The City of Montreal has been involved in designing and implementing intercultural policies for many years and has adopted a series of declarations setting out policy guidelines and commitments based on these principles, in particular:
- On 15 March 1989, Montreal adopted the Montreal Declaration against Racial Discrimination, in which the city recognised the importance of diversity and the multiracial and multi-ethnic component. In particular, the city undertook to combat all forms of discrimination and to foster harmonious intercultural relations.
- On 22 March 2004, the city adopted the Montreal Declaration for Cultural Diversity and Inclusion, in which it undertook to take all measures within its power to promote closer intercultural ties and dialogue among cultural groups, as well as to improve management of cultural diversity.
- In force since 1 January 2006, the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities covers all key areas of municipal life. It is a reference tool for democratic life that addresses the issues of justice, fairness and inclusion. It is available in around a dozen languages (including Indigenous languages). Article 30 provides that “In this Charter, ‘citizen’ means any person living within the territory of Montreal”. The scope of this article is very symbolic, as it means that all individuals, including those with migration backgrounds, are regarded as forming an integral part of the community, regardless of their status. Moreover, one of the Charter’s aims is to foster citizen participation in municipal affairs.
- In 2013, the Montreal Declaration on Living Together was adopted by the city and 22 other major cities throughout the world, recognising their role as frontline players in managing social diversity, equity and the economic and social inclusion of their citizens.
This desire to publicly proclaim a strong commitment to promoting equality in diversity is backed up by practical measures aimed at implementing the principles advocated.
For instance, in 2003 the city set up the Montreal Intercultural Council (CiM), a consultative and discussion body that advises the city council on intercultural relations, which is also a key tool for fostering political and social participation by all citizens, including those with migration backgrounds. It should be noted that the city also has two other specific councils, namely the Montreal Youth Council and the Montreal Women’s Council.
In June 2017, the city council adopted the City of Montreal’s Social Development Policy, “Montreal, where everything is possible!” The main aim of this crosscutting policy is to mobilise municipal services, boroughs and towns in the metropolitan area around quality of life and well-being for citizens in Montreal’s neighbourhoods and across the whole metropolitan area. A social development action plan is currently being developed by the Diversity and Social Inclusion Department (SDIS) with a view to drawing up a strategy and implementing practical measures in the area of intercultural relations and promoting ethnocultural diversity.
More recently, in 2018, Montreal launched the Inclusive Montreal 2018-2021 Action Plan designed to create the conditions to enable all citizens to play a full part in the city’s social and economic life. The plan involves not only the city’s employees and elected representatives but also all local people in eliminating the main obstacles to the socio-economic integration of newcomers. The project reaches out to the host society in all its diversity and is intended to be a fun, positive exercise and to be co-developed with the relevant players. It also seeks to develop measures that speed up the integration of migrants.
Lastly, on 24 April 2019, the Montreal Intercultural Council presented a policy statement, Montreal: Intercultural City, recommending the adoption of an intercultural policy.
These various policies and measures also receive appropriate funding and are evaluated on an ongoing basis. Under various government agreements and intervention strategies, a number of funding packages are allocated for developing intercultural activities and reaching out to people with migration backgrounds and ethnocultural communities. Examples here include:
- The three-year agreement between the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion (MIDI) and the city of Montreal (2018-2021): with funding of C$12 M, this agreement aims at closer intercultural ties and better social integration of citizens from diverse backgrounds. Under the agreement, Montreal undertook, in particular, to continue and step up measures to combat discrimination and social exclusion and to co-operate in implementing measures aimed at integrating migrants and ensuring their full participation in life in Montreal.
- The childhood policy: with annual funding of C$5 M, several projects reach out to members of ethnocultural communities, in particular through the neighbourhood intervention programme for young people aged 12-30 years (PIMJ);
- The administrative agreement on the management of the Quebec Social Initiatives Fund in respect of the Alliances for Solidarity (City of Montreal – Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity), with annual funding of C$10 M for a five-year period (C$50 M): in addition to various projects supported under this agreement and aimed at members of ethnocultural communities, a fund for the social integration of young people from diverse backgrounds has been established with an annual budget of C$545 000. Its purpose is to support regional projects aimed at the social and economic integration of young newcomers and young people from visible minorities (6-30 years);
- The Intercultural Montreal Programme (PMI): with funding of C$474 185, the aim of this programme is to promote a sense of belonging to the diverse community of Montreal by encouraging intercultural ties among Montrealers. In 2019, 48 projects and the same number of bodies were supported under the programme. The number of participants in the various projects can be put at several hundred. The programme supports measures to build intercultural ties and arouses the interest of various bodies in connection with intercultural issues.
The city makes a point of informing the public about the various declarations and the undertakings and commitments entered into, through various means of communication, including innovative methods such as exhibitions, advertising displays in venues and buildings during specific events and on a permanent basis on city premises and on the city hall website and social media. The Diversity and Social Inclusion Department maintains a calendar of the main intercultural activities.
In addition, the city of Montreal’s intercultural commitment is reiterated by political leaders in various public statements and addresses concerning the issue, and a number of high-profile public events also take place. For instance, the Montreal Intercultural Award is presented every two years in recognition of outstanding achievements in advancing intercultural ties and promoting diversity by individuals, non-profit bodies and private companies.
The city is also a partner in other events (for instance, Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month) which provide a framework and a programme for a series of activities (concerts, exhibitions, performances, etc.) aimed at encouraging the promotion of interculturalism.
In addition, throughout the year, as a “Citizens’ Centre”, Montreal city hall hosts a series of events initiated by the city council and by various communities in the intercultural sector (e.g., commemorations, anniversaries, cultural activities) and the city councillors celebrate the various national holidays and other cultural events along with leaders from the voluntary sector.