SIOUX LOOKOUT -- The new operator of the emergency shelter in Sioux Lookout got the keys to the facility on Thursday.
Tana Troniak, the executive director of Nahnahda-Wee-ee-Waywin Sioux Lookout Sexual Assault & Counselling Centre, the organization which is taking over the operations of the emergency shelter, said the first day involved assessing the space. “We’ve been looking at what we need, upgrades and supplies…anything that needs repairs.”
The shelter, located in the Old Queen Elizabeth High School on Fair Street, had been previously run by the Sioux Lookout Out of the Cold Program, which announced in May that it would stop operating the shelter by the end of August. The Kenora District Services Board then put a call out for someone else to take over and selected Nahnahda-Wee-ee-Waywin Sioux Lookout Sexual Assault & Counselling Centre.
Troniak said her organization will work with the clients to provide client-focused care. “If you don’t have housing, you can’t succeed in other things. If you don’t have housing. You can’t do life skills, or eat three healthy meals a day.”
Getting people into permanent housing is the goal said Troniak. She added that between 25-30 people have been using the shelter nightly.
“I think that you can’t pass any judgement on people [using the shelter] that is really, really important,” she said. “For me, I’m an Indigenous woman also, so when I moved up here from Thunder Bay, that was my goal to work for Indigenous people and try to do as much as you can to make things a little better.”
Right now the shelter is open from 5 p.m. until 9 a.m. every day, but Troniak said it will expand to a 24-hour operation on Oct. 1.
She said at that point, the shelter will be able to offer three meals a day. Troniak said there will be new staff coming in and she doesn’t think she’ll have a problem staffing shelter, “I put a little job posting out and I got 15 resumes… People really like this work.”
Troniak said the partnerships among different organizations like the Kenora District Services Board, the Friendship Centre, The OPP and Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority make the work possible. “Our goal is all the same thing,” she said. “To get people helped. To treat everyone with respect and dignity, try to make their life a little better and find homes for everybody.”
Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source