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Six different speakers from across Canada gathered in Winkler on Wednesday for Eden Health Care Services 'Faces of Homelessness' lecture series.

"It is Mental Health Awareness Week and being a mental health service provider, poverty, mental health, and illness often go hand in hand, so this was an excellent opportunity," says Kym Kaufmann, CEO for Eden Health Care Services, and organizer of the event.

She says there weren't many questions from attendees. "The speakers all did a really great job of explaining their position and some of the work that they do, and some of the things that frontline service providers can consider to help reduce homelessness."

Dr. Rook is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Managing Director (Calgary) for the Mustard Seed Society. Their vision and mission are to support those facing homelessness and poverty through fulfilling their basic needs and helping build a sustainable lifestyle.

"Let's not leave a single Canadian on this death road of homelessness," says Dr. John Rook, the opening and closing speaker for the day.

He believes that poverty can be solved, but friends, family, communities, and government need to work together in a "harmonious vision" for this to become a reality. The day-long seminar is the first step to planting the seed of homelessness awareness within the Pembina Valley.

Carolyn Ryan was the representative for Manitoba Housing and is the Acting Chief Operating Officer. "Manitoba Housing is part of the Department of Families under this government, and I think there's an expectation that we figure out how to work together. We are anxious to move on with that work, and find ways to collaborate, communicate, and help the clients that we're all sharing across our systems."

The lectures help to bridge the gap between different levels of society and government and also help educate on the fact that homelessness is often hidden.

"We have a lot of homeless individuals in Manitoba, and there's lots more that we can do to help these individuals get off the streets," adds Kaufmann.

The other lecturers include John Janzen, the Community Education Coordinator at Siloam Mission, Bev Dyck, Eden's Program Director of Housing and Supports, Lori Penner, Community Development Coordinator at Winkler Central Station Community Centre, and Al Wiebe, a Social Worker who was previously homeless.

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