• John Jantak

La Nuit de sans-abri aims to highlight homelessness in Vaudreuil-Soulanges


PHOTO COURTESY FACEBOOK/NUIT DES SANS-ABRI

Area students, shown here at last year’s Nuit de sans-abri, are once again getting ready to take part in raising awareness to homelessness in our region at the October 16 event.

The plight of the homeless within the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region will be highlighted as 11 community organizations including students from various high schools gear up to participate in the annual La nuit des sans-abri at the Opti-Centre in Vaudreuil-Dorion this Friday, October 16.

Now in its ninth year, the regional La nuit des sans-abri is a collective of different community groups that band together to raise public awareness about homelessness in the region. The event itself has been staged since 1989 throughout the province, said Lynn Periard, a councillor for youth and domestic violence at the Hébergement La Passerelle women’s shelter.

“The mission of La nuit des sans-abri is to raise awareness about the situation of being homeless in our territory,” Periard told Your Local Journal. “A lot of people don’t actually realize it’s something that happens in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. They think it only happens in Montreal and not out here.

“Our region is considered what we call a transition region,” added Periard. “Basically, a lot of the homelessness issue is happening from people who are going from one region to another. Vaudreuil-Soulanges is right in the middle of big cities such as Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.”

Periard said it’s difficult to provide accurate statistics on how acute homelessness is within the region because Vaudreuil-Soulanges is considered to be a transitional area which makes it difficult to determine the true scope of the problem.

“You don’t go onto a street and see people who are in a desperate situation,” said Periard. “In Montreal, you can go to certain areas and see what’s happening because it’s more apparent and visible. If people don’t actually see it, they don’t think it happens here.

“That’s we get together every year to stage this event,” Periard added. “Participation keeps increasing each year because many people are interested in this issue. It touches the reality of what our residents could possibly experience and it can happen to anyone.”

Organizations and groups that will participate in Friday’s event include La Passerelle, Carrefour Jeunesse-Emploi Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Le Tournant Crisis Intervention Centre, Comité Jeunesse de Presqu’Île, Arc-en-Ciel Vaudreuil-Soulanges, the Town of St. Lazare, and students from College Bourget and École secondaire de la Cité-des-Jeunes.

Periard said the event is a special draw for young people who are curious about homelessness and later take the issue to heart after getting involved. “It’s amazing how many young people participate,” said Periard. “I’m always in awe when I see the young people because when I was in high school, unfortunately this wasn’t the type of thing you’d hear about.”

While the event is meant to highlight what it means to be homeless, donations are also welcome to help the various community organizations that deal with social issues. “If people want to donate, there are organizations that would be appreciative of receiving any donations, whether it’s clothes or money,” said Periard. “But it’s not so much about raising money as it is about raising awareness.”

The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Opti-Centre, 145 Harwood Boulevard, and will run through the night for those who are willing to sleep in temporary shelters outside on the grounds overnight. More information is available by calling Lynn Periard at La Passerelle (450) 424-6010 or visiting La nuit des sans-abri Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/La-nuit-des-sans-abri-de-Vaudreuil-Soulanges-407307859322803/

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