The Sunday Magazine

A post office for the homeless

An organization in Quebec called Sac à Dos built a series of mail slots for people with no fixed address.
An organization in Quebec offers mail slots for people with no fixed address. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

On most mornings, there's a line-up outside the doors of Le Sac à Dos — backpack in French. It's a community group that helps homeless Montrealers.

When the doors open, men and women head into the church basement for coffee, a haircut or a meeting with an addictions counsellor.

They're also there to pick up their mail. 

Fourteen years ago, Bin Wang — a new immigrant from China — decided to volunteer at Le Sac à Dos to improve her French. She took on the project of creating a special post office for street people.

She started registering homeless clients, and set up a mail room with three hundred slots. 

Bin Wang is still at it, still meticulous about her work. And that little room now has mail slots from floor to ceiling — 2,000 of them.

Click 'listen' above to hear David Gutnick's short documentary.

Please note: The story above originally contained information to the effect that Quebeckers who do not have a postal address are not eligible for welfare. This is incorrect. In fact, all that is required is to prove that you reside in the province. We apologise for the error.