Women's shelter to open in northern Manitoba First Nation
Nelson House shelter to serve community, surrounding areas
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, also known as Nelson House, is holding a grand opening of its first women's shelter on Tuesday.
It's the fifth First Nations women's crisis centre in the province and the only one in the North, the centre's executive director said.
"This is going to be a shelter that will accommodate outlying communities that are remote, beyond the 55th parallel of Manitoba," said Susan Kobliski, executive director of the shelter.
"There's only one women's crisis centre in the north and that's located in Thompson, so there was a very high need for a shelter."
Over 3,000 people live in the community, but the shelter will also serve surrounding areas like Lynn Lake, Tadoule Lake, Lac Brochet, Gillam and Churchill.
Nelson House is located about 670 kilometres north of Winnipeg and 65 kilometres west of Thompson.
Kobliski said the shelter can accommodate up to eight women and their children for a three-week stay.
The rooms are equipped with kitchenettes, private washrooms and bunk beds for kids. Half of the rooms can accommodate larger families.
"The intent is to ensure there is protection and safety, first and foremost," said Kobliski.
"We also have a very strong belief in providing and ensuring there is a process of empowerment to the women.
Kobliski said there will be nine full-time staff members, including two support workers, a child-care worker and security staff.
Women will have access to resources and counselling to help them transition out of domestic violence situations into independent living.
"To allow them to reclaim the sacredness of who they are as mothers, as women, as child givers," said Kobliski.
The shelter was built next to the community's RCMP detachment across from a healing lodge.
Kobliski said previously, women living in violent situations would have to travel long distances to access shelters, making it difficult for women to leave.
"A lot of them would rely on family members, a lot of them would stay [in abusive relationships]," she said.
The community will hold a grand opening of the shelter on Tuesday, but it likely won't be up and running until late December or January to accommodate training for staff.
Kobliski said they plan to put out a proposal to find a suitable name for the shelter in the coming weeks.