17 Montrealers have been awarded the Ordre de Montréal insignia for 2024. Discover them!

Hon. Marisa Ferretti Barth


For more than 50 years, Marisa Ferretti Barth has dedicated herself to the well-being of her fellow citizens, especially the seniors of the Italian-Quebec community and other ethnocultural communities in the Montréal Agglomeration. This woman of heart and strong will created more than 70 seniors’ clubs, in addition to founding the Regional Council of Italian-Canadian Seniors (RCICS), an organization that has made a real difference in the lives of many Montrealers.

Since her arrival in Quebec in 1963, Marisa Ferretti Barth has charted a course marked by commitment, generosity and leadership. In the early 1970s, she became an immigration counsellor, then an Italian community services organizer. Realizing that there was a serious lack of resources for seniors, especially Italian-Canadians, she founded the RCICS in 1973. In turn, she held the posts of social worker, human resources adviser, community organizer, managing director, vice-president and eventually president of the RCICS. Today, the council has close to 12,000 members in Greater Montréal and offers an array of programs and services specially adapted to the needs of seniors and the most disadvantaged. 

Throughout her career, Marisa Ferretti Barth has helped create several aid agencies, in particular for the Afghan, Chinese, Laotian, Lebanese-Syrian and Russian communities. Her expertise and collaboration have been called upon to implement the FADOQ Network, the National Advisory Council on Aging, the Conseil des aînés du Québec and Université de Montréal’s Observatory on Aging and Society. She also helped set up the Table de concertation des aînés de l’Île de Montréal, a steering committee in which she played the roles of witness, liaison and representative for seniors and the elderly, making a concrete contribution to breaking the isolation that many seniors face and facilitating their full integration into society.  

In 1997, this exceptional altruist was the first Italian-born woman to be named to the Senate of Canada where she served on various committees to defend and improve the lives of seniors and the disadvantaged. 

Her tireless dedication was recognized with many prestigious honours from community organizations and the highest political levels. She is the recipient of Quebec’s Lieutenant Governor’s Medal in 2009, the Prix Hommage Aînés from the Table de concertation des aînés de l’île de Montréal in 2010 and the Prix Grand-Aînée from the Observatory on Aging and Society in 2015. She was named a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2003, and a Chevalière of the Ordre national du Québec in 2008.

The picture and biographical information appearing on this page were current at the time this person was admitted to the Ordre de Montréal.