about the


"Those who assume that a person has no history worth mentioning are likely to believe they have no humanity worth defending. A historical legacy strengthens a country and its people. Denying a people’s heritage questions their legitimacy."
- William Loren Katz

Our goal

Between Past & Present is a project meant to draw attention to the erasure of BIPOC history and identity in the bigger narrative of the History of Montreal and Quebec. This project is a visual and written manifesto of BIPOC’s presence, resistance, and resilience despite the suppression of their cultural essence. Furthermore, BIPOC cannot be portrayed as "them" anymore. As if they have always been outsiders who never took part in the history of Montreal.

We want to go beyond the stereotypical stories of the presence of these communities in Montreal so we can create cultural empowerment, and open the discussion on how history is taught in Quebec schools. This project addresses the gaps in knowledge regarding the history of Black, Indigenous, and Chinese communities that spans from well before the foundation of Montreal until the late 20th Century.

Our approach

Historic scenes of the Black, Indigenous, and Chinese communities in Montreal were reenacted to connect the past and the present by visualizing our contemporaries in environments of the past. Collages were created by the photographer Bliss Mutanda, where archive pictures of Montreal were juxtaposed with recent pictures of BIPOC youth. In addition, a few poet artists were invited to write short poems reflecting on the presence and history of BIPOC in Montreal. 

The research was made by consulting various written works, the archives of the city of Montreal, the Montreal History Centre, the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), and the archives of the McCord Museum. A special mention goes to Parker Mah, who advised us throughout this project on the history of the Chinese community in Montreal and Canada. During the course of this project, we faced several limitations, as research and literature on the history of BIPOC communities in Montreal is very limited.

The website

The present website aims to share all the information collected on the history of the Black, Indigenous, and Chinese communities in Montreal. We also hope that this website will be a tool for education about the history of these communities in our schools’ curriculums.

This website is not an exhaustive list of the contributions and events of all BIPOC communities in Montreal. We recognize the contribution of Montreal's multiple BIPOC communities to its history, but we were not able to investigate the contribution of all these communities due to the time limitations. This is a first project that will enventually lead to more research on the contribution of all these communities.

"Once an archive is compiled, it makes a claim on history; as a vehicle of memory, it becomes the trace on which a historical record is founded, and it makes some people, things, ideas, and events visible while relegating others, through its signifying absence, to invisibility"
- Smith, 2004 cited in Cheryl Thompson, Black Canada and Why the Archival Logic of Memory Needs Reform

Thank you

Many thanks to the YWCA and the Government of Canada for making this project possible. This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada.