'We'll protest that:' tent city residents oppose rumored relocation plans
MONTREAL -- While the City of Montreal is encouraging residents of a tent city on Notre-Dame St. East to leave, those who are staying there said they've found a sense of community among others in similar situations.
“It's like a little place we can have peace, you know?” said resident Lu Nappatuk.
Nappatuk said she became homeless around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when her apartment was hit by a fire. She said a community group gave her a free tent and she opted to live in it rather than go to a shelter due to fear over the virus.
Other residents offered similar stories. The city has indicated it will act to relocate the people living in the tent city as early as Aug. 31.
A spokesperson for the city told CTV News that the tent city is not a permanent solution and city officials are working with community groups to relocate the residents.
Nappatuk said she and her tent city neighbours would not go quietly.
“We're going to protest that,” she said.
Two community outreach groups, CARE Montreal and CAP St-Barnabe, are organizing a shelter at the YMCA in Hochelaga with more than 60 beds. But mental health worker Isabelle Lacharite said the shelter would be temporary.
“Give them a place to be,” she said. “They lost their job, they lost their apartment because of COVID and you just want to make them move away. That's not human.”
Remi Fleurent said many people staying in the tent city want their freedom and don't like the rules imposed by shelters.
“None of us want to go there because they want control,” he said.
The city is scheduled to make an announcement about the future of the tent city on Thursday.