Five Montreal soup kitchens and drop-in centres are offering a special treat to their Inuit and aboriginal clientele — a meal featuring seal meat once a month.
It's part of an ongoing effort to bring some "country food" to people from the North.
About 15 per cent of the women who frequent Chez Doris, a women's day-shelter in Montreal's Shaughnessy Village, are Inuit.
Many of its other clients have different aboriginal backgrounds.
Executive director Marina Boulos said the shelter offers up a weekly aboriginal meal every Friday, usually containing caribou, buffalo or venison.
"You will see a large proportion of Inuit people who are homeless and I think this is one way of helping and reaching out to them," she said.
A taste of home
Boulos said Chez Doris is one of five Montreal drop-in centres that were given a grant by Makivik and CN to provide the kinds of food the clients were accustomed to eating in their native communities.
The project funded by the grant has recently been expanded to now include seal meat, which Boulos said is normally quite expensive in the city.
Boulos said the program started in February and the Inuit women at her shelter really appreciate it.
So many Inuit women are forced to leave their communities because of abuse, a lack of food and lodging, or for medical reasons, and so a taste of home goes a long way in lifting their spirits.
"The women are just so delighted it creates a spirit of community and a welcoming environment for them," she said.
Seal will also be served once a month to Inuit clients at St-Michael's Mission, the Open Door in Westmount, the Native Friendship Centre and Projets Autochtones du Québec.