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Our history

A few milestones


1987: The International Year of Shelter for the Homeless

Chaired by France Labelle, the Committee on Youth Homelessness of the Réseau d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal recommends the opening of an emergency overnight shelter for young men aged 18 to 30. A Provisional Council is created, which includes community members from the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ), the Archdiocese of Montréal, vicars of the Plateau Mont-Royal, representatives involved with the homeless, and users.

Following the proposal of a young participant, the name “Refuge des Jeunes” is chosen.
November: a temporary shelter called l’Abri des Jeunes is created by the Archdiocese of Montréal, despite the lack of actual policies or tangible projects to address the needs of homeless youths. It provides shelter to young men aged 18 to 30.

Executive director: Louise Bégin, c.n.d.


The search for an appropriate location for the Refuge begins.

August 30 1988

Incorporation of the “Refuge des Jeunes de Montréal” and hosting of the constituent assembly.

September 1988

The Abri des Jeunes reopens for the second year in a row, since the new “Refuge des Jeunes” corporation is not ready to welcome homeless youths, having not found a location yet.

Executive director: Louise Bégin, c.n.d.

October 1989

The Refuge des Jeunes de Montréal officially opens.

Following discussions with representatives of the Archdiocese of Montréal, the Refuge settles in the location of the Abri des Jeunes, which will cease its operations.
The Archdiocese donates equipment and approximately $60,000 in financial assets.

Maximum age is reduced to 25.
Capacity: 45 beds.
Number of youths housed: 500 (from September 1988 to May 31st 1989).


The singer Dan Bigras becomes the Refuge des Jeunes‘ spokesperson.

First edition of a benefit concert that will become known, as of 1993, as the “Show du Refuge“.


The Refuge des Jeunes de Montréal is now open year-round.

October 1999

Creation of the social housing project with community support: capacity of 6 people.


The Refuge receives the Prix d’Humanisme award from the Association des médecins psychiatres du Québec.

January 2007

A research project at the journey of young people living on the streets is launched. The authors are Christian Levac, professional worker at the Refuge des Jeunes, and France Labelle, Executive Director. The resulting publication, entitled “La rue, un chemin tracé d’avance?“, is a collection of the personnal stories of 22 former street youths of 22 former street youths. The book has been published by Éditions Hurtubise.

October 2009

20th anniversary of the Refuge, and 10th anniversary of the social housing community project “Logement social avec soutien communautaire“, wich has grown from 6 to 18 housing units.

May 2011

Following the sale of Saint-Louis de France Church, the Refuge has to relocate and settles in a building bought in 2010.


The first major fundraising campaign, “Dons d’Avenirs” is held in order to raise 1.5 M$. The total amount raised is used to cover the mortgage bonds resulting from the purchase of the house and to consolidate the activities.


The Refuge receives the “ESTIM” Award, in the non-profit category, from the Chambre de commerce de l’Est de Montréal.

August 2014

25th anniversary of the Refuge, and 15th anniversary of the social housing community project “Logement social avec soutien communautaire“.

Over the past 25 years, the Refuge has offered shelter to 19,285 young men with 125 of them spending time in the social housing units. These young men came from different places: Montréal, elsewhere in Québec, other Canadian provinces and even other countries. Every action undertaken by the Refuge is motivated by the desire to integrate homeless youth and improve their living conditions.