A New Permanent Shelter For Unhoused Indigenous People Is Now Open In Montreal

Its name means "my family's house."

Staff Writer
A view of the CHUM complex in Montreal.

A view of the CHUM complex in Montreal.

Montreal has opened a new, permanent shelter for unhoused Indigenous people, with 18 rooms that can house up to 22 residents at a time. The shelter is called Akhwà:tsire House, which means "my family's house" in Kanien'kéha according to Heather Johnston, the Executive Director of Projets Autochtones du Québec (PAQ), one of the organizations supporting the shelter.

Akhwà:tsire House will also provide housing for seven participants in PAQ's Managed Alcohol Program, a pilot in partnership with CHUM's Addiction Medicine Department which aims to "[reduce] supervised housing obstacles and the acute, chronic, and social harms of severe alcohol addiction."

Experienced counsellors will be available 24 hours a day to provide "culturally appropriate psychosocial intervention," according to a press release. The goal is to enable residents to live "semi-autonomously" after experiencing chronic homelessness.

PAQ is also offering on-site medical and nursing care, referrals and visits from the organization's Indigenous community Elders, the release explains. Akhwà:tsire House is further planning to provide cultural programming to help Indigenous residents "connect or reconnect with their traditions and culture."

"Projets Autochtones du Québec is pleased to open Maison Akhwà:tsire, an innovative housing program offering health and healing services for the urban Indigenous community in Montréal," Johnston said. "The Indigenous population of Montréal will find a culturally safe home where they can get the support they need to achieve stability, build a community and (re)connect with their roots and traditions."

Akhwà:tsire House residents benefit from a Rent Supplement Program, which allows tenants to pay a maximum of 25% of their gross income on housing, thanks to support from the Société d'habitation du Québec (SHQ) and the City of Montreal.

The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada 24/7. Those who may need support can call 1-855-242-3310 or visit their website to chat.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Willa Holt
Staff Writer
Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog, often found covering weird and wonderful real estate and local politics from her home base in Montreal.
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