Inuvik warming centre's executive director says goodbye

Joey Amos is closing a chapter of his life, as is the John Wayne Kiktorak Centre.

Amos has been the executive director of the Inuvik Emergency Warming Centre Society since November 2015, when the centre was housed in the Anglican Church. Now the shelter has its own building, and on Friday Amos said goodbye. 

"It's just been an amazing journey and I really loved it because this is my passion. I love helping people. I love the challenges that come up. Most of all I really enjoy being able to build that healthy relationship with the folks that we serve," said Amos.

Amos is originally from Inuvik but left in 2002 "not on the best of terms". At the time, Amos said he was battling a drug and alcohol addiction.

He received treatment in Edmonton and began working at homeless shelters and treatment centres.

When he moved back to Inuvik in 2015, he said he wasn't sure what he was coming home to, but shortly after he got involved with the warming centre.

"Myself, coming from an addictive background... I was able to help my fellow sufferers and giving them hope," said Amos. 

"If I've made that difference in some of the people's lives by being a role model or just being there for them, I think I've done my job."

Mackenzie Scott/CBC

The warming centre gives shelter to those who need it, many of whom are struggling with their own addictions.

Anywhere from 13 to 26 people, depending on the weather, use the facility on a daily basis.

Amos said in the last year, the centre has also been sending some residents out to drug and alcohol treatment centres in St. Albert, Alta., "which is something new, that hasn't happened before."

New director

The centre has a new executive director: Mary Cockney.

She worked at the warming centre last year as a full time front-line worker, and was working there this year casually.

"I always come back to this field," said Cockney, who is originally from Tuktoyaktuk.

She's enjoyed working with Amos; "he's been teaching me a lot, and they will be big shoes to fill."

On Amos's last day, many people from the warming centre's board and people from around the community showed up to say goodbye.

One of the many people sad to see him leave is Franklin Charlie, who is originally from Old Crowe, Yukon, and has been staying at the centre for about a year and a half.

"I'm going to miss him. He treat me right, he treat me good... and I hope he don't leave"

Amos will be leaving Inuvik and moving to a neighbouring territory.

He's accepted a job at Whitehorse's emergency shelter where he will be going back to working the front-lines.

"I'm going to miss the work here, but it's time for me to move on."