Le 12 octobre dernier, Jeromy, qui a déjà été itinérant, et 80 personnes de Fort Frances, en Ontario, ont passé la nuit à aligner des chaises, des sacs de couchage et des matelas sur la rue principale afin de sensibiliser la population au problème de l’itinérance et de recueillir des fonds pour le refuge.

L’importance d’un refuge quand on cherche un peu de chaleur

11
.07

Le 12 octobre dernier, Jeromy, qui a déjà été itinérant, et 80 personnes de Fort Frances, en Ontario, ont passé la nuit à aligner des chaises, des sacs de couchage et des matelas sur la rue principale afin de sensibiliser la population au problème de l’itinérance et de recueillir des fonds pour le refuge.

 

« Les itinérants dorment dans les buissons, près des systèmes de ventilation des édifices et dans les égouts. À l’approche des grands froids, l’accès à des refuges est de mise », dit Jill Pernisky de l’Armée du Salut.

 

« La nuit la plus longue de l’année » est un événement initié par Jill Perrnisky et le comité de lutte contre l’itinérance de Fort Frances, qui est composé de représentants d’organismes de service locaux. Des citoyens préoccupés par la cause, un candidat à la mairie, un conseiller municipal, des délégués de divers organismes communautaires et des itinérants figuraient parmi les participants.

 

« Plus de 16 000 $ ont été recueillis. Cet argent nous permettra d’ouvrir un refuge temporaire dans une église, précise Jill. L’Armée du Salut appuiera les bénévoles et fournira des manteaux, des bottes et des services alimentaires. »

 

Le comité espère obtenir le financement pour établir un refuge permanent.

 

« Les membres de la collectivité nous appuient et sont prêts à nous aider, car ils ont été mis au courant. Cet hiver, il y aura de l’espoir pour ceux qui ont besoin d’un endroit sécuritaire, sec et chaud pour passer une bonne nuit. »

 

L’histoire de Jeromy

« L’année dernière, à la même époque, j’étais sans abri, dit Jeromy, 40 ans. Je sais à quoi servent les refuges… à sauver des vies. »

 

Jeromy, qui a sombré dans la toxicomanie et l’itinérance, est ferronnier et soudeur.

 

« Je travaillais 14 heures par jour et me sentais dépassé et stressé lorsqu’on m’a offert de l’héroïne un soir où je rentrais à la maison. C’est à ce moment que tout a basculé. La drogue me rendait malade. J’étais incapable de travailler et j’ai cessé de payer mon loyer. »

 

« Pendant un an et demi, j’ai dormi dans un parc parmi les insectes. J’ai couché par terre et été victime d’hypothermie et d’engelures. J’ai eu la chance de passer quelques nuits dans un refuge. »

 

Jeromy connait bien les stéréotypes qui circulent au sujet de l’itinérance et précise qu’ils sont très loin de la réalité.

 

« Parfois, les gens considèrent les itinérants comme des toxicomanes ou des êtres malveillants. Pour moi, ce sont les personnes les plus honnêtes et les plus généreuses que je connais. Elles ont simplement traversé des moments difficiles comme un divorce ou une perte d’emploi. Quelquefois, elles prennent de la drogue pour fuir la réalité. »

 

Jeromy voulait s’affranchir de sa dépendance. Il a donc quitté Vancouver pour Fort Frances où il est né et a grandi. Il a cessé toute consommation et trouvé un logement stable et un travail à temps partiel. De plus, il fait du bénévolat à l’Armée du Salut.

 

« Lorsque vous vivez dans la rue, les gens vous considèrent comme un moins que rien. On s’y fait, mais c’est malsain. Parfois, nous avons uniquement besoin d’un petit coup de pouce comme un refuge. Les gens font de meilleurs choix quand ils n’ont pas à se demander où ils vont passer la nuit. »

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