For three decades this community association has been an integral part of their city…

Egbert Gaye

About one-fifth of the 50,000 or so people that call Chateauguay home are identified as Black.
They come from the Caribbean, Africa and other regions around the world and many have distinguished themselves by their achievements and their contributions to their community, their city and the province.
For well over 30 years The Chateauguay Horizon Community Association has been striving to be a unifying force for the 9,000 or so Black people living in the region, many of who were there from quite early in the establishment of that city.
Today, Uton McLean serves as the president of the association, a position he has held going on two years, and one that keeps him constantly ‘on the go’ as he runs his business and quarterbacks the endless lineup of events and activities that make Horizon such a vital part of the Chateauguay community.
“Seventeen years ago when I joined the association, I was happy to be part of something that reflected who we are as a community… something that helped to keep us together,” he says. “Today, Horizon is just as important to our community here in Chateauguay, especially to our children and our youth.”

It was in the early 1990s that a group of community-minded individuals living in the area banded together to form the association to promote social, cultural and educational issues as they relate to Black and Caribbean people.
One of the driving forces then was Professor Daniel Kabasele who became Horizon’s first president. He was ably assisted by Clinton Ritchie, Tommy Jones and many other hardworking people in the community.
McLean says in the decades that the organization has been of service Horizon has reached beyond the Black community and through its outreach initiatives has become well integrated with other groups and projects in Chateauguay.
As a matter of fact, initiatives such as our Teacher Appreciation Breakfast at Howard S. Billing High School have become quite a big deal for our members and for the teachers and staff at that institution, and it’s something we look forward to sharing every Black History Month.
“Every October we also participate in a food distribution program with our local food, that gets us out into the community in a big way,” says McLean, who is part owner of a Chateauguay-based business, Cinq Etoile Automotive Service Centre.
He added that while enthusiasm among members continues to flourish, the organization remains stunted by the many challenges they’re facing in establishing a solid youth wing for the association.
McLean says it’s a question of motivation but thinks it will still happen. He added that another challenge is reaching out to the seniors in the community, many of whom are becoming more hesitant to get involved. Again he says it is part of their objective to get as many of them as possible involved.
For McLean, keeping Horizons as an integral part of the community is a labor of love, and he is quick to point out that he’s not alone in that endeavor because as president he’s buoyed by a supportive group that constitute a working executive that includes: Chris Mamby, Hazel, Moulton Carter, Jacynth Mamby, Carmen Rawlins, Fitzroy Rawlins and Michelle Ritchie.
One of the highlights of the association’s calendar year remains their annual Christmas Banquet that provides them a moment of celebration, but more importantly a chance to extend a hand to the youth.
Every year, the association hands out at least two bursaries to deserving students in the community. Over 35 have been awarded so far.
This year, the officers and members of Horizons are preparing a big 25th annual banquet that’s expected to be a massive celebration of their contributions to their city, province and country, also of the work they have been doing over the years.
This year the event is on December 7 at Club Le Rendezvous, 319 Brault in Chateauguay from 6:30 PM.
One of the highlights will be what is expected to be a spectacular performance by Donnett Thompson-Hall, the irrepressible Gospel star out of Toronto.
Info. and tickets: 450-691-7776 or 450-699-0451.