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Bill 60: We stand united

Photo Credit: John Kelsey

“The issue is not of political persuasion, but about protecting the rights of our community.”  Those are the words of student Senator Haley Dinel at the November 20th Senate meeting, and McGill’s Senate unanimously agreed.  Several provisions of Bill 60 go against the values of our institution, and we must make every effort to ensure that this kind of government-sanctioned discrimination never becomes law.  The McGill community is strong and influential.  We are many and we have a voice.  Stand up and make sure that you are heard.

The Charter is no laughing matter… except…

Photo Credit: Montreal Gazette

OK. I think we’re all a little freaked out by Bill 60. I mean, it was all fun and games until the PQ actually tabled it at the National Assembly. Now, we can no longer pretend that it was just some summer prank. It looks to be a real issue that we’re really going to have to do something about. Fortunately, Jess Solomon has a solution. She has drafted a revised Charter of Values. Check out Bill 60.2 – Charter of Montreal Values: Charter affirming the values of multiculturalism, bilingualism, and providing a framework for not accommodating unreasonable requests from Quebec City.

Now, if only we could get Jess Solomon to run for Pauline Marois’s job…

Happy Friday everyone!

2013.11.10 – This Week in Discrimination

Two steps forward and one step back.  Some days it looks as though it’s one step forward and two steps back.  Despite the fact that it can sometimes be disheartening, it is important to keep our eyes open and face reality.  The world is an imperfect place.  There is inequality, injustice and discrimination here and elsewhere.  The good news is that if we spot it, we can act on it.  We can work together to stamp out inequality, injustice and discrimination.  Our better world is just around the corner, but we have to build it.

Every week, we will try to share links to five stories that highlight discrimination, injustice, inequality.  One day, maybe there will be more encouraging news than discouraging news, and these articles won’t be quite so easy to find.

First Peoples

First Nations Veteran

Apparently some members of the Toronto police force didn’t know that Canada has First Nations veterans.  Apparently reminding Canadians that there are First Nations veterans isn’t appropriate on Remembrance Day.  Apparently you can be arrested for no other reason than, well… Hmm… Why exactly were Davyn Calfchild and Gary Wassaykeesic arrested?  When questioned, one Toronto officer responded, “It’s a ceremony based on tradition and patriotism… ”  OK.  Still not clear on what prompted the arrest though.  Maybe you can figure it out and explain it.  Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

 Toronto police arrested a First Nations war veteran on Remembrance Day

Persons with Disabilities

Family Wheelchair

Disability comes in many forms, and people with disabilities face more challenges than the able-bodied will ever understand.  However, Jamie Davis Smith, the mother of a disabled daughter, recently shared a list of 5 things that she wishes everyone knew about families dealing with disability.  It’s unfortunate that she has to publish this list, but humans are slow to change, so we’ll keep repeating the message until people learn to stop judging, stop fearing, and stop using the word “retarded”.

Here is Jamie’s List (follow the link for the details):

  1. We really, really dislike the word “retarded”.
  2. Some disabilities are invisible.
  3. It’s ok to ask questions when disabilities are visible.
  4. We are not heroes.
  5. Be considerate.

5 Things You Should Know About Families Dealing With Disabilities

Queer People


 Many of you will remember the Barilla pasta scandal.  This beats the pants off of the Office québécois de la langue française Pastagate.  Just over two months ago, Guido Barilla, president of the pasta company, gave a radio interview in which he had nothing good to say about the LGBTQ community.  His comments sparked a wave of outrage that was felt far beyond Parma, Italy.  In fact, it would appear that the international boycott and outcry have been enough for Signor Barilla to offer up “mi scusa” on the company’s website.  However, one cannot help but wonder how sincere the apology is.  Perhaps we should continue to look to companies that have nothing to apologize for.

Barilla CEO Says He Likes Gays Now, So Please Buy Some Of His Pasta

Toronto’s Italpasta “Our Pasta is made for All Pasta Lovers”


UN Women Ad - Women Should Not

We Google just about everything these days.  From news to bus schedules, Google is the go-to search engine for just about everyone.  However, I’ll bet you didn’t know that you can Google sexism; not the word, but the experience.  Try it yourself and you’ll see.  The ad series created for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai uses real Google search results “to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women.”  It’s disturbing when you understand how Google instant search results are generated.  It would appear that we still have a long, long way to go.  If you are worried that these ads are a little one-sided, Google “women shouldn’t”, then Google “men shouldn’t” and see what Google Instant search returns.  It’s pretty scary.

UN Women ad series reveals widespread sexism

Racial and Ethnic Minorities

School of Social Work

Edward Lee sounds exactly like the kind of McGillian we can all be proud of.  He completed his Masters of Social Work as a member of the Dean’s Honour List and a recipient of the Alumni prize for Outstanding Masters of Social Work thesis.  He is currently working on his PhD in Social Work and has been awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Vanier Fellowship.  Last year, he was also awarded the 1st annual Equity and Community Building Award in the Academic Staff category for his “commitment to – and leadership in – matters relating to equity, diversity and community building, both within the School of Social Work and in the wider McGill community.”  Mr. Lee currently teaches the highly regarded course on Anti-Oppression Social Work Practice.  So, with all of this apparent success within the McGill community, why did Edward Lee file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission “alleging systemic racism on the part of the School [of Social Work]”?

Mr. Lee is not the first person to suggest that there is systemic discrimination at McGill.  In his case, the Quebec Human Rights Commission received and accepted his complaint, which suggests that there is enough merit to the complaint to warrant an investigation.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation to see how it unfolds.

McGill School of Social Work accused of perpetuating systemic racism

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


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



 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

McGill Minorities Rock! – Dr. Nitika Pant Pai

McGill has some of the brightest minds in the world.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise when one of us makes the news.  The Montreal Gazette recently featured one of our own who is making big waves in the field of HIV testing in the developing world.

Meet Dr. Nitika Pant Pai

Photo from Dr. Pant Pai's website

Dr. Pant Pai and her team have developed an app which helps people get the information they need as they navigate the somewhat frightening world of HIV testing.  In the developing world, information can be hard to come by, and the stigma associated with the virus is a strong deterrent to seeking help.

Through her research, Dr. Pant Pai is looking at innovative ways to address some of the issues surrounding the detection HIV and STIs and the prevention of their transmission.  Read more about her work on her website.


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.

Denis Coderre – Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal

In preparation for Montreal’s November 3rd municipal election, we will be presenting the diversity and equity platforms for all confirmed mayoral candidates and their respective parties.

Denis Coderre

The Équipe Denis Coderre website contains details of the entire program the team has in store for Montreal, if elected.

The breakdown of the diversity and equity initiatives is COMING SOON.


Joseph Young – Independent

In preparation for Montreal’s November 3rd municipal election, we will be presenting the diversity and equity platforms for all confirmed mayoral candidates and their respective parties.

Joseph Young

Joseph Young is not an independent, strictly speaking.  He is campaigning as a member of the Communist League.  According to his profile in L’actualité (in French), he is:

  •  66 years old
  • Single
  • No spouse, children, or pets
  • Renter in Parc Ex
  • Drives a ’93 Toyota Corolla
  • Speaks French, English, and Spanish
  • Favourite Montreal Spot: A picket line

Without a website to present his platform, his thoughts on diversity and equity must be pieced together from his interviews.  You can read more about him in his Actualité profile, and in these two articles:

Patricia Tulasne – Independent

In preparation for Montreal’s November 3rd municipal election, we will be presenting the diversity and equity platforms for all confirmed mayoral candidates and their respective parties.

Patricia Tulasne

She doesn’t want to play the mayor, she wants to be the mayor.  Actress Patricia Tulasne is running for the big job in city hall. Her campaign is run from her Facebook page so it is difficult to find her platform.  However, this is what her “About” page says:

“Patricia Tulasne is an engaged citizen who has fought against animal cruelty for over 30 years.  She support a Charter of Secularism.”

If anyone has more information on her diversity/equity platform, please send a link or post the information in the comments section.


Kofi Sonokpon – Independent

In preparation for Montreal’s November 3rd municipal election, we will be presenting the diversity and equity platforms for all confirmed mayoral candidates and their respective parties.

Kofi Sonokpon

Sonokpon’s platform is: Montreal – An Autonomous and Bilingual City within Quebec and Canada.

Although his platform is summarized in 4 points, two of them relate to diversity!

  1. Enrich Montreal of her youth and her immigrants and strengthen her leadership in aviation and technology
  2. Fight poverty and household indebtedness


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