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‘They’ll have a sense of belonging’: Bunk houses delivered to Moses Lake homeless population

Moses Lake community receives 5 tiny homes to help homeless population
WATCH ABOVE: After weeks of hard work and labour, five bunk houses have been completed and delivered to a community on the Blood Tribe. As Eloise Therien explains, the goal is to move the homeless population away from "tent city" and into a more comfortable situation.

Five tiny bunk houses have been donated to the homeless population on the Blood Reserve after nearly two months of work from southern Alberta volunteers.

Sergeant Jim Bennett, a 12-year member of the Blood Tribe Police Service, began the project with the hopes of providing more space to accommodate the homeless population at Moses Lake, a reserve community near Cardston, Alta.

The Moses Lake shelter, operated by FCSS (Family and Community Support Services) is currently operating due to increased demand during COVID-19, but they typically close between April and October each year.

The bunk houses were constructed by volunteers in Raymond, Alta. over the course of several weeks.
The bunk houses were constructed by volunteers in Raymond, Alta. over the course of several weeks. Eloise Therien / Global News

Read more: Volunteers build bunk houses for Moses Lake homeless population

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Bennett says he and his colleagues have donated tents, blankets, and other supplies to the homeless population at Moses Lake for many summers, but it was time to put a roof over their heads.

“This is something more permanent, better than a tent, not quite yet an actual apartment or a home,” Bennett said.

With this project, FCSS staff hope to provide clients a better footing to make the step toward recovery from addictions.

“We want to provide them an outlet where they’re not in an environment of alcohol [or] drugs,” Bruce Ironshirt, the director of FCSS, said.

“I think this will be the place for them.”

“They’ll have a sense of belonging,” said Tribal Councillor Floyd Bighead, adding he hopes to see more being done to help shelter populations in other communities on the reserve such as Standoff.

Read more: Alberta announces $10M for addiction recovery communities in Lethbridge County, Blood Tribe First Nation

Bennett says the eight-by-12 foot tiny homes are insulated and each have a maximum capacity of four people. Mattresses and quilts have been donated for each.

“From this project with the Raymond [Rotary] Club, we now have the district level of Rotary who is supporting an Indigenous engagement committee,” Bennett said.
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He says the group hopes to spread the initiative to Rotary across the province to use the bunk houses at Moses Lake as a formula to expand and help more reserves.

Although the homes are now finished and on-site, a few finishing touches must be made before they can be occupied.

“We’re still looking at developing our operations and maintenance,” Ironshirt explained. “We [have] fencing to do and we  [have] to monitor, control, and ensure all goes well there.”

Ironshirt says he hopes to see the remaining work done as soon as possible, so they can start the process of welcoming clients into their new temporary homes.