Concordia Student Union News

BREAKING: Graduate Students Association proposes referendum against Legal Information Clinic

As graduate students prepare to vote in upcoming elections, questions remain about the LIC’s accessibility.

The Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) Legal Information Clinic (LIC) was informed today of the Graduate Students Association’s (GSA) proposed referendum to eliminate the clinic’s fee levy of $2.75. 

The LIC said in an email that the announcement comes at a frustrating time, especially when the CSU recently stated that they’re reviewing their initial decision to remove the clinic. Now, the CSU is reviewing the LIC’s services “in accordance with the resolution adopted, which was to keep the LIC open, by the CSU Student Council on Feb. 14,” as said in an email. The CSU’s final decision is still pending.

The LIC was not made aware of the GSA’s proposal prior to the announcement. If the referendum passes, the current graduate students who use the LIC services for their needs will no longer be able to, affecting the future of the clinic and the graduate students who need it. 

Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), is currently working with two graduate students who need representation for their respective cases. He told The Concordian that preventing graduate students’ access to legal services will affect student protection and guidance during their legal issues and processes.

“If the GSA cuts off funding to the Legal Information Clinic, that means that the clinic cannot fund for the legal representation. If they go on their own to defend against these charges, it could be a very difficult experience for them,” Niemi said.

Niemi believes that fee levies are a “major source of financial support for graduate students who need legal representation.” Since many graduate students are international, they need the LIC’s help with immigration, cases involving racism or sexual assault, and employment, among others. 

Even language barriers can cause difficulties to some graduate students as they undergo the judicial process during their case. Niemi feels that by keeping the LIC open, these graduate students will be able to access services that respect their language barriers, something that other legal services on university campuses may not provide.

“Once the graduate students access Quebec common agencies in charge of human rights—especially if your French is not good and you go there as an English speaker—you may need more than just lawyers and may need a lot of other support that the Legal Information Clinic can provide,” Niemi said. “That’s a very valuable and important support for these students.”

The LIC is urging graduate students to vote on the matter during the GSA elections on April 15 and 16.


Anastasia Boldireff’s case goes to the Human Rights Tribunal

The Concordia PhD student finally receives justice on gender discrimination complaint filed against the two officers in her case.

Since 2019, Concordia PhD student Anastasia Boldireff has been demanding justice for the discrimination she had suffered at the hands of two police officers who discriminated her during her criminal harassment case. Now, she’s finally receiving it.

On March 1 of this year, Boldireff’s complaint against the two officers was upheld by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission and taken to the Human Rights Tribunal. 

In October 2019, Boldireff was stalked by a non-Concordia student. Her stalker followed her on Concordia campus and eventually assaulted her in broad daylight. 

She went to the police station where she was told to come back later. Boldireff returned with a Concordia security guard after she had made a statement with Concordia security. The Concordia security guard was asked to leave. The officer asked her to answer questions that he wrote on a clipboard and slid to her underneath the plexiglass. 

Upon answering each question, she returned the clipboard, and the officer wrote down another question. Each time she tried to talk with the officer and explain that she was scared, the officer asked her to write it down. It was only when she told the officer “Don’t you want his phone number?” that the officer wrote down a question requesting the phone number of the accused. Boldireff asked “Is he in the system?” and she said that the officer nodded and looked surprised and left.  

The officer returned with his supervisor. The officer’s supervisor then entered the room and asked Boldireff more questions about the accused. 

“I had just written it down, but I was asked to repeat myself. I described [the stalker] to the best of my ability, and the officer had his arms crossed. He was leaning back and he said, ‘Well, he sounds like a good-looking man, a soccer player. Why don’t you go on a date with him?’ and then he laughed,” Boldireff said.

She asked for an escort home since she didn’t feel safe, to which one of the officers asked: ‘Well, is he [the stalker] there now?” She told him that she was scared for her life and he rejected her access to a safe ride home. Realizing the officers wouldn’t provide the support she needed, Boldireff asked if there was any other advice they could give her before leaving. Boldireff said that the supervisor said, ‘you should consider what you’re wearing’. 

“It was a terrible interaction and things escalated from there [with the suspect] and I wasn’t provided the immediate support or sense of dignity,” she said. 

After that interaction, Boldireff filed a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner. It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that she got in touch with the Concordia Student Union Legal Information Clinic (LIC). They immediately put her in touch with the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) to receive the help she desperately needed. CRARR filed a complaint on her behalf against the two officers for gender discrimination, stating that they were “violating her right to equality, dignity, and security of the person,” as was detailed in the press release. 

“I don’t think there’s any excuse for a police officer to not treat a victim of crime, of any crime, without the basic need for dignity,” Boldireff said.

Now, the Human Rights Commission upheld her complaint against the two officers. In CRARR’s press release sent to The Concordian, the commission is asking for “$8,000 in moral damages from the City of Montreal and the two officers, and $2,500 in punitive damages from the two officers.”

The commission is also asking for training on the reality lived by people who file complaints for crimes involving sexual violence to be implemented for police officers. This is to ensure that there’s no gender-based stereotypes in the handling of these cases. 

After years of searching for help, Boldireff felt a sense of justice being served following this decision.

“It makes me feel supported. It makes me feel that if the Human Rights Commission is supporting this case, then fundamentally they’re supporting the belief that women should not experience [derogatory] gender-based comments at a police station,” Boldireff said. 

She’s continuing to advocate for safe spaces for victims who go to report their sexual violence cases, and for them to have guidance from social services such as CRARR.

She continues to voice how imperative it is that “victims should be believed when they’re coming forward, believed and supported, especially by the police who were meant to serve and protect [them],” Boldireff said.

As grateful as Boldireff is for the Human Rights Commission’s decision being in her favour, she is still waiting on the Administrative Police Ethics Tribunal’s decision from the hearings of her case last fall.


Black student appears in court after incident at Stingers Dome

The student’s journey to defend his name is just beginning.

John, the Black student who was accosted in the Stingers Dome and charged with assault on Dec. 13, appeared in municipal court for the first hearing on March 12. 

John was accompanied by Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) and a family member. The concerned staff person was also present wearing his Stingers jacket, sitting in the last row of the room. 

John was playing soccer in the Stingers Dome when a staff person questioned him several times as to why he was there. A teacher at the Loyola high school came to John’s defense, telling the staff person that John was allowed to play. Two days later, the same staff person yelled racist comments at John, filmed him, and punched him in the face. John left the scene with a cut on the left side of his face and was handcuffed by police. 

John was charged with assault, but pleaded not guilty. One of the defense attorneys urged the judge to proceed expeditiously given the sensitive nature of the case. It appears that Concordia is asking for certain conditions, the extent of which are unknown at this time. 

Niemi told The Concordian in an email that the staff person filed a formal complaint to the Office of Rights and Responsibilities (ORR) against John on Feb.7. The complaint was then forwarded to John on Feb.29. The specific details about the complaint were not disclosed for confidentiality purposes. 

However, in a statement sent to The Concordian, Concordia spokesperson Vannina Maestreacci underlined that “all members of the university (students, staff, faculty) have the right to file a complaint under the Code of Rights and Responsilities against another member.”

“In the case of a formal complaint against a student, the process is through a hearing panel, which determines if a violation of the Code occurred,” Maestreacci said.

In regards to the ORR, Niemi will investigate “their concrete measures to address systemic anti-Black racism, particularly racial profiling, as many elements of the incident of December 2023 have elements of racial profiling.”

Maetreacci sent another statement to The Concordian, stating that the ORR’s policies on filing complaints remain the same “whether anyone involved in a complaint is a person of colour.” 

“When concerns of anti-Black racism are reported in the context of its processes however, the Office of Rights and Responsibilities applies an inter-unit collaborative approach, consulting with the Black Perspectives Office. ORR frequently reviews the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism and implements them where appropriate,” Maestreacci said. 

John’s lawyer was absent at the first hearing, letting this unfair case dangle over his head and forcing the hearing to be rescheduled. In the meantime, Niemi will continue to investigate the potentially racist nature behind John’s arrest and pressure Concordia to take concrete measures to address anti-Black racism on campus.

“One of the systemic issues we will address in the complaint [Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission] is the university’s actions (or lack thereof) in relation to campus security as outlined in page 64 of the action plan to combat anti-Black racism. The January 2024 Progress Report has identified only one action in this regard,” Niemi said. 

The next hearing is scheduled on April 12.


  • In a previous version of the article, it was written in the first paragraph that John appeared in municipal court for the first hearing on March 13. This is not correct. The first hearing was on March 12. It was also written that John was charged with assault on Dec. 23. This isn’t correct, he was charged on Dec. 13. The Concordian takes full responsibility for these errors. We apologize to our readers for these mistakes.
  • In a previous version of the article, it was written in the fifth paragraph that the formal complaint against John by the staff person was filed on Feb. 14. This is not correct. The complaint was filed on Feb. 7 and was later forwarded to John on Feb. 29. The Concordian acknowledges and takes full responsibilities for these errors and we apologize to our readers.

What does it mean to decolonize Concordia’s pedagogy?

As Concordia seeks to Indigenize its pedagogy, some loud voices push back on Concordia’s innovation.

On Sept. 8, 2023, Concordia announced the launch of a five-year plan to decolonize and Indigenize the university’s curriculum and pedagogy. This comes three years after the Indigenous Action Plan was first published in 2019. Since then, the action plan continues to evolve and reshape Concordia’s approach to the Indigenous community. 

The five-year plan, however, has faced criticisms from an opinion piece written on Feb.12 by a known associate of Jeffery Epstein, speculating that with this plan Concordia is “a place to avoid if you’re hoping for a serious education.” Some Concordia tenured professors also bashed the plan on Twitter/X, while controversial figures such as Jordan Peterson ranted about their opinions on their social media platforms. 

Donna Kahérakwas Goodleaf, director of decolonizing curriculum and pedagogy at Concordia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) hopes that this five-year plan will make a strong impact on the next generation of students and be an example for other higher education institutions.

“I don’t want my nieces or nephews to go into higher education and still not see themselves being validated in the curriculum at a university level,” Goodleaf said. 

“So we have a collective responsibility together as educators to make sure that we don’t make the mistakes that have occurred in past history with regards to the history of residential schools, for example.”

For Goodleaf, Indigenizing pedagogy means “incorporating our diverse theoretical perspectives in a respectful and meaningful way.” It also means to have faculty attempt to include the diverse Indigenous knowledge in their course outlines. Programs at the university are encouraged to come to the CTL and work with Goodleaf to reevaluate their pedagogy in order to find ways to incorporate Indigenous knowledge in it. 

Some programs that are currently undergoing such revisions are engineering and communications. Both have started working with Goodleaf on the decolonization process in their respective programs.

Monika Gagnon, a full-time professor of 25 years and former chair of the communications department, said that the process has been ongoing since her time as chair in 2020. Gagnon worked with Goodleaf and the communications department to see in which courses they can incorporate indigenous views, voices, and histories in their outlines. Decolonizing the curriculum will also expose students to the truth about Canada’s history. 

“I feel like we’re hearing something very different from our upcoming generations of students that are wanting to learn the truth of our own histories and relationship to indigenous colonial histories that we have,” she said.

The department took aspects from Concordia’s Action Plan as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada: Calls to Action, the latter’s focus being Call to Action #86, which calls upon journalism and media schools to educate students on the history of Indigenous peoples.  

Sandra Gabriele, vice-provost of Innovation in Teaching & Learning, agrees with Goodleaf that disciplines should not be static in the way that they address world events. With this belief in mind, Gabriele believes that changes to the curriculum and new approaches to world views are crucial. 

“What the university experience should be offering its students is this exposure to a variety of different kinds of ideas and different world views and different ways of understanding a particular problem,” she said. 

With Concordia wanting to be the next-generation university, Gabriele feels that by continuing to use traditional Western views in the curriculum, students and the university as a whole won’t grow. The Indigenous Action Plan and the five-year plan continue to make consistent efforts in promoting the university’s educational growth and celebrate the Indigenous community within the university. However, there’s still work that needs to be done to ensure Concordia commits to their mission. Goodleaf and Gabriele will not allow any critics’s opinions and views to hinder their work, instead they’re focussing on the positive effects they’re bringing to the university.

“Whenever something is good, of course you’re going to experience resistance no matter what that is. The key here is to not let that keep you stuck in that, but to move above it and to move forward and be better than what’s out there,” Goodleaf said.

“Because for me this work is so important, it’s about creating a society where we can peacefully coexist with each other as humans and with the natural world. That’s the philosophy of this work. That’s the vision of why I do this work here at Concordia.”

In addition to the help and guidance offered by Goodleaf and the CTL, there are also other in-depth resources for students and faculty. Check out the links below to familiarize yourself with the Indigenous community!


Get to the Indigenous staff:

Indigenous Directions:

Ostenhàka Student Centre:

Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke Indigenous Bridging Program:

Indigenous Directions Leadership Council (IDLC):

Pîkiskwêtân Learning Series:


Black student accosted, then arrested at Stinger’s Dome

After his complaint against was disregarded, the Concordia student must face court.

It all started on Dec. 23, 2023, when a Black second-year student was playing soccer, a common occurrence, in the Stinger Dome at Loyola. Due to the ongoing criminal case, we will not disclose the student’s real name and will instead use “John” as an alias. The student’s daily routine came to a halt when a staff person at the dome played referee for the student’s game, resulting in a violent altercation that ultimately led to the student’s arrest. Now, the student is due in court on March 12, and is being supported by the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

When John was playing soccer in the Stingers Dome alone, which he’s been doing for a while now, a staff person came up to him, telling him he wasn’t allowed to be there, and demanded to see his student ID. 

“[The staff person] said to me, ‘What are you doing on the field?’ I said that I’m from Concordia, and that I have been training on the field for a long time. He asked for my ID and he still told me that I couldn’t play,” John said.

A teacher at the Loyola High School who knew John came to his defense, advising the staff person that John was allowed to stay. 

Two days later, John returned to the field for another practice when that same staff person approached him, telling him that he was not allowed to play, and threatened to call security.

John asked the staff member why he was calling security. “I have the right to play, I’m not a danger,’” John replied. 

“Then we start to discuss, I explain my situation in English,” he said. “It’s not my first language, I don’t fully express my words very well, and I don’t know why but he started making fun of my English.”

The staff person proceeded to make racist comments, stating that he should “return to your country like all immigrants” and that he’s “not a real Canadian.” The staff person then called security, pulled out his phone and started recording John.

John knocked the phone out of the staff person’s hands to stop him from recording. He didn’t understand why the staff member was taking extreme measures this second time, when two days earlier, they already resolved the issue. 

“There were other members of the staff that I saw a year ago and they asked me for the ID and I continued playing, no problem,” John said. “There are other people who are not even from Concordia who play on the field, there is no problem. So, why are you calling the police on me?”

The staff person picked up the phone off the ground and continued filming John, who repeatedly said that he didn’t want to be filmed. The situation escalated when the staff person punched John in the face. As the fighting continued, players from the Stingers soccer team saw the altercation and separated the two. 

“Afterwards, [campus] security came, they came to see the staff member. I explained to them that the staff member insulted me and that he attacked me. But they didn’t want to listen to me,” John said. 

When the police arrived, John and the staff person were each given a complaint sheet for security. The staff person gave his paper to the police without any problems, but John couldn’t.

“I was writing my complaint when the police came up to me and told me that I am under arrest,” John said. “I said ‘I have my complaint sheet, can I give it to you?’ They didn’t take it, they arrested me entirely. They asked me for my wallet, my phone, my personal information, all that.”

Fo Niemi, executive director of CRARR, will file the complaint on John’s behalf to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission next week. When a student experiences an incident tainted by racial, gender, or homophobic bias, Niemi encourages students to take that action to strengthen their case. John’s is no exception.

“Because fundamentally, it’s about the rights to equality, the rights to safety, and the right to the safeguard of their dignity,” Niemi said. “In [John’s] case, we believe that there were many elements that were present during the incident that jeopardized the rights of the student.” 

In 2022, Concordia published their final version of the Task Force on Anti-Black Racism to promote Black excellence and to protect Black and Brown students on campus. Despite this milestone accomplishment, Niemi intends to look at John’s case as an example to identify what more needs to change to ensure the safety of these students.

“We are to take this opportunity to look at where things are at in terms of anti-Black racism and actions that the university has committed itself to set in place in order to prevent race-based incidents like what happened to John,” Niemi said.

John hopes that the complaint sent to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms will help him for the outcome of his case. John is set to appear in court on March 12.


  • In a previous version of this article, in paragraph 15, it was written that “Fo Niemi, executive director of CRARR, filed the complaint on John’s behalf to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.” This is not correct. Niemi will file the complaint next week. We apologize to our readers for this mistake and take full responsibility.

The Hive takes action following Provigo scandal

The Hive’s most recent steps to reduce the gap between affordable food and accessibility on campus.

On Jan. 13, Provigo announced they’ll no longer be offering 50 percent off for soon-to-expire foods, but rather 30 percent, causing public outrage across the country. Then, on Friday Jan. 19, the big food chain reversed their decision. 

Following these two confusing and controversial weeks at Provigo, The Hive is offering all students access to food without any financial barriers through their bi-annual grocery program, which is an expansion of the Hive’s Free Lunch and Breakfast program.

Alanna Silver, the Hive’s Free Lunch program coordinator, is frustrated that big food chains aren’t taking concrete action to better manage their food prices. 

“[Big grocers] are making this huge amount of profit while everyone else is really struggling and it shouldn’t be like that in a country that’s as developed as we are,” Silver said.

Sliver started the Hive’s bi-annual grocery program in December 2021 for students who cannot afford groceries at other food chains. The grocery program uses donations from food banks, their community fridge and ‘Enough,’ a waste sorting education company that also tries to reduce food waste. These donations provide canned goods, gluten-free options, fresh produce, halal, kosher and vegan options. This year, Silver expanded the grocery program by providing menstrual products, toothbrushes and toothpaste. 

Any student who picks up groceries from the program does not have to pay for what they buy, which is something Silver advocated for when she started the program.

“[Students] should never have to choose between paying tuition, paying for your textbooks, and paying for your meals—that should never have to be a choice,” Silver said. 

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, heard rumors about the announcement in December. He contacted Loblaws two weeks ago to confirm the rumor and later published the news on social media. Loblaws’ reason to reduce their discount was to match their competitors. “It was really the earmark of a really major PR crisis for Loblaws. Because you dealt with food affordability, food waste,” Charlebois said. 

According to the 2023 Canada Food Price report, the food prices forecast predicted that costs would rise by five to seven per cent. Charlebois confirmed that the housing crisis plays a big role in affordability. He believes that the big grocer wanted to limit how they were using their discounts. 

“People are forced to spend more to make sure they keep a roof over their heads, so they have less money to spend at the grocery store,” Charlebois said. “My guess is that Loblaws saw a lot of their demand shift towards these discounted products and they wanted to stop that. They wanted to protect margins as much as possible.”

Sylvain hopes that other large food markets such as Metro, IGA and Sobeys will see Loblaw’s discount charge as an opportunity to revisit their own discount numbers for their consumers. 

Matteo Di Giovanni, a second-year film production student, not only noticed the change in prices, but also the quantity of food in the packaging. As someone who’s celiac, Di Giovanni deals with expensive prices already with gluten-free products—now he’s facing the reduction of the quantity he’s getting.

“I’m not surprised,” Di Giovanni said. “It just sucks that I’m paying the same price for less food and I’m already paying a lot for gluten-free, so it’s a bit disappointing.”

Even though his parents do most of the groceries, he still worries about food affordability in the future. 

“When I start being more financially independent, it’s going to have a bigger toll on my spending and it’s kind of sucky, everything on top of just regular inflation,” Di Giovanni said.

Di Giovanni recently changed his diet over the break; he started going to the grocery store with his parents to pick out which products will be accessible and better for his diet. As worried as he is about his future with groceries, he’s already asking himself the right questions while he’s at the store. 

While big grocery stores are causing anxiety amongst students and other consumers, The Hive is one of the many organizations at Concordia that are providing relief in the university community.

The Hive believes in providing nutritional, healthy, and diverse meals for everyone to perform better in their studies and not worry about their next grocery bill. “Feeding people is our love language,” Silver said. 

Silver plans to continue the bi-annual grocery program for many years to come and encourage food education towards students.


Concordia’s greenhouse announces temporary closure

The greenhouse organized a photography event for students to capture the final moments of the space.

The Concordia Greenhouse announced on Jan. 9 that the beloved space will be closed temporarily from February 2024 until early next year. The decision to temporarily close the space  was made to allow the removal of “decommissioned equipment and asbestos from mechanical rooms in the Henry F. Hall (H) building,” according to their website

While the downtown location is being renovated, alternative places for the greenhouse will be installed temporarily in the Terrebonne (TA/TB) building and the People’s Potato community garden at Loyola. The team is also hoping for temporary offices to be installed in the downtown campus, although no location has been secured yet.

The university approached the greenhouse team at the end of November to announce that the greenhouse would need to temporarily close, giving them only three months to clear the space before renovations begin. 

To celebrate and honour the space before it closes, the greenhouse held a “Capture the Moment: Concordia Greenhouse Farewell Photography” event where students were invited to show off their photography and video skills and document the space’s beauty.

Dominique Smith, the greenhouse engagement coordinator who has worked with the space for a year, decided to hold this event to showcase the diversity of the space’s use and keep its memory alive while it’s being renovated.

“[The event] shows how versatile the space is,” said Smith. “You want to promote this to the university so they can treat it more as an academic space rather than just the extra space,” said Smith.

After the administration met with the greenhouse, Smith gave them a tour of the greenhouse in an attempt to present the importance of the space. While he does not fault the university for closing down the greenhouse, it was important for him that the university understand both its significance and the proper measures needed to protect it.

“I felt like it was very important to have them up here to experience what students experience, so they know what they’re temporarily closing down or how to properly find us a new home,” said Smith.

Yoditte Woder, a first-year art education student, heard about the greenhouse closure from a friend in the geography department. They said that they felt a strong connection to the greenhouse immediately, even if they had only discovered it recently.

“‘I come [to the greenhouse], especially during the winter, to lift my spirits, get connected with nature in any way that I can. I just find this place to be really comforting and the place where I can focus and get my work done,” said Woder. “So, knowing that it’s not going to be here for the next year is kind of upsetting.” 

As sad as Woder felt when they heard the space was closing for a while, they knew it was going to be for the best since the greenhouse is set to return in better shape than before. 

The space is known to be more than just a place to grow and care for plants, it’s a wellness space where students can reconnect with themselves, study in peace, and relieve their stress.

“I think that there is that option to socialize and interact with others around you, but it also feels like you’re very much immersed in your own [world],” said Woder. “I also just love the sounds of the water running and just feeling the life around the space.”

The greenhouse plans to do a liquidation sale on their plants to give as many as they can to good homes before relocating the rest to their new temporary locations. The team is currently in contact with specialized moving services to help relocate their larger plants. No official date has been set yet.


Zen Dens introduce new winter projects

The Black Impact series and The Menstrual Equity series are being added to their workshops series.

Concordia’s Zen Dens are back following the well-deserved winter break with new projects and initiatives to be pursued throughout the semester.

Jillian Ritchie, the Zen Dens wellness coordinator, told The Concordian about her latest project, the Menstrual Equity Symposium, which will begin in May. The symposium is one of the two newest projects being launched in Winter 2024. 

Ritchie hopes her passion for open conversations, healing, and taking care of both physical and mental health will make students feel more comfortable within themselves in the long run.  

“I see relief in [the students] because it’s someone telling them we’re not expecting you just to perform and produce—you’re also a human,” said Ritchie. “You’re also not only learning all of these academic things, but also the skills of navigating adulting too.” 

The Zen Dens are starting off the semester with a “Movement to Support your Mental Health” workshop on Jan. 22 and will continue to offer workshops surrounding anxiety management, ADHD, interpersonal relationships, and self-care.

The wellness resource is also welcoming “The Black Impact series” and “The Menstrual Equity series” on their list of workshops. 

The Black Impact Series: 

A seven-part series of online workshops focusing on several topics related to the Black experience, led by Myrlie Marcelin, a wellness counsellor who started the Black Impact series in April 2023. Marcelin began the series in October with a workshop surrounding code switching—the act of altering behaviours and vocabulary depending on our work environment and the people around us—in order to dissect the impact it has on Black students. 

On Jan. 23, the Black Impact series will resume with a workshop focusing on colourism where Marcelin and students will look at “light-skinned Black folks and dark-skinned Black folks, the experiences they may experience interracially and within the black community.” From the perspective of internalized discrimination based on skin colour, Marcelin plans to explore the fear that comes in around not appearing as the typical beauty standard. 

The series will also feature workshops surrounding racial Identity and culture (which will be held with a guest speaker), racial wealth gap, the history of policing in Canada and the U.S, and Black fatigue and trauma. The series will end with a True Allyship workshop in fall 2024. 

“Those types of workshops or conversations can not only be healing, but they allow for [Black students] to feel reassured and know that what [they’ve] experienced is valid and that [they’re] not necessarily crazy or making things up about [their] experience,” said Marcelin.

She hopes that by presenting what she has researched and currently knows and understands based on her own life, she can help create a safe environment for students to share who they are and find peace—and that she herself will benefit from the experience.

“I’m very privileged to be able to work in an environment and work in a field where the work I do helps me heal too, because I’m learning a lot and educating myself,” she spoke.

For Marcelin, the Black Impact series also aspires to change the way marginalized communities approach and talk about mental health: “If I can have and do these talks, the research, or the therapy I practise with my clients—and it touches one person enough to feel like they can change intergenerational barriers or trauma in their own life, that’s already enough. If we’re having conversations about it, it’s being destigmatized.”

Marcelin is also including conversations and experiences from other marginalized communities such as the 2SLGBTQ+, Indian and other Asian communities. Marcelin believes that incorporating everyone’s culture and voice will empower students, create less isolation and a stronger sense of community.  

Menstrual Equity Symposium:

The Menstrual Equity Symposium is a part of the Menstrual Equity initiative that began three years ago, during the pandemic, to make sure all menstruators have access to menstrual products on campus without financial and social barriers. The Zen Dens started the initiative by mailing out free condoms to students in partnership with Concordia’s Health Services, and expanded by distributing menstrual products upon student demand, among other initiatives.

After receiving positive responses, the project continued by focusing on sustainable options for students to try out, such as Diva cups and reusable pads. 

The Menstrual Equity Symposium, happening on May 17, plans to bring student advocates, researchers, and other diverse voices to the forefront, in an attempt to highlight the need for accessibility of menstrual products in a higher-education environment. 

 Ritchie strongly believes in the power of student voices and hopes they will create open conversations around menstrual cycles. “We want to see change and change comes with work. So, it’s giving people those opportunities to connect with organizations that are doing [the change] and also, everything that happens at this university is driven by student voices,” she said. 

The Zen Dens are collaborating with the Concordia Student Union (CSU), Douglas College Menstrual Cycle Research Group, and Monthly Dignity—a Montreal-based non-profit organization—founded by McGill students to combat menstrual poverty in Montreal. 

Ritchie and the Zen Dens team will announce further information on the symposium soon. No specific timeline was released to The Concordian. They are also talking about an art exhibit in May as a part of the Menstrual Equity series, more details to come. 

“We hope this project will lead to further awareness and conversation around menstrual equity, while highlighting the opportunity for Concordia to fulfill its commitments to being a Next-Gen University who actively supports the UN Sustainability Goals and its commitment to equity work,” said Ritchie.

The Zen Dens will soon become “CU Wellness” later in the semester, but will keep the name Zen Dens for their five physical spaces on campus.


Trans community gathers to mourn lives lost on sacred day

Montreal’s first trans remembrance march honours and celebrates the lives taken away too soon.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) on Nov. 20 saw the Montreal community gather for its first trans remembrance march to honour the trans lives that have been lost to hate. Hundreds of supporters gathered at the Sir-George-Étienne Cartier monument where candles lit up the night sky and a large trans flag was draped in front of the monument. 

The commemoration started with a speech from Celeste Trianon, a transfeminine jurist and one of the organizers of the march, and other queer group members. Trianon commemorated all the trans people who have died in recent years.  After a moment of silence, the group gathered on Park Avenue for a quiet march towards Mont-Royal street.  

Trianon felt that a traditional vigil was the best way to commemorate these lives. She did not want to steer away from the “remembering” part of a vigil, and wanted to bring attention our society’s failure to protect the members of the trans community. 

“Some people only define trans remembrance as remembering murders, but I want to go beyond that,” said Trianon. “There are trans people all around us and it’s important to mark how, in the vast majority of cases, trans people have ended up dying owing to vast failures, whether it be society’s failure to eradicate anti-trans hate, failures within mental health support systems and the schooling system.”

On Oct. 20, Saskatchewan’s conservative government passed Bill 137, or The Parental Bill of Rights, which uses a notwithstanding clause to prevent trans youth from changing their names or pronouns in schools. For the youth under the age of 16 who want to change their name or pronouns will need parental consent first. When Trianon found out about the bill’s passing, she was horrified. 

This bill is one of the many recent examples targeting the trans community in the last few months. According to True Colors United, over 320 murders towards trans people have been confirmed globally in this year alone.

“These people will never get the respect that they deserve. Their death certificate will indicate the wrong name. They’ll be purposely misgendered by their parents,” said Trianon.

Fae Johnstone, president of Queer Momentum, accompanied Trianon to Ottawa to confront the Trudeau government about an action plan for trans equality and protection. As trans hate grows across the country, Johnstone believes that a commemoration like this is necessary for all 2SLGBTQIA+ people.

“It’s more important than ever that none of those names are forgotten and that we remember that the fight that our trans elders began decades ago,” said Johnstone. “It’s still unfinished, and that is what these marches and gatherings really are all about.”

In 1999, the TDoR came into existence following the brutal murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman of colour, in her home on Nov. 28., 1998. To this day, her murder remains unsolved. 

Even though Hester never received the justice she deserved, her name and that of every trans life that is no longer here, will never be forgotten. 

After the quiet march down Park Avenue and Mount-Royal street, the group stopped in front of Mount-Royal metro to lie down on the ground in honour of all trans people killed. They lay there in another moment of silence as Trianon addressed the group. 

“Let us build a road in which trans people, especially trans women, and in particular trans women of colour, are allowed not only to survive, but to thrive” she spoke. “Let us dream of a better road for trans people everywhere and make sure these dreams come true. If there’s hope for the future, it’s our duty to make it happen, not just for the privileged ones among us, but all of us.”

Smoke bombs were ignited, releasing the colours of the trans flag: pink, blue, and white. 

“For you Cici, for you Jasmine, and Victor. For you Jesse, for you Jacob. We shall continue to remember. For all of you who I have failed to name, but I know are there. For all, and for all of you who are barely hanging in there,” Trianon ended her speech.


The story of a sexual assault survivor

After a negative experience with SARC, Concordia student decided to turn to his Indigenous roots to heal.

After Salim, a former Concordia student, dropped out of school following his negative experience with the Sexual Assault and Resource Centre (SARC), he wanted to heal. He decided to escape from what he knew about healing to finally find peace. For anonymity purposes, The Concordian is only using his first name.

Before his life changed, Salim was a history student and a member of the Concordia University Catholic Student Association (CUCSA). He had friends in the association, but when he came out to them as gay, “they rejected [him] entirely,” he said. 

When he told his other friends what had happened, they were not as supportive as he hoped. Several stayed by his side, but for the most part, it was a long and winding road back to a better place. 

“I don’t feel that the religious clubs are really prepared yet—not only for 2SLGBTQ+ issues, but also sexual assault issues,” said Salim.

On Jan. 29, Salim was raped by a non-student off-campus. The experience traumatized him, and he went to the SARC for help. 

During his first session, he told his counsellor about this incident and that he was having passive suicidal thoughts. Even though Salim was clear about The counsellor, Salim said, had a “look of panic on her face.” 

“She was calling a lot of people and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not getting out of this session on my own.’ I was frozen because I just couldn’t do anything,” said Salim. “This was out of my control already. I didn’t have any say in what happened next. It was really tough. I got escorted to an ambulance by the Concordia security guard in front of everybody. The whole campus saw me. It was really, really embarrassing.”

The ambulance drove him to Jean-Talon hospital. He was left alone in the waiting room, so he decided to leave and go home.

“I didn’t think anything else was going to happen,” said Salim.

But when he arrived home, two police officers were waiting inside beside his parents. They told him that he had to go back to Jean-Talon hospital.

He arrived at the hospital and was locked in a room. There were no windows and no pillows, and he was forbidden from using his phone. The only thing in the room was a small bed with a seat belt. Salim was put on suicide watch, and became completely cut off from the world.

He was locked in that room for 16 hours before seeing a psychiatrist. During that time, a nurse only checked up on him once. 

“I think it was my normal reaction to just scream and kick the door so they could let me out. I never thought I would be in that kind of situation in my life,” said Salim.

He recalled that most people in the emergency room were minorities. Salim is a descendant of the Quechua nation, from the Andes mountains of South America. 

As an Indigenous man, he witnessed how different the treatment was towards minority groups in hospital facilities. After being sent to the hospital a second time, Salim went back to SARC for another session. He was still struggling and confessed that he was having suicidal thoughts. The counsellor had the same panicked reaction as before. 

He recalled that she got frustrated with him regarding how much time had passed since he got raped. She asked him, “It’s already been a few months, you should be over it by now. Why are you still sad?”

“The incompetence I felt, the helplessness I felt—I was basically left alone. Mostly what [SARC] does, if anything, they will send you an email: ‘Are you alright? How are you doing?’ And that’s it,” said Salim. “Basically, they won’t do anything else unless you tell them to do so.”

SARC was the only resource Salim knew about. The centre he thought would help him did the complete opposite. He does not know if the treatment from SARC is different for Indigenous students. He is concerned for these students that they may not get the treatment they deserve. 

The Concordian reached out to SARC for an interview but has not heard back.

“I don’t know for Indigenous students, if the process is different on their centre that they have, but I can’t imagine if there’s an Indigenous student who faces sexual assault, what kind of help they’re going to get,” said Salim. “It’s going to be even worse for them going to SARC, because I don’t think they [SARC] are trained in Indigenous visions of health and healing.”

Salim realized that Western medicine was not the cure for his trauma. No amount of medication was going to dial down the traumatic symptoms he was feeling. 

“The whole psychiatric and psychological modern institution that we have is also rooted in colonial investigation and colonial visions of what is health, what is illness,” he said.

He decided to explore the roots of his Quechua ancestors and reconnect with his culture. Salim realized that he needed to shed what he knew about healing and modern science, and tune into himself to heal. 

“I think that decolonizing myself also told me that, you know, that nature is with me and that I’m part of this whole entire thing [existence]. So nature healed me,” said Salim.

“It was something necessary for me. It’s unfortunate that it had to happen this way, but in the end, I’m very thankful that Mother Nature, Pachamama, as we call Mother Earth, took me back in her arms.”

Salim “remembered the knowledge his ancestors gave him”, by simply being present with nature, going to the park, and feeling its beauty. He recalls facing the sun, and acknowledging the heat he received from “his father, the sun, Tata Inti in Quechua, hugging him with his light. 

“Now, I look at [Tata Inti] and see “oh dad, there you are,” said Salim. 

As he looks at the trees, he acknowledges them that they are his brothers. As he sits on the grass, he is sitting on his mother, Pachamama’s, lap and she welcomes him home, letting him know he is safe.


Concordia honours sexual assault and violence survivors during Consent and Care week

The week of Nov. 6 was Consent and Care week at Concordia, dedicated to support, honour and love sexual assault and violence survivors. The Sexual Assault and Violence Centre (SARC) hosted a week-long series of events, including a love letters to survivors workshop, lectures and many more. 

According to Jenna Rose, the SARC’s project coordinator, this is the first week-long event series for Consent and Care week hosted by the SARC. However, the centre’s reputation might be hindering their message.

SARC started the week with an event titled “How to create a safety plan,” which focused on helping someone in a violent situation and preparing an escape plan.

The “Practice active bystander intervention” workshop on Tuesday highlighted “the importance of intervening when we hear and/or see violence in order to build a safe and supportive community,” as detailed in the event’s description on Concordia’s website. 

On the interactive and artistic side, the SARC collaborated with Concordia Art Hives for the “Love letters to survivors” art workshop, where students and survivors created loving, supportive and empowering messages to honour survivors. 

On Wednesday, during the Sexual Health and Pleasure community fair, Rose believed the small number of students who attended the event was due to its novelty.

“I think with these [new events], a lot of people won’t know about them right away,” Rose said. “I know that Ontarian universities have their Consent and Care week events in April during Sexual Assault Awareness month. We might do the same next year.”

Salim, a former Concordia student, dropped out of school after his experience with the SARC. For anonymity purposes, The Concordian is using only his first name. He was not fully aware of what the planned events were, yet he feels this is not the best way to invite students to see the SARC when needed.

“I seriously doubt that those kinds of events are having the reach that they want, because most of the students who went through [the SARC], we don’t trust them,” Salim said. “So, we are obviously not going to attend anything that they are hosting. We’re not interested.”

Concordia has a long history of controversial accusations from victims, who claim the university has not done enough to keep students safe. In 2013, the university created the SARC. In 2018, CBC reported that six students had filed complaints against Concordia to Quebec’s Human Rights Commission since 2012. 

Since then, several policies on sexual assault and violence have been created, along with the Sexual Misconduct and Violence Committee (SMSV) in 2018. The SMSV has also been subjected to several scandals, such as being unsupportive and insensitive towards survivors. As a result, many students feel that Concordia still has not done enough regarding sexual assault and violence.

Salim is one of the many survivors who had negative experiences with the SARC, and he does not see these events as a gateway towards resolution. 

“It’s just so insulting to all of us [survivors],” Salim said. “It’s really sad for me because I know that this is not over and I’m not the last one. A lot of people are going to suffer because of the SARC.”

The Concordian reached out to other SARC members for an interview but has not heard back in time for the publication of this article.


  • In a previous version of this article, in the fifth paragraph, it was noted that one of the events, “Love letters to survivors”, was art therapy. That was not correct. The event was an art workshop, not therapeutic.
  • In the tenth paragraph, it was written that SARC was created after six student filed complaints to the Human Rights Commission. This is false. SARC was created after students collaborated with the university to create a safer campus. Also, in the following sentence, the CBC article cited did not match the timeliness of the previous sentence. We rearranged the wording to ensure the timelines matched in their respective contexts.

We apologize and take full responsibility for our mistakes.

Briefs News

Violent protests erupt in Concordia’s Hall Building

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protests broke out, requiring police intervention.

At around 12 p.m. on Wednesday, pro-Palestine and pro-Israel gatherings were held in the Hall building. The Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) were holding a keffiyeh sale to raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Palestine Jewish students from Hillel and Start-up Nation arrived soon after to their Shabbat dinner event “to honor and bring awareness to over 240 innocent civilians help captive by Hamas in Gaza.”

Both groups were unaware that they would simultaneously be tabling at the exact same time, as they planned their respective events. For context, SPHR had announced the keffiyeh sale on their Instagram account on Nov. 5. According to an Instagram post by Concordia’s Israeli club, the StartUp Nation, the table for the vigil for Israelis kidnapped by Hamas was booked on Nov. 3. The gatherings at Hall Building soon escalated into protests as members that were not a part of the Concordia community arrived on scene to support their respective groups.

Campus security took action and created a barrier between the two groups, only for about 20 SPVM officers to arrive and diffuse the situation. 

One witness, a Concordia student who wished to remain anonymous, said they saw the police officers create a barrier behind a pro-Israeli activist after they saw this person hit a pro-Palestinian activist with a sign.

The same witness also added that “when the police arrived on scene, they were pretty violent with the pro-Palestinian activists, one officer shoved many protestors and brandished a baton.”

“In my view,” the witness said, “the protest centred on calls for ceasefire and an end to apartheid—there was a statement from an [palestinian] organizer that denounced antisemitism and stated that the fight is with the state of Israel and not Jews.” 

Protesters were seen ripping flags, and throwing water bottles and punches. Two pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested and several other protesters from both sides were injured.

“I’d like it to be known that the protest was not one of hatred towards Jews, but a denouncement of the crimes of the Israeli state,” the witness said about the pro-Palestinian protest. “I believe that is an incredibly important distinction to make.”

Following the events, SPHR released a statement yesterday morning saying “they would like to remind everyone that we, the students, will NOT allow this to deter us from our continued advocacy for the freedom of the Palestinian people.” 

More to come on this developing story.

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