Nakuset: In Dialogue
I, Renee Corbiere, had the privilege of sitting in on an educational online session hosted by Nakuset in April.
Nakuset informed on Indigenous histories and consequences of colonialism which contribute to the disproportionately high number of unhoused Indigenous people in Montreal. She also described several actions that need to be taken by the city to mitigate these issues. She referred to extensive conversations that have been had with the city that she feels are being ignored. Not only conversations, but reports, recommendations, and calls to action which she describes as having been “placed on a shelf” by city officials.
Nakuset, Executive Director at Resilience Montreal, says one of the best immediate actions we can take to support the homeless in our city right now is through provision of tents.
She describes the success of the Raphael Andre Memorial warming tent erected shortly after the
freezing death of Raphael Andre: a space where those in need could access food, services, and
temporary relief from the cold – the warming tent was essential to the well-being of many.
Following its closure, the individuals who frequented the tent are still in need.
SPVM Evictions of Encampments far from Reconciliatory
Throughout the harsh winter months particularly, organizations like Resilience Montreal
and Meals for Milton-Parc have worked tirelessly to provide essentials like food and outdoor
living essentials to those in need. The city shelters lack space to accommodate everyone looking
to escape the cold nights. In response to the encampments these organizations have been able to
support, the city has taken to actively dismantling them. It has not been long that many of these
tent communities have been able to stand before the SPVM inevitably arrives to confiscate and
dispose of hundreds of dollars worth of donated supplies.
Enduring a cold walk home and witnessing the SPVM aggressively trashing tents and belongings of our unhoused neighbours, I can only ask myself: why? Why, for lack of better words, does our city wish to see the unhoused perish? Why, in place of inadequate shelter services, does the city not allow the homeless to survive in tents or encampments? Why do we direct tax dollars to SPVM officers violently destructing encampments, rather than funding housing and shelter programming? I must ask, if the city will not do the work to help those in need, then who will?
Most recently, on May 4th, the encampment located in Hochelaga Park was dismantled.
Protestors gathered at the scene starting the morning of the 4th and remained throughout the day to show support and solidarity to those who lost their homes that day. As a volunteer for Meals for Milton-Parc myself, it is disheartening to see all that we work to provide gone to waste in
minutes. I cannot imagine the loss it must be for those losing their only belongings.
Shockingly, this needs to be reiterated: people need homes, not necessarily houses, but at least a safe space to call home. We are all begging our city leaders to recognize that. We are pleading for them just to care. We need immediate action to target this housing crisis. The time has passed for consultation and conversation. It is due time that our unhoused neighbours receive the government support they need, but also the popular respect they deserve. Rather thanrelocation, I challenge our city leaders to move beyond symbolic gestures and strive for tangible means towards reconciliation.