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Montreal, June 9, 2020 — CRARR learned that Centraide of Greater Montreal has cancelled a webinar on the topic of inclusion in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that excluded the English-speaking community of Greater Montreal. It was the right thing to do.

A group of community advocates and organizations publicly called out Centraide and its President Lili-Anna Pereša in a letter of protest released this morning. Among their objections are the lack of English-speaking representation and the participation of the Longueuil Police Chief on a panel. Due this letter, Centraide has cancelled the activity ( because “it may be too early for this type of discussion.”

The webinar scheduled for June 10, 2020 was titled "Are We All Equal in A Pandemic?” to discuss the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on different communities and “hot spots” (“quartiers chauds”). Presenters included: Lili-Anna Pereša, C.Q., President and Executive Director, Centraide of Greater Montreal; Lida Aghasi, Executive Director, Centre social d’aide aux immigrants (CSAI); Marjorie Villefranche, Executive Director, La Maison d'Haïti and Fady Dagher, Director, Service de police de l'agglomération de Longueuil.

However, Centraide failed to include on this panel a person from the English-speaking community, or someone who can speak on the needs of English-speaking persons, including Asian, Black and South Asian health care professionals and their families who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus infection and may be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 and socioeconomic disparities.

“With this panel, Centraide was saying that it was not relevant to have an English-speaking community organization to be part of a public conversation about inclusion and COVID-19 disparities. It was a bad message,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.

“We just witnessed last weekend one of biggest community mobilizations in Montreal against systemic racism, and heard thousands of voices calling for real change and real inclusion. We need to end the exclusion of English-speaking people from mainstream platforms and narratives on COVID-19, diversity and building inclusive cities,” he said.

“We urge Centraide to set up inclusive panel discussions on inclusion and COVID-19 with panelists who truly reflect the diversity of Greater Montreal,” Niemi concluded.

A survey recently conducted by Leger Marketing, commissioned by Quebec Community Groups Network and the Association for Canadian Studies, found that English-Speaking Quebecers and allophones have greater concerns about COVID-19 than francophones.