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Montreal, February 11, 2016 — Today marks the first official Nelson Mandela Day in Quebec.

A special event was held in the National Assembly this morning to highlight this important Day.

The Quebec National Assembly adopted Bill 493 in June 2015 to officially declare February 11 Nelson Mandela Day, a day upon which all Quebecers will be invited to promote and celebrate the “fundamental values of freedom, justice, equality and fraternity between peoples, and (that) these universal values should be central to all decisions and actions by civil society and government institutions.”

“Today, we celebrate Nelson Mandela Day and the sacred values for which Mr. Mandela lived and sacrificed a great part of his life, and we renew on this day and beyond our pledge to make these values into the foundations of our laws, policies and way of life,” said CRARR's Executive Director Fo Niemi.

Mr. Nelson Mandela was freed on February 11, 1990, after three decades of imprisonment for his fight against apartheid in South Africa. He was then elected President of South Africa from May 9, 1994 to June 14, 1999.

This bill stems from an initiative of a citizens’ committee who, in February 2014, submitted two proposals to the National Assembly and the Government of Québec in order to establish a permanent and recurrent celebration of the universal legacy of Nelson Mandela in the province of Québec. The various political parties and about thirty community organizations had signed a statement in support of the citizens’ committee request in February 2014. The citizens' committee is made up of Myrlande Pierre, Jean-Claude Icart, Fo Niemi, and Brenda Paris.

Mr. Mandela came to Montreal in June 1990 less than six months after his prison release as part of his world tour to countries that had fought for the overthrow of the Apartheid government. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, Montreal was at the forefront of the Canadian movement against Apartheid in South Africa. While in Montreal, he visited the Union United Church, the oldest Black church in Quebec, acknowledging the key role played by Black and other Montrealers in the struggle for global and domestic racial justice.

Union United Church will hold a special celebration of Nelson Mandela Day this Sunday, February 14, at 2.00 pm.

Read Bill 493:

15-493a.pdf86.09 KB