Mussolini in Montreal

Mussolini à Montréal

Every time I go in the Little-Italy in Montreal, I’m going to do a tour in the church in front of my pizzeria of choice. Not for me to collect (I’m atheist), but to give my son a History lesson. “You see, Son, the man on his horse ? It was a fascist “.

Yes, there has, since the 30’s, a monumental fresco depicting Benito Mussolini in the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense, rue Dante.

Since the death of George Floyd in the United States, we déboulonne the statues of all the characters considered racist. And since a few days, some people claim that it clears the ceiling of the church in montreal the image of the Duce.

But if we erase all the traces of a past full of hate, what Story will we tell our children ?


The Duty was published on Friday a letter from the director and historian Giovanni Princigalli. “As an Italo-Québécois, I wonder if it is appropriate to retain the fresco dedicated to Benito Mussolini in the church of Our-Lady-of-the-Defense-of-Little-Italy in Montreal. This mural was done in the 1930s by Guido Nincheri. “(On the site of the City of Montreal, called Nincheri ” the michelangelo of Montreal,”…)

When he asked why the fresco was still in the church, M. Princigalli made reply : “A work of art, it is a work of art The church and its fresco belong to the canadian heritage. We do not touch it “.

Instead of defacing this mural, to repaint the flavor of the day, why not design an explanatory panel, an audioguide, with a context. Instead of deleting, why not “explain” ?

Let me tell you an anecdote. A few months ago at QUB Radio, I interviewed Alain Stanké about the rwandan genocide.

In a very moving time, Alain Stanké, the voice broken by emotion, spoke of his own experience of deported to a German concentration camp at the age of… 10 years.

A young college who was on probation at that time came to see me to tell me to what extent she had been upset. “The case in Germany I heard about it, but not the genocide in Africa “.

“The case of Germany “, it was all she knew of the Shoah, of the Holocaust. I don’t blame her, I blame our education system.

As I reflected on this debate in ” Clear-or-explain “, I remembered this incredible song by Jean Ferrat, Night and fog, on the deportees in the nazi camps :

“They tell me now that these words are no longer /That it is better not to sing songs of love / That blood dries quickly entering the history / And there is no use of a guitar pick. / But so is size to be able to stop me ? / The shadow is made human, today it’s summer / I twisterais the words if he had the twister / so that one day the children know who you were. “

Before you tear up our History books, maybe we should start by the open and teach our children what happened prior to their coming into the world.

For the children know “who you were” as much victims as the dictators.

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