Gracia Kasoki Katahwa is new mayor of Montreal’s largest borough

Gracia Kasoki Katahwa

Ensemble Montréal’s Lionel Perez was projected to win the mayoral race in Montreal’s largest borough, Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce. But toward the end of the night, things began to shift in favour of Kasoki Katahwa, who gradually chipped away at the lead as the votes were counted.

“This morning, I woke up and was refreshing the page for three or four hours, waiting for that last office to open the ballots,” Kasoki Katahwa said Monday afternoon, her smile widening.

She held a news conference in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Park a little more than an hour after the result became official. By about quarter to noon Monday, Kasoki Katahwa had won the borough race by 83 votes. Later in the day, the margin had increased to 177 votes.

Kasoki Katahwa, a first-time political candidate, has worked as a nurse and administrator of the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec, as well as a manager for the western Montreal health board.

Kasoki Katahwa described the moment she told her father she would be entering politics to run for borough mayor.

She explained that before moving to Quebec, she grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that her family was “of modest means.”

There was a long pause from her father on the other end of the line, she said.

“A silence that expressed the long obstacle course that is immigration — the wins, the losses, the resilience and the overwhelming emotion that comes from seeing that your efforts bear fruit,” Kasoki Katahwa said.

She said she believes voters voted for her because they felt they could trust her and that she would listen to their concerns and their needs.

Gracia Kasoki Katahwa

“For more than 10 years, I’ve been taking care of the people of Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce,” Kasoki Katahwa said, explaining that many of her patients as a nurse at the Jewish General Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital were residents of the borough.

“I’m comfortable with people having a different perspective than mine. It’s something that I do every day.”

Kasoki Katahwa said she hopes that her role as a Black woman leader will inspire others who come from diverse backgrounds to join politics.

Valérie Plante, the leader of Projet Montréal who was re-elected mayor of the city Sunday night, found out about the Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce win at the end of a news conference she had been giving Monday morning.

“What great news. Gracia is an amazing person,” Plante said. “She’s going to be a great, great mayor for this borough that needs so much support, attention, and somebody that cares deeply for all the citizens.”