A video of four minority ethnic teenagers pushing a heavy parade float alongside an all-white choir has sparked debate in Canada about racial equality.

The footage was captured at the Quebec's 'Fete Nationale', which took place in Montreal on Saturday.

It shows four black, athletic teenagers pushing a heavy float supporting a white pianist and a white singer along with a billboard reading (in French): "Once Upon a Time In...".

Walking beside the float are around a dozen supporting singers, each of them also white and dressed in white clothes.

The organisers insisted that the racial division of labour was coincidental but many people voiced concerns about the footage, which was uploaded to Facebook on Saturday afternoon and has already been viewed 1.5m times.

"This is so disgusting... it does not show inclusiveness it shows a huge division ... [it suggests] french white are better than everyone else... sad, pathetic and unacceptable," said user Norma O'Donnell.

The 'Fete Nationale' marks the Quebecian national holiday, which dates back to 1834 and has become a celebration of French Canadian history and culture.

"What a message to send the city to the Montreal people by organising this parade. What do we tell the black kid who's happy to celebrate the national party," wrote The Association of Quebecois Muslims and Arabs in a Facebook post.

Fete Nationale race controversy
The organisers insisted it was a coincidence Screengrab/Facebook

However, organisers were quick to defend the parade and assured critics that unfortunate images, which have now gone viral, were nothing more than a coincidence.

He explained that several students from local high school Louis-Joseph-Papineau had helped with various aspects of the parade. "I understand there's a controversy. I'd like to ask for calm," he told CBS.

The students' high-school sports coach Sterve Lubin, himself a black man, also poured cold water on the suggestion that the parade was in any way racist.

"I think it's a shame that people saw a colour and not the participants," he said. "It was a pleasure for us to be there. If we didn't want to be there, we wouldn't have been there."