Hoodstock: on the frontlines in the struggle against COVID-19

Committed to community and worried about Quebec re-opening plans

Rosie Awori
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Feeling cast aside by the public health system, Hoodstock, a community organisation in Montreal North took it upon themselves to raise funds for protective equipment which they begun distributing since the beginning of May. Montreal North which so far has been termed as the epicentre of the virus is also one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Montreal with a large number of minorities who have also been disproportionately hit by COVID-19.
Following the decision to re-open businesses by the Premier Francois Legault, a few members of the community and some of Hoodtock, came together to write an open letter condemning the move as dangerous.
“We felt we had been tossed aside and our needs were not being met.” Wissam Mansour a member of Hoodstock explains to the CONTACT. “We were shocked to hear about deconfinement, when we knew the situation on the ground was not getting better.”
The letter had a list of demands including a clinic where members of the community can go for testing since there is no hospital within the neighbourhood making it difficult for the public to have access to healthcare and basic protective gear such as masks.
“After the letter, members of the community reached out and begun offering to give of what they had, extra masks, gloves and we then decided to create a fundraiser online in order to try get protective gear to everyone and at least do our part in trying to help control the spread. We achieved our first goal and we set up a second goal in order to purchase materials that can be distributed. Furthermore, we ensure that we have human contact we are taking time to talk to people we call and check on people in times like these it’s the little things that matter.”
Hoodstock was formed after the shooting of Honduran immigrant, Fredy Villanueva in August 9, 2008, by a Montreal police officer in the parking lot of Montreal-Nord’s Henri-Bourassa Arena, near Rolland Boulevard and Pascal Street, just after 7:00 p.m. Following the outcry, Guillaume Hébert, Weil Prosper, Najest Mustapha formed the collective with the objective of channeling in a constructive and emancipatory project the popular anger caused by what they saw as the assassination Villanueva.
Since then, it has become a crossroads of struggles and ideas. It seeks to show that the Quebec left must take anti-racist battles very seriously, otherwise it will be deprived of a pool of activists which it absolutely cannot do without.
Hoodstock offers free programs and workshops to the community and coordinate events and other activities to give youth opportunities to showcase their talents.
Furthermore, it has instituted programs for alternative justice; instead of having young people going through the legal system ang get institutionalized they are looking to find alternatives programs of correction that the youth can learn from and leave feeling better about themselves instead of enemies of the state.
The government has applauded their efforts and Montreal mayor; Valerie Plante joined them in Montreal North as they distributed equipment to the public.
Hoodstock has partnered up with other community organisations to continue educating the public and giving out reusable masks and has pledged to do this as long as there is need.
To get involved or to donate visit: https://laruchequebec.com/projet/protegeons-montreal-nord-ensemble-7183/