August 19, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Homelessness Awareness Parks Canada and the protesters decided to cooperate

Homelessness Awareness  Parks Canada and the protesters decided to cooperate

(Montreal) As Parks Canada launched its camping initiative on the banks of the Lachine Canal on the banks of the Corsiers on Saturday, demonstrators pitched their own tents next door to protest the demolition of people’s encampments amid swirling conditions in the city. Montreal.

Posted at 3:25 pm
Updated at 4:43 pm.

Clara Deskerninges
Canadian Press

The relationship between Parks Canada and the protestors, which began as a conflict, is now a cooperative one.

“When we saw Parks Canada’s activity, it seemed really ironic, because if you pay for an activity, it’s okay to go camping, so it really depends on your social class,” explained the organizers of “Initiation à la Solidarité”. ” event and homelessness outreach worker, Annie Archbault.

“We have homeless people on Parks Canada land, so we decided to take the opportunity to create a space for conversation, a space for education, to share awareness of the realities that homeless people experience,” said Simon St-Germain, visitor. Experience Team Leader for Parks Canada and Program Manager for Montreal’s Initiation to the Outdoors, Mr.me Archbalt.

Finally, “we made an alliance for today: Parks Canada gives us its land, gives us water, we have a toilet”, it indicated. In addition, an awareness program will be held around the campfire in the evening.

Already, in the early afternoon, half a dozen demonstrators have started erecting their tents, while others are expected to arrive by evening. As for outdoor activity, we expect about fifteen tents, which means about sixty people.

In early July, Parks Canada canceled the first activity due to criticism from the community.

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Mr. Saint-Germain, however, argues that “we have a double standard,” when we compare outdoor initiation to the reality of homelessness, “what we offer is really a one-time event. […] This is not an offer of accommodation.” Participation in the event costs $108 per tent, including introductory activities in fishing, kayaking and yoga, as well as meals.

The activity has been held every summer since 2011 except for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city challenged

Montreal has been tearing down temporary camps several times, especially to deal with fire risk. On July 13, one such camp was dismantled on Notre-Dame Street.

Last week, the municipality published a job offer for a “Homeless Liaison Officer” whose mandate is to “coordinate the actions to be taken during the removal or demolition of temporary shelters, camps and tents in the estate. Public and private”, while redirecting campers to aid organizations. The announcement was criticized by several community stakeholders.

Mme Archbalt said, “The community has been asking for a lot of space with workers on site for a long time and wanting everything to be safe and it’s always been denied. […]But the most important thing is access to housing, access to social housing, subsidized housing”.

In the meantime, she called for patience with campers because “too often people are waiting for accommodation”.

The City of Montreal did not immediately respond to requests from The Canadian Press.