Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sheltering Refugees Latest Act for Montreal's Much-Maligned Olympic Stadium

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Sheltering Refugees Latest Act for Montreal's Much-Maligned Olympic Stadium

Article excerpt

Sheltering refugees is Big O's latest act

--

MONTREAL - Forty-one years after it first welcomed the world for the 1976 Games, Montreal's Olympic Stadium has been asked to throw open its doors once again.

The cavernous stadium, which is more accustomed to hosting sporting events and trade shows, is now being used as a temporary shelter for some of the hundreds of asylum claimants pouring across the New York-Quebec border every day.

Between now and September, up to 600 refugee claimants at a time will sleep on camp beds in a windowless common area, where fans attending Montreal Expos baseball games once passed through on their way to the bleachers above left field.

Beds, bedding, and basic toiletries are being provided by the Red Cross, while a branch of Quebec's Health Department is handling the newcomers' day-to-day needs.

"They have everything they need -- a roof, they have food, they have showers, they have bedsheets, they have beds, they have a nursery, they have Wi-Fi," said Cedric Essiminy, the stadium's spokesman.

"It's rudimentary -- it's not luxury -- but it's functional."

Authorities have been scrambling to manage the flow of asylum seekers, which has tripled in the last two weeks from 50 to 150 a day.

Most of them are Haitians, who fear being sent back to their homeland if the Trump administration chooses to end a program that granted them so-called "temporary protected status" following the massive earthquake that struck in 2010.

Emmanuelle Paciullo, a spokesperson for the health centre that manages the site, says 500 people are currently housed at the stadium.

She says that while there are nurses and social workers on site to handle urgent health needs, the setup is basic and only intended for short-term housing.

She says the newcomers are moved into more permanent housing once they get their first social assistance cheques. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.