Around 100 people took part in a walk in Saskatoon Thursday in support of the Saskatoon Tribal Council’s Emergency Wellness Centre.

Originally opened in March of 2023, the centre houses 106 homeless people a night with the tribal council saying they often have to turn people away.

In recent weeks, the homeless shelter has seen calls for its closure from some people in nearby neighbourhoods.

Tribal Chief Mark Arcand believes those calls are misguided.

“We have to work together to find solutions and not shut down facilities to hurt people when people are in need,” said Arcand. “Right now we have ten families in there and thirty kids, so there is a need for this and if people disagree they have to live with themselves.”

Arcand hopes people can focus on the positives he feels the wellness centre is bringing to the community.

“We are providing outcomes and results… we are making a difference and people need to embrace that instead of trying to shut us down.”

The supporters started at city hall walking all the way to the Emergency Wellness Centre several blocks away.

(Photo – people gather at Saskatoon City Hall before walking across the city in support of the STC’s Emergency Wellness Centre.  Photo by Joel Willick.)

In the meantime, the STC is currently negotiating with the province to continue the operation of the wellness centre, something Arcand says needs to be done by April 1.

“This is about the people and will always be about the people,” said Arcand. “We have to work together to make sure we are helping people.”

As the province, and a few private donors are the only entities providing funding for the EWC, Arcand hopes the federal government and other private donors can begin to chip in.

“At the end of the day we need more organizations and people to support homelessness in our city to lower the number of people who need help.”