Saskatoon volunteers build outdoor shelter for people who are homeless

A group of volunteers in Saskatoon has set up a temporary warm-up location for the city's vulnerable population (Ryan Fletcher/CTV News)

In a matter of two weeks, an idea about a teepee and open-pit fires serving the community as an outdoor shelter  went from dream to reality  for a Saskatoon group.

“We’re hoping we can help everybody that needs it,” said Daina Kary, organizer and member of the Saskatoon Community Caring Camp. “I feel like the community has really come together and made this a reality for us.”

Borrowing the idea from a Winnipeg organization, a team of students from the First Nations University of Canada mobilized to fill the gap and provide homeless people a warm place to go when the city’s various warm-up shelters closed for the evening.

“We do have warm-up locations open usually 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., this is just going to help fill that gap during the night,” Kary said. “There’s going to be people out there tonight that are going to have a warm place to come and that’s the exciting part.”

Located near the Central Urban Metis Federation Inc. (CUMFI) building on Avenue M South, the shelter consists of one teepee, donated by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), with a fire pit to keep people warm and out of the cold.

On Sunday, Kary said the group also offered sandwiches, hot chocolate and other snacks donated by Saskatoon organizations.

The shelter will have volunteers on site between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m., and Kary hopes to have this shelter up and running for the next seven days.

The group hopes to have enough volunteers to keep the project going.

“We’re not going to function without our volunteers,” Kary said.

The group is also looking for warm clothing donations to have on hand in case people aren’t dressed for the weather. The group has also set up a GoFundMe page where people can donate to the project.

“As of right now we’re hoping to run for at least a week, we know the weather is warming up,” Kary said, but winter isn’t nearly over and she hopes to have the camp available again if another cold snap settles in.

“The next cold spell we will be up and running.”