The Saskatchewan Tribal Council (STC) held open days at its new wellness center in the Fairhaven neighborhood this week for residents to ask questions about the relocated shelter, which is intended to help the city’s most vulnerable people.
Located in southwest Saskatoon, the new facility will have 106 emergency beds, including 31 that used to be in the Lighthouse Supported Living facility downtown.
STC opened its original downtown wellness center in December 2021 to address the rise in homelessness and life-threatening winter temperatures.
The shelter in the center was intended to be temporary. STC announced the new Fairhaven shelter earlier this year.
STC Chief Marc Arcand spoke to Fairhaven residents about the new center during the open days. He said 550 people are homeless in Saskatoon and the community needs to work together to help them.
“Homelessness isn’t just in one neighborhood. It’s our whole community. It’s our whole city,” Arcand told reporters Wednesday.
Arcand said it can be difficult to understand the importance of shelters like STCs if you haven’t had loved ones affected by homelessness or addiction.
“The more people we can educate and understand, the better it will be for our city and I think it was a good discussion today.”
People will move into the new facility on November 23. Arcand hopes that the 75 residents of the downtown location and 31 residents of Lighthouse Supported Living will all be at the Fairhaven location by December 1.
Arcand said the new space is better equipped to meet the city’s needs. He said the center will be adequately staffed to deal with any complications or concerns. The facility will have a paramedic who works on site and works closely with the Saskatoon fire and police departments.
The new center will continue to provide three meals a day, shower and laundry facilities, and cultural support, counseling and addiction treatment.
Arcand said the staff will connect people with housing and employment, including hiring five residents at the facility.
Transportation will be made available for people who want to use services in Fairhaven, he said.
‘This place brought me back’
Dan Campbell spent four months at the downtown STC wellness center. He said it helped him get back on his feet after his wife died.
“When I lost her, I lost everything,” Campbell said.
“This place brought me back.”
As time went on, Campbell began helping other shelter residents. He said it made him feel like he was offering something to the public.
“If you don’t have a place like this here, it’s never going to be a real world,” Campbell said.
“It won’t become a real world until people trust each other and help people.”
Mixed reactions from Fairhaven residents
Carly Fullerton, who lives in Park Ridge, stood up during the open house to support the move.
“Also as a parent, I understand that there are many safety concerns in all areas of our children’s lives, but fear for our homeless people and the population of those in need is minimal,” Fullerton said.
“I just wanted to make sure our community understands that because we can get really caught up in the negative and the fear of the unknown.”
Some Fairhaven residents expressed concerns about community safety and potential vandalism in the area. One woman called the wellness center staff “you people,” which turned the conversation on racism.
Arcand said this type of attack is unacceptable.
“It should be about us all coming together as a community and as citizens, let’s say let’s work together for reconciliation and provide quality of life to people,” Arcand said.
When asked about the former Lighthouse Supported Living center, Arcand said the STC facility is not the same. He asked people concerned about the facility to visit its current location.
“We’re providing a different system that’s about healing, coping with trauma, actually getting people healthier so they have a quality of life,” Arcand said.
“We’re not just housing people to put them to sleep and not solve their problems, because if you don’t address their problems, we’re just going to have a continual continuation of problems.”