Montreal Is Taking Urgent Steps To Make The City Less Racist
These efforts are long overdue.
It seems racism in Canada has been rightfully receiving more critical attention recently.
Just this week, prime minister Justin Trudeauat a rally in rural Quebec.
The movement to remove or replace monuments that celebrate problematic figures has also finally hit Canada. This month, the city of Victoria, British Columbia decided to remove a statue of John Macdonald, the racist first prime minister of Canada who pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing to remove the indigenous population.
Many speculated that Montreal would soon follow, given the repeated acts of vandalism by anti-racism activists that have defaced the city's statue of Macdonald in the Place du Canada.
There have yet to be definite plans to remove the statue or qualify it with an accompagnying plaque to bring light to Macdonald's dark history.
Nevertheless, the city of Montreal has taken important steps in the last few weeks to address racism in the city. Those initiatives come from both private business and official directives from the administration of mayor Valérie Plante.
Most of these stories were buried in the hectic news cycle of the last few weeks. But it's worth pointing out that some of these represent tremendous steps, though much work still needs to be done.
Earlier this month, the Bank of Montreal removed the long-despised plaque outside its building celebrating the killing of indigenous people in a battle with Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the namesake of Blvd. Maisonneuve.
Last week, Montreal did decide to change the name of one street dedicated to a British general who deliberately infected indigenous populations with smallpox. Rue Amherst will be renamed by a committee of indigenous Montrealers, according to the CBC.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of an initiative to review all of the streets and.
Then, this week, mayor Plante announced that she was appointing a new commissioner responsbile for reconciliation efforts between settler and indigenous Montreal residents.
Marie-Josée Parent will join the executive team of the Plante administration. Her addition will ensure that a voice mindful of indigenous affairs in the city will have a say in all major policy and enforcement decisions.
It's nice to see the city is taking steps beyond adding an oak tree emblem to its flag.
Still, Montreal will need to address structural violence, whereby people are physically harmed by a lack of critical services, if it truly wants to tackle racism in the city.