Located on the fifth floor of the Côte-des-Neiges Community Resource Center (CRC), Club Ami is a day center that offers education, entertainment, support, active listening and referral services. In an open-plan room with a magnificent view of Mount Royal, surrounded by art pieces created by the members, Club Ami offers a friendly place where it is easy to bond.
Club Ami, many stories
Taking place in 1983, the creation of Club Ami was a part of a community movement surrounding the de-institutionalization of psychiatric environments that had already been in progress over the previous 20 years. New practices were developed in the organization, bringing together work and therapy, spaces for living and of transition, supervised apartments and stores, thereby short-circuiting new social phenomena that had kept people in the mental health system in vicious cycles, in “revolving doors”, being consistently excluded.
At that time, Irène Ranti started building a small community partly for her son having been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Ranti wanted to create a welcoming environment for people living with mental health struggles, a space respecting the singularity of each and everyone of them and respecting their ways of expression.
Starting with a student employment grant offered by ARAFMI (presently AMI-Québec), the organization was able to begin its work. In 1986, thanks to the dedicated work of Ranti and that of volunteers and students, the organization was awarded a CRSS grant that reinforced the strength of the organization and increased the visibility of its name. The regional health agency and the Régie followed by further financing the day centre.
As long as you respect the others, at Club Ami we listen to the max and no one takes control. That’s why we have so many friends. – Michel
Years go by and the community grows. Therapeutic activities are diversifying, the team of caregivers is solidifying. Club Ami moved to 6767 Ch de la Côte-des-Neiges in order to accommodate even more people and share with the neighborhood the experience of an extraordinary day center.
In 2008, Louise Tremblay took over the management of Club Ami and made it her mission to introduce democracy and the fight for the rights of vulnerable people at the core of the centre. Club Ami then adopted a charter, a code of conduct and a new board of directors, all voted and created by the members. The centre shows itself capable of including each person in its structure, of functioning in a community network and of standing out from the crowd as one of the only mental health resource in the neighborhood.
Since 2019, management has been assumed by William Delisle. While the way Club Ami operates has changed to adapt to the sanitary measures in force in the face of COVID-19, we are persevering in the history that has marked Club Ami. We consider the collective as the backdrop for care. We are trying to develop different transformative modes of expression. We place the welcoming of singularity as a motor that activates and allows us to think about our work.
We currently have over 170 active members. Before the pandemic forced us to close, the daily attendance at the center reached an average of 50 people per day.
Club Ami is the continuous creation of a living environment, an ecology where everyone’s madness is accepted and respected. No diagnosis, no label, no obligation except that of working together on reception and welcoming. What we are therefore trying to offer is a precious bond between the members, a ‘’hello’’ at each entry, a ‘’goodbye’’ at each exit, a singular and common word that dares to share. Our mission remains the same, but our means, our tools, are different at every moment.