It was to underline the festive and unifying nature of the National Holiday that Didier Lucien informed journalists that he did not want to discuss systemic racism or the racial crisis that is shaking the United States.
“Didier Lucien accepted this mandate last January … long before the current events,” said agency Jocelyn Robitaille, who represents Didier Lucien, on his Facebook page. The National Holiday Organization has never asked Didier to remain silent on this subject. It is a personal choice that MUST be respected. And for those who doubt it, know that Didier is not indifferent to everything that happens outside. It upsets him enormously. To use a nice analogy on his part: “When you lose a loved one, you don’t always want to talk about it. Everyone manages their sentence in their own way ”. “
In a media advisory, the National Holiday organizers wrote earlier this week, at the same time as they announced the appointment of Didier Lucien as spokesperson, that the actor would make “NO comments and will answer NO questions [ce sont eux qui mettent les majuscules] concerning systemic racism or culture. That, even if he is sensitive to these hot topical subjects, this, out of respect for his mandate with the Fête nationale du Québec and in order to maintain a unifying, positive and festive message. “
A simple note
Karine Cousineau, whose press relations agency represents Didier Lucien as spokesperson for the Fête nationale, gave the following details.
“The memo was a simple personal note intended for the media, made at the request of Didier Lucien and with his approval, to clearly establish the parameters of the interviews granted. He does not wish to give his opinion on the public square. This was done in agreement with the Quebec National Holiday Organization, which fully respects its choice, “she wrote, adding:” Didier is very happy to be spokesperson for the National Holiday. “
Jérôme Pruneau, executive director of the Montreal artistic diversity group, which promotes inclusion and diversity in the artistic community, says he would be “embarrassed” to comment on Didier Lucien’s decision. He also said he understood that racialized people could be “tired” of having to constantly react to issues of racism.
Didier Lucien himself, continues Mr. Pruneau, intervenes regularly on these questions, and it is understandable, he believes, that the artist did not want to “mix this moment of celebration” with the fundamental issues of systemic racism .
For her part, the director of the Mouvement national des Québécois, Martine Desjardins, declined to comment on Mr. Lucien’s decision.
“We will not make any comments to this effect, except to confirm that we support our spokesperson in this context. This is a matter of respect, “said Martine Desjardins, through her communications manager Laurence Alberro.
The chariot of 2017
Recall that in 2017, a float from the National Day parade had aroused many reactions in anti-racist groups.
This parade float, on which singer Annie Villeneuve was standing, was pushed by four young black men, while dozens of white people were dancing around them.
The founder of inclusive Quebec, Émilie Nicolas, then deplored the “lack of sensitivity” of the parade organizing committee. And Friday, Mme Nicolas called the “Fête nationale” position in this affair a “monumental blunder” on his Facebook page, while a myriad of artists, businesses and organizations hasten to denounce racism and police brutality .
“What is the message of the National Day, as an organization, on systemic racism, anti-black racism, police brutality? I await an answer from Martine Desjardins, in her own voice, that of a press release or any other spokesperson, “she wrote.
According to Mr. Pruneau, the Organization of the National Holiday has however taken a step forward since the events of 2017. “If the organizers put Didier at the head of the Festival, it is because they have, since these events, started an exercise in reflection and transformation, “he said.
Furthermore, Mr. Pruneau believes that Quebec must roll up its sleeves to go further than a simple plan of action against systemic racism. Each organization, he said, must agree to “look at itself and deconstruct”, with regard to anti-racist policies, and to commit the resources necessary to move forward in this regard.