West Island Black Community Association Announces Rebuilding of Community Center

West Island Black Community Association  Announces Rebuilding of Community Center

By Ayana and Akil Goin

Joan Lee, President of the West Island Black Community Association (WIBCA), made a historic announcement on the future of their Roxborough community center during a press conference on Monday, February 12. In fitting honor of Black History Month, WIBCA announced intentions to demolish, rebuild, and renovate its current facility in order to better meet community needs, as it continues to provide its 19 free programs for youth, adults, and seniors.
The decision to rebuild comes as part of the association’s commitment to ensuring the sustainability of their programs for future generations. Lee emphasized the importance of having a dedicated space, stating, “It’s super important to have this kind of building in the black community.”
The new facility will replace the existing structure, with plans to demolish the old building and construct a modern one in its place. As WIBCA already owns the property, the only true expense is in the building’s construction. This will be funded through a capital campaign launched by WIBCA, aiming to unite its various centers’ programs which are currently scattered across the island’s boroughs. While grateful for the current hosts to WIBCA’s projects, from DDO’s Civic Center to the Gerry-Robertson Center in Pierrefonds, as well as new services currently based in Pointe-Claire, “Our goal is to bring everything back home,” affirmed Lee.
“We will officially launch our capital campaign on April 6th at a gala,” she announced, teasing the forthcoming event to be held at Ville St Laurent’s Challenger Golf Club. The campaign aims to raise $4 million to support the construction of the new center.
One of the highlights of the new building is the inclusion of a state-of-the-art robotic STEM lab, a testament to WIBCA’s commitment to providing innovative educational opportunities. In addition to the STEM lab, the new center will house a library dedicated to the Black Girls Gather Book Club, reflecting WIBCA’s dedication to promoting young women’s literacy and empowerment.
“Figuratively and literally, we have a strong foundation right here, so we’re going to rebuild right here,” stated Lee, emphasizing her commitment to its roots in Roxborough. The new center is expected to become a vibrant hub for community activities and events. It will be a focal point for the West Island Black Community, especially when the REM transit line soon networks the entire area with the Montreal city center.
The rebuilding project represents a continuation of the legacy established by the association’s founders and luminaries like the late Norma Husbands, Margaret Jolly, Reynold Clarke, Douglas Lloyd (a contributor to WIBCA’s constitution), and Ms. Peaches White, who led the fundraiser for WIBCA’s initial ownership of the building. “Black History Month is the perfect time to remember the pioneers that started with us 42 years ago,” remarked Lee, paying tribute to the individuals who laid the groundwork for WIBCA’s success.
Despite being based in Roxborough, WIBCA emphasizes its commitment to serving the entire Montreal community. “Although we’re on the West Island, we will serve anyone on the island of Montreal,” she assured. All programs offered by WIBCA are free and open to all.
In anticipation of the new center, WIBCA will host a Personal and Professional Development Workshop on March 23rd, at the Gerry-Robertson Community Centre on Gouin. The free event, graciously funded by Groupe 3737 and Bayless Medical, aims to prepare youth for the future by offering assistance with CVs and entrepreneurial pitches.
As plans for the rebuilding project unfold, WIBCA remains dedicated to honoring its past while embracing its approaching opportunities.

For more information, please visit the WIBCA website, at http://www.wibca.org.