On behalf of the Cote des Neiges Black Community Association (CDNBCA/ BCA), I’d like to thank the community who attended and supported our 50th anniversary celebration on November 23rd, 2023.
As mentioned, I’ve spent more than ¾ of my life with the BCA in my life and my heart. Starting in the Teen Leadership program led by Kathy Roach helped me create the lasting bonds and friendships that I have today. Many of whom were in the room with us on Thursday night. At that time, I had no knowledge of the BCA’s beginnings with Leroy Butcher and Vera Jackson’s mission to unite the community to combat issues such as housing, over-policing, education & employment support, and uplifting & respecting our cultural identity, issues that still exist today.
Their vision led the way for Carl Whittaker, Clarence Bayne, Leith Hamilton, Alfie Roberts, Claire Newton, Micheal Gittens, Lynette Edwards, Ronald Rock, Eric Llewellyn and many others. The BCA was not siloed in its endeavors, then or now. We acknowledge other key organizations playing their respective roles in addressing the needs of the Black community in Montreal, Quebec; such as BCCQ, QBBE, BCRC, Maison d’Haiti, BCHM, WIBCA, Lasalle BCA, NDGBCA, South Shore BCA, OFC, ACDPN, Acsion Network, Audace Feminin. As well as our cultural West Indian associations, Playmas, WestCan, as well as Barbados House Montreal, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Vincent, Grenadines, St-Kitts, Antigua, Barbuda, StarCan Associations.
Over these past 50 years, the community and the world has changed. Organizations have come and gone, but some, like us, still remain, celebrating 50-plus years in this community. With that came the transition & migration of the Black community from CDN/ Uptown, to LaSalle and West Island meanwhile BCA has always remained a staple. A strategic plan we call our theory of change helps us realign our actions/ activities with our goals. These are revisited and challenged regularly to make sure we’re on the same page at the organization but also with our community. In my 10th year on the Board of Directors, I witnessed the transition from Mr. G (Gittens) to Tiffany Callendar, as I called upon to help quell the trepidation of the community at the change of leadership from outgoing Executive Director to the new. At the Board of Director level, we implemented changes to governance & accountability for staff, members and the Board of Directors itself. With Mr. G bringing awareness of the need for support to community organizations via governmental funding, Tiffany advanced the sophistication of this, bringing to the forefront the challenges of the Black English-speaking community and demanding the change and the support that goes with it.
Tiffany’s departure led to an organization genesis that transitioned into the hierarchical structure that we have today. A more flat reporting style, with management roles clearly defined, as we await a new Executive Director. This realignment is in line with our focus on our people, the staff and the people who we serve. Providing services in our three program streams: CORE, SFI and UIBE, has allowed us to focus on encouraging the community to come back to the BCA, to show them, who we are, what we do, where we’re focused, why we’re doing it, and how you can be a part of it.
We are still on the road. Our current organizational genesis is a dynamic and continuous process that will take all of us leaning on, and learning from each other. My mandate as the Chair of the Board of Directors, is a volunteer position that I choose to take on to bridge the old and new. I agreed, but I’m still here because I believe that if we don’t like something, we shouldn’t complain, but rather roll up our sleeves and help. Im also here because BCA has been in my life & blood for over 35 years; my kids have grown up here and participated in programming, as well as worked and volunteered here as well. Our people here are like family …Lynette, Clarence, Leith, Eric, Kathy, Fern, Jasmine ,Kim, Scanty, Roy, Bradley, Kingsley, Kingsley, Browns, Zeke, Carl ,Phil, Jeanette ,Nicole, Aissata, Ariane, Jennifer, Kris Bennett, Tania, Jason, Roen, Joyanne, Janelle, Jewell, Abassi, Robert, Wendel, Margaret, Leon, and many others…we acknowledge, cherish and salute you as well as our committed staff and Board for making CDNBCA what is still is today, 50 years and going strong!