MONTREAL — The Jewish communities of Montreal and Toronto presented a cheque for $100,000 to Colette Roy-Laroche, mayor of Lac Mégantic, which continues to rebuild after a deadly train disaster in July.
The money was raised in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy through an emergency relief fund established by Federation CJA.
On Oct. 24, a busload of representatives from the Montreal community, headed by federation president Susan Laxer, travelled to the Eastern Townships to personally deliver the donation to the mayor, who has earned widespread admiration for her steadfastness in the town’s recovery.
Among those making the trip were Irving Teitelbaum and Steve Gross, who owned Magasin Shier, a clothing store that was established by their late father-in-law in Lac Mégantic in 1940. This was the family’s first store in a business that grew into a national chain encompassing Suzy Shier and La Senza.
Former employees were on hand to greet the delegation.
The relief fund collected $60,000 in Montreal and $40,000 from UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
The money will go to the Fonds Avenier Lac Mégantic, a discretionary fund for various aspects of the town’s rehabilitation.
“The mayor, and others who attended [the ceremony], were truly overwhelmed that the two Jewish communities care so much,” Laxer said. “Funds from both communities were not an allocation of the two federations’ existing annual campaigns, but rather the result of many individuals making donations online.”
Victor Goldbloom, chair emeritus of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Quebec region, who was Quebec’s municipal affairs minister in the 1970s, reminded the audience of the Jewish community’s 250-year history in the province.
“We are with you,” he said. “We wish you the best in the future. We congratulate you on your courage and appreciate the warm welcome we have received.”