Announcement comes with $10,000 for Qimaavik to buy country food

YWCA to open new Iqaluit chapter


Lyda Fuller came to Iqaluit with a cheque, and also rekindled long-standing hopes that a shelter for homeless women will one day exist in the capital.

The executive director of the Yellowknife branch of the Young Women's Christian Association (better known as the YWCA) announced April 12 that the service organization will start its second chapter north of 60.

"The YW in Yellowknife was started 40 years ago and we've been the only YW north of 60," Fuller told reporters. "I'm just so excited we'll have a compatriot in the North."

Fuller said the YWCA is doing a feasibility study to determine the best way to set up a shelter for homeless women in Iqaluit. There's been no decision on whether that would involve renovating an existing building or starting from scratch, but Fuller said she'd like to see a 20-bed shelter open by the fall.

"We've been canvassing the community for what might be out there," she said.

Between 100 and 150 women are homeless in Iqaluit, according to the Qullit Status of Women Council. Others estimate the number is double that estimate.

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"The capital community is a magnet community for women coming in from the smaller communities, so right now we'll concentrate our efforts on Iqaluit but we've been talking with the status of women council," Fuller said. "So we're getting a good idea of how the issues extend out into the communities."

YWCA chapters across the country raised $10,000 to donate to the Qimaavik women's shelter that will be used to buy country food, said the shelter's executive director Napatchie McRae.

"Now I'll be able to go on the radio and say we need hunters to go catch caribou, seals and arctic char to fill up our freezer," she said.

McRae plans to give hunters money to pay for gas and ammunition. The centre will also use some of the money to buy a new stove, she said.

The money will go further being spent on country food than at the grocery store. McRae said Qimaavik can go through $4,000 a month on store bought food.

Qimaavik nearly shut down last fall because of a massive budget shortfall at the Baffin Regional Aggvik Society, which runs the shelter. But the national YWCA and the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence donated cash, and the YWCA also helped the Aggvik society improve its financial record-keeping.

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