My name is Pierre and I am Innu from La Romaine, on the Basse-Côte-Nord. Since my birth, I was placed in an orphanage, then in a foster home and finally adopted by a Quebec family when I was 5 years old.
I grew up in many places with my adoptive family. We lived in the town of Gagnon, but when the town closed, we moved to Asbestos in Estrie. I have a brother who is also adopted. He is Innu from Pessamit. I met my biological mother once when I went to La Romaine to pick up my Indigenous card, but it’s been 16 years since I’ve seen her. I don’t know my biological father. When I was young, I used to play outside and help my adoptive father cart wood for our house and for our sugar shack. I especially miss the good meals we ate.
I found it boring living in the country in a small village. That’s why I moved to Montreal when I was 18, after finishing high school. There is a lot more to do in Montreal! When I arrived, I found a roommate and stayed with him for 19 years. He got me into the food factory where he worked and I stayed there for 10 years. I then worked in supermarkets until 2013.
When my roommate passed away, I lived with several different people. The last one I lived with kicked me out because I drank too much beer. I started drinking when I was 18, when I could go out to bars, and I’ve never stopped since. In 2017, I fell while leaving a bar and hurt my foot. My foot got an infection and month later, I was getting an amputation. That’s why I’m in a wheelchair now.
I arrived at PAQ in December 2019. Before, when I was on the street, I used to go sleep at La Maison du Père and that’s where I learned that there was a shelter for Indigenous peoples. What I like about PAQ is the atmosphere, the food, but also, people help me. When I had COVID-19, an intervention worker pushed me through the snowstorm to the CHUM. They also helped me to get an apartment in transition and we are looking for an apartment for the long term.
These days, I stay outside all day to keep myself busy. I read from time to time, I play games, but it’s hard to get around when you’re in a wheelchair especially in winter and when it’s raining.
On day, I would like to get back into the job market and walk again. I want to walk so I’m not stuck in my wheelchair anymore, I want to get a job, and most of all, I want to get off the street. Some people like to live on the street, but I’ve always worked and I want to do it again.