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British Columbia

‘Moose Caboose’ is a new way to help those in need by PAGC | Spare News

The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) is offering a new mobile thermal shelter called Moose Caboose for Prince Albert’s vulnerable population.

As of Tuesday evening, the Moose Caboose Cold Weather Outreach Van was cruising the streets of Prince Albert. The emergency vehicle was developed in response to the danger homeless people face when sleeping outdoors in freezing temperatures. The emergency vehicle is to drive every night from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m

“We looked for ways to help our homeless and vulnerable,” said Natalie Clyke of PAGC Urban Services Community Cares Kitchen. “There is an interesting story that we are currently delving into that understands the true needs of our vulnerable.”

According to Clyke, Urban Services has already developed relationships with a number of homeless residents, so they know the challenges they face. However, since the creation of the new mobile warm-up shelter, Clyke said they meet a new group of people who are not using the warm-up shelter at Moose Lodge.

“They can’t reach the shelter and are absolutely homeless, absolutely without shelter,” she explained. “So the support system that we think we have in our city doesn’t exist.

“What’s happening is a lot of our people are being evicted by security, you know the nooks and crannies in apartment blocks and the outside areas, and at that point they’re being evicted from this West Hill location with nothing they can do but themselves to move and re-enter another unknown location where the risk of being affected by the cold weather increases.”

Clyke explained that the seriousness of the situation has become even clearer since the Moose Caboose began operations on Tuesday.

“I think the point that’s being pushed is that there are a lot of people that don’t have access to the donations and all the pretty faces at the YWCA, and those are the people that are really affected by homelessness,” she explained . “The urgency of the outreach program which, led by our Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, has attempted to create in the fastest possible way a program that would be able to reach those people who do not necessarily have access to the shelter via an outreach van and then bring them to the shelter afterwards.”

The idea dates back to November 17 when PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte brought together staff and officials from PAGC, PAGC’s Senate, PAGC’s Women’s Commission, Montreal Lake Cree Nation, Little Red Reserve, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, YWCA Prince Albert, Prince Albert Indian Métis Friendship Centre, West Flat Community Centre, River Bank Development Corporation, Parkland Ambulance Care, Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District and the Prince Albert Police Service to discuss emergency shelter needs for the city’s homeless population.

The PAGC decided to pursue the idea after the City of Prince Albert held a strategy meeting for the homeless in December.

“PAGC has not been invited to the table for this conversation when we clearly offer one of the larger services to the immediate needs of our homeless and vulnerable,” Clyke explained.

She added that Hardlotte set the direction to be able to care for people in a more immediate way.

“We have an outreach program that runs seven days a week,” she said. “We have some very experienced people.”

The group recognized the urgent need for an emergency vehicle following the death of a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation, who was found in the CBD following a snowstorm in early November.

“Our many partners across the city recognize that it is our shared responsibility to help our most vulnerable members in need. For those without a home, the cold weather presents a desperate life or death situation and we must do our best to assist them in these situations,” Hardlotte said in a press release on Friday.

“Some of them choose not to go to the available accommodations for their own reasons, so we want to offer them another option that they find welcoming, comfortable and safe. Now that we have this emergency vehicle in operation, we have staff who will be able to drive around the city late at night and make sure no one else is left alone,” he explained.

Clyke said there are about 50 to 70 people who need protection from their sightings.

“Of the seven and a half hours last night I would say we were able to spend 45 minutes getting to the shelter, getting our people and actually being there physically and we got to the end of the night around the seven and three more turn away sorrowfully. On the first night, one of those turns was a pregnant woman, she was at the Stepping Stones and we ended up taking her to an address on the 1900 block of West 14th Street, she didn’t have transportation to get there,” Clyke said.

The Moose Caboose Cold Weather Outreach Van will roam the streets of Prince Albert addressing immediate needs through outreach.

The Moose Caboose takes its name from the warming lodging Moose Lodge, named for James “Moose” Sewap, who died on a bench on the Rotary Trail in the summer of 2021.

Clyke said reception has been positive so far.

“There was a lady who commented (on Facebook) about how proud Moose would be if he knew his kindness lasted,” Clyke said. “That was exactly the goal. We cannot forget a person who was a victim of the system and his kindness cannot be forgotten because he really made an impact on the people he protected on the street.

“Anything we can do to honor his memory and spirit by being the bigger arms we would have wrapped around our people and taken his jacket off to care for that person, we are providing this jacket . We have a sandwich, we have these things right on hand when they need it most.”

The Moose Caboose is offered through PAGC Urban Services’ Community Cares Kitchen. Check the PAGC Facebook page for updates.

They are always looking for donations and since Tuesday’s launch they have been contacted by a number of people including Tipi Fuel who have donated hats and gloves.

“We had two separate vehicles that drove to our location with donations. People can come directly to the Caboose with donations, or we can go to them to collect those donations,” she said.

Clyke said only 12 treats have an effect because people can get in the vehicle and drive around.

“We had the five that had to warm up, that’s just over an hour, we drove the loop of the city and checked our other vulnerable around the city. It’s totally fine, we want to encourage that. We want to be a place where they can warm up until we figure out where to drop them off or they can come up with a plan. That’s our priority,” Clyke said.

They open each conversation by offering the person a cup of tea. Clyke said they start every conversation by asking the weak if they would like a cup of tea.

“They are now oriented towards seeing the Moose Caboose, (and) they realize that maybe this is Moose Lodge,” she said. “At this point we introduce ourselves again and their vigilance is lowered because they either know about us or know us because we have employees who know our employees and can advocate for them in their unique and different situations.”

The Moose Caboose will operate seven nights a week from 6pm to 2am. The schedule is as follows:

Stepping Stones (900 Exhibition Drive) – 7pm, 10:15pm, 12:15am and 1:30am

Cornerstone, Arby’s Lot (800 15th Street East) – 8:05 p.m., 10:45 a.m. and 1 a.m

Giant Tiger (267 West 32nd Street) – 8:45 p.m., 11 p.m. and 1:30 a.m

Moose Lodge (107 8th Street) – 9:30pm, 11:45pm and 1:25am

Brick Apartment (235 10th Street East) – 10:05 p.m. and 12:05 a.m

To donate, contact Clyke at 306-930-1339 or email [email protected]

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