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YWCA and SideDoor call on community for help locating office space


The YWCA and SideDoor Youth Resource Centre and Transitional Housing are still seeking combined office space this week as they expressed disappointment in not being able to secure the city-0wned Mine Rescue building at the beginning of this month.

The Mine Rescue building, bordering Overlander Sports on 49 Avenue, was declared the temporary day shelter on Nov. 6 after the GNWT announced an emergency measure to use the space.
NNSL file photo

The organizations sent a joint and urgent message to the community via social media on Dec. 7 stating that they "need space immediately in downtown Yellowknife to deliver programs for a six-month term."


Both organizations say they were of the understanding that they had secured a lease to begin on Dec. 1 at the Mine Rescue building after applying in the summer. The location is currently being used as a second day shelter for adults.

"While the plan to use this space was being finalized, the GNWT declared a state of emergency and enacted the Emergency Management Act, which displaced YWCA and SideDoor from using this location," stated Alayna Ward, director of community relations with YWCA NWT.

Ward added that the YWCA is currently in a temporary space that isn't ideal over the long-term to provide the array of programs for youth, its family centre, and for others who use the organization's services.

"I am disappointed in how this has turned out," says Hawa Dumbuya-Sesay, executive director of YWCA NWT.

Tammy Roberts, executive director of SideDoor since Nov. 9, said she was of the understanding based on the request for proposals (RFP) from the city that the municipality wanted organizations to partner to counter homelessness.

For Roberts, it means that SideDoor, which provides social programs for youth in need, is currently very tight for space.

"We are currently using part of our shelter space for the resource centre and the apartments upstairs for offices, so we need to get new resource centre space and office space so that there is more space at Hope's Haven," she said. "The more space we have, the more youth we can help."

Hawa Dumbuya-Sesay, executive director with YWCA NWT, said, as of Thursday, she had been looking at a few places after receiving feedback but had not solidified anything yet.

"I am disappointed in how this has turned out and surprised because there was not the time to inform us in the planning or to give us the heads up," she said. "We found out the same time as everyone else did and it was surprising."

Both organizations had applied in June when the RFP came out and the intent was to have YWCA using the upstairs of the Mine Rescue building and the SideDoor using the downstairs.

Dumbuya-Sesay said the two organizations are still aiming to use the building when the state of emergency is over – likely at the end of May. She said the YWCA wants to work with other like-minded organizations as much as it can.

"If the building is still available in May, then definitely because that was the initial plan to go into the building with (SideDoor)," she said when asked if she is aiming to work with SideDoor in the future. "If that is open in May, then that would be the plan."

NNSL Media sent requests for comment to the city hall on Monday and Thursday, but there were no responses as of late Thursday afternoon.