Dan Philip, civil rights champion and builder of bridges, passes away

Click to play video: 'Quebec civil-rights champion Dan Philip honoured for a lifetime of leadership'
Quebec civil-rights champion Dan Philip honoured for a lifetime of leadership
Dan Philip, who headed the Black Coalition of Quebec for 40 years has died. He is being remembered as staunch defender of human rights and someone who brought people together – Oct 11, 2023

The longtime former president of the Black Coalition of Quebec, Dan Philip, has died.

Philip led the coalition for nearly 40 years and retired in 2020 but remained on as the organization’s honorary president.

On the group’s website, Philip is described as a “passionate man of action” and someone who is ” characterized by his fight for the disadvantaged, to ensure that justice prevails everywhere at all times.”

Philip was well known for advocating for the rights of the Black community and often spoke out against racism and discrimination.

“He never abandoned the fight,” said current president Max Stanley Bazin. “He was always present.”

His work, according to Marvin Rotrand — former Montreal City Councillor and interim director for United against Hate Canada — led to the desegregation of Montreal’s taxi industry.

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His efforts also convinced the Quebec government to toughen rules to prevent discrimination in housing.

Those rules put an end to what Rotrand said was once a common practice among landlords, who refused to rent to Black tenants.

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“Quebec has lost a really strong voice for civil rights and racial equality,” Rotrand said.
“Philip is actually someone who transformed Quebec.”

Philip also endeavoured to promote better relations between the  Black community and the police department and a time when it might have been easier to give up.


Speaking to Global News last year, Mark Henry, president of the Montreal Jamaican Association, recalled how despite the relationship between police and the Black community being at its “worst point,” Philip stood his ground.

He took part in marches and meetings and “it made a great change in the policies and the way that police is operated,” Henry said.

“He was source of inspiration,” Bazin said, adding his strength was in knowing how to reach out and create ties, not only within the Black community but beyond. “He would seek out allies.”

Rotrand can attest to that.

“One of my last motions before leaving office in 2021, was lauding his work to combat hate and discrimination and build bridges between communities,” Rotrand said.

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In Oct. 2o23, B’nai Brith, awarded Philip with a certificate of recognition for his work fostering cooperation between Black and Jews.

At the time, Philip recognized that his work had affected change, but there was still a lot of left to do.

He stressed the importance of people standing up for human rights.

“When it happens to somebody else, we have to stand,” Philip said. “So that when it happens to us, somebody else will stand.”

The Black Coalition’s motto — we stand for human rights, stand with us — were words Philip lived by.

“It’s a great loss for Quebecers, for Montrealers,” Rotrand said.

“He was a heck of a nice guy and always willing to lend a hand and to be there when somebody was in need.”

After suffering a stroke, Philip spent his last years at the Saint Andrew Residential Centre in Montreal.

He was 87 years old.

— With files from Global News’ Felicia Parrillo

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