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

International Women’s Day contest starts March 5

The Northern View supports women in business

Water main break – McBride and First

Ten inch water main break flooded intersection

Rupert residents show anti-bullying support

Are you wearing a pink shirt today? Send us your photos!

Budget is dam good!

Proposed 2020 budget include no tax increase and road repaving

Breakfast Club of Canada launches the day right

P.R.M.S. students are fed the benefits of community partnerships

VIDEO: Reconciliation is dead: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

UPDATE: Arrests made, tires slashed on patrol cars in northern B.C., says RCMP

But a Gitxsan hereditary chief says 14 were arrested, as fight over natural gas pipeline continues

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. city rebrands with new logo, cheeky slogan

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

Most Read