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Celebration as Resistance

2560“This is a really beautiful way of celebrating each other, while the world is burning down outside: we’re here, we’re not going anywhere.” – Coco Layne, one of the attendees of New York’s Queer Lunar New Year dance party

Resistance can take shape in many ways. For some, it is through study. Others, through direct action, and community work. The Guardian article linked below tells the story of the Yellow Jackets Collective who organized a dance party that invoked their commitment to anti-oppression, intersectionality, and counter-hegemonic struggle.
In these difficult times, we have to allow ourselves to celebrate ourselves and honour those who have paved the way before us. Our rejoicing co-exists with our struggles. Those at the margins should not apologize for taking up space that the system tries to take away at every opportunity. In between the moments of mourning and sorrow, we can remind each other to feel and hold each others’ embodied joy.

Asian, queer and dancing defiance: ‘Everything we do now is resistance”

Mental Health and Self-Care for the Queer Activist of Colour

It’s understandable that at times, one finds themselves emotionally, mentally, and even physically drained given the state of current affairs. A number of studies have shown the deleterious impact of systemic realities on marginalized peoples’ health. Activism is often a channel through which these individuals find opportunities to connect with community, self-empower, and undertake sense-making processes in the context of a society that disadvantages them.

The system is not here to make it easier on vulnerable persons to undertake counter-hegemonic struggle. Researchers from the University of Rhode Island, Drs. Annemarie Vaccaro and Jasmine Mena, published the article linked below in 2011 wherein they studied the experiences of university-based queer activists of colour. The study uncovered the internal and external pressures inherent in donning the role of “activist” as well as the heterogeneous ways that these individuals cope with the challenges.

It’s Not Burnout, It’s More: Queer College Activists of Color and Mental Health

Welcome to Black History Month 2017

Black History Month 2017

Black History Month 2017

Welcome to Black History Month 2017 at McGill University. This marks the 10th anniversary of Black History Month being observed in the province of Québec and the 1st year that McGill will be recognizing it at an institutional level. The Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) Office, in collaboration with partners across the University and throughout the wider community, will be bringing you a host of informative and engaging activities throughout the month of February. We welcome you to join us in the celebration! Come out to meet some of the People of Colour in your community and find out more about Black histories and experiences at McGill, in Montreal, and across Canada and the world. A schedule of events can be found here. For any information or to get involved as a volunteer, please contact blackhistory.sede@mcgill.ca.

“Peut-on être raciste sans le savoir?” by Dr. Régine Debrosse

Article on Le Devoir by member-at-large, Dr. Regine Debrosse, McGill alumna from the Department of Psychology and postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern University.

Peut-on être raciste sans le savoir?

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)

Black History Month – George Wellington Smith

Photo credit: Collections Canada

Photo credit: Collections Canada

Many Montrealers think of our fair city as a place of openness, tolerance, and inclusion.  However, there was a time in the not-so-distant past when people of colour suffered the consequences of discrimination in ways that we hope to never witness again.  On a cold January morning in 1902, an unfortunate Montreal family learned first hand just how evil racism truly is.

George Wellington Smith worked as a stableman for the Laurin family. By all accounts, he was an industrious and well-known horse trainer of sober character.  On the morning of January 26th, 1902, Mr. Smith was to prepare a horse for Mr. Cyrille Laurin who would be attending 9:00 mass at nearby Gesù church, followed by a visit with Henry Hogan, owner of the upscale St. Lawrence Hall Hotel.

Mr. Smith had the horse harnessed and ready, but for some unknown reason, Eddie Laurin, the 21-year-old son of Mr. Cyrille Laurin, entered the stable and took it upon himself to chastise the stableman for not preparing the horse earlier.  The younger Mr. Laurin had made a habit of verbally assaulting the black employee. On this day, the assault was particularly nasty, culminating in Laurin calling Mr. Smith an “ill-bred ni**er” and ordering him to apologize on his knees. Laurin left the stable shortly thereafter, but soon returned brandishing a revolver.

The rest is, unfortunately, predictable. Eddie Laurin again ordered George Wellington Smith to get down on his knees and apologize. He repeatedly threatened the stableman, and eventually a struggle ensued. In all of the chaos, Laurin fired two shots, one of which struck the unfortunate Mr. Smith in the side. Mr. Smith was rushed to Hotel Dieu Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries at 02:00 on January 27th, 1902, leaving behind his wife and young son.

Fortunately, justice was relatively swift in this case. The criminal trial of Edward Laurin for the murder of George Wellington Smith took place in Montreal in March of 1902, and on April 5th of that same year he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.

Cyrille Laurin was at a loss to explain why his son did what he did. Perhaps his time in South Africa during the Boer War had corrupted him. Perhaps it was something else entirely. At that time, all over North America and throughout the world, racism and intolerance against many different ethnic groups were commonplace. Perhaps he had learned to hate right here in Montreal.

Read more about George Wellington Smith’s story here or here.

We are all Québécois

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words…

Sometimes, it feels as though the current provincial government has forgotten that we are all Quebecers, regardless of the colour of our skin, our religious affiliation, or our political convictions.  This video by Ari Grunzeweig, created with the participation of the caregivers working at the Jewish General Hospital, reminds us that when it comes down to the things that really matter – helping one another, caring for our neighbours, and sharing all of those simple moments of everyday life – we have far more similarities than differences.

Read about the creation of this simple, but powerful video here.

Goodbye, Madiba


Thank you, Nelson Mandela.  You will always serve to remind us why we fight for human rights for all.  Whether those rights are for people in our own backyard or on the other side of the world, we fight because it is right, and because you taught us that resistance is never futile.

Rest well; you’ve earned it.

Nelson Mandela dies at 95

Charter of Québec Values – The World is Watching

On October 26th, Noam Chomsky gave a talk at Université de Montréal.  During question period, he was asked to give his opinion on the Charter of Quebec Values.  As a respected political commentator and activist, his opinion is likely to carry a significant amount of weight with the international community and all those who are watching Québec to see if the current administration will succeed in passing this legislation.

Will Québec draw a line between their definition of “us” and some arbitrary notion of “them”? Or will the people of Québec remember that The New World has always been multicultural, from the moment the first non-native stepped off the boat.

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