Photo by Eve Cable
“I figured there was a need, so I wanted to do something,” said Madelyn Cross, who collects clothes for distribution to unhoused Native people in downtown Montreal twice a year.
“I usually get about 100-101 bags for summer, and now it’s fall time, I’ll get about 100 bags for the winter,” she explained.
The clothing drive has now become a family affair, with Cross enlisting the help of her son to help drive donations to the city.
She will be collecting warm clothing and blankets outside of her house until the end of October, when she will distribute the items to shelters and organizations downtown that specifically support Indigenous people.
Community members in Kahnawake have already donated 54 bags worth of clothes for Cross to distribute to downtown organizations. Some individuals have also been supporting one another in collecting for the drive.
“I dropped off (clothes) from an elder,” said June Skye-Stacey, who brought donations to Cross’ home. “She said she was happy that the clothes were going to someone who needed it and appreciated it.”
Cross will be donating clothes to Resilience Montreal, Chez Doris, and Projets Autochtones du Quebec (PAQ), which all serve unhoused Indigenous men and women in Montreal.
Montreal is facing a housing crisis that is disproportionately affecting unhoused Indigenous people.
A recent ombudsperson report focuses on Milton-Parc, an area near McGill University that sees a large number of homeless Inuit. The report, produced by ombudsperson Nadine Mailloux, describes the situation in Milton-Parc as ‘glaringly urgent’. Many of the organizations Cross will be donating to operate services in the Milton-Parc area.
One of the organizations Cross’ donations go to is PAQ, who serve the Indigenous population in Montreal who face housing insecurity.
“To be able to give clothes that they need helps them to not worry about whether they will be cold tomorrow, on top of other struggles that they might be facing,” said Virginia Ribeiro, volunteer and community engagement coordinator at PAQ.
“Little pieces of clothing help so much too, like socks. We appreciate all clothing donations, because everything – boots, scarves, gloves, sweaters – everything gets given to someone in need.” Ribeiro noted that PAQ’s donation rooms are not full due to the immense need for clothing in the community, and donations are hugely important to maintaining the organization’s clothing inventory.
At the moment, the organizations Cross is collecting for are prioritizing their search for men and women’s clothes only, so children’s clothes are not needed at this time. Cross also notes that clothes should be clean so they can be immediately distributed to those in need.
“Summertime, they need clothes. And wintertime is cold; they need clothes,” she commented, noting that the changing of seasons shows a real need to provide new clothes.
Cross advises anyone interested in helping to drop clothes at her house, which is located near the band council, and is a red brick bungalow with a white garage. “They can just leave it outside my garage and nobody will touch it!” she said.
Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door, and was previously an Editor at the McGill Daily. She has also reported on harm reduction and Indigenous issues for the Montreal Gazette, the Hoser, the Rover, and more.