Montreal’s Chez Doris women’s shelter is hosting its fifth annual holiday fair on Sunday.
The sale of the handmade items created and donated by artisans and companies will go towards supporting the women and services offered at the shelter.
“All the funds from this fair, depending on the product that is being sold, either goes to Chez Doris or directly in the pockets of the clients,” said Chez Doris executive director Marina Boulos.
The fair features items like jewelry, mittens, scarves, hand-carved soaps and more. Boulos hopes they’ll raise over $5,000 to beat last year’s sales.
“We have cultural activities every week for our Indigenous clientele so it’s much appreciated because it puts money in their pockets,” said Boulos.
The shelter, opened seven days a week, offers services and programs to help women cope with homelessness, poverty and mental illnesses.
The Indigenous community says they find peace through traditional beading and artistic workshops.
“It’s to help them to get away from all the trauma and crisis that they live in, you know, and this is very enjoyable and relaxing so it’s good for them to have a place to have some peace and do something that they love,” said cultural workshop organizer Kim Delisle.
“You know it’s nice to go out, have a change of scenery and be around people,” said bead worker Kathy Nolan.
They say the cultural events and the holiday fair allows them to get back into their traditions and profit from their hard work.
“Once they decide to get back into their tradition they are amazed with what they can do, the skills that they have that they’ve forgotten or they buried,” said Delisle.
Some women at the shelter have been doing beadwork for decades, which they pass down from generation to generation.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years… but… within the 10 years I learned more,” said Nolan.
“It’s very important that you keep it, keeping your history, your language,” said Delisle.
The organization also receives up to 100 women per day and provides over 42,000 meals annually, but they won’t be stopping there.
“Our mission will be expanding in the next year,” said Boulos. “We will be launching a residence by the end of the summer, summer 2020, and we also hope to be opening an emergency shelter as well by winter of next year.”