Funding cuts lead to longer summer closure for Inuvik's warming centre

Inuvik's emergency warming centre will close for the second summer in a row. When it reopens this fall it will receive half as much money from the territorial anti-poverty fund as it did last year.

It will receive $50,000 less from the territorial anti-poverty fund than last year

Joey Amos, manager of the John Wayne Kiktorak Centre, says the loss in funding is due to more competition for the territory's anti-poverty fund. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

On June 1, Inuvik's John Wayne Kiktorak Centre will close for the summer, and it will have less money when it reopens in the fall.

That will make it the second year in a row that the emergency warming centre has had to close in the summer.

The centre will be receiving $50,000 from the territorial government's anti-poverty fund—half of the $100,000 they received last year.

The anti-poverty fund distributes $1 million per year to community organizations that fight poverty.

Joey Amos, manager of the John Wayne Kiktorak Centre, said the loss in funds is due to more applicants.

"It's not so much impacting us... the Inuvik Emergency [Warming] Centre Society….it's the people that we serve," said Amos.

"When we do close, where are they going to go? Where are they going to go and sleep? They'll probably go to setting up tents or finding abandoned buildings."

Joey Amos says when the warming shelter closes, clients will likely set up tents or find abandoned buildings to sleep at night. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Amos said the centre, which can take in people who may be struggling with addiction, serves about 12 to 14 people per day.

Last year, when the building was about to close early due to lack of funding, the Inuvik Firefighters Association stepped up and donated $38,000

Help on the way

Now, the Inuvik Native Band is also hoping to help.

It will be receiving $50,400 through the territorial Health and Social Services' Healthy Choices Fund. 

The majority of that money is going toward paying for a position at the warming centre that focuses on better providing daily services to clients.

"Our partnership is to try to help better address the needs of our peoples who utilize these services on a daily basis in a variety of manners to help regain their dignity," said Edward Wright, Manager of the Inuvik Native Band.

"I really believe we should continue to try working for these people on their behalf, not just for the immediate, but for the longer term."

Amos said he's hopeful that by working with different partners in the community, the centre will open up a couple of times during the day in the summer, so clients will have a place to shower, do laundry "and get out of the elements.

"We are probably not going to open until later than September because we just don't have the funding and we don't want to be putting ourselves in the position like last year in 2016, looking for funding."