Warming Shelter opens in Behchoko
Shelter will be open 12 hours a day, from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m.
After a year of planning, the doors to Behchoko, N.W.T.'s first overnight warming shelter opened at 7 p.m. on Friday.
The community held a feeding the fire ceremony at noon to bless the shelter before it opened.
"This is a very special occasion because the prayer will help people that will be using the home," said Behchoko Coun. Nora Wedzin.
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"We're hoping that it will help people that go into the building to heal."
The shelter will be open for 12 hours a day — from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. There will also be food for patrons, so long as there are enough donations.
There will be two staff members at the shelter, with a mix of paid employees and volunteers. The goal is to keep people off the street during cold nights.
"It's part of a preventative program to prevent people from dying out in the cold," said Wedzin. She's been an advocate for bringing the shelter into the community.
Scott Young, detachment commander for the RCMP, has been working with the community for a year to bring in the shelter.
"Last night was [–39 C]. This is the time that we need it," he said.
Patrons will not be allowed to bring alcohol into the shelter, but people won't be turned away if they have consumed alcohol before arriving.