'Sad but sweet,' Winnipeg emergency shelter ends season with Easter meal

'Sad but sweet,' Winnipeg emergency shelter ends season with Easter meal

People staying in an emergency shelter in Winnipeg were able to attend Easter celebrations before the shelter closes its doors for the season.

Just a Warm Sleep, an emergency shelter run by local non-profit 1JustCity, had its final night Saturday. People using the program were able to have a final meal with staff and volunteers, and were given a package of food to take with them.

“Last night was a sad, but sweet kind of event. We thought that we had closed for the season already, but we took another cold turn,” said 1JustCity spokesperson Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud.

Just a Warm Sleep emergency shelters only operate when it’s -10 C, and its services don’t typically include a meal.

“[It’s really important] that everyone feels like they matter, that everyone feels like people care, and we definitely achieved that this weekend,” Blaikie Whitecloud said.

We’ve built this wonderful community together– Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud, 1JustCity spokesperson 

The program, which Blaikie Whitecloud estimates has helped about 200 different individuals this year, has faced challenges during this season — on New Year’s Day the program had to be moved due to pipes bursting in Augustine United Church.

Just a Warm Sleep was temporarily moved to Young United Church in Crossways in Common. Though the program moved back to Augustine United Church, the church’s interior is now undergoing renovations.

“I really hope we get to do it again next year. All of the sleepers that we have come in have different stories and different reasons for needing temporary emergency shelter,” Blaikie Whitecloud said.

“We’ve built this wonderful community together.” 

Just a Warm Sleep typically runs from January to March, but next year, Blaikie Whitecloud hopes the program will have a longer season. 1JustCity also operates at three other sites across the city, providing food and other services.

Published at Sun, 01 Apr 2018 19:27:01 -0400