June 19th, 2024

Mother tells Quebec inquest she can’t fathom how her son could die in the cold

By The Canadian Press on June 5, 2024.

MONTREAL – A grieving mother has told a coroner’s inquest that she can’t understand how her son could have been allowed to die in the cold outside a Montreal homeless shelter.

Suzanne Chemaganish says her son Raphael André grew up in the woods with his Innu family in northern Quebec and was used to cold weather.

She says that in her community, when someone knocks on the door, the person is let inside to make sure they’re out of the cold.

Coroner Stéphanie Gamache is presiding over the inquest into the death of André, who was 51 when he died in January 2021 inside a portable toilet close to a Montreal homeless shelter he frequented.

The death came after Quebec had imposed a nighttime curfew to curb the spread of COVID-19, and after his usual shelter had suspended overnight services due to a plumbing issue and an outbreak of the virus.

Chemaganish says she hopes the inquest will result in more spaces and better treatment for people who are homeless, noting she had visited the shelter where her son stayed and saw folding beds with no sheets.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2024.

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