Indigenous groups added to Kelowna homelessness task force - InfoNews

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Indigenous groups added to Kelowna homelessness task force

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January 22, 2018 - 2:00 PM

KELOWNA - Didn’t anybody look at the homeless count numbers?

Kelowna’s Journey Home initiative is asking city council to add two new member organizations — Westbank First Nation and Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society — after realizing aboriginals make up about a quarter of the local homeless population.

While the already sprawling task force of 21 members counts the Okanagan Nation Alliance as a member, social development manager Sue Wheeler says in a report to council, it was felt the aboriginal representation was insufficient given their overrepresentation in the local homeless numbers.

“With indigenous people making up approximately one quarter of the local population experiencing homelessness, additional indigenous perspectives are vital to the work of the task force,” Wheeler says. “To successfully develop and implement the Journey Home strategy, additional indigenous representation is essential."

Westbank First Nation will be represented by Diane Roy and the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society will be represented by Tina Larouche.

The Journey Home Task Force is co-chaired by Martin Bell and Kyleen Myrah and counts 13 at-large members and now eight organizations, including the Kelowna RCMP, Interior Health Authority, Central Okanagan Foundation, B.C. Housing, Ministry of Social Development and the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

Members are unpaid and are appointed by council for one-year terms, with the current terms ending next June.

June is also when the task force is to present its findings about the best way to integrate the various social service agencies that deal with homelessness in Kelowna.

Find past stories about homelessness here.

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