The Atlantic Award Group is pleased to announce the presentation of an award to the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee in recognition of their extraordinary work educating, advocating for, and assisting the homeless people of Moncton. This award was presented as part of the east coast Atlantic Awards presented by Investors Group.

The Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, referred to hereon as the GMHSC, is an inter-agency committee representing agencies in Greater Moncton that work with the homeless population and those at risk of becoming homeless.  Their main efforts are to reduce homelessness through a Housing First approach; To improve the self-sufficiency of homeless individuals and families and those at imminent risk of homelessness through individualized services; To preserve or increase the capacity of facilities used to address the needs of people who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness; and to ensure coordination of resources and leveraging.

In late 2000, the GMHSC was established to provide leadership in the development of a plan for the tri-community region of Moncton, Riverview, and Dieppe. During the first few months of 2001, the GMHSC worked closely with Service Canada and a research team from Fredericton, NB to gather information from service providers, key stakeholders and homeless people about the assets and gaps in services in the region. Following an extensive and immersive consultation process, a Community Plan was developed.

In the years to follow, they organized a Community Forum on Homelessness to bring together 70 representatives from more than 50 groups and agencies. Key priorities were identified, such as increasing the number of shelter spaces, increasing the number and availability of adequate and affordable housing units, developing partnerships among those who work with homeless people or those at-risk, reducing social exclusion and building awareness.

Further down the road they received funding for a part-time Community Development Officer, whose role is to raise awareness of homelessness in Greater Moncton. This role up until recently had been fulfilled by Sue Calhoun. Alongside supporting various initiatives, they launched a community breakfast which gave officials an opportunity to sit down with a homeless person and experience firsthand their struggles.

Since then, they’ve been working towards a ‘Housing First’ model, which means housing those who are homeless, and then providing them with the support that they need to remain housed. Their tireless efforts can be found throughout many projects in the area. It’s a long-term struggle, but the GMHSC haven’t given up.

The award was presented by Project Director, Alex Maine at Moncton City Hall on the morning of April 18. During the presentation, Mr Maine said:

It’s an extraordinary feat. Sixteen years. That’s half of my life. I can’t even begin to imagine the work that has been put in. I remember reading the nomination. It was lengthy, it was passionate. You could almost feel the emotion coming off of the page. I don’t believe we’ll ever truly be able to solve the issue of homelessness, but you’re making a considerable impact and you’re helping a lot of people. Please continue to do what you do. It is very much appreciated.

Claudette Murray, Regional Director of Investors Group, Moncton who attended the presentation with her fellow colleagues said in a statement to the AAG this morning:

On behalf of my colleagues here at Investors Group in Moncton we are very proud to be associated with an amazing award that allows us to take the time out of our busy lives and recognize these individuals on the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee for the more than 15+ years of service working to assist the homeless. We appreciate all your dedication to this cause. Although it’s not why you do what you do, today take a minute to enjoy your recognition. Congratulations.

In an email to the Atlantic Award Group last night, Laura Selig, Chair of the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee said:

I want to Thank you so much for the award you presented to our Committee this morning. We were humbled and honored to be a recipient of this recognition of the work we do.  We are all very passionate about serving our community and we are thrilled to know there are others that share the passion and desire to assist in this important work. Again thank you for recognizing our work by way of this award. We look forward to hearing of other work being done as we meet in October for the Atlantic Awards Gala.

The Atlantic Award Group would like to thank everyone who attended the presentation including Councillor Paul Pellerin, Ernie Steeves MLA of Moncton Northwest & Sherry Wilson MLA of Moncton Southwest for their kind words at the presentation.