CBAC: Advocacy beyond the pandemic

CBAC: Advocacy  beyond  the pandemic

Thirty five years on the frontlines for Black seniors in Montreal

Nompumelelo Moyo (LJI)

Like many other organisations, the Council of Black Aging Community (CBAC) faced setbacks during the pandemic. The restrictions and isolation brought on by COVID-19 limited interaction among members and made it difficult for the organisation to continue hosting its normal activities.
It was imperative for CBAC to maintain communication with the seniors during the pandemic especially with some seniors already battling mental health issues, some with hearing problems and others forgetting to take medication.
This situation compelled the CBAC and its members to adapt to new ways of interacting. “They had to be introduced to technology devices and applications that some were not familiar with and even though it was initially challenging, they eventually got the hang of it,” says Joan Kirton the newly elected president of the organisation.
Her task, she says is to move the organisation forward post- pandemic. And to do so her focus is to build and improve on the processes already put in place during COVID and bring stability to the seniors lives.
In fact according to Kirton, one area that doesn’t need much change is at their regular meetings where seniors receive advise and are educated on relevant issues in addition to exchanging ideas and having their questions answered.

“They are encouraged to participate more in articulating their needs.”

She says also that members seem to be enjoying the online sessions more than in-person and for that reason, the organisation has decided to go hybrid for its meetings.
Kirton, who has been a member of the CBAC, for the past three years, is excited about an on-going project that pairs members with students who help familiarize them with technological devices.
The project helps seniors find companionship and provide students with opportunities to gain insight and wisdom from being around seniors.

“The liaison further gives both generations a chance to get a glimpse into each others world, understand and appreciate each other more. “

In addition, she says the CBAC provides a full slate of activities such as dancing classes, art, crafts and handwork session as well as regular excursions and trips, all geared towards helping seniors stay busy, active and entertained.
Kirton is among a new slate of officers elected at the organization’s AGM this past June. Others are Yvette Clarke as vice – president, Louise Paul as treasurer, Ralph McFarlane
secretary – Antoinette Henry is the assistant secretary – Jewel Jones, as public relations officer
Saundra Samuels- Anierobi, Clifford Dolphy and Cynthia Davidson are serving as Board Members.
The CBAC was founded in 1987 as a non-profit organisation to advocate on behalf of Black seniors in and around the Montreal area at a time when factors such as cultural and historical disconnections prevented mainstream institutions to effectively serve and address the needs of the demographic.
Among its advocacy roles, the CBAC acts as an intermediary with governments especially when it comes to the changing needs of Black seniors.
The organization currently has the highest number of English-speaking Black seniors in Montreal among its membership
And according to Kirton that list continues to grow as the CBAC recovers from the set-backs of the pandemic. Many new members are drawn from passers-by in Super Carnival mall in LaSalle where their offices are located as well as from referrals by existing members.
With that growth in membership comes the new challenge of accommodating everyone.
She says the organization is facing an urgent need for a bigger space for their office and activities and will welcome assistance from Montrealers in this regard.
One of the CBAC’s signature event is its annual day-long conference that explores issues and ideas relevant to seniors. It has been on hold over the past several years due to the pandemic.

Find the CBAC at 7401 Newman, Suite 6, LaSalle, Quebec H8N 1X3. Tel: (514) 935-4951
Fax: (514) 935-8466. Email: