SNJMs Express Solidarity in Several Ways on “Homeless Night”

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A number of Sisters and staff from the provincial and general administrations of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) took part in the “Night of the Homeless” vigil in Longueuil and Montreal on October 20.

A view of the facilities in Montreal.

This event is a demonstration of solidarity and awareness of the realities of homelessness. It is also an opportunity to share a heartfelt moment with the people being helped or who are helping.

Sr. Claudette Bastien, a regular at this 34th annual event in Montreal, experienced this first-hand when she made conversation with a homeless man sitting on a bench in front of one of the food stalls.

As soon as she spoke to him, he came back to the present moment, stopped shouting that hot dogs were unhealthy, and held a logical, sensible conversation. This long-time immigrant talked about the loss of his roots (language, culture) and how difficult it is to regain a foothold in today’s world.

Opening up to other realities

At St. Mark’s Park in Vieux-Longueuil, Sr. Denise Riel, provincial animator and long-time participant in this type of event, accompanied Sr. Lisette Boulé and several staff members from the two administrations. “As far as I’m concerned, the objectives of raising awareness and reducing prejudice were achieved for me and my little family,” says Geneviève Noël, who attended with her husband and two daughters.

When travelling on public transportation, it’s not unusual for them to come across people experiencing homelessness. “The difficulty is to get in touch with them.”  Moved by the event, her six-and-a-half-year-old daughter has decided to carry a candy bar in her pocket to give to a homeless person in the future. “This event enabled us to go further in our conversation with the girls,” adds Geneviève Noël.

Concrete support

In both Montreal and Longueuil, the “Night of the Homeless” took place in a convivial atmosphere, with shows, food stands and information booths to raise awareness of available resources. Despite the presence of a number of organizations, there is a huge need to respond to the situation of several thousand homeless people in the region. In fact, the number is estimated at 2,000 on the South Shore alone.

The participation of the SNJM delegation in the vigil was also a fitting end to the winter clothing and boot drive launched at the beginning of October. No fewer than 25 large bags were recently donated to Abri Rive-Sud to support the organization’s efforts to help the homeless. To find out more, watch the documentary Les visages de l’itinérance (The Faces of Homelessness) presented by Jean-Marie Lapointe at the Sommet municipal sur l’itinérance (in French only).

The group of participants in Longueuil.