REGINA – “I lived in a park in the south end in Regina for four and a half months. It wasn’t easy. I made a little home under a bush,” said Leota Akachuck, who was homeless one year ago.

Akachuck knows life on the streets can be rough and it’s made even worse, by severe weather.

“In the winter months, it was basically just trying to survive. I’d walk the streets, and the only thing that kept me warm was probably the alcoholism,” said Akachuck

And overnight options are limited.

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“We either slept in old, abandoned houses that we can find, or in garages or places like that,” Akuchuck added.

She is now nearing the end of a year-long live-in program at Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, that helps people with addiction problems.

Each night, Souls Harbour’s two shelters open their doors to anyone on the streets by housing more than two dozen people. This season’s extreme temperatures has put a strain on resources.

“We’ve definitely seen our men’s shelter consistently full, for a long time,” said Rebecca Cochrane of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission. “Those cold snaps have been longer and so some of our cold weather strategies have had to be enforced over a much longer stretch than we’ve had to enforce them in the last couple of years.”

While shelters typically halt intake at around 10 p.m., they will let people on the streets in, if they’re referred by an organization like mobile crisis.

“We try the homeless shelters first, or friends and family, and then we’ll access hotel rooms as we need,” said Brownyn Wyatt of Saskatchewan’s mobile crisis service.

As for Akachuck – she hopes her friends on the streets will stay safe this season, and that her story will be an inspiration to others.

“I go out there to go see them all the time, in hopes that they see me and they’ll be able to change their life,” said Akachuck.