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From left, Homelessness Committee chair Keith Best; Interagency Committee chair Alana Mero; Inuvialuit Community Corp. representative Andy Tardiff; and Inuvik Alcohol Committee chair Derek Lindsay are ready to do what it takes to keep the Turning Point emergency shelter open.

Another turning point

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Mar 18/05) - For those in attendance at the Inuvik Alcohol Committee's (IAC) annual general meeting Monday, the news was not good.

"It's going to be a bleak financial report," said chair Derek Lindsay of the upcoming audit that is expected to show the organization is roughly $100,000 in debt.

"So we are appealing to the community for assistance, for volunteers, to help us get out of debt and to keep this needed service alive and kicking."

And the news comes at a not-so-opportune time, as the IAC prepares to submit a proposal to Education, Culture and Employment for funding to operate Turning Point, Inuvik's emergency shelter, for another year.

In the past, Turning Point has survived through piecemeal funding from ECE, the Housing Corporation and the Inuvik Regional Health and Social Services Board.

According to Lindsay, the funding has been $60,000 short of the facility's projected annual operating costs for the last three years. As well, the society is in arrears to Revenue Canada for $60,000 in unpaid employee benefits.

Lindsay says the cost of operating the shelter is $181,000 a year.

In 2004, ECE provided $60,000 for the centre, funding five of its 12 beds.

In the recent ECE request for proposals for an Inuvik emergency shelter, the society asked for more.

"The idea is to put a proposal together that reflects the cost of operating the entire facility," said Keith Best, chair of the homelessness committee who is working on the pitch with Turning Point executive director Donna Edwards. Adding to Turning Point's problems is the current state of the IAC. Chair Derek Lindsay is the only active member at this time and the society is in need of more.

However, Best is hopeful that Turning Point's future will not hinge on the board's status.

"The objective here is to ensure the service still exists, regardless of the society's standing," he said.

Francine Ross, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation's Health Promotion's officer, was at the meeting and expressed concerns.

"I'm here to represent the IRC in terms of the service's importance," she said. "It's in all of our best interests that Turning Point keeps running."

Through funding from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the IRC has been running a successful mens program at Turning Point since the fall of 2004.