D’Arcy McGee National Assembly Citizenship Medals

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With more than 50 years on the frontlines in the fight for social justice and human rights in Canada and beyond, Dan Philip has earned his stripes and the accolades that have been heaped on him.
Today, he continues to earn commendations as he carries on his lifetime of advocacy, through his work as the president of the Black Coalition of Quebec, an organization he helped found in 1979, and built into a vanguard in the on-going struggle for human rights, social justice and community empowerment.
On Monday, June 3, Philip was one of three stalwarts honoured with the D’Arcy McGee National Assembly Citizenship Medals at a ceremony at the Aquatic Centre in Cote St. Luc.
The medals were presented by David Birnbuam, who has been MNA for D’Arcy McGee since 2014 and is the Opposition Critic for Indigenous Affairs.
The other recipients were Lilia Esguerra and Maximilien Polak.
Esguerra is a renowned educator who was one of the first Filipino teachers in the Quebec public school system. She is also the founder of the Ahmon Institute, an adult business training centre.
Polak was born in the Netherlands in 1930, and moved to Montreal, forged a spectacular career in the service of his community, Montreal and Quebec, after moving here in 1952.
He is a retired Quebec Court judge, past MNA for the riding of St. Anne and ex-PSBGM school commissioner.
This latest award comes as Philip, who was born in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia in 1939 and migrated to the USA to study in the late 1960s, marks the BCQ’s 50th anniversary of advocacy work.
His involvement in activism and social-justice causes in Canada reaches back to 1974 when he became a member of the Black Coalition of Canada and the Black Community Council of Quebec.
In 1977 he involved himself in the struggle for workers’ rights as a member of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), later serving on its executive.
He was a leading political force in the anti-apartheid movement in the city and led many of the efforts to encourage various institutions, as well as the City of Montreal, to divest from South Africa.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he made representation to both the provincial and federal governments on behalf of people from the English-speaking Caribbean, Haiti and Africa, whose immigration applications were stymied in an extended process.
In the early 1980s he joined with other social-justice advocates in helping Haitian drivers in their fight against discrimination and racism in the taxi industry.
For his lifetime of activism, advocacy and service to Quebec and Canada, Dan has also received the Rosa Parks Award from the Quebec Human Rights Commission, among others.