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L'Itineraire celebrating 3 decades of sharing homeless Montreal stories

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For 30 years, the magazine L'Itineraire has been telling stories about Montreal's homeless community.

What sets it apart is its commitment to reflect this community by giving those experiencing homelessness a platform for their stories and a way out of their situation.

As a magazine written by and for the homeless, the stories give readers a window into their world.

"It starts by expressing yourself. It starts by saying who you are and listening to those voices that have never been heard before," said L'Itineraire editor Josee Panet-Raymond. "Most of our vendors have gone through homelessness or are never far from homelessness, so you get the direct point of view, which is more accurate."

Joseph Clermont is a well-known vendor of the magazine in the village, and said L'Itineraire helped him when he fell on hard times more than 20 years ago.

As a vendor, he takes home $1.50 -- half the cost of the magazine -- for each sale. He says it not only helps him make a living but gives him self-esteem.

"L'Itineraire gave me my self-esteem back," he said. "And I love people and engaging with the public."

It was a lifeline for Panet-Raymond, who felt burned out after decades of working in news.

"I was ready for something different," he said.

L'Itineraire reinvigorated her passion for storytelling, and she, along with several staff journalists, helps edit the stories the vendors write.

Simon Bolduc, whose background is in social work, said the most important thing is to listen.

"I just try to enter into a real dialogue with them and to spot the stories behind their words," he said.

The non-profit has won several awards for its work, and recently, a special edition featured short stories by well-known authors such as Michel Tremblay, Heather O'Neill and Dominique Fortier, along with the vendors' stories.

Panet-Raymond said these kind of stories remain the heart of what they do, and it allows them to help people who walk through their door and get them to the resources they need.

"When they write, they sell their magazine and they have their articles in it, it's a great source of pride for them," she said. 

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