Left to right: Dayna Mastre, former employee at the Extreme Weather Shelter, Veronica Fenton, a volunteer and supporter of the protest, and Victor Loyie, who is living on the streets, all say that the homeless in Prince Rupert are mistreated and verbally abused at the shelter. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Tents pitched outside City Hall to protest treatment of Prince Rupert’s homeless

Former Extreme Weather Shelter worker and the homeless say employees treat them with no respect

A tent city has popped up by the water fountain at City Hall, protesting the treatment of the homeless at the Extreme Weather Shelter.

“We have to do what we’ve got to do to get the people back in the shelter and treated with some sympathy, respect and empathy,” said Veronica Fenton, a supporter of the protest.

On Friday night Fenton and Dayna Mastre — who worked at the homeless shelter for six months before being let go — set up the camp after alleging that Prince Rupert’s homeless people have been mistreated by the shelter’s employees.

READ MORE: LETTER: No empathy for Prince Rupert’s homeless

Some of the issues mentioned by Fenton and Mastre was the staff telling the homeless how much they hate them, people getting kicked out of the shelter for arbitrary amounts of time for swearing, and being forced to live on the streets for two weeks because staff mistakenly let them in a day early.

“When you have respect for them they treat you with respect,” said Mastre who is helping out the homeless because she once suffered from heavy addiction issues. “I trust these guys and they trust me. Just because someone drinks daily doesn’t mean they lie.”

Victor Loyie, who also lives on the streets, came to the tent city to volunteer in support of the people kicked out of the homeless shelter.

“They need to be let back in right away because it is getting cold outside, they have no blankets or anything,” he said.

Loyie said he has never experienced abuse at the shelter however, he has witnessed incidents where the homeless were not treated with respect from verbal abuse to getting kicked out no matter how cold or wet it is outside.

“The staff needs to take some kind of course to better their attitude toward the homeless,” he said.

Loyie and Mastre also said there is an opportunity for the homeless to file complaints at the Extreme Weather Shelter however, most go unanswered and some have the forms are allegedly ripped out of the hands.

Although housing is in the provincial jurisdiction, Fenton and Mastre are protesting at City Hall because the city has taken down camps set up at Morseby over the past five years.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert’s tent city movement continues to grow in week two

“They took all their tents away from them and some of them never got their stuff inside. The bylaw officer finds them and kicks them out even though they don’t like living in the homeless shelter because of the way they’ve been treated,” Fenton said.

Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the city, stated that tents from under the Second Ave. bridge were removed due to safety concerns following fires that were set by occupants.

“The occupants were notified in advance that they would need to move from the area. Fencing was also installed to prevent future occupancy, and protect the integrity of the wooden trestle bridge,” Stewart said.

Mastre said she did speak to Mayor Lee Brain early Sunday morning and was told that all the homeless people would be allowed back in the Extreme Weather Shelter and that an RCMP officer would be giving a sensitivity training to the employees.

Mastre also said Brain promised to meet with her and Fenton next week.

Mayor Brain is currently out of town and could not be reached for comment or confirmation regarding the solutions Mastre said he presented.

Stewart did confirm that representatives from the city have reached out to the organizers to put them in touch with the appropriate people that can assist with a solution.

“We hope to see those conversations bear fruit in the near future,” Stewart said.

Ultimately, the call on whether or not people can stay at the facility rests with the Transition Society.

Christine White, executive director of North Coast Transition Society, said she has no comment at the moment regarding the allegations that employees were mistreating homeless people. White also did not comment as to whether or not everyone is allowed back in the shelter.

READ MORE: Heart of Our City: Giving back to their street friends one meal at a time


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

affordable housingCity of Prince RupertHomelesshomeless housingHomelessnessHousing and Homelessnesstent city

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sunken Gardens bloom from deeply seeded efforts

Garden club members are rooted in dedication

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

City to request conservation officer

Predatory wildlife appear to be bolder

City auditors reports are in

“We are now playing catch-up on all major assets,” CFO said

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read