Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand came forward Tuesday to talk about some of the stories coming out of the Fairhaven community regarding the emergency wellness center.
He said he wanted to speak to a pastor in the community, noting he was frustrated with him.
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“This pastor really frustrates me in Fairhaven because he leads a church, and if we look at our churches in our city, our province and our country, they are probably one of the wealthiest organizations,” Arcand said.
He said he heard the pastor say in an interview with other media that the pastor closed the door on another person, and Arcand disputed the situation.
“I’m concerned about that because they should open their door. One of the commandments is that you will love our neighbors. Why is he locking his door? How does it help the system? Who does it help in a homeless situation? Who does it help with addiction and mental health? »
“The answer I see is zero,” Arcand added.
He said this pastor needed to change his way of doing things and open his door to help people.
“He never came back to the shelter and spoke to our manager and saw what was happening. But there’s a perception here that he needs to be an adult and come talk to me instead of the media.
“Churches are supposed to be a place of good faith, and I’m really disappointed in these people because of the way they conduct themselves.”
Arcand says they have police statistics indicating crime has remained the same in the Fairhaven community since the wellness center reopened in late November.
He said part of the story was being told and that was causing problems.
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“So they’re telling one side of the story, and it’s not fair. I need them to stop this because it causes hardship and it’s a divide and conquer tactic that I don’t support.
“I’m not going to sit down and fight to help people in our city,” Arcand added.
He noted that the support from other townspeople has been strong, adding that they have donated more than 400 Christmas gifts to the wellness centre.
Arcand said he was frustrated that a press conference had to be called to confirm the work being done by the wellness center.
He said he addressed one of the stories that had been raised about crime at 7-Eleven on the corner of Pendygrasse Road and Thomas Crescent getting worse.
“The 7-Eleven manager and my manager reached out and talked.”
Arcand said he found that people at the wellness center were spending money at 7-Eleven when they could, and there was no crime.
“They don’t steal, they don’t steal, they don’t do anything.”
He said there was a robbery in the community on Saturday and the wellness center was blamed for it.
“It’s not all the people of Fairhaven, it’s just a select few, but they’re adding fuel to the fire, they’re spreading gossip, not truths, and I’m sick of it.”
“People are spreading lies and corruption, and all these other things that are unacceptable,” Arcand added.
He said these lies must be exposed.
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Arcand reviewed statistics from the Saskatoon Fire Department and Police Department, noting that incidents have not increased in the community.
But Arcand also wanted to focus more on successes.
He said demand for the wellness center was high, noting the building has 106 beds with the potential to house extras in the lobby overnight.
Arcand noted that 583 people in three weeks were waiting for beds at the wellness center.
“We have a homelessness issue in our community, in the city of Saskatoon, it’s not just a neighborhood issue.”
Arcand said a lot of people don’t understand why people are homeless or have substance abuse issues, and those people shouldn’t be judgmental.
“We actually help people, I don’t need to defend that.”
He said he received a complaint from someone about someone with stuff piled up by the Tim Hortons, noting that if people have problems like that, STC Sawēyihtotān mobile services should be contacted, with all the information. listed on their website.
Ward 3 Councilor David Kirton says he has received concerns from people about the wellness centre.
He noted that police and firefighters are working on a coordinated approach to community safety and are focused on Fairhaven, and he hopes to talk more about that over the next week.
Kirton said police and firefighters were in the area checking the wellness center hourly.
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“The people of Fairhaven are going to see more police and firefighters, cruisers and the like. It doesn’t mean they’re answering a call, it just means they’re doing their hourly check-in with the wellness center,” Kirton said.
He noted that he supports what the wellness center does.
“What’s going on inside the building, I think, is saving lives.”
Kirton said he is calling on the provincial government to look into this situation, noting he questions whether enough complementary services are being provided.
“I just think the province needs to step up.
Kirton said he would like to see the community, the pastor, as well as Arcand and others come together to discuss these issues.
“We need more conversation. We also need more communication from the city. I don’t think people know there are those opportunities where the police and fire department stop by the wellness center every hour.
He stressed that in the event of an incident, residents should call the police, noting that the call acts as data for officers.