Some former residents of Camp Hope, a tent encampment in Regina, are now staying at a temporary shelter in the city.
"It's almost like people are coming from combat, if you will, and they just need to rest and de-stress, and to attempt just to feel human again," said Erica Beaudin, the executive director of the Regina Treaty/Indian Services, the organization running the shelter.
Camp Hope had been up for more than a month and provided the vulnerable population with a place to stay, food and safety. On Nov. 12, the City of Regina said it would be moving residents to a 40-bed emergency shelter in an undisclosed location on Hamilton Street, north of Dewdney Avenue.
The shelter is completely booked up, and as of this week there are 20 people on the waiting list to access it.
"They have definitely let us know that they're grateful for the warmth," said Beaudin.
She said residents feel good because of the meals, being able to shower and not having to worry about cold and their safety.
Older people and those with disabilities were prioritized for being taken in.
Once they got in they were tested for COVID-19 and went through a small intake process to assess their needs. Beaudin said they then slept for hours and hours.
"What we are providing right now is just the ability to feel safe, just to feel like there's hope," she said.
"Just to have that breath before they have to worry about what's next in life for them."
Mental health and addiction challenges
Despite the positive aspects of the shelter, some residents are still struggling with issues such as addiction and mental health.
"We're talking about life and death addictions, whether they're fentanyl, crystal meth, and those are very unique and specialized services for people. So we are doing the very best we can to provide that care," she said.
Beaudin said the shelter is not funded to offer that type of care, and that the majority of the residents are struggling with mental health addictions issues. She said the shelter is counting on support not only from the SHA but also from individual physicians and practical nurses to address those needs.
When asked about tangible ways people can help those in the shelter, Beaudin said people can donate new clothing. She said the shelter needs clothing in different sizes and for different genders.
She said many people are coming with only the clothes on their back.
"People are putting on their dirty clothes after having their first shower in months," said Beaudin.
The organization isn't accepting used clothing due to the pandemic.
6 people who used shelter moved on to other accommodations
The Regina Treaty/Indian Services has helped six residents at the shelter move into other accommodations. That could include their own homes, second- or third-stage domestic violence shelters, or friends or families the shelter helped the people reconnect with.
While the shelter wants to help people get set in other places, Beaudin said the focus this week was to give people a chance to feel like they have hope.
"Right now, we're not even sometimes at the point of, 'Let's get an individual into their own homes.' Just preserving life for the day, for the minute sometimes is of utmost importance," she said.