The Black Community Resource Centre’s (BCRC) project, Where They Stood: A Historical Account of the Evolution of Black-Anglo Montreal, is an initiative created to engage English-speaking Black youth in the conception of a book detailing the history of Montreal’s Black-Anglo population. Ten writers were enlisted to — through a series of organized workshops — research, write, edit, publish and digitize a book outlining the emergence and evolution of key community organizations created in response to the challenges associated with the settlement, development, and full participation of the English-speaking Blacks in Montreal. This work was designed to bolster community engagement and create an increased sense of belonging, all while educating our literary audience about a commonly unspoken history. We hope that through our efforts we will effectively bring to light the story of a people so essential to the vitality and growth of our city like never before.
Chapter one 1900-1913
Zack is a Creole-Texan anthropologist, communicator, and musician based in Montreal. He is motivated to provide a platform for unheard and under-represented voices to create positive structural changes in North America. He will be writing the first chapter of the book that will help push the understating of the community in the Black anglophones in Montreal. The reason for his participation in the project is because he feels Montreal’s history is intrinsically connected to his own in the southern United States. Black history in Canada is important because it will help provide a holistic view on the country’s past, changing the hegemonic landscape that we are currently in.
Chapter 2 1914-1918
Hi, I’m Sherwins! I’ve recently graduated from Concordia University with a BA in History, and I am eventually looking to pursue training in archival preservation to complement my degree. I am passionate about historical research, formal and informal, TV series binge fests, and baking.
Coming from a Haitian background, I would argue my community has been more accepted and included in Quebec society due to our attachment to the French-speaking world. The Anglophone Black community, however, as double minorities, has been overlooked and forgotten. For me, this project represents an opportunity to learn more about Montreal’s underrepresented Black Anglophone history, but also to teach others about its significance in the city’s rich multicultural heritage.
For this book, I am writing on the years between 1914 and 1919. My chapter will cover the First World War (1914-18), during which an all-Black battalion was created in response to military segregation. Simultaneously, during those years, Marcus Garvey’s Pan-Africanist ideologies were circulating amongst Black communities worldwide, which culminated in the creation of a Montreal chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) chapter in 1919.
Chapter 3 1919-1929
Victoria Jean-Francois is a Canadian-born Haitian writer and singer. Born in Montreal and raised in Calgary, Victoria decided to return to Montreal to pursue her studies at Concordia University in Communications Studies. Montreal’s rich people diversity and history inspired Victoria to explore further the stories of the people who have touched this land. This passion for history and people grew into a passion for storytelling. Victoria feels that sharing people’s stories helps people come together and better understand one another’s journeys. For This reason, she thought it was essential for her to participate in Montreal’s Black History Book Project, to help tell the stories of her community. She believes there is excellent richness behind the black community of Montreal, and for that reason, she feels she must elevate the voice of the people that have paved the path for her.
Victoria’s Chapter covers the years 1920-1928. Her Chapter focuses on the Prohibition era, organized crime from the United States into Montreal, and how it has influenced Montreal’s black community. In addition, this Chapter also dives further into how the black community
strengthened their community through music and how they created and sought opportunities to survive and strengthened themselves through community organization.
Chapter 4 1930-1939
Cindy Keza (she/her) is a Rwandan student, writer and poet working in Montreal/Tio’tia:k. She is currently working on her happiness and finding her purpose. She is finishing her DEC in Law and International Relations and looks forward to exploring what the future holds as she aspires to continue in a politics and law related undergraduate degree. Her idols include Violet Pauline King, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frederick Phillips and of course, Serena Williams and Lisa Leslie. Her passions include writing, reading, and learning and much to her chagrin, Call of Duty. To Cindy, Black History is world history. When telling stories of how the world and it’s various cultures came to be, it is impossible to do so without acknowledging black history, be it music, fashion or literature, the impact of the black community is undeniable and must be celebrated. Thus why Cindy leaped at the possibility of participating in this project, black stories and black history is the origin story of some of the greatest things to happen to the city of Montreal, everyone should hear about it and Cindy is going to try her best to transmit the message. The chapter she has written will be covering the 1930’s and what it was like being black during the Great Depression, an era with struggle but a beautiful story of growth. She looks forward to sharing what she learnt with you and hopes it teaches you as much, if not more than what it taught her.
Chapter 5 1940-1978
Since a young age, I had developed a profound connection to the brain, emotions and social interaction, which ultimately led to my passion for the subject of psychology. I was always curious to find answers, thus leading to many long nights of extensive research periods regarding the studies of psychology. Today, I am that same person, budding with questions that I work hard to answer through collaboration with academics and other associates, as well as by conducting my own research.
The schools I previously attended had limited teachings regarding Black History, which I found appalling. Though we were minorities, we still had the right to obtain teachings of our diverse Black history, through carefully crafted courses to commemorate the Black revolutionaries who paved the way. Thus, when I saw this project, I knew it was a positive stance needed to help many in our community discover their hidden rich and unique histories. I wish to encourage not only myself, but others to understand and educate themselves regarding their cultures and ethnicities, even if they do not see them represented.
Thus, this chapter will discuss the 40s, spanning Black enlistment in the Royal Canadian Airforce, to the Black musical triumphs which stimulated the period’s culture.
Chapter 6 1949-1959
My name is Renee and I am Canadian-Jamaican born and raised in Montreal. I am participating in this project because I feel it is important to learn about the city’s history, the part that is not often discussed. This journey of discovery will not only allow me to learn about the past but also grant me the opportunity and responsibility to recount an important part of Black history in my city. Montreal’s Black history is important because it is a reminder of where we are coming from. Understanding the struggles of those before us, helps unite us. I feel more connected to my community knowing how far we have come through the various challenges. I am covering chapter six. The timeline for this chapter covers the 1950’s, a time of early immigration which gave rise to the Negro Citizenship Association (NCA). This chapter also explores Montreal’s popular Jazz artists and nightclubs and their influences in the city.
Amanda Asomani-Nyarko (she/her), also known as GG, is a 24-year-old writer, poet and spoken word artist. She is of Jamaican and Ghanaian descent, born and raised in Montreal. She is a recent graduate of Concordia University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. Currently, she is enrolled at McGill University in a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations and Communications Management.
Amanda is very passionate about reading, writing, and history. She would spend her summers reading, writing, and visiting history museums with her father as a child.
She is participating in this history project to share the stories and histories of Black immigrants in Montreal, whose contributions have often been overlooked. Montreal’s Black history is vital because many Montrealers know little or nothing about Black people’s many contributions, and Where They Stood will shine a light on this phenomenon.
Her chapter explores the various societal shifts occurring in Montreal during the 1960s that later influenced the creation and evolution of Black spaces.
Chapter 8 1970-1979
I’m an emerging singer-songwriter, poet and playwright from Tiotia:ke/Montreal. I have an undergraduate in literature. As storytelling is one of my greatest passions, I would like to explore the different types of mediums for storytelling throughout my life. As a second-generation immigrant, I’ve always wanted to know more about the history of black Canadians, particularly because we aren’t taught about it in school although it is part of Canadian history. This project gave me the opportunity to do so. It gave me the opportunity to learn more about the people that came before me, the dreams they nurtured and the accomplishments they have made in this great city and realize a childhood dream. In fact, as a child a dream of mine was to be able to contribute to the elevation of the black stories as black stories are the beginning of human history and being able to participate in this project is an honour to me and a small step in the direction of that dream. For this project, I will be covering chapter eight that starts with the October crisis and covers the years 1970 to 1975. My hopes are that more black Canadians learn about these amazing organizations, people and events.
Chapter 9 1980-1990
Donna Fabiola Ingabire graduated from from Concordia university with a double major in Community, Public Affairs and Policy Studies & Political science. She spent the majority of her childhood in Eastern and Southern Africa, and finally settled in Montreal in 2008. Fabiola draws her inspiration from Black activists and feminists like Winnie Mandela, Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo and Zora Neale Hurston.
Her background in policy has led to a keen interest in government regulations and policy responses following global social movements fueled by online discourses, such as the Arab Spring, #EndSARS and #blacklivesmatter. She is also interested in tech policies and how they affect marginalized communities.
As an English speaking immigrant and Black Montrealer, the familiarity of the erasure of the contributions made by those who came before her in this city have not been shocking. What has been surprising through her research for this history book project, was the large extent on which their erasure happened. Fabiola believes that by participating in this project , not only is she ensuring that these contributions receive the recognition they deserve, she is also letting future generations of Black Montrealers know that they too matter and belong here. The chapter she’s working on explores various Black community organizations and social groups created between 1980-1999. She will be researching their histories and the needs that their founders were trying to address.
Chapter 10 2002-2020
My name is Fanta Ly, I am a proud Black feminist with familial roots hailing from the Futa Tooro (Sénégal) to the Futa Djallon (Guinea). My multicultural upbringing spanning three continents has nurtured my interest in African diasporic livelihoods and the theory and praxis of Black solidarity. My racial reckoning began in 2018 when I moved to Montreal to pursue my studies at McGill Law. The pervasiveness of the Anti-Black Racism I experienced in law school has fundamentally altered my sense of self, belonging, and, most importantly, my aspirations. Learning about Montreal’s Black history marked the beginning of my healing journey and has allowed me to situate my own experience with generations of Black Montrealers longing for that sense of belonging. As an aspiring writer and lawyer, navigating institutional violence has fuelled my desire to pursue an impact-oriented career utilizing my experience and passion for law, policy, and advocacy to improve education law and policy. I am excited to be writing the final chapter, where I explore the continuing strategic mobilization of Black Montrealer’s through the nexus of local and international solidarity.