In just about a year, women and children fleeing domestic violence will have a new safe haven in Meadow Lake.
The Waskoosis Safe Shelter has been in operation since 1992. The new $1.2 million facility will have six rooms for up to 21 individuals, enhanced security precautions, wheelchair accessibility, as well as additional space for programming and offices.
It will be built thanks to a partnership between the federal and provincial governments, Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC), Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC), and the Métis Housing Corporation. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Service Canada also contributed to the project.
A commemorative ground-breaking ceremony took place at the new site Friday afternoon. Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison, Mayor Gary Vidal, MLTC Chief Eric Sylvestre, and Flying Dust band Coun. Richard Durocher were joined by several community members including MLTC and city staff, and representatives from Crescent Construction who will erect the new facility.
Program Manager Cecile Mistickokat has worked at the shelter for the last 23 years. She said it’s really exciting for the staff of nine and will make a huge difference in the lives of the people they support.
“We’ll have more space,” she said. “There will be a full basement for the programming, and everything will be on one level for the bedrooms. The current building is getting old, so this will be a great improvement.”
Sylvestre spoke to the shelter's history. He said it was established by advocates in 1991 through the Meadow Lake First Nations women’s group and named in honour of former Makwa Sahgaiehcan Chief Martha Bear, who dedicated her work to improving the quality of life for families and addressing violence and abuse.
Harrison said the new centre will be a great replacement for the current ageing facility.
“It’s not just about the construction of this new building,” he said. “To me, it’s about the commitment of this community and region to help vulnerable families in their greatest need. It’s about working together to help people who need safety in times of fear and uncertainty.”
On Twitter @ReporterKath
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