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200 backpacks for Inuit people who arrive on the territory of Montreal

AJOI unveils a new project: the Backpacks project

Photo taken during the press conference to announce the Backpacks project and the improvement of security measures by the City of Dorval for Inuit people arriving in the area. SOURCE: City of Dorval

Starting in November, Action Jeunesse de l'Ouest-de-l'Île (AJOI) and other community partners will distribute 200 backpacks to Inuit people newly arrived on the territory of Montreal, more particularly in the Dorval sector where the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport is located. The project is an initiative to support people requiring medical care, who are looking for services not accessible in northern Quebec, who are visiting their family or who arrive in Montreal with no points of reference for any other reason.

“I am proud to see that a social safety net is already in place in the Montreal region for Inuit people. Now we just need to ensure that information about accessible resources reaches the ears of the people concerned. We know that the Backpacks project will make a difference and allow beneficiaries to feel at home, because they are, to begin their stay or a new stage in their life,” declares Andrée Levesque, deputy director of AJOI.

Reduce risk factors

Inuit people who arrive in Montreal for the first time face different risk factors. Without a social safety net, it is difficult for them to know who to trust, to navigate the territory and to quickly find resources to support them in meeting their primary, socialization and accommodation needs. They sometimes walk, without knowing it, in dangerous places.

“By making this type of information accessible when they arrive, I'm talking about the resources available to them, I believe that situations such as sexual exploitation, consumer problems, mental health, homelessness and accidents can be avoided. I am thinking, among other things, of the tragedy of the two women of Inuit origin who were fatally struck on the highway in Dorval last year.” Ms. Levesque refers to the two Inuit mothers in their twenties who lost their lives in Dorval in August 2022 after being hit by a car. The tragic events happened less than 24 hours apart.

The Backpacks project

AJOI, which has been doing outreach street work in Dorval since 2008 and since 2020 with Inuit people, received $10,000 in funding from the City of Dorval to carry out this joint project. The organism combined forces with those of the Native Friendship Center of Montreal (NFCM) and the Ullivik Health Center to provide waterproof backpacks equipped with reflectors containing:

  • A list of front-line resources and emergency accommodation resources;

  • A map of the Montreal Metro;

  • A first aid kit;

  • 4 bus tickets;

  • Basic hygiene products (toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary pads).

Sarah-Jane Boivin, AJOI’s Communications Manager, reveals the backpack and its contents. SOURCE : City of Dorval

The organization set up the project in collaboration with the partners of the Welcome/Support Strategies for Newly Arrived Inuit committee, made up of the following organizations : Ullivik Health Center, NFCM, Makivvik Corporation, Southern Quebec Inuit Association, YMCA YUL, Saturviit, SPVM, Projets Autochtones du Québec, Public Safety of Dorval et Action Jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’Île.

Why Dorval?

According to data from the 2021 federal census, 19% of individuals with Inuktitut as their mother tongue (compared to the Montreal agglomeration) reside in Dorval and 27% of those with Inuktitut as the language spoken most often at home also reside in Dorval. This is one of the main reasons why the project specifically targets this sector.

In addition to the distribution of backpacks, the City of Dorval has installed new pedestrian crossings as well as directional signs in French, English and Inuktitut. The arrival of Inuit people will thus be more fluid and secure.

Ms. Levesque ends by saying: “There are dozens of individuals who transact through Dorval every day. Our goal is to support them better upon their arrival. I am optimistic that the Backpacks project will allow them to be independent more quickly and, above all, to be safer.”

Photo of the new directional signs in English, French and Inuktitut which are now found in the City of Dorval. SOURCE : Action Jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’Île

About d’Action Jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’Île (AJOI)

Founded in 2007, AJOI offers outreach street and community work prevention and intervention services to young people and vulnerable people in the West Island of Montreal.

Thus, the organization is committed, through its actions, to creating a supportive and safe community. It weaves a social net allowing everyone to develop their potential and improve their quality of life.


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