Atlohsa Family Healing Services relaunches Indigenous-led Wiigiwaaminaan Winter Response Program

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Wiigiwaaminaan shelter located next to Parkwood Institute.| Photo: Moses Odida
Wiigiwaaminaan shelter located next to Parkwood Institute.| Photo: Moses Odida

London Ontario – Atlohsa Family Healing Services is excited to announce the relaunch of the Wiigiwaaminaan Winter Response Program, an Indigenous-led winter response for homelessness. In partnership with St. Joseph’s Health Care London and the City of London, Atlohsa will be operating a temporary shelter site for Indigenous people experiencing homelessness at Parkwood Institute, including land backing onto Westminster Ponds.

“Building on the successes of last year’s winter response, we are looking forward to continuing to strengthen our partnerships with St Joseph’s Health Care London and the City of London towards providing essential supports for some of the London community’s most displaced individuals” said Andrea Jibb, Director of Community Planning at Atlohsa Family Healing Services.

The location of the Wiigiwaaminaan Winter Response Program at Parkwood Institute uniquely positions Atlohsa to be able to provide land-based, culturally appropriate care for Indigenous people experiencing homelessness. Operating under an Indigenized Housing First model articulated in the Giwetashkad Indigenous Homelessness Strategic Plan,access to land is critical for alleviating Indigenous homelessness. This strategic partnership empowers Atlohsa to provide an Indigenous-led homelessness response that supports land-based programming for Indigenous people.

“As our relatives have continued to be displaced within their own territories, Atlohsa will continue to advocate for land-based solutions to Indigenous homelessness that are rooted in Indigenous knowledge and strategic partnerships,” said Andrea Jibb, Director of Community Planning at Atlohsa Family Healing Services. “Indigenous people have the knowledge and skills required to end Indigenous homelessness. We acknowledge these critical partnerships that provide resources and supports to help us do this essential work during the cold winter months”.

Atlohsa Family Healing Services is incredibly grateful to St. Joseph’s Health Care London and the City of London for their support.

A resident in the shelter. | Photo: Moses Odida 
A resident in the shelter. | Photo: Moses Odida

“St. Joseph’s is once again honoured to be working with Atlohsa Family Healing Services, the Indigenous community and the City of London to provide a location for a temporary Indigenous-led winter shelter” says Roy Butler, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Care London. “We believe it is important to work together to find meaningful solutions that address homelessness in our community. The Parkwood Institute campus serves a multitude of purposes as a place of care, rehabilitation, healing and recovery, a home to our veterans and a proud place to work. This shelter is a welcome addition.”

“This partnership between Atlohsa and St. Joseph’s Health Care London is exactly the kind of collaboration that leads to strong supports like transitional housing” says Anne Armstrong, London Cares Executive Director. “We know that Indigenous people are overrepresented in those experiencing homelessness in our community and an Indigenous-led response is absolutely critical.”

“We have to do whatever it takes to keep marginalized Londoners safer and sheltered as much as possible during harsh winter months, while we work on a long term collaborative strategy” says Kevin Dickins, Deputy City Manager, Social and Health Development at the City of London. “The way local Indigenous agencies have come together with hospital partners means more support for more individuals in new and impactful ways.”

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