Hundreds remember the life of late Father Emmett Johns

Hundreds of people crowded into Place Émilie-Gamelin Wednesday , braving the bitter cold to remember the contributions of the late Father Emmett Johns, better known as “Pops”, to Montreal’s homeless community. 

The event was hosted by Dans La Rue, the organization he founded nearly thirty years ago with a $10,000 loan and a used van.  Since then, the organization has grown to one of the city’s best-known homeless support organizations.

Young adults who were once homeless and had been touched by "Pops" in their own time of need spoke at the emotional event, some breaking down in tears.  

Also present were politicians from all levels of government.  federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau spoke briefly, as did Premier Philippe Couillard. Party leaders from the Parti Quebecois, Coalition Avenir Québec and Québec solidaire were also present. 

So was Mayor Valérie Plante, who had worked personally with Father Johns before entering politics, when she worked in community organizing.

“Pops was somebody that everybody knew. He was special because he has this amazing smile, comforting smile, but also because he had this sparkle, in his face, and everybody would go [talk to] him,” Plante said of Johns when speaking with reporters after the vigil.

Plante said her administration is currently considering renaming a park or street somewhere in the city in Johns’s honour, saying that a decision will be taken “in the next weeks and months.”