The extreme cold weather is keeping many people inside, but for those experiencing homelessness, shelter from the elements isn’t always available.
On Saturday night, Phoenix Residential Society, Street Culture Project and the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan partnered to host Regina’s fifth annual Homeless Memorial Ceremony.
"People that have to be on the streets with no safe place to go, its extremely dangerous and can, unfortunately, lead to death," Kendra Giles, the Manager of Innovative Housing Programs at the Phoenix Residential Society said Sunday.
The memorial gave residents a way to remember those who died homeless.
"You know if your homeless friend passes away you don't often have time to grieve because you’re focused on trying to find a place to sleep that night and so they started this wanting to provide that space for people," Blair Roberts, the Communications Officer for John Howard Society of Saskatchewan said.
While the vigil had to be virtual this year because of COVID-19, organizers were shocked to see almost 200 people joining their live broadcast on Facebook.
"So many of the people that typically do come to honour their lost friends and whatnot don't have access to the internet. That was a huge consideration but ultimately we couldn't come up with any other options to still go forward with it," Giles said.
Organizers hope the vigil helps those remember who they’ve lost and raises awareness for those still struggling to find a safe, warm place to live.
“It’s a chance for us to hopefully spur people into action and start working in their spears of influence to advocate for an end to homelessness,” Roberts said.
Regina Mayor Sandra Masters, Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme and Police Chief Evan Bray all took part in the virtual ceremony. Organizers said their involvement could evoke change in this province.
“They really have a lot more of that power and have been wonderful advocates so we were really honoured to have them speak at the memorial this year,” Giles said.
Any money raised from the memorial will be used to purchase warm clothing and necessities for those in need.