Open letter to Archibald Lang, minister of Health and Social Services:
I am writing on behalf of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Regional Women’s Committee. Much attention has been paid to the issue of homelessness here in the Yukon, and especially in Whitehorse.
Many politicians and notable people in our community have not just talked about the issue, but have personally experienced the hardships by sleeping on the streets, couch surfing or sleeping in vans and pickup trucks.
Food has been collected and the community has donated mittens, coats and other warm clothing to help those who do not have adequate shelter or material goods, especially when the thermometer dips lower and lower.
We also understand temporary bed space has been made available at the detox centre and Skookum Jim’s. While this is certainly applaudable in an emergency situation, it is not ideal by any means.
It is a fact that we vitally need shelter and programming to assist the most vulnerable members of our community Ã youth facing homelessness, poverty and violence. We recognize and applaud the considerable efforts of all individuals and organizations working towards the realization of Angel’s Nest.
Angel’s Nest is meant to be homelike, to offer counselling services and to perhaps allow these people to find and make better choices, as well as to protect them from some of the many dangers of street life. Money spent here is more effective than spending it later, as the intervention is targeted to younger people who may be able, with the right support, to become connected members of our communities.
We call on you and your government to prioritize this initiative. Take the necessary steps to ensure this much-needed facility and programming is put in place sooner rather than later. Delays and blame-shifting only serve to leave these ‘at risk’ young members of our community in further harm’s way.
We join Yukon First Nations, social justice groups and concerned citizens in calling for your government to recognize its responsibility. Please take the political actions to ensure remaining barriers are removed and necessary funding approval is put in place.
We are requesting a response on the status of a shelter and program for youth facing homelessness in the Yukon.
Lorraine Rousseau, co-chair
PSAC Regional Women’s Committee