Nakuset: Open Door relocation proves disastrous for homeless community
Last December, the Open Door shelter was forced to move out of the Atwater area to another location in the Plateau.
It appears that has had disastrous consequences for the homeless community in Cabot Square, said Nakuset of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal in an interview Friday.
People who work with this community say there have been at least 12 deaths since – most of which have been Indigenous women.
The Open Door provided unparalleled wellness services in the downtown area, said Nakuset. Aside from shelter, it offered rehabilitation treatment and served as an anchor for many Indigenous people experiencing homelessness.
About half of the clients of the shelter were Inuit.
The Open Door also served as a watchdog for vulnerable women who are targeted for human trafficking.
Now located on Park Ave., only about half of the clients followed the shelter to that area of the city. The rest are often filling metro stations and in particular, Cabot Square, causing people to call police – but police do not offer treatment, said Nakuset.
"What we want to do is bring someone in, like a mediator, who would work between the police and the community. So that they're working with the population, they trust the population, so if there is some kind of fight, they can step in," said Nakuset.
The City of Montreal has said it would help fund a mediator during the summer months but much more is needed, said Nakuset.
A plan for a wet shelter, where clients can take drugs and drink in a controlled environment, has been met by approval by the City of Montreal and the provincial government is studying the benefits.