The Hamlet of Cambridge Bay is aiming to double the capacity at its men’s shelter to 16 beds by late October.

The existing Omingmak Men’s Shelter in Cambridge Bay will take over the adjoining space currently occupied by the radio station and add another eight beds for a total of 16 by the end of October.
photo courtesy of the Cambridge Bay Wellness Centre

The Government of Canada is providing $300,000 for the renovations. The duplex housing the men’s shelter will be altered to expand that service into the adjoining space currently occupied by the community’s radio station.

“The need is great and the waiting list long,” Marla Limousin, Cambridge Bay’s senior administrative officer, said of the men’s shelter.

There are 32 applicants hoping to get spots at the shelter, according to Isaac Mensah, the shelter’s coordinator.

The facility, located on Omingmak Street, was only established in 2016. With so much demand, there have been times when recliner couches in the shelter have accommodated four additional men, said director of wellness Janet Stafford-Brenton. In addition, there are respite and support services available at the wellness centre and the elder’s palace during the day, she added.

The average length of stay at the men’s shelter is nine months, Stafford-Brenton said. Clients come seeking safety and sobriety, retreating from overcrowded homes and some have indicated that they’ve suffered financial abuse, she said.

“Some men come to the shelter to enable them to receive the support to make productive choices, moving them from unemployable to an employed stage in life,” said Stafford-Brenton.

The hamlet has visions of creating a transition residence for those who have rebounded and are ready to find work and become more independent. Stafford-Brenton said she’d like to see six men able to access that service. She added that Mensah is advocating for a location by working closely with the local housing association and the Government of Nunavut.

Radio station to get new location

With the radio station sacrificing its space for the expanding men’s shelter, plans are being formed to find an interim location for the community’s radio enthusiasts, said Jim MacEachern, assistant senior administrative officer. A possible spot has been identified but there are still details to work out regarding modifications.

“It’s not concrete yet,” he said, adding that members of the radio society have started raising money so that they can build their own customized location in the future.

“None of us want to have the radio station with nowhere to go because it plays such an important role for the community in general, but also for fundraising when it comes to user groups like minor hockey, youth basketball and all the different programming that runs out of Cambridge Bay,” MacEachern said.

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