Leanne Favreau hosts the inaugural episode of “Northwestern Ontario Voices,” a local news program focused on delivering news and information to the community. Favreau and guest Janalee Jodouin discuss the issue of homelessness, affecting not only Northwestern Ontario but the entire country.
As an economic development advisor, Jodouin actively tackles homelessness in Kenora and neighbouring areas. Sharing her experience in Red Lake, Jodouin says that she witnessed dire conditions at an emergency shelter and took action. With community support, she opened a new shelter with transitional apartments, leading to a noticeable decrease in homelessness and improved conditions for individuals in Red Lake.
Jodouin highlights the complexities contributing to homelessness, including Northwestern Ontario’s geographic location, large size and northerly climate with a relatively small population of around 70,000 and consequently limited resources in the larger communities in the area, such as Kenora. Despite the challenges, she stresses the importance of approaching homeless individuals with empathy and understanding.
The conversation explores different forms of homelessness, debunking stereotypes. People facing homelessness come from diverse backgrounds and encounter various challenges, such as addiction, mental health issues, and inadequate support systems. Many turn up in Kenora, for example, because they need to interact with various institutions, including the justice system. Some don’t have the money to get home. Tailored approaches and individualized care are crucial in addressing their unique needs.
Securing funding is essential for homelessness initiatives, and Jodouin emphasizes persistence in pursuing grants and collaboration among municipalities, organizations, and independent groups.
Jodouin explains the surge in homelessness across Canada, attributing it to population growth and stagnant wages. Homelessness affects people from all walks of life. As an economic development advisor, Jodouin actively tackles homelessness in Kenora and neighboring areas.
She says that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed societal vulnerabilities and strained support systems for the homeless. Jodouin points out the disparity of available resources between homeless populations in Kenora and larger cities like Toronto underscores the crisis in smaller communities.