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Montrealers mark the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nearly 50 years after civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, his fight for equal rights continues to resonate.
Community groups gathered in Montreal Monday night to mark the occasion and support one another in the fight that remains.
“I think he's like a legend,” said Dominica St-Germain, who spoke at the city’s commemoration. “He's my inspiration because we see in the USA, no one wanted to speak. But he was strong enough to go and speak.”
The issues Dr. King fought against remain today. Youveline Gervil, a representative of Montreal’s Maison d'Haiti said Donald Trump's alleged comments about Haiti hurt, adding that Haitian-Canadians face racism here in Montreal too.
“It's very hard for me, and with all these messages. Sometimes it can affect me a lot,my self-esteem and at the end of the day, just tell yourself you're a great person and nobody's opinions can affect what you think of yourself,” said Gervil.
Making King’s dream happen is what the event is about, organizers say.
“There are ways to create in very concrete ways a more peaceful and harmonious society. And that's what we’re trying to support. That's what we're trying to help sustain and help create in whatever way we can,” said Brian Bronfman, President of the Peace Network for Social Harmony.
Groups invited to the event tackle everything from poverty, to racism to violence against women – issues that intersect, said Anuradha Dugal of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
“It's impossible to unwind them from each other because it's really about how our society is willing to wake up and maybe see some for the ways in which violence affects us all,” said Dugal.
“We know there needs to be changes around all different groups aspiring to reach their dreams,” added Michael Farkas of Youth in Motion.
Some of those changes, said Farkas, start at city hall. While 30 per cent of Montreal's population is made up of visible minorities, that number is not reflected in city council, where only 4 of 65 councillors are non-white.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said there are plans in the works to change this.
“I'm the mayor of Montreal, but I have the ability, the capacity, to put together more programs like the one we're putting together in this budget to hire people coming from diversity to give them the opportunity to come and work in the City of Montreal public functions,” she said.