Saskatchewan woman calls for increased services for homeless

Saskatchewan woman calls for increased services for homeless

Angela Andrews was homeless in Saskatchewan when she was bit by a bug, resulting in two strokes.

Saskatchewan Woman

Angela Andrews died in Saskatchewan in October after a bug bite she had got infected. According to her mother Wanda Natawayous, Angela left the hospital before getting a diagnosis.

Wanda Natawayous of Saskatoon worries about her granddaughter. The preschooler’s mother Angela Andrews recently died, and she, at times, wakes up crying.

“I have to explain to her why her mother’s not around now. Especially when she’s older, it’s going to be hard,” said Natawayous of her granddaughter Raelynn Andrews-Walker.

Andrews was homeless in Regina before she died on Oct. 4.

She was bit by an unknown bug and went to the hospital, but departed before doctors could give provide results. Hospital staff were unable to reach her because she had no phone number or email address.

Natawayous says the bite created an infection. Eventually, 22-year-old Andrews had two strokes and died.

Life was difficult for Andrews leading up to the fatal bug bite.

“She was going through some things. When the baby [Raelynn] was about four months old, she left. And she got into addictions,” said Natawayous.

Andrews was yousing drugs like crystal meth and fentanyl.

“But it didn’t matter how far she fell into her addictions, Raelynn was always the first thing on her mind. Any kind of help she received she would give half of whatever she received to Raelynn to help with her.”

Natawayous says Andrews wanted to get treatment. But that it was hard for her to make that step.

“Just a couple weeks before she passed, she got ahold of me and she wanted to go into detox,” she said.

Andrews lived in the homeless encampment Camp Hope in Pepsi Park (Core Park) in fall 2021. When the camp was shut down, 40 of its residents went to a temporary shelter, while 80 went unsheltered.

Of those 80, one in four have died since November 2021.

These numbers come from Alysia Johnson, one of the founding organizers of Camp Hope and a board chair at Carmichael Outreach in Regina.

“What the community needs to understand is that there is a real family behind that,” said Johnson.

Johnson says having addictions councillor and caseworkers on staff at homeless housing units can offer support, and ensure people experiencing mental health issues are taking their medication, and check-in on people to make sure they’re safe.

“This is human work. If we invest in the people, that will ultimately help remove barriers for service.”

In an emailed statement, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services said that it continues to search for new partnerships and encourage community-based organizations to reach out to explore ways they can use underused housing stock for their clients while they provide them with those supports.

The ministry says it encourages community-based organization partners to reach out when they become aware of a client who may be experiencing complex challenges.

“We will work with these clients and refer them to mental health and addictions supports provided by human service partners,” read the statement.

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