The West Island Black Community Association (WIBCA) kicked off Black History Month celebrations with a major announcement.
After three decades, the Pierrefonds-based association finally paid off the mortgage on it community centre building.
Founding members, alongside notable faces from Montreal’s black community, local and federal politicians, were on hand to celebrate.
WIBCA Chair Kemba Mithcell called the milestone one of the biggest achievements in the association’s 37-year history.
The crowded room erupted in applause as members past and present ripped the mortgage papers.
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It was very emotional night, said co-founder Margert Jolly.
Jolly, along with the late Norma Husbands, began the association in 1986.
“I’m sure Norma is watching from above,” Jolly said. “It’s beyond any words we can express that the building finally belongs to WIBCA.”
The West Island non-profit managed to pay off the the remaining $16,000 with local donations from members and foundations.
“It’s a great achievement,” Jolly said. “It’s one of [the] few buildings that the black community owns.”
The association, run solely by volunteers, services not only Montreal’s black community but all — “regardless of ethnic origin, colour, gender, religion or race and cultures,” Mitchell says.
WIBCA has grand plans with the leftover money from donations.
They hope to expand and renovate the five-and-a-half unit apartment building and “use it to its full potential,” Mitchell said.
Looking to the future, Jolly says she sees multiple possibilities for the centre, with hopes to welcome people on a daily basis.