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On déteste les racistes! 5000 march in Montreal against racism

Chantal Sundaram

November 16, 2017

The English Canadian media continues to portray the people of Quebec as more racist that anyone else.

But on November 12, 5000 marched in Montreal against racism and hate: against Trump and the alt-right; against the rise of fascism, in Europe as in Canada and Quebec; against racist immigration policy and the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and against Quebec's Law 62 which denies services to women who wear the niqab.

Endorsed by nearly 200 organizations, including the Fédération des femmes du Québec, Alternatives, and many local community groups and student unions from across Quebec, the march drew buses from Quebec City, Sherbrooke and the Outaouais region.

There were contingents from the Montreal labour council, carrying flags of the Fédération du Travail du Québec (FTQ)—one of Quebec’s largest labour federations—of postal workers and of CUPE, and separate union contingents from ACTRA (actors and performing arts) and IATSE (performing arts production crew).

There was a Jewish contingent with signs that read “Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism: Same struggle” and “Plus jamais, pas pour personne” (“Never again, not for anyone.”)   

A family contingent with strollers met ahead of time to join the march as a group.

Speakers not only denounced the far right, but the everyday systemic racism that feeds it, from the Quebec Liberal government’s decision to abandon a planned public consultation on systemic racism to its embrace of a neoliberal vision of immigration policy. Speakers denounced attempts to blame immigrants and racialized people for poverty and insecurity in Quebec society.

But the Liberal’s recent passing of Law 62 on the niqab was a key focus of every speaker at the start of the march, and of many of the homemade signs.    

This protest came together through grassroots mobilization, and demonstrated the desire for more. The focus on linking opposition to the rise of the far right to systemic, everyday racism was key in building broad support.

While the passing of Law 62 was an obvious way to link the two in Quebec, the rise of neo-fascism and the alt-right can be linked back everywhere in English Canada and Europe to the everyday racism that drives some to despair and scapegoating and others to resistance and solidarity. The more we march, the more we build confidence to choose the right side.   

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