Dan Philip, a pillar of Montreal’s Black community, has died

"Dan Phillip was a moral force people kept on calling,” said Marvin Rotrand, former Montreal city councillor, about the long-time Black community and civil rights activist who died on Monday. Osa Iyare reports.

By News Staff

Long-time community and civil rights activist, and former president of the Black Coalition of Quebec, Dan Philip died Monday at the age of 87.

In a press release, the Black Coalition of Quebec said: “His sudden death will leave no one indifferent because he was not only a distinguished character recognized for his commitment and his fight for justice and the defense of rights.”

Former city councillor Marvin Rotrand, who served as a city councillor for the Snowdon district and often worked closely with Philip, called him “one of the strongest voices for civil rights.”

“Dan was ahead of his time,” said Rotrand. “He believed the best way to fight anti-Black racism was to reach out to other ethnic and religious minorities to say ‘you have to do something’ because we are stronger united, when looking after each other.”

Rotrand, who also expressed his desire for the National Assembly to honour Philip with a motion, said that the long-time pillar of Montreal’s Black community had “a strong voice against discrimination in housing” and was “a strong advocate for accountability.”

Philip was one of the first in Quebec to support efforts to stop discriminatory police street checks that most often target visible minorities and Indigenous people.

Rotrand said that Dan wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and called things as it was.

“Police brutality was unacceptable and a reality. His work helped to open up the police department to qualify Black candidates. He basically got the police department to understand that they had a problem. Eventually, people realized he was right.”

In a tweet, Quebec Premier Francois Legault described Philip as a “courageous and determined man.”

Montreal city councillor Craig Sauvé offering his condolences on X, described Philip as a “well-respected campaigner against racism and discrimination and “a strong voice for social justice in Quebec.”

Quebec Liberal Party leader Marc Tanguay tweeted, “Mr. Philip raised his voice and defended with conviction throughout his life his values and his vision of an ever more equal and unifying Quebec while defending human rights.”

Mark Henry is the president of the Jamaica Association of Montreal.

He said that Philip’s legacy was focused on humanity rather than just race but it just so happened that the Black community at the time of his reign was the one that needed more presence, leadership and support.

“We owe Mr. Philip’s a huge gratitude for the work and the commitment and the sacrifices because doing a work like that comes a lot of sacrifices when you’re fighting against injustice,” explained Henry. “So, the community, our organization, our membership, we wanna send our condolences to Mr. Dan Philip’s and his family and he will truly be missed.”

Born in 1935 in St-Lucia, Philip came to Montreal in 1972 and earned a degree in political science from Concordia University.

He served as president for the Black Coalition of Quebec for four decades before retiring in 2019 but remained the organization’s honorary president.

Dan Philip
President of the Black Coalition of Quebec, Dan Philip, speaks at a news conference in Montreal Friday, Jan.15, 2010 about the ongoing aid effort for Haiti following a devastating earthquake.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

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