New day shelter opens in downtown Yellowknife

Media Statement

Yellowknife — December 6, 2021

Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services, issued the following statement on the opening of the new day shelter in Yellowknife:

“As part of our commitment to reconciliation, and to ensure that everyone can access safe shelter facilities, I’m pleased to announce that a new temporary day shelter for people experiencing homelessness opened its doors  to the homeless population this morning.

“The shelter is a spacious and modern retrofit of modular units that were recently used during the construction of the Tłı̨chǫ All Season Road. This shelter is located on the grounds of the old Northern Frontier Visitors Centre and will operate seven days a week from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm. The shelter provides a warm and safe place during the day where people experiencing homelessness can get a light meal, use the bathroom and shower, do laundry, rest, or connect with health and social services professionals.

“The Day Shelter and Sobering Centre on 50th Street remains open but it is operating at a reduced capacity because of current public health orders. To accommodate all residents in need, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority has been providing additional day sheltering services at various locations, since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The new shelter has a maximum capacity of 45 under current public health restrictions. Proof of vaccination is not required to access this facility, but efforts will continue to provide  shelter users across the territory with the COVID-19 vaccine if they choose to.

“A 2021 point-in-time survey conducted for the City of Yellowknife shows that of the 312 people experiencing homelessness in the capital, 91 percent are Indigenous. Sixty-two percent of people surveyed had at least one parent who attended residential school, and 19 percent attended residential school themselves.

“We cannot ignore the tragic impacts of residential schools, the damaging effects of which are still felt today. Caring for and providing essential services to people experiencing addictions and homelessness is part of advancing reconciliation for survivors and their families.

“We see this new facility as part of a continuum of care as we work toward opening a permanent Wellness and Recovery Centre in Yellowknife in early 2024. Having a day shelter  in the downtown core provides a warm and safe place for residents and is within walking distance of overnight shelters. The central location also provides easy access to other downtown services.

“The total cost associated with the setup of the new shelter has not yet been fully calculated but is anticipated to be approximately $250,000. Ongoing operational cost will be $175,000 per month.

“It’s very encouraging to see what can be accomplished when government, private sector, and the not-for-profit sector work together. Among the many partnerships built during this effort, I’d like to thank Kavanaugh Bros Limited for taking a leadership role in the project, GNS Industrial Trailer Services Limited and Kiewit Construction for transporting the units and for proposing the idea, Kasteel Construction and Coatings, Stantec, DT Electric, J&R Mechanical, North of Sixty Construction, and Commercial NDS for their hard work on the project.

“I would also like to thank the City of Yellowknife  for offering the use of the Yellowknife Community Arena as a temporary shelter during the construction phase of the newshelter. Thanks as well to Yellowknife residents and users of the arena for your patience and As of today, the arena is no longer needed for this purpose.

“I recognize this pandemic has caused upheaval for many NWT residents. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all health care and shelter workers across the territory who are working so hard to keep all NWT residents healthy and safe.

“To all the shelter users, I thank you for your patience. We will continue to do all we can to provide you with the support you need.”