February

13

2024

We’d like to extend our thanks to everyone who was able to join us on Saturday. We love speaking with all of you and hope you enjoyed the discussion. 

We understand that many of you were unable to join us, and so we have put together this recap of what was discussed at our Annual Report to the Community on Saturday. 

Land Acknowledgement

We started with our land acknowledgement and opening remarks from our board. 

Tracey Silagy, Vice-Chair of the board, helped us acknowledge that we live in Treaty One Territory, the original lands of a diverse group of Indigenous people including Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. We also recognize that our electricity comes from Treaty Five Territory and our water comes from Treaty 3 Territory, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. 

Message from the Board

Our chair of the Board, Garth Manness then opened the meeting with a prayer, as that is how all board meetings are opened at Siloam. He continued with an update on what the board has been focusing on this year.

They were introduced to Ian De Jong, who has over two decades of experience having worked for non-profits, the government, and the private sector on issues surrounding homelessness. The board reviews his book The Book on Ending Homelessness. In this book, he says, “the solution to homelessness is simple; it is housing; but don’t confuse simple with easy.”

The board took these words to heart and received training around housing-focused shelters, the best practice in accelerated movement to housing. And some of the board had the opportunity to meet with Mr. De Jong to better understand his experience and ideas. This sparked the beginning of a deeper look into Siloam’s role in addressing the affordable housing deficit in Winnipeg. The result is a housing strategy that our CEO, Tessa, gave a preview of. 

They also learned about behaviour-based entry, which was implemented at Siloam earlier in 2023, and addressed the issue of safe consumption sites, learning how the issues surrounding these sites affect Siloam’s team and wider community. 

At Siloam we work hard to earn the trust and confidence of our stakeholders, this includes you. We want everyone partnering with us to know that it is an investment in all of our community members and we wish to be open and transparent in sharing the results of our work, sharing our plans, and answering questions. 

To solidify this trust, Garth let everyone know we applied for accreditation from Imagine Canada. Theta re the preeminent accreditation body for charitable organizations in Canada. It’s a rigorous process, which involves meeting 73 standards spanning financial management and accountability, fundraising, board governance, human resources, and volunteer involvement. To maintain the accreditation we are required to review policies and procedures in these same areas every five years. 

Finally, Garth gave an update on a capital campaign launched last year at the annual report to the community, for the Madison. We were very thankful for everyone who helped kickstart the fundraising initiative and contributed to the $6 million goal. With support from individuals, organizations and several levels of government we succeeded and were able to replace the HVAC system before winter. The 85 people who call the Madison home were able to stay in their homes thanks to this and will have air conditioning for the first time this summer. 

An update on our Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Christine, our Director of Community Wellness was up next. Christine, as several of you may remember, started as our Director of Indigenous Relations. She has since gained many more responsibilities in her portfolio, all of which involve the community, such as mental health initiatives and spiritual care. Her role is indeed focused on the wellness of our community. 

However, when accepting her initial role with us, Christine shared with the board that her five-year goal was to see the sunset of the Indigenous Relations Department and instead have the duties, ideals, and responsibilities integrated fully into the core of Siloam Mission, so that all departments work together towards Truth and Reconciliation. As such, the updates she shared on Saturday were based on our Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. 

On December 1, 2022, Siloam Mission first shared our commitment with the public. This commitment was written collaboratively with staff, the board and the Indigenous Advisory Council. It includes specific responses to numerous Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as well as details on how Siloam is incorporating the principles of Truth and Reconciliation into its organizational mission, vision and values.

1) Siloam is committed to mandatory Indigenous Awareness Training for all staff and board members. This training includes learning about the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullis and why Siloam has joined other faith-based entities in actioning the TRC’s Call to Action 49 in rejecting these doctrines. 

Not only is this built into our internal policies and training, but we also seek to help others by offering an opportunity to learn how we can approach Reconciliation, and put it into action, in our Christian context. We will once again be hosting a Truth and Reconciliation gathering with two days of learning and acknowledging the realities and histories of the Original Peoples of this land and all who are oppressed. It will take place on May 30 and 31st this year and more information will be released as soon as it’s available. 

2) Siloam is working to become a strong advocate for healing, justice and reconciliation. This includes an MMIWG2S+ Action Plan that identifies concrete ways in how the Calls for Justice can be addressed by Silaom’s programs and services. This action plan has been drafted with the help of staff at Siloam Mission as well as the Indigenous Advisory Council and will be shared with Indigenous stakeholders as the plan is implemented. We can share that a significant piece of this plan includes housing, programs and services that specifically address barriers that Indigenous women and 2S+ individuals face when it comes to housing. 

3) This goes hand in hand with our commitment to seek and respect the guidance of Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, advisors, staff and community. The Indigenous Advisory Council now has three Knowledge Keepers who reflect the diversity of Nations and perspectives that live on Treaty One Territory. The Council and Knowledge Keepers along with the Lived Experts Circle and Indigenous Employees Circle play integral roles in providing feedback to the Executive. 

4) Siloam has formally made changes to recruitment and retention policies to recruit and retain Indigenous employees. Part of this includes Indigenous-specific internships and supporting leadership training for Indigenous employees, such as the Indigenous Wise Practices courses at the Banff Centre. 

5) We recognize the value of Indigenous healing practices and have made connections to Knowledge Keepers and Indigenous organizations who support both our Spiritual Care and Indigenous Relations teams in sharing Indigenous teachings and guidance on Indigenous spiritual practice. We sought out many different teachings and traditions as we want to be mindful of not erasing any identities. 

On Friday, February 9, 2024, Na a way Ishkode (Centre Fire) officially opened at Siloam Mission. The sacred space is a calm area for community members and offers traditional healing and sacred teachings under the guidance of Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, benefiting Indigenous community members experiencing poverty and homelessness by providing access to culturally appropriate space and services that can assist with reconnecting to Indigenous teachings, grief supports and healing.

6) Siloam Mission continues to recommit to historically informed education and action on issues related to addressing wrongs in social, health and economic outcomes that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. Our 30 Days of Reconciliation and Learning toolkit is available on our website and we invite all members of faith-based communities to join us on our journey. We will once again be hosting a Truth and Reconciliation gathering with two days of learning and acknowledging the realities and histories of the Original Peoples of this land and all who are oppressed. It will take place on May 30 and 31st this year and more information will be released as soon as it’s available. 

7) Finally, we recommit ourselves to respect the differences and commonalities in spiritual journeys. There is much for non-Indigenous Peoples to learn about the Creator’s love and covenant relationship with Indigenous Peoples. 

Siloam Mission is a Christian humanitarian organization, however, we do not exclude anyone. All faiths and backgrounds are welcome. It is not our role to gate-keep a person’s path to God. If someone comes seeking guidance from a Rabbi or an Imam, we do our best to connect them with a community that understands and can help them make that connection. 

Indigenous practices and teachings are a way of worship that works for Indigenous People. We wish to ensure that anyone seeking Indigenous Practices has access to them. 

We see the commonalities between these practices and Christian practices and hope to help others understand these as well.

We have information on our website about our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and we welcome you to join us on our journey of understanding. 

An update on Services

Our next update came from Julianne, our Director of Services. 

All updates to our services tie into our strategic plan, more specifically Key Priorities One (Reduce Chronic Homelessness) and Three (Improve Supports). 

Priority number one is to Reduce Chronic Homelessness. This means we are housing-focused. Over the past year, staff joined the board in training and understanding of what it means to be housing-focused.

At Siloam, this means:

  • All decisions, programs and services are aimed at helping people find housing. 
  • Every staff member is responsible for moving people along in their housing journey. 
  • And we see Siloam as a process, not a destination. 

This resulted in some changes to shelter including:

  • An increased focus on new people staying in shelter, ensuring they have follow-up conversations as quickly as possible. 
  • Added resource printouts and built a resource website for community members to access.
  • Increased housing conversations with those in the shelter. These are facilitated by both shelter staff and our new Housing-Focused Case Workers, who started in April 2023.
  • Added diversion to the Drop In, encouraging people to rely on their own resources and avoid using the shelter if possible. This may look like staying with family for a time instead of staying with us.
  • And in some cases, help with funds for maintaining housing. 

We are excited to relay that 72 people have found housing since April 2023.

Now with Key Priority 3: Improve Supports, we updated to behaviour-based entry. 

Becoming behaviour-based means encouraging all to uphold the space’s expectations. This includes the implementation of clear rules and expectations for service. This comes out of a better understanding of the impacts of trauma and that positive reinforcement is more effective at making behaviour change than negative

What are our expectations?

  • We are Safe
  • We are Respectful
  • We are Focused on Needs

We cannot help someone find housing if they do not have access to our services. If we truly believe that every human is housable, we need to make sure that every human has access to the help we can offer. Fundamentally, being behavior-based comes out of this belief. When sobriety was the base for entry into our space, it raised a barrier in the way for many folks who had been impacted by significant trauma. It also created a stigma and encouraged folks to hide their substance use. By being behaviour-based we can lower the barrier and reduce the stigma – ensuring that we can, if folks are wanting us to, help as many people as possible. 

This shift aligns with best practices at shelters all across the country. We have been guided in this process by an outside consultant with decades of experience in this area. We know that behaviour change – and adjusting to the expectations – takes time. 

So in practice, how does this work?

  • Everyone who can live into our space’s expectations is welcome.
  • Staff responses are consistent and offer the calm of predictability.
  • Sobriety is no longer a requirement for service.
  • Restorative practices are in place when folks need to take a break due to behaviour.

The impact we have seen from these changes are: 

  • Violence against staff is down. We went from 31 incidents in the 2021-2022 fiscal year to 19 in the 2022-2023 year. 
  • We have also seen a significant increase in folks presenting for detox and treatment. 

Staff believe this is likely due to folks feeling more comfortable talking with staff about their substance use and seeking help.

This is only a small amount of data as we only started implementation in 2023. We look forward to even more data to present next year to show progress on Behavioural-Based Entry and Housing-Focused efforts.  

An update on our Strategic Plan

Our last update was from Tessa, our CEO. She spoke about where we are in our strategic plan and gave a preview of our housing strategy. 

First, a quick recap of our Strategic Plan. There are core intentions that we organized all of our objectives around:

  • Community First
  • Sector Best Practices
  • Accountability 
  • Christian Service

Creating these intentions involved consultations with staff, the board, the community and other stakeholders. 

Informed by these objectives were our Key Priorities:

  1. Reduce Chronic Homelessness
  2. Deliver on Commitments to Support Truth and Reconciliation and Improve Indigenous Relations
  3. Improve Supports
  4. A Healthy Team and a Healthy Organization

Our Strategic plan was created in 2022 and spans five years. There are full and condensed versions available on our website if you would like to review them. 

We have been undertaking regular training, as Board, Executive, staff, and volunteers to meet and deliver on these intentions and priorities. 

Included as part of these priorities are everything that Christine and Julianne mentioned as well as expanding social enterprises at Siloam. To ensure that connection to employment is one of the supports we offer. We do this through our Building Futures program which includes Mission Off the Streets, a group working in the dish pit at Siloam and commercial laundry through Siloam Laundry Service. It also includes the Art and Wellness program, where community members create and have the opportunity to sell their work. 

We have also created pathways within SIloam for folks who have been accessing services and have been successful in our employment program who want to graduate and stay behind the scenes at Siloam Mission. 

A large part of being a healthy organization this year involved creating a facilities conditional plan. A look at our buildings and what it looks like for them to be taken care of over the next 10 years. So preparing to be ready when a new roof is needed or an elevator needs to be repaired.  

The most ambitious thing we undertook last year was our Housing Strategy. 

The solution for homelessness is housing. Siloam is a housing-first organization. 

Housing First is an evidence-based approach that assists individuals experiencing homelessness who have multiple housing barriers to access independent housing without requiring “housing readiness”.  It is based on the premise that housing is a key determinant of health and that once an individual has safe and stable housing, other health and social issues can more effectively be addressed.

One of the challenges is that Winnipeg doesn’t have enough housing supply. 

In Winnipeg, there are three units of social housing for every 20 people in need. In Regina and Calgary, there are, respectively, eight and nine for every 20 people in need.

It means that when we work with people who are looking for housing we are competing with ourselves and other organizations like us in the city for the same spaces. 

Our goal for the housing strategy?

Siloam intends to commit to partnerships, leadership and collaboration to achieve a target of 700 to 1000 new units for people experiencing homelessness over the next ten years.

This is a bold venture but still represents less than 20% of the overall housing required to end homelessness in Winnipeg. 

Through the Madison and the Arlene Wilson Recovery Centre, Siloam Mission already owns 105 units and we’re looking to grow that number. 

Through consultation with staff, the board, the Indigenous Advisory Council and others we identified four areas of focus. 

  1. Seniors – because in November 50% of Siloam’s Community Members staying in shelter with us were seniors. 
  2. Emergency Housing – transitional spaces for those in need of temporary housing 
  3. Sober Recovery spaces – informed by our experience with the Nest and the Arlene Recovery Centre. Spaces where the whole building is committed to the recovery journey and a safe space.
  4. Spaces for at-risk women and girls and youth aging out of care.

We need to do this in a way where the people we are supporting and housing can be part of their community, like the Madison. It’s nearly a daily basis that people in the Wolseley area will walk their dogs by the Madison so they can receive pets and visit with the folks who live there and are out on the patio. It’s a part of the community. 

Our goal is to create an attitude of YIMBY. Yes, in my backyard!

So we will be partnering and collaborating and working with groups when we’re building housing that we’re going to be public about. Some of our housing will be for more vulnerable populations and we will build more quietly. But, where we can we want to build with YIMBY in mind. 

We believe it is within our power to act and do good. And so, we intend to act and do good. Especially when it comes to housing. 

Q&A

It was at this time we opened the floor to questions which came both in person and via text:

(some questions were duplicates so we have condensed them into one)

Does Siloam coordinate with other organizations that support those experiencing homelessness? If so, how?

Yes, we do coordinate with other organizations both officially and unofficially. 

For example, many of our executive members sit on councils in the city. Christine sits on the Naatamooskakowin Council, Winnipeg’s coordinated access system. Julianne sits on a coalition that is improving outcomes and safety for women in shelter. And Tessa is on the Emergency Homelessness Response Committee, to name a few. 

In unofficial capacities, if we are offered, for example, lockers we cannot use, we have contacts with other organizations in the city to see if they can use them instead. 

Another aspect of this is case conferencing. This means if a community member is accessing a lot of agencies and is struggling we will coordinate how together we can best support them. 

 

Does Siloam support non-Indigenous homeless people, such as non-believers refugees, or those of other faiths (Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish)? Or are there no people from these groups becoming homeless or coming to Siloam?

We are open to everyone. There are people from all walks of life and faith accessing services.

As it happens, by nature of the structures in Canada that have created systemic poverty we have an over-representation of Indigenous People accessing services at Siloam. In the past, it has been 75%. Right now, partially due to a change in international law (about the third-party safety act), Winnipeg and the shelter system are seeing a lot of refugees who can’t claim asylum yet. 

We have been tracking data in our Drop In and shelter and as of right now, roughly 31% of people accessing overnight shelter are people seeking refugee status. 

We are actively working on a coalition to find where they can best be supported and have people who speak their language and who can walk them through the process of claiming asylum. 

 

How do people end up living at the Madison? (for context this question came from someone who is volunteering there and noticed the diversity of the residents)

A lot of the folks who come into the Madison come through Naatamooskakowin, however, the coordinated access is still relatively new. 

The Madison as a building was taken over by Siloam from another organization once they were stopped being able to manage the building. The original tenants stayed as Siloam took over the building. It had originally been a space for people with PTSD and then became a home for people with schizophrenia. 

There are still folks from both sets of these original tenants still living in the Madison and now we are focused on anybody who is on a recovery journey. It is for people who are looking for a safe home and who would like to live in a community setting. 

More recently we have also been coordinating with Main Street Project’s outreach team. If they happen to find someone in an encampment who is ready and we have space, we will move them right in. 

For the majority of the people in the Madison, it is their forever home. 

 

Does the change in approach to admission exclude some of the population who would have come in but are deterred by the potential exposure to other people who may be under the influence?

Folks who were under the influence were likely coming in before, but we did not have rules or expectations to help them be safe for other people in the space. Now that we have these clear expectations and the ability to regulate how people are behaving in the space we’re hoping that lowers the deterrent. 

Siloam serves a lot of people experiencing homelessness and we do recognize the need for a sober space. We are currently thinking about that and what that could look like one day. For right now, this is a big piece of Christine’s work in community wellness. 

So right now we are setting up calm spaces. They are still behaviour-based but are deliberately calmer. For example, the Art Program in the Longtin Resource Centre is a calm space, as is the sacred space for devotions, and Na a way Ishkode.

This helps us stay consistent with behaviour as there are sometimes people with mental health issues who may be entirely sober but are disruptive. On the other end of the spectrum, you may have someone who is using but is solely focused on (for example) cleaning the space. 

 

Are we working with food drives, clothing drives, and those kinds of things for donations? How often and how do we decide to do that?

We happen to have a lot of partnerships and relationships with organizations in and outside of Winnipeg who help us. We have started using data to help us understand those we work with, as Siloam Mission has approximately 25,000 donors (thank you!!). By using this data we hope to continue to nurture these relationships and share our successes with you. 

Most often clothing and food drives are set up as third-party events which we are always grateful for. 

 

Do we bring awareness to what we do in schools?

Yes, we do. Some of you may know Paul, he was in charge of our community education before he became a change officer to help us in the transition to becoming housing-focused. We did have to cut back due to this but we do intend to start growing this program once again. 

Before the transition, we were speaking to 3,000 – 4,000 students per year as well as several hundred from businesses. We hope to double those numbers and dedicate more staff to community education. 

On a similar note, we are also often asked to speak in different contexts about what we do. For example, the very next day Tessa was preaching in a church she had been invited to. 

We also have programs available to have groups come and volunteer and are able to host groups who come in for tours and volunteer opportunities. 

 

Are there any deaf people staying at or living with Siloam Mission?

Right now we are not aware of anyone who is deaf accessing services through Siloam. However, we do have people in the Madison who are becoming hard of hearing and are working to ensure they have the supports they need. 

 

How many people stay in our overnight shelter?

We have 143 beds in our overnight shelter as well as three beds in the hospital referral room. 

This winter we were also operating a pop-up shelter in collaboration with Main Street Project, Sunshine House, 1JustCity, and Salvation Army. When it feels like -10 or colder we open our Drop In as a warm pop-up shelter for folks overnight. 

We initially thought there would be approximately 60 people per night, however, we have seen a lot of nights with 100 or more people accessing the space. 

We are still running the pop-up until March 31st. 

 

Is it possible that the amount of violence in the Drop In is going up? (an observation from someone who uses the Drop In)

We have noticed that incidents where people are being injured are going down. We have also noticed there are people who are experiencing increased agitation.

Part of this is from the healthcare system. We are having meetings with the healthcare system around there being not enough psychiatric beds and people being discharged to shelters and how that is not an appropriate response.

We’re working on advocacy to ensure that the appropriate care and facilities exist to offer these people the healthcare they need.

Another part of the agitation is tied to the need for a supervised consumption site. When people are using substances and don’t know what it is, they may use too much or use a substance that has an impact they are not expecting. 

There have been multiple instances of staff having to resuscitate those who have suffered from opioid poisoning. This results in brain injuries, sometimes repetitive brain injuries from people constantly suffering from drug toxicity. 

A safe consumption site would provide the ability to test the substances and provide them access to the care they need to do so safely. This is the best practice to help them stay safe and provide them supports to help them move on from substance use. 

 

What support is given to Drop In Staff, particularly those who are dealing with so many  NARCAN resuscitations? 

We are continuously learning what support is needed and what it can look like. The lived experts circle Christine mentioned is especially helpful. They meet regularly to offer support and opportunities to debrief. We also offer grieving support, employment assistance and benefits that we encourage employees to access and use. 

We also have a pastoral care team and Knowledge Keepers that staff can sit with as they need to. 

 

What steps are taken to prevent homelessness (particularly youth leaving CFS and people leaving incarceration)? 

Julianne spoke about housing loss prevention and how we can support people who let us know they need the support.

When it comes to folks in incarceration, we are meeting with people who work with those in incarceration to talk about how we can change the model. For example, can our case workers connect with folks while they’re still incarcerated? Because it’s easier to find them and work with them on getting ID and completing housing applications. Currently, we are not allowed contact with them until they are released.

We are also working with folks who work with youth aging out of care, specifically Fearless R2W

A lot of this is systems-level advocacy, which is working to make systematic changes, typically at a government level, which takes time. 

 

Is Siloam going to get more involved with enterprise services, perhaps with a labour-ready group who is ready to go each day? 

Siloam is not currently looking at becoming a temp agency as we are able to connect community members with those agencies and support them through any barriers they may encounter. 

Part of being housing-focused is we do not want people to become overly reliant on us. We want to connect people to the appropriate services they need to access. We want to coach them and support them to be successful in those environments, but we do not want them to only feel like they can be successful at Siloam. Because the truth is they can and are able to be successful anywhere they go. 

 

What is the level of government stake or influence on the Mission?

We increase our government this year. In the past from 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM, we had no funding from the government for what we do. This year we did receive $600,000 from the government for those hours. 

At the city level, the government helped fund the pop-up. At the provincial level, they fund the shelter. And at the federal level, they fund our caseworkers, who support people to find housing. 

Everything else is funded by donors. 

Thanks to this, we have full authority to run the programs that have been funded by the government. 

 

Do we accept volunteers or people on the board who are not Christian?

Absolutely. We have volunteers from all faiths and walks of life. 

We are the first charity accredited with the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities to ask and receive an exemption to have up to 25% of our board not identify as Christian.  

We felt this was an important step as Winnipeg is not 100% Christian and community members, staff and volunteers are incredibly diverse. We are a Christian organization and we own that, however, we also understand that there are people of all faiths or no faith who recognize the need and we welcome them to work with us.   

 

What steps are taken to prevent homelessness (particularly youth leaving CFS and people leaving incarceration)? 

Julianne spoke about housing loss prevention and how we can support people who let us know they need the support.

When it comes to folks in incarceration, we are meeting with people who work with those in incarceration to talk about how we can change the model. For example, can our case workers connect with folks while they’re still incarcerated? Because it’s easier to find them and work with them on getting ID and completing housing applications. Currently, we are not allowed contact with them until they are released.

We are also working with folks who work with youth aging out of care, specifically Fearless R2W

A lot of this is systems-level advocacy, which is working to make systematic changes, typically at a government level, which takes time. 

 

How can we view the Siloam Advertisements again?

(For context, we played Siloam Advertisements in between speakers on Saturday) I’ve embedded the videos below and they can also be seen on Siloam Mission’s YouTube page

 

What is being done to help address the barrier of mental illness in finding housing?

This is a big part of the work we’re doing with the housing strategy, to ensure that we are building housing that has the appropriate supports embedded and connects folks with appropriate community resources to thrive to their highest potential.

Our Madison is already a great example, as is the Arlene Wilson Recovery Centre, of housing catering to folks living with a mental health issue (at the Madison) or overcoming addiction (at the AWRC). 

 

Thank you very much for all of your continued support this past year. We are so grateful to have you on our journey. 

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