Montreal

Marlene Jennings is the new president of the Quebec Community Groups Network

A year after members of the Quebec Community Groups Network resigned citing issues with the network's leadership, the organization has elected Marlene Jennings as its new president. 

Jennings replaces Geoffrey Chambers in the role

Marlene Jennings is the new president of the Quebec Community Groups Network. (Sean Henry/CBC)

A year after members of the Quebec Community Groups Network resigned citing issues with the network's leadership, the organization has elected Marlene Jennings as its new president. 

The network held its annual general meeting Thursday evening, highlighting some of its priorities for the year. 

Those include defending the existence of school boards, as well as anglophones' right to health and social services in English, according to QCGN director general Sylvia Martin-Laforge.

Jennings, who was appointed trustee of the English Montreal School Board by the Quebec government earlier this year, was voted president at the meeting. She replaces Geoffrey Chambers in the role. She had been serving on the QCGN board as treasurer.

Her trusteeship at the EMSB is set to end Friday.

"I am truly humbled by all the support I received and as QCGN's president I vow to work hard for the network and our wonderful English-speaking communities across Quebec," the former member of Parliament said. 

"I want to work for you, not have you work for me."

Last fall, 13 of member organizations resigned from the network, saying they were dissatisfied with its leadership.

An internal QCGN document obtained by CBC last year referred to a meeting that summer during which several members apparently called for president Geoffrey Chambers' resignation.

The document refers to dissatisfaction with the way Chambers has handled relationships with member organizations and government officials alike, and the discord that resulted from that frustration.

Martin-Laforge said at the meeting that the network wanted to "re-focus" its mandate. 

"Throughout the year, we have been reflecting on the opportunities, trends, and threats having an impact on the future of the organization, our Network, and our community," she said.

In an interview with CBC after the vote, Jennings said she wanted to reach out to the members who left in the past year. 

"One of the things that a modern QCGN has to do is create platforms that will allow organizations that don't want to be members to be able to share their perspective and their priorities, and expertise to the different policies, and issues, and challenges that we face," Jennings said.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

With files from Matt D'Amours

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