The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation in Yellowknife is taking a unique approach to helping the homeless or people with addictions.
Starting this week, volunteers with the program will be providing transportation to a camp and will serve up a hot meal to kick off the day.
“A lot of the people that are on the streets today are stuck in a place where they feel they can’t fix what happened to them,” says William Greenland who, not so long ago, lived on the streets.
Greenland is a traditional councillor with the wellness foundation, a grassroots organization that runs a land healing camp.
The foundation has partnered with the city to offer transportation to the camp and a hot breakfast for people in need.
“We got bacon and eggs guys, bacon and eggs, toast, steak, in other words Klick. That’s what they call Dene T-bone steak hey Klick,” Greenland tells the bus full of people.
(Greenland, the wellness camp tucked away in Yellowknife. Photo: Cullen Crozier/APTN)
The van pulls up to a small walking trail on the outskirts of the city.
A large teepee and a number of small canvas tents can be seen in the distance while the smell of camp fire cuts through the crisp morning air.
And it’s here the healing begins.
“It’s a bonus, especially for the street people. It’s a bonus when they got nothing to do, like when they have no food, no nothing, no money, like you know this is a bonus for them to eat out here,” says Richard Selamio, a visitor to the camp.
“You know, it’s a start for them and I’m really glad for this place to give us breakfast like this.”
The healing camp opened its doors last April after receiving $1-million from the Arctic Inspiration prize.
Since then, more than 2,000 people have accessed the camp’s services which include everything from traditional counselling to a hot cup of coffee.
It’s all meant to provide a much needed leg up for residents like Eric Wardell.
“I think it’s awesome, I really do. I think the more awareness, I think people in the downtown core so to speak would come out here more often once they see it,” he says.
“Kind of like take a break from the monotonous ongoing things downtown of Yellowknife.”
(A prayer before breakfast at the wellness camp. Photo: Cullen Crozier/APTN)
And Wardell isn’t the only one.
Greenland says that the camp averages around 20 visitors a day and the numbers are only growing.
“You know we’re here all year round, 40 below we’re out here. Getting the fires going, getting the coffee on, people show up at nine in the morning you know,” says Greenland.
“You know we’ll get some more bacon and eggs, some more Klick. So it seems to be going pretty good.”