Women's shelter to open in northern Manitoba First Nation

A women’s shelter that will serve northern Manitoba communities is opening in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, also known as Nelson House. It’s the fifth First Nations women’s crisis centre in the province and the only one in the North.

Nelson House shelter to serve community, surrounding areas

The women's shelter in Nelson House, Man., will have space for eight women and their children for as long as three weeks. (Susan Kobliski)
Women in northern Manitoba who are fleeing domestic violence will soon have a new place to turn.

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."

The shelter has eight suites with beds for mothers and their children, as well as kitchenettes and private washrooms. (Susan Kobliski)

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.

The shelter will offer counselling to both women and children fleeing domestic violence. (Susan Kobliski)

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.

About the Author

Holly Caruk

Video Journalist

Holly Caruk is a video journalist with CBC Manitoba. She began her career as a photo journalist in 2007 and began reporting in 2015. Born and raised in Manitoba, Holly is a graduate of the University of Manitoba's film studies program and Red River College's creative communications program. Email: holly.caruk@cbc.ca