Homeless Kamloops woman dies out in the cold | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Homeless Kamloops woman dies out in the cold

Erica Stefan (seated) with her human service worker Tanya Spahmann at a coffee shop, 2021.

A middle-aged homeless woman died outside on Kamloops’ North Shore earlier this week but the details surrounding her death remain unclear.

Erica Stefan frequented The Loop homeless shelter on the 400 block of Tranquille Road for several years for warmth and meals.

Shelter operator Glenn Hilke confirmed Stefan died but couldn’t confirm the date or cause, guessing the tragedy occurred on Monday, Jan. 8 or the following day.

“I don’t know the cause but I suspect it was exposure to cold weather,” Hilke said. “There was a night where the wind chill was at minus nine. The last time I saw her, she was really struggling with mental health issues, she wasn’t in a good way.”

Tanya Spahmann, a volunteer who worked with Stefan and considered her a friend, said people living on the street are saying she died of exposure although that hasn't been confirmed.

“I can’t believe it, she was really struggling,” she said. “Someone freezes to death every year on the streets of Kamloops. Disgusting is an understatement.”

In March of last year Rick Greenstone died out in the cold in Kamloops after living in a tent all winter. He had trouble accessing services. 

In November 2021, a homeless man in a wheelchair known on the streets as Sam Mack died outside in the elements.

iNFOnews.ca interviewed Stefan in 2021 who at the time was struggling to find shelter because she’d been banned from services for problematic behaviour stemming from mental health challenges. She’d been living on and off the streets for many years.

“It is a vicious cycle,” Stefan said at the time. “There's a lot of hatred that you take on from others, it is crazy-making. So you get angry and then they ban you from resources. I spent weeks in the cold last winter, filthy and freezing while everyone else was inside eating. I felt so isolated. I feel like there are different rules for different people and inconsistent rules between agencies here."

READ MORE: 'Inhumane': Dangerous cold required before Interior emergency homeless shelters open

Spahmann is aware Stefan has a son but isn't sure where he's currently living.

A celebration of life for Stefan is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at The Loop at 405 Tranquille Road.

iNFOnews.ca is waiting for a response from the BC Coroners Service to clarify the date and cause of her death.


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