Atlohsa Family Healing Services is again partnering with St. Joseph’s Health Care London to operate a temporary shelter space for Indigenous people experiencing homelessness as winter approaches.
The Wiigiwaaminaan Winter Response program will be an Indigenous-led shelter site at Parkwood Institute using land that backs onto Westminster Ponds.
The stand-alone building will have room to house 18 people. The building is equipped with bedrooms, as well as laundry, kitchen and bathroom facilities. The building also includes functional spaces for meetings, healing circles and the delivery of social and mental health services.
A teepee has also been set up behind the building.
Shelter to include ‘essential supports’
Andrea Jibb, director of community planning at Atlohsa, said she’s looking forward to continuing the partnership with St. Joseph’s at a time when too many Indigenous people continue to struggle with homelessness in London.
“Building on the successes of last year’s winter response, we are looking forward to continuing to strengthen our partnerships with St Joseph’s Health Care London and the City of London towards providing essential supports for some of the London community’s most displaced individuals,” she said.
The partnership will help provide an Indigenous-led response to homelessness, along with land-based programming for Indigenous people.
Indigenous-led response ‘absolutely critical’
Anne Armstrong is the executive director of London Cares, which works with the city on finding solutions to homelessness.
“This partnership between Atlohsa and St. Joseph’s Health Care London is exactly the kind of collaboration that leads to strong supports like transitional housing,” she said. “We know that Indigenous people are over-represented in those experiencing homelessness in our community, and an Indigenous-led response is absolutely critical.”
Kevin Dickins, the deputy city manager of social health and development with the City of London, said London’s homelessness problem requires a collaborative response.
“We have to do whatever it takes to keep marginalized Londoners safer and sheltered as much as possible during harsh winter months, while we work on a long-term collaborative strategy,” he said.