For the past 15 years, MU has been paying tribute through its murals to those who have left their mark on Montreal and who have allowed it to shine throughout the world. For our first mural of the 2022 season, we proudly pay tribute to an activist, feminist, poet, essayist, journalist, librarian and so much more: Éva Circé-Côté.

To pass on the fronts a shiver of hope

“Contrary to some very respectable opinions, I do not believe in the force of inertia. I may well question history and philosophy, but I notice that the clash of ideas gives rise to light. From polemics, from discussions […]. I say with Victor Hugo: To struggle is to live. Every day the sun resumes its fight with the darkness to impose its ray. To remain impassive in the face of error, lies, injustice, exploitation of the weak, in the face of the control of a proud power over consciences, is to make a pact with evil, to be an accomplice of tyrants.

– Éva Circé-Côté in her article entitled “Lutter, c’est Vivre!!!” published in L’Aurore on January 28, 1938

Poet, playwright, essayist and columnist, Éva Circé-Côté (1871-1949) is an important figure in the history of Quebec: throughout her life, this feminist with progressive ideas embraced various social causes such as democracy, the right to education, public libraries, equality between men and women, and female suffrage. Thirsty for modernity, she worked for the advancement of French Canadian society.

“One of the room of the public library”L’Album universel, vol. XXII, no 1132, pp. 1094-1095, 30 décembre 1905.

At the beginning of the 20th century, she became the first curator of the Montreal Technical Library (1903), and supported the Ligue de l’Enseignement in its plans to create a Ministry of Education and a secular school. Later, she participated in the creation of the French section of the Society of Canadian Authors (1921) where she was vice-president and advisor.

Libre-penseuse et féministe

“Let the Canadian woman rise like a Jeanne d’Arc to snatch the country from the black vulture of ignorance that is eating away at her heart” – Éva Circé-Côté, in a lecture given to the Philanthropic Society in 1903 

For Éva Circé-Côté, the emancipation of an entire people is possible thanks to the empowerment of women. She constantly denounced social injustices and inequalities. At the end of the 19th century, she gave lectures on the education of girls and founded the first high school for girls on Saint-Denis Street, in 1908.

She was also one of the pioneers of women’s journalism and contributed to the newspapers Les Débats, Le Pionnier, L’Avenir du Nord, L’Étincelle, Le Nationaliste, L’Avenir, Le Pays and Le Monde ouvrier, among others. A moralist who wrote under the main pseudonyms of Colombine and Julien Saint-Michel, Éva Circé-Côté constantly cast a critical eye on her society.

Éva Circé-Côté was a lifelong militant in favour of a progressive and inclusive society, in which indifference towards natives and immigrants would not exist. For more than forty years, she has continued her struggle for a transformation of society, for an accessible and modern education for all.

“Pushing further than her contemporaries her observations on politics and religion, denouncing the injustices towards women as well as towards all the minority groups that occupy the city, Éva Circé-Côté poses as a non-conformist in a society still bent to the diktats of its elites.” – Andrée Lévesque

In 2021, she would have celebrated her 150th birthday.

To learn more about this revolutionary woman who changed the ideals and the collective imagination of Quebec society through her writing and literature:

Source : Danaé Michaud-Mastoras

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