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Shelter designed for Muslim women set to open in June

MONTREAL (CityNews) – A women’s shelter geared towards Muslims is set to open in Montreal this summer.

The shelter, which will be the first in Quebec, is hoping to better serve those in the community fleeing violent situations at home.

“That call was from a woman who felt like she couldn’t access the services that were available in the city. Because of language barriers, discrimination, racism, Islamophobia,” explained Zena Chaudhry, Founder and CEO of Sakeenah Homes.

After operating remotely in Quebec for three years, Toronto based Sakeenah Homes is now opening a physical space in Montreal welcoming women who are dealing with trauma and abuse as they seek help for long-term housing.

With a focus on the Muslim culture, the charity offers halal food and prayer spaces.

The founder says lockdowns have been especially difficult for women living in an abusive relationship.

“Women felt they were in a pressure cooker now, they had curfews, social distancing, work places were closed. Couldn’t go to the mall with their friends. Couldn’t go to the park. So much was happening that they were stuck in that situation.”

In three years, Sakeenah homes in Toronto has accommodated over 5,500 women and children. During COVID alone the charity helped 3,000 of them transition into their own homes.

“When they leave us they should be living in their own apartment or home,” added Chaudhry. “Their own house with an income in place. So that’s a long-term solution for them. We don’t want a band aid solution. We want it to be like once they leave us they’re prepared.”

The Montreal location is expected to open in June.