“Whenever I did something that was written about in the Contact, my parents would do everything they could to preserve those issues,” said McKenzie. “The Contact means a lot to a lot of people — especially to the Black community in Montreal.”
Richard Burnett, BA 88, who knew Egbert as a fellow panellist on CJAD, interviewed him over the years to commemorate Community Contact’s 10th and 15th anniversaries. “He championed young journalists, was a mentor and gave many their first jobs and assignments,” said Burnett.
Adds Andrea Hunter, chair and associate professor in the Department of Journalism: “He was always keen to give fellow Concordians an opportunity to write, intern or freelance for his beloved Community Contact.”
A ‘driving force’
With a staff of four part-time employees, in addition to several columnists, Community Contact was an important source of information for generations of Black Montrealers, and a way to unite people across the city. Gaye took a hands-on approach to all aspects of its operation, from concept to delivery.
“There was a reason that Community Contact worked, and it was because Egbert was the driving force,” said Gott.
In more recent years, Gaye’s son, Emar Mitchell, joined Community Contact as a graphic designer and layout specialist. Like his father, his dedication extended beyond the newsroom. Together, they delivered the paper to 70 distribution points across Montreal.
Recognized as a leader in community journalism, and a pivotal figure in Montreal’s Black community, Gaye’s passing marks a tremendous loss, said Burnett. “I think he was on a mission to empower the Black and Caribbean communities, and one of his strategies was to inspire with the power of positivity.”
Gaye is survived by his wife, son and daughter-in-law.