The park side restaurant in Cabot Square next to the Atwater Metro station may look like a typical trendy eatery, but it’s much more.
The Roundhouse Café does not just serve up coffee and hot meals, it also offers employment opportunities for Montreal’s First Nations community.
“It’s not only a café to make money, to make cash,” said L’Itinéraire social development chief Charles-Éric Lavery.
“It’s also a café that has a social mission towards the well-being of the community.”
Since 2015, the unique café offering Indigenous fare with a modern twist has been hiring First Nations peoples like Sierra Segalowitz to work behind the counter.
“It’s not fully Indigenous,” she said. “It’s like a urban Indigenous restaurant.”
L’itinéraire, the community group devoted to aiding and combating Montreal homelessness, is running the organization.
A rotation of 16 to 20 Indigenous staff take on different duties in the restaurant from cooking to serving.
Lavery says the work is adaptive so people can work three-hour shifts and get paid at the end of the day with cash.
“It sucks waiting two weeks to get paid,” he said. “I mean there are very daily challenges that they live.”
With the revival of Cabot Square, Lavery said the Roundhouse has improved the way Montrealers see First Nations in the neighbourhood.
He hopes it will continue to create positive interactions.
“Maybe you break that barrier then you can start a conversation and you can go pretty far with a conversation.”
The Roundhouse Café is open from May to October.