‘Resilience’ project provides a warm, safe space for Cabot Square’s homeless

Montreal’s Mayor Valérie Plante shares a moment with Montreal Native Women’s Shelter director Nakuset, Nazareth House Director Sheila Woodhouse, Québec’s Minister of Native Affairs Minister Sylvie D’Amours and other supporters during last week’s opening ceremony in the new downtown Resilience project centre.

As one of the thousands of people who call the city’s streets ‘home’, Montreal’s Timmiaq had tears in her eyes when Montreal’s Mayor Valérie Plante described the new Resilence Project as more than just a day centre for the city’s homeless.

“I’m so happy,” said Timmiaq. “It’s a good time to open the shelter because it’s getting cold, and now we have somewhere to go to get warm and get something to eat.”

Based upon all the trouble – including the 14 people who died in Cabot Square over the past year, Timmiaq said “...this is going to be the best Christmas I ever had,” because “...I’m going to be warm and I’ll get something to eat.”

During last week’s opening ceremony, Timmiaq was pleased to see Sylvie D’Amours – Québec’s Minister of Native Affairs — join Montreal’s Mayor Valérie Plante, Westmount’s Mayor Christina Smith and several high-level managers celebrate the opening of the new Resilience Centre in the old MacDonald’s restaurant located on the corner of Atwater and Ste. Catherine Street. Following a brief reference to the tragic deaths that occurred after the the Open Door shelter was closed to make way for a new condominium project, Mayor Plante told the media that the city knew about what was happening in Cabot Square , “...and we had to do something about it.”

“There was a crisis, people died, and that’s unacceptable,” said Mayor Plante. “Now we have a resource that’s more than just a day center, because it offers people the kind of community and ‘safe space’ that they need to become a part of that community.”

Aside from offering Timmiaq and her friends a warm space, Resilience also offers such amenities as hot food and showers along with social and psychiatric help to whomever needs a bit of help over the next few months. However, as the old restaurant is also scheduled to be demolished to make way for yet another mid-town condo project, there’s still a lot of work to be done in order to find a new, and hopefully more permanent location for the new project. While a common bond of compassion did a lot to help local Sheila Woodhouse and Nakuset – Executive Director of the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter — find both the support and money required to build the new Resilience project, both women know that it’s only the first step towards a permanent project that will (hopefully) provide real solutions to the very real problems that define life in Montreal’s Cabot Square.

“Our goal is to help these people find their physical health, along with their emotional, spiritual and psychological well-being,” said Nakuset. “This is what we mean by reconciliation, because this is what reconciliation is all about.”

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