Was Quebec History Float Racist Or Just Poorly Thought Out?

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MONTREAL – A video of the opening ceremony of the National Day Parade, held on Saturday afternoon in Montreal, ignited the web and was viewed nearly 200,000 times in the late afternoon. While Internet users denounce a racist number that suggests a scene of slavery, the organizing committee ensures that this was not at all the intention behind the painting.

“It does not represent slavery at all. It is very, very unfortunate what happens and it is never what we wanted to suggest. The person who designed the costumes did not even know if it was men or women who wore them, “defended Elisabeth Roy, press officer of the organizing committee of the National Day parade.

In an extract of the parade filmed and published on Facebook by a spectator , the singer Annie Villeneuve delivers a performance of the known air “My dear Quebec, it is your turn …”. The allegorical float on which it is located is pushed by four people and is followed by a group of chorus singers. All the participants in this picture are white people dressed in white, except four of them. Those pushing the cart are young black men dressed in beige clothes.

“I do not think the organizers of the parade understood the concept of diversity,” wrote Félix Brouillet, the viewer who captured the video shared nearly 5000 times in a few hours.

“It seemed so surreal to me. About forty white Quebecers dressed in white, and four black young men dressed in rags who push the pharaoh of Quebec: Annie Villeneuve. I want the story of Quebec to be told, but the subtext emerged by the scene, the context in which they put these participants was meaningless, “he denounced when joined by  La Presse .

The parade featured fifteen paintings depicting the history of Quebec, including Montreal. The one we see in the video was the opening issue, the theme of which was “Fort Ville-Marie – Montréal – 1642”. The organizing committee of La Fête nationale du Québec in Montreal has also published a video of this issue on its Facebook page. In the same way as for the extract shared by M. Brouillet, the “OMG ?! “AYOYE” and “QUELLE HONTE” were not long in coming.

“Who can explain to me the choice of putting 4 young black men in slave dress to push the allegorical float?” WTF !? This is NOT ACCEPTABLE in any way. Disgusting, “one of the hundred or so negative comments published in the video, which was quickly removed from the official page of the event .

Dressed in parchment and not in rags

Both the participants and the organizers of the parade distressed what is, in the end, a completely erroneous interpretation of the staging provided by Joël Legendre. Every year since 2014, the allegorical tanks are pushed with the arms of man. This year, this role was assumed by some 60 young people aged 13 to 18 years from the sports teams of the Louis-Joseph Papineau school in Montreal.

“We did not expect that at all! As a chief coach, I thought it was a great opportunity to show our young people from the Saint-Michel neighborhood. For them it was a physical challenge that they were proud to meet, “said the head coach of the school, Sterve Lubin.

“When they were solicited, they were not asked for the color of their skin; We are completely indifferent. They could have been Asian, white, black … It had nothing to do with it, “added Elisabeth Roy.

The costume that players of the football team Patriots wore and that many perceived as cloths reminiscent of the clothes of the slaves actually represented parchment paper.

“It was a fabric that had been ordered expressly for their costume. It is a fabric on which we see French literature, “explained Roy, adding that the costume designer, Eric Nogues, was flabbergasted about this controversy.

“We’re human, we’re part of Quebec, we live in Montreal. It’s not a question of color. It is flat that people have perceived us as people representing a race and not as participants. Never would I have accepted that my young people participate in something degrading, “concluded the head coach, who himself pushed one of the wagons.

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Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca


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