Archive for the ‘Street Work’ Category

Paul-Robert Rivet: 1979-2015


paul-robert_rivet_avisWe are extremely saddened to share the news that our dear colleague Paul passed away suddenly on Friday April 3rd, 2015. Paul was one of our two Street Workers, and provided on-the-spot support to NDG youth where, when, and how they needed it. His dedication, empathy, and joy were both infectious and inspiring. The loss of this unique and wonderful person is deeply felt throughout the many communities Paul touched with his light.

Head & Hands’ offices were closed from April 7th-13th in order to grieve Paul’s loss and begin recovering as a team. Our doors reopened for services yesterday, but will close again tomorrow April 16th for the full day. We will reopen once again on Friday the 17th, and any future closures will be announced here. We thank our community for being patient with us as we work to restore services as quickly as possible while respecting the needs of our team members.

We will be organizing a community event in the coming weeks to honour Paul’s memory and celebrate his life. We will share details of that event here as plans are finalized.

We invite anyone who needs support working through their grief to contact us – either in person at our main office (5833 Sherbrooke W), or by phone at 514-481-0277.

The resource below also provides individual support to help cope with loss, and is available by phone 24/7:

Montreal crisis centre network (choose your neighbourhood to get a phone number):


Big changes for our food pantry


The thing I love about working the food pantry is getting to meet and chat with people while sharing food and resources!

Big changes are being made to our food pantry!!


By providing a couple days’ food to folks who need it, the emergency food pantry is an essential piece of Head & Hands’ game plan towards fostering a healthy and food-secure community.

Like all our H&H services, we approach our food pantry from a non-judgmental and holistic philosophy- no questions asked! As an emergency food provider we understand that a major challenge for many people to access services like food resources is not having an ID – and we know there are many reasons why someone may not have ID. We don’t think that should be a barrier to accessing food. We do our best to make it as easy as possible for you to come in and grab what you need. The general process for the food pantry is pretty straight-forward: if you are between 12-25 you can pick a bag twice a month; if you’re over 25- you can come by once a month. You don’t need ID, proof of address, or proof of income! Let us know if you have kids – we offer extra for families! The pantry is divided in two sections – food that needs to be cooked, and food that doesn’t, because we know not everyone has access to a stove or kitchen.

Good news… We have expanded the food options available and have added soy milk to our pantry! And….

We are now accredited by Moisson Montreal, the largest food bank in Canada, whose mission is to redistribute food donations to community organizations. Their donations will not only increase our food pantry stocks but will also mean bigger and better things for our YPP collective kitchen and more food options at J2K!

Support Sex Workers at Dec 17th Action and Vigil


ACTION SANTÉ, TRAVESTI(E)S ET TRANSSEXUEL(LE)S DU QUÉBEC (ASTTeQ), RÉZO AND STELLA, L’AMIE DE MAIMIE have invited sex workers, those who work with sex workers, and allies to join in a walk and vigil this December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Last year, sex workers and allies celebrated a huge victory when the Supreme Court recognized that criminal laws contribute to systemic violence that sex workers experience, and declared those laws unconstitutional (check out this link for more information). This year, however, the federal government introduced a new set of laws (known collectively as C-36) which came into effect on December 6th and will once again cause harm to sex workers – compromising safety, security, and dignity.

C-36 is a big concern for us and the folks we work alongside with on a daily basis. We here at Head & Hands, an organization committed to harm and risk reduction, believe that C-36 will lead to increased surveillance and criminalization of marginalized and racialized communities – trends we are already fighting against! C-36 is a strong reminder as to the importance of our Street Work program, our legal clinic, our work against racial profiling, and our commitment to underscoring the strength and resilience of our communities. These laws also remind us that the fight for safe working conditions, decriminalization, and dignity for sex workers is rooted in demands to end to gendered, racialized, systemic violence. The fight continues.

With the passage of C-36 , we at Head & Hands, along with ACTION SANTÉ, TRAVESTI(E)S ET TRANSSEXUEL(LE)S DU QUÉBEC (ASTTeQ), RÉZO AND STELLA, L’AMIE DE MAIMIE are calling for people to come together  to demand safe working conditions for sex workers.

We encourage you to learn more about the incredible work STELLA is doing, about Bedford v. Canada, and about the devastating laws under C-36.

We are calling upon you to come out in numbers on Dec 17th to support sex workers and call for an end to gendered, racialized, systemic violence. We are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!


When: December 17th, 2014, 4:30pm-5:30pm


Meeting point @ 4:30pm

Montreal Municipal Court

775 rue Gosford, Montréal

(Champs de Mars metro)


Vigil afterwards

Palais de Justice

1 Rue Notre-Dame East, Montréal

Welcome Paul – our street work team is finally complete!


photoThree years ago, government budget cuts forced us to suspend NDG’s only street work program.  We immediately set to work rallying community support in order to bring this essential service back to our community, and your response has been amazing!

Last year, we were able to partially relaunch the program by hiring Sara as a solo street worker. Sara has done some truly incredible work since then: supporting over 460 community members by sharing safer sex and drug use gear, intervening in crises, and supporting people with longer-term needs like mental health, housing, and employment.  Still, working without a partner has limited Sara’s reach; NDG is just too big for one person to cover, and some spaces where street work can make the greatest impact aren’t always safe for her to access alone.

And so – this month, we’re very excited to introduce Paul, the second Head & Hands street worker!  Paul comes to us with a true wealth of experience supporting youth with addiction, homelessness, and mental health as well as racism, poverty, and the legal system.  His 8 years of work in this area include both community-based and government positions, including NDG’s Tracom crisis centre.  He is also an artist, having directed multiple films on youth and homelessness and painted several murals for community organizations around the province!

When asked what he’s looking forward to doing here at H&H, Paul said he’s most excited about “keeping it simple, being real, and adding my own colours to the Head & Hands rainbow.”  We can’t wait!!!

Donor News: Street Worker Sara Talks Suicide Intervention


Since the re-launch of our Street Work program, Sara has been supporting youth through a variety of complex and sensitive challenges, including 14 suicide interventions. We sat down with Sara to learn more about how she is supporting these youth through their most difficult times.

"These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel."

“These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel.”


H & H: How do you know if someone is considering suicide?

I listen for certain key words or phrases like “hopelessness” or “things don’t matter anymore.” Often the client is someone I have an ongoing relationship with and I’ll notice that they’ve lost interest in the things they normally do. These are red flags. I’ll then ask them, “Are you thinking suicide?” or “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”

H&H: How do clients react?

Usually, they’ll just say “yes” or “no.” Or they’ll say, “No, but I think about it sometimes.” I think if people are suicidal, they feel a lot of relief that someone is not afraid to talk about it.

H&H: If a client says that they are suicidal, what do you do?

I say, “I’m really worried about you right now. These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel. It’s understandable you are having feelings of hopelessness.”

If you’re worried someone’s going to kill themselves, and if they’re in a state of shock, sometimes it can be good to be directive, while still checking in to make sure they’re on the same page as you. I provide and explore options with them, such as going to a crisis centre. I talk through the process with them so they know what to expect. I also let them know that we can make the call together, and that I can be with them – they don’t have to go through this alone.

H&H: What kind of follow-up do you do?

I get their permission to build a network of support with them by connecting them with various crisis and relevant support services. I follow up with the person to see how meetings are going with the other organizations and ask if there are other areas in their life they are looking for support with.

In addition to our street worker, our social counselor Rhonda provides support for people thinking about suicide. Our holistic approach means that we draw on a variety of networks at Head & Hands and in the larger community to support those going through difficult times. 

If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, you can contact Sara 514-377-9858 or call us at 514-481-0277 to make an appointment with our Social Counsellor, Rhonda.

You can also call Suicide Action Montreal at 514-723-4000 or Tracom at 514-483-3033.


Hike in Fatal Overdoses


An increase in fatal overdoses has been observed in Montreal over the past few months. These overdoses seem to be caused by heroin or cocaine, regardless of the method of consumption (shooting, snorting, or smoking.) These incidents are especially alarming considering that overdoses caused by smoking or snorting are highly uncommon, yet have recently become a frequent occurrence. This is caused in part by the increased presence of fentanyl in heroine and other drugs, which is a substance 50-100 times more potent than heroine.

If you are a drug user, there are ways to protect yourself and possibly prevent an overdose. Buy from someone you know or trust, and try not to use when you’re alone, but if you have to, leave your door unlocked. If you’re not sure where your batch comes from, start by taking a very small amount (not enough to get you high). It’s not a good idea to rely on the absence of an unusual smell, taste, or appearance as an indicator of a good batch.

Despite this rash of overdoses, Naloxone, the opioid antidote, has still not been authorized by the Ministère de la santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) to be made available to street workers and other non-medical professionals. Naloxone is available anywhere else in Canada and the United States and has saved hundreds of lives from opium-induced overdoses. In Quebec, however, it can only be administered in hospitals, and only 20 health professionals in Montreal currently have access to Naloxone. The Quebec government is currently working on allowing ambulance workers to administer the antidote within the next few weeks. However, folks from the CRAN and Méta d’Âme predict that the expansion of access to Naloxone to streetworkers, community members, friends and family members won’t happen until the fall. So far, one person has died from an overdose everyday since mid-May, in Montreal. 

With NDG being a more isolated neighborhood of Montreal, our streetworker Sara has noticed a higher probability that people use when they’re alone. If you or  someone you know might use alone, and want someone to be around, contact Sara at 514-377-9858 or by email at

What’s up with Street Work: 4-month update!


Last October, we re-launched our Street Work program after a 2-year hiatus, restoring this essential service to our community. Since then, Sara, our Street Worker, has been back on the streets of NDG, bringing our harm-reductive services outside the Head & Hands office and straight to the young people who need her support. We’re excited to share with you some exciting updates about Street Work’s first 4 months back in action!

Sara has been busy giving on-the-spot support, clean needles, crack kits, condoms, and safer-sex and drug use information to youth in NDG.  So far, she has already met with 230 new clients, and has provided 1,425 clean needles 2,151 condoms, and 37 crack kits. From just 4 months of work on the streets, it is clear to us that Street Work is addressing a serious need in our community that would not otherwise be met.

During these cold winter months, Sara has kept busy visiting neighborhood schools and group homes, dropping by to say hi, meet youth, and distribute condoms and information. Sara has also given several harm-reduction and drug workshops to youth in schools and group homes. She wants youth to leave her workshops drug-savvy, and tells participants that she wants them to “be that friend in your friend group” that folks can come to for information.

In the coming months, Sara is looking forward to giving workshops at Jeunesse 2000, our teen drop-in center, and visiting more community centers and teen drop-in spaces in the neighborhood. She is also looking forward to the warmer months, where she will be able to meet more youth in parks and outdoor spaces!

Visit Street Work’s brand-new page on our website to learn more about the services Sara offers, check out other resources on harm-reduction, and learn how you can support Street Work and help keep the program alive!

Give the Gift!!



Did you know that since street work re-launched in October, demand for our emergency food pantry has more than doubled? The need for our medical, legal, and social services is growing, and so we put on our thinking caps to increase financial support this winter. Allow us to introduce our new fundraising campaign, Give the Gift!

When you donate online through Give the Gift, you’ll receive a package of custom-designed cards, ready to print at home and give to friends and family on behalf of each donation. Give the Gift was made possible thanks to two talented local Head & Hands supporters: web programmer, Danielle Bakhazi, and youth artist, J’VLYN.

No matter the occasion, we’ve got you covered in English and French, with cards for celebrating gratitude, birthdays, anniversaries, congratulatory moments, incredible friendships, a new life, or just because! 

Give the Gift cards are perfect for the person who says they don’t need anything, who doesn’t want more stuff, who wishes they had more time to volunteer, who believes in buying local, who believes in homemade gifts, who believes in ethical giving, who you have no idea what to buy, for the person who loves Head & Hands, and for the person that you love. 

No matter who is on the receiving end, they can’t deny the wicked awesome goodness that comes from a donation being made in one’s honour to support youth in our community.

Okay, so we’ve explained why it’s amazing. But how does it WORK?!

1. Go to our Give the Gift page by clicking here

2. Decide how much you want to donate via your credit card or PayPal account

3. Receive a PDF file with a ton of beautiful cards

4. Pick the card you like

5. Print the card you like

6. Personalize it and send it!

7. Enjoy being the best gift giver ever.

It’s easy and fabulous.

Have any questions? No problem! Call Juniper or Jen at 514-481-0277!

Ça Marche Reaches for the Moon and Falls Amongst some Superstars


Well, folks, we did it! Not only have we reached our $25,000 goal for Ça Marche, but we surpassed it! You have all helped us raise just over $26,000 for our health services! We thank you all so much for supporting our Sense Project, medical clinics, and Street Work program as well as joining us for a super fun day. If you weren’t able to participate this year or are in withdrawal of Ça Marche sparkle magic, enjoy this video as it will hopefully tide you over until next year. We can’t wait! Much love.

Street Work is Back!!


We are so excited to announce that as of October 7th, our Street Work program has returned to NDG!

In 2011, we lost funding for our street work services due to a cut from the government agency that funded the entire program. This was a very heavy blow to Head & Hands, as Street Work had been a core service here since two youth outreach workers founded the organization in 1970. Ours was the only full-time street work program in the neighborhood that offered HIV and Hepatitis C prevention materials, in addition to flexible intervention and support. In the four months prior to the cut, our team reached record numbers of clients, made unprecedented connections with local group homes, and handed out 360 safer injection kits, 60 safer inhalation kits, and thousands of condoms. For the past two years, NDG residents who are homeless, using drugs, doing sex work, or otherwise living on the margins have been largely without these essential services.

Through interviews with former clients and partner organizations, we heard how important it is for us to take our non-judgmental, harm-reductive, youth-empowerment approach out into the streets. Our street workers reach those for whom indoor, institutional services are not accessible due to geography, stigmatizing approaches, or cost. Over the past year of intensive work to raise money and awareness to bring this program back, we have been blessed with the work of our amazing Save Street Work team Cynthia and Gina, our former street worker Sara coordinating the relaunch, and tonnes of community members who eagerly shared their knowledge, experience, and energy!

We’ve reached a fantastic milestone, but the work isn’t done yet! In early 2014, we’ll be hiring a full-time permanent street worker to carry this program into the years to come, and you can help us find the perfect person by spreading the word! We’re also still fundraising to bring this program back to full capacity, and you can help us by donating to the cause, or by sending any leads on funding you find to Victoria at