At Jeff Moran’s call, a variety of Québécois singers and musicians have responded “attending” to a benefit soiree held in honor of Accueil Bonneau: this most supportive and fun party will take place on November 6th at Club Soda!
At the beginning of last winter, the artists - Catherine Major, Luce Duffaut, Etienne Graton, and Ingrid St-Pierre, among others - chose songs for this event that fit the theme that drives Accueil Bonneau in this year that represents a particular anniversary: “Reconstruction”.
The show Pro Bonneau, is a great way for Accueil to build funds necessary to their survival. Even after 141 years of watching over the Montréal community’s most impoverished and today serving close to 700 meals per day, the challenges they face as well as their needs remain considerable. “Homelessness will always be an issue, but the associated problems are getting worse and worse, like mental health issues, personality issues, and on top of that, alcohol and drug dependency. Drugs are getting harder by the day,” director of Accueil, Aubin Boudreau deplores. “I don’t know what they are getting cut with, but they make people more aggressive, more paranoid, and thus more difficult to interact with. It requires a very big capacity to adapt on the part of our workers and our volunteers.”
The concert is an initiative to raise spirits and, he hopes, funds for their register. Mr Boudreau is very grateful for Jeff Moran who came to visit and shoot a video clip at Accueil, and who has been putting on benefit shows at le Verre Bouteille for a year before preparing this show at Club Soda. He explains, “Jeff did a beautiful lecture about people and homelessness. I remember once hearing about it from one of our guys.” He continues, “We are fragile and from time to time, things happen. We tread a thin line, and I’m aware of that. At any moment we could be thrown to one side or another.”
But Aubin Boudreau can hardly wait for this special night for Bonneau, and with a mischievous glance, he lets slip, “There will be a surprise. I can’t reveal anything, but it may involve a special guest preparing some kind of video for the public!”
Tickets are for sale at different price points directly on the Accueil Bonneau website, and you can purchase them up to the day of the November 6th concert: HERE
One ticket gets you a great evening and a good feeling of contribution!
Art Workshop ©Accueil Bonneau
In addition to the benefit show, a sale of artwork reproductions and an auction for the originals took place on October 25th, again for Accueil Bonneau. You could count on artists like Dany Laferrière or Marc Séguin, an artistic sponsor of Bonneau, but there were also works from their own guys, too. “The guys that wanted to participate, they’re guys with talent. They like to give back to Accueil Bonneau and they don’t often get the chance to do so, as they are in situations of extreme poverty. Creating art is a way to give back, and it always makes them feel great,” Mr. Boudreau explains.
And it should be mentioned that for several years, be it music or paintings, art has been holding an increasingly crucial place in Accueil Bonneau’s approach. Toward “their guys” who do not always have an easy way of communicating, but also vis-a-vis the public at large, who often has a prejudice toward the homeless.
“What we strive for, eventually, is to be able to go further with these guys who have talent, hold art exhibits, open on a more regular basis, maybe open up to the grand public. That would also allow us to project a different image of homelessness. Often what you see unfortunately portrayed on the media is misery, consumption, drugs, alcohol, and begging. That exists, but there are those that have escaped that, people that have registered in social rehabilitation programs, and that have succeeded in pulling through. We want to show that too,” Aubin Boudreau explains. “I also often like to say that when there is no more room for words, when the words stop making sense, that is when art does its job.”
Their guys all have access to the art workshop and the music studio, but rarely do they go to them on their first visit. “Often they feel shame, a sense of guilt. They arrive in this state of mind and they quite close themselves off. For us, if they come back a second day, it’s a success. A third day, another success. They usually grow and benefit from the whole of our services step by step. And that is where the relationship forms.” Mr. Boudreau emphasises.
Aubin Boudreau ©Lebon Trait d'union
“Reconstruction is a beautiful image. Everyone has a story. The majority of our guys have had employment in their life, and some even owned their own business. They have had spouses and children. But in one given moment, everything changed. Oftentimes, these people have built their life on a fragile foundation, a difficult childhood. Many have suffered through either mistreatment or abuse and violence. Several have lived in youth centres. They still succeeded in constructing their lives, but when, as an adult, tragedy strikes, then another and another, everything falls apart,” Aubin Boudreau laments.
For Accueil Bonneau, the theme of “Reconstruction” holds extra meaning for this 20th anniversary of the gas explosion that blew up the assistance centre, killing three people. The reconstruction, made possible in four months at that time, was able to be completed thanks to the generosity of the Montréal community - a generosity that was essential for Accueil Bonneau and for which the director was grateful but not surprised with: “The Montréal community finances the services of Accueil Bonneau in the proportion of about 80%, and that speaks to me so much. We often say that Accueil Bonneau belongs to the Montréal people; it is a part of Montréal’s social heritage. I feel that it is important to them because it represents a social security safety net for those close to us, our friends, our family members, or maybe even for us one day. Who knows?”
The government provides a little financing, but well short of growing needs, and the advantages of the public network often drain the workforce needed in community organisations.
“No matter who may come to Accueil, there is no admission requirements,” Aubin Boudreau stresses. “This openness, tolerance, respect, and passion comes directly from the heritage of the Grey Nuns that founded Accueil Bonneau.” And it is for that mission that Accueil needs the Montréal community’s generosity, especially in its financing activities like the November 6th concert.