Those in charge of the tent do not understand the lack of recognition for this service which is both distinct and essential and which has welcomed up to 98,000 homeless people since its opening.

The Raphaël tent is a place where, through a storm, you can enter and finally eat and warm up. It’s survivalsays Suzanne André, the mother of Raphaël André, an elder and Naskapie ishkueu from Kawawachikamach.

When Raphaël was in Montreal, every evening, I thought of my son and in the morning when I woke up too.explains Suzanne André. Same for my husbandshe says.

We tragically lost our son and I think of other homeless people in the same situation. I’m worriedshe adds.

The life of homeless people in the absence of the Raphaël tent is very difficult to imagine, underlines Ms. André. These people who live on the street receive a lot from such a service. I see it as a big wound, a big void.

Raphaël André’s nephew and Suzanne André’s grandson is listening to his grandmother’s words. He also shares:

Letting people sleep outside and in the cold is like sending hunters into the woods, in the cold, without shelter and without equipment. »

A quote from Rodrigue André, from the community of Matimekush-Lac-John
Two Innu women and portraits of Raphael Napa André

Suzanne André, mother of Raphaël Napa André and Alexandra Ambroise, operations manager at the Raphael tent in Square Cabot

Photo: Facebook by Alexandra Ambroise / Alexandra Ambroise

Since the start of the tent’s activities, Alexandra Ambroise has always taken care of Raphaël André’s parents.

She [Alexandra Ambroise] came to the hotel to bring me the wooden poster with the name of my son and his photossays Suzanne André.

No alternatives

Suzanne André explains, in her own language, that chef Jean-Charles Piétacho works very hard for tent services.

She is grateful. He knows the nuances of homelessnessshe says. He knows this problem as a parent too, since his adopted daughter is homeless in Ottawashe says.

At the very heart of Aboriginal traditions, Chef Jean-Charles Piétacho embodies these traditions by expressing sincere, yet shared, gratitude for the fate of the Raphaël tent.

Where will these people go next? he wonders. Since the tragic disappearance of Raphaël André, I have been involved in the process of erecting a permanent place and taking part in the discussions, knowing that the tent is temporary and not entirely safe.he said.

I thus offered to the Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, to build a permanent place with the partners who have been involved since the beginning of the Raphaël tent operations. »

A quote from chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the community of Ekuanitshit

In its 2020-2025 reconciliation plan, the City of Montreal outlines its intentions to consider Indigenous realities and needs. To work at the heart of the cultural security of indigenous citizens as well.

However, it still calls for Raphaël to cease operations on April 30, 2022, without real alternatives or concrete avenues for the homeless.

In writing, Ms. Alia Hassan-Cournol, Advisor to the Mayor and for Reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples, explains, while declaring a desire to consider the values ​​and needs of Aboriginal peoples, that with the end of federal government funding, the the Raphaël tent project is due to conclude on Saturday, April 30.

The Minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, said for his part that it was a temporary solution from the start, recalling the importance of working on long-term solutions. The Minister recalls in particular that a sum of 3.6 million has been invested for the organization Resilience.

For many homeless people, there are too many rules

Alexandra Ambroise, a former police officer, reminds us that there are rules in other shelters and accommodations in Montreal. I am as much aware of them as of their stakes. It is normal that rules prevail in these essential refugesshe says.

Suzanne André’s son died in fear of breaking the rules by hiding from the police in a chemical toilet. It is in this context that the Raphaël tent imposed itself.

It was supposed to exist for two weeks and due to the needs and the traffic, it imposed itself as a long-term need. and of last resort, says Alexandra Ambroise again.

We have all witnessed tent traffic clearly meeting specific needsalso underlines Chef Piétacho.

Where are those who were supposed to help with the financing, witnesses of the services offered, of their particularities and of the traffic? »

A quote from chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the community of Ekuanitshit

It is a great sadness for us that the beneficiaries find themselves without support overnight and that we cannot find solutions to a problem that affects all citizens of Montreal and not only the Aboriginal people.adds Chef Piétacho.

Our indigenous humanistic traditions do not allow us to close our eyes. We are not at peace. »

A quote from chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the community of Ekuanitshit
People attend the traditional Aboriginal ceremony.

Cabot Square Tent Commemoration

Photo: Courtesy: André Toupin

In 15 months, the Raphaël tent has welcomed 98,823 homeless people as of April 23, 2022.

The needs are different, period. We have seen people who have come off the streets during these 15 months of activities, explains Alexandra Ambroise.

Those who aren’t ready to make it out, and that’s something we respect, we were there for them in this service delivery of last resortsays Alexandra Ambroise.

If one evening a person is agitated or in crisis, we must react and intervene, but this person is invited to come back the next day.she explains. The following evening, it was no longer the same man or the same woman, this person had been welcomed and respectedshe says.

And these are important values ​​in the healing of a traveling person. To be loved. To be listened toshe recalls.

Imagine how lonely and homeless people felt for 15 months. Recognized and welcomedsays Alexandra Ambroise.

It is in this context that the disappearance of the tent does not make sense for the partners, because it undoubtedly meets basic needs and the other shelters cannot meet them.adds Chef Piétacho.

A place of healing and peace

Jean-Charles Piétacho, despite everything, cannot let go.

There will be hundreds of homeless people who will lose their service. A place designed for them. Itinerants of all origins. A specific service designed and supported in compliance with rules adapted to their needs. »

A quote from Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the Ekuanitshit community

After the tragic death of Raphaël André, we witnessed a wonderful and solid mutual aid which gave birth to the Raphaël tent, recalls the chef Piétacho. And the activities manager, Alexandra Ambroise, already had the skills and the heart for the cause. He’s the right personhe said.

Everything is in place for this essential service at the end of April 2022. Alexandra Ambroise, head of tent activities, an Innushkueu who has been true to herself since the opening of the tent, lives at the heart of this service of last resort. .

My mother always said: Tan auen ua itenitakushit, tan auen ua ishinakuannit itinniun, iapit tshika ui minu-tutuau auenwhich means:

Whatever the state of a person, whatever their experience, you must welcome them without prejudice. »

A quote from Late mother of Alexandra Ambroise

That’s what we didshe says, while expressing that this service of last resort meets an essential need.

Cooks who prepare food

Preparation of meals for the itinerants of the Raphaël tent at Cabot Square

Photo: Facebook by Alexandra Ambroise / Alexandra Ambroise

There is a lack of recognition of the uniqueness of this service, she said.

It is a place that welcomes beneficiaries in the state where they are. People need to be welcomed, to be loved as they are. »

A quote from Alexandra Ambroise, head of activities at the Raphaël tent

Supporting figures, the Raphaël tent is more than just a tent.

It is a service offer in itself that must be renewed in a safe place while continuing to serve the 98,823 homeless people who have been on the move for 15 months.

The tent is also unifying. Several cultural activities took place last summer on the outdoor site. A place of pride both day and night, like a call to a life off the streets for those who have made it there.

My adopted daughter is homeless in the city of Ottawa. I wish her to be loved and recognized too. My wife and I love it. We know she went through some tough times when she was young. »

A quote from Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the Ekuanitshit community

Chief Piétacho says he is first and foremost a family man before being the head of a community. He feels challenged as a parent too, he concludes. I prayed for my son and I will pray for the others, says Raphael’s mother Andrew.

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