What does a French speaking Belgian bagpipe player wear under his kilt? You’ll have to guess.
I recently spent the better part of a Sunday day with Dan who is a street messenger in downtown Montreal.
The street messengers are peers who’s personal experiences have made them experts in addiction, homelessness, and survival on the streets.
After 5 years without a fixed address, Dan and his dog Tamara moved into a small apartment in the city. For the last 3 years, Dan has participated in a program through Cactus Montreal called “Messagers de Rue”.
The messengers patrol the streets of Montreal providing addicts and sex workers with sterile needles, clean pipes, condoms, and referrals to services they need. The messengers also collect needles keeping our city safe and are trained in the use of naloxone and can intervene in cases of opiate OD’s.
The data that the messengers collect helps us better understand the needs of some of Montreals most marginalized individuals so that health services can better respond.
Aside from the supplies that street messengers provide, they also extend connection, understanding, and empathy to the people they meet and serve.
Aside from the service he provides as street messenger, Dan is teaching himself guitar, going to school, and applying to colleges. I found Dan to be open, curious, and an approachable. I really enjoyed the time I spent hanging out and taking pictures of Dan, it was a pleasure for me to get to know him and to see the great work that the street messengers do.