New partnership looks to keep emergency shelter open in the Battlefords

The Lighthouse board promised to develop a plan to avoid future risk of the shelter closing.

A new partnership between the Battleford Agency Tribal Council (BATC), the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan (MN–S), the City of North Battleford and the Lighthouse Supported Living Centre is looking to keep an emergency homeless shelter open in the Battlefords.

The Lighthouse has agreed to lease the shelter in North Battleford to the Battleford Agency Tribal Council (BATC). The BATC plans to operate the shelter over the next six months while working to become a more “community-based” organization and develop programming.

“The City of North Battleford is very thankful for our community-minded partners that have worked together to develop an innovative approach to continue this needed service for the homeless in the Battlefords,” North Battleford Mayor David Gillan said.

The BATC is taking over the operations at the shelter with a focus on community programming, outreach, partnerships, and improving day-to-day operation at the shelter.

The BATC has helped fund the Lighthouse for more than a decade, and said that it “makes sense” for them to lead the new approach to address homelessness in the Battlefords.

“It is with pride that we have worked with our Elders to create a new name, ‘Miywasin Kikinaw – a beautiful place,” Battleford Agency Tribal Council Chiefs said in a written statement.  

“It is our hope to work with clients on a case-by-case basis, while focusing on health, wellness, and future transitioning.”

The Lighthouse board promised to evaluate programming, improve reporting and transparency practices and to develop a plan to avoid future risk of the shelter closing. 

“Building strong partnerships within the community is essential to ensure the needs are being properly served,” Lighthouse Board Chair Jerome Hepfner said.

“We are committed to evolving the services to support the Battlefords and surrounding area in the best way possible through these partnerships.”

In March, the Lighthouse didn’t qualify for homelessness funding and was at risk of closing its North Battleford shelter. The Metis Nation of Saskatchewan (MN–S) stepped in to fund those services, allowing the Lighthouse to remain open until the end of September. 

“Homelessness prevention cannot be done successfully by one operator from outside the community,” MN–S Minister of Housing Ryan Carriere said.

“A community-based partnership approach is more effective in achieving our goal of eliminating homelessness.”

A community impact meeting will be held in the coming weeks between housing and community service providers to understand what programs the Lighthouse may have to suspend. The meeting will also help find ways to fill any “gaps” to service in the Battlefords area resulting from the transition.

“This meeting is to make sure the community is aware of challenges and the temporary change,  MN–S Director of Housing Christena Konrad said. 

“It will allow all community partners to work together and fill gaps that may remain from the transition. The meeting will also uncover duplication of services or identify programming that has a low impact on the community overall.”