Lac La Ronge chief sleeps outside to combat homelessness

Tammy Cook-Searson, chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, is spending a cold February night outdoors in the hopes of raising funds for an outreach program and awareness about the homeless problem in her community.

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson is spending the cold night outdoors to raise funds for an outreach program

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, pictured above, is spending a cold February night outdoors to raise money for an outreach centre in La Ronge, Sask. (Chief Tammy Cook-Searson)

Tammy Cook-Searson, chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, is spending a cold night outdoors. 

From 2 p.m. CST on Saturday to 8 a.m. on Sunday, the chief is going to brave the elements for a fundraising campaign called Share the Love. 

Cook-Searson and other supporters are spending the February evening in a cardboard shelter to help support the Scattered Site Outreach Program.

In addition to the money, Cook-Searson told CBC News she hopes the initiative increases awareness for homelessness in the La Ronge, Sask. area. 

"I'm only doing it for one night," she said, adding that it's important to "think about the people who have to do it 365 days a year and the hardships and the struggle they have to go through to live everyday."

Cook-Searson explained how there is a lot of pressure placed on Scattered Site and she wants people to know there is a demand for more services similar to those offered at the centre.

Despite the fact that program recently expanded its hours to serve people in need around the northern area, the centre has operated at capacity most of the time and been forced to turn people away. There are no beds, so some visitors end up sleeping upright in chairs.

Cook-Searson said some people have expressed concern about her spending 18 hours in the cold. During the time the group is staying outside, the temperature is expected to feel approximately -30 C with the windchill. 

"I'm not worried about myself because I'm prepared for the elements," she said. "Some people that are out there don't have anywhere to go."

While her initial goal was $1,000, she said she has already raised more than $5,000. All of that money will go to the outreach program.