Saskatoon Tribal Council run emergency wellness centre hits 22 days open

The Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) has offered an update on the emergency wellness centre in Saskatoon on Thursday.

The 24/7 centre was established downtown by the Saskatoon Tribal Council earlier this month to address an increase in homelessness and life-threatening winter temperatures in the city.

Armond Standingready has been staying at the centre since early December. He said he got out of a correctional facility in April and has been working to get on his feet.

“If this place wasn’t here I wouldn’t even be here I think. It took a lot for me to come in here, listening to all of the negativity and all that,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

“I had to swallow my pride and come and I’m glad I did because now I have a direction I want to go in.”

As of Thursday, there were 106 beds occupied in the centre by other “relatives” like Standingready, who do not have a place to go. 

STC Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said 18 people were waiting for spaces to open up in the centre, but they were provided with cots to sleep in the lobby and provided with meals like those inside.

The goal, Arcand said, was to turn no one away and keep those inside safe and warm.

Arcand continued to call for donations to help out the families and individuals staying at the centre through the holiday season. An inital call was made on Dec. 10, he said. 

The centre has a lot of things in storage for those in need, which Arcand said will go to others in need if they cannot be utilized by those currently in the centre, but it is lacking essential items for this Saskatchewan cold snap.

Students from schools in Outlook and Davidson sent well wishes to those staying at the wellness centre. (CBC News)

“Clothing is the biggest thing,” Arcand said.

There has been a wide range of donations from schools in places like Outlook and Davidson for those that are staying at the shelter.

“They’re all hand drawn and they have little messages on the inside,” he said. “You can see our reach is very wide here in regards to how people are really giving to the wellness centre in regards to helping people and families during a difficult time.”

Armold Standingready standing in front of a Christmas treeArmond Standingready has been staying at the centre since earlier this month and he says compared to the other shelters, this one is “pretty good.” (CBC News)

Standingready said the kindness and love he sees through the donations flowing into the centre makes him want to do things for himself while he works with the wellness centre to get back on track.

“It shows that people are actually caring, it shows that people have a heart, considering where I came from and what I [saw] out there, It makes me feel good,” he said.

The centre has been opened for 22 days and Arcand says it is a good environment for those in need.

“I think that’s what we’re doing here is providing them with respect and honour and hope and making sure they’re being safe and that’s one of the biggest things,” he said. “We’re doing the best we can and I hope it’s enough but sometimes it’s not but we’ll keep pushing and making sure we’re making a difference in our city.”

Standingready said he was treated well during his stay at the centre and he said being in a space that feels kind means a lot.

“Being out there, you don’t really have that,” he said.

“You have the words of others but you still have to put your guard up and keep going forward but here, it’s a place to rest, a place to let your guard down for a bit and get some kind of direction in your life.”

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