By Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
THUNDER BAY SOURCE
Sioux Lookout’s emergency shelter is now open 24 hours day.
The shelter announced the change officially on Monday, after starting all-day operations before the weekend.
Tana Troniak, executive director of Nahnahda-Wee-ee-Waywin Sioux Lookout Sexual Assault and Counselling Centre which runs the emergency shelter, said the shelter previously closed between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Troniak said the change means they’ll be’ll be serving light lunches and light suppers.
She said operations have been going really well since they took over running the shelter in September.
“Our numbers have increased. We’re using our overflow rooms.” she said.
Troniak said between 25 and 30 people make use of the shelter a night and there are about 15 staff members.
“That’s how busy we are,” she said.
She said they would like to provide programming like life skills in the future.
“But it’s really about housing first. 1/8We’re 3/8 making sure everyone has some ID and 1/8has 3/8 applied for housing,” she said.
“It’s very hard to get a unit here, especially a one bedroom.
That’s why we really want to focus on getting everybody on the housing list, even if it’s going to take another year to get a unit.”
Troniak said having the emergency shelter is important because Sioux Lookout is the hub for the north.
“We have 30 First Nations communities that come in,” she said.
” People could get stuck here, their flights could be missed, there’s all kinds of reasons that people have to spend the night with us.”
She said they’ve even had a couple of people from Dryden stay at the shelter because one isn’t available there yet.
Troniak said another big thing for the shelter is providing a safe place for when people are highly intoxicated.
“If we are open, as long as there’s no medical issues, they can come and sleep over at the shelter and then that way they’re not spending the night in jail,” she said. “Really it’s about decriminalizing addictions and alcohol.”
Troniak said she has high praise for the community support in Sioux Lookout.
” 1/8We 3/8 really thank them for the support they have been giving us so far,” she said. “With us being new and in a different building, it’s been really nice to see that we have so much support for our emergency shelter in Sioux Lookout.”
She said some partnering agencies which come in to provide services like vaccinations, foot care, crisis services, and meals, include the Northwestern Health Unit, Sioux Lookout **>First Nations<** Health Authority and some local church groups.
She also wanted to acknowledge the great partnership the emergency shelter and women’s shelter, which they also run, have with the local OPP detachment.
“I think they’re doing a good job in trying to support our community here,” she said. “If we’re worried about somebody that hasn’t come back, they are fast on our calls.”
She said the mayor and municipal staff of Sioux Lookout also have a great perspective on taking care of people.
“It’s a community that supports each other,” she said.
Eric Shih is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THUNDER BAY SOURCE. The LJI is a federally funded program.