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Communitas’ Open Door is back to in-person meetings

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After a two-year absence, Open Door was back to in-person meetings at Fulford Hall. Fifteen members gathered on March 22nd while another fifteen dropped by virtually on Zoom to hear McGill University Pathy Fellow Joel Grant discuss his work of collaborating with the Indigenous Health Professions Program at McGill to create indigenous storytelling science activities. Grant, a Metis from Alberta, had just completed his Masters of Chemical Engineering at McGill. He has a passion for creating AI art that draws on his heritage as an influence.
 
Open Door meets every Tuesday evening.

Take part in an independent fundraiser for Communitas on February 24, 2022

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It’s the virtual watch party on the Food Chain that will be shown on February 24 at 7 PM EST, $5.00 a person, and proceeds go to Communitas. Thanks to Kelly from Completely Inclusive.

Food Chains – Fundraiser Virtual Watch Party

Hosted by Completely Inclusive, this documentary viewing fundraiser aims to educate and entertain. Held monthly and in support of local nonprofits, we explore topics of race, class, sex, and more intersectional topics. Click here to sign up: https://kinema.com/events/food-chains-fundraiser-virtual-watch-party-ihcstm

About the film

This call to arms documentary details the questionable ethics of the food supply industry, pointing out the power of huge supermarket chains to dictate low wages and inhumane labour conditions for farmworkers in the United States.  See the trailer: https://youtu.be/bna0zC4szVs

 

Open Door – From the Inside Out – Reader Reviews

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I found the book was fantastically done with the way it was put together and the different articles running through
it.  I experienced such joyOpen Door Book cover to read how some of the guys and volunteers I knew were doing and how it was written with such authenticity.  I had a hard time putting the book down;  I also enjoyed and was touched by the stories of the people I did not know…..
Thanks again…
❤
Gaby
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What a wonderful book you have produced. I opened it and was immediately enthralled. I read the first 41 pages before reluctantly going back to office work. Thank you so much. I will certainly be sending a donation to support your wonderful work. Congratulations on a book which is both a joy to look at and to read.

Ann
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What a nice surprise to receive this great book! Thank you so much and congratulations for all the accomplishments in the last 20 years. You make a huge impact in bringing goodness and hope for humanity!

M. C.


I was given a copy for Christmas and the book is so fabulous. Congratulations. I will take two more copies please.  I made mention of it in my letter for the New Year, because quite frankly, it is one of the most beautiful examples of the power of people, to create restorative justice conversations in their own communities. All the best.

P.D


 

Remembering Douglas Barnes

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January 12, 2022

It is with great regret that we announce the passing earlier this week of Douglas Barnes, a longstanding and valued member of the Communitas community.

Douglas Barnes was involved with Communitas in one way or another for some twenty years.  He was a talented artist, and two of hisThe Eagle by Douglas Barnes paintings grace the walls of the Communitas office – Two Bears and The Eagle.

He was a hardworking man who worked in construction, installing drywall and doing carpentry and other related work.  No matter how ill he might have been – it was very difficult to get Dougie to stop and take a break.

Apart from his art, another passion in his life was his Mustang motorcar!  Doug was determined over the years that he would buy a Mustang – and sure enough he did, and it was his pride and joy.

Doug attended Open Door infrequently – often not able to make it due to his work schedule.  However, whenever he came, he would sit quietly near a corner and just enjoy the evening.  Many people would seek him out during the break to catch up and have a chat.  For someone so talented he was a very modest man. He also attended many Table Talk activities.

He will be missed – most keenly by those in Communitas with whom he shared a close friendship.

Information about a memorial service for Doug will be released soon.

RIP Doug.

One of Doug’s creations was The Eagle, which can be seen above.  A limited print edition of this artwork is available through Communitas for $50 plus shipping.  Monies raised will go to Doug’s estate.   If you are interested in obtaining a print, please send an email to communications@communitasmontreal.org.

Open Door 20th Anniversary Book Launch a Success

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Communitas is pleased to announce that we had an excellent book launch on Tuesday evening, December 21. It was perfect weather for an indoor-outdoor book launch and everybody was excited to see themselves in such a colourful publication.

Over the 2 hours of the event, people came and went, stopping to chat with others they had not seen it seemed like forever, and marvelling at how wonderful the book was.  Such an achievement to celebrate our twenty years of Open Door!

With everyone being masked, and no more than 10 allowed at any one time in the Rotunda, folks congregated outside in the square to catch up, some circulating back into the Rotunda to warm up when space allowed.

A great time was had by all, and already orders for seventy books have been processed.

Anyone who missed the official launch but wishing to pick up a book or two after the holidays can contact the office where staff will be available to assist.

A map is attached for our office in the Promenades de la Cathedrale at 625 St. Catherine Street West. The entrance (very important) is on the corner of Robert-Bourassa. Take the stairs (not the escalator) because halfway down is our office in the Undercroft (La Voûte amicale).

This is a pay-what-you-can fundraiser and we are suggesting a contribution of $20. We will be accepting cash, cheque, and e-donation via our website.

Thank you for contributing to the Open Door 20th anniversary book.

Directions to the Communitas office in the Undercroft 2021

Communitas Looks Back at 2021 Achievements!

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2021 is rapidly coming to an end and despite the scourge that is Covid, Communitas has much to celebrate!

The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the celebration of 20 years of Open Door on 11 September 2021.  In honour of this milestone, Communitas produced a book entitled Open Door: From the Inside Out – which contains more than 100 interviews with a variety of people who have attended Open Door over the 20 years, as well as other articles and photographs that illustrate this unique activity.

The Book Launch for the Open Door Book took place on Tuesday, 21st December on a wintery evening in the Rotunda and Square of the Open Door premises.  Some 30 persons braved the cold to come and make their donations and collect their books, and although we had to cancel the hot chocolate celebratory drink that was planned (because of Covid restrictions), folks still hugely enjoyed a socially distanced encounter in the outdoors. We will be distributing the books from our offices in the New Year, and everyone is invited to use the Canada Helps Donate button on our website if they wish to support this Communitas fundraising effort.  A minimum of $20 is the suggested amount.

Open Door continued unabated during 2021- albeit via zoom instead of in-person.  Approximately 25-28 participants unfailingly tuned in every Tuesday night, and many new members joined Open Door so that we now have a significant number of members who have never actually experienced an in-person Open Door.  Of course, sadly there was also some attrition as persons found it impossible or unsatisfactory to experience Open Door remotely.  We trust that we will be able to resume the full Open Door experience post-Covid, in 2022 and that these members will be able to return. In the interim, we are working on developing a hybrid system where we can have both in-person and online participation simultaneously at Open Door.

Four Volumes of the Communitas’ signature quarterly Newsletter – The Sou’Wester were produced during 2021 to great acclaim as we made changes to our formatting, with a new more modern layout, and the usual excellent articles and cartoons.  More and more people are discovering The Sou’Wester and we are getting their positive feedback – noting its excellent content!

This summer, for the second year in a row, our Annual Journee de Ressourcement at Marie’s had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions.  Instead, those who could gathered at the Old Port where we ate roast corn, watermelon and snacks and reacquainted or acquainted ourselves with what we all looked like physically.  It was a lovely Saturday afternoon with many conversations and much laughter.

Our twice-monthly visits to the prisons for Chapel Activities were cut short by the restrictions imposed by the Correctional Service due to the Covid pandemic.  Happily, we were able to return to the prisons in person for a few weeks – albeit with a restricted number of volunteers, where we were greeted with great joy by the inmates.  Unfortunately, this reprieve was short-lived as with the onset of Omicrom, the prisons have returned to lock-down mode.  We are hopeful that this will be short-lived and that we can soon be allowed back into the Chapel.

With the initial cancellation of our Chapel Activities in the prison, Communitas decided to move to Zoom and continue online with The Gospel Zone – where our usual Chapel volunteers could take part, and we could include men who are now out of prison and able to join us in this activity for the first time online.

This Christmas, Communitas was able to continue its activity – started last year, of writing Christmas cards and delivering them to inmates across the prisons in Quebec.  A total of 338 cards were handwritten by Communitas members (some during one of the hybrid Open Door sessions) and these were delivered to the Prison Chaplains for distribution to English-speaking inmates. This was part of a larger effort led by Corporation Jean-Paul Morin.

We welcomed our new CoSA Coordinator Brent to Communitas.  Brent quickly and seamlessly became a part of the team, making connections and forging relationships among our members and with CSC Chaplains.

Another new member joining the team was Natasha our Intern who immediately assisted us to get up to speed with all things technical in moving from an online-only Open Door to experimenting with a hybrid system.

new Board of Directors was elected in April, and despite (or maybe because of) only being able to meet online, had a very productive period, meeting 8 times via zoom – including 1 Planning Retreat – to conduct the business of Communitas. We are blessed to have a very engaged and hands-on Board of Directors.

Our move from our Notre Dame Street offices to the Undercroft of Christ Church Cathedral not only saved us funds through lowered rent but also made us more visible and accessible to the Cathedral community, which has supported our Open Door programme for the past 15 years through the provision free of charge of Fulford Hall every Tuesday night.

As we look forward to 2022, we wish for our members a healthy and happy New Year, and trust that Communitas will only grow stronger and be able to accomplish more, with the support we receive from every single one.

Michele Rattray-Huish, President
Mouvement Communitas Inc.

Communitas Annual Appeal

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To our dear friends and supporters!

Communitas has undergone several significant changes in 2021, including moving office to the Undercroft of Christ Church Cathedral, and hiring a new part-time Coordinator, Brent Walker, for our crucial Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) operations.

Our signature Open Door program has continued virtually on Zoom and we have been very pleased with the weekly attendance of 25-30 persons.  We have started testing a hybrid Open Door (Zoom plus in-person attendance at Fulford Hall) and are hopeful that we can soon have more in-person participation.

In other good news, our volunteers have finally been allowed to resume penitentiary visits to participate in chaplaincy activities.  The palpable joy of both inmates and volunteers at that first visit after an absence of 18+ months was beautiful to see.

Other prison visits are taking place now that the Correctional Service (CSC) is relaxing Covid lock-down regulations.  We are reconnecting with men who want the support of a Circle when they are released, and we are offering one-on-one pastoral accompaniment to the men during their incarceration.

It is hoped that our volunteer drivers will soon be escorting incarcerated men on Temporary Absences once again to our Tuesday evening Open Door meetings.

While we continue to offer our services to the community, the national CoSA Canada five-year federal funding package comes to an end next March, and with it, the bulk (80%) of our funding. Coincidently, because of changes in the Federal government’s priorities, our funding from Montreal Community Chaplaincy (ACM) also ended this year after 21 years of support, leaving us wholly dependent on donations received from our members, supporters and the general public.

As we start our annual fundraising drive, Communitas welcomes your donations for our activities and appeals for your support of our efforts to reduce Covid’s aggravation of the already endemic isolation the incarcerated suffer during their enforced distancing from family, friends, and the community.

Donors are invited to contribute to  Communitas through the  Canada  Helps button on our website www.communitasmontreal.org.  Cheques are also welcome and can be mailed to the new Communitas office address which appears on our letterhead.

We also encourage you to become a monthly contributor to our Organization.  This will assist with our long-term planning, especially given the upcoming changes in our funding base at the end of this Fiscal Year.

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all members, supporters and well-wishers for your financial and moral support, without which, our work could not succeed.

 

Michele Rattray-Huish, President
Mouvement Communitas Inc.
1444 Union Avenue, Montreal QC, H3A 2B8 Tel: +1 514 244 6147 www.communitasmontreal.org

Open Door marks 20 Years since its first gathering!

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September 11, 2021Open Door celebrated the 20th anniversary of its very first gathering yesterday, September 11, 2001. Two dozen Communitas members gathered informally while practicing social distancing in Montreal’s Old Port. It was great to see old faces in the flesh and meet new ones that had only been visible on Zoom. Individual drinks and bags of chips along with slices of watermelon were handed out and participants took home cobs of corn to cook as Communitas once more had to forgo its annual corn roast due to Covid restrictions. It was a most enjoyable gettogetheOpen Door 20th Anniversary GatheringOpen Door 20th Anniversary GatheringOpen Door 20th Anniversary GatheringOpen Door 20th Anniversary Gatheringr.