For the last four decades the West Island Black Community Association (WIBCA) has been an essential catalyst for fostering community development by working tirelessly to build community engagement by providing programs for the benefit of all, regardless of ethnic origin, color, gender, religion, or race, and to be integrated as a vibrant part of society.
Standing on the shoulders of founders Norma Husbands and Margaret Jolly the organisation has been providing programs for all members of society from the young, young adults, middle aged and seniors.
And over the past 40 years they’ve been many members of the community who have joined the organisation continue to praise the association for the inclusivity, community empowerment, and engagement among others.
Joan Lee is the current president of the association and is keen on preserving the posterity of WIBCA for another 80 years and more, she says.
She joined the association because of the praises her daughter heaped on it after participating in some of its activities. So out of curiosity Lee decided to see what it was all about.
What she found was a place where everyone can belong, find meaning and add value to their own lives. The preparations for the 40th anniversary are underway and she is most proud of the fact that the remaining founding member Margaret Jolly will be there to see what her little club has become and promises to become.
“It is very exciting that we are still going strong after 40 years because it’s not easy and it just shows that WIBCA is here to stay. I am looking forward to the rebulbing of our community centre we want to make sure the place is around for another 80 years,” she tells the CONTACT.
Former member of parliament for Pierrefonds-Dollard, Frank Baylis, currently serves as the WIBCA’s vice president. He joined the organisation 2014 just as he was getting into politics it was one of the community organisations his uncle Reynold Clarke introduced him to. Something about the association drew him in like a moth to light. He believes that WIBCA is crucial not only for the Black community but for the community as a whole.
“WIBCA is a critically important organisation that provides community support,” Baylis says to the CONTACT. “The fact that there’s a physical location that people can meet at and especially for the seniors. Older people need different types of support so that they are not isolated. During this time WIBCA has done a lot to combat isolation which (if not dealt with) brings in mental health issues.”
He reckons that the fact that WIBCA have a building makes them a stronger and gives them the potential to last longer. His hope for the next 40 years is for WIBCA to have an even better building and he is spearheading that vision through the building project that will see WIBCA tear down their old building and erect a new building with more space and amenities for all.
“What I have noticed is organisations that have that, whether it’s the Italian association or the three Black communities or communities that have a physical location, they last longer and they are stronger,” he explains.
Over the years, many young adults have found a place WIBCA to express themselves through the Black girls gather book club which was spearheaded by Mariame Toure and Fabiola Ngamaleu.
It caters to young girls aged 12-18 and gives age-appropriate literature to promote a reading culture among them.
Fabiola says that she felt WIBCA would be the best place to have the book club.
“I knew that it was a perfect opportunity to connect and work with WIBCA in that way because WIBCA has always been an organization that promotes working with youth and empowering youth and just thinking about this program was the opportunity for me to really invest in volunteering with WIBCA and so that’s really why I decided to join.”
In her experience at WIBCA, she mentions that she feels supported and seen. She is glad the Black Girls Gather Book Club has a home under WIBCA and that the mentoring and support they have received will keep her and others like her at WIBCA.
In keeping with inclusivity Joan Lee says that the program for the 40th anniversary will have events for everyone. It all goes down on June 26th starting from 12pm – 2 am. It will begin with activities for the children such as bouncing castles, face painting and so on.
And then they will be cake cutting at 9 pm where the Golden Heart Award will be given to three deserving WIBCA members who have given of themselves so selflessly. And afterwards there will be a block party with live music till 2 am.
WIBCA has managed to keep going through support from volunteers and fundraising initiatives that the community members rally behind. Their programs are free and target various demographics.
To donate or support the building project visit
www.wibca,org to keep them going for another 100 years.