By Simon Bolduc
“L’Itinéraire is much more than a magazine.” Behind the slogan of the Canadian street magazine’s organisation is an intervention team that accompanies vendors and marginalised people in the area every day.
In response to the prevalent homelessness crisis in the neighbourhood, staff created an ad hoc programme called AIR: Accompagnement et intervention de rue (Support and Street Intervention).
“You have a clean pipe? Oh, thank God!” Maude M.-Rompré and Vincent Ozrout are used to being asked for drug paraphernalia and other needs from people who call the streets their home.
Every week, they scour the vicinity of L’Itinéraire’s offices in the downtown eastside of Montréal, at the tip of the Gay Village. This area has been in the news lately for its growing social deterioration, and L’Itinéraire, which has been working with underprivileged people for 30 years, had to bring its expertise to bear on the crisis at hand.
“This area,” says Vincent, “is a bit of a no man’s land; it’s a blurred zone where it’s not clear who’s involved.”
In addition to monitoring the various needs (food, housing, employment, social support) of the hundred or so L’Itinéraire vendors and the workers in the street paper’s café, they work with people sleeping rough in an often-fragile context tinged with suspicion that disappears as they announce themselves: “Street workers, is everything okay here?”
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