Laichwiltach Family Life Society is receiving funding to help with their Hama?Elas community kitchen, Kwesa Place and to help coordinate their work in helping people experiencing homelessness.
Earlier this year, the Strathcona Regional District announced a successful application for the Union of BC Municipalities Strengthening Communities’ Services Grant, the goal of which is to “improve the health and safety of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness, reduce related community impacts, improve service coordination and increase local capacity for service delivery.”
The SRD partnered with the Coalition to End Homelessness and a number of other groups — including Laichwiltach Family Life Society — to bring the most money possible into the area to help address homelessness and other related issues. Of the total $1,020,279, LFLS will be receiving $205,000 to help with the operations of the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen, as well as a few new staffing positions.
“We just hired someone to oversee the kitchen, oversee the volunteers, oversee all of the ordering of supplies and all the stuff that goes with that,” said Laichwiltach Family Life Society executive director Audrey Wilson about the food security coordinator.
“Ian (Baikie) is a big part of that program downtown, just keeping it going,” she said. “I can’t even count how many hours (Ian) has done to volunteer. When they put the kitchen together, that was all volunteer hours. He’s looking forward to having someone who is going to take that responsibility on and oversee it so he can step back.”
Baikie’s counterpart at Kwesa Place next door to Hama?Elas is Shawn Decaire. Wilson said part of the funds will be to bring on another staff person to help Decaire in his operation.
“I had a couple of my staff alternating to go down and be supports to the program, but what we were finding is that we really need to have somebody there that is there the same time as Shawn,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of one-on-one support. Getting people to detox, getting some to treatment, or helping them fill out paperwork, we need a body that is responsible for that.”
The third other position funded by the grant is an Urban Indigenous Housing and Wellness coordinator. In addition to running meetings of the Urban Indigenous Housing Coalition, Wilson said “it’s also about trying to look at ways that we can get community to do more low income housing. There’s definitely not enough in Campbell River. I know that’s an ongoing issue.”
“It’s trying to look to get Indigenous housing, specifically. That seems to be a real gap in our community. There’s not enough low-income housing, and B.C. Housing doesn’t seem to be creating low income housing anymore. They bought Riverside for low-income, and mainly a lot of the people who went in there were the people from 9th avenue, the fire there.”
Hopefully, Wilson said, the rest of the funding will help with that.
“Lots of good things are going to happen. There’s a lot of good partnerships that have been created with this. It’s been good to see it happen.”