Paul Laliberte used to be homeless in Slave Lake. On September 24, he joined the Homeless Coalition meeting to share about how he’s doing.
Laliberte is living in Smith and supporting himself by making walking sticks from branches and antlers found in the bush.
“It’s good to be back to normal,” Laliberte said. “It was tough, but it was my own decision.”
Laliberte’s been focusing on opening his creativity and connecting with mother nature. He’s interested in donations of antlers and other things which could be used to make walking sticks.
People interested in buying his walking sticks can contact the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre at 780-849-3039.
Barb Courtorielle, executive director of the Friendship Centre, met with the Association of Rural and Remote Housing and Homelessness. In High Level, seacan housing is being used. There s a group of business men from St. Albert and Edmonton who are interested in working with non-profits to set up this type of housing. Courtorielle is working on setting up a visit to Slave Lake.
Word on funding for the MAT program isn’t official, but sounds promising. However, there’s some kickback from neighbours around St. Peter’s Ecumenical Church who don’t want the MAT program in the old church building. There is a bus stop nearby, and the homeless often hang out for a while after they’ve been discharged. Discussions revolved around changing the time to 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. and speaking to the chamber of commerce and business owners to see if any of them are willing to house the MAT program. If the funding comes through, it will only fund 12 hours.
“If we lose our spot, we’re going to lose more people,” said Courtorielle. “They’re not going to survive.”
There is also a possibility of Pound Makers bringing a portable treatment centre to Slave Lake. Courtorielle is in conversation with local chiefs to get their support.
“The one last year was really great,” she said.
The RCMP reported that the summer was quiet. Most of the homeless stayed in their camps in the woods. However, with the bears in the fall, Fish and Wildlife had to dismantle the camps as the food, clothing and matches attracted the bears. This combined with the cooler weather resulted in more people in town. There are a few people starting to sleep in vestibules of businesses.
The RCMP has been housing one person every two nights.
The drugs are getting worse. The RCMP is finding that they are arresting people they haven’t arrested a while, many of whom are not homeless.
Leo Tanghe sat in on the meeting and shared about his work as a traditional healing.
Tanghe said, Dolphus Noskiye, one of the local homeless, has been staying with him for a few months. Noskiye snuck away once, but is back. He’s paying $600 a month for the trailer.
Tanghe attributes Noskiye’s improvement to traditional herbs.
The next homeless coalition meeting is October 31, at 1 p.m. at the Friendship Centre. If all funding and a location is settled, the MAT program will start up November 1.
“If something goes sideways, we’ll have an emergency meeting,” said Courtorielle.