When night falls in Montreal, a group of volunteers called the Wolf Pack Street Patrol hits the streets of Montreal’s downtown core armed with supplies—from blankets to clothing to a compassionate ear—for the city’s homeless population.

The initiative was started earlier this year by Alan Harrington, a First Nation man and outreach worker, who says that his own experiences with drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness in Thunder Bay, Ont., make him uniquely suited to understanding the challenges that homeless people face at night.

“It’s been a really good journey of rediscovering myself as a First Nation man and learning my culture and helping others, too,” he said in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.

The Wolf Pack, which patrols the streets three nights a week, is “looking to fill a gap that is needed” in efforts to tackle homelessness in Montreal, Harrington said. It often works in tandem with other organizations looking out for those on the margins, including Montreal’s police force. One challenge is that some shelters do not admit homeless people if they suffer from substance abuse.

Harrington’s group is particularly focused on aiding Montreal’s Indigenous population, which is disproportionately represented in the city’s homeless statistics.

In 2015, the city of Montreal released the results of its census of the homeless population—the first such assessment since the 1990s—which revealed that 3,016 people slept outside or stayed in a shelter. The study also found that while Indigenous people make up less than 1 per cent of Montreal’s population, they represent 10 per cent of its homeless population.

A new census of Montreal’s homeless will be conducted this spring.

The Wolf Pack Street Patrol is one of a number of other volunteer groups in Canada that go on nightly patrols to help the homeless.