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This article was published 3/12/2019 (328 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
One of the oldest volunteer community patrols in Winnipeg is hoping to end homelessness by providing free houses to poor residents.
The Urban Knights and Ladies Veterans Ambassador Peace Patrol delivered two small warming huts and one larger cabin to the homeless camp by the Disraeli bridge on Nov. 29. The two warming huts are very basic, offering a warm place to sleep, while the larger cabin has a bed, a toilet and electrical outlets.
Michael Patrick Belhumeur, the founder of the patrol, said they hope their shelters serve as a model that the city can use to end homelessness.
"We think this is a viable answer to ending homelessness. We’re hoping this starts a conversation at City Hall," Belhumeur said. "We want the City to say ‘Hey, maybe this is a good idea.’ That would be an ideal goal for us, to see the city create more homes, offer a practical solution to (homelessness)."
The warming huts were created by students at Stonewall Collegiate. The students held several fundraisers for the shelters, built them, and found a way to deliver them to Winnipeg.
Belhumeur said the school was just involved in creating the shelters, and had no say in where they would be placed. The patrol is looking to assign the shelters to three homeless people in Winnipeg.
The larger cabin was created by the Greenwald Hutterite Colony in Beausejour.
Belhumeur said by giving the homeless a home, it gives them a sense of ownership.
"When you’re valueless and you don’t own anything, it affects your self-esteem. You feel like you don’t belong and you’re forgotten by society," Belhumeur said. "We like to think of it as an early Christmas present. We want to remind them that they’re not forgotten, someone out there cares about them."
The Urban Knights and Ladies Peace Patrol started in 1976, and was one of the first volunteer-based crime prevention organizations in Winnipeg. The first incarnation of the Bear Clan was established in the ’90s, and reformed in 2014.
Belhumeur is a Métis army veteran, having served from 1964 till 1972. He volunteered for the Main Street Project in the ’70s, which is when he decided to form his own organization to help homeless veterans.
The patrol provides similar services to other community organizations, such as providing food and resources to displaced Winnipeggers and advocating for treating them with dignity.
Belhumeur received the Order of Manitoba in 2018 for his 40 years of volunteer service.
Community journalist — The Metro
Justin Luschinski is the community journalist for The Metro. Email him at email@example.com
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