White Buffalo Youth Lodge opens emergency shelter for teens, young adults amid pandemic

The emergency shelter has 20 cots for teens and youth to spend the night on.
The emergency shelter has 20 cots for teens and youth to spend the night on. Courtesy: White Buffalo Youth Lodge

Teenagers and young adults experiencing homelessness in Saskatoon now have a place to stay, spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The White Buffalo Youth Lodge has opened an emergency shelter, with services now available to anyone between the ages of 16 and 25.

“That’s our most, I would say, vulnerable population that are out and about in the middle of the night that are couch surfing that are really in the need of some safe environments,” said tribal Chief Mark Arcand.

Read more: How the Lighthouse in Saskatoon is helping keep the vulnerable safe during COVID-19

“Situations that occur in the homes … it could be addictions, it could be a lot of things that are driving our young people to homelessness … it becomes a situation where they are staying at a friend’s house for the night and then moving on to somewhere else and it’s no way to live.”

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Arcand said his organization had the idea for the shelter before the pandemic, but he said COVID-19 was a motivator for finally opening the shelter.

The city had previously stressed the importance of housing the homeless and vulnerable to protect them, and stop the virus from spreading among their population.

Read more: City of Saskatoon calling on province to act now to help city’s homeless during pandemic

The shelter is open from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next morning. Young people can do their laundry, take a shower and get breakfast there, according to Arcand.

It also has staff to help youth find resources.

“It could be anything from problems at home with mom and dad to whatever, addictions and then have an access and a safe place to stay,” Arcand said.

The shelter is looking at getting some youth into housing in the future.

Read more: Letters call for downtown safety in Saskatoon to be improved, shelter says more services needed

The program received $425,000 in funding for the next six months from the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership, according to Arcand.

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The organization aims to keep it running after that.

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