Letter to the Editor

We need Angel’s Nest I’m really hopeful the people of the Yukon can pull together and support the Angel’s Nest project.

We need Angel’s Nest

I’m really hopeful the people of the Yukon can pull together and support the Angel’s Nest project.

The Youth of Today Society is calling it Angel’s’ Nest in memory of Angel Carlick, who had spent some of her life homeless and was working to set up a shelter when she went missing on May 31st, 2007.

Her body was found five months later near Pilot Mountain subdivision.

Youth over the age of 18 years definitely need housing and support services.

It is frustrating to hear Michelle Kolla, executive director of Skookum Jim Friendship Centre distance herself and her organization from the proposal to purchase the Hide on Jeckell Hostel.

Skookie’s recently received $191,000 for an interim youth shelter pilot project. Could it be that Kolla doesn’t support the Angel’s Nest project because she is fearful of losing her funding?

The Skookie’s project allows them to refer youth in need of shelter to a couple of beds at Alcohol and Drug Services facilities.

This is a stop-gap solution, not providing for longer-term shelter for youth in need.

Some have suggested Whitehorse youth could use both Skookie’s services and Angel’s Nest.

The hostel on 410 Jeckell Street seems to be ideal for an independent living program. It has the right zoning and it comes with everything needed to run such a program: bikes, beds, books and furniture.

Vicki Durrant, The Youth of Today Society and others have worked hard over the years to keep at-risk youth safe and they have been advocating a long time for a youth shelter.

It seems now we have the ideal opportunity to obtain one and all that is missing is some financial support to the tune of $425,000.

If Angel’s Nest becomes a reality, it won’t mean that the youth will have a free ride — they will have to pay rent and will receive the counselling and support they so desperately require.

Carlick was one of those youth; she was homeless. But she got support from the Youth of Today Society through a place to live (that later was shut down due to lack of funding), finished high school and was a role model to other youth her age.

People complain about crime and alcohol and drug abuse in Whitehorse Housing is a basic human need and homeless youth are going to be more at-risk to engage in destructive behaviours towards themselves and others if they don’t have a home.

People in the Yukon have always been great supporters of worthwhile projects and I hope they realize that Angel’s Nest is one of them.

Cathy Deacon

Whitehorse

Universal action

starts at home

This week, researchers, community service providers, people living with HIV/AIDS and policymakers will take part in the largest gathering of HIV/AIDS workers in the world being held in Mexico City.

People will come from countries around the world to share their best practices, their successes and their learning from studying what has not worked.

Among these researchers and workers, several hundred Canadians will attend this gathering to share their experiences gained over the past two years.

Imagine for a moment what they will have to share.

They are not going to be telling the story about how Canadians have managed to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the hardest hit communities.

They are not going to be touting innovative public policies focused on harm reduction and people who use drugs.

They are not there to talk about government support for innovative responses that will stop the emerging epidemic.

These are all things that Canada should be doing.

As a resource-rich country, we have no excuse, we should be meeting the challenge — domestically and internationally to respond to AIDS.

Instead we are seeing cuts to federal funding that was set aside to fund community efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

These cuts amount to almost $12 million.

Our widely touted Canadian HIV Vaccines Initiative has seen little movement, save a call for research and a production facility — a facility to produce a product that is years, if not decades, from being discovered.

We are failing people living with HIV/AIDS.

We are failing people who are living in high-risk situations and we are failing at ensuring that Canadians are not at risk from an entirely preventable disease.

The theme for this year’s conference is Universal Action Now.

We all have a responsibility to take action. It is time for Canada to take action at home.

Don’t let us slip back on our commitments. 

Don’t fail the Canadian community. 

Patricia Bacon, executive director, Blood Ties Four Directions Centre, Whitehorse