Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen held a meeting in Burns Lake last May to discuss the need of a homeless shelter for men in the Burns Lake area.
The meeting included representatives from the village, the RCMP and Lake Babine Nation, as well as community members.
However, since the meeting was held, no action has been taken to move this project forward. Lakes District News attempted to contact Cullen for several weeks, but he did not provide a response about this project.
Lake Babine Nation (LBN) member Darlene Patrick, who asked Cullen to help create a homeless shelter for men in Burns Lake earlier this year, said she also hasn’t heard back from Cullen since the meeting held in May.
The lack of support for men and how it impacts the community was one of the topics discussed during a sexual violence forum held on Oct. 12 and 13, 2016 in Burns Lake.
According to Joni Conlon, community projects manager for Carrier Sekani Family Services, the lack of services available for men – including lack of housing and minimal support for drugs and alcohol abuse – has a direct impact on sexual violence against women. In addition, Conlon said there’s a high rate of under-reported sexual assault cases involving young boys in the region.
“Our men have nothing,” she said. “I am really intrigued at the lack of safe housing for men; if men do not have a safe place to go, often they will go to overcrowded houses; if you’re drinking, and you’re in an overcrowded house, it increases the risk of sexual violence.”
During the meeting held in May, LBN Chief Wilf Adam took it upon himself to talk to the other five local chiefs to ensure that they were on board with this project. Chief Adam said he has met with the other chiefs since the meeting, but that he received a “lukewarm response.”
Meanwhile, Patrick has been accepting homeless men in her own home. She said she hosts about 10 people a year, who stay for as long as they need.
“Sometimes I run out of food because I have to feed other people,” she said.
During the meeting held in May, community members provided emotional statements, sharing their own experiences with homelessness – either helping people in need or being homeless themselves at some point in their lives. Some participants broke down in tears while sharing their story.
“I am one of the people you guys are talking about,” said one participant. “I have no home; I have no place to go.”