Montreal’s Old Brewery Mission was awarded $890,000 by the federal government to help get homeless veterans of the street.
Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay made the announcement in Montreal on Monday.
The funds will allow the mission to continue its Sentinels in the Streets programs which launched in 2017 with support from the Quebec Veterans Foundation, VETS Canada, the Canadian Legion and Veterans Affairs Canada.
The program helps veterans, who account for six per cent of Montreal’s homeless population, find an affordable place to live and supports them until they get back on their feet.
“We have undertaken the important task of ending homelessness amongst our veterans,” said Eric Maldoff, president of the board of directors at the Old Brewery Mission, touting the Sentinels program.
“Since the start of the program in 2017, 16 homeless veterans have been housed, with almost a 90 per cent retention rate,” he said, adding the difficulty wasn’t so much in getting the veterans off the street, but in keeping them from ending up back where they began.
“It’s a rate of which we can all be proud,” he said.
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Retired Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin of the Quebec Veterans Foundation served 35 years in the military, including missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
Blondin highlighted the need for services such as those offered by the Sentinels program.
“I went with my friends,” he said of his deployments, “and some of them didn’t come back, some of them came back broken, some of them committed suicide.”
Blondin expressed his gratitude, saying the money will allow to continue the Sentinels program for another five years.
“When you come to Montreal, Mr. MacAulay, and you make an announcement like this, you’re actually telling me, as a veteran, that you recognize my service,” he said.
“Your government is doing something to help me and my fellow veterans and I thank you.”
In all, 22 projects, out of 114 applicants, received a total of $3 million in financial support from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund.
“This fund is meant to encourage bold and innovative ideas that will help meet the unique needs of Canada’s veteran community,” MacAulay said. “We’re now in the second year of this fund, and I can tell you Canadians are full of big ideas when it comes to supporting Canadian veterans.”
The Respect Campaign, another Montreal-based initiative, was also a recipient of federal aid.
It will receive $537,000 to help its work to support homeless veterans and those suffering from PTSD. The funds will go towards the Respect Forum, a national network and initiative to promote approaches to working together and delivering services to veterans, first responders, and their families.