Free, non-credit courses aim to break down barriers and reduce social isolation.

Maurice Vernier, 52, has just finished six months in an addictions recovery program at the Ottawa Mission, a shelter for homeless men. Now living in a group home, he still has to undergo weekly breathalyser, blood and urine testing, but if he stays clean for one year he can move into his own apartment. And he’s almost there.

“I’ve been sober nine months now,” he says, ducking his head but smiling shyly. “I quit smoking four months ago, too. I really want to change everything.”

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