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Thursday , 13 May 2021

Donations needed to rebuild destroyed Cold Lake shelter

Kokum’s House, the homeless men’s shelter that burned down in March, has plans to be rebuilt, but it’s going to need some serious cash first.

The Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre is looking for donations to build a new men’s shelter from the ground up.

The shelter, which first started operations in July 2015, was rented and paid for by the Centre’s funds which were generated through bingo games.

Agnes Gendron, executive director of the Friendship Centre, said the shelter was operated to help people get back on their feet.

“You don’t get something for nothing. If you stay overnight at a friend’s house, you help them clean up their place the next day. That was how we ran Kokum’s House,” said Gendron.

Kokum’s House was the only men’s shelter within a 150 mile radius, said Gendron.

There was a complete ban on drugs and alcohol on the shelter’s premises, and men coming from out of town returned home once they had gotten on their feet, with the instruction to help others once they had got back.

The men were also required to maintain the house themselves, which Gendron has said they did immaculately.

“You’d almost think it was women staying there,” she said.

The men were also pushed to get jobs, and when they couldn’t do that they would volunteer for the bingo games that funded the shelter’s operation.

The Centre haven’t settled on a location and the cost of the project was originally estimated around $800,000, though Gendron predicts it could be less.

The Centre hopes to retain ownership of a rebuilt shelter and has established a thrift store–Kokum’s Corner–to help make this possible, which is also doubling as a temporary shelter for those that were staying at Kokum’s House when it burnt down.

While retaining ownership of the shelter is a primary goal for the Friendship Centre, they have reached out in search of grants and donations to get the project underway.

One resource the Centre has their eyes on is the City of Cold Lake.

They have submitted an application for funding through the community capital grant policy, but it has yet to be approved.

Mayor Craig Copeland has said the city wants to work with the Friendship Centre in order to address the issue of homelessness in Cold Lake.

“We want to work with Kokum’s group and understand the larger need, so we’re working with them right now on that file. We recognize that there’s a need in our community to help the men that are homeless,” he said on The Morning After.

If you are interested in making a donation, contact the Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre and ask for Agnes Gendron.

About Chris Lapointe

Chris is a two-time Vancouver Film School graduate, where he originally studied screenwriting and video games. Returning home to the lakeland post-graduation, he was determined to put what he learned to use. He brings with him a laid-back attitude and a love for pop culture that he hopes can be injected into Lakeland Connect's publications.