Concordia’s steady path to a positive environment for the Black community

Since the 2020 Black Lives Matter surge, Concordia University’s initiatives to create a welcoming space for Black students and minorities alike have picked up steam

The world is now nearly three years removed from the massive wave of civil unrest sparked all around the globe by George Floyd’s tragic death. The sorrowful event also kicked off Concordia’s long-term commitment to creating a more welcoming and safe environment for minorities on campus. Today, student services like the Black Perspectives Office (BPO) are finally starting to find their footing within Concordia’s environment. 

Designed to connect and advocate for Black communities, the BPO came into effect in October 2020. The service is a way for Black students to find mentorship, support and funding opportunities to accompany them through their academic endeavours. 

Most recently, the office underwent a change with the arrival of its new manager Maurice Riley Case, who was appointed in January. Riley Case has a long history of advocacy for minorities and social work all around the country. 

“I hope to bring an even greater attention to the diversity and intersectionality of Black identities,” said Riley Case. “My colleagues and I look forward to collaborating with various units in order to design and sustain the conditions for Black Concordians to flourish across the University.”

Black students are a minority at Concordia. The BPO aims to help Black students reinforce and recognize their identity while connecting them to other members of the community. Riley Case calls this “Black Flourishing,” the celebration of range of experiences of the Black community. 

The BPO manager explained that the establishment of a “Black-specific student Resource and Success Centre” is essential for Black students, faculty and staff. The reform at the head of the BPO is only one of many signs that the future is bright for Black flourishing. A Black Student Centre is also set to open in the Concordia Hall building in Fall 2023, which will create a space for Black students to connect on campus. 

The President’s Anti-Racism Task Force also aided the creation of a positive environment for the Black community, a group created after Black Concordians demanded the University address systemic racism against Black people. With the task force’s two-year mandate now over, several recommendations have been submitted to the University.

Concordia Professor and former task force member Dr. Jacqueline Peters explained that the problems encountered by the task force were somewhat similar to the struggles for black people at Concordia. 

“Getting information is hard. Getting numbers of how many of us there are here[…] those were some of the things that we were sort of stuck on,” 

Said Peters.

According to Peters, the task force’s work was hindered by the severe unavailability of ethnic statistics, complicating the possibility of locating Black faculty, staff and students to conduct a thorough examination.

Despite the difficulties, the task force had a positive outcome, according to Peters. “We did word of mouth, we put out notifications which also worked well,” she said “One of the most positive aspects of working on the task force was all the Black people that got to know each other. Most of us have been here for many years and have never seen each other.”

While the creation of an inclusive environment is still a work in progress at Concordia, the sense of community among Black Concordians is starting to find a positive rhythm.


Stingers men’s soccer come up short 2-4 against Montreal in crucial game for playoff spot

The Stingers men’s soccer team’s season has come to a close, unable to emerge victorious in their clash against the University of Montreal Carabins

The team was well aware of the high stakes coming into this final regular-season game. The Laval Rouge et Or were playing at the same time, and both teams were eager for a win to cement themselves into the top 4 and clinch a playoff berth. 

While the Rouge et Or finally grasped a 2-0 win against the UQAM Citadins, the Stingers’ loss wiped out any chances of the team going further, as they needed at least a tie to secure their placement.

“I think it’s a microcosm of our season,” said Stingers’ head coach Greg Sutton after the game. “We let a lot of games slip this season that we should have been able to take care of early on and not even put ourselves in this predicament.” 

Visibly upset with the turn of events, Sutton was still there to comfort the heartbroken and lamenting players on the sideline after the final whistle.

The matchup was of major difficulty for the Stingers, with the Carabins already being the reigning champions and sitting atop the division boasting an 8-1-2 record. Both their defence and offence are regarded as the best in the RSEQ, scoring 33 goals and conceding only 10. They also beat the Stingers earlier this season with a score of 4-0, and even knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round last year.

The Montreal Carabins put on a stellar performance the whole game, able to count on midfielder Lucas Frutier who had his best game of the season, scoring all four of the Carabins’ goals and being named team MVP. They were also able to rely on their rock-solid defence, which didn’t allow a single goal in the first half and was overall very efficient in keeping the Stingers at bay.

However, nothing can be taken away from the Stingers’ perseverance and unwillingness to give up. Trailing by three goals going into halftime, they entered the second half ready to leave it all on the field and fight for their right to play for the championship. They came back looking determined after the break, with early back-to-back goal opportunities. In the 65th minute, Stingers’ midfielder Benoit Litty Mpako was finally able to kick the ball into the net, giving the team its first goal of the game.

The unfortunate reality remained that the opposing defence was by far the best in the league and was not ready to give up much of an edge. The Stingers’ laboured performance was, however, shown by the fact that this game was only the third time this season that the Carabins’ fortress-like defence allowed more than one goal. Stingers’ goalkeeper Jordy Kerlegrand also turned in a solid performance with eight spectacular saves, bringing his grand total this season to 53, the third most in the RSEQ this season.

When asked about how he kept his players in the running with such a deficit, Sutton explained: “We had to believe, we had to stay motivated. The guys were able to give themselves a bit of a lifeline when they scored but when we took the fourth goal, it was hard.”

The Stingers’ defence was indeed doing a much better job after halftime, but all seemed grim when Frutier was ultimately able to find the back of the net for the fourth time in the game. Concordia’s final point came 85 minutes in, when confusion led the Carabins to score an own goal, but unfortunately for the Stingers, it was too late to orchestrate a proper comeback.

With this game being the last of the regular season, senior players were called forward before kick-off and congratulated for their tenure with the soccer team. Stingers’ midfielder John Cevik left with the team MVP award for his last game as a Stinger.

“We’ve got to keep fighting; the program is going in the right direction and now we just need to get rid of these hurdles in the way. Hopefully, we build a culture in which we can keep doing that,” concluded Sutton, who is widely optimistic for the future of the men’s soccer team.

The first playoff games will take place on Oct. 28, with Laval facing Montreal and UQAM facing UQTR to determine who will face off in the finals for the championship.


Hard pill to swallow for Stingers football in disheartening 38-14 loss against Sherbrooke

The Stingers were unable to clinch their second win of the season at home against the Vert et Or over Shrine Bowl weekend.

With both teams coming off disappointing losses on the road, each side came in with a chip on their shoulder in what was considered a key win to get a playoff spot. Sherbrooke was able to rally behind their fans, who came strong to cheer them on, packing the Concordia stadium bleachers with an ocean of green jerseys as cowbells and horns created an electric atmosphere.

The Vert et Or came out guns blazing, making the running game count early and piercing through the Stingers’ defence to reach the endzone on their very first drive. Concordia’s insufficient answer came in the form of a solid running effort of their own, as running back Franck Tchembe, who had 61 rushing yards on the day, managed to move the Stingers up the field before a potential touchdown pass was ultimately dropped not far from the goal line.

“It was a horrible performance,” said Stingers’ quarterback Olivier Roy. “Offensively we couldn’t run the ball, we couldn’t pass the ball, we couldn’t put many points on the board, and it makes it hard to win games.”

The Stingers had a hard time getting things going on offence and were only able to score their first points late in the first half when slotback Jaylan Greaves hauled in a 6-yard pass for the touchdown.

Roy, who hopes to improve and learn from the loss, said the team needs to look at film and clean things up before their next game on Saturday, Oct. 8.

The juggernaut Sherbrooke offence was on high display from the first moments to the last of the game, excelling in both the running and passing game and making several huge plays. The Vert et Or’s running back Lucas Dalin, who left the Shrine Bowl with the John Gilday offensive MVP award, ran for 170 yards and scored a touchdown, while backup quarterback Gianni Casati was able to run through the endzone twice. Sherbrooke quarterback Charles Picard passed for 149 yards and a touchdown to receiver William Marchand, as the Vert et Or concluded the day with four trips to the endzone.

“We had a gameplan that we knew we had to execute to win,” said wide receiver Jeremy Murphy. “We created too many turnovers and that’s not how you win ball games.”

The Stingers threw three interceptions and fumbled twice which allowed Sherbrooke to take good field position multiple times, ultimately paying for their mistakes.

The team isn’t hiding from acknowledging the necessity for improvement and better execution, as both Murphy and fifth-year head coach Brad Collinson declared they “needed to work on everything.”

Despite the loss, the Shrine Bowl was an occasion for players, coaches, and fans to share a heartwarming moment as children from Shriners Hospital were able to take pictures with the players and hand out the traditional Shrine Bowl awards to both teams.

Roy, who took pictures with fans after the game, said “it’s a great honour, we’re so blessed to be able to play this game. Seeing these kids out here with a smile on their faces… It keeps us grounded.”

Heading into next week’s road game against the University of Montreal Carabins, the Stingers go back to the drawing board in hopes of adding a much-needed win against a high-profile opponent to their record.

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