Montreal

Noel Alexander, pillar of Montreal's Black community, dies at 87

Noel Alexander, the longtime president of the Jamaica Association of Montreal, has died. He was 87.

'He'd always make time for people, no matter how busy he was,' says vice president of Jamaica Association

Noel Alexander served as the president of the Jamaica Association of Montreal for 35 years. (Jamaica Association of Montreal)

Noel Alexander, a prominent member of the local Black community who was synonymous with the organization he presided over for decades, has died.

Alexander spent 35 years as the president of the Jamaica Association of Montreal (JAM).

In his role, "Prezy" — as he was affectionately called — promoted vocational studies, helped people acquire math and literacy skills, and also created programs for Black youth and single mothers.

The Au Futur program, a federally-funded service for young single mothers, has been administered jointly by JAM and La Maison d'Haïti since 1993. 

"He's someone who really wanted to see that everyone had a fair shake — that everyone had an opportunity," said Sharon Nelson, JAM's vice-president. 

"He'd always make time for people, no matter how busy he was. If the world was falling apart behind him, and you were in front of him, that was where his attention was."

Alexander also spent much of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s at the forefront of the fight against police violence.

"One of his biggest contributions is the fact that he wasn't afraid to be out there and be outspoken," Nelson said. 

"Talking about police brutality, standing up for the rights of young Black men and women in our community is definitely one of his legacies."

In 2015, Alexander received the National Assembly medal.

In a statement, Kathleen Weil, who was the province's immigration minister at the time, highlighted the longtime JAM president's "commitment to defending the cause of young people, and encouraging the integration of English-speaking Black communities into Quebec society."

Alexander retired from his role as president in 2016, but remain involved in association, often offering advice to its newest leaders.

"He was an inspiration to many of us as well as a source of great knowledge and direction," read a statement from Mark Henry, the association's president.

"He was instrumental in establishing the organization to what it is today."

 According to JAM, Alexander died last Friday. He was 87.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

With files from Shuyee Lee

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