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Goldbloom Awards: Miriam Green determined to fight for Montreal’s English community

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WATCH ABOVE: Miriam Green boasts a long list of accomplishments fighting for the rights of the English community. As Global's Paola Samuel reports, she has now been named a recipient of the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Award – Oct 25, 2016

Miriam Green grew up in a Jewish household in the 1940s.

She vividly remembers watching her mother cry uncontrollably after reading a letter from overseas that listed off all the family members who had been murdered in the Holocaust.

“Growing up with an awareness of how lucky I am and if I had been a Jew at a different place at a different time, I would not be alive,” she told Global News.

It’s that awareness, she explained, that nurtured her desire to reach out to those in need and fight for their rights.

In the 1970s, after living in in San Francisco, Green came back to Montreal determined to fight for gay rights — and she’s the first person to admit that it look a lot because she’s a straight woman with no ties to the community.

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READ MORE: Goldbloom Awards: Gerry Cutting helps the English community find its way

“It was difficult because they were very suspicious. I had to prove myself,” she said.

Green started a support group to educate people about homosexuality, develop educational programs in schools and help young, gay men come out to their families.

“It was the first organized effort to create services as a response to gay men and women and their particular needs,” she explained.

“We have to find the money to hire people who are openly gay.”

Green’s list of accomplishments is long and impressive, which is why she is receiving the prestigious Sheila and Victor Goldboom Award, which celebrates English-speaking Quebecers who contribute to their communities.

She was the first female director of a regional social service agency, fought hard for English rights at Alliance Quebec and spent years leading the fight against turning Benny Farm into condos and helped turn it instead into affordable housing.

She also played a pivotal role in rebuilding the Queen Elizabeth Hospital into a health complex.

“We took a derelict building in which the government had come and ripped, it looked like a war zone inside,” Green said.

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“They took out all the buildings, all the bed wires and we turned it into a major medical health centre in the community of great significance when we’re lacking health services.”

Quebec Liberal MNA David Birnbaum has worked alongside Green for years.

He said Green has earned a reputation as the woman who takes on projects that everyone else is too scared to touch.

“It’s Miriam, out of the ashes of seven closed hospitals, who built a coalition, talked to people, did the work and built the Queen E Health Complex,” he said.

Birnbaum said it’s that kind of grit and determination that Green has used for every project she tackles — and doing it with grace and humility.

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