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March 29, 2001 Brothers in a box for kids on the street




Paolo Thérien (left) and Roberto Calderon (right)

Teke members Paolo Thérien and Roberto Calderon (right).

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by Joseph Berger

Though the days are getting warmer, March nights in Montreal are pretty chilly. For a dozen Concordia students, March 21 was especially cold.

As a mound of wet snow was dumped on the city, Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity brothers spent the night sleeping on the concrete next to Concordia’s Henry F. Hall Building. The annual ritual, which goes back 11 years, is known as Teke in a Box.

They spent 36 hours, in shifts, on the corner of Mackay and de Maisonneuve, raising more than $5,700 from passersby for Dans La Rue, Father Emmett Johns’ well-known charity.

“It’s an organization that helps homeless youth in Montreal by giving them food at night in a Winnebago,” Teke member Paolo Thérien explained. “There’s a centre for them by day where they can get health care, some education, see a psychiatrist or some people to talk to. They also have a bunker where some can go sleep at night.”

Dans La Rue’s bunker holds about 20 kids. That’s somewhat larger than the shanty Thérien and his brothers erected early Wednesday morning. The contraption, made out of wooden crates, cardboard and a heap of blue tarp, held up during the freak March storm.

“It was fairly well-insulated with the cardboard and the tarp,” said Dylan Flanagan, who camped out for the third year in a row. “The snow on the roof actually helped out a bit, kept it insulated.”

At 25, Thérien is completing his fourth and final year of Concordia at the end of the term, he’ll take home a diploma recognizing his degree in International Political Science. Thérien knows that he is fortunate enough to have a wall on which he can hang his diploma. In the past, he’s spent time at Dans La Rue’s shelter for street kids.

“I’ve been to the centre, and I’ve seen where the money goes,” he said. For that reason, Thérien keeps coming back, this year for the fourth time, to help raise much-needed cash for Dans La Rue.

Thérien joined the 102-year-old fraternity when he came to Concordia four years ago. A native of Le Guardeur, a small town near Repentigny, Thérien didn’t know too many people in Montreal, and almost none at Concordia.

Tau Kappa Epsilon is known for providing a welcoming atmosphere to Concordia students, and for distancing itself from the wild parties and elitism associated with most fraternities, especially those in the United States.

Thérien found a real brotherhood. “We have parties, mixers with sorority girls, and all that,” he said, “but there’s a great level of maturity here.”

That maturity is best shown by a group of warmly dressed 20-something guys, sleeping on the hard pavement of downtown Montreal. Thérien knows no better way to spend a late-winter night.

“There’s a real sense of pride here, and it’s a lot of fun, too.”