PAQ was established in 2004 through the combined efforts of the Native Friendship Center of Montreal employees, University of Montréal researchers, the Downtown YMCA, and the urban Indigenous community members. Our goal was to provide a social reinsertion program for members of First Nation, Inuit and Metis communities experiencing homelessness in Montreal. The research group additionally wanted to collect and produce scientific documentation on homeless Indigenous people.
The City of Montreal provided rented space to PAQ from the CSSS Jeanne-Mance (the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal today) in a building located at the 90 rue de la Gauchetière Street East. This premise was the first shelter to serve the homeless Indigenous men and women of Montreal.
At that time, PAQ operated with little financial support and a small staff, and the premise was in poor condition, unsanitary, and lacked equipment. Participants were responsible for all cleaning, kitchen duties, and other tasks. Over the years, staff increased, and structured programming was implemented. Motivated by our Board members and the previous Executive Director, Adrienne Campbell, we committed to the further development of PAQ.
After more than ten years of motivated effort, PAQ acquired land to build a new building better suited to fulfilling the shelter’s mission and expanding with the addition of transition apartments. In May 2016, PAQ moved into its current location at 169 rue de la Gauchetière East. Programs and activities were added to the shelter and transition apartment services, including psychosocial follow-up, employability skills, Life Skills, and Safe Start programs to offer participants more support.
In March 2020, due to the global pandemic, PAQ cut in half the number of available beds to respect public health measures. 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 address this, PAQ opened PAQ-2, a temporary emergency shelter with limited 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. Finally, in January 2022, PAQ-2 relocated into its current location on St. Dominque Street. PAQ-2 is now only a five-minute walk from PAQ’s main facilities.