Saskatoon group leaders take to the streets to study homelessness

The Sanctum Survivor Challenges began in Saskatoon on Thursday with eight community leaders surviving for 36 hours on the streets as if they were homeless.

The event aims to teach participants about challenges that are typically not seen by society that homeless people often struggle with.

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Saskatoon fire Chief Morgan Hackl and the author of Life of Pi, Yann Martel, were two of the participants.

The Bridge – incredible place that provides food, teachings, shower facilities and other supports. They believe everyone is significant and scene. Meet where people are at. 9 practical and spiritual courses. Amazing support provider. #sanctumsurvivoryxe #sanctumwinterchallenge

— Chief Morgan Hackl (@FireChiefYXE) November 3, 2022

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Each person had to give up their clothes and walk away from their money and belongings.

Participants were grouped in teams of two and given tasks to complete with the aim of demonstrating the challenges homeless people in the community contend with.

I have just been provided my profile as well many challenges. Partner @WriterYann are both with many health conditions and positive with COVID-19 (no wheelchair now) struggling with the reality of reading this let alone try to understand how to accomplish tasks. #sanctumsurvivoryxe

— Chief Morgan Hackl (@FireChiefYXE) November 3, 2022

Hackl and Martel went to several locations around the city, like the Saskatoon Community Clinic, to learn about opioid use, HIV programs, service providers helping the unsheltered population, and other supports.

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They also received some goods from the Saskatoon Community Clinic.

“We got a bottle of water, we got a card with information and vital numbers. We got a whole bunch of information on methadone and methadone treatment because we’re both HIV-positive and addicted to opioids, crystal meth and hydromorphone,” Martel said.

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He added he also got a toothbrush, as well as some food.

“It’s an incredible place.”

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Saskatoon youth tackling homelessness

Hackl said they have many challenges to work through.

“We have no ID. How do we gain services when we don’t have ID?” Hackl said.

“It’s very informative for us to learn from all of these incredible service providers.”

Both Hackl and Martel did this challenge previously in 2017, but it was held in the summer months.

“Just starting the day, I would say there’s a couple of things from the first time to today. We have more information, we have more knowledge, and yet this seems so much more challenging for what we’re facing in terms of each step along the way,” Hackl said.

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He acknowledged that it wasn’t full-on winter yet, but added that it was very cold.

“As we go through today and enter into the evening, there’s concern that we’re quite likely going to be sleeping outside, and how do we deal with that.”

Hackl said it’s incredible to see all the work these organizations do, and how they are all interconnected.

He added that more awareness and supports need to be given to these organizations, noting they can make a difference in our community.

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