Many more people experiencing tough situations will have a warm bed to sleep in this winter.

Standing outside with the sounds of vehicles whipping down the Disraeli Freeway, Premier Heather Stefanson, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, End Homelessness Winnipeg CEO Jason Whitford, and Families Minister Rochelle Squires stood together to announce a new initiative to aid people experiencing shelter insecurity.

“Our objective is to provide short-term emergency housing and work with individuals towards longer-term housing solutions, and our priority is to engage and invite individuals currently residing in unsafe circumstances including encampments and other public spaces,” Whitford says in a Friday statement.

The Government of Manitoba is setting aside $1.5 million to create 150 beds at an overnight shelter located at 190 Disraeli Freeway. The new beds are part of a new Indigenous-led coalition of organizations called N’Dinawemak – Our Relatives, a name gifted by Elder Wally Swain.

OPK, Anishiative and Community.204 will work under the name Saabe Peacewalkers, with Downtown Community Safety Partnership supporting them, to run this camp, starting Friday. They will run two tipis and supervised fires all winter long, at all hours of the day.

“It is hoped this Indigenous-led resource will provide additional warming options for people experiencing homelessness this winter, while permanent housing alternatives are created.”

Stefanson says the health and safety of all Manitobans is the province's top priority.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives and livelihoods of all Manitobans, especially those struggling to find a safe place to live. We are committed to listening and working collaboratively with our community leaders and partners to provide supports that will make a real difference for those most in need," Stefanson says.

The province says 424 people in Winnipeg in April were sleeping in unsheltered locations such as encampments and transit bus shelters.