The annual holiday party at Chez Doris for disadvantaged women has been a tradition for 40 years, but the number of clients joining in surged this year due to the influx of asylum seekers.
Among those joining in this year is Adelaja Iyabo, who came to Canada from Lagos, Nigeria in April.
It’s Iyabo’s first winter in Montreal, and she depends on assistance cheques from the province worth about $700 a month.
She’s been waiting to hear about her asylum application for months, and still doesn’t have a hearing date set.
But she is grateful of the support she’s received from Chez Doris.
“They accepted us when we came in. Really provided for us, helped us as refugees — and without knowing us,” she said.
This year Chez Doris served its holiday meal to 300 women — about a 25 per cent increase from last year.
According to executive director Marina Boulos-Winton, the increase is due to the influx of asylum seekers to the city of Montreal.
“These are women who live below the poverty line, are vulnerable,” she said. “Some of them are homeless. So it is a joyous occasion just to celebrate and let their hair out.