open letter bill 21 montreal

A Montreal community open letter against Quebec’s Bill 21

In this international week of action against racism, 195 Montrealers have co-signed this letter denouncing a racist law.

This collective community letter against Quebec’s Bill 21 was published within the context of the international week of action against racism 2021 surrounding the global day against racial discrimination, as recognized by the UN, on March 21. 

After one year of the pandemic and the urgent need for all in society to collectively consider our total interconnectedness, for both our survival and the health of society, it is honestly incredible that Bill 21 still stands.

Today, I am sharing an open letter that I co-wrote with Ehab Lotayef and Saskia de Boer as part of attempts to sustain and continue to articulate collective opposition in Quebec to the racist Bill 21. Beyond violating both the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Bill 21 enforces, socially and politically, systemic racism and white supremacy in Quebec society. We say no to white supremacy, no to racism, no to Bill 21.

This law speaks to toxic elements of the Quebec political class. The CAQ pushes to enforce violent colonialist frameworks of racism that work to classify and criminalize communities already experiencing systemic oppression.

The fact that Bill 21 is “on the books” right now doesn’t mean that it can’t be defeated. There are many court cases in progress, and many are doing incredible work on that front. It is also important that we continue to publicly assert our collective rejection of this racist law and work together to ensure that it is fully defeated. 

Please read below for the full letter and list of signatories.

—Stefan Christoff, March 22, 2021

The erosion of the Quebec Charter is an attack on our values

March 21 has been designated the “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.” It provides an opportunity for every nation to reflect on its evolution in the long battle against bigotry, oppression and inequality. Here, in Quebec, we regard our Charter of Rights and Freedoms as proof of our commitment to equality and justice, but we must also reckon with the fact that we have recently fallen short.

Quebec knows the progress that can come from a good reckoning. For centuries, the Catholic Church exerted more control than the will of Quebec’s own people; it took a “Quiet Revolution” and a social movement of protest and mobilization to affect change. It was with an eye to break with tradition in favour of breaking new ground that the National Assembly enacted the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in 1975.

In that document it was written that: “Every person is the possessor of the fundamental freedoms, including freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.”

This predates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by seven years. We did not need the federal government to step in and tell us what we already knew. Yet nearly 45 years later, the CAQ government chose to reverse course.

In 2019 they passed Bill 21, which bans people whose religious expression includes a hijab, kippah or turban, among others, from certain positions in the public service. This unjustifiably violates the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Quebec Charter.

In order to protect Bill 21 from Quebec Charter based challenges, the CAQ government used the derogation mechanism in the Quebec Charter. It also modified the Quebec Charter and the “Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality”, thus weakening the protections originally offered to religious freedom and equality rights.

As we ponder the true nature of Quebec values, it is worth noting that the 1975 Charter was adopted by the members of the Quebec National Assembly unanimously, while the 2019 amendments were passed by a simple majority.

We believe that Quebec should strive to remedy the mistakes of the past and become a modern, diverse and inclusive society. We are hopeful that we will be able to fulfill our boundless potential and continue to progress while we remain a society that protects the rights and freedoms of all its citizens. This can only be achieved by expanding the protections provided by our Charter, not eroding them.


Saskia de Boer, Documentary Film/TV Writer 

Stefan Christoff, Artist and community activist 

Ehab Lotayef, President, Citizens’ Rights Movement & NL21 co-founder


  1. Charles Taylor, professeur, philosophe et écrivain
  2. Vincent Romani, professeur, Département de science politique, UQAM
  3. Catherine Larochelle, professeure, département d’histoire, Université de Montréal
  4. Alexandre Boulerice, député NPD de Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie
  5. Robert Leckey, Dean of the McGill University Faculty of Law
  6. Samuel Gale, professeur, Faculté de droit, Université McGill
  7. Mark S. Goldberg, PhD, professeur, Département de médecine, Université McGill
  8. Giuliana Fumagalli, mayor of Montréal’s Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension
  9. Dinaïg Stall, professeure, École supérieure de théâtre/ UQAM
  10. Ollivier Hubert, professeur titulaire, département d’histoire, Université de Montréal
  11. Heather O’Neill, Auteur
  12. Ann-Marie MacDonald O.C., auteure, dramaturge, actrice
  13. Rev. Diane Rollert, Église unitarienne de Montréal/Unitarian Church of Montreal
  14. Louigi Addario-Berry, professeur agrégé, Université McGill
  15. Hasana Sharp, professeure de philosophie, Université McGill
  16. Rachel Berger, PhD, professeure agrégée d’histoire, Université Concordia
  17. Derek Nystrom, professeur agrégé, English, McGill University
  18. Samira Laouni, Présidente-Directrice C.O.R. et coordonnatrice de la Semaine d’actions contre le racisme
  19. Michelle Hartman, professeure, Institut d’études islamiques, Université McGill
  20. Mary Ellen Davis, artiste, enseignante (Université Concordia), travailleuse culturelle
  21. Darin Barney, titulaire de la Chaire Grierson en communications, Université McGill
  22. Anna Pringle, étudiante en droit à McGill, militante avec Solidarité sans frontières
  23. Amanda Ruiz, artiste interdisciplinaire, member du Centre des travailleurs immigrants
  24. Airick Asher Woodhead, Artiste + Musicien (Doldrums)
  25. Khaoula Zoghlami, doctorante et chargée de cours, UdeM et UQAM
  26. Dolores Chew, membre fondateur du Centre communautaire des femmes sud-asiatique (SAWCC).
  27. Yasser Dhouib, Vice-président, CQFA-AACQ Association amicale canadienne qatari
  28. Marlene Hale, Wet’suwet’en, militante pour la justice climatique (Chef Maluh)
  29. Andrea Levy, PhD, auteure et éditrice
  30. Ishita Tiwary, professeure adjointe, École de cinéma Mel Hoppenheim, Université Concordia
  31. Laura Cliche, Responsable des partenariats, À propos de Pour 3 Points
  32. Jessie Stein, musicienne et étudiante au doctorat, CUNY Graduate Center Earth and Environmental Sciences Department
  33. Rahul Varma, directeur artistique, Théâtre Teesri Duniya
  34. Lori Schubert, Directrice générale, Quebec Writers' Federation (QWF)
  35. Devin Brahja Waldman, musicien
  36. Julia Eilers Smith, Curatrice de la recherche, Galerie d’art Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Université Concordia
  37. Meryam Haddad, avocate & militante pour les droits humains
  38. Kathleen Winter, auteure
  39. Mohamed Kamel, ingénieur et militant pour les droits humains
  40. Hanadi Saad, Justice Femme
  41. Dr. Michael A. Dworkind MD.CCFP.FCFP., professeur agrégé de médecine familiale et de soins palliatifs, Université McGill
  42. Karen Boyles, artiste (Karen Tatouage Neuf doigts)
  43. Thomas Martial, artiste
  44. Ben Patrick Stidworthy, musicien
  45. Victor Tardif, membre – Courage Montréal
  46. Maya Khamala, auteure
  47. Louise Burns, CKUT Radio, 90.3 FM
  48. Catherine Pappas, Directrice générale par intérim Alternatives
  49. Clara-Swan Kennedy, animatrice, CKUT Radio, 90.3 FM
  50. Savanna Craig, CUTV
  51. Myriam Cloutier, communications et mobilisation, Alternatives
  52. Sandrine Desforges, secrétaire générale de la Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM) 
  53. Chinois progressistes du Québec
  54. Zahia El-Masri, Fondation Canadienne-Palestinienne du Québec (FCPQ)
  55. Shirin Radjavi, Doctorante, Institute of Islamic Studies – McGill University
  56. Naomi Bénéteau Goldberg, coordinatrice du Hub de mobilisation pour la justice climatique
  57. Patricia Gélinas Boushel, travailleuse culturelle
  58. Kevin A. Gould, professeur agrégé, Department of Geography, Concordia University
  59. Mostafa Henaway, auteur, organisateur communautaire, Centre des travailleurs immigrants
  60. Abdelali Essaouis, photographe
  61. Raphaël Foisy-Couture, musicien, Small Scale Music
  62. Guillaume Vallée, cinéaste
  63. Robert Green, militant, candidat du Parti Vert pour NDG-Westmount, 2019
  64. Meredith Fowke, auteure, producer
  65. Irmak Bahar, militant communautaire, organisateur syndical
  66. Aidan Girl, musicienne, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  67. Miriam Ginestier, co-directrice Studio 303
  68. Jade Marcil, présidente de l’Union étudiante du Québec (UEQ) 
  69. Dustin Finer, musicien (DF)
  70. Elena Razlogova, professeure agrégée, Department of History, Concordia University
  71. English-Language Arts Network (ELAN)
  72. Alternatives
  73. Black Rose Books
  74. Lara Khattab, Docteure en sciences politiques, chargée de course en justice et droits de la personne, Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University
  75. Saeed Kamjoo, Musicien
  76. Antoine Bustros, Musicien
  77. Sabrina N Jafralie, Docteure, Chargé de cours et enseignante au niveau secondaire
  78. Lousnak Abdalian, Artiste
  79. Karine Jean St-Gelais, enseignante au collégial
  80. CKUT Radio, 90.3FM
  81. Doug Taylor, scénariste, Foolscap Films
  82. Norman Nawrocki, Musician
  83. Esther Bourdages, Auteure, commissaire art sonore, musique expérimentale
  84. Sarah Teixeira St Cyr, Researcher and film curator
  85. Nadine Altounji, Musician
  86. Sarita Ahooja, Community activist
  87. Faiz Abhuani, Director, Brique par brique
  88. Claire Lyke, Musician
  89. Adam Kinner, Musician
  90. Isabella Salas, BIPOC Artist, creative director and producer
  91. Genevieve Heistek, business owner, Empire Exchange Inc
  92. Jordan J. Arseneault, Artist (SéroSyndicat)
  93. Claude Rioux, Éditions de la rue Dorion
  94. Alexia Avina, Musician
  95. Will Eizlini, Musician
  96. Lisa Djevahirdjian, Labour Activist
  97. Thomas Boucher, Teacher, Visual Artist
  98. Steve Baird, community activist
  99. Noémie Beauvais, organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre
  100. Fred Burrill, PhD Candidate, Concordia University
  101. Maya Cardin, Artist (Mayamorphosis)
  102. Nabil Abu-Thuraia, CRM
  103. Noëlle Didierjean, community organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre
  104. Ian Ilavsky, Constellation Records
  105. Liliane Chlela, Artist, DJ
  106. Jade Barshee, Theater Artist
  107. Sarah Pagé, Musician
  108. Sarah Mangle, Artist
  109. Bianca Mugyenyi, Director, Canadian Foreign Policy Institute
  110. Benoît Scowen, community organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre
  111. Mamadou Barry, co-founder of Statut pour les guinéens campaign
  112. Tamara Vukov, Filmmaker, Professor, UdM, Communication Department
  113. Santiago Bertolino, Filmmaker
  114. Kasim Tirmizey, Part-Time Faculty, Concordia University
  115. Freda Guttman, Artist, activist
  116. J.B. Gerald, Artist
  117. Kiva Stimac, Popolo Press
  118. Joey Calugay, Community Organizer Immigrant Workers Centre
  119. Will Prosper, Hoodstock co-founder
  120. Evelyn Mondonedo, PINAY (Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec)
  121. Andrea Mercier, Musician (Bolduc Tout Croche)
  122. Eliza Kavtion, Musician 
  123. Ludvic Moquin-Beaudry, professeur de philosophie au collégial
  124. Jesse Freeston, Filmmaker
  125. Sarah Albu, Artist
  126. Christeen Francis, Artist
  127. Joseph Sannicandro, Sound Artist
  128. AnneMarie Papillon, Artist
  129. Sean Michaels, auteur
  130. Laura Dunn, animatrice communautaire, Courage Montréal
  131. Yves Engler, auteur
  132. Paul Cadieux, producteur de films
  133. David Homel, écrivain, journaliste, traducteur
  134. Dr. Mohamed Gamal Abdelhameed, président du Canadian Institute for Strategic Studies & Development
  135. Duha Elmardi, coordonnatrice à l’éducation et à l’implication à Sustainable Concordia / Collectif Bienvenue
  136. Rustum Choksi, Professeur, université McGill
  137. William Clare Roberts, professeure associée, université McGill
  138. Dayna McCleod, artiste
  139. Adam Leith Gollner, écrivain
  140. Susan Doherty, écrivaine, Quebec Writers’ Federation
  141. Adam Gwiazda-Amsel, étudiant à l’université McGill, vice-président AÉUM, intervenant
  142. Dr. Alladin Abou Sharbin, CRM
  143. Zoë Thomas, MD FRCPC, psychiatre, Hôpital général juif / professeure auxiliaire, université McGill
  144. Bronwen Low, professeure, université McGill, Dept. of Integrated Studies in Education
  145. Ryan Van Huijstee, rédacteur et poète
  146. Stacey Tenenbaum, Cinéaste, H2L Productions
  147. Linton Garner, président, Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations (au nom du Conseil d’administration)
  148. Chinois progressistes du Québec
  149. Dr. Bachar El Solh
  150. Janette Jorgensen, animatrice et co-hôte, The Lawn Chair Soirée
  151. Stephen Brown, membre du CA du CNMC / représentant syndical du SCFP
  152. Travis Ross, enseignant à l’école publique et résident de Montréal
  153. Danji Buck-Moore, artiste, chercheur, organisateur communautaire
  154. Michael Prupas, PDG, Muse Entertainment Enterprises
  155. Julie Girard, recherchiste, film et télévision
  156. M. Jean-Paul Acco, artiste, secteur de la santé de Montréal
  157. Wiebke von Carolsfeld, cinéaste et auteure
  158. Daniel Áñez, musicien
  159. Darren Ell, enseignant et photographe
  160. Brooklyn Frizzle, étudiant à l’université McGill, VP Affaires universitaires, AÉUM 
  161. Mauro Pezzente, musicien, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, co-propriétaire de la Casa Del Popolo
  162. Jan Doering, assistant-professeur de sociologie
  163. Anna Jane McIntyre, artiste visuelle
  164. Christian Favreau, militant Coalition Courage, Justice Climatique Montréal, auteur freelance
  165. Nadine Thiruchelvam, musicothérapeute et éducatrice en musique, Giant Steps School
  166. Rose Marie Whalley, enseignante à la retraite, Older Women Live CKUT 90.3FM, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
  167. Cayley Sorochan, membre de Courage Montreal / PhD Communication Studies, université McGill
  168. Juliette Chesnel, directrice, Commissaire aux affaires francophones de l’AÉUM
  169. Nick Schofield, musicien
  170. Martin Lukacs, auteur et journaliste
  171. Andreas Iakovos Koch, organisatrice pour Divest for Human Rights Coalition, université McGill
  172. William Aeron Lewis, musicien
  173. L. Alexis Emelianoff, musicienne
  174. Camille Patry-Desjardins, travailleuse du communautaire
  175. Catherine Debard, Musician (YlangYlang)
  176. Brett Howie, Musician
  177. Claire Abraham, Musician
  178. Feroz Mehdi, Alternatives
  179. Rukaya Achhal, Community activist
  180. Émilie Monnet, directrice artistique / artistic director ONISHKA & Scène contemporaine autochtone
  181. Lucas Huang, Musician
  182. PINAY, Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec, Organisation des femmes philippines du Québec
  183. Pierre Guerineau, Musician, Essaie pas, L’Œil Nu.
  184. Chris Robertson, Artist, La Presse du Chat Perdu.
  185. Ted Rutland, Associate Professor, Concordia University
  186. Nizar Koubaa, community activist, Anti Racist Football Montréal
  187. Catherine Lamoureux, Musician (Valeda)
  188. Nadia Moss, Artist
  189. Mariana Marcassa, Artist
  190. Mariana Frandsen, Cultural worker
  191. Mireya Bayancela, Artist
  192. Nathan McDonnell, community activist
  193. Asma Ahsan Khan, Artist
  194. Tim Lafontaine, Musician (CopCarBonfire)

For the latest news updates, please visit the News section.