Day shelter helping homeless connect to ancestors through traditional art
MONTREAL -- A Montreal homeless shelter is helping clients work through their struggles through the traditional art of carving.
When the Open Door Day Shelter moved to its new location in 2018, a room dedicated to the artform was built. Through donations, the necessary tools and stone were bought.
“It's miraculous to me,” said Open Door intervention specialist John Tessier. “The way I see them create, they'll take a lifeless hunk of stone and turn it into a polar bear that looks like it's alive.”
Among the clients who have taken up the art is Bobby John Partridge.
“It's been paseed on from generation to generation,” he said. 'This is who we are. We're special people, too. You have your own specialty, we got our own specialty, too.”
The finished work is sold on the shelter's Facebook page, with proceeds going to the artists. A portion is set aside to help them find housing when they're ready.
“A miracle happend. If nothing like this would be going on, we'd be nobody,” said Partridge. “As long as I live like this, you know, carve, make money, I'll be okay.”
Tessier said aside from the money, “they're able to get a sense of accomplishment and it gives them something to do to connect to their culture.”
Despite the often harsh conditions of life on the street, Partridge said he's grateful to be carrying on his ancestors' legacy.
“I give thanks to the Lord,” he said. “I give thanks for everything I've got, even for water. That's why I'm number one Inuk!”