Siloam Mission is optimistic about its future after announcing changes in leadership and plans to improve its relationships with the Indigenous community in Winnipeg.

Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud will be starting her new position as CEO of Siloam Mission on November 15, thrilled to join them.

"I believe so strongly in the work Siloam is doing in our community and I am very excited to build on their foundation and work with the team to move them in a direction of incorporating a lot more services for Indigenous folks in the space, but also really ensuring that as a Christian humanitarian organization we continue to build partnerships and be a space where we are expressing God's love," Blaikie Whitecloud says.

She will be working with the Siloam team to build a plan to move Siloam forward, focussing on Indigenous relations and housing.

Working with this perspective is not new to Blaikie Whitecloud. She previously has served as 1JustCity's Executive Director.

"I will get to continue to do that work with Siloam, really making sure that often those that are 'least and the last' have a place that they can seak sanctuary and be supported. So my heart is in this work, the work that I have been doing as a leader, and making sure that I bring all of that and also an open heart and an open mind."

She says she will bring her eye for innovation and efficiency to the role. Blaikie Whitecloud says working as a strong, supportive team is very important.

Garth Manness is the chair of the board of directors at Siloam, saying they are very excited to Blaikie Whitecloud at Siloam, valuing her experience as a Christian, in the unhoused population, and her work with Indigenous people.

"She has a heart for people who are underserved and underloved," Manness says.

Earlier this year, Siloam commissioned a report regarding their relationship with Indigenous people in their community. The report found there needed to be more indigenous representation, both in leadership positions and in the activities they offer.

"I think we understood that we needed to do all of the things that were being recommended," Mannes says. "We needed to be open to listening to indigenous voices."

Anxious to move forward with the report's recommendations, Manness says they are hiring an Indigenous Relations director, adding Indigenous representation to their board, and hiring more Indigenous staff members.

"We want to be proactive at partnering with organizations that are also involved in supporting the homeless housing and poverty sector so that we can be part of a larger group of organizations that will address homelessness in Winnipeg," he says.

Mannes says he thinks the Church of the Nazarene is proud of the mission, wanting to assure Siloam is a leader in reconciliation.

"We see ourselves as a Christian organization acting out the love of Christ as modelled by Christ. We listen to God's commandments around love the Lord our God and love thy neighbour as thy self. When He describes neighbours in Mark 25, He talks about people that are in search of food, people who need shelter, people who are trying to heal. And those are the people that are coming to us."