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La ville de Mattawa célèbre le 100ieme anniversaire de leur Maire - Par : Paul Mackey

mercredi 11 février 2009 par William Toussaint

-Press Release from Past Forward Heritage-

Comment in Obama inauguration address evokes comparison to the story of the election of Canada’s first Black mayor in Mattawa in 1963.

When Regional historian and author Doug Mackey heard US President Obama
say : "A man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been
served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most
sacred oath," in his inauguration speech Mackey couldn’t help but make
comparisons to the pivotal incident in the story of the election of
Canada’s first Black mayor in Mattawa in 1963. Mackey has just finished
writing and is currently in the process of preparing for spring
publication, Where Rivers Meet : The Story of S. F. Monestime Canada’s First Black Mayor.

The story of what happened when a Black doctor from the
Caribbean nation of Haiti on his way to Timmins from Ottawa stopped for
lunch at the Chez Francois Restaurant in the Northern Ontario town of Mattawa in 1951 is local legend. "Dr. Monestime thought they were going
to challenge him when he entered the restaurant." Mackey recalls
"but what did happen eventually led to his historical election as the mayor of
Mattawa twelve years later. His election was national and international
news at the time. He eventually served nine terms as mayor until his
death in 1977."

The owner of the Chez Francois Restaurant had been a patient of Dr.
Monestime’s in Ottawa and was pleased to see him. A long serving Mattawa
doctor had recently died and a new doctor was proving hard to find. The
town leaders welcomed Dr. Monestime and he stayed to be the town’s
highly respected doctor. He was elected town councillor in 1962 and ran
and won for mayor the next year.

Dr Monestime’s daughter Vala Belter the Administrator of Mattawa’s
Algonquin Nursing Home, which was started by her father, remembers when
Martin Luther King made his "I have a dream" speech in August 1963. Her
father was watching with the family when King referred to his four
children and said that he dreamed that they would "one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by
the content of their character." Dr. Monestime turned to his four
children and said that the same applied to them. He was elected mayor
only three months later.

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