On Saturday, May 26, five homeless organizations met at the Olympic Basin at Parc Jean-Drapeau for a friendly dragon boat competition, courtesy of H2oplayground.
The rainy weather couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the teams of Accueil Bonneau, Maison du Père, Mission Bon Accueil, the Old Brewery Mission and PAS de la rue. The 70 participants were aided by H2o coaches who generously volunteered their time and expertise.
The driving force behind the event was Jean-Marie Lapointe, host of Face à la rue 2. He wanted to bring together staff, volunteers and people experiencing homelessness together for a fun and unifying activity. “In a boat, we’re all equals, there is no hierarchy. The idea for this came from my passion for dragon boats and my commitment to the fight against homelessness. It’s also an opportunity to highlight the tremendous work being done by these organizations that share the same cause,” he said.
Congratulations to all those who braved the elements on Saturday and paddled with strength, endurance and fortitude! The Old Brewery Mission’s team earned a silver medal in this first-ever dragon boat race: Ankitaa Rajaa, Vincent Ozrout, Chanelle Grenier, Claudia Melendez, Jennifer Carroll, Natalie Ménard and Sébastien Dussault, as well as several of our residents.
Ankitaa Rajaa, counsellor at the Old Brewery Mission, says the race brought everyone closer together. “After the rain stopped, the sun came out in the afternoon and our group sat together on the barge next to the water,” she says. “It was a beautiful moment for my colleagues and our residents who rarely, if ever, get to see each other outside the counsellor-client context.”
According to Vincent Ozrout, counsellor at the Mission, this activity was also a way to alleviate stress, anxiety and loneliness felt by a lot of people experiencing homelessness. He notes, “It was a break from their everyday routine, which can be tedious and difficult. We definitely should do more activities like these.”
Special thanks to Jean-Marie Lapointe for initiating this fun activity, as well as H2oplayground for hosting the event. Bravo all those who participated and helped to coordinate this event! We look forward to participating in 2019!