

The Kujat Building on Industrial Drive houses the emergency overnight shelter, which includes medical assessments, counselling and a case management approach to assist individuals find permanent accommodations.

Angeline Villebrun, a board member with the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities, read a message from committee president Lillian Crook.

“The Moving Forward Emergency Shelter program is committed to actively raising the quality of life for every person that comes to us needing assistance to move forward and off the street,” Crook wrote. “We want all persons regardless of circumstance to have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Our responsibility is to make it possible.”

Tom Williams, president and CEO of the NWT Housing Corporation, described the shelter as a major accomplishment.

“There’s been a lot of work in the community to get to this stage and we really appreciate working in partnership with everybody to get here where we are today,” he said.

The GNWT has provided $290,000 for shelter operations and $56,000 for supplies until the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2021.

Williams was asked if future funding will be available.

“It’s a pilot for this year, but we have to get the money put into our budget,” he said, noting a request will be submitted to the GNWT’s Financial Management Board.

“It’s temporary right now just because of the way the funding works, but we will be securing permanent funding for this facility,” Williams added.

The shelter has 10 bunk beds and can accommodate up to 20 people. However, it is currently being limited to 10 people because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The night-time shelter is open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week.

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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