TIMMINS -- After a great deal of lobbying, Mushkegowuk Council has received federal and provincial funding to develop a new program called 'Firekeeper Patrol' to help Indigenous people in Timmins who are homeless and/or battling addictions.

Officials said the majority of homeless in Timmins are Indigenous and they said the demand for support is beyond the city's capacity.

“We can’t do it by ourselves," said Jason Sereda, executive director of Living Space homeless shelter. "So with all programs at Living Space, we're really looking for that collaborative effort with Mushkegowuk Council, with CMHA, the City of Timmins, whoever, we’re really looking at putting our efforts together so we make best use of all our resources."

Mushkegowuk Council has been applying for government funding and it recently found it: it's receiving $1 million for its the Firekeeper Patrol program.

'We are all partners in this'

“We’re all partners in this," said Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon of the Mushkegowuk Council. "The feds contributed their portion and the province contributed their portion and it’s a three-year commitment, so we’re excited about it because our people have been saying we’re the forgotten people."

Renovations on a building on Elm Street are currently underway. Programs are being created and people are being hired. Officials said being able to speak Cree will be an asset.

“We want to approach it from a trauma informed lens -- Indigenous services specific to the Indigenous needs," said Sylvina Rickard, director of health for Mushkegowuk Council.

"In the building will also be traditional healing. They’re going to be working closely in hand with a land-based detox program, as well."

Outworkers with Living Space homeless shelter said they are looking foreword to working with the new group.

"We’ve had a lot of camps around town that are hidden, so it’s nice for us to be able to go out there and speak with them as well try to get them to come back to Living Space so they have a safe space to sleep as well," said Breanna Vieno.

“It’s all the relationship with the guests and stuff because they have a hard time communicating with people or trusting people," added Eric Godmaire.

Mushkegowuk Council officials said it will be a few weeks before it can start sending its outreach workers out to help people.