The Prosecution of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel for
Discrimination in its Employment Practices
An examination of the lives of "Black Montrealers" in the pre-Canadian Human Rights Commission, Quebec Human Rights Commission, and The Committee for Research Action on Racial Relations (CRARR) era, we find discrimination in Housing and Employment rampant. But while we spoke about the various incidents which we experienced amongst ourselves, very few were willing to come forward to have their experience documented in order to build the case for the institution of legislation to combat those areas of prejudice and discrimination, in Housing and Employment, for fear of reprisals. The sentiments were: "If you think you did not get the job because you were Black come forward and have your case hit the news, and for sure you would never work again ." So, we consoled each other and carried on as best we could.
It was during the sixties, that a Black Registered Nurse named Gloria Baylis, who was employed at a nurse at a Montreal area Hospital, answered an advertisement from the Queen Elizabeth Hotel for a position of part-time nurse. She went to the Hotel to pick up an application form, and was told that the position had been filled.
Later that week, her two room mates, unknown to each other, also went to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel to pick up an application form, because they, too, were interested in the part-time position. Although they arrived several days after Gloria Baylis, who was told that the position had been filled, they were given application forms. As the room-mates chatted at dinner one night about their daily activities, the topic of the part-time position at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel arose. It was curious that although Gloria had been told the position was taken, the room mates who were white, were given application forms several days later, and encouraged to complete them. Very clearly, the position could not have been filled.
Fortunately for the Negro Citizenship Association, Gloria Baylis came forward with her story. The President was on a work-related assignment out of town, but authorized the Secretary to seek legal counsel in a effort to ascertain whether there was sufficient evidence to pursue the matter legally. The Secretary consulted with a Lawyer named Gerald N. F. Charness, who was also a City Counselor for the City of Montreal, with offices on what was then called Dorchester Boulevard, currently called Boulevard Rene Levesque. Upon examination of the evidence, which took the form of a written affidavit from the victim as well as photo copies of her room mates' deposition of their testimony, regarding the dates of their inquiry etc..., Mr. Charness decided that there was a solid case. He agreed to represent the Negro Citizenship Association and requested a deposit. Cash was in short supply, but it was not long before sufficient funds were generated through donations and fund-raising events to engage his services.
When the case finally reached before a judge, judgment was granted in favour of the Negro Citizenship Association and the Queen Elizabeth Hotel was fined for discrimination in Employment Practices. Although the fine was less than the cost of spending one night at the Hotel, there were many positive outcomes: First, we established Jurisprudence in the area of discrimination in employment, and gathered justification for Anti-discrimination legislation in employment. Second: The Negro Citizenship Association could begin to build a file of incidents, because based on the success of this case, people were not as intimated to come forward with their discriminatory experiences; and, Third: The Negro Citizenship Association could argue the case for the need of a watchdog agency to monitor the dispensation of Civil and Human rights of all citizens.
Today, we take for granted that there is a Federal Human Rights Commission, and a Quebec Human Rights Commission, but these institutions did not come into being because of the benevolence of our levels of government, they were devised to fill a need for Justice and Equality in Canadian Society. CRARR, an organization created to address various forms of discrimination, has been very effective in exposing such anomalies in our Quebec Society by encouraging individuals to seek redress. We owe them a debt of gratitude for all that they have done and continue to do to encourage citizens to come forward and address the issues in order to create a better and more humane society for all. No one is comfortable while holding others hostage. No one stands tall because he has cut off the feet of others.
Dr. Dorothy Wills, Past Secretary
Negro Citizenship Association.
Posted Feb. 11, 2012
A Little known Black Canadian Story
It was way back in the early sixties, that the Leadership of the Negro Citizenship Association, inspired by the Black Revolution taking place in the United States of America, decided to do something about the situation of Blacks in Quebec. Amongst the leadership of the Negro Citizenship Association, were people like Preston Jennings, a Black American College graduate from the South, who emigrated to the "Promised Land". Arthur Westmoreland, a learned man from Guyana, and the father of our First Black Judge in Quebec, Juanita Westmoreland -Traore; Arthur Blanchette, the President of the Railroad Car Porters Association, and the Father of Dr. Blanchette, a medical graduate of McGill University, now practicing medicine in California; as well as many other prominent Black People who lived on the island of Montreal.
The Negro Citizenship Association met once each month in the Basement of Union United Church. The monthly meetings were well attended and the organization was self-supporting in the sense that the membership contributed to the coffers organization through membership dues, and number of fund-raising activities. The organization abrogated unto itself certain tasks that were in the interests of Black People living in Quebec. For example, the organization met women from the islands arriving at the Airport under the "Domestic Scheme" and helped to orient their settlement in Canada. Members of the organization visited the sick, both at home and in hospitals, and looked into the plight of those accused of legal infractions.
But in the early sixties, under the Leadership of Richard Leslie of Barbados, the organization undertook a major project in the form of the integration of the Diamond and La Lasalle Taxis Industries in Montreal. There was a gradual escalation in the intervention, which grew from writing letters to the three levels of government, Federal, Provincial and Municipal, asking those various levels of government to intervene to ensure that those who were qualified to drive a taxis would be recruited to drive taxis in Quebec, to taking action when the response to the letters ranged from "this was a matter of Provincial Jurisdiction" to "this was private enterprise" to "not many Blacks qualify to drive a taxis because they are mainly newcomers to the city, and do not know the shortest route to get their passengers from one to the next.
Despite the best efforts of the Negro Citizenship Association to assure the authorities that indeed there were several third, fourth and fifth generation Black Canadians living in the City, who knew the City quite well, and despite classes to study maps of the City in order to inform would be candidates of the shortest route to various destinations, the position of those in authority remained firm. This meant that if you were a Black Person in Montreal, you could only drive a Veterans Taxi, because the Veterans Taxis Association was formed primarily with Federal Government funds for the social integration of persons returning from World War II into the work force. Because of this Federal funding, discrimination was contraindicated.
In order to break the impasse created between the position of the City Authority and the position of the Negro Citizenship Association, The President of the Negro Citizenship Association, a graduate of Sir George Williams University, Faculty of Commerce, presented himself as a candidate for a Taxis permit. He applied to the City of Montreal for a taxis permit, passed the necessary tests and was finally granted a Taxis permit. He then began driving a Diamond Taxis. He was subsequently followed by a number of other Black men. After one year, Richard Leslie successfully drove a Lasalle Taxi, and again he was followed by a number of others. No longer were there only two Black Taxis drivers driving Veterans Taxis in Montreal - now anyone who qualified could apply to drive a Taxis for any Taxi Cab company.
It was thanks to the Leadership of the Negro Citizenship Association in the early sixties, that Black People became eligible to drive a Taxis in Quebec - and more so, thanks to the personal sacrifice of Richard Leslie, a Commerce Graduate of Sir George Williams University, who delayed his application for a position commensurate with his academic qualifications to make the point that we, too, can drive a Taxis. Richard Leslie later obtained a position at Northern Telecommunications Company and served that company in their audit department for several years before retiring to his homeland of Barbados.
Many of the persons involved in the planning and execution of the program to integrate the taxis industry in Quebec are no longer with us - but there are still some left who can attest to the veracity of this account. One such person is Ms. Ivyline Fleming of the Jamaican Canadian Women's League and Dr. Clarence Bayne, of Concordia University, President of the Quebec Board of Black Educators, The Black Studies Center, and, Founder of The Black Theater Workshop.
Dr. Dorothy Wills, Past Secretary,
Negro Citizenship Association Inc.
Posted Feb. 10, 2013
A Little Known Canadian Story
Customarily, an annual Caribbean Conference was held at Sir George Williams University, now known as Concordia University, to examine certain anomalies in the various Caribbean Islands and to propose recommendations for amelioration of the identified problems. At one of these Caribbean Conferences, in the very early Seventies, since the majority attending that particular conference had become Canadian Citizens, and were gainfully employed in Canada, a decision was taken to explore the unification of Black Groups in Canada, so that Blacks in Canada would speak with one voice, while exploring ways to decrease perceived injustices in three common areas: Housing, Employment, and Educational opportunities.
That decision, which was phrased in the form of a motion, received unanimous approval. It was not long before another conference was held, and the idea of the unification of Black Groups took flight. The results of the follow-up conference was the formation of The Canadian Conference Committee of Black Organizations which was affectionately referred to as "The Triple C" under the Leadership of Dr Howard McCurdy, Head of the Biology Department, at the University of Windsor.
Dr. McCurdy was a formidable Leader with impeccable organizational skills, an imposing and impressive personality with brilliant ideas. It was not long before he named a number of vice -presidents representing the various regions of Canada. For Example, the late Joe Drummond represented Eastern Canada, while the late Roy Williams represented Western Canada. While the large provinces of Quebec and Ontario each had their own representative, and an executive secretary was also named.
The organization was barely off the ground, when a major incident involving the refusal to bury a Black Baby in a cemetery in Nova Scotia was brought to the attention of the President. The president immediately instructed the Executive Secretary to contact all 46 member organizations, apprising them of the situation; urging them to send telegrams and letters of protest to the authorities in Nova Scotia. Many of the organization not only sent telegrams and letters urging the desegregation of the Cemetery, so that the baby could be buried, but urged their individual members to join the protest and do likewise.
In less than ten days, The Executive Secretary received a telegram from the Premier of Nova Scotia which read as follows:
"I have given myself sufficient Provincial Authority to repeal this and any such existing legislation from the Statute Books of Nova Scotia."
Signed: G. I. Smith, Premier.
Copies of this telegram was sent to all 46 member organizations, as we celebrated our first triumph. The Baby was buried, and we moved on to the next challenge.
Few people today know that this type of segregation existed in Canada, and many would never know how the cemeteries of Nova Scotia became desegregated, but this all came about through the efforts of The Canadian Conference Committee of Black Organizations under the leadership of Dr. Howard McCurdy, a descendant of Frederick Douglas.
Posted Feb. 09, 2013
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BREADFRUIT
Posted Feb. 09, 2013
SPEECH TO SENIORS
The year 2011 was a very important milestone. This was the year when the first lot of baby boomers, born in 1946, reached 65 years of age and became what is commonly defined as "SENIOR CITIZENS". For the next 20 to 30 years, increasing numbers of BABY BOOMERS will continue to mellow into the golden years of the seniors, a stage that Quebecers call "LE TROISIEM AGE". BABY BOOMERS are the large number of people who were born after World War 2 and grew up in the 1960's and 1970's. In Quebec, 90,600 people turned the big Six Five in 2011- more than a quarter of the 344,000 in Canada.
According to a Gazette article of August 2, 2011 entitled "65, but who's counting", Canada had the biggest BABY BOOM in the western world - and Quebec was the province with the biggest BABY BOOM in Canada.
Would you like to take a guess about why Quebec had so many baby boomers? I think that religion had something to do with it. According to some older folks, the Roman Catholic church used to have a lot more influence in Quebec. Quebecers could have been convinced that birth control was a sin, so they had more children. As time progressed, the birthrate decreased because of Feminism, the introduction of the birth control pill and the economic reality.
The impending increase in the number of seniors is causing a lot of concerns. Governments are taking steps to accommodate the increasing costs of pensions and health care. Seniors and soon-to-be seniors are concerned about getting old, being unable to work, ill health and reduced income.
What I would like to say today is that we seniors should not allow these concerns to intimidate us into a passive state of inactivity and lack of action; we should optimistically embrace the fact of old age and enjoy it as much as possible. Even though it is true that we senior citizens spent all of our lives earning the right to do whatever we want to do, I want to suggest that, for our own good, we seniors should work on convincing ourselves that we need to stay strong and fight for our rights.
Here are some ways in which we seniors can play a part in making this stage of our lives as comfortable and useful as possible.
The first and most important thing that we seniors can do is to TAKE CARE OF OUR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH. We can take fairly simple and effective steps to prolong the well-being of our bodies and minds, with physical and mental exercises and activities. By doing this, we will be happier, and we will reduce the increases in health-care costs that Governments and administrations are predicting as a by-product of aging.
Everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Many municipalities have fitness sessions for seniors, including aqua-fitness in their swimming pools. There are many free ways to keep fit. Go for a walk. Whenever we go shopping, it is a good idea to consciously take a fitness walk around before, during or after we do our shopping. While watching TV, we can get up and stretch or walk on the spot. While sitting, we can bend from side to side and from front to back. Let's all stand now and practice what I am preaching.
We should develop and maintain social interaction with as many family members, friends or others as possible. We can try to make new friends and set a "new friend target" for ourselves; it could be one new friend a day, or one new friend a year, as long as it is positive. Why? Because we need friends, and they are so precious that we need as many as we can get, and it is not good for us to be lonely.
Another excellent objective is to work at having a pleasant disposition, because it is very difficult to like someone if they are miserable and cantankerous. Be genuine; smile often; say "hello" first, instead of waiting on the other person to say hello; be interested in the person you are talking to and let them see that you are interested. Call people on the phone now and then to touch base, find out how they are doing and to update them about yourself. Try to be part of a group that does things together, and remember that a group means two or more people. This could be a games group that plays one or more games together; a food group for regular group breakfasts, lunches or dinners; a movie group that goes to movies together; a soap opera group that discusses soap operas together; an exercise group that goes to the gym together; a cooking group; a dance or party group; a travel group; a church group; a voluntary organization, etcetera.
Volunteer to give something back to the community. We should set a target time per week or per month for the amount of time we will volunteer. Even one hour of volunteering per month is better than zero time. Here are some ways of volunteering: Go to your neighborhood school and offer your services as a volunteer. You may end up doing something you enjoy, like reading with a child for 15 minutes. Check with your local YMCA, Library, hospital or Town Hall. Check the phone book for Voluntary Organizations and offer to volunteer in ones you like. Note that you could have a problem if the administration starts to treat you like another employee, even though you are not paid, so you may choose to move from one to another to prevent them from getting to rely on you too much. On the other hand, who knows, you may find that you want to make a commitment and like being needed; as long as you make it your choice.
Find out how you can visit those who are confined to their homes by sickness or who are in hospital, and commit some time to this. Many of these seniors would love to get a home-cooked meal to break the monotony of institutional food and TV dinners that are probably not rated near to the top of the scale of delicious foods. When I was a boy back home, every Saturday, my mother sent me to take a bowl of home-cooked soup to Miss James down the road. She was always ready and waiting, and obviously very happy to get the soup.
There are more ways of volunteering than we can imagine; here are some examples of requests for volunteers that I saw in this week's West Island Gazette:
1) Volunteers are needed to help prepare sandwiches and baked goods for our monthly Seniors' café. Ingredients provided and prepared at our kitchen. One Tuesday a month from 1 to 4 pm.
2) Volunteers needed to help at a fundraiser on August 20 at Calistoga Grille in Pointe Clair. Proceeds go to the Lakeshore Hospital.
3) Volunteers needed to help with grocery shopping and/or dishwashing at various Meals on Wheels kitchens in the West Island.
4) A 65 year old woman in Lachine who is experiencing an intellectual disability would like a female volunteer to accompany her to a restaurant on occasion. She also enjoys going to the movies, cats and watching Doctor Oz.
5) An elderly couple in Pierrefonds with no family nearby would like a volunteer to help them with grocery shopping once in a while.
Ads for volunteers to help individuals are usually processed through established volunteer services and organizations.
Seniors need to forget about petty differences and learn to care for and look after each other. We are in the last stage of our lives and we need to make the most of it. Try your hardest to forgive and forget.
Defend and fight for our rights as seniors. Although Canada is a bilingual country with both English and French as its two official languages, there is no active Quebec governmental policy to maintain documentation and services in English for citizens in Quebec and the Canadian government does not seem to be doing anything about it. In 1974, Bill 22 made French the only official language in the province of Quebec; it was expanded into law with the current Bill 101, The Charter of The French Language. Since then, the Quebec government actively promotes only French, one of the two official languages of Canada, as per Canada's constitution. We are getting less and less English documentation and services from the Quebec government and Quebec businesses, as expressed in an article in Montreal's Gazette of July 20, 2011 titled "I'm bilingual, but I want to discuss my health in English" and a subsequent Gazette editorial on August 8, 2011 titled "Accessible health care in English is everyone's right". Services in English in Canada is our constitutional right; if nobody remembers this and nobody mentions it and nobody asks for it, this right will continue to fade away in Quebec. If you are an English speaking person in Quebec, you need to be aware of this and you need to be prepared to take steps to ensure that your English rights are respected and preserved.
When we have taken the necessary steps to prolong our own mental and physical well-being, we will be best equipped to take advantages of all the services that our governments and administrations are setting up for seniors.
In the past 50 years, targeted research and developments in longevity have resulted in the addition of 20 more years to our life expectancy.
Governments have sponsored and are sponsoring many research projects about the needs of seniors. As a result, there are several programs for seniors. We are now seeing new resources and facilities for seniors such as Municipal activities, Store Discounts, Transportation discounts, Travel discounts, Entertainment discounts, discounts for meals and even Seniors' Dating Services.
Quebec is a leader when it comes to concern for seniors. Quebec was the first jurisdiction in North America to abolish mandatory retirement in 1983. Three other provinces and three territories now have abolished mandatory retirement as being discriminatory: they are Alberta, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, plus the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. Canada is working on this. Canada's Bill C-481, which will prevent mandatory retirement in all of Canada, has passed the second reading in parliament and could become Canadian law before the next federal election.
There are financial subsidies from the governments that provide regular money to seniors who are having difficulties in covering basic living expenses with their pensions. Subsidized housing is also available. Check with the Federal and Provincial government agencies to find out more.
The STM will convert all of Montreal's buses to the low-floor type by 2012.
There is a plan to install elevators in all of Montreal's Metro stations, starting with 5 stations on the orange line.
The time given for pedestrians crossing at traffic lights is being increased so that slower walkers can cross safely.
Seniors are in a privileged position. The Governments want to keep us happy, possibly because our numbers are increasing and our voting strength is becoming more significant. Let us stand tall. Be proud, keep in touch and stay informed about what is happening and let us enjoy our golden years.
D.L., Aug. 2011
1) Carlos Slim Helú & family, Mexican telecom mogul (US$74 billion)
2) Bill Gates, USA, Microsoft (US 56 billion)
3) Warren Buffett, USA, Berkshire Hathaway (US$50 billion)
4) Bernard Arnault, France, LVMH (US$41 billion)
5) Larry Ellison, USA, Oracle (US$39.5 billion)
6) Lakshmi Mittal, India, Steel (US$31.20 billion)
7) Amancio Ortega, Spain, Zara (US$31 billion)
8) Eike Batista, Brazil, Mining, oil (US$30 billion)
9) Mukesh Ambani, India, Petrochemicals (US$27 billion)
10) Christy Walton & family, USA, Wal-Mart (US$26.5 billion)
Reference: Forbes Magazine, http://www.forbes.com/2011/03/09/billionaires-20-richest_slide.html
1) Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Nigeria, US$13.8 billion, owner of the Dangote Group, which has operations in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa, including Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia.
2) Mohammed Al Amoudi (US$12.3 billion)
3) Patrice Motsepe, South Africa, gold magnate (US$3.3 billion)
4) Oprah Winfrey, USA, (US$2.7 billion)
5) Mike Adenuga, Nigeria, (US$2 billion)
6) Mo Ibrahim, UK, (US$1.8 billion)
Reference: Forbes Magazine, 2011
The 10 happiest countries
According to Forbes Magazine's Christopher Helman - Thu Jan 20, 4:22 PM, five years ago researchers at the Legatum Institute, a London-based nonpartisan think tank, set out to rank the happiest countries in the world. But because "happy" carries too much of a touchy-feely connotation, they call it "prosperity."
Here's the list:
5. New Zealand
10. United States