Indigenous Man Dies While Sheltering in a Public Toilet

January 19th, 2021

Today a man from the Montreal Indigenous community was found without life in the public toilet near my work, in Milton-Park. He was very likely trying to get warm there. We at Open Door close at 9:30 pm now, so he had nowhere to take refuge from the cold. Many like us are forced by the Qc Health Ministry officials to close during the night and to function at such reduced capacity, for extra protection against covid, instead of sane protection + considering other needs and people at risk as well. And for what covid added risk reason we cannot function at night, I cannot comprehend. Especially since the city and Plateau borough worked so hard to put in place and finance increased 24/7 measures in preparation for winter. The provincial government takes apart that plan, promises a second hotel and never delivers, and then adds a curfew at 8:00pm while authorizing us to stay open ’till 9:30. (?!)

And with the curfew, many of our benefiairies have indeed already received tickets, and the burden for them and the community sector that supports them, to fight this added drama.

This man died of hypothermia, related to snowstorm, and alcohol consumption which decreased further his temperature. I was the one to give him his sleeping bag to sleep outside yesterday pm, since there’s not enough spaces anymore for everyone to be warm during the night in Montreal. We as a society are failing our most vulnerable, by losing stupid time in throwing the blame around and ‘doing our part’, and whilst each paid section of the whole is trying to be effective without reproach, the people don’t receive the services they need. The focus is on organizational performance instead of us all cooperating to ensure the care and consideration of whole persons. And this man, will be a lively, feisty, full of future, unique endearing individual, no more. This is changing, now.

Mathieu Wagner on Twitter

By Isabelle Sawyer