The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) is looking to help vulnerable people in the City of Prince Albert.

Last week the PAGC along with a number of partners including the City of Prince Albert and Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) opened a cold weather shelter in the city at the Union Centre. The centre is being run by PAGC Urban Services.

PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte told MBC News the tribal council was in part motivated to take action after seeing the homeless situation this past summer.

“It was something that we’ve been working on, [after] hearing about this summer about the tent cities that were reported within the major cities of Regina also Saskatoon and here in our city Prince Albert,” he said.

The Grand Chief explained the tribal council’s member chiefs were concerned about what they were seeing and directed the PAGC to find solutions to help vulnerable people living in P.A.

“The Chiefs they were pretty alarmed and they gave us directives as executive of the Prince Albert Grand Council, we work with our urban services along with the directive,” said Hardlotte.

Along with offering people a place to stay warm, Hardlotte said the facility, which is officially called Moose’s Lodge Warming Shelter, will also provide those who are in need other services and will not be turning anyone away who is in need of help. The facility is going to be running through the winter until spring.

“It’s not just a warm up shelter, its meals, its hot meals, nobody gets turned away, it’s the clothing that we provide also for the elements, for the cold weather,” said Hardlotte.

Looking at the current situation in regards to homelessness, Hardlotte believes P.A. is seeing a surge in the number of people who are currently on the streets. He explained the COVID-19 pandemic has likely made the situation worse along with a lack of housing and jobs in some First Nations.

Overall Hardlotte said other solutions also need to be looked at to help vulnerable people who are currently living on the streets. He added the PAGC is working with other groups on addressing the problem.

“There has to be solutions, long term solutions, I think the ultimate plan will be try to help these people, get them out of the streets, either back to their First Nations or some kind of homing program and a job program and then assistance in a medical area in the addictions area,” he said.

(PAPS Twitter: A number of people from a range of different organizations were on hand to officially open the shelter last week.)