A warming shelter being established in Fort Simpson is opening on Friday night for emergency use because of cold temperatures in the area.
Muaz Hassan, Fort Simpson councillor and owner of the village’s Unity Store, will open the shelter at the Unity Store’s former location.
The hours of the warming shelter will be from 11pm to 7am.
“We just had to jump the gun a little bit because of the weather,” Fort Simpson’s mayor, Sean Whelly, told Cabin Radio.
“We’ll start to get a little sense of the need we have here, too.”
The village submitted a proposal to the territorial government to open the shelter on Thursday. That proposal is still awaiting approval.
“The weather is deadly cold outside and while we wait for government to give us some badly needed assistance, we have to do our best,” Whelly said on Facebook.
“For now, until the government lets us know about the proposal, Muaz [Hassan] will try to open up on Fridays and Saturdays when the weather projects minus-30 or below.”
The village is looking for volunteers who may be able to help.
Whelly says RCMP and bylaw officers have been informed of the opening.
Municipal, Indigenous and territorial officials met in November to discuss establishing the village’s first warming centre.
The community has wanted a centre to help individuals at risk because they may not have a place to go.
Coupled with a recent plebiscite that saw the community vote to lift its liquor restrictions, Whelly said the centre may be needed now more than ever.
“If we got an actual Covid case in Fort Simpson, I could just see doors closing and people shutting down. These stranded people would be really hard-pressed to find any couch to surf on,” Whelly previously told Cabin Radio.
“You don’t want to even see one person dying because of something like that.”