Montreal, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 22nd Nov, 2020 ) :All along the edges of a long boulevard in Montreal stretches an unprecedented sight in this city: hundreds of tents that have sprung up in a brand new homeless camp since the end of summer, with many of the people thrown out of their homes because of the pandemic.
“Welcome to the trendy encampment of Notre-Dame!” quipped Jacques Brochu, dubbed “the mayor” by his neighbors.
At 60, Brochu said he found himself homeless and living in a tent on Notre-Dame Street after losing his affordable housing, which was repossessed by its owner.
Like his new neighbors, he is preparing for a cold Quebec winter, where temperatures often plunge to minus 20 Celsius (minus four degrees Fahrenheit).
“I manage to heat my tent very well,” Brochu said, showing off his small candles. A tarpaulin covering the shelter does the rest.
In the camp in Hochelaga, once a working-class neighborhood in eastern Montreal that is undergoing gentrification, the long-term homeless rub shoulders with people who have recently lost their jobs, as well as students and workers who have lost their homes.
Guylain Levasseur, 55, who has been homeless for six years and lives in a small caravan, is considered the encampment’s “manager.” Under a canopy by his caravan, which is lined with armchairs, he has set up a kitchen of sorts, where people can come and take food or donate it.
“There are people who come to bring us meals every day,” he said. His van is overflowing with sleeping bags and warm clothes also donated by good Samaritans.
For the past three months, he has given part of his meager welfare payouts to help buy generators to keep the tents warm.
The community has bought seven so far, running on gas donated by well-wishers.