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Yellowknife Covid shelter receives $150,000 from Rio Tinto

DDMI - YWS Arnica Inn-2

The Yellowknife Women’s Society (YWS) has received $150,000 from Rio Tinto to support its Covid-19 isolation shelter in the old Arnica Inn site, the company said in a news release on Thursday.

The funding is aimed at providing accommodation and food for people who are at high medical risk of serious illness or death if they contract Covid. The funds will also support the hiring of three new staff at the shelter to bolster services and programming for residents.

"We are grateful to Rio Tinto for their support in meeting the needs of our community,” said Bree Denning, executive director of YWS. "The Yellowknife Women’s Society is dedicated to increasing safety for the most vulnerable women and men in our community."

Neesha Rao, left, incoming executive director of the Yellowknife Women’s Society; Diana Lubansa, shelter manager; residents Joe Poodlat and Rick Thatcher, and Bree Denning, executive director of the Women’s Society stand in front of the shelter in Yellowknife. Rio Tinto photo

The YWS shelter is operating with funding capacity to support 25 individuals and the plan is to transition back to its original supportive housing function after the pandemic.

“Staying safe and well is at the core of how we operate," said Diavik President and chief operating officer Richard Storrie. "As part of our approach to community investments, Diavik is supporting the health and well-being of our community members. We believe that we all have a role to play in protecting and supporting each other through Covid-19 and are proud to partner, on behalf of Rio Tinto, with communities and organizations that are vital in
the Covid-19 response.”

Rio Tinto holds 60 per cent ownership of the Diavik Diamond Mine, about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

The company plans to provide more than $700,000 to various community projects in the NWT during the pandemic, it said. Those include a partnership with the NWT Literacy Council to develop literacy materials for families with young children, scholarships for post-secondary students, food security initiatives and the production and distribution of personal protective equipment.