New Hay River day shelter already has a wait-list

An Internal government report confirms seven people are on a wait-list daily to access services.

Hay River lifted its full fire ban on May 31. (CKLB file photo)

The Town of Hay River announced the opening of a new day shelter, only to find out there is still work to be done.

Charles Sanders, spokesperson for the NWT Housing Corporation, says, 23 people have applied for access to the shelter so far.

“The shelter has [the] capacity to support 20 individuals normally. However, due to COVID, the capacity drops to 10 individuals to ensure proper physical distancing,” Sanders says.

Sanders confirms seven people are on a waiting list daily.

This information comes from an internal government report called the Hay River Shelter Report, says Sanders.

The new shelter will be located inside the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre (SEFC).

They have television, hot drinks, toast, cereal and hot lunches, says Joanna McKay, program coordinator for the SEFC.

Joanna McKay, Kieth Martin and Damian Hoffmann inside the Day Shelter’s hall.
(Photo courtesy of Joanna McKay)

The shelter will also have access to wellness workers and counselling services, she adds.

COVID has put up some barriers for a lot of people, she says, “but we make it work.”

Erin Griffiths, executive officer for the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority (HRHSSA), calls these services “much needed” in a press release.

The shelter operates with two full-time and one part-time support workers.

The HRHSSA accepted the proposal on Nov. 23. and invested about $112,000 into the shelter.

The shelter currently operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, HRHSSA says it will increase the number of operational days to seven, once staffing levels increase.

McKay says it breaks her heart to see them, especially out in the cold.

“They’re just human beings,” she says, “I appreciate hearing their stories.”

According to the NWT Bureau of  Statistics, 147 out of 1,383 households in Hay River reported not owning their home.

In essence, 147 households reported having couch surfers or long-term guests who don’t have their own accommodations.

This announcement comes a month after the town opened its doors to an emergency overnight shelter, located in the Kujat Building on Industrial Drive.

The territorial government estimates around 25 people are experiencing homelessness in Hay River.

The new day shelter will work in conjunction with the emergency overnight shelter.

The contract to run the day shelter expires in June 2021.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. On her spare time, you can find her at your local coffee shop writing songs, poetry and prose or at the gym out-lifting men. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at or call 867-766-2552 Ext 108