Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), which represents 26 First Nations in Northern Manitoba, announced Aug. 5 that it is directing some of the funding it received to help Indigenous people living off-reserve to YWCA Thompson, which has been housing 25 of the city’s most vulnerable homeless residents since April.
MKO’s contribution to this initiative, which was initially organized through Thompson’s Community Advisory Board on Homelessness and funded through Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, will ensure that the 25 people remain housed there until fall.
“At MKO, we are aware that half of First Nations people from MKO First Nations live off reserve in both urban and rural settings.” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a press release. “We have been concerned that people are going to fall through the cracks when it comes to the response to COVID-19. We are pleased to have a strong partner with the YWCA Thompson; they work to ensure that people experiencing housing and homelessness issues are well cared for at all times, no matter whether there is a pandemic.”
“With this additional funding, we will be able to continue our efforts to encourage and practise healthy COVID-19 measures,” said YWCA Thompson executive director Kim Hickes, adding that the 25 clients the organization is funding are screened for COVID-19 symptoms twice a day and have access to laundry, hand washing and shower facilities as well as face masks and gloves, and are encouraged to practise social distancing. “Beyond these measures, we will continue to support clients by providing on-site access to community resources, in-house access to supports and treat all clients with dignity and respect. At the YWCA Thompson, we believe that by having a positive impact on clients, in turn we create a positive impact on our community. We are extremely grateful for MKO’s generous contribution to this project and look forward to a continued partnership.”