John arrived in the early afternoon to drink a cup of coffee after a free barbecue lunch at the Accueil Bonneau
, another local facility for the needy. The café is his afternoon stopover on his usual route.
“I make a round, this is my coffee shop where I meet my friends,” John said. “I live in [rent-controlled housing], it’s a building for old farts really. But this place… this place has a story. It’s a social club as well as a real humbling experience. It’s not [just] a place, it’s a home, it’s my sanctuary.”
For five years, John struggled with addiction and lived in a crack house without a stove to prepare his food. When the building was sealed off due to its degradation, its inhabitants were evicted. John immediately accepted a placement offer at a social housing facility downtown, seeing it as an opportunity for a fresh start. He started using the services offered to the homeless and needy, and found employment through the Accueil Bonneau’s “Miel de Bonneau
” program. He credits these institutions and the people who run them with helping him stay active and engaged with the Montreal community.
“A wave of really bad shit would hit the streets if it weren’t for places like this,” John said.
John describes the café’s mission as critical. He has never lived on the street, but to him one’s living situation doesn’t matter inside the café.
“In the end, we’re all coming in here from the sidewalk,” John explained.