Memorial held in Montreal for 33 people who never received proper funerals

A memorial was held in Montreal’s Cabot Square on Wednesday, honouring the loss of 33 people who experienced homelessness in the city and died over the past three years. Half of those honoured were Indigenous women.

These individuals did not have a proper funeral after they fell victim to the intersecting crises of housing shortages, inadequate emergency homeless services, limited access to health care and forced displacement, says a news released by Resilience Montreal and the Native Women’s Shelter. “Truly accessible services to the unhoused population, which honour their dignity and humanity, should be in every neighbourhood in Montreal,” said David Chapman, executive director of Resilience Montreal, in the news release.

Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter, said she has held multiple vigils at Cabot Square and nothing has changed. But she refuses to give up. “I think when you don’t recognize people who have passed away, it hurts everyone. It hurts the community. People need to mourn,” she said.

The memorial provided an opportunity for community members to mourn collectively. Many attendees learned for the first time about the deaths of people they once knew, as displacement often causes individuals experiencing homelessness to lose track of their friends, Nakuset said. She said some of those honoured were in and out of housing, and are an example of people who needed more than just a place to live. They needed supportive housing to help them get back on their feet, she said.

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