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Mental Health for Racialized Students

(From the Huffington Post, JED Foundations)









Research demonstrates that BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) are more vulnerable to mental health difficulties and face systemic barriers to resource access.

Article from the Huffington Post: Students Of Color Aren’t Getting The Mental Health Help They Need In College

In strength and solidarity

Many of you might know of the unsettling white supremacist flyers seen circulated across our campus last semester.
The Subcommittee on Racialized and Ethnic Persons would like to take this opportunity to reach out to racialized community members and affirm that we stand in solidarity with you especially in times that you feel unsafe and unwelcome. No doubt that a number of us feel scared in light of these events. Should you have questions with regards to resources that can provide support, please contact the subcommittee at rep.equity@mcgill.ca

Link from the CBC:

Canadian campuses see an alarming rise in right-wing populism

(Content Warning: racism, alt-right, white supremacist)

Where are all the “other” people?

Photo credit: bet.com

Photo credit: bet.com


I’m sure it doesn’t come as a big surprise to learn that there aren’t huge numbers of women and racialized minorities in the big technology firms (excluding Asian males who represent a significant portion of the tech industry). Anyone who has been following the #Gamergate madness is well aware of the fact that the tech industry is not the most diverse space in the universe. That said, I think many people would be shocked to learn that the gaming industry would rather you not mention it. In fact, people who have been outspoken on the issue of the lack of women and minorities in the high tech industry have often seen their careers cut short.

What the heck, high tech?

Check out this article on why the Big Technology thinks diversity is a dirty word.

Dying to be Black (or Native American)

Life Expectancy White

Life Expectancy - Black

Life Expectancy Native American

Many people have suggested that the election and re-election of Barack Obama are indicative of the end of racism in the US. However, the numbers don’t lie; if you’re black, you had better start on your bucket list early, because you’ll be gone from this earth before your neighbours.

While the gap is shrinking, the life expectancy of African Americans and Native Americans is still well below the life expectancy of White Americans. Not surprisingly, Norteastern states are doing much better than Southwestern states. However, it is interesting to note that Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans have a longer life expectancy than White Americans.

McGill researchers performed a new, state-by-state analysis to provide a clearer picture of the gaps, which are most likely indicative of deeper social issues.

Check out this article to read more about the study, and look here for some details on the life expectancy by state. The title of the web page is “USA Life Expectancy – Life longer, live better”. Food for thought.

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!

McGill minorities give back – Gemma Raeburn-Baynes


Photo credit: Who’s who in Black Canada

Gemma Raeburn-Baynes knows what it means to give back. She seems to turn every opportunity in her life into an opportunity to help both the local community and the global one. On March 8th, 2014, this McGill alumna will be honoured for her 50 years of community activism.

Gemma Raeburn-Baynes was born in Grenada, but has lived most of her life in Montreal. Her island roots have definitely shaped her personality, as evidenced by her contributions to Montreal’s Taste of the Caribbean and Carifiesta events, but Ms. Raeburn-Baynes has also worked tirelessly to improve conditions for all people of colour both in Montreal and abroad.

Read more about this extraordinary woman from another McGill alumnus here.

Congratulations, Gemma! 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 – 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 Philip Aaron Edwards was black. We all remember Jesse Owens, but we should never forget our own Phil Edwards.

Phil 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 is expertise in 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.

Philip Aaron 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.

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