MONTREAL – Phillip Yarde was one of the lucky ones on Sunday. He was one of a few hundred homeless people who came in out of the rain to enjoy a warm free meal at l’Accueil Bonneau.
Every year, the centre organizes the ‘Dîner des rois’ — the Dinner of kings.
And while Yarde may not have felt like a king exactly, he did express his heartfelt gratitude.
“I feel very pleased,” he said. “These people are helping us out, it’s a very good feeling.”
Despite hearing about the dinner in the past, Yarde said it was his first time attending.
He blamed his busy schedule for missing out on previous years.
The food, he said, was “great.”
“It was very tasty. I mean it was healthy.”
But for Yarde, the highlight of the day was meeting the mayor and shaking his hand.
“It’s my first time I’m shaking his hand,” he said. “I’m pleased to do that and to meet all the people, you know…that make the contribution to help the people on the street.”
The day was no less important for Montreal Mayor, Denis Coderre.
“The fête des rois should be 365 days a year,” he said, adding the event was a great opportunity to bring the issue of homelessness to the forefront.
It’s an issue the city has tackled head-on, recently releasing a five-year action plan to end the problem of chronic homelessness in the city.
READ MORE: 5-year plan to end chronic homelessness in Montreal gets a go
Coderre expressed optimism in the plan, mentioning the future appointment of a protector of the homeless, as well as a supervised safe-injection site and said things were getting better.
Coderre truly showed his resolve however, when asked how serious the problem was in the city.
“It’s always serious,” he said. “Because we’re talking about human beings.”
“As long as we’ll have only one, there is situation, so it is serious and we are taking it seriously.”
The dinner was also attended by Archbishop Christian Lepine and the president of the Saint-Vincent de Paul Society, Alain Besner.
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