Arctic Indigenous Wellness Camp takes its breakfast program to the streets

Due to a recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Yellowknife, many businesses and organizations have had to close their doors temporarily, and the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation (AIWF) is among them.

But that won’t stop Wilbert Cook, executive director for AIWF from doing his job.

“I always feel for the clients,” he says.

Knowing how much the breakfast program at the camps means to his guests, Cook and three of his crew will now be bringing breakfast to them.

This new version of the breakfast program begins May 5 at 7:30 a.m. and will continue as long as the doors to the camp are closed, says Cooke.

AIWF staff will not only be preparing the food but delivering the breakfast downtown to clients.

“They rely on it,” he says.

Cook says he has had to displace roughly 100 people after the outbreak was announced Sunday evening.

“We’re gonna do whatever we can to help our homeless population.”

For clients like Stanley Cooke, the camp was somewhere he went every day.

“It’s really frustrating,” he says. Now he feels he and his peers have nowhere to go.

While there are other day shelter options in the city, AIWC is specifically catered to Indigenous people.

The camp is responsible for providing a holistic and culturally appropriate way to heal, through trauma addictions, etc.

Cooke worries that this closure might lead to his peers picking up old habits.

He argues that those facing homelessness are most at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Cooke says the camp is the reason for, “how I maintain my sanity.”

Luckily for Cooke, he’s been able to live with his daughter, but many don’t have that option.

Most importantly it offers a place for people to have a hot meal, good company and the option to talk to a counselor.

According to a social media post, counselors are still available if and can be reached at (867)-445- 3085 or (867) 447-1095.

The camp is set to re-open on May 17 but could change if the COVID situation in the city worsens.

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. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com