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Jacques has been homeless since September 2014. In late June 2015, we met him at René-Lévesque and Hôtel-de-Ville, just east of Montreal's St. Laurent Boulevard.
He gets around town with a cane, knapsack, and water bottle.
Unlike some people we met, Jacques has a family. Here's the catch: Family members live in various areas of Quebec, and Jacques prefers not to get in touch with them. He was born in Montreal and raised by a French-Canadian mother as well as an English-Canadian father.
Before winding on Montreal's streets, Jacques worked as a publisher and baker. But Jacques eventually faced problems - it's unclear which ones - and went to jail a few times. Since being released, he has found finding jobs difficult.
We discovered something attention-grabbing during our conversation: he was bisexual, or at least bi-curious. He was always attracted to women, but most intercourse was with men. "Since having sex with men, it's been hard to take interest in women" he said. He jokingly added, "Men should be like women, for I like women."
We met Jacques on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, a day most Quebecers celebrate every June 24. He hadn't eaten since dawn. At about six o'clock, people would usually drop by and give Jacques something to eat. But he had no such luck. "Today was a hard day!" Jacques moaned. "I thought Quebecers would pitch in and help people like me on a day like this" Fortunately, we had fruit and water for him. Owing to bad dental health, he couldn't eat anything hard.
Worse, Jacques never knew where he would spend the night. "If spaces are available at the Old Brewery Mission, I'll sleep there" he said. "Otherwise, I'll find another shelter or sleep on the streets."
On top of this, Jacques developed liver problems. Most of them have no cure; Jacques experiences much belly pain several times.
Perhaps a silver lining is on the horizon: To help Jacques make some ends meet, the provincial government offers him financial aid. Unfortunately, the aid Jacques receives can't provide him with suitable housing or the ability to live a normal life. "If I had the chance, I'd go back to work and live a normal life" he said. "At least I'm surviving," he uncomplainingly concluded.
Isn't this a powerful story? Jacques certainly has a second chance. We are asking YOU, the citizens around the world, to tell us the end of his story. Kindly donate $1, $2, $5, $8, $10, or more - any amount you can - to allow F.I.S.H. Foundation to provide suitable housing, mental health, food, clothing, education, and employment services for the homeless and other underprivileged people. Let's help them reintegrate into society to become responsible citizens like you and me.
Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is officially auditing this fundraising campaign.