A multi-faceted mural to remember a family’s fight against HIV-AIDS

A multi-faceted mural to remember a family’s fight against HIV-AIDS

On August 4, we proceeded to the inauguration of the new mural in tribute to Ron Farha (1956-1993) at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Beaudry streets. The result of the collaboration of several people and organizations, this fresco commemorates the fight against HIV-AIDS led by Ron Farha, founder of the Farha Foundation and the Ça Marche walkathon, which he never had the opportunity to see. since he died a few months before the first edition.

An original mural had been painted on the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Wolfe streets more than twenty years ago by young people from the TAPAJ program, as Saint-Jacques municipal councilor Robert Beaudry, who worked for this organization at the time. But the mural was in poor condition, peeling off and, moreover, had ended up being made invisible by the installations in the Galerie Blanc space (replaced this year by the Place du Village).

So that the fight against HIV-AIDS and the deaths it caused in the 1980s and 1990s in Montreal will not be forgotten, Michel Bélanger (ex-director of communications for the Farha Foundation), Gabriel Girard (sociologist and researcher at INSERM in Marseille) and Denis-Daniel Boullé (columnist and journalist at Fugues) formed a committee three years ago to revive this mural, now relocated near the Beaudry metro station and reinterpreted by artist XRAY (Bryan Keith Lanier), with the collaboration of MU. Remember that for a little over 25 years, the Farha Foundation has redistributed nearly ten million dollars to AIDS organizations and shelters. Carolyn, Nancy and Linda Farha, Ron Farha’s sisters, were on hand for the occasion, along with other family members, as well as Ron’s ex-husband, Michael Kleiman.

The context of this inauguration was special, as Denis-Daniel Boullé recalled in his speech: “We are inaugurating the mural while the 24th International AIDS Conference has just ended and we are in the midst of Pride celebrations. It couldn’t have come at a better time. This dream of Ron Farha, we share it and believe that AIDS will one day be definitively defeated”.

“The original mural symbolized the fight against HIV/AIDS and paid tribute to all those who have been killed by the disease, including Ron himself,” recalls his sister Carolyn. She quotes Ron, who said: “’AIDS will go away one day, until then we have the opportunity to learn and grow… And we have to’. Fortunately, today people are not dying of AIDS like 30 years ago, although there is still a long way to go,” said Carolyn Farha.

Robert Beaudry, speaking from his heart insisted on the fact that HIV-AIDS is still rampant, that “it is a pandemic that still kills today and there are people who still suffer from it, these people still today are stigmatized”. “We have a great responsibility, as a large metropolis, to continue to fight this disease,” recalls Robert Beaudry. It should be remembered that nearly five years ago, on December 1, 2017, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante signed the famous UNAIDS declaration to make Montreal an AIDS-free city by 2030.

“This mural makes us very proud and for many reasons. I am proud, but I am also moved today, ”noted Elizabeth-Ann Doyle, director general of the MU organization in front of the fresco. She underlined, along with other speakers, the tenacity of Gabriel Girard, Denis-Daniel Boullé and Michel Bélanger to “save” Ron Farha’s mural. And said she was amply satisfied with the “reinterpretation and great creativity demonstrated by the artist XRAY[…]in this new work.

“I did not seek to redo the mural as it was,” explained artist XRAY. “I wanted to create a connection between the time in which we live and the one in which Ron Farha was, a link between the past and the present. Hence the pink triangle which was on the original mural and which symbolizes the time when Ron lived, and the rainbow which represents our time. »

Detained in France for professional reasons, Gabriel Girard made a point of sending a
message that Denis-Daniel Boullé addressed to the crowd: “This mural represents a memorial “trace” of the fight against HIV in Montreal, a landmark of this tremendous community mobilization in the face of the disease. This work of memory cannot be reduced to contemplating a past frozen in nostalgia. Conversely, it is an essential lever for action, at a time when new epidemics are testing our solidarity and our ways of life”.

#multifaceted #mural #remember #familys #fight #HIVAIDS

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