The Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre is expanding access to its safe space program for at-risk youth with financial support from the federal government.

The expansion is dedicated to the memory of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine who stayed at the organization’s 16-bed temporary emergency shelter in July 2014 prior to her death.

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott announced Tuesday morning the government will provide $350,000 to allow the Ndinawe‘s safe space program to expand to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

Fontaine’s great-aunt Thelma Favel said a safe haven for children is an appropriate tribute to Tina.

“It was Tina’s dream to work with children,” said Favel during the funding announcement. “She would’ve made a big difference if she was allowed to.”

Ndinawe’s executive director Tammy Christensen said the money means the resource centre can stay open 24/7, something it was previously only able to do during weekends and school closures.

“With this new funding we’re going to be able to be open a true 24/7 so we absolutely won’t ever have to close the doors,” said Christensen.

She said the money is for staff salaries, programming and supplies.

The resource centre will start 24/7 operations on April 2.

A rose welded by two Winnipeg students from R.B. Russell school bearing Tina Fontaine’s name will be placed in the resource centre.

Philpott said the money means the doors at Ndinawe will always be open.

“The resource centre has a strong history for providing care for people in the community,” the Minister told reporters. “This was a vision they brought to us to say in light of so many things that have been happening lately, in light of the story of Tina Fontaine and the fact that young people don’t feel safe particularly overnight could they possibly find a way to be open 24/7.

“There was an obvious answer we had to find a way to make it possible. We have no doubt that it’s going to be money well spent to provide safety and healing for young people in the area.”