Jamaica-born Black Montreal community stalwart dies at 87

Noel Alexander

Noel Alexander, a prominent member of the local Black community who was synonymous with the organization he presided over for decades, has died. He spent 35 years as the president of the Jamaica Association of Montreal (JAM).

In his role, “Prezy” — as he was affectionately called — promoted vocational studies, helped people acquire math and literacy skills, and created programs for Black youth and single mothers.

The Au Futur program, a federally-funded service for young single mothers, has been administered jointly by JAM and La Maison d’Haïti since 1993.

“He’s someone who really wanted to see that everyone had a fair shake — that everyone had an opportunity,” said Sharon Nelson, JAM’s vice-president.

“He’d always make time for people, no matter how busy he was. If the world was falling apart behind him, and you were in front of him, that was where his attention was.”

Alexander also spent much of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s at the forefront of the fight against police violence.

“One of his biggest contributions is the fact that he wasn’t afraid to be out there and be outspoken,” Nelson said.

“Talking about police brutality, standing up for the rights of young Black men and women in our community is definitely one of his legacies.”

Alexander retired from his role as president in 2016, but remained involved in the association, often offering advice to its newest leaders.

“He was an inspiration to many of us as well as a source of great knowledge and direction,” read a statement from Mark Henry, the association’s president.

“He was instrumental in establishing the organization to what it is today.”

Alexander died last Friday. He was 87.