Montreal's First Street Store With Montreal Toheed Society
On a Sunday morning, on 23rd of October 2016, a group of Montreal Toheed Society members brought to Montreal the first pop-up Street Store. The aim of this event was to collect clothing and other essential articles from our community members and to hang up these items for those in need to pick from.
One of our goals, at Montreal Toheed Society, is to foster social justice through grassroots actions. Through this event, we intended to spread the kindness through the small act of "hanging up" and "helping out". We wished to acknowledge the existence of the homeless and to raise awareness in the society towards this group. We wanted to offer the homeless the dignity they deserve through creating a friendly environment where they can come and choose what they need and prefer, and to put in good use what is not used in our homes.
The event was held in a windy and cold day; but half an hour before the opening hour, a line of homeless people was in front of our desk, waiting for us to “open” the Street Store. Although we had invited them by invitation cards during the week before the event, we were positively surprised with the presence of homeless people. We had also a warm soup which was prepared by our community members for about 200 shoppers. The homeless people could pass by articles and choose what they like. We could observe a lot of people leaving the place with a warm smile on their face.
This event was a starting point for a dialogue between the homeless and our community members. The children who were among us could have a firsthand experience of passing some time with the homeless and it changed their point of view about this group of our society. For us, it was nice to pass some time with these people who are usually ignored in the everyday life of our society. We believe that we can start solving the problem of homelessness when we stop seeing the homeless as the problem.
Our event could have a strong media coverage. We had CBC News and Global News who were present during the event. They could talk directly to some homeless people who were shopping in our Street Store and we could transfer through media our message of peace and kindness as a Muslim community to the world. To see more on reports, click here.
It was a unique experience for everyone who attended the event and we look forward to our next Street Store, on 26th of November. During our first Street Store, we identified a great need of warm socks, scarfs, hats and gloves among the homeless. So, in our next Street Store, we are going to cover providing these items. We hope to see you all there.