A large crowd is expected to gather this evening at Place Émilie-Gamelin in downtown Montreal, where Father Emmett "Pops" Johns was a longtime fixture, handing out hotdogs and condoms to youth living on the street.
Starting at 5 p.m., there will be a two-hour vigil to pay tribute to the founder of Dans la rue, who died Saturday at the age of 89.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante will be in attendance. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is also expected to be there.
A van will be parked on site to serve hot dogs and warm beverages.
Known by his nickname "Pops," Johns was an important actor in the fight against homelessness in Montreal.
In 1988, he started an organization that helps homeless and at-risk youth and called it Le Bon Dieu dans la rue. He roamed the streets in a motor home to help street youth.
Dans la rue now has more than 65 employees and nearly 135 volunteers.
Public funeral next week
Next week, people can pay their final respects at Johns's public visitation and funeral service. His body will lie at Montreal City Hall on Jan. 25 and 26. Visitation times have not yet been announced.
A final homage will take place on Saturday, Jan. 27 at Saint Patrick's Basilica in downtown Montreal.
It is yet to be determined if the province will offer to hold a state funeral for Johns, which is an official ceremony for important figures to highlight their contributions to Quebec society. State or national funerals are only held if family members and close friends of the deceased accept the government's offer.
"Before everything, we have to ask the loved ones of Mr. Johns what they want," said Premier Philippe Couillard.
Couillard promised that the Quebec flag will be lowered to half-mast the day of the funeral.