Hope House will bring more than hope to Inuvik

There will soon be a new support center in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, for local people experiencing homelessness.

Hope House is set to open this fall, which has left Arctic Inspiration Prize winners Peggy Day and Susan Peffer feeling hopeful for residents and the Hope House itself.

Day and Peffer were part of the team received $495,000 in March for the project, which aims to be a hub of support for people experiencing homelessness.

Day and Peffer have worked closely with homeless people and served on many boards over the years, including the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Inuvik Homeless Shelter Advisory.

« We want to see our people heal well, enjoy life like everyone else, and have a good, safe place to go, » Peffer said. « We all deserve it. »

Hope House will include supports for mental health counselling, referrals to rehabilitation and social housing programs and referrals to jobs. The support workers there will also help with medical and dental visits, and with obtaining health cards or photo ID, and with opening bank accounts.

MPP for Inuvik Twin Lakes, Lesa Semmler, has been advocating for a strategy plan for shelters and homelessness in the community for the past few years. She nominated the Hope House project for her Arctic Inspiration Award.

Semmler said she wants to see a comprehensive culture-based support strategy for homeless people.

« Everyone needs a place to live, » Semmler said. « And it has to be…where they are on their journey. »

Work to do

CBC recently spoke with members of the community who rely on shelters and spaces like the soon-to-open Hope House to help them through.

They say there is still a lot of work to be done for the homeless in the area.

Carmen Angasuk was born and raised in Inuvik. She has been using Inuvik shelters for a few years, which she says she never expects to do.

She says her experiences in shelters have not been good and she no longer feels welcome there. Angasuk plans to stay in a tent, saying it would be better than the treatment people receive in shelters.

Ronald Taylor Jr., left, and Carmen Angasuk in Inuvik, Northwest Territories (Tyanna Bain/CBC)

“Even though we are on the streets, no one, no one deserves to be looked down upon,” Angasuk said.

Angasuk looks forward to the opening of Hope House and would like programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous to resume in the community.

Richard Selamio is originally from Aklavik, but has lived in Inuvik for 22 years and in a tent for three years. This winter will be his fourth life in a tent with only a gas stove for heating.

Selamio says Inuvik needs other supports, like a handy van so people can get to the shelters.

« It would be a very good thing for everyone, for the community, » he said.

Hope House is in partnership with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Nihtat Gwich’in Council, and will have a full-time worker and councilors working in the building.

Hope House is expected to open in early fall.


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