The Lac La Ronge Indian Band has partnered with La Ronge’s Scattered Site Outreach Program to open a temporary homeless shelter.

The emergency shelter was opened Tuesday at the Band’s Kitsaki Hall and took in 22 clients over its first night.

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said the band felt they needed to help after learning Scattered Site’s emergency shelter was not open yet.

“Somebody has to step up and somebody has to provide a shelter, so that’s why we decided to open up Kitsaki Hall to be able to provide a safe, warm place for people to sleep.”

Scattered Site Outreach Program, who usually has a shelter for homeless community members, is still closed because the program’s building needs an inspection on its sprinkler system  before opening.

Ron Woytowich, director of the Kikinahk Friendship Centre who oversees the outreach program, said they finished securing their funding Friday and were scrambling to get everything done so they could open. He said everything else is in place, including the staff who have been working at Kitsaki Hall.

Cook-Searson said there was an urgent need for a shelter due to the blizzard that started Monday evening. She said the clients that utilized the shelter Tuesday were thankful.

“They’re really grateful because the ones who came here (Tuesday), they had wet feet and they were very cold.”

Cots from the Band and Scattered Site were used for beds and a hot meal was provided. Cook-Searson said the Band and Scattered Site will continue to work together to help their clients.

“We’re going to work with Scattered Site, with Ron Woytowich, to see how we can best support the clients.”

Woytowich said he is grateful for the help from the Band. He said even though the majority of Scattered Site Outreach Programs clients are not LLRIB members, the Band continues to help everyone.

Cook-Searson explained councillor Devin Bernatchez drove around the tri-community to ensure all people sleeping outdoors were aware of the shelter.

Woytowich said he’s unsure when Scattered Site’s shelter will open but said it will be as soon as possible.

(PHOTO: Top, Terry Ross, Garth Venne and Charlene Venne all helped get Kitsaki Hall ready for its first day as an emergency shelter. Bottom, councillor Devin Bernatchez and Frank Venne also helped as they set the Hall up. Photos courtesy of Tammy Cook-Searson.)