Please Wait a Moment
  • Handicap-Vie-Dignité

    quality of life
    for residents

Logo HVD


One day, a chickadee meets a dove.
The chickadee asks the dove:
- "How much does a snowflake weigh?"
- "Nothing, nothing other than nothing" said the dove.
The chickadee then tells him this story:
“I was on a fir branch when it started to snow. Not a storm; no, just like a dream, gently, without violence. Since I had nothing better to do, I started counting the flakes that fell on the branch where I was standing. 3,751,962 fell. When the 3,751,963 fell on the branch, nothing but nothing, as you said, the branch broke."
With that, the chickadee flew away. The dove thought for a moment and finally said to herself: "Maybe only one person is missing for everything to change and the world to live in peace?"


Gisèle Allard
Gisèle Allard (1960-2009), resident of the Saint-Charles-Borromée Hospital, representative of the collective action / class action of HVD

In 1991, Hélène Rumak and Johanne Ravenda decided to cofound La Fondation Lise T., which changed its name to Handicap-Vie-Dignité (HVD) in 1996. In order to honour the memory and life of Lise, their protégée, their mission is to work towards improving the quality of life of people with severe disabilities to ensure that their needs are met and their rights respected.

Their approach is inspired by the thinking of Bernard Kouchner, founder of Doctors Without Borders, an organization that addresses the "collective and individual duty of advocacy" towards the suffering of our society’s most vulnerable. Here are a few vulnerability factors:

  • severe physical, intellectual or psychological limitations
  • reliance on others to meet their basic daily needs
  • inability to be understood by the various workers
  • isolation from the community

Through their volunteer involvement, Hélène and Johanne developed expertise in the area of abuse, especially towards the most vulnerable individuals living in a long-term care environment.

They provide education and play a pioneering role with collaborators and researchers interested in this issue. Handicap-Vie-Dignité promotes proper treatment of these vulnerable individuals through public statements, conferences, training workshops, and articles, with the hope of contributing to improving the quality of life of these individuals.



HVD organized its first national HVD seminar: Let’s break the silence... Uncovering institutional abuse, in conjunction with the Montreal Consortium on Human Rights Advocacy Training, under the auspices of McGill University’s School of Social Work.


HVD published the proceedings of this very seminar with the support of York University’s Roeher Institute in Toronto.


HVD produced a bilingual training and awareness video dealing with the issue of abuse and neglect of vulnerable individuals who are institutionalized:Advocacy – The Art of Speaking out.


HVD asked the Court to study their claim for a class action suit on behalf of the residents of the Saint-Charles-Borromée hospital for the poor quality of care and services provided, citing in particular the mistreatment allegedly perpetrated against the residents of this long-term care facility.


HVD was authorized by the court to launch this class action suit on behalf of the residents. It was the first time since the introduction of the Class Action Proceedings Act that such a proceeding was authorized against a public long-term care institution for systemic mistreatment of residents.


HVD requested and eventually received permission to amend the dates of the period in question in order to add new victims to the list of plaintiffs.


Death of HVD cofounder, Hélène Rumak.


In a declaration at the Quebec National Assembly, Mr. Bernard Drainville, Deputy for the Marie-Victorin Constituency, commended the life and the work of Madame Hélène Rumak and expressed his gratitude in the following comment:

“Mr. President, on September 30th, 2009, Mrs. Hélène Rumak, co-founder of the organization, Handicap-Vie-Dignité, passed away. Few people know about Mrs. Rumak's immense contribution to Quebec society. All through her life, Mrs. Rumak invested herself in order to give a voice to the most vulnerable people among us…she fought to ensure that handicapped people and institutionalized seniors be treated respectfully and with dignity… She described life as a reality that goes beyond the physical body. Whatever their handicap or their disease, everybody had the same value, everyone had a right to the same dignity...” (Extract from the Quebec National Assembly (Journal des débats), May 6, 2010)


Fourteen years after launching the class action suit, HVD negotiated an out-of-court settlement on behalf of the residents of the Saint-Charles-Borromée hospital who were victims of abuse between the years 1995 and 2006. It was a historic settlement in the amount of $8.5 million, creating a precedent that would make public institutions "accountable".



Helene Rumak
Hélène Rumak (1947-2009)
“We will have taken a great step when the most vulnerable elderly people are treated as human beings.”
( ref.: Noel, André. “CHSLD: des conditions de vie scandaleuses”, La Presse. le 20 octobre 2003, p. A3)

This Fund was named in honour of the late Hélène Rumak, President and Co-Founder of Handicap-Vie-Dignité, who passed away on September 30, 2009.


It is a restorative measure, in the amount of $250,000, as part of a class action settlement agreement signed on April 15, 2013 between Handicap-Vie-Dignité and the Saint-Charles-Borromée Hospital.


The Fund is managed by Handicap-Vie-Dignité, who shall report on a yearly basis on their activities to Ménard Martin, prosecutors.

  • HVD must work to improve the quality of life of persons with severe disabilities
  • HVD must ensure that their needs are better understood.
  • HVD must ensure that their rights are respected.

The amount attributed to this Fund must serve all the users of the public CHSLD in the Quebec Health System.

As noted in the goals of Handicap-Vie-Dignité, this Fund must serve to provide training and to plan activities regarding the rights of and the advocacy for the users.

It must ensure that information and training be given to residents, their representatives, their families and volunteers on the rights of residents and the means to assert them.


The Board of Directors of Handicap-Vie-Dignité are responsible to choose the activities and services offered, according to:

  • the goals and the mission of Handicap-Vie-Dignité
  • the needs of residents, their representatives, their families and volunteers.


Information and training activities on rights and the exercise of rights must be accessible to all public CHSLD users and not only to the residents of the Centre d’hébergement Paul-Émile-Léger (formerly recognized as the Hôpital Saint-Charles-Borromée and the Centre d’hébergement du Centre-Ville-Montréal.)

  • HVD must ensure that the use of this Fund respects their goals and their mission.
  • HVD must ensure that the use of this Fund respects obligations towards residents, their representatives, their families and volunteers.
  • HVD must present an Annual Report of the management of the Fund to the Prosecutors Ménard Martin, lawyers acting in the appeal.
  • HVD must present to the Court an Annual Report of the use and the management of the Fund, as of August 31st, 2019.


  • Let's imagine our Agora

    of the CHSLD Paul-Émile Léger

    NOVEMBER 9, 2021
    Seniors With SWAG event

    The CHSLD Paul-Émile-Léger approached the organization Handicap-Vie-Dignité (HVD) to obtain a contribution from the Gisèle Allard Fund in the "Imaginons notre Agora" project, a flagship project for the residents and staff of the site. which generated widespread mobilization of all stakeholders.

    The renovation of the agora has created a friendly, welcoming and tailor-made space to meet the needs of residents. The multiplicity of its components has allowed the creation of an attractive place where residents come to draw, from morning to evening, a source of social and sensory stimulation.

    A thank you plaque was displayed at the entrance to the Agora in recognition of the donation made by the Gisele Allard Fund.


Johanne Ravenda, Co-founder
Honorary President

Daphne Nahmiash, President
Beginning of mandate: July 01, 2020

Linda Furlini, vice-president
Beginning of mandate: June 30, 2021

Nicole Jaouich, administrator
Beginning of mandate: July 05, 2017

Dolores Di Re, treasurer
Beginning of mandate: November 01, 2020

Mimonde Théagène, administrator
Beginning of mandate: October 29, 2020

Daniel Pilote, administrator
Beginning of mandate: November 26, 2020

Rosanna Bruni, administrator
Beginning of mandate: April 13, 2023

Marie Amzallag, administrator
Beginning of mandateMay 31, 2023

Philippe Suyssecretary
Beginning of mandate: June 06, 2022
Beginning of mandate: June 08, 2023





Consult the management report funded by the helene rumak fund for the year 2022-2023.


Consult the management report funded by the Helene Rumak fund for the year 2021-2022.


Consult the summary table of Hélène Rumak's fund for the year 2021-2022.


Consult the management report funded by the Helene Rumak fund for the year 2020-2021.


Consult the report on the exemption from training "Acting on a users' committee in CHSLDs" WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE HÉLÈNE RUMAK FUND


Consult the management report funded by the Helene Rumak fund for the year 2019-2020.


Consult the management report funded by the Helene Rumak fund for the year 2018-2019.


TRIBUTE - 2023

Posthumous tribute Michel Gervais (1944-2023)


A man of few words but of fair, wise and thoughtful words, Michel Gervais was an inspiring man putting into practice his humanitarian and Christian values: justice, kindness, and charity in the service of some of the most vulnerable people in our community. His presence within Handicap-Vie-Dignité was demonstrated as a supporting member, administrator and treasurer on the board of directors and an activist for respect for the fundamental rights of vulnerable clienteles.


His volunteering, his listening skills and his friendship were invaluable gifts! His legacy will remain engraved in the hearts of all those who had the privilege of knowing him.


Rest in peace Michel with those you cherished so much: your mother, your brother, Mr. Smith, Hélène Rumak and so many others.


Johanne Ravenda, honorary president
Co-founder with Hélène Rumak (1947-2009)

AWARD - 2022

Seniors With Swag
Presented to Daphne Nasmiash


Daphné Nahmiash, membre et animatrice à l’Observatoire Vieillissement et Société (OVS) a été sélectionnée et reconnue à titre d’aînée possédant les qualités « SWAG » (Style, Sagesse, Attitude et Grâce) pour ses réalisations et sa contribution à la communauté. Ses collègues de l’OVS et de Handicap-Vie-Dignité en sont particulièrement fiers.



AWARD - 2022

Women of Worth - Canadian Edition
Presented to Daphne Nasmiash


As an advocate who speaks out against the mistreatment of elderly people in long-term-care environments, Daphne has co-authored When Seniors Are Abused: A Guide to Intervention andwritten several government reports on elder abuse, neglect and services. In 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Canadian Association on Gerontology, an award that honours the recipient’s significant contributions to a province or community within the country. Since 2016, Daphne has been the president of the board of directors at Handicap-Vie-Dignité (HVD), where she has created a variety of educational tools that seek to make lasting change. In this role, she has also built strong alliances with various organizations, health professionals and members of the judicial system and the public while raising awareness and deepening the dialogue about the needs and rights of nearly 40,000 adults who live in long-term care in Quebec.




Making a Difference Pandemic 2020-2021 
Presented to Daphne Nasmiash




Hélène Rumak: Mention of excellence for her work Handicap-Vie-Dignité by Paul G. Brunet 2019 / Council for the Protection of the Sick


Récipiendaires des Prix et Mentions d’excellence  Paul G. Brunet, Conseil pour la protection des malades (CPM) :

Lors du colloque, des mentions et prix importants ont été décernés à diverses personnes, œuvrant ou ayant œuvré auprès des personnes malades ou âgées :


Mention d’excellence pour son œuvre à :

Feue Mme Hélène Rumak, militante des premières heures pour la défense des personnes hébergées en CHSLD, fondatrice de l’organisme Handicap Vie Dignité avec Mme Joanne Ravenda.



TRIBUTE - 2014

Nomination of Handicap-Vie-Dignité, Michel Allard and the Ménard, Martin firm for the Orange Prize of the Association of Intervention Groups for the Defense of Mental Health Rights of Quebec (AGIDD-SMQ)


Handicap-Vie-Dignité, Michel Allard et le Cabinet Ménard, Martin


En 2013, après plus de 14 ans pour obtenir justice, une entente a été conclue avec la Résidence Saint-Charles-Borromée, aujourd’hui connue sous le nom de CHSLD Centre-ville de Montréal. À l’époque, les sévices (hygiène, alimentation, surmédication, etc.) subis par Mme Gisèle Allard (requérante, aujourd’hui décédée) dans les années 90 avaient inquiété Hélène Rumak (Handicap-Vie-Dignité) et Johanne Ravenda (curatrice). Or, Mme Allard n’était pas seule à subir de tels abus de droits. Le recours collectif s’organise en 1999. C'était la première fois qu’un tribunal autorisait un recours collectif contre un hôpital québécois. Le montant du règlement est de 8 000 000 $ ce qui comprend les sommes allouées au Fonds Gisèle Allard pour améliorer la qualité de vie des résidants et au Fonds Hélène Rumak pour informer les usagers de leurs droits. Pour Me Jean-Pierre Ménard, cette entente marquera un « tournant historique dans le traitement des sans-voix de notre système de santé » (Le Devoir, 20 avril 2013)



TRIBUTE - 2010

Posthumous tribute to Hélène Rumak of Handicap-Vie-Dignité by Mr. Bernard Drainville, member of the National Assembly of Quebec / May 6, 2010


M. Drainville : M. le Président, le 30 septembre 2009 est décédée Mme Hélène Rumak, cofondatrice de l'organisme Handicap-Vie-Dignité. Peu de gens connaissent l'inestimable contribution de Mme Rumak à la société québécoise. Mme Rumak s'est investie toute sa vie pour donner une voix aux plus vulnérables d'entre nous. Au sein de Handicap-Vie-Dignité, elle se battait pour que les personnes handicapées ou les aînés en institution soient traités avec respect et dignité. J'ai interviewé Mme Rumak à plusieurs reprises à l'émission La part des choses. Pour elle, la vie se définissait bien au-delà de l'enveloppe corporelle. Toutes les personnes avaient la même valeur, toutes avaient droit à la même dignité, peu importe leur handicap ou leur maladie. Hélène Rumak m'a profondément marqué et elle m'inspire encore aujourd'hui. Son oeuvre se poursuivra, notamment, grâce à la bienveillance et à la ténacité de sa complice des dernières années, Mme Johanne Ravenda, à qui je souhaite tout le succès possible.


Je salue la vie et l'oeuvre de Mme Hélène Rumak, une grande Québécoise, et souhaite lui exprimer, à titre posthume, toute notre reconnaissance. Merci, M. le Président.



TRIBUTE - 2010

Tributes to Ms. Hélène Rumak by Me Jean-Pierre Ménard, Ménard Martin, lawyers / May 5, 2010


MONTRÉAL, le 5 mai /CNW Telbec/ - Le jeudi 6 mai 2010, le député de Marie Victorin, monsieur Bernard Drainville, fera une déclaration à l'Assemblée Nationale pour rendre hommage à Mme Hélène RUmak, décédée le 30 septembre 2009.


Le soussigné désire joindre sa voix à cet hommage. Nous avons connu Mme Rumak au début des années 1990 dans le cadre de ses interventions pour assurer le respect des personnes les plus démunies et désavantagées vivant dans les établissements de santé. Elle s'est sans cesse, avec beaucoup d'acharnement, fait la voix de toutes ces personnes sans voix et sans pouvoir, pour améliorer le respect de leurs droits et de leur dignité dans tous les aspects de leur vie. Elle a ainsi entre autre, joué un rôle majeur dans l'évolution de la situation à l'Hôpital St-Charles Borromée, dénonçant des situations d'abus alors que toutes les autorités impliquées les niaient. Pourtant, elle a eu raison, comme l'a démontré la suite des choses.


Mme Rumak n'a jamais compté son temps, donnant tout son cœur et toute sa force pour le mieux-être des plus démunis. Elle fut une camarade de combat exemplaire, qui a réussi à donner un sens et une direction à la lutte des plus vulnérables de notre société pour se faire une place au soleil.


Longue vie à ta mémoire, Hélène.


Me Jean-Pierre Ménard, Ad. E.
Ménard, Martin, Avocats




YMCA Women of Distinction Award 1998 / Nomination Hélène Rumak / Health division


Hélène Rumak

Helene Rumak is a generous and dedicated woman whose words and actions are guided by three fundamental values:" le beau,le bien et le vrai".Through her efforts she strives to increase awareness about the rights of society's most disadvantaged individuals. After she completed her studies, she began teaching Italian immigrants with the Montreal Catholic School Board. She went on to work with juvenile delinquents. the socially disaffected and the physically challenged, becoming the first person at the MCSB to make possible the integration of severely handicapped young adults into the mainstream. In 1989, she took in a young woman stricken with Friedreich's ataxia and cared for her with love compassion, most importantly, dignity, until this young woman's death eight years later. Shortly after this experience, she co-founded Handicap-Vie-Dignité to make sure that every person is treated with dignity - regardless of any limitations he or she may possess. As head of this organization, Hélène Rumak continues her work to improve the life of the severely handicapped, the elderly and others who are vulnerable to social injustice.


The Gazette « Montreal 2000: A Who’s Who of Montreal » / Community leaders: Daphne Nahmiash, Hélène Rumak, Johanne Ravenda


City's as bright as its leading lights

What really makes a city is the individuals who choose to live in it. And Montreal is blessed with an extraordinary number of people who are, simply, extraordinary.


From mayors whose visions of the city are more grand than anything we could dream up on our own, to hockey players who make us all feel like winners, we seek and find greatness around us. Today, we look at the city's leaders.



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