This week, the third week of February 2020, I’d like to point out several examples of local journalism.
Two of my stories appeared in yesterday’s Suburban.
Two people are dead, 40 people are injured and Highway 15 remains closed after a 200 car accident south of Montreal yesterday, Global reports.
Parks Canada wants citizen comments about the future of the heritage canal in Ste Anne-de-Bellevue. An open house information session will take place Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the church hall located at 1 de l’Église St., in Ste-Anne village. An online consultation continues until March 1.
The first winter film night in the Verdun greenhouses took place last Saturday night. Two others follow this Saturday, February 22, and next Saturday, February 29 starting at 5 p.m.
Organizers worried that the cold and snow might hamper attendance, but our fears were unfounded. Almost 50 film-goers came to enjoy the cozy atmosphere. Many brought covers to bundle up in to watch the films, but others just wore their tuques and warm sweaters or coats.
I remember coming here all the time with my parents as a kid,” said neighourhood resident Eric. “It would be nice to have more events like this to get people together.”
The concept began as an experiment between Ciné-Verdun and Grand Potager, in partnership with CAUS (the non-profit coop that this journalist helps run), Mission Inclusion, Ciné-Vert (organized by SUCO and Funambules Médias), Festival de Films Alimenterre and L’inis.
The next evening in that series takes place on Saturday, February 29 with the Jo Barker Documentary from Britain “In Our Hands” (English version with subtitles) at 6 p.m. and Les Fleurs Oubliées, André Forcier’s “green fantasy” starring Roy Dupuis at 7:30 p.m. For more information, refer to https://linktr.ee/cineverdun.
Then, last Sunday, Groupe dE Mossi, who are producer members of CAUS, added a third Saturday film night to discuss the history of slavery and historic links between Quebec and Africa.
For both of the coming Saturdays, beverages and snacks are available for purchase from 5 p.m. Screenings start at dusk around 6 p.m.
One-time Verdun resident Fred Christie took on racial injustice in Canada in 1936. The crusader is in the news again this week thanks to Jonathan Montpetit, from the CBC. Montpetit’s article features the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) campaign for wider recognition for Christie.
He chose to take the owner of the York Tavern to court after he refused to serve him.
Christie initially won $25, but he lost on appeal. The case took three years to get to the Supreme Court of Canada. There, Christie lost again.
The Supreme Court decision was rendered on December 9th, 1939 and published in 1940. It said in part:
the general principle of the law of Quebec is that of complete freedom of commerce.” Specifying further, the judgment states that “any merchant is free to deal as he may choose with any individual member of the public […] the only restriction to this general principle would be the existence of a specific law, or, in the carrying out of the principle, the adoption of a rule contrary to good morals or public order.”
After losing his case, Christie left Montreal.
His efforts initiated a series of events that eventually led to the 1975 Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
According to Kristian Gravenor in Coolopolis, Christie lived at 716 Galt.
The NFB included Christie in their Journey to Justice film. (The Christie segment begins at minute 9.46.)
On February 4, 2016, the borough of Verdun and the official committee for Black History Month in Montreal paid hommage to Mr. Christie and set up a page in his honour. That page has since been removed. The borough’s overview about that evening and an article in the Suburban both mention that event.
*Please note: a previous version of this post included a photo of activist Hugh Burnett instead of Christie. Apologies for this error.
Thanks to Verdun organization Toujours Ensemble, the local farmers’ market visitors got to experience smoothies created using a blender attached to a bicycle.
Last year, 13 youth participated in the project, including Tasha, who spoke to me for Unapologetically Canadian. The project is still going on this year with 11 people. This is the last week the students will be at the farmers markets.
In our discussion, Tasha explained to me how the project got underway and how she enjoyed participating.
Some of my favourite quotes from our conversation are:
You get to learn a whole bunch of stuff like I didn’t know. I learned a lot like that. You have to have connections because it’s expensive to buy fruit and other stuff to make the smoothies. So you have to go out of your comfort zone and talk to people. They might help you out or not.”
When I asked her if she wanted to start her own business after the experience, she said she didn’t think so.
“It’s a lot of work but it’s really cool for people that do have their own business. I have a lot of compassion for them.”
My usual Canadian question got a great answer from Tasha.
Being Canadian is being born here or even just feeling that you’re Canadian. You don’t have to be a certain way.”
For more information about Toujours Ensemble, visit their website.
For more information about the Verdun Farmer Markets, visit the CAUS website.
I’m so sorry that the Southwest United Church in Verdun will close its Mission in Verdun Elementary School on Melrose Street at the end of June when their current lease runs out.
Community group members have known about this for a while and church members for a bit longer than that, but the decision became public after Sophie Poisson wrote an article in French about it for the Verdun Messenger last week.
A day later, SouthWest posted more info to their Facebook page.
The Wednesday community lunch and the Mini-market are relocating to Dawson Boys and Girls Club as of April 24th.
In case it is ambiguous from reading the article, SouthWest Mission will remain in the Verdun Elementary building until the end of our lease on June 30th. In terms of Bonhomme à lunettes and the Halte allaitement (not halte garderie), we are hopeful these services, as well as two weekly AA meetings, will continue in the Mission space after SouthWest leaves, but there have been no guarantees. We have encouraged these groups to communicate directly with the school board which will make all decisions about the use of the space.
It’s going to take Dawson a while to restart the lunches, so the last one will be April 17 and the new ones will start sometime in the summer.
For more than a decade, Verdun residents who speak English have counted on the Mission to get healthy local food, have a gathering place with immigrant and French-speaking neighbours, and get local community projects underway (Un plante de tomate, Good Food Box, Wednesday mini-markets, marché-mobile, Verdun sans Faim, and événement santé to name a few). This despite the fact that very little public funding can be distributed directly to religious groups. The SouthWest Mission worked with partners who served as fiduciaries.
Throughout all this time, everyone involved worked hard to keep the Mission and the Church aligned. Looking back now, it’s clear that the project has been teeter-tottering over the last few years. Cracks appeared in the happy dedicated ambience that marked the location in its early years. Volunteers and employees struggled to work happily together. I wish things had been easier for all of you. Thanks so much for your work.
And thanks especially to Darlene, Léonore, Sheila and the others who have stepped forward to continue their projects at Dawson Boys and Girls Club. Your efforts on behalf of the community are so appreciated. Thank you enormously. And thank you Dawson for offering to help keep the projects going. We so appreciate it.
And lastly, farewell to Reverend David Lefneski. Thanks so much for making Verdun a better place.
Throughout all his years working in Verdun, David worked tirelessly with Amy, Darlene, Léonore, Sheila and countless others to get vulnerable people assistance, attention, community, health care, nutrition and whatever else they needed. Most of those of us who work on community projects have his cell phone number. I can say first hand that he responded to needs almost any time of the day.
I’m sorry to hear that Verdun will lose him as a regular leader in our community. He has been splitting his time with a church in Cowansville for several months now and will move there permanently at some point in the future. I hope his new community appreciates his enthusiasm and good-will just as Verdun has for many years. If any of you are reading this, and you want to get to know your new pastor, please listen to my podcast interview with him. I hope he’s as successful at building community there as he has been in Verdun.
In some ways, it’s not farewell anyway. Knowing David, I trust that he’ll find a way to connect Verdun with Cowansville in some wacky project in the future.
At least I hope so.
A running group from one of Verdun’s key youth aid groups, Toujours Ensemble, has challenged everyone to join them in the The Scotiabank Charity Challenge on April 27, and 28, 2019, at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
Come join the Toujours ensemble family and run or walk to help our young people succeed. By taking part in this run with Te, you are showing young people that they can tackle their own challenge. Whether you participate alone or on a team, we will be there for you before, during and after your run to provide you with a training plan, fundraising ideas, and the best possible moral support. Fun guaranteed!
This will be the third time the group participates in the challenge. To register with the team, fill out the form on their challenge site.
Toujours Ensemble celebrates their 40th anniversary this year, and it started off badly when their Carolyn Hayes Renaud building at 4926 Verdun flooded and had to close. According to executive director Bineta Ba, their Parcours after-school program has been cancelled until they can get more space, but their other programs continue at the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Academic Perseverance Centre at 601 Second Avenue.