Don’t miss the 2017 McGill Sexual Health Fair

2017 Sexual Health Fair

2017 Sexual Health Fair

Check out McGill’s Sexual Health Fair being held this coming Thursday, February 16th, 2017 from 14:00 to 18:00 in the SSMU Building. Room 108. Sex, sexuality and sexual identity mean different things to different people. Join us at the McGill Sexual Health Fair to learn and discuss in a sex positive environment.

For more information, check out the Facebook event here.

Why we need to hear minority voices

Photo credit: McGill News

Photo credit: McGill News

When Dantes Rameau is asked to “show his credentials”, he does it because he understands the importance of “representing”. What he represents is possibility. To all of those young, economically challenged, inner-city kids that he mentors, he is a window into a life that they may not have believed was possible for them. Many minorities only see themselves depicted in the media as criminals, underachievers, and underdogs. Dantes Rameau shows them that it is possible to rise above the stereotypes. It is possible to become a celebrated classical musician, or a president, or an award-winning scientist, or anything else you imagine.

Too often, the media depicts success, beauty and achievement in the packaging of the majority. Minorities often struggle to find and maintain their own sense of self-worth and self-confidence because they cannot identify with the images of success that they are shown. We need to showcase minority success to give racialized and marginalized people (especially young people) a sense that they are valued in the world, that they too can be the face success, beauty and achievement.

Read about Dantes Rameau’s exceptional journey here.

McGill minorities take on the world – Imran Amed

Photo credit: Business of Fashion

Photo credit: Business of Fashion

We’ve all met that person. You know the one I’m talking about: smart, attractive, stylish, successful, charming. The person you secretly envy and can’t help but be impressed by. Imran Amed is all of those things and then some. This Calgary native chose McGill for his undergraduate studies, and we are so glad that he did. Now that the fashion world is at his feet, we can say with pride, “He’s a McGillian!” (He also got an MBA from Harvard.)

Imran Amed, a McGillian of Indian descent, is the founder of one of the most respected fashion blogs in the world. The Business of Fashion is  so well regarded that it received $2.5 million dollars in investment from Index Ventures, known for backing other winners such as Skype and Dropbox.

Mr. Amed was back at his alma mater last month to receive a Desautels Management Achievement Award, and at 38 years old, he is the youngest entrepreneur ever to receive the award. Not bad for a boy from Cowtown.

Read all about Imran Amed and his incredible success here and here.

McGill minorities rock!

Black History Month – Carrie Best

Canada Post honours Carrie Best

Canada Post honours Carrie Best

Rosa Parks. Coretta Scott King. Myrlie Evers. It’s odd how many Canadians can name the American women of the Civil Rights struggle, but would be hard pressed to name any of the Canadian women who fought for racial equality here. Perhaps this is because many Canadians believe that Canada has always been equal, open and accepting of all races. The unfortunate truth is that Canada had its own Civil Rights movement. However, this chapter of our history is often missing from the lessons taught in our schools.

One name that we should all know is Dr. Carrie M. Best. Who is Carrie Best? She was Canada’s first Rosa Parks. She was a journalist, an activist, a pioneer, and a humanitarian of the highest order. Carrie Best used her one small voice and turned it into a booming cry that could not be ignored.

Carrie Prevoe was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1903. In 1925, she married Albert T. Best and changed her name to the one that under which she would rise to prominence. Her first brush with notoriety came in 1942 when she and her son Cal were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace for sitting in the whites only seats of The Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow (they were ultimately convicted and fined). Mrs. Best attempted to fight this injustice by undertaking anti-racist litigation against her home town. However, nothing came of it, and most of history seems to have forgotten about this episode.

From that point on, Mrs. Best became a vocal advocate for racial equality and social justice. In 1946, she founded The Clarion, the first black-owned, black-published newspaper in Nova Scotia. She used the newspaper to publicize the case of Viola Desmond, another black woman arrested and fined for sitting in the whites-only seats at Roseland. When Desmond appealed the ruling, Carrie Best travelled to Halifax to be in the courtroom to hear the case. Viola Desmond lost her first appeal, but continued to fight, and Mrs. Best continued to follow the case both in person and in The Clarion. Desmond won her second appeal, helping to put an end the Jim Crow laws in Nova Scotia.

The Clarion continued to be published until 1956, when it changed its name to The Negro Citizen and began national circulation. During that period, Mrs. Best also began broadcasting a radio show called The Quiet Corner. That show remained on the air for 12 years and was broadcast on as many as five stations across the Maritimes. In 1968, Carrie Best was hired as a Human Rights columnist for the Pictou Advocate. For seven years, she used that platform to fight for better conditions on Native Reserves, to end discrimination against black property owners, and to end racism in Canadian legal and political institutions.

In 1975, Carrie M. Best’s contribution to our country is formally recognized when she is made a Member of the Order of Canada (in 1979, she is made an Officer of the Order). Over the course of her life, she was also awarded a number of honorary doctorates, as well as a Queen Elizabeth Medal.

Carrie Best died in her home town of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia on July 24, 2001. In 2002, she was posthumously awarded the Order of Nova Scotia.

Read more about Carrie M. Best here and here.

Black History Month – Dr. Phil Edwards

Canada Sports Hall of Fame

Photo Credit: Canada Sports Hall of Fame

This year, Black History Month also coincides with Olympic fever, and there has been no shortage of controversy surrounding these games. However, Sochi 2014 pales in comparison with Berlin 1936, and McGill sent one of its best and brightest to lead the Canadian Summer Olympic team to the “Nazi Olympics”. It was a particularly bold move considering that Phil Edwards was black. We all remember Jesse Owens, but we should never forget our own Phil Edwards.

Philip Aron Edwards was born into an affluent family in British Guyana on September 23, 1907. Throughout his early years in the Caribbean, Edwards was a promising runner, and his father was his first running coach. Upon graduating from secondary school in 1926, he moved to the US to further his running career and his studies at New York University. During his time at NYU, Phil Edwards managed to set a number of intercollegiate records in middle-distance events.

Although Edwards was an extremely talented athlete, he was not eligible to compete on the US track team at the 1928 Olympic games. However, Canada was more than happy to welcome him. He was invited to join the Canadian team, so he packed up and moved to Montreal, where he enrolled in McGill medical school. That year, Phil Edwards brought home a bronze medal from the Olympic games in Amsterdam.

Edwards quickly became the star of the McGill track team and served as Redmen captain for five seasons, from 1931 to 1936. During his time on the team, the McGill track and field team won six consecutive championships. In 1932, he returned to the Olympic games, this time in Los Angeles. He returned to Montreal to a hero’s welcome, having won three more bronze medals.

1936 was a big year for Phil Edwards; not only did he graduate from McGill’s medical school, but he also set out for his third Olympic games, the infamous “Nazi Olympics” in Berlin. This time, he would lead the Canadian Olympic team as its captain. Edwards never came home from an Olympic games empty-handed, and this time was no exception. He returned with yet another bronze medal, earning himself the nickname “Man of Bronze”. This fifth medal made him Canada’s most decorated Olympian at the time. On the return journey from the games, a hotel in London refused to honour his reservation because of his race. The entire team cancelled their reservations. They would not stay in any hotel that would not accept their captain.

Phil Edwards returned to McGill to complete a graduate diploma in medicine, specializing in tropical diseases. He received the diploma in 1945 and remained in Montreal on the staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital. Dr. Edwards also used his expertise to participate in many international missions.

In addition to his studies, his running, and his medical career, Dr. Edwards also participated in the war effort. He interrupted his career to serve in the Canadian army during WWII and rose to the rank of captain.

Dr. Philip Aron Edwards died in Montreal on September 6, 1971, just days shy of his 64th birthday.

Read more about Phil Edwards here and here.

Black History Month – Rosemary Wedderburn Brown

Canada Post honours Rosemary Brown

Canada Post honours Rosemary Brown

Many Canadian politicians have passed through McGill’s gates. Our University can be proud of its contribution to public life in Canada. During Black History Month, one politician in particular stands out, not only for her contribution as a politician, but for strength in the face of the racism and sexism she faced as Canada’s first black woman to hold public office.

Rosemary Wedderburn was born in Kingston, Jamaica on June 17, 1930. Her family had always been politically minded, and her interest in social welfare was clearly demonstrated when she emigrated to Canada in 1951 to pursue her post-secondary studies in social work at McGill University and UBC. Canada in the 1950s was a challenging place for a young black woman, and Ms. Brown was met with both racism and sexism at every turn, whether looking for housing, employment or simply trying to fit into university life.

After graduating from UBC, Rosemary Brown joined two social groups that would help to lead her toward her career in politics: the British Columbia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and Voice of Women. During the activism of the 1960s, she became a political advocate against racism and sexism. Given her unique qualifications to speak on behalf of both women and minorities, Ms. Brown took on the role of Ombudswoman and founding member of the Vancouver Status of Women Coucil (VSW).

In 1972, with the support of the VSW members, Rosemary Wedderburn Brown entered BC provincial politics as an NDP candidate and was elected on August 30th of that same year.  She retained her seat as MLA for 14 years.  During her time in office, she worked on many social issues including removing sexism from educational material and forming the commission on the family.

In 1973, the United Nations awarded her the United Nations’ Human Rights Fellowship.

In 1975, Rosemary Brown ran for leadership of the federal NDP. Her slogan was “Brown is Beautiful”. Her candidacy broke the colour barrier in the federal political arena when she ran a close second to Ed Broadbent.

Ms. Brown retired from the BC provincial legislature in 1988, but remained active in social advocacy for many more years. In 1993, she was named chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and in 1996, she was awarded the Order of Canada.

Rosemary Wedderburn Brown died in Vancouver, BC on April 26, 2003.

The McGill Faculty of Medicine Research and Graduate Studies Office offers a prize named in honour of Rosemary Wedderburn Brown.  Read about the Faculty Prize here.

Read more about this extraordinary woman here and here.

Black History Month – Anderson Ruffin Abbott

Anderson Ruffin Abbott

There are many forgotten heroes of black history in Canada. How many of us were taught about Anderson Ruffin Abbott in our Canadian History classes? I certainly wasn’t. Who is Dr. Abbott? He was the first Canadian-born black doctor.

Dr. Abbott was born into an affluent family in Toronto in 1837. His family had fled the harsh treatment of blacks in the United States of the early 1830s for the much more welcoming conditions in Canada. The Abbotts quickly rose to prominence, and this allowed Anderson Abbott to receive an excellent education.

In 1857, Anderson Ruffin Abbott graduated from the Toronto School of Medicine and continued his studies under Dr. Alexander Thomas Augusta. In 1861, he received a licence to practice from the Medical Board of Upper Canada, thus becoming the first Canadian-born black doctor.

His career tells the story of the times.  He joined the fight against slavery in the US by becoming a civilian surgeon under contract to the Union Army.  During his time in the United States, he became well-known in Washington and was counted among the select group that stood vigil over President Lincoln as he lay dying.

In 1866, he returned to Canada, and in 1871, he was admitted to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.  In 1874, he was appointed coroner for Kent County.  He returned to the US in 1894 when he was appointed as surgeon-in-chief at Provident Hospital in Chicago.  In 1896, the hospital made him medical superintendent.  However, in 1897, he resigned his position and returned to Canada once again.

Dr. Abbott became increasingly dedicated to promoting the idea that the access of blacks to higher education should not be compromised.  He wrote a series of articles and editorials for a number of publications on the subjects of black history, the Civil War, and medicine. His life served as a shining example of what people of colour could accomplish when given the opportunity to achieve.

Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott died in 1913 at the age of 76.

For more on Dr. Anderson, click here.

2013.11.10 – This week in Diversity

After being derailed by Montreal’s municipal elections, This week in Diversity is back!

Whenever we talk about race, disability, first peoples, women’s issues, and queer people, more often than not, we hear stories of discrimination, inequity, and heartbreak.  However, there is also good news out there, and it is important to celebrate the small victories along the road to a better world.

Every week, we will try to share links to five stories that celebrate diversity.  The news isn’t always bad.  Every day, there are strong people who are overcoming adversity, excelling despite the odds, and fighting the good fight.  One day, maybe there will be more encouraging stories than discouraging ones, and these articles won’t be quite so difficult to find.

First Peoples

Yukon First Nations

The Nations of the Yukon territory have a good thing going.  Thanks to a document authored in 1973, the First Nations of that northern territory and the government share more equitably in the resources while working to preserve traditional values in a global economy.  Fast forward 40 years, and Dempster Energy Services is born.  This company, formed by three Yukon First Nations is exploring the possibility of the Yukon supporting its own liquefied natural gas plant.  Getting involved in a major infrastructure project would be a huge win for the new company and would demonstrate that the accord signed in 1973 is truly “a better way to work with First Nations”.

Power position: Yukon First Nations benefit from equity in power projects

Yukon First Nations studying liquefied natural gas

Persons with Disabilities

bioAaron

Aaron Broverman is a Toronto journalist who has been published in countless magazines, journals, websites and blogs.  He is the brains behind ThisAbility, a weekly disability issues column published on This Magazine’s website.  He also has cerebral palsy. Aaron has always been candid about his life, and the trials and tribulations of living in an able-bodied world.  He recently published a challenging piece in Vice magazine on the complexities of dating for the disabled.  The article may be a little shocking, and it will likely be unexpected to some, but it certainly demonstrates how some people can truly find a way to make lemonade no matter how many lemons life throws at them!

 I have cerebral palsy and I’m looking for love

Queer People

JJ Levine

Most of us are raised with the notion that there are two fixed genders, and that we are either one or the other.  Many people struggle with the idea that gender is changeable, fluid.  Canadian photographer JJ Levine challenges this idea with a wonderful series of photos that illustrate how gender may not be as fixed as some believe, and the spectrum of gender expression includes more than simply cis male and cis female.  Explore more of his wonderful work by following the link below.

 Beautiful Photo Series Explores How One Person Can Take On Two Genders

Women

bateaumylene

 Montreal women rock!  Earlier today, Mylène Paquette became the first North American rower to successfully cross the North Atlantic alone.  Not the first North American woman, the first North American period.  5000 kilometres over 129 days, alone in a fancy canoe, battling loneliness, fatigue, and storms.  She did it.  Her boat capsized 10 times, and she is terrified of being under water, but she pushed on to accomplish what nobody from this continent ever has before.  Congratulations, Mylène!

Canadian rower says she’s first North American to cross North Atlantic alone

Racial and Ethnic Minorities

Sometimes, it’s these unexpected stories that remind us that we don’t need to take giant leaps to make a difference in the diversity landscape.  Sometimes, a small act can remind us that the similarities far outweigh the differences, and that there is no “them”; there is only “us”.

When Isaac Theil felt the stranger’s head suddenly resting on his shoulder as he rode home on New York City’s Q train, he didn’t see a black man; he saw himself.  “I simply remembered the times my own head would bop on someone’s shoulder because I was so tired after a long day,” Theil said.  The story was soon making waves across the internet.

Sleeping Stanger Subway Picture On Q Train Defines Empathy And Is A Lesson In Being Good

2013.10.13 – This Week in Diversity

Whenever we talk about race, disability, first peoples, women’s issues, and queer people, more often than not, we hear stories of discrimination, inequity, and heartbreak.  However, there is also good news out there, and it is important to celebrate the small victories along the road to a better world.

Every week, we will share links to five stories that celebrate diversity.  The news isn’t always bad.  Every day, there are strong people who are overcoming adversity, excelling despite the odds, and fighting the good fight.  One day, maybe there will be more encouraging stories than discouraging ones, and these articles won’t be quite so difficult to find.

First Peoples

Do you have an eight?  Go Fish!  Do you have an Ace?  Go Fish!  Do you have 1 million pounds of salmon?  They do at the Lax Kw’ alaams fish processing plant!  This First Nations community turned a rundown fish plant into a state-of-the-art success story.  Several communities on the West Coast are finding creative ways to combine tradition with innovation to build sustainable, successful industry.  This is the story of one community that combined investment, elbow grease, and luck to rebuild a flagging fishery.

First Nations fish processing plant rides nature’s business cycle

 

Persons with Disabilities

While running is often depicted as a solitary sport, the running community is made up of people from all walks of life and from almost every country.  It is one of the reasons that the Boston Marathon bombings were so unsettling.  Traditionally, marathons have allowed us to witness incredible athletic ability and inspiring moments of support and sportsmanship.  The bombings ripped through an event that has always brought people from around the globe together in celebration of their sport.

Fortunately, some people won’t let a little thing like losing a limb hold them back.  They rise to the challenge and show us that as long as the spirit is willing, the rest will follow.  Recently, some of the newly disabled runners who survived the horrors of that day began their new adventure as amputee runners.  Once again, people from all walks of life came together in celebration of their sport.

Boston Marathon Bombing Victims Are Learning To Run Again

 

Queer People

Being a teenager is tough.  Being a transgender teenager is tougher.  Montreal has some great resources for transgender youth.  The Montreal Children’s Hospital already has it’s own Gender Variance Program. Now, Toronto has just created a new resource for Ontario kids who are brave enough to own their identity and to seek the help that they need, instead of becoming another one of those devastating statistics. Let’s hope that the new transgender youth clinic at the Sick Kids hospital will add to the momentum so that all transgender youth will eventually have access to resources in their communities.

Transgender youth clinic opens at Sick Kids

 

Women

While we sit here debating the “feminist merits” of the hijab and the right of Quebec citizens to wear it, Muslim women have been bravely fighting for women’s rights in places where speaking out can be deadly.  We have all praised the strength and determination of young Malala Yousafzai.  Her hijab certainly doesn’t appear to be squashing her self-determination.  However, there are countless other amazing women who will not be silenced by their governments, by warlords or by anyone else.

If you haven’t already been introduced to her, meet Malalai Joya.  She’s not scared.

Afghanistan’s Warlords Cannot Silence Malalai Joya

 

Racial and Ethnic Minorities

We’re number 1!  We’re number 1!  Technically, this story is more than a week old, but since this is the first “week in diversity” post, I decided to include it anyway.  Our new principal has done us proud by being the first principal to denounce the proposed Quebec Charter of Values.  By clearly stating that McGill’s values include diversity, our principal is letting minorities know that we are welcome here.  To paraphrase the ad, at McGill “we care what’s in your head, not on your head”.

Whether our professors wear a hijab, a kippah, or a turban is not what’s important.  We want to be surrounded by bright, engaged, talented people who come to work inspired and inspiring.  That’s what the McGill community should be.

Charter ‘contrary to our principles’: McGill

 

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