Barbados House Mtl. Inc: four decades and still strong
It was back in 1970 when a group of Bajans living in and around Montreal banded together to form an organization to champion the cause of Barbados nationals who adopted Quebec as their new home.
In the almost four and a half decades since Barbados House (MTL) Inc. was established, the organization has emerged as a force for good in the city and impacted on the financial, educational, social and cultural well-being of a generation or two of its members and the community.
Over the years, the organization has maintained strong ties with the home country and hosted visits of former prime minister, Tom Adams and one or two government ministers.
Today, driven by a recently renewed board of directors, Barbados House remains dynamic and vital, but the leadership is readying itself to deal with the issue of renewal.
“We have to face the fact that the majority of our members are up there in age… 55 Plus, so the most important thing for us at this time is to try to attract the younger population to the organization,” says Gustave Hollingsworth, who secured the position of chairman by acclamation this past January.
Hollingsworth himself, a recent retiree as a health care manager with the New Brunswick government, is spearheading the effort to bring a new generation of Bajans into Barbados House by speaking to them where they live.
“Last spring we launched our Facebook page and are hoping to do some outreach with it,” he says. “We are also hoping to meet and liaise with university students at Concordia and McGill, and we plan to keep an ongoing presence in this newspaper and other public forums.”
However, Hollingsworth added that with close to 100 members on the books, some active some dormant, the vitality that has powered Barbados House over the years is still in place.
The organization is one of the foundational members of the National Council of Barbadian Associations of Canada Inc., an umbrella organization catering to about 16 affiliated members in Canada. Several Montrealers have served in leadership capacities of the body.
And Barbados House is a regular host of the national body’s Annual General Meeting and conferences.
Throughout its history, Barbados House maintains a solid presence in a variety of community activities, political and social. And its own slate of activities that include Bim Nite, Bajan Food Fest and their annual banquet and ball continue to be among the list of signature events in our community.
But the new chairman says one of their crowning achievements this year has been their outreach efforts to healthcare and long-term care institutions in Barbados.
In August, Hollingsworth and a team of Barbados House members were on the island for a multi-purpose visit during which they donated 24 beds to the Geriatric Hospital in Bridgetown, and two Ear Nose and Throat machines and $1000 to two other hospitals.
Hollingsworth, who served as Administrator of the Jordan Lifecare Centre in New Brunswick for 21 years, the first male to do so, started the initiative to source beds for institutions in Barbados in 2009.
In 2012, Barbados House adopted the Bed For Barbados project and so far 144 beds and two Ear, Nose and Throat machines have been sent to the island.
Hollingsworth is the latest in a long list of Montrealers, impressive in their accomplishments and contributions, to have led this organization.
Others include: Winston Holder, Kenny Knight, Lindorf Mayers, George Griffith, Lloyd Kellman, Margot Blackman, Ricardo Gill, Horace Goddard, Hedy Taylor, Verlese Forde, Kenrick Scantlebury, Noel Maughn, Colin Cumberbatch, Charles Sandiford, Angela Hinds, Evaris Alleyne, Albert Thorne, Earl Smith and Nigel Clarke.
Hollingsworth says among his urgent tasks is finding that crop of young Barbadian Montrealers ready to carry the baton for BIM.
Barbados House year-end Activities and Events
Bajan Food- Fest 2014- November 1st, at the Manoir
Banquet & Ball- November 22nd, at Buffet Ile Gabbiano – 1550 Lapierre, LaSalle
Bajan Fiesta –A Fundraiser November 29th, for Geriatric Project at the Montreal First Church of the Nazarene, Dollard des Ormeaux
Annual Church Service -November 30th, at Trinity Church.
Pictures: Presentation to St. Phillip District Hospital
Left to right: Dr. Wendy Sealy, Chief Nursing Officer, Barbados
Lolene Rawlins, Principal Nursing Officer, St. Phillip District Hospital, Barbados
Gus Hollingsworth, President, Barbados House
Lynette Crichlow, Secretary, Barbados House
Rev. Dianna Kelman-Badshaw, Member, Barbados Member Margaret Cadogan, Member, Barbados House
Jean Franklin, Member Barbados House
Picture #2 Presentation to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Barbados
Lynette Crichlow, Senior’s Representative, NCBAC
Dr. Dexter James PhD. MBA, CMA, CA
Chief Executive Officer, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Barbados
Gus Hollingsworth, President Barbados House
Malcolm Flatts, Past President NCBAC
Nigel Clarke, Vice President, NCBAC
(NCBAC-National Council of Barbadian associations in Canada)