Montreal women’s shelter closes on weekends
Cost-saving measure has Makivik worried about impacts on Inuit
Makivik Corp. is concerned about the impact the weekend closure of a women’s shelter in Montreal will have on homeless Inuit in the city.
Chez Doris operates a day shelter in downtown Montreal that offers a hot meal, beds, clothing and other support services to women in need.
Roughly 15 per cent of the shelter’s clientele is made up of Inuit women; that prompted Makivik in 2011 to fund an Inuit case worker position at the shelter.
But the board of directors at Chez Doris announced May 26 its decision to close the shelter on weekends, starting May 31, in order to “maintain our financial health and improve the activities and services we offer during the week.”
“This decision was not taken lightly but it is our duty to avoid becoming indebted and to secure a sustainable future for our Shelter that is celebrating its 37th anniversary this year,” said a May 26 email from the board of directors.
The closure won’t impact the Inuit case worker position, currently held by Tina Pisuktie, who works Monday to Friday.
But Donat Savoie, who works as a consultant to Makivik on its homelessness file, said the closure deals a major blow to homeless Inuit women in Montreal.
“The weekend closure at Chez Doris will pose a real threat to Inuit women who fall prey to pimps and could worsen their situation and their health,” he said. “We cannot accept that.”
The closure follows the recent deaths of two Inuit women on the streets of Montreal.
“These deaths have had a huge impact on the families of these women who live in Nunavik,” Savoie said.
Makivik already directs money from Nunavik’s Ungaluk program to the shelter to pay for Pisuktie’s salary and other operational costs.
Savoie called on the city of Montreal and other funding agencies to consider supporting Chez Doris so the shelter can remain open on weekends.