Indigenous people comprise less than 1% of the inhabitants of Montreal, but they constitute 10% of the homeless population, of which an Indigenous person living in the city is 27 times more likely to be homeless than a non-Indigenous person. As a result, it is no surprise that Indigenous peoples live at the margins of society, bearing a disproportionate burden of illness, suffering, disability, and premature death.
As part of her Global Health Fellowship, our Founder, Leah curated Indigenous Health Winter Care Packages, providing winter essentials (hat beanies, winter gloves, fleece blankets, long socks, and flannel scarves) to the homeless Indigenous people in the urban areas of Montreal. This project was an opportunity to further her as well as our understanding of Indigenous health, homelessness, and street medicine. It helped keep those on the streets and in the shelters warm, supporting The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, Resilience Montreal, and Projets Autochtones au Quebec (PAQ).
On December 22, Leah alongside our Chief Advisory Officer, Ammad visited the shelters to provide Winter Care Packages. That same evening, Montreal experienced a snowstorm and so these new bundles of winter essentials were perfect to keep the individuals in need warm.
Besides the shelters, they also walked the metropolitan streets of Montreal where many homeless Indigenous peoples live to provide the Indigenous Health Winter Packages. This experience was invaluable in teaching all of us at the Peer Medical Foundation the meaning of a “home” and the impact it has on our lives. We also spent time reflecting on the Indigenous Health inequities that persist while brainstorming new ways that we can take action to effect meaningful change.
It has been incredibly humbling to have spoken, listened and interacted with the homeless people and intervention workers. This project has been a rewarding endeavor and is the first of many to come in supporting this socially marginalized and vulnerable population.
At the Peer Medical Foundation, we are delighted to have made a difference in the lives of these individuals while supporting our Founder in an endeavor close to her. We are always looking at future opportunities to give back to the local communities in need, especially as we strive to support patients wherever they are and those who may be even more vulnerable during these challenging times.