Brandon homelessness research project bringing 7 initiatives to southwestern Manitoba

Michelle Klyne wiped tears from her eyes as she talked about how chronic homelessness left her feeling unintelligent, unloved and forgotten. She doesn’t want anyone else to feel this way.

“There’s so many people right now that are experiencing homelessness and really struggling with … addictions or struggling with finding a place to work,” she said. Klyne, an Indigenous two-spirit knowledge keeper, shared her story of living unhoused in Dauphin, Winnipeg and Brandon at Street Stories — an Indigenous storytelling event centred on sharing stories of homelessness and potential solutions hosted on Wednesday by Action Research on Chronic Homelessness Project Brandon, also known as ARCH.

ARCH is a project under the umbrella of the Brandon Neighborhood Renewal Corporation. Brandon is seeing some of its highest homeless numbers ever, Klyne said. This makes talking to people with lived experiences essential, because they know first-hand what does and doesn’t work to help them.

One of Klyne’s biggest concerns is creating safe spaces for women in the community. “There’s so many Indigenous people that are going missing and killed,” Klyne said. “We got to definitely take care of our own and share knowledge about how we can make things safer for individuals like even myself, even the trans community and the LGBTQIA community. It’s gotta be done.”

A women’s safe house is among the initiatives the ARCH Project Brandon will be piloting in the coming months, said Megan McKenzie, the project’s lead researcher. On Wednesday they invited the general public to come listen to the stories and solutions about homelessness at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium.

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