A deceased person was found inside the Northlands Spectrum shelter run by Hope Mission in Edmonton and now questions are being raised about how long the body may have been there.
A Hope Mission spokesperson says they were devastated to find out someone had passed away.
“Our hearts go out to all those who knew, cared for and loved this man,” said Lauren Reid.
Reid said the body was found on Oct. 18. She said the Hope Mission doesn’t know for certain how long it was there.
“The Spectrum is a very large venue with multiple floors and it’s not structured for shelter so there are many areas that are fenced off and blocked to prevent people from entering them.
“This person found their way around a fence that was not only fenced but also blocked off with plywood. Once they went around the fence, they entered a door to a small room that was tucked behind the fencing,” Reid said.
“While in this space, they passed away from what is currently an unknown medical problem.”
She said Hope Mission is supporting staff members and the person who made the devastating discovery.
“They are heartbroken as well. At this time, we’re really focusing on investigating the circumstances that led to this incident and how we can ensure that nothing like this happens again,” Reid said.
“This is a terrible situation and we are working hard to heal and learn from this and to continue to do everything we can to ensure and work towards the best care possible for our vulnerable community members.”
The remains were found Tuesday at around midnight by a man coming to stay at the shelter.
Edmonton police said officers were called on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at approximately 12 a.m. about a sudden death in the area of Borden Park Road.
“It was reported to police that a body had been discovered in a building in that area,” an EPS spokesperson told Global News.
She also said the death is believed to be non-criminal in nature.
Bear Clan Patrol leader Judith Gale helps vulnerable people. She says the man who discovered the remains told her they had been there a number of days. It’s that reported delay that outrages her.
“We were on patrol… and as we were gifting out coffees… one of our brothers came up to me and he was very upset.
“He said that he’s been staying right here at the Spectrum for quite a few weeks already and every time he’s come he said he noticed a foul smell so he decided to investigate himself.
“He looked into the mechanical utility room and that’s where he discovered the corpse,” Gale said.
“He was very distressed. He was shaking… He told me that he will never come back here again.”
Gale acknowledged the death is still under investigation.
“I’m just very upset about the whole thing. This is a tax-paid agency. They were not able to ensure our brothers’ and sisters’ safety in this facility.
“Anytime that a human being is found dead, I think that — especially in an institution that’s funded by government dollars — I think they have to tell the public what happened.
“We need to know who he was, we need to know the family has justice for their son, and bring him home, let the family have some closure,” Gale said.
Reid said Hope Mission wants to be as open as possible as it learns from this incident and also tries to heal.
“It’s time to investigate and find out … how it came to pass. That’s where our focus has been,” she said.
“It’s been very hard, especially for our staff that work in those shelters. We do what we do because we love and care for these people.”
— With files from Sarah Komadina, Global News