Nakuset, Executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal and co-director of Resilience Montreal

2 minutes

Emilie Vallières

Nakuset

Originally from the Lac la Ronge cree community in Saskatchewan, Nakuset is the executive director of the native women’s shelter of Montreal and co-director of Resilience Montreal. For over 20 years, she has been a true advocate, fighting for the protection of indigenous children and against homelessness.

You managed to raise 7.2 million dollars with the help of the provincial and federal governments, as well as private partners, in order to buy a building to serve as the headquarters for Resilience Montreal. What will this new centre look like?

We worked so hard this year in Resilience Montreal! We collaborated with an architect in order to turn our new locales into a welcoming space where our beneficiaries will feel free and safe. Our goal is to welcome various social workers, medical professionals, and psychologists on a daily basis. We’ll also organize ceremonies and offer classes.

What challenges does the indigenous population in downtown Montreal face?

They’re the ones suffering the most from the housing crisis and gentrification. Homelessness issues have only increased with the pandemic and curfew. People no longer know where to go. All the shelters are full. Following the death of Raphaël André, I organized a fundraiser in order to install a heated tent in Cabot Square and be able to offer meals from February to April. Every night, the tent would welcome close to a hundred people.

You want to make sure that Cabot Square remains a safe space for indigenous people. And this summer, you invite the public to come visit it, especially on Fridays. Why?

Every Friday this summer, there will be activities promoting First Nation cultures. The public will be able to discover Indigenous dancing, music, and artisanal crafts. It’ll be a gathering of all downtown communities. It’s an opportunity to build bridges and, especially, to break the homelessness stigma too often associated with members of our Native communities. The public will be able to change their vision and discover just how resilient these communities are.

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