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Square One announces GM for new warming space and women's shelter

Cheantelle Fisher will take the position of General Manager at the new Square One Community, Inc. warming space and women's shelter being developed at Moose Jaw's old firehall, William Milne place, officially starting May 1.
Cheantelle Fisher (left) with Moose Jaw & District Food Bank co-workers Terri Smith (middle) and Deann Little

Cheantelle Fisher will take the position of general manager at the new Square One Community, Inc. warming space and women's shelter being developed at Moose Jaw's old fire hall, William Milne place, officially starting May 1.

Square One made the announcement with a press release on April 24. The search for a GM followed the news in February that city council and the Moose Jaw Non-Profit Housing Corporation (MJNPHC) had confirmed a location for Square One to develop.

Fisher is departing her role at the Moose Jaw & District Food Bank, where she has spent the last year and a half helping to pioneer new programs helping food- and housing-insecure people in the area.

"I feel very excited that this is finally coming to fruition for our community, and I'm honoured that they've asked me to be a part of it," Fisher told "I think it's huge, it's been a long time coming, and I'm very grateful."

Square One was formed in 2021 and has been working ever since to understand, engage with, and develop practical solutions to the growing number of people in Moose Jaw who are unhoused or housing-insecure.

Fisher has been working passionately in the same field for many years. Originally from Regina, she spent 13 years as intake counsellor at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre on Vancouver Island before moving to Moose Jaw.

In her role as Client Resource Representative at the food bank, she led the creation and gradual expansion of the Syn'gage program. As a result, she is already deeply familiar with Moose Jaw's social issues, and with the community of organizations and individuals engaging with those issues. 

The Syn'gage program was designed to use the established relationships the food bank has in the community and with its clients to tackle more of the root challenges clients are facing, in addition to making sure their nutritional needs are met. Fisher also reached beyond food bank clients — Syn'gage is for anyone who needs it.

Through Syn'gage, Fisher acted as a resource hub and a source of support for people accessing community services, such as parenting classes, resumé workshops, job-search training, rent assistance, housing assistance, or life skills classes.

She taught classes and one-on-one sessions to help clients gain skills at overcoming common barriers such as underemployment, not having access to employment, not having identification, lacking paperwork with an address, being unaware of government-funded training programs, having no access to computers, or being unable to file taxes or have someone file for them.

"The majority of the Syn'gage program is going to move with me," Fisher said. "We have had an amazing year and a half of creating and growing this program, and we'll be able to make it bigger now, and serve more people in the community with more staff, more programming, and its own dedicated space."

Fisher helped to establish a community fridge and pantry at High Park Towers in May, 2022 to try and help elderly clients with mobility issues who are having trouble feeding themselves. 

She also visited the Legislature alongside social services clients and the Official NDP Opposition to protest the practice of cutting social assistance in favour of referring those in need to community-supported organizations like food banks.

The Moose Jaw & District Food Bank is on the front lines of the pressures caused by social services cuts and food and housing inflation. They have seen year after year of record numbers of new clients, and increased food bank usage by existing clients.

Fisher said she will maintain her relationships at her old job.

"My co-workers at the food bank have become my family," she explained. "I'm so grateful to my co-workers and our volunteers and out clients. So absolutely, I'll just be down the street, and I'll be checking in with them quite a bit. The goal of this is to create lasting relationships with all of the organizations and businesses in the community.

"This is brand new, and anything new has (a learning curve), so we just need to be ready and open for whatever comes our way. I think one of the challenges will be continuing to earn the community's trust.

"For folks who are nervous about having shelter spaces in our community, it's at the forefront of my mind constantly that we need to show we're a vital part of the community, that we will be good neighbours, and that we're providing an essential service."

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