Letters to the Editor

Rest in power, Dr Dennis Forsythe

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

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Dear Editor,

We are very sad to learn of the passing of Dr Dennis Forsythe. We only heard about his death through the help of Caribbean diasporic networks. We had reached out to the law firm Forsythe & Forsythe to invite him to Montreal to give a talk. Sadly, we were too late.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of the 'Sir George Williams Affair' (1969), when West Indian students at then Sir George Williams University in Montreal (now Concordia University) protested racism and organised one of the largest student protests in Canadian history.

Dr Forsythe edited an important collection of first-hand accounts of the event, as well as its implications for the Caribbean (republished by Black Rose books only two years ago). As he stated: “Something happened here in Montreal on February 11 1969, which for different reasons neither blacks nor whites will ever forget. For both, the event has become 'history'. The interrelated events, collectively referred to as the Sir George Williams Affair, witnessed the escalation of a conflict from a small internal charge of racism by six black students against a professor within Sir George Williams University, to a highly charged collective episode that shook the West Indian consciousness one step further towards a consolidation called “Peoplehood”.

Dr Forsythe had been a master's student at McGill University (Montreal) when he became involved in this struggle. His doctoral research into West Indian radicalism influenced the text and provides us with a scathing analysis of Canadian-Caribbean relations in the context of Independence caught in the grip of continuing imperialism.

As scholars of the Caribbean, based in Canada, we remember Dr Forsythe for the power of his words and for his commitment to recording Caribbean community, consciousness, and struggle. In the spirit of his work we invite those with memories of the Sir George Williams Affair, and those with whom he would have talked about his time in Montreal to share those stories and memories.

In closing, we are grateful he wrote his book as a lasting resource for future Caribbean generations (at home and abroad). During our commemoration of the Sir George Williams Affair planned, for February 2019, we will pay tribute to his intellectual contributions and share his work with the next generation because, as he said: “Today belongs equally to yesterday and tomorrow.”

Rest in power, Dr Forsythe.

Ronald Cummings, Brock University, Ontario

Nalini Mohabir, Concordia University, Quebec

nalini.mohabir@concordia.ca

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