Vanier Vignette #2: Montfort Hospital

It may be a stretch, but Montfort Hospital reminds me of Independence Square in Kiev.
Both places witnessed historic protest, witnessed the controlled, massed fury of a people who felt that their identities were threatened by oblivious authorities. From both places, that anger crossed great distances, until decision-makers began to sympathize with the sign-wavers.
And both places, the battle won, are today largely quietly going about their business.
In Kiev, the main reminder of the 2004 Orange Revolution is the crowd of vendors selling various Orange memorabilia.
At Montfort, the colour is green, the green of the Franco-Ontarian flag. And the reminder is much more subtle: a sign over the entranceway, naming it avenue de 22 mars.
March 22, 1997, was the day of the grand rassemblement, or “great gathering”, when, at the urging of Vanier mayor Gisele Lalonde, 10,000 Franco-Ontarians converged on Montfort to stop its proposed closure by Queen’s Park.
Once closure was averted, the Mike Harris government proposed turning Montfort into an emergency clinic, but no one in Vanier wanted to compromise. How could Montfort, the only francophone teaching hospital west of Quebec, continue to fulfil its mandate if it was “reduced to doing booboo-ology,” as one doctor fumed in L’Actualité ?
In 1998, Montfort sued the province to keep its facilities– and won. The visitor there today sees, first and foremost, the bulldozers, putting the finishing touches on a construction project that will have nearly tripled the size of the emergency room, doubled the size of the psychiatric ward and made Montfort one of the foremost “humanitarian hospitals” (as its banner proudly proclaims) in North America.

Bulldozers. An Orange Revolution, after all.

(A lot of my information came from two articles published in the Quebec newsmagazine L’Actualité in February 2008.
“Montfort le miraculé” (= “Montfort the Miraculous”)

and the source of the statistics in the last paragraph, “Le Nouveau Montfort, ce sera…” (= “The new Montfort will be…”)


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