Indigenous homelessness: Death of Myriam Napish-Grégoire raises questions

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Indigenous homelessness: the death of Myriam Napish-Gr&goire raises questions

Myriam Napish-Grégoire died in Ottawa on December 23, 2022.

End of December 2022. A homeless Innushkueu (woman in the Innu language) was found unconscious in a fast food chain in Ottawa.

33-year-old Myriam Napish-Grégoire was loved by her family and her community, but she died alone in her hospital bed.

His death raises questions about the resources offered to Aboriginal people in the region, while certain services are offered elsewhere.

Coordinator of the Collective against Homelessness in Outaouais (CRIO) , Nick Paré, emphasizes that homelessness is a social issue. His association provides services to 22 organizations that work directly with the homeless population.

“[Homelessness] is not just about of an individual problem, especially not. What haven't we done? »

— Nick Paré, coordinator of the Collective against homelessness in Outaouais (CRIO)

The adoptive father of Myriam Napish-Grégoire is Jean-Charles Piétacho, the Chief of the community of Ekuanitshit (Mingan), who contributed to the creation of a brand new shelter for homeless indigenous people transiting near Square Cabot, in Montreal.

Mitshuap, also known as Maison Raphaël-Napa-André, was created near Cabot Square after the tragic death of Raphaël André, a homeless Innu from Matimekush-Lac-John (Schefferville), two years ago.


The leader of the Innu community of Ekuanitshit, Jean-Charles Piétacho (archives).

It is important that people understand the specific issues of Mitshuap, the House of Raphaël-Napa-André, says Chief Piétacho who is also the chief bearer of this urban file for the Innu Nation.

The project is designed for the long term since the combination of accommodation, hospitality and culture promotes the well-being of homeless people and revives the reflex of reconnecting with the community.

It is a service without discrimination, open to itinerants of all origins and with a welcome adapted to our cultures. The person is welcomed in the state in which they arrive, specifies Chief Piétacho.

You should know that the natives are doubly discriminated against as itinerant, in addition to historical discrimination linked to colonization.

There must be a systemic structural response, that is to say a response offered both by the organizations on the ground and a response also coming from governments, explains Nick Paré, of the CRIO.

“We will distribute traditional food to people and individual listening will be offered to them at all times. Itinerant nomads feel it when they are welcomed as if they are coming home”

—Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the Ekuanitshit community

CRIO coordinator Nick Paré is delighted with the creation of such an Aboriginal organization in the Montreal region, and he believes that we should think about a similar approach in the Outaouais.

If users are comfortable, you have to know the reasons. It's useful information, you have to learn from this experience and observe, he says.

« The equivalent of Mitshuap, the House of Raphaël-Napa-André, does not exist in Outaouais. »

— Nick Paré, coordinator of the Collective against homelessness in Outaouais (CRIO)

Answers to needs are needed. We don't want to stigmatize homeless people by trying to find out their origins and their stories, but at the same time, we want people to reconnect with their family or their community, adds Nick Paré.

Nick Paré, coordinator of the Collective against homelessness in Outaouais (CRIO).

< p class="e-p">Large urban centers attract homeless people because there is a possible connection with other homeless people. In Quebec, there are regional consultation structures, such as the CRIO, but nothing like this is in place to bridge Ottawa and Gatineau.

It is to our advantage to know and understand each other in order to act for the betterment of homeless people in the Outaouais or in Ottawa, says Nick Paré.

CRIO members in Gatineau explain that Chief Piétacho's daughter used the services of both Ottawa and Gatineau organizations to meet her needs. She had no choice but to shuttle between the two shores in order to obtain the necessary support.

If in the general population indifference lives in its disappearance, interveners know Myriam Napish-Grégoire and regret his departure. Indifference is not part of their vision and values. On the contrary, it is a daily struggle.

Nick Paré believes that as an Innu and Francophone woman, Myriam Napish-Grégoire had to identify with the francophone language in Gatineau and that she had to recognize herself through the natives who, like her, experienced social exclusion in Ottawa.

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