Learn About The Black History In Montreal With This New City Tour
Being Black and proud takes a whole new sense!
The Hidden Black History In Montreal Unveiled
The black history in Montreal is a topic rarely brought up in conversations for many different reasons. If you stick to what your class of ”Histoire Du Québec” in high school, you would swear our history here only dates back to the first waves of immigration 50 years ago.
I don’t blame you for not knowing because not too long ago I was on the same boat. It always amazed me how I could be a quote on quote Montrealer outside and a Haitian in the comfort of my home.
To this day I can’t wrap my head around identifying myself as a ”Québécois” and a lot of people of colour do too.
I never felt represented either on TV and for the most part I could rarely pinpoint ANYTHING people from my community have contributed to the city.
Rito Joseph is someone who I think probably shared this sentiment but instead of creating a media platform to control his own narrative like I did, he focused on creating a movement to pass down this missing knowledge about the black history in Montreal.
A self taught speaker, tour guide and frequent panelist, the young entrepreneur has made his mission to educate tourists and locals about the incredible history that people of colour has been part of since the early foundation of Montreal.
”Tourist In My City” is the name of the experience. Pretty much self explanatory but when Rito Joseph invited me a couple weeks ago, I HAD TO see it for myself.
A tour that takes you on the road down memory lane? Count me in!
It starts off with a meet and greet at the Champ de Mars station. The group gets together first (respecting social distancing of course) and once the count is done, we hit the road.
As a good ice breaker our guide takes us to places we walk on every single day and tries his best to paint the picture of what was once taking place there.
The shocking part of it all is that we were at known places like Place Jacques Cartier with multiple statues, cathedrals and the old port aesthetic but no mention for places that actually still had slave names and the ramifications behind their story.
The experience is very interactive. You don’t fact checked to death, Rito lets you come up with what you think you’re supposed to see at a given site and then proceeds with a deep dive.
I was blown away about a lot of the symbols that I took for granted not knowing they had racists connotations.
In the tour you get to hear names and put a face to the pioneers of the black history in Montreal.
You might automatically associate it with slavery but through the tour you get to hear about powerful black people who actually leverage economically or politically.
For those wondering, it’s a good hour and a half of walking, stopping from time to time to do get explanations about the site and live Q&As at every stops.
I’m not the walker type, it was raining as hell through times but I’ll be honest, that hour and half passed so fast.
I would like to say it’s my natural curiosity that made me enjoy it but for the most part it was Rito’s work.
I loved the fact that the group was very diverse. From kids to older people, parents, people from underprivileged backgrounds and professionals.
It made me realized that beyond all those superficial stuffs, we are all alike when it comes to this search for our history and empowerment.
If you really want to learn more about black history in Montreal and pretty across Canada, I highly suggest this tour. You won’t regret it!
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