PAQ was established in 2004 thanks to the efforts of the employees of the Native Friendship Center of Montreal, Université de Montréal researchers, the Downtown YMCA, and members of the urban Indigenous community. The goal was to provide a social reinsertion program for members of First Nation, Inuit and Metis communities living in a homelessness situation in Montreal. This research group also aimed to collect and produce scientific documentation on homeless Indigenous people.
In the beginning, the City of Montreal lent premises to PAQ, by renting from the CSSS Jeanne-Mance (the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal today), a building located at the 90 rue de la Gauchetière Street East. These premises were the first shelter to serve the homeless Indigenous men and women of Montreal.
Initially, PAQ operated with little financial support and the premises where in poor condition (unsanitary conditions, lack of equipment, etc.) But step-by-step, a sense of community emerged and allowed PAQ to manage the shelter with just a few staff members. The participants were responsible for the cleaning, kitchen duties, and other tasks. Over the years, more staff were hired and a more structured program was implemented. The sense of mutual aid motivated the Board members and the Executive Director of the time, Adrienne Campbell, to believe in the further development of PAQ. At that time, it was the sense of solidarity and community that allowed us to go forward.
After more than 10 years of effort and motivation and with the help of many Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors, PAQ acquired a land to build new premises more adapted to the shelter’s mission and to add transition apartments. It was in May, 2016 that PAQ moved to its current location at 169 rue de la Gauchetière East. From that point on, many programs and activities were added to the shelter and transition apartment services. Psychosocial follow-up, employability, Life Skills and Safe Start programs were established that offered more support to the participants.
In March 2020, due to the global pandemic, PAQ was obliged to cut in half the number of beds available to respect the sanitary measures in place. Without a home to go to during the public health crisis nor a kitchen to prepare meals, urban Indigenous people encountered high levels of stress and fear. To overcome these difficulties, PAQ opened PAQ-2, a temporary emergency shelter with few admission restrictions for Indigenous people, at the Centre sportif de la Petite-Bourgogne. In August 2020, PAQ-2 moved to the Complexe Guy-Favreau, in the space of the old YMCA. PAQ-2 is now only a five-minute walk from PAQ’s main facilities.