Float in Montreal parade sparks allegations of racism
Published Sunday, June 25, 2017 1:19PM EDT
A video taken at Saturday’s St. Jean Baptiste parade in Montreal is sparking outrage among some -- and calls for calm among others.
The video shows pop singer Annie Villeneuve on Rue St. Denis on a float being pushed by what appears to be only people of colour. Surrounding the float are droves of choir members, all dressed head-to-toe in white.
The video has been shared more than 12,000 times, and has a running thread of hundreds of comments. Many of the commenters are critical of the event’s lack of diversity, saying the float looked like some kind of historical depiction of slavery.
But representatives of the committee for La Fete Nationale say the incident is being misinterpreted. Maxime Laporte, president of the committee for the Fete Nationale, says the racial makeup of the float featured on the video is just a “coincidence.”
LaPorte explained to CTV Montreal that the teens in the video pushing the float are in fact students from a local high school. Many of them are members of athletic teams and represent “all ethnic backgrounds,” Laporte said.
Parade organizers asked the high school for volunteers as part of the parade’s “green” initiative to rely solely on volunteer manpower to move the floats.
Laporte says that the committee did not select volunteers based on their ethnicity.
“The youth at this high school generously and proudly gave their time to this exercise, and participated as volunteers in the parade,” he added.
Sterve Lubin, coach of the football team at Louis-Joseph-Papineau, said he believed the parade would present a “good physical challenge” for his students.
“[People] are talking because they saw an image—but they saw an image of three teens out of 60,” he told CTV Montreal. “I had 60 [students] with me.
Laporte said parade organizers were “extremely troubled” at being called racist.
"We are fundamentally anti-racist-- it's the opposite that we're trying to represent in our activities. We want to represent Quebec's diversity, and honour it."
With a report from CTV Montreal