The City of Yellowknife, in partnership with the Yellowknife Women’s Society, has launched Common Ground – a homelessness employment program.
The program focuses on cleaning up the downtown core of litter and debris, while also training and coordinating street-involved individuals. Common Ground incorporates cultural and wellness support to those impacted by homelessness and marginalization. Elders and Indigenous healers incorporate ceremony and cultural practice within the work of the crews, which will give participants an opportunity to reconnect to the land.
A crew of eight works five days a week picking up litter in public spaces throughout Yellowknife, starting with the downtown core.
“Stories about individuals who are experiencing homelessness are almost always focused on negative factors associated with homelessness – poverty, residential school experiences, family violence, addictions,” said Bree Denning, executive director of the Yellowknife Women’s Society.
“This program is an opportunity for us to shift that narrative, and demonstrate that despite these challenges, these individuals have many strengths, are hard-working and contribute a lot to the community. Hopefully this program provides opportunities for our workers to improve their housing stability, build their resumes and show potential employers that they are capable and reliable.”
The City of Yellowknife issued a request for proposals after City Council approved funding for a Homelessness Employment Program in the 2018 budget. The pilot program began May 14, 2018.
“Hiring street-involved residents is one of the many ways we can address homelessness,” says Yellowknife Mayor Mark Heyck.
“Council and Administration are dedicated to finding fair and equitable ways of supporting some of our most marginalized people. We’re very happy to be working with the Yellowknife Women’s Society to make this program possible.”
The crew will be cleaning up Yellowknife until the end of September, 2018.