Hope House will deliver more than hope in Inuvik

·3 min read
Peggy Day, left, and Susan Peffer have helped establish Hope House, a support hub for people experiencing homelessness, which is expected to open in Inuvik this fall. (Tyanna Bain/CBC - image credit)
Peggy Day, left, and Susan Peffer have helped establish Hope House, a support hub for people experiencing homelessness, which is expected to open in Inuvik this fall. (Tyanna Bain/CBC - image credit)

There will soon be a new support centre in Inuvik, N.W.T., for people from the region experiencing homelessness.

Hope House is set to open this fall, and that's left Arctic Inspiration Prize winners Peggy Day and Susan Peffer hopeful for residents and the Hope House itself.

Day and Peffer were part of the team awarded $495,000 in March for the project, which is meant to be a support hub for people experiencing homelessness.

Day and Peffer have been working closely with people experiencing homelessness and have sat on many boards over the years, including the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, and the Inuvik Homeless Shelter Advisory.

"We want to see our people heal well, enjoying life as everybody else does, and having a good safe place to go to," Peffer said. "We all deserve that."

Hope House will include supports for mental health counselling, referrals to rehabilitation and social housing programs, and job referrals. Support workers there will also help with medical and dental visits, and with getting health cards or photo ID, and with opening bank accounts.

Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler has been advocating for a plan for a shelters and homelessness strategy in the community for a few years now. She nominated the Hope House project for its Arctic Inspiration prize.

Semmler said she wants to see a culturally based, wrap-around support strategy for those experiencing homelessness.

"Everybody needs a place to live," Semmler said. "And it needs to be … where they're at in their journey."

Work to be done

CBC recently spoke with members of the community who rely on shelters and spaces like the soon-to-be-opened Hope House to get by.

They say there's still a lot of work to be done for the region's homeless.

Carmen Angasuk was born and raised in Inuvik. She's been using Inuvik's shelters for the past few years, something she says she never expected to do.

She says her experiences in shelters have not been good, and she no longer feels welcome in them. Angasuk is considering staying in a tent, saying that it would be better than the treatment people receive in the shelters.

Tyanna Bain/CBC
Tyanna Bain/CBC

"Even though we are on the streets, nobody, nobody deserves to be disrespected," Angasuk said.

Angasuk looks forward to Hope House opening, and would like programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous to restart in the community.

Richard Selamio is from Aklavik, but has been living in Inuvik for the past 22 years, and in a tent in for the past three years. This winter will be his fourth living in a tent with only a gas stove for heat.

Selamio says Inuvik needs other supports, such as a handy-van for people to access the shelters.

"It'd be a really good thing for everybody, for the community," he said.

Hope House is partnered with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Nihtat Gwich'in Council, and will have one full-time worker, and counselors working within the building.

Hope House is set to open early this fall.

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