Resilience, a new drop-in centre at the corner or St. Catherine and Atwater streets, is meant to be a place of refuge for anyone who lives on the street.
“It’s really, really, really hard to live on the street, and this is why we called it Resilience Montreal,” explained Nakuset, who is in charge of the centre and who also runs the Native Womens’ Centre.
“It’s like as soon as you walk through the door, we are acknowledging that you are resilient.”
The centre sits right across the street from Cabot Square, an area frequented by the homeless. When the open-door day shelter moved to the the Plateau last year, most of their clients remained in the area.
With few services left for them in the neighbourhood, advocates say the clients suffered. Some even lost their lives as a result.
“About 14,” Nakuset said, “and I would say maybe 10 or 11 were Indigenous.”
So she and other workers and advocates started pushing for something to be done.
With the help of community groups, different levels of government and 150 volunteers, they managed to convert the former Miso Restaurant, a project involving 5,800 square feet of space that was was finished in just under a month.
Claire Davenport of Architect Without Borders worked on the project and said it was built for comfort.
“To make it a space that is inviting and inclusive and that feels a little bit like home, that was our mandate,” she told a press conference at the centre.
Nakuset added that they wanted to make the place as welcoming as possible.
“We just want to really give them a place with really qualified people around them and help them,” she said, “because life is short.”
Staff stressed that the centre will provide psychosocial support as well as meals and laundry services, and will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Though staff are thrilled that the place is up and running, the location is temporary. They are now trying to find a permanent home within the next year.