Sonya Biddle

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Sonya Biddle
Member of the Montreal City Council
In office
1998–2001
Personal details
Born31 December 1957
Died19 January 2022 (aged 64)
Political partyVision Montreal
RelationsStephanie Biddle (sister)
Parent(s)

Sonya Biddle (31 December 1957 – 19 January 2022) was a Canadian actress and politician in Montreal, Quebec. She served on the Montreal City Council from 1998 to 2001 as a member of Vision Montreal.

Early life[edit]

Born on 31 December 1957, Biddle was the daughter of well-known Montreal jazz bassist Charlie Biddle and the sister of jazz singer Stephanie Biddle. Her mother, a white francophone woman, was ostracized by other members of her family in the 1950s for having married a black man.[1]

Career[edit]

Acting[edit]

She was a noted stage actress in Montreal during the 1980s and early 1990s, appearing in performances of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,[2] Irene and Lillian Forever,[3] A Woman Alone,[4] The Colored Museum,[5] Fool Blast,[6] No Men Beyond This Point,[7] The Haunting,[8] and Canad-uh?[9] In 1990, she directed the play, My Mom Was on the Radio.[10] For a time, she and her partner Allan Patrick were the leaders and organizers of the Fool House Theatre Corporation, and in the mid-1990s she was involved in organizing community events, concerts, and festivals.[11]

Biddle appeared in a number of films, such as The Bone Collector in 1999.[12][13]

Politics[edit]

Biddle had strong connections with the leadership of Vision Montreal before seeking political office herself; her partner Allan Patrick was an organizer for the party in the 1994 municipal election and subsequently became an advisor to mayor Pierre Bourque on issues affecting Montreal's anglophone community.[14]

She was elected to city council in the 1998 Montreal municipal election, narrowly defeating longtime incumbent Sam Boskey of the Democratic Coalition in Décarie. During the campaign, she highlighted her connections to the mayor and promised that the city would purchase the vacant Cinema V building to create a cultural centre for local artists and musicians.[15] Vision Montreal won a majority government in this election, and in November 1998 Biddle was appointed an associate member of the Montreal executive committee (i.e., the municipal cabinet).[16]

Following extensive lobbying by Biddle and Patrick, the city purchased Cinema V for $571,000 in August 1999. The following June, council awarded a one million dollar grant and title to the building to the non-profit Cinema VI Corporation, a successor body to the Fool House Theatre Corporation. Biddle introduced the council motion to end debate on the issue immediately prior to the final vote.[17] Some councillors strongly criticized the award; prominent among them was Marvin Rotrand, who had previously drawn attention to the high costs of renovating the site and noted Biddle and Patrick's historical links to the Cinema VI group.[18] Despite the efforts of Biddle and Patrick, the site was ultimately not renovated, and in 2002 it was reported that Cinema VI had run out of money.[19]

In March 2000, Biddle, Patrick, and fellow Vision Montreal councillor Kettly Beauregard accompanied Bourque on a somewhat controversial trip to Trinidad and Tobago. City officials contended that the trip was intended as research on the organization of summer carnivals, while critics alleged it was simply a junket undertaken for political purposes.[20]

She was defeated by Marcel Tremblay of the Montreal Island Citizens Union (MICU) in the 2001 municipal election. She ran for borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in 2005, but was defeated by MICU incumbent Michael Applebaum.[21]

Death[edit]

Biddle died of intestinal cancer on 19 January 2022, at the age of 64.[13][22][23]

Electoral record[edit]

2005 Montreal municipal election: Borough Mayor, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Party Candidate Votes %
Citizens Union Michael Applebaum 14,646 48.11
Vision Montreal Sonya Biddle 8,013 26.32
Team Jeremy Searle Jeremy Searle 5,949 19.54
Independent Alexandre Montagano 1,837 6.03
Total valid votes 30,445
Source: Election results, 1833-2005 (in French), City of Montreal.
2001 Montreal municipal election results: Councillor, Décarie
1998 Montreal municipal election results: Councillor, Décarie

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1987 Rebel High Raphaela
1989 Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster Lucinda
1993 Sweet Killing Sales Clerk
1999 The Bone Collector Nurse

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charlie Fidelman, "Acting out; Cultural centre could unite community," Montreal Gazette, 3 March 1994, E7.
  2. ^ Marianne Ackerman, "Actress is fired for not being black enough", Montreal Gazette, 12 September 1985, A1. The article title does not refer to Biddle.
  3. ^ Marianne Ackerman, "Stage is set for Quebec Drama Festival," Montreal Gazette, 2 April 1986, C1. See also Pat Donnelly, "Something lost in translation in French version of Colored Girls", Montreal Gazette, 8 February 1994, C9.
  4. ^ Marianne Ackerman, "A double-bill from Black Theatre Workshop", Montreal Gazette, 8 May 1986, E3. Ackerman described the play as "possibly the only one-woman farce in all of theatre" and Biddle as "talented", though also commenting that her interpretation for this demanding role "floundered somewhere between breathless exasperation and snarkiness."
  5. ^ Pat Donnelly, "Colored Museum is irreverent and funny", Montreal Gazette, 11 October 1988, B7.
  6. ^ Pat Donnelly, "'High-tack' revue by Foolhouse Theatre is fast, funny and topical", Montreal Gazette, 6 February 1989, B11. Donnelly described Biddle's appearance as a joual-speaking Michael Jackson as the high point of the show.
  7. ^ Pat Donnelly, "Beatrice play dominates drama-fest awards", Montreal Gazette, 1 May 1989, D5.
  8. ^ Pat Donnelly, "Foolhouse cast calls N.D.G. library home", Montreal Gazette, 26 October 1990, C8.
  9. ^ Pat Donnelly, "Foolhouse revue is constitution antidote", Montreal Gazette, 25 February 1992, F1.
  10. ^ Pat Donnelly, "Anglophone drama festival takes a nose dive after a good start", Montreal Gazette, 28 April 1990, H13.
  11. ^ Charlie Fidelman, "Acting out; Cultural centre could unite community", Montreal Gazette, 3 March 1994, E7; Kathryn Greenaway, "Music and art will fill N.D.G. Park", Montreal Gazette, 22 September 1995, D1.
  12. ^ "Sonya Biddle". BFI. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  13. ^ a b Kelly, Brendan (20 January 2022). "Obituary: Sonya Biddle was 'unbridled and unfiltered and honest and courageous'". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 21 January 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Peggy Curran, "Miracles never cease: Especially just before an election," Montreal Gazette, 18 August 1998, A3; Peggy Curran, "From reels to real estate: Cinema V deal assailed," Montreal Gazette, 11 September 1999, A3.
  15. ^ Allison Lampert, "New life for N.D.G. theatre?: Bourque promises to buy Cinema V, burger joint for community centres," Montreal Gazette, 17 August 1998, A3.
  16. ^ Aaron Derfel, "Mayor taps Fortier as chairman: Executive committee is experienced," Montreal Gazette, 13 November 1998, A3.
  17. ^ Darren Becker, "Grant okayed for Cinema V," Montreal Gazette, 22 June 2000, A6.
  18. ^ Linda Gyulai, "Critics call Cinema V `money pit': Cost of renovating boarded-up theatre too high, opposition councillor says," Montreal Gazette, 8 February 2000, A5; Darren Becker, "Study grant questioned: City acting irresponsibly, Rotrand charges," Montreal Gazette, 1 June 2000, A6.
  19. ^ Kate Barrette, "Cinema V 'my gift': Convert landmark into cultural centre, not condos, says former mayor Bourque," Montreal Gazette, 16 July 2002, A6.
  20. ^ Linda Gyulai, "Trip to Caribbean yields no contracts," Montreal Gazette, 11 May 2001, A4.
  21. ^ Aaron Derfel, "Applebaum wins scrap," Montreal Gazette, 7 November 2005, A7.
  22. ^ Roy, Lillian (20 January 2022). "Montreal politician and actress Sonya Biddle dies after cancer diagnosis". CTV News. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  23. ^ "A 'voice for change,' actress and former city councillor Sonya Biddle dies at 64". CBC News. 20 January 2022. Retrieved 22 January 2022.