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Northwest Territories Housing Corporation takes over two shelters in Inuvik ‘effective immediately’

Letter obtained by Inuvik Drum says NWTHC terminating contribution agreement “effective immediately”
Freddy Harrison has a laugh as he contemplates where he’ll sleep over the summer and eats his lunch in front of the Inuvik Warming Centre. The centre was closed May 13 by NWT Housing Corporation so it can provide training to the staff. Eric Bowling/NNSL photo

The NWT Housing Corporation plans to take over operations of both the Inuvik Warming Centre and the Inuvik Homeless Shelter, according to a letter addressed to the Inuvik Emergency Warming Centre’s board of directors.

The NWTHC has been working towards a partnership with the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, with the intent of re-opening the overnight warming shelter on Oct. 1, 2021, according to the letter, which the Drum obtained.

In the letter, attributed to NWTHC homelessness and community planning manager Renay Ristoff, the housing corporation says it is terminating its contribution agreement with the Warming Centre Society and said it would be invoicing the nonprofit for $132,000 “minus the operational costs for April 1 to May 14, 2021.”

“It is our hope that the board supports this new approach and will fully participate in the transition of Shelter Operations to the NWT Housing Corporation,” reads the letter.

Read the letter here.

An unattributed email from NWTHC said the money was pro-rated and had initially been intended for the Warming Centres operational funding. Because the board will not be operating the centre, the NWTHC said it needed the money back as detailed in the contribution agreement.

NWTHC confirmed it was taking the two centres over.

"The NWTHC will no longer be providing funding to current incarnations of the Inuvik Emergency Warming Centre or the Inuvik Homeless Shelter to conduct overnight shelter operations due to ongoing staffing and governance issues," reads the response. "The NWTHC remains committed to supporting these vulnerable populations in Inuvik and the conclusion of this contribution agreement does not mean that the NWTHC will not support shelters in Inuvik. These shelters do important work and the NWTHC is working to ensure that the vital services they provide will be available to residents of Inuvik and the surrounding area."

As for the current staff at both shelters, the NWTHC says their fate is at the discretion of the two boards which will no longer be in charge of the shelters.

Inuvik’s Emergency Waring Shelter closed May 13 amid concerns the overnight temperatures were dropping below 0 C. At the time, NWT Housing Corporation said the closure was to facilitate staff training.

A former member of the board and former executive director, Mary Cockney, previously told the Inuvik Drum she resigned from the board after the NWT Housing Corporation moved in.

Inuvik’s Emergency Warming Shelter has had a rough year. The previous board resigned after a heated meeting where they announced their intentions to dissolve the society.

About the Author: Eric Bowling

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