Gerald Cutting, who served as president of the Townshippers’ Association, has stepped down from his role after 12 years of service. The Townshippers’ Association is one of the only organizations that promotes and protects the interest of English-speaking Townshippers in Quebec. With the recent passing of Bill 96 and the challenges that it imposes on the minority populations in the province, Cutting felt that the organization needed new energy. Replacing him is Donald Warnholtz, from Sherbooke, who has an extensive background in the health and social services sector.
Cutting first joined Townshippers’ upon retiring from Champlain Regional College. He joined the group as vice-president before being quickly promoted to president.
“There was, at that time, what I felt was an absence of a voice speaking on behalf of the off island (meaning outside of Montreal), rural, Anglophone persons. In that respect, I thought there was something that needed to be done with the Townshippers’,” said Cutting. “(…) The advocacy element was not one that was receiving a lot of attention and it was, in fact, one of my main interests coming onto the board.”
One of Cutting’s first steps in his role as president was networking and establishing connections with Members of Parliament and Members of the National Assembly of Quebec to ensure that Townshippers’ had a voice at the decision-making table.
“Once we got it going, it had a life of its own because many of the political figures really did find that our input was quite important. On several occasions, we were able to put forth several briefs at the parliamentary hearings with pieces of legislation that would have major impacts on us,” explained Cutting.
Legislation such as Bill 10, the restructuring of Quebec’s health care system, and Bill 40, the abolition of school boards, are all major pieces of legislation that Cutting said the Townshippers’ challenged extensively.
“I remember going to the parliamentary hearings (for Bill 10) with Rachel Hunting, our executive director, and we made a pitch. We said ‘you’ve forgotten something absolutely important. We built these institutions, we staffed them, we welcomed everyone.’ Now by throwing all of these institutions into a huge structure, what we’re going to find is that the English voice will no longer have a presence,” emphasized Cutting.
After 12 years of working alongside the Townshippers’ Association to ensure that English-speakers had someone in their corner, Cutting decided to step down as president after experiencing some health setbacks. He will, however, remain a present figure in the community and continue to work alongside the Townshippers’ in other ways.
“With Bill 96 here, you’re not up for being able to carry forward because you could have a slip backwards because of your health. My next perspective was, Townshippers’ needs someone that is definitely going to stay the course and (…) be 100% all of the time, and I’m not,” said Cutting.
Townshippers’ found its new president in Donald Warnholtz, a member of the executive committee for the last five years. Warnholtz serves as the director general of the Dixville Foundation, and he hopes to use his experience to make a difference in the lives of Townshippers.
“When I look at our population, one of the most important things is education and health and social services. In health and social services, at a time where somebody could be in a crisis, a healthcare crisis or needing specialized services, it’s important that they are able to communicate well with the health service provider,” emphasized Warnholtz.
Warnholtz said that with Bill 96 and elections coming up that the group will be busy, but with the expertise and experience that everybody brings to the group that the Townshippers’ Association will do great things.
“The team at Townshippers’, I’ve been meeting more of them lately, and I’m quite impressed. I think that we have a strong team and together I think we will be able to really work together to support, the best that we can, our population and our community,” mentioned Warnholtz.