Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Outremont parents pushing for a more inclusive borough 

A group of Outremont parents are hoping to use an annual neighbourhood festival as a springboard to bring together the diverse groups that inhabit the borough.

On Monday evening, the group asked Outremont's city council to move the party from its normal spot on a Saturday in hopes that it would allow members of the Hasidic community to attend.

Saturday marks the weekly Jewish Sabbath, which would prohibit observant followers of the religion from attending.

"It's really the biggest event that happens in Outremont every year. It's amazing and it's really fun," said group member Claire Trottier. "My kids love it, it's a really fun, warm festive community event, but right now, it's held on a Saturday which means a significant chunk of our community and neighbours can't really participate."

At the meeting, council voted against moving the festival from Saturday to Sunday, citing scheduling conflicts, but trying to move the date of the event is just one part of a bigger project started by parents to help promote tolerance and diversity within schools and the community.

Group founder Jennifer Dorner said she's hoping to make Outremont a more inviting place to live for all people.

"We'd like to see more work done in the area to help create a better understanding of the various cultures that live here," she said.
Outremont resider Mayer Feig said the Hassidic community has noticed the group's efforts.

"It's very appreciated that an outside group has come to try and work to make the communities feel closer together," he said.

Tensions have occasionally flared in the area between the Hassidic community and other residents. Most recently, tempers were inflamed over a bylaw that banned new houses of worship on several main streets, which the Jewish community felt infringed on their ability to practice their religion.

"I felt that really divided our community and there have been a number of other events targeting the Hassidic community," said Trottier. "I think there's tension and that's unfortunate."

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