Montreal women’s shelter to re-open on weekends

Chez Doris offers services to Inuit women who are homeless or in need

By SARAH ROGERS

Chez Doris serves about 100 women in need each day, about 15 per cent of whom are Inuit. (FILE PHOTO)


Chez Doris serves about 100 women in need each day, about 15 per cent of whom are Inuit. (FILE PHOTO)

A Montreal shelter that serves the city’s homeless Inuit women says provincial and municipal governments have come through with money to help the centre re-open on weekends.

Chez Doris is a drop-in day shelter that offers meals and support programs to women who are homeless or living with mental health and addiction issues.

About 15 per cent of its clientele is Inuit, a group that is supported by Chez Doris’ Inuit case worker — a position funded by Makivik Corp.

Last May, the shelter had to begin closing on weekends due to a funding shortfall. And that’s made it harder to reach out to women in need, said the shelter’s Inuit case worker, Tina Pisuktie — especially as winter sets in.

Shelter staff are hoping that soon changes. As part of the unveiling of the Quebec government’s plan to fight homelessness, released this past weekend, Quebec’s minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health, Lucie Charlebois, pledged support for Chez Doris.

Along with its plan, the government is investing $4.6 million a year until 2020 into programs to support Montreal’s homeless population.

“She made no announcement during the press conference [about] which organizations will receive new funding. However, she did personally confirm that Chez Doris will receive $105,000 in recurring funding to be re-opened on weekends,” said Chez Doris’ executive director, Marina Boulos-Winton.

Of that amount, $25,000 will come from the city of Montreal.

Boulos-Winton said the centre is “thrilled” and is hoping to re-open Saturdays and Sundays again starting in February 2015.

Chez Doris will continue to look for support in the private sector, she added, as the centre needs $150,000 to stay open seven days a week through 2015.

Last weekend, Chez Doris received an additional $25,000 donation from Bell Let’s Talk — money that will be used to hire a part-time psychiatric nurse to provide individual and group therapy sessions to clients.

Bell launched its Let’s Talk initiative to raise awareness and encourage dialogue about mental health. According to its website, Bell is providing grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 to organizations, hospitals and agencies focused on improving access to mental health care in their communities.

Chez Doris is also hoping to launch a pilot project in the new year geared toward housing 16 women although funding for that has yet to be confirmed, Boulos-Winton said.

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