Resilience Montreal, a day shelter offering support to Indigenous people experiencing homelessness, is one step closer to securing a permanent location thanks to financial assistance from the Quebec government and a coalition of seven foundations.
The Quebec government announced a $3 million investment that will allow the non-profit to purchase a building near Cabot Square in downtown Montreal, a popular gathering spot for many vulnerable Montrealers.
That’s in addition to $600,000 previously announced in December.
Together, the foundations are injecting an additional $1.5 million for the day-to-day operations of the day shelter over the next three years.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière made the announcement on Monday, in company of Chantal Rouleau, the minister responsible for the metropolis, Tasha Lackman, vice-president of philanthropy and community at Foundation of Greater Montreal and Nakusekt, Resilience Montreal’s director of philanthropic development.
Lafrenière said there was a certain urgency to close the deal.
“There was an offer to buy that was coming to an end,” he said. “We had to act quickly.”
Lafrenière also stressed the importance of finding a location that would allow Resilience Montreal to continue offering its services where they are needed.
“I was kind of stressed to see that day centre move out of the neighbourhood like it happened a few years ago with Open Door for example,” he said. “Why that is? Because the pressure is so high, buildings are getting costly, so people are moving out of that neighbourhood. We need resources close to the Cabot Square.”
Lackman also acknowledged the need for local services and lauded Resilience Montreal’s important work in the neighbourhood.
“Beyond providing a meal, a shower a safe place to rest to those experiencing homelessness Resilience Montreal is actually really creating a community — a community for people who are excluded from our society, a place where they feel safe,” she said.
“It is literally saving peoples’ lives every day.”
Nakuset expressed her gratitude and said she was overwhelmed not only by the show of support, but also for what will mean to the community.
“Now you’ve given us the tools to really do our best. I am so excited about this,” she said. “I have been working in this field for over 20 years and I have never received this amount of money.”
Although the location of the future day centre is still confidential due to ongoing negotiations for its purchase, Nakuset confirmed the coveted building is located near Cabot Square.
Her vision for the new place is create a space where everyone feels welcome.
“So the idea is to create this place as a wellness centre for the homeless and that the idea is that when they walk in, they’re going to feel like they’re home,” Nakuset.
“I hope it will be absolutely gorgeous to walk into and super functional and have spaces for all the different needs.”
The good news wasn’t limited to future plans. Lafrenière also confirmed a six-week extension was granted last week for a warming tent that was set up at Cabot Square at the beginning of the month.
The warming centre, which can accommodate 16 people, was named in memory of Raphael Napa André.
The Innu man’s frozen body was discovered inside a portable toilet in the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 17. near the Open Door Shelter.
With many shelters operating at reduced capacity due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, finding a warm place to spend the night has become more difficult for many.
The tent provides access to a full intervention team, as well as a providing a warm place to sleep and fuel up on hot food and beverages.
The Raphaël André Memorial Tent will remain in place until March 31.
— With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and The Canadian Press