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'They are people': Memorial pays tribute to those who lost their lives on the streets of Moncton

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The names and faces of dozens of people who lived and lost their lives on the streets of Moncton, N.B., are currently memorialized in a downtown mural.

Sabrina Robichaud has been struggling with homelessness and substance use disorder for a decade.

Sabrina Robichaud created a memorial to provide a space where people can sit and talk and share memories of people who lost their lives on the streets of Moncton, N.B.

Originally from Nova Scotia, Robichaud wanted to build a tribute for Moncton-area friends she’s lost over the years.

According to Robichaud, many of the 128 people on the wall didn’t have obituaries or funerals.

“That's not right,” said Robichaud. “They are human. They are people. We might have went down the wrong roads that people didn't want us to go down, but we all have our struggles. We all have our traumas and we all have different paths.”

It started out modestly about a week ago, but within a few days the memorial has grown with more and more tributes.

“Somebody came up and looked at a photo and said, ‘He's gone?’ He didn't know his best friend was gone,” said Robichaud.

“I had a mother not even know her child was gone because he was on the streets.”

Charlie Burrell is the founder of The Humanity Project, an organization that helps feed, clothe, rehabilitate and give homeless people another chance in life.

The mural is right next door to his downtown location.

“It’s a stark reminder, even for me. I know 95 per cent of those names on the list and to see all those names compiled on a list, it's sad. Especially when I see the ones that wanted help. They don't deserve to be on that list. They wanted a better life,” said Burrell.

According to the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, 21 members of the city's homeless population have died so far in 2024. Thirteen of those have been by overdose.

Homeless advocate John Renton also knew many of the faces on the wall. He hopes the mural will bring more attention to the city's homelessness and drug crisis.

“I mostly see a grin and I remember funny little details of how I knew that person and some silliness. That's what I try to focus on, but there's a lot of sorrow there as well,” said Renton.

Lee Banfield writes on a memorial for people who lost their lives on the streets of Moncton, N.B.

Robichaud’s friend Lee Banfield had a hard time describing what the mural meant to her.

“There's no words for it really. Our friends, our loved ones that we've all lost. It's hard,” said Banfield. “It doesn’t get better.”

Robichaud has been on the streets for about six months now, but is seeking affordable housing.

The 29-year-old started the mural to create a space where people can sit and talk and share memories.

She doesn't want to see anymore of her friends end up on the fence.

“I'm just worried about who's going to be the next on the list and it scares me every day,” said Robichaud.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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