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Cangrands Quebec founder raises granddaughters with love

May, 2010

For most people, the idea of retirement conjures up a time of hard-earned rest and relaxation, starting new projects, learning experiences or travel. But for retirees who are suddenly beginning again, raising the children of their children, that time is filled with hard work, challenges that must be surmounted and much unexpected joy.

“I have less energy now but much more patience,” says Linda Turner, founder of the Cangrands Quebec Chapter, as she brings her granddaughters Lauren, 10, and Alexis, 11, to their weekly swimming lesson at the Y. “I am blessed, they’re really good kids.”

When the children, then 3 and 5, came to live with her, she didn’t know of any other grandparents raising grandchildren, so she looked online and discovered the chat room on the Cangrands website.

The “club none of us wanted to join,” which advocates on behalf of grandparents and kinship families, was started by Ontario grandmother Betty Cornelius and has chapters throughout Canada. The organization provides support ranging from social and practical to legal matters.

“One of the reasons I started the Quebec chapter was for the kids,” Turner says. “It’s nice for them to see we’re not abnormal.” According to Statistics Canada, in 2006 there were 8,220 grandchildren being raised by grandparents in Quebec, 65,135 in Canada.

Cangrands brings grandparents and children from across the country together each year for summer camp.

“It’s fantastic,” Turner says. “The kids love it, and the grandparents get a break. There are speakers who can give you some tools to work with.” The Montreal chapter consists of about 25 families and meets once a month. Over the years, many of the kids and adults have formed a lasting bond. They share ideas, plan such activities as potluck dinners, arts and crafts and outings, and provide a safe place to share experiences with others who have been through similar situations. Over the years other Montreal organizations have pitched in to help, like Geordie Productions.

“They supported us 100 per cent,” Turner says. I asked them for tickets to their plays a few years ago and this year I didn’t even call, they called me, offering us 15 tickets. It’s so nice be- cause some of these children could never afford to go to the theatre.”

While the challenges for kinship families are mainly financial, there are social ones as well. Turner’s kids have had to deal with questions from classmates wondering why they are not living with their parents.

Linda Turner calls her grandchildren Alexis (left) and Lauren a blessing. Photo: Kristine Berey

As to making friends, Turner finds that the parents of the kids in her grandchildrens’ classes are much younger than she is. And even with friends her own age, socializing isn’t al- ways easy. “What I want to do with my time is different. They want to see a show—so do I—but they don’t necessarily want to see cartoons. Also, I have less time.” Through Cangrands she says she has made lasting friendships and found a community.

“We want grandparents raising grandkids and kinship families to know about us,” Turner says, “so they don’t feel alone like we did when we started it.”

Cangrands meets at 6350 6350 Terrebonne on June 3, 7 pm. New members welcome. Information: 514-733-4046.

The Senior Times, in honour of Mother’s and Father’s Days, invites all parents, step, in-law, great and grand, to send in their favourite photo of themselves, their moms or kids. The winner will receive tickets to the André Rieu concert at the Bell Centre June 25, 7:30 pm and will see their photo in the June issue.

Please send entries to and mark “Mothers Day” in the subject line of the email.



At May 12, 2010 at 7:02 PM , Anonymous Betty said...

Thanks for the GRAND article this is an issue that needs to have the attention of the general public as well as the policy makers.

Betty Cornelius
RR# 1 Mc Arthurs Mills, Ontario, K0L2M0


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