Resilience Montreal sets sights on permanent Cabot Square home after governments step up

The day centre will leave its current digs next spring and the province is giving Resilience Montreal $600,000 to purchase a nearby property. There are questions, however, as to whether that's enough to make it happen.

The public sector contribution comes from Quebec's Aboriginal Initiative Fund, Montreal also to pitch in

Portrait of a woman with dark hair and a beaded choker.
Nakuset is the executive director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal, which runs the Resilience Montreal day centre. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Set to leave its current location by next April, the Resilience Montreal day centre is hunting for a full-time home near its current Cabot Square location, thanks to a contribution of $600,000 from the Quebec government.

The funding comes from the Aboriginal Initiatives Fund and will help the centre find a property in the area in order to keep providing services to the square's largely Indigenous homeless population.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière made the announcement Saturday morning, accompanied by Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, the political minister responsible for Montreal, Chantal Rouleau, and Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal. The organization also runs Resilience Montreal.

"We're super excited to move forward, and have this incredible support," said Nakuset, who hopes to find a large one-floor space.

"You have to think about creating a really lovely spot for homeless people that have been turned away everywhere else, and can find a place they will be welcomed in and have the appropriate services."

The city is also pitching in $100,000 to help the centre cover its operating costs.

The Resilience Montreal day centre does not want to find a location that is far from its clients who often gather at Cabot Square. (Simon Martel/Radio-Canada)

For the past year, the centre has been operating out of a former restaurant right next to Cabot Square, a hub of sorts for its main clientèle. It was always meant to be a short-term solution, Nakuset said.

"We were already making steps to find that next location," she said. "It's something that is always in the perimeter of my mind."

Is $600,000 enough?

Ideally the day centre will be able to purchase its next location, but renting is also a possibility, Plante said.

Real estate prices in the west end of downtown Montreal have soared in recent years, and have continued rising during the COVID-19 pandemic. That raises questions about whether the province's contribution will be enough to help the centre purchase a suitable downtown property.

"Nothing is solidified yet, but I am incredibly hopeful," said Nakuset. "600,000$, it helps, but we need more, for sure."

Lafrenière hinted more than once that the province could eventually increase its contribution, while also urging private donors to step up.

"This is just the beginning, this is just confirming our intention to help them out," Lafrenière said. "We're also sending a message to private funding: we need people to take action."