Although sometimes my apartment can feel like there are no walls on the coldest days of winter, my thermostat tells me otherwise. For people who are homeless, there is no thermostat. Screw the right to a religious-symbol-free government environment; in Canada, having a safe, warm place to go should be a basic right. Sure, there are shelters, but shelters are not for everyone. They can be dangerous, restrictive, or even full. Perhaps it is just arrogance or disbelief, but we are too ignorant about the lives of those who make the streets their bed. Fin Novembre is an annual event held by ATSA meant to raise awareness about homelessness as well as address the disjoin between the homeless population and everyone else.
Fin Novembre 2013 includes art installations, readings, and concerts, all held outdoors. Crappy weather? Bear up. Solidarity is part of the idea. Bring a sleeping bag, a good jacket, gloves, socks, and whatever is needed. If you have spares, you can find places at site to leave donations.
Founders of the festival and organization, Annie Roy and Pierre Allard, are displaying two major art installation pieces. The first consists of a group of mattresses suspended from a crane, lit up by a continuous screening of Warhol’s “anti-film” Sleep. The five hour film features poet John Giorno sleeping outdoors in the city. The second installation is a slide show that focuses on “homeless citizens sleeping outdoors, taken by fellow photographers.”
A number of other charitable works are on site. The Angora collective known for decking out benches with fabric allows participants to help with a group textile. In this case, the plan is to take paper and other recyclable material to sew a series of pillows and a large quilt. Calligraphists Garbage Beauty is drawing on a dozen sofas that are spread out at Place Émilie Gamelin. Non-profit Exeko provides art supplies, workshops on using art as a means to self expression, as well as a book loan service as well as collecting eyeglasses to be given out as donations.
Musical guests performing include Domlebo, Paul Cargnello, Pascal Dufour, vocal ensemble Les Voix Ferrées, Socalled, and French singer (now Quebec resident) Daran. Alongside the music will be spoken word events including six pieces by the residents of women’s homeless shelter L’Auberge Madeleine under the auspices of artist Claude Majeau, and a nightly performance of poems by ARREUH. The Matantes Militantes are sending their “anti-orthodox” street theatre troupe Toxique Trottoir. These events end at 11 p.m.
Local restaurants Soupesoup, Café Rico, Les Chocolats de Chloé, Grumman 78, Au Petit Extra, Garde Manger, Arrêt de Bus Traiteur, Malaysian fiest, Holder, and Les 3 Petits Bouchons, are providing free food. The Salvation Army and Village des Valeurs are providing warm winter clothing and blankets to attendees. Les Médecins du Monde will provide free health care for those who don’t go to hospitals and health centres.
Volunteers are welcome to join the event and assist in tasks ranging from serving food to registration to collecting donations of clothing. If joining the crowd outside isn’t your thing, you can participate to the Dormir Dehors slide show via the Web. Photos that show the unacceptability of life on the street should be identified with the hashtag #ATSAdormirdehors.
Fin Novembre takes place at Place Émilie Gamelin from November 21-24. Events are free. Artistic events end at 11:00 p.m.