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A New Petition Is Demanding That Montreal Rebuild The City's Oldest Black Community Centre

The building was purchased by a private developer and torn down in 2014.
Contributing Writer
A New Petition Is Demanding That Montreal Rebuild The City's Oldest Black Community Centre

An online petition was launched on Monday, July 27 titled "Rebuild Montreal's oldest Black Center", with a goal of gaining enough support to rebuild the Negro Community Center (NCC), one of the city's oldest institutions for the Black community. Started by the NCC-Rev. Charles H. Este committee, the petition reached 3,500 signatures in just 13 hours.

The petition is aimed towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier François Legault, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, and City Councillor for Sud-Ouest Benoit Dorais.

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It begins, "One of the largest cities in Canada that claims to value diversity has failed to defend the legacy of one of its oldest Black institutions; the Negro Community Center."

The page then goes onto explain that the center was opened in 1927 in what's now known as Little Burgundy. The NCC was frequented by people like jazz legends Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones, where they were able to master their crafts.

In the '60s, when the city approved of Highway 720 to be built through the area, over 7,000 Black-Anglophone community members were displaced. 

However, the NCC remained a haven for the community until 1989.

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"Severe funding cuts, driven by a dominant culture overt in its systemic racism and disregard for the city’s English-speaking Black community, forced its closure, and the building fell into disrepair."

The building was purchased by a private developer and torn down in 2014.

CBC reported that the developer, Paul Sen Chher, is in the midst of planning to rebuild on the site and has said: "I'm open to any ideas, anything I could do to make sure that the project that's coming on this piece of property will make everybody happy."

According to an article on Global News, there will be a march on August 1 to support the rebuilding of the NCC.

The committee that created the petition is also demanding that the government take responsibility for the displacement of the Black community in the area and "to commemorate the enormous contributions of the Negro Community Centre to Canadian culture" by designating it as a National Historic Site of Canada

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