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Coldest Night of the Year makes a return to Duncan, aims to help youth struggling with homelessness

This Saturday is the Coldest Night of the Year in the Cowichan Valley and across Canada. 

The annual fundraiser to raise awareness of the challenges and struggles of people experiencing homelessness will see participants walk 2 or 5 kilometres. 

Last year Coldest Night of the Year in the Cowichan Valley raised $70,000, and this year they are hoping to raise even more.

Event Director, Jennifer Lazenby says that all the proceeds will go towards meeting the needs of youth in the Valley. 

“A building accessible to youth 24/7 that would give them showers, food, shelter, medical, treatment, any, any of those community resources that they’re lacking right now,” says Lazenby.

She adds that a purpose-built space for youth in the region is sorely needed as the Canadian Mental Health Association estimates there are close to 90 kids experiencing homelessness.

Manager of Child, Youth and Family Connections at the CMHA Madeline Joe says that due to a location change, they have had to cut back on services offered at their current Youth Centre on Festubert Street.

“We lost the kitchen space, we’ve lost the showers, we’ve lost the laundry facilities and a bigger space to be able to do programming. So when we take a look at the coldest night of the year and that investment of being able to purchase, a building and property that gives us the opportunity of bringing those features back into an emergency shelter for use,” says Joe.

The walk gets underway this Saturday at 4 pm and you can register ahead of time and donate on the CNOY website.

Last year CNOY saw 37,000 walkers take part at 182 different locations across Canada.

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