Advocating for Aboriginals

by esadl1 on April 25, 2014 - 3:45pm

Projets Autochtones du Québec. (2004). Projets Autochtones du Québec.

Original Post:

 The Values Remain at the PAQ. (2014, April 10). NewsActivist.

 As team-mates, my partner and I will be going to the Projet Autochtone du Québec (PAQ) in Montreal’s Chinatown in order to devote our time to the homeless aboriginal who seek shelter and food. Although over the years the PAQ struggled with financial difficulties due to high demands, it kept its core values providing a safe and friendly environment that would allow personal growth and a place to not feel threaten. After reading the article on the PAQ, it is clear that the organization want to offer a clean location to his native clients that are mostly from the northern regions. Both the capacity and emergency counselling/help needed by the first nations attending the shelter has increased by 20% in the last year.


To begin, I was interested in this post because it involves a population that, in my opinion, has not been treated fairly by political leaders for centuries.  I was also drawn to the fact presented that in the past year, there has been an increase in the number of First Nation members utilizing shelters in Montreal.  By researching this non-profit further, my plan was to gain a greater sense of what they have accomplished and how they can better serve the Aboriginal community. 

Project Autochtone du Québec, (translated as Aboriginal Projects of Québec,) or PAQ, a non-profit created by researchers from the University of Montreal and the YMCA, seeks to provide services and aide to homeless members of the Inuit, First Nations, and Métis.  They promote the rights of Aboriginals by interacting with the non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal communities in order to establish and maintain beneficial relationships that will lead to greater understanding and much-wanted changes.  PAQ offers a variety of services for the less fortunate, including homeless shelters, crisis care, and bilingual services.  The non-profit has a facility containing 39 beds, nine of which are for females, and the rest for males. 

PAQ possesses a team of researchers who work with community members in order to further explore issues facing the Aboriginal population.  The majority of the research posted on their website pertains to Aboriginal youth urban life, concentrating in the areas of education, adaptation, poverty and assault.  PAQ works together with major Canadian-based organizations, including First Nations Human Resources Development Commission of Québec and the Correctional Service of Canada, in hopes of better comprehending the situations faced by Aboriginals in Montreal.  There are a team of stakeholders from various race and ethnic backgrounds whose goal is to connect the Aboriginal population with the community resources they need, whether it be affordable housing or health care.  Project Authochtone du Québec works with LinguaSoft, an organization which assists in the preservation and teachings of Aboriginal languages.     

There are several aspects of PAQ that I find to be very beneficial.  The first is that they are focused on bridging the gaps between the Aboriginal population and other racial and ethnic groups.  They encourage non-Aboriginal members in Québec to volunteer at one of their shelters or other facilities in order to gain a greater understanding of the difficulties faced by urban Aboriginals.  This goal is reminiscent of one of the types of social action coined by social theorist Marx Weber, called value rational social action.  The conscience goals, dreams, and actions of a person or group motivate them to pursue change.  The values one is trying to convey are ones that may not necessarily be successful, but are fully pursued.  For example, if an Aboriginal individual strongly believes that their native language should be taught to future generations, that belief may not be accepted by all, but those who consciously believe in it will continue to be persistent.

 A second necessary component of PAQ which stands out is their focus on research.  Five individuals and researching bodies are credited on PAQ’s website with having conducted research for the organization; some of these researchers come from higher learning institutions, while others from the social service sector.  The goal of the researchers is to provide support and evidence concerning the conditions in which the Aboriginal population experiences.  There is an excerpt on PAQ’s website from E. Morgan’s Living in the South, think of the North,) (an English translation,) which summarizes the difficulties in terms of adjustment, discrimination and stereotypes that youths who move to urban areas face.  The research conducted is done in a manner in which social theorist Dorothy Smith supported; focusing on those who have been marginalized because it is they who possess knowledge that is unavailable or unknown by the social majority.  

 The theory of change for Project Autochtone du Québec is to acclimate Aboriginals into the community through the services they offer.  There is no data provided on their website concerning how many Québécois seek PAQ’s services on an annual, daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.  In fact, no statistical evidence is provided concerning the input and outcomes of the organization.  I propose that PAQ, on an annual basis, provides quantitative reports on how many Aboriginals sought out each of their services, (counseling, housing, food, etc.), the number of employees and volunteers, results of any research conducted that year, and the amount of donations received, in money, material items, and time.  Through posting these results, the donating public will know where their time and money is going and if their financial contributions are creating results.  Additionally, posting the above information could raise awareness of the struggles of the Aboriginal population in Montreal and Québec, which can potentially lead to an increase in volunteers, donations, and additional organizational cooperation.  Lastly, this non-profits website must be updated; based upon the copyright date at the found at the bottom of PAQ’s website, (2004), I immediately assume that the information provided is not up to date and that some of it may not be incorrect, (assuming there have been numerous positive changes as well as setbacks over the past decade). 

 In order to further examine this plan, let us again consider Weber’s value rational approach.  Different organizations and groups of people will be interested in contributing or collaborating with PAQ for a variety of reasons.  There are other non-profit and for-profit organizations that share common interests, such as assisting the homeless or working with government organizations to promote the passing of laws that will aide those in need.  Larger corporations such as banks will be willing to make donations in order to vamp up their image and gain more members.  With multiple organizations working towards a common goal, there is a greater chance of that goal becoming reality.  With increased voices and assistance, more can be accomplished.  Research is conducted in the hopes of obtaining answers; the projects may not provide the information needed and will therefore require more financing and time in the community.  Through the publication of research, the community at large can see if there are any ways in which they can contribute to PAQ’s research as well as their theory of change.   



After volunteering at the PAQ I have come to grasp the true significance of their help. It was probably hard to understand in my last post. The driving force at the PAQ, like many other homeless shelter, is to survive and to help the most at the save time. The administrative are trying the best they can to cope with the fast pace of working with homelessness in a metropolitan. It is hard to dedicate time to an online website when instead you can help with laundry, cooking, and the panning of activities. However, it is true that the website needs updating but if you are in deep need of the statistics the PAQ does keep a count of how many First Nations, Metis, and Inuit come. Please feel free to communicate with them!

You project seems well thought out, your motives have good intentions and I think the PAQ would really benefit from your suggestions.
Interestingly, I have recently volunteered at the PAQ and are scheduled to return every Friday for the month of May, and I have to say that you mentioned some of the reasons as to why I even volunteered at the PAQ. However, I was not aware that they did not have any data available on their website about how many participants they receive yearly. I find this shocking because they do keep a record each day of every participant that enters the shelter. I initially wanted to offer my service to update their website after I volunteer. My intentions were to emphasize on the services that they offer to aboriginals, how the shelter is in need of additional support and how volunteers can offer their services.
I have a suggestion. I don’t think it is necessary to have yearly data on how many participants stay at the shelter. From what I've learned about the PAQ, by speaking to the staff and the participants, is that even though a majority of them are “regulars” there are days which the shelter will have no more than two participants and some days were there is not enough room for half of the people lined up outside the PAQ doors. This can be a result of many variables including that some aboriginals where discouraged to return because they happen to visit the shelter the day that it was jam-packed. I think that more education should be emphasized on the services that the PAQ offers and how the community can offer their support.