Students make art to make a statement.
Concordia’s Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) organised a protest on Sept. 29 to demand the pedestrianisation of Mackay Street on the Sir George Williams campus of Concordia University. On the last day of Climate Rage Week, the artists painted a mural on the ground in the middle of Mackay Street, which was blocked off to cars by students and teachers. The event was followed by a march on Sherbrooke Street.
Angelica Antonakopoulos, ASFA’s academic coordinator, said the main goal of the event was to inform the public on the issue of Mackay’s pedestrianisation. “Mackay is located between the Hall Building and all of Concordia’s annexes, which house very important student services and departments, and it’s precarious for students to always try to cross the street while there are cars passing,” she explained.
She says there have been incidents where the police have fined students for jaywalking while they were trying to get from their department to the Hall Building. “We also believe that it is really important for students to have an outdoor communal space at the heart of our downtown campus,” Antonakopoulos continued.
On the morning of Sept. 29, while cars were redirected by those operating the blockage, others painted the mural on the street. About a dozen contributors grabbed a paintbrush and applied eye-catching yellows, greens and purples on the asphalt. Spirits were high—participants felt they were taking concrete action to achieve their goal. The mural depicts a pedestrian, a bike and a tree. It is outlined by the statement “Pedestrianize Mackay” and takes up the whole width of the street. It is a way for ASFA’s protestors to leave their mark. Afterward, with the leftover paint, “PED MACKAY” was painted multiple times all over the street in capital letters and trees and flowers were added to the mix. When they were done, protestors had almost painted over the entire section of the street they were occupying.
There has been talk of pedestrianising Mackay for about 30 years. ASFA hopes that the protest was a step in the right direction and plans to go to the city next to try and bring the project to reality.