Sally Ann starts fundraising drive

One may think lower temperatures mean more people sleeping at the Salvation Army emergency shelter, but that's not always the case.

One may think lower temperatures mean more people sleeping at the Salvation Army emergency shelter, but that’s not always the case.

Over the past few years, shelter staff have seen more people spending the night in the summer than the winter.

“It’s sort of the opposite of what I would have expected,” said Jeff Howard, who along with his wife, Shannon, leads the local Salvation Army.

They don’t know why this happens, but suspect family members or friends may be more willing to take people in when it’s cold out, he said.

Numbers of people staying at the shelter have been fairly consistent this year, and more people are using the space, he said. But this could be because the shelter can now accommodate 30 people a night. Before, it only had 14 beds. Earlier this year, the emergency shelter received 16 gym mats from Health and Social Services.

“Since we’ve increased the capacity, we’re not all the way full, all the time. Most nights we’re around 27, 28 people who are using these spaces,” he said.

Mainly men use the shelter, said. The beds are in two rooms. When a woman comes in for a place to sleep, she stays in a room with four beds in it, and that room becomes an all-female space for the night.

Additional beds would be better, but right now the shelter does not have space for more, he said. The Salvation Army is also talking with the territorial government about how it can expand its programs beyond giving food and a place to sleep.

More people are eating at the shelter, said Howard. Since he came here in 2009, the number of meals served at the Salvation Army has risen from 3,500 people a month to 5,000 a month. Most of that increase has happened this past year, he said.

The numbers aren’t just rising at the Salvation Army. The food bank serves more than 1,300 people a month – over 300 people more than last year, an October report from the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition says.

Not everyone who eats at the Salvation Army spends the night. Sharon Aviugana stops by a couple times a week for lunch. When she moved to Whitehorse from Edmonton three years ago, she stayed there for a few months until she found a place to stay. Now, she comes “just to see family and friends.”

The shelter provides a social space – there’s cable TV and a VCR. And volunteers teach people how to use the Internet, said Aviugana.

Working in Whitehorse can be a challenge, said Howard.

“Whitehorse is not a large city, but we see some of the social problems, in terms of homelessness and poverty and some of that, proportionately are much larger. So we kind of have large city social issues in what is really a smaller community.”

But he can’t see himself doing anything else. He recently saw a man who used to come to the shelter regularly. Over the past year, staff watched him put his life together. They helped him get to job interviews. He’s “doing really well now,” said Howard. He’s gotten a job and found a place to live.

“When you see people actually able to make change and have it be sustained, it’s really quite incredible.”

Whitehorse residents can help the transformation. The Salvation Army Christmas kettles will be out near Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Real Canadian Superstore and the liquor store starting this weekend. People can also text Hope2013 to 45678 to make a $5 donation or visit The goal is to raise $75,000 this year. Volunteers for the kettles are also needed.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision


Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read