VICTORIA -- A First Nation on Vancouver Island has opened an emergency youth homeless shelter to support vulnerable youth through the coldest months of the year.

Cowichan Tribes has opened a new seasonal shelter in the former Vancouver Island University building on Cowichan Way, which can support up to 10 people.

The shelter is open seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 9 a.m. until May 2021 for youth aged 17 or younger. Each person staying at the shelter will have individual rooms, which follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

Staff will also be providing food and connection to services like showers and laundry.

“We are thankful for the partnerships within the community,” said Cowichan Tribes associate health director Marnie Elliot in a release Tuesday.

“With many of us working together, we are able to provide a safe place for our youth,” she said. “We are also thankful for the many departments within Cowichan Tribes that have worked diligently together to open the doors.”

Cowichan Tribes says that priority will be given to Cowichan youth who are in need of services. If space is available, other youth will be able to access the shelter. If space is not available, staff say they will offer other supports if possible.

“We hope to provide a warm space for our youth to find rest and a safe place for their healing journey,” said Elliot.