PRESENTATION OF THE WALKS
Developed in 2008 by Bruno Laprade and animated by volunteers involved in youth and LGBTQ+ activists, the Village Critical Walks are moments of reflection and exchange on what the Village represents, its multiple realities, its hopes and its disappointments. As the Coalition is a youth organization, it seems essential to question the presence and place of LGBTQ+ youth in the Village. Since it is destined more and more to tourists and consumers, how do young people appropriate space? Do they feel welcome? What are their needs? Participants are invited to complete the visit with suggestions, reviews, testimonials and reflections. The visit program is not cast in concrete, it is the imprint of the lives and the feelings of those who make it possible and nourish it
It also aims to open the way to change, awareness, and desire for involvement. Research and updating is therefore essential from people who wish to animate the walks in the Village. In the course of current issues, depending on the audience, the visit can change, emphasize different aspects, bring new information, a new vision.
So, all you need now is to put on good shoes and let the walk begin!
WHY A CRITICAL WALKS, DO WE LOVE THE VILLAGE?
It is not a question here of depicting a black and dramatic universe in the grip of insurmountable difficulties, but rather to reflect on certain aspects of the Village, that tour guides do not mention, or otherwise in a purely commercial and attractive context. And yet, the Village is not just a succession of rainbows in the summer over our heads, a place colorful to go out, a place where everyone tolerates everyone... the Village is a unique place because of its history, its transformations, its memory, the people who frequent it, who work there, who live there, who are involved in it. And maybe to say that the Village is the biggest gay district in the world is insufficient.
HOW THE WALKS WORK
The tour usually starts in front of L’Astérisk (located at 1575 Amherst) and ends at Charles-Campbell Park (Corner of Champlain and Sainte-Catherine Streets) near the Papineau metro station. It is about 700 meters according to Google map. The tour lasts approximately 1h30 (depending on the number of participants, the rhythm of the group and the discussions that emerge). The walk is all along St. Catherine Street. From 5 to 7 stops is generally made: The Asterisk, in front of the Mado Cabaret, Serge Garand Park behind the Beaudry metro station, at Espoir Park, Sainte-Catherine corner and Panet, in front of the mural on the Rue Ste-Rose , between Panet and Plessis, at the corner of Plessis and Sainte-Catherine, on the grounds of Sauna Oasis, at Charles Campbell Park, corner Alexandre de Sève, behind the former Bourbon Complex. These downtimes allow to address the factors that led the Village to be there (ecological and economic issues), to talk about the current socio-economic issues of the neighborhood (poverty, gentrification, pink tourism, sex work). symbolic history of the community (gay flag and pride parade), the HIV crisis and its impact on activism, the history of police repression experienced by LGBTQ + communities, the place of women and trans people in the Village (history of lesbian bars), etc. The challenge of places of sexuality such as saunas and nude dancers clubs, especially to talk about issues of consent and the place of young people in the Village. Participants are asked to count the number of bars and cafes versus the number of community organizations they notice on their way.
We offer a "pay what you can" policy, so any contribution is welcome but not mandatory. Groups typically between $ 60 and $ 150 per visit, but the fees should not be a barrier to group participation.
Félix has led the Village's exploratory walks since the summer of 2017. As an active member of the Montreal queer community, he is involved with the Coalition to get the public to have a critical, political and historical vision of the development of the Village. Visiting the Village himself for several years, he can personalize each visit by decorating it with anecdotes and other facts with humor. As a teacher in school and social adaptation to preschool-primary, he can easily adapt the content of the markets to a young audience!
Alex began leading walks in the summer of 2017. As a youth educator, they are passionate about social and educational activities, and walks are a great way to combine fun and learning. Their experience as a former volunteer at GRIS has allowed her to develop an important aspect, namely to tell and demystify the stories of communities, especially those who are invisible and / or marginalized. With the visits, Alex wants to lead people to open, to question, and share their opinions on the Village, on the good and less good sides that can be found!
Bruno gave his first walk in 2005 to Jeunesse Lambda participants to show them the diversity of the lgbt community. The experiences of young people in the Village and the difficulty of finding safe spaces for them led him to founding L’Asterisk, while pushing his reflection on this place. Through oral history and documentary research, he continued to take an interest in the transformations of this urban space and to develop a critical vision of the Village. He seeks to give everyone the tools to make their own opinion, beyond what is heard in the media. Since 2015, he has been training new people in animation so that young people can reclaim their history and make it a tool for social change.