The building which previously housed the day shelter will potentially be a temporary women’s shelter while the permanent building undergoes renovations. Business owner Patrick Scott (inset) was supportive of the Yellowknife Women’s Society moving in next door temporarily.
NNSL file photo

As women across Canada in need are turned away from resources, funding and shelters, Yellowknife is embracing at-risk women and ensuring they transition to temporary housing with as little upheaval as possible while their permanent home on Franklin Avenue is renovated.

Looking at national statistics where one in five shelters report not receiving funding increases in ten years or more we must give kudos to the GNWT and the city’s ability, as a community, to provide a place for these families at risk. Bree Denning, executive director of the Yellowknife Women’s Society says the shelter is not in such a dire situation as those national statistics.

“We can always benefit from funding increases,” said Denning. “But, we have seen funding increases in the past ten years.”

Denning says there have also been increases to funding for more support staff.

Business owner Patrick Scott had no qualms saying the move by the Yellowknife Women’s Society to the old Langlois building next door to the Birchwood Coffee Ko was the right thing to do even if there was an impact on his business.

The building previously housed the day shelter for the city’s addicted and homeless and Scott says he never had a problem with that circumstance even though revenues have increased since the day shelter and sobering centre moved to its new location a block over on 50 Street.

“I didn’t have a huge problem with the people using the day centre and I personally won’t have a problem with the women staying there … but I know my customers obviously will have and have had,” said Scott.

Women and children fleeing violence need a stable and safe place to go where they feel secure. It is, after all, a temporary measure to house people in need while they search for a more permanent home.

As Scott put it so eloquently, “They are more important than our business.”

And when one woman is killed every two-and-a-half days in Canada, with more than half of the victims killed by current or former intimate partners, according to federal data it’s important they have a safe place that isn’t under fire from the public. That only leads to homelessness, which is not a good situation – especially if there are children involved.

In a three-year study on women’s shelters, the average age of shelter buildings across Canada was found to be around 45 years. Most are in dire need of repairs and fewer than half of those shelters can afford those repairs.

In a May report this year to the House of Commons, a list of 20 recommendations was released which included recommendations for more funding, expansion of existing shelters and transitional housing, and an increase in culturally sensitive services for Indigenous, immigrant, non-binary and transgender women and women with disabilities.

When safe spaces for women are provided it opens the venue for the harder work to be taken on of tackling domestic abuse and supporting women in rebuilding their lives.

Any and all support for these women at risk is a good step forward and the support of our community goes a long way in ensuring the continue to move forward out of tragedy and trauma.