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November 22, 2017

Seniors develop new skills and build community at housing co-op

Just one year since Havre du Petit Village welcomed its first residents, the seniors housing facility has become a showcase for community living.

The 100-unit Coopérative de solidarité in Repentigny, Quebec, requires residents to contribute 70 hours per year to the community. As part of their application, would-be residents are asked to demonstrate how they will do this. The service can take various forms, from meal preparation to maintaining the library.

This shared responsibility for, and active involvement in, daily life has created a vibrant community where residents welcome newcomers warmly and proudly display their home.

Anne Marie has lived in Havre du Petit Village since the doors opened in November 2016. Originally from France, she moved to Canada to live closer to her daughter. Her community contribution is greatly appreciated by her friends and neighbours. Anne Marie helps residents put pen to paper, coaching them on sharing their personal histories.

“For many, this is a very emotional process,” said Anne Marie at a recent celebration for the project. “But once the final product is achieved, they are proud and filled with a spirit of accomplishment. It is not uncommon for the residents to offer these compositions to their children, as part of a family history. I assist with the storytelling and the organizing of ideas, but the writers teach me about Quebec culture and local traditions. It is a win-win.”

Gilles is another resident who is actively involved in building community at Havre du Petit Village. A former member of the Quebec National Assembly and past Mayor of Le Gardeur, Gilles now dedicates his time and expertise to the facility’s administrative committee.

“It is wonderful to see how residents grow into this community,” says Gilles. “Many people move in thinking that this is the last stop on their life’s journey. They are pleasantly surprised to find a purpose and a whole new way of life. They tell me that they never thought that they still had things to learn. Hearing that makes all of our hard work worthwhile.”

This project received funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Société d’habitation du Québec through the Canada–Québec Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement 2014-2019.