Communitas’ grassroots origins trace back to 1999 when Peter Huish, a local prison chaplain, was struck by the absence of support for both soon-to-be-released prisoners and the communities to which they would be released. Those “inside” were apprehensive and unprepared, particularly the Anglophone minority for whom there were fewer programs and services. Within the community, consultation with community groups, victims and their families, and prisoners’ families revealed frustration at the lack of resources for ensuring successful reintegration and for rebuilding relationships damaged by crime.
From here, a group of everyday citizens stepped forward to address the need for prisoner reintegration, doing so under the banner of Montreal Southwest Community Ministries recognizing the important role faith groups played at this time and the Sud-Ouest of Montreal in which they worked. Among the first initiatives was a focus on sexual offending, working with high-risk, high-needs individuals. But, it soon became obvious that there was a real need to include those who had offended in other ways, to create more opportunity for the public to be regularly engaged, and to do more to bridge the gap between prisons and the community.
Since then, we have expanded Our Work to include a variety of initiatives and projects, both within the community and within local prisons. In 2015, we continued our work under the name of Communitas to better reflect the heart of what we do. We continue to grow and look for new ways to build safer, stronger communities and invite you to help us write our next chapter!
Communitas is a truly volunteer-driven, grassroots organization. The fact that the people involved are unpaid and participate only because they care about an integrated, crime-free Montreal is at the heart of our success. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, but each of them comes to Communitas as a concerned, caring fellow citizen. We couldn’t possibly list the nearly 100 volunteers who drove our impact this past year, nor the hundreds that came before them, but without them, Communitas would not be what it is. If you want to join us as a volunteer, Get Involved.