“You are Secure”: Congregation teams collect to host a Christmas occasion for residents of the Edmonton Conference Heart

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Author of the article:

Dustin Cook

Publication date:

23 Dec 2020December 23, 2020Read for 2 minutes Join the conversation The Edmonton Convention Center will be used 24/7 this winter as a temporary shelter for residents affected by homelessness. The Edmonton Convention Center will be used 24/7 this winter as a temporary shelter for residents affected by homelessness. Photo by Greg Southam /20091946A

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Edmonton Convention Center chef Serge Belair would be nowhere else in the kitchen on Christmas Day preparing more than 600 meals for homeless residents of the 24-7 shelter.

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Belair and his team are preparing to set up a traditional tourtière for lunch and a turkey dinner on Friday to bring the Christmas spirit to the people in the newly named Tipinawaw accommodation in the Convention Center, sheltered from the outside elements in Cree.

There weren’t many events before the shelter opened at the end of October, so Belair couldn’t be in the kitchen at home.

“To see that I can help in this way on Christmas Day is just great. There is no price associated with that, it is priceless, ”he said in an interview with Postmedia. “We have missed cooking for six months. When we got back we were pretty eager, it was like doing everything from scratch. We give each of our products our own flair and our own touch. “

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A daily budget of $ 10 per guest comes with challenges, but Belair said it was made possible through donations from community groups and the Edmonton Food Bank – who provided ground bison and turkey for Christmas meals. Belair said they also received thousands of compostable take-away containers at a discount and the largest bag of potatoes he has ever seen.

“We have asked for a lot of donations and of course Edmonton is so good for that they just grew strong and the board has been very supportive,” he said.

Bissell Center spokeswoman Scarlet Bjornson said the shelter’s organizers want to give guests a special day to spread the Christmas cheer and let them know they have support. Bissell Center is one of four social institutions that run the shelter and are responsible for day-to-day services and programming.

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“It’s just a nice thing for a community that is often disregarded and often very isolated,” said Bjornson. “We hope it touches her in a way that says, ‘You are worth it and you will be taken care of’.”

In addition to the festive celebratory meals, residents receive a gift bag and baked goods donated by local community groups and can see “A Christmas Carol” on two large screens.

In late November, the shelter was hit by a COVID-19 outbreak from which it is still recovering. Latest data from Alberta Health shows 95 outbreak-related cases and 19 residents who still have active cases and are being isolated in a separate facility.

The shelter’s capacity was cut in half as a result of the outbreak, but has grown steadily since then. There is now room for 250 guests overnight, less than the 300 person limit when the site opened. The shelter will remain active until the end of March.

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