Skip to main content

Montreal's Community Contact lives on after death of founder Egbert Gaye


The latest issue of Community Contact is out Friday – the first issue to be printed since its founder Egbert Gaye's sudden death earlier this summer.

The newspaper has been serving Montreal's English-speaking Black community for more than 30 years, and many say it's important to continue Gaye's labour of love.

Emar Mitchell, Gaye's son, said doing the delivery route without his father was difficult.

"It's very overwhelming, it's very emotional, because delivering, that was my time with my dad. On the road. And we'd listen to music, laugh, sometimes we'd argue," said Mitchell. "This trip – yeah, I might have some people with me, but it's not my dad. It's not going to be the same thing."

This issue of Community Contact is a tribute to Gaye, who spent more than 30 years writing, editing and giving a voice to his community.

Egbert died of a heart attack in June at age 67.

It came as a shock to many, especially his son.

"Doing this paper, I have to look -- not only look but work on -- a lot of photos of my dad. And read a lot of stories about my dad. And that wasn't easy to do. Because the thing is, I was so numb. I was in so much pain. I'm numb. I don't know how I did it, honestly. Look straight ahead, kind of thing," he said.

Mitchell, who grew up at the paper, said he must keep the legacy going. He started working with his father straight out of graphic design school.

"It was never a dull moment," said Mitchell. "He loved being a mentor. He loved being a dad to everybody."

In the coming days, Mitchell will deliver 6,000 copies to businesses around Montreal.

Family, friends and the paper's writers, past and present, have all pitched in to help – including this issue's guest editor, CTV News Montreal's Maya Johnson, who was one of the many journalists Gaye mentored over the years.

Writer Rosie Awori has been at the paper for five years and is determined to see it live on.

"You can see from the tributes that came through, and there have been phone calls and emails," she said. "Everyone wants it to continue, and I think it's important that we continue."

And at a time when many newspapers are folding, Mitchell believes there's still a future for Community Contact.

"It keeps them informed, because a lot of those older West Indians, they still haven't really mastered the phone thing anyways, so that's good for us," he said with a laugh.

Mitchell knows there are challenges ahead but plans to release another issue in two weeks, carrying on his father's life's work.

"I think he'd be... overly proud," he said. "I think he'd be emotionally proud." Top Stories

Stay Connected