Tag: Assembly

Anchorage Assembly directs millions to Health Department for winter homeless sheltering

The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday redirected millions of dollars toward sheltering homeless residents during the upcoming winter and to local housing efforts.

Members also unanimously approved a resolution laying initial groundwork for the possible use of a recently vacated city office building. The resolution asks that Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration present details to the Housing and Homelessness Committee on Sept. 20 regarding possible use of the former Solid Waste Services administrative building at its old Central Transfer Station site in Midtown as a congregate shelter, warming area or navigation center.

The funding measure, passed in a 9-2 vote, directed about $4.1 million to the Anchorage Health Department to cover shelter beginning in mid-October. Assembly members Kevin Cross and Scott Myers voted against it. Member Meg Zaletel did not participate in the vote.

The measure comes as the city hurries to prepare for sheltering at least 400 to 450 people who are living outside this summer. Private shelters in the city are largely full. Hundreds of people are living in large encampments and in dozens of smaller camps dotting the city’s green spaces and public lands. City plans so far have focused largely on sheltering people in hotel rooms, though officials have said the city needs at least one congregate shelter.

In a last-minute change Tuesday night, members also directed $1.3 million to the nonprofit Anchorage Housing and Affordable Land Trust to purchase vacant and abandoned properties to renovate and turn into housing for people who have been experiencing homelessness.

Jason Bockenstedt, executive director of the trust, said the housing project is contingent on dollar-for-dollar matching funds. The full $2.6 million would allow the trust to open 30 to 40 units of housing. Those

Assembly of First Nations seeks strategy to address gaps in federal health-care policies

First Nations leaders are wrestling with what the future of Indigenous health care should look like as they piece together legislation meant to deal with multiple health crises, as well as the legacy of colonialism and racism.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) held a National Health Legislation Forum in Toronto this week where discussions revolved around new health legislation for First Nations, the cause of polarizing debate.

Conversations ranging from whether or not First Nations health should become enshrined into Canadian Law, how new health legislation would parallel recent child welfare legislation, and how new legislation may address health crises in Indigenous communities coast-to-coast.

One case mentioned multiple times was that of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven, who on Sept. 28, 2021, died of heart failure in a Quebec hospital. She initially entered the hospital with stomach pains, but according to her last words in a Facebook livestream days later, and spoken in her Atikamekw language, “they are overdosing me on drugs.”

With discriminatory taunts against Joyce from hospital staff heard in the background of her livestream, the coroner investigating concluded that racism was a contributing factor in Echaquan’s death.

However, it’s not just racism in hospitals that’s driving the conversation. Vice Chief David Pratt of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), who also sits on the AFN leadership table, said there are too many issues to address that are at crises status in First Nations communities across Canada.

In opening remarks, Pratt pointed out how the long-standing alcohol crisis in Indigenous communities has now escalated into a crystal-meth crisis. “Communities are forced to fund their own crystal meth recovery programs using their limited source revenue, and it’s a situation that should not be the case,” he said.

He also explained how an existing “status

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