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Petition: Prevention of desecration of the graves of the Irish founders and settlers of the City of Saint-Colomban

Update on the Petition

The petition is now closed for additional signatures. The Canadian Irish Migration Preservation Network is pleased to announce that we attracted a total of 435 signatures—a respectable number for this type of National Assembly petition, especially given the limited time available for signing. There was some confusion about whether individuals living outside of Quebec were eligible to sign.

To move forward, the petition needed to be presented in the Assembly by a sitting elected member. We are grateful to Gregory Kelley, Member for Jacques-Cartier of the Quebec Liberal Party, who agreed to present it on our behalf. However, yesterday, Mr. Kelley’s wife went into premature labor with their second child, and we are happy to report that their son was successfully delivered last evening. Congratulations to Mr. Kelley and his family!

This development posed a challenge for our petition, as it needed to be presented today, Friday, June 7, 2024—the last date before the Assembly adjourns for the summer, or it would have delayed any further action until at least September. Despite his stressful situation, Mr. Kelley took time to arrange for his associate, Brigitte Garceau, MNA Deputy for Robert-Baldwin riding, to present the petition on his behalf. We are grateful to Ms. Garceau for agreeing to do so, and according to the documents we have seen, the petition was indeed presented today.

Thank you again to Greg Kelley and Brigitte Garceau for your assistance.

We will update you on the results of our petition as soon as we receive additional information.


The small town of Saint-Columban, near Mirabel Airport, was founded by Irish settlers in the early 1800s. Until around World War I, the community remained predominantly Irish and Catholic. The early settlers built schools and donated land for the cemetery and the local church, which they also constructed. These settlers were buried in the cemetery in perpetuity.

Formation of the Group

Over 20 years ago, descendants visiting the area discovered many original tombstones broken and discarded near the Catholic Church. This led to the formation of an unofficial committee, now known as the Canadian Irish Migration Preservation Network. Over the past decades, the group has worked to right fallen stones, repair and clean them, and raise funds to build three walls to house stones too damaged to repair.

Current Issue

About a year ago, the group learned that the Saint-Columban Parish intended to invoke an obscure law related to Catholic cemeteries, allowing the parish to remove any tombstone over 100 years old and resell the burial plot. Despite no space issue in the cemetery, the parish plans to enforce this law. Efforts to negotiate with the church and the bishop of St. Jerome have led to some cooperation, but the situation remains unresolved. The church has stopped placing stickers on headstones but continues to place signs, glue statues to headstones, and encroach on existing burials.


We believe that long-term protection of tombstones in Catholic cemeteries throughout Quebec is impossible under the current law. Therefore, we are petitioning the National Assembly to repeal, modify, or clarify this law to protect these historic tombstones from desecration. Mr. Greg Kelley, MNA, has agreed to present this petition, but the Assembly will break for summer on June 6th or 7th and will not resume until September.

Prevention of desecration of the graves of the Irish founders and settlers of the City of Saint-Colomban 

Thank you for your support!