Living on the Street: Rethinking Our Response to Homelessness

Report on the involvement of people with lived experience of homelessness in an event setting

The aim of this report is to highlight practices that encourage the involvement of people with experience of homelessness in a system thinking event. This event was set up by the FACE research team, led by people who live or have lived on the streets, as well as Caroline Leblanc, a doctoral candidate in community health under the scientific direction of Professors Christine Loignon and Karine Bertrand of the Université de Sherbrooke, several students from four Quebec universities, and many collaborations: Association des intervenants en dépendance du Québec (AIDQ), the Association pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues (AQPSUD), the Reseau d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM), Spectre de rue and Wapikoni. In addition, numerous collaborations from the world of politics, homelessness, substances use and research, as well as many contributions from the community, also contributed to the success of this event, in terms of organization, recruitment and spin-offs (see List of collaborations).

It’s important to point out that this event was co-constructed in such a way as to ensure that the knowledge gained from the experience of homelessness was significant throughout the organization, from the planning stage to the publication of the results of the discussions. To achieve this, a participatory process was put in place with people with experiential knowledge of homelessness, so that they could have a say and influence in the organization, and thus develop an event that was adapted and inclusive, so that they could have a positive experience during the discussions. For the event organizers, their presence was important at all levels of the event, and it was crucial that their voice be central.

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