The North Star


“It’s Our Struggle!” Exhibition at Bâtiment 7

Dive into the history of workers’ struggles in Quebec

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From March 24 to 27, 2023, Bâtiment 7 in Pointe-Saint-Charles will host a unique exhibition: "It's Our Struggle! Popular Groups and Workers in Quebec (1970-1975)." At a time when the country is experiencing an upsurge in social conflicts of all kinds (strikes, housing crisis, cost of living), this exhibition offers a glimpse into the not-so-distant past when the working class spoke out and played a determining role in Quebec's political life. North Star spoke with Mélissa Miller, the exhibition's organizer.

Why this exhibition?

"In school, in our history classes, we learn that it was during the Quiet Revolution that the many government reforms that transformed Quebec into a secular social democracy were enacted. This history is about government reforms, about the political parties in power. This history makes invisible the largest part of the population: the ordinary men and women. With this exhibition, we wanted to show the struggles of those who fought for better living conditions, created their own institutions such as medical clinics, day care centers, production cooperatives, and sometimes even advocated for radical social change.

We also wanted to show the political activity of workers, who fought for better working conditions, often against large American multinationals that had little respect for them. [...] When you look at what people were mobilizing against as early as the late 1960s, you realize that these are the same issues we face today."

What will visitors to the exhibit see?

"About 50 documents will be on display. A few portfolios containing complete collections of newspapers will also be accessible and searchable. This is only a small fraction of all the documents that were produced at the time by the groups in struggle, but it is a small fraction representative of the popular and labor initiatives of the time.

The documents on display come from the activist Robert Demers (1950-2020), who worked as a documentalist for the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL). During this period, he accumulated huge collections of various objects, books, newspapers, pamphlets, records, posters, and other items relating to the international and Quebec labour movement. The estate of Robert Demers generously donated this enormous collection of documents to us [...] It is a very precious source that allows us to know our militant past, our revolutionary past. Through these documents, we can know what people before us fought for, what they did, why, and how."

Who is the exhibition for?

"The exhibition is intended to be accessible to anyone who is interested, which is why it is free. Workers, but also students, former activists... We believe that it is essential that people know our history. [...] Knowledge is power. If you don't know anything, you can be told anything and believe anything. This is especially true for history. And what we know about history shapes our view of the world today."

The "It's Our Struggle" exhibition will take place on March 24, 25, and 26 (1:00 to 6:00 pm) and March 27 (1:00 to 4:00 pm) at 1900 Le Ber Street [Suite 201], in Montreal, Quebec.

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