Quebec's Anti-Racism Minister Mourned A Black Artist At A Gala… But He Was In The Audience
The gala organizer said the incident created an "unease."
Quebec's Minister for the Fight Against Racism is trying to laugh off an awkward situation at the Dynastie Gala. On stage at the sixth edition of the event honouring Black artists on March 5, Minister Benoit Charette began listing names of recently deceased cultural contributors. That list included club Balattou and Festival International Nuits d’Afrique founder Lamine Touré.
The problem: Touré is very much alive — and was just metres from Charette in the gala audience that night.
A video circulating on social media shows audience members pointing at Touré before Charette apologizes for the mistake amid hollers and laughter.
In a statement shared with MTL Blog, Charette's office said "the Minister's speech contained an ambiguous phrase and in trying to get out of his text, he misinterpreted it, leading to the incident in question."
On Twitter, Charette said he and Touré "were able to laugh about it together." The minister's office is also bucking criticism, claiming that "contrary" to some reports, "most" gala attendees treated the mistake "as a joke."
In a Facebook post, however, the Fondation Dynastie said the incident created "unease" and underlined the Quebec government's remoteness from the community.
"This incident reminds us of the unacceptable gap that still separates our communities," the foundation wrote. "It demonstrates the urgent need for the government to forge real ties with the various communities it serves, to listen to them and to recognize their excellence."
Charette took on his current portfolio in February 2021 after a government report recommended a new cabinet-level position dedicated to the fight against racism.