You are here:

Greater Montreal Chapter History

The idea of a chapter in Montreal was a gleam in my eye several months before the National Convention in Toronto in May, 2000. Sponsorship was found for seven of us to attend. Before the convention was over, I had been elected to the national Board of Directors. Everyone was enthused by the conference so it did not take long for us to get together with several other interested persons to decide to start an English-speaking chapter of NFB:AE for the greater Montreal area. By the beginning of September, Robert Fenton (then National President) had a copy of our constitution to present to the board for acceptance. On October 28, 2000, with Robert Fenton in attendance, we held our inaugural meeting with 14 of 23 paid members present. Our constitution was ratified and elections were held, voting in Chris Gaulin as our first President, Rajesh Malik as Vice President, Darlene Judd as Secretary and Lisa Berthiume Wilson as Treasurer.

Monthly meetings were held on a Tuesday evening at the downtown YMCA. Guest speakers were invited. Resource information was shared, and members were encouraged to discuss issues or problems relating to equal access in daily living. As a national board member, I was able to bring them news about actions being taken by the national Board of Directors. It was decided that the Chapter would undertake one or two major advocacy activities, which turned out to be to advocate or improved service and funding for the adapted transportation system, which was giving several of our members a good deal of grief. Individual letters were written and forwarded to the provincial Minister of Transport. Two representatives were appointed to attend COPHAN, the provincial umbrella disability organization. Equal access for voting in elections became an issue. Much effort was taken to have timely access to necessary information and the ability to vote privately. Each member was encouraged to contact his own riding to file complaints with Elections Canada, and the Chapter filed complaints on behalf of the group.

In May, 2001, five of us were able to attend the National Convention in Vancouver, which usually generates enthusiasm for the organization and renewed energy locally.

However, by November, the cold weather, early darkness and trip downtown began to take its toll on attendance. A few members had decided that advocacy was not for them, so a survey was undertaken. From those results, we changed the meeting venue to the Montreal Association for the Blind, which we hoped was more familiar and easier to reach. Instead, we lost some more active members, whose schedules did not allow for the increased travel time they required for the new venue. Our major advocacy issues were audible pedestrian signals and protesting against Quebec implementing "right turns on red". In May, 2002, two of us attended the AGM in Toronto, where it was announced that the biennial convention would be held in Montreal.

Much of the last half of 2002 and the first half of 2003 was spent by a handful of members devoted to all of the planning involved in sponsoring a National Convention. From all reports, it proved to be a grand success. 2004 now has seen Rajesh Malik attending the AGM in Saskatoon and bringing home much needed enthusiasm. New ideas, scheduling and plans should see our Greater Montreal Chapter regenerate.

ZZ - Disregard this link; it is used to trick spammers.