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2 homeless people die in Canada

Dec. 20, 2008 at 9:15 PM   |   Comments

MONTREAL, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The frozen body of a homeless man was found in Montreal and a homeless woman burned to death trying to keep warm in Vancouver, authorities say.

Police discovered the snow-covered body of the 61-year-old man in Viger Park about 1:30 a.m. Saturday when the temperature was 28 degrees below Fahrenheit, Canwest News Service reported. The man, whose name wasn't released, appeared to have died of natural causes.

His body was found just blocks from the largest men's shelter in Montreal, which has been filled to capacity in recent days, Canwest reported.

"Unfortunately, there are people who are resistant to being helped, often because they're mentally unstable," said Yvan Montpetit of the ambulance service Urgences Sante.

In Vancouver, the homeless woman burned to death Friday trying to stay warm after outreach workers failed in several attempts to get her into a shelter, said Ellen Silvergieter of St. Paul's Anglican Church. The 47-year-old woman, originally from Abbotsford, British Columbia, was staying under an overturned shopping cart lined with cardboard, bed sheets and blankets, Silvergieter told The Vancouver Sun.

The woman had cried when the outreach workers wouldn't give her a candle, the newspaper reported, instead giving her a quilt, a coat and hot chocolate.

"She didn't want to leave her possessions behind to go to a shelter," Silvergieter said. "To somebody on the street that's their whole world, that's all they have."

Vancouver will open new shelters where the homeless will be allowed to bring in shopping carts and pets.

"A person should not have to give up all their possessions or their best friend to come inside for the night," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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