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Blessing, feast marks homeless memorial

Larry and Violet Stillday, and Carol Priest, executive director of the Red Lake Homeless Shelter, listen Tuesday to members of the Muskrat Lodge Singers as the shelter celebrated with a feast to honor National Homeless Awareness Week. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

RED LAKE - The Red Lake Homeless Shelter, "Mishkwaa-ga-mii-wii-zaaga'iganiing Giiwishiiwigamig," held a blessing and feast Tuesday to mark National Homeless Person's Memorial Day.

The shelter opened in January 2006.

The shelter, according to Executive Director Carol Priest, has proven its tremendous need: a third of its clientele are children; the majority is 20-40 years old.

"We are always one breath away from needing help," said elder Larry Stillday who provided a blessing for the feast. "This facility is a blessing when that unexpected time in your life befalls you."

Priest started the day Tuesday by lighting a memorial fire outside the facility. Stillday followed with a blessing and memorial drum songs were performed by Muskrat Lodge Singings.

The shelter, 24 hours a day, has seven bedrooms and houses up to 20 people. Fourteen full- and part-time staff works at the facility, which offers three meals a day.