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October 27, 2017 7:56 pm

PG Shelters Deal with Deep Freeze

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 @ 6:00 AM
Ketso Yoh, one of the shelters in Prince George

Ketso Yoh, one of the shelters in Prince George

Prince George, B.C. – Frigid temperatures have meant a busy week for homeless shelters in Prince George.

According to Environment Canada, the cold snap could see temperatures plunge to as low as minus 30 by the weekend.

But despite the deep freeze, the shelters are more than ready to help, take for example Bridget Moran Place on Dominion Street.

“We are over capacity, we had 51 people Monday night,” says executive director Audrey Schwartz, adding they never turn anyone away. “We find room for them in this weather, whether that’s a mat on the floor or even a couch, we find room.”

Technically, Bridget Moran Place has space for 40 people – 30 beds plus the extra 10 extreme weather response shelters funded by the provincial government. The same goes for two other shelters in town, Ketso Yoh Centre Men’s Hostel and An Association Advocating for Women and Children (AWAC).

Connie Abe, executive director at AWAC, says the shelters in town have been operating B.C.’s emergency weather response since the brief burst of winter Prince George experienced in mid-October.

She says her agency also provides outreach in the evenings to ensure people find some shelter.

“Our outreach team goes out each night from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. They’re out in the streets in our outreach vehicles and we are connecting to people that are on the street that don’t want to go to a shelter for whatever reason,” says Abe.

“We encourage them to access a shelter, if they don’t we provide dry socks, toques, gloves, hot beverages and food.”

And if they refuse to seek shelter?

“If it’s minus 36 and our outreach team is out and come across an individual that knows they can access a shelter but absolutely refuses to, our team contacts the RCMP and lets them know.”

Though Abe says they can handle the extra demand for space, she does encourage anyone who wants to donate socks or toques to give her office a call at 250-562-6262.


My sincere appreciation goes out to Active Support Against Poverty who operate Bridget Moran Place, the Association Advocating for Women & Children, and the Prince George Native Friendship Center who operate the Ketso Yoh Shelter. Among other organizations who provide emergency shelters, the services these community non-profit organizations provide are a matter of life and death for many of the homeless during these extreme cold weather events.

I find it fascinating such an important news story like this would attract so little attention and no comment from the 250news crowd. Judging by some of the comments on the Christmas Dinner for Senior’s story one would think the virtues of “compassion” and “caring” would extend to our homeless, our children in poverty, our financially challenged persons with disabilities, the victims of Fentanyl overdoses, our murdered and missing women… need I go on?

What if our collective silence, our unwillingness to publicly voice our concerns, about these other critically important social issues begins to define us? For example; why is it that a change in a City Park’s name, or change in another Park’s traffic direction, sparks more outrage, public comment and debate, than our unacceptably high rates of homeless, children in poverty, or murdered and missing women? What does this say about our priorities?

When referring to the virtues of “compassion” and “caring”, perhaps we should not to be so selective about where, and when, we choose to apply those virtues?

* Just a note to 250news, the picture in this article is of the Friendship Lodge located on Queensway Blvd., not the Ketso Yoh Shelter located on Quebec Street.*

    Apologies, as the picture is of the Ketso Yoh Shelter… it looks so much like the Friendship Lodge, my mistake.

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