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Montreal, February 29, 2020 —Terry Brazill, the grandson of Fred Christie, the Montreal Black man who went to the Supreme Court to fight against racism in 1939, will speak at a symposium at the McGill Faculty of Law, tomorrow, Saturday, February 29, 2020, from 1:00 to 5:00 PM at 3644 Peel St, Montreal.

To celebrate Black History Month 2020, CRARR, the Labour Law and Development Research Laboratory of the McGill Faculty of Law and the Union United Church will co-host the symposium on Fred Christie’s battle, which led to the 1939 Supreme Court decision in Christie v. York Corporation.

In 1939, Mr. Christie, a Verdun resident originally from Jamaica, took his case to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge lower courts’ decisions that upheld the Montreal Tavern’s denial of services to Black persons in the name of freedom of commerce. He lost, as there were no civil rights laws in Canada to ban racial discrimination at the time. Mr. Christie’s case is now taught in all constitutional law classes at Canadian universities.

On December 9, 2019, on the 80th anniversary of the landmark decision, CRARR called on the Government of Canada to recognize Mr. Christie, by issuing a stamp in his honor and by designating him as a Person of National Historic Significance, among other measures.

The symposium is a part of initiatives by CRARR and members of the local Black community to raise public awareness of Mr. Christie’s case and to achieve national recognition of his legal battle, which started a decade before Viola Desmond fought hers in Nova Scotia and before Jackie Robinson came to Montreal to play baseball for the Montreal Royals.

In addition to Mr. Brazill, symposium speakers include Adelle Blackett, Professor, and the Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labour Law and Development, Faculty of Law, McGill University; Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission; Vrinda Narain, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University; and Barrington Walker, a historian specializing in Canadian Black and Legal History and Senior Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Sameer Zuberi, MP for Pierrefonds-Dollard and member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, will deliver the opening remarks. Peter Flegel, Director of the Anti-Racism Secretariat of the Government of Canada, will deliver the closing remarks.

Robert Leckey, Dean of the McGill Law Faculty, and Tamara Thermitus, lawyer, will moderate discussions.

A similar event will be held at Union United Church the following day. Mr. Brazill, Mr. Walker and Prof. Blackett will speak on the importance of the case for the Black community, and the role that the Union United Church played in Mr. Christie’s case.

This event will be held on Sunday, March 1st, 2020, from 11:30 PM to 12:30 PM (after the regular 11 AM church service), at Union United Church, located at 3007 Delisle, Montreal.