October 13th, 2021
To our neighbours and businesses in Milton-Parc,
Some of our neighbours have asked us if we were involved in organizing the “Revitalisons Milton-Parc” demonstration held this past Saturday. While we, of course, support local organizing to improve quality of life in the neighbourhood (our raison d’être for over 50 years), and in particular the demand to increase funding for services for our neighbours in the homeless community, we intentionally took distance from this march. We recognize that the situation in Milton-Parc has been deteriorating since the beginning of the pandemic and is having incredibly negative effects on housed and unhoused residents alike. The situation cannot continue as it currently exists, and we fully encourage and support the neighbourhood in mobilization efforts against failures coming from all levels of government.
However, we are concerned that the messaging of the Collectif de resident.e.s de Milton-Parc has masked some of the more unsavoury views they have expressed about people who are Indigenous. This group actively denies that Montreal is unceded Indigenous land and has in the past advocated for increased police presence and public health harassment as ways of addressing homelessness in the area. References to “silent majority” and “crisis of safety and crime” in their announcements have racist overtones and have often been used by the American Republican party to scapegoat the marginalized.
We also found the demonstration’s focus on “cleaning up” the neighbourhood and ridding it of “incivilities” to be not only dehumanizing but counterproductive to ending systemic racism, and thus we do not support the message of the march. We encourage all citizens to build pressure for lasting systemic solutions in the city, such as accessible and culturally-appropriate housing, addiction treatment services, and adaptable intervention strategies that work with Indigenous people experiencing homelessness to find solutions that fit their particular needs.
To be clear, we support:
-Financial and administrative support for Indigenous-led initiatives.
-24/7 street workers in Milton-Parc to genuinely help those in need with psychosocial support and liaison with ressources, not simply police behaviour in a more friendly way under the title of “civility”.
-Public investment in infrastructure, and especially the Royal Victoria and Hotel-Dieu hospitals, as well as empty lots in the neighbourhood, for transitional and permanent affordable housing.
-Direct action, mutual aid, and popular education led by average citizens. These projects have as their aim to secure and protect resources for people who are unsheltered in the face of failures or hostility by our governmental institutions.
We understand that many of these demands are generally supported by the attendees of the demonstration. We do not support:
-Increased policing or other strategies to make the problem of homelessness less noticeable, rather than sincerely addressing it;
-The denial or erasure of the real, historical and ongoing discrimination against Indigenous peoples by individuals and institiutions including police and health services, evidenced by an enormous over-representation in the homeless population.
For more information on the CCMP’s position, please consult our Homelessness Policy Brief and corresponding addendum. Additional resources include the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada, the Missing and the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and local community organizations such as the Indigenous Street Worker Project, the Native Friendship Centre, and the Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK.