Sioux Lookout’s emergency shelter will be operating under new management as of tonight.

The Kenora District Services Board has announced that effective September 1, staff with Nahnahda-Wee-ee-Waywin – Sioux Lookout Sexual Assault & Counselling Centre will be assuming operation of the shelter, with no service interruptions expected.

The shelter was previously operated by volunteers with Out of the Cold, but in May, those volunteers announced they would be transitioning away from operating the shelter by September – prompting the KDSB to send out an Expression of Interest over the summer.

Nahnahda-Wee-ee-Waywin, an Indigenous-based organization under the First Step Women’s Shelter, was then selected to run the shelter and to enhance its current operation.

“We are committed to ensuring people in Sioux Lookout have access to a safe, warm, comfortable place to spend the night. We will be providing 2 meals a day and hope to increase to 3 meals very soon,” says Executive Director, Tana Troniak.

Nahnahda-Wee-ee-Waywin says Sioux Lookout’s emergency shelter in the old Queen Elizabeth High School at 15 Fair Street will be open between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. each night, with breakfast and light supper available. Troniak adds they also hope to be able to open 24/7 in the future.

The KDSB and Nahnahda-Wee-ee-Waywin also took time to thank volunteers and the Board of Directors with Out of the Cold for their work to provide a safe space for residents over the last many years.

The situation played out similarly to that of Kenora’s Emergency Shelter when in 2020, the Ne-Chee Friendship Centre took a step away from the operation at Knox United Church, and a new partnership was found between the KDSB and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance has repeatedly lobbied provincial and federal governments to develop a permanent emergency shelter and social services hub in the Sioux Lookout area, to address a backlog of mental health and addictions concerns within his community.

Through the KDSB’s 2021 Homeless Enumeration Report, a one-day count of homeless individuals in each community in the Kenora district, the board reported a total of 36 individuals in Sioux Lookout who identified as homeless, but noted that number is likely to be much higher.