H4C 1M8

(514) 935-4951

Background: Many assume that mainstream health care institutions are fully equipped to deal with the needs of all seniors, regardless of ethnicity. Such an assumption, though well meaning, fails to take into account all of the factors which come into play, when one is discussing the health care needs of Black seniors. Mainstream health care institutions have in fact faced difficulties in meeting particular emotional and cultural needs of Black seniors in their care. As well, mainstream institutions have demonstrated an inadequate understanding of historical legacies which frame many of the perspectives held by Black seniors regarding health and social services delivery systems.

Consideration of the historical realities which frame present-day behavioural patterns of black seniors in Montréal, weakens the claim that all Black elders can be adequately cared for by mainstream institutions. Historical experiences such as slavery, underemployment, racial discrimination, sentiments of second class citizenship etc., have resulted in many Black seniors failing to trust existing institutions.

Elements of culture also contribute significantly to the mistrust of mainstream health care institutions by Black elders. An oral rather than literary tradition, polyrhytmic musical influences, the central role of religion as well as different values, priorities and attributes have all been facets of Black cultural identity for centuries. These elements of culture are especially important to Black seniors, who when faced with health care institutions which do not reflect their culture and value systems, fear the possibility of cultural erosion at a time when the need for assistance is the greatest.

With this dilemma in mind, the Council for Black Aging Community of Montreal, Inc. was founded to work towards meeting the needs of Black seniors; the Council for Black Aging also serves to validate the contributions of Black seniors to the Montréal community. This second goal serves the dual purpose of giving credit where it is due as well as demonstrating to all concerned that Black seniors have played a more than significant role in the development of the Montréal community.

The Council for Black Aging works as an advocate for the needs of Black seniors, undertaking activities designed to advance the interests of Black elders, keeping Black seniors better informed of issues relating to the availability of health and social services, and developing a unique day centre and a nursing home for Black elders; these constitute elements of the Council for Black Aging's mandate.

In its advocacy role, the Council for Black Aging works to ensure that all levels of government are made aware of the particular and changing needs of Black seniors in Montréal. To remain current, the Council for Black Aging encourages its seniors to actively participate in the articulation of their needs. This is accomplished by providing seniors with a regular forum, support as well as a framework for effective intervention, informed decision-making and long term planning.

Services & Programs:

The Council for Black Aging Currently offers the following services:

At Home Services: The Council for Black Aging takes pride in its ability to provide services to the elderly in their homes. These services are offered to seniors who are in need of more medically oriented care on a temporary After a detailed medical assessment is made, dedicated health care professionals are made available to seniors on a regular basis in order to respond to predetermined needs. The main purpose of this program of services is to help Black seniors remain independent, enjoy a high quality of life and maintain their dignity for as long as possible. These services are available across the island of Montréal.

Volunteering: Volunteers are provided to help seniors who are in simple need of company or other non-professional services such as an escort to and from appointments, in order to enrich their lives. Volunteers visit seniors in their homes, in hospitals or in nursing homes on a regular basis. Many long-term relationships have been developed through participation in this program, so anyone with as little as one hour per week to spare, is invited to volunteer their services to help a senior.

Support Group: The support group meets every Tuesday afternoon from 1:00pm until 2:30pm at the Council for Black Aging's 3021 Delisle offices. The support group serves primarily as a forum through which seniors can discuss issues of importance with their peers and air their opinions.

Seniors' Activity Group: The Seniors' activity group meets every second Wednesday of the month from 10:30am until 2:00pm at the Council for Black Aging's 3021 Delisle offices. The group serves primarily as a social interaction group in which seniors are given the opportunity to cook and exchange recipes, do crafts and learn new skills, learn French and communicate in both official languages, play games and to interact with each other, thereby forming new relationships with others. Eventually the Seniors' activity group will be split into two groups meeting on alternate Wednesdays, with the second Wednesday being devoted to drama workshops

The Discovery Program: The discovery program was created to give seniors an opportunity to explore their province. The program organises day-trips across the province in order to allow seniors to see the beautiful Québec country-side, meet new friends and share new adventures. More importantly, the Discovery Program allows seniors, some of whom may be living in isolation, to interrupt their daily routines and get out. Recent trips have included a visit to the Manoir Papineau historical site and a sugaring-off expedition in April '96.

Annual Conferences: Each year the Council for Black Aging Community of Montréal holds an annual conference. These conferences are in-effect, large-scale information sessions where information of extreme importance to all seniors is disseminated. Seniors are not-only invited to attend but to actively participate as audience participation is a key goal of every conference. The date and issues to be covered in the next conference will be announced shortly.

Should you like more information on any aspect of the Council for Black Aging, or if you would like to become a member for only $25.00 a year, you can reach us in one of three manners:

By mail at:

The Council for Black Aging
3007 Delisle
Montréal, Québec
H4C 1M8

By phone at:

(514) 935-4951, please call for Fax.

Or by electronic mail at:

We exist to serve the community.

Submission prepared by the Office of the Director General, May 14th, 1996.