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Concordia takes Quebec Attorney General to court over tuition hikes

Quebec government challenged over tuition hikes for out-of-province and international students.

On Feb. 23, Concordia applied for judicial review by the Superior Court of Quebec over tuition hikes for out-of-province and international students. The university feels it has “no choice but to pursue a just outcome through legal action,” according to a message by Concordia President Graham Carr. 

In the application, Concordia highlighted the main issues with the proposed tuition increases; they contradict the responsibilities of the Minister of Higher Education, they disregard the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by restricting mobility rights of Canadians, and they could worsen the Quebec university system’s pre-existing funding problems.

The application also lays out a clear timeline of events, including key communications between Minister Déry or subsequent representatives of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government and Concordia concerning tuition fee structure. 

Beginning in and around April 2023, the CAQ started to probe and question Quebec’s English-language universities about their out-of-province students. According to the application, Minister Déry said that “non-resident students at English-language universities were not staying in Québec, that the government’s funding policy on non-resident students gave an advantage to English-language universities.” (Lawsuit, 180)

Discussions like the one in April were followed up continuously throughout the year until the announcement of tuition hikes for out-of-province and international students to the universities on Oct. 10. This was just three days before they were formally announced to the public in a press conference held by Déry and the Minister of the French Language, Jean-François Roberge.

Throughout months of discussions with Déry, the Québec government never provided data to back up their claims that out-of-province and international students contributed to the decline of French in Montreal.

Concordia’s lawsuit argues that the Québec government has disregarded many norms of practice, responsibilities and legally binding documents.

Déry only notified CCAFE that the government was seeking advice on the tuition fees for out-of-province and international students on Dec. 14, 2023. As the Minister of Higher Education, Déry has a responsibility to consult with the Advisory Committee on Financial Accessibility of Education (CCAFE) before implementing changes to tuition fees per Section 88 of the “Act Respecting the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie.” English-language educational institutions are not represented in this committee.

CCAFE responded on Jan. 19, 2024, that there was a lack of data provided by the Minister, that tuition fees for out-of-province students in Quebec was already higher than in other provinces, that universities would take on the loss of revenue due to the new grant structure, and that the tuition structure would “create significant financial barriers for students.” (Lawsuit, 180)

The application also claims the decision will restrict the mobility rights of Canadians since the new tuition structure would contradict Section 6.(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states that “every citizen of Canada […] has the right […] to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.” The Charter indicates that this includes discriminating against a person based on their province of present or previous residence. 

In the application, Concordia also brought up sections on equality rights as well as minority language rights as the new tuition would limit the freedoms of out-of-province students as well as disproportionately affect the English-language post-secondary institutions of Québec.

It remains to be seen if the CAQ will use the notwithstanding clause to shield the tuition increases from the scrutiny of the Charter. The CAQ has previously used this clause to defend Bill 21 as well as Bill 96 in the bill’s expansion of the investigative powers of the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF).

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Concordia students are evolving religious perspectives

Concordia’s Multi-Faith Fair hosted an event for students to learn more about different religious groups on campus.

For Concordia student Chresley Bazel, practicing Christianity made all the difference in helping him stay motivated and maintain self-esteem during his struggles with his studies.

“School was kind of hard [for me], so I had to find faith toward my goal,” said Bazel. “Having faith in God and his plan really helped me finding motivation.”

Concordia University’s Multi-Faith Fair brought together approximately 50 students on Feb. 8 who were eager to learn about faith and community. The event gave students the opportunity to connect with others and contribute to a more understanding and inclusive environment.

The fair featured a variety of activity stations, including a spiritual tic-tac-toe, as well as tables where students could speak with representatives from various religious organizations, including the Sikh Student Association and the Thaqalayn Muslim Association.

“I think this kind of event is really significant and important, especially for students to know that we, as different religions, represent this diversity that Concordia has,” said Mohamad Abdallah, a 22-year-old Concordia student and a member of the Thaqalayn Muslim Association.

A 2024 Gitnux report on religious trends among Gen Z observed that this generation of students is changing the perspective on religion, making them the most ethnically and religiously diverse generation. 

Based on their findings, increased acceptance and understanding of various faiths and beliefs distinguish this generation from previous generations. This creates an approach of openness to the beliefs of others and encourages spiritual exploration and education.

Khelifi Samy, a Concordia student who also attended the fair, said that the younger generation can improve acceptance and understanding of others regardless of their differences through communication, allowing for more diverse perspectives on life and religion. Samy said that events like these allow him to connect, discuss, and learn from others in the community.

“I think on my own part because of […] events here I’m able to connect with many other people and to understand their point of view, and have discussions open to each other. ‘What do you think of this?’ ‘What do you think of different and various topics?,’’ said Samy.

Abdallah has his own perspective on generational differences in religion, pointing out that older generations tend to be more conservative while younger generations lean towards more liberal beliefs.

“I think the younger generation emphasizes more on unorthodox stuff, like untraditional stuff in religion, and maybe they want to liberalize and reform religion in some way […] which is not wrong, but older generations are more focused on conserving values and traditions, and I think we should have something in between,” said Abdallah.

Springtide Research Institute, a non-profit American organization that studies generational trends, calls this new approach to religious and spiritual practice “Faith Unbundled.” This means that younger generations are starting to follow multiple beliefs and practices that they prefer without formal commitment, overall changing the traditional approach to these practices.

With each generation, the perception of religion changes, often with a greater emphasis on spiritual exploration and diversity. As younger generations become more open-minded, their approach to religion reflects a desire to reinterpret and reform traditional values, bridging the gap between preserving traditions and embracing modern perspectives.

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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!

Links: 

Get to the Indigenous staff: https://www.concordia.ca/indigenous/about/staff.htm

Indigenous Directions: https://www.concordia.ca/indigenous/about/office.html

Ostenhàka Student Centre: https://www.concordia.ca/students/otsenhakta.html

Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke Indigenous Bridging Program: https://www.concordia.ca/students/success/new/indigenous-bridging-program.html

Indigenous Directions Leadership Council (IDLC): https://www.concordia.ca/indigenous/about/leaders.html

Pîkiskwêtân Learning Series: https://www.concordia.ca/indigenous/resources/learning-series.html

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News

Businesses in Montreal’s Village struggle to cope with increased homelessness

How are the Village’s remaining businesses responding amidst several closures and moves in regarding the situation?

The stretch of St-Catherine Street between Berri and Papineau is the commercial and entertainment heart of Montreal’s Village, previously known as the Gay Village. However, it is lined with more and more desolate and deserted buildings awaiting new owners. Businesses in the Village are either closing shop permanently or moving out of the Village in growing numbers.

Arnaud Glay is the owner of Le Passé Composé, a restaurant that has been at the corner of De Maisonneuve Blvd. and Visitation Street for three years. They made the difficult decision in January to permanently close their doors and move out of the Village. 

The business explained their decision was based on issues with “fire, theft, vandalism, the presence of syringes and human feces on our terrace every day, and the physical harassment of our employees and customers,” according to their Facebook post.

Emma Monique, who works as a manager at Pizzeria Bros, was recently transferred from the Pizzeria Bros franchise restaurant in the Old Port to their location in the Village and has already noticed a stark difference between the two locations.

Regularly during the evening and night, unhoused people walk into the restaurant and beg her for food, money, or both. When she declines, they sometimes become aggressive.

“I’ve been called every name under the sun for refusing to give people free food, and they could yell, threaten to do stuff,” she said. “I’ve had somebody threaten to pee on the floor just because I couldn’t provide them with free stuff.”

Monique said that the restaurant is losing customers due to these issues—customers leave the restaurant because they’re scared or because they can’t get in due to someone using drugs directly in front of the restaurant.

Pizzeria Bros is only open until 10 p.m., while the Village’s nightlife stays open much later, usually until 3 a.m. Bar Le Cocktail owner Luc Généreux, fears for the safety of his staff and clients since his business stays open late.

“There are a lot of intoxicated people on the street. Our employees really don’t feel safe leaving work,” Généreux said.

According to Généreux, the police are called regularly to the bar, either by staff or the customers. The Village’s issues mainly affect the bar’s terrace. Last summer was the worst ever for Bar Le Cocktail’s terrace, Généreux said, with the business losing 90 per cent of its terrace revenue.

He originally purchased the bar in 2010, and he says these social issues have always existed in the Village but got much worse with the pandemic.

According to a 2023 report from Quebec’s Public Health Institute (INSPQ), the amount of unhoused people in Quebec has risen 44 per cent since 2018. That same report blames the shortage of affordable housing and COVID-19 for the increase. A different 2022 census created by Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services found 4,960 unhoused people living in Montreal, almost double the 2018 figure.

Many unhoused people from around the city are driven to the Village due to the wealth and concentration of resources available for them, according to Généreux.

The main approach the management of both Pizzeria Bros and Bar Le Cocktail have taken to dealing with this problem is teaching their staff how to best deal with unhoused people, and encouraging a friendly approach meant to avoid escalating the situation, or incite aggressiveness or violence.

Prohibition is a chain of cannabis-focused drug accessory stores located across the city, including a location in the middle of the Village. While they deal with the same issues as other businesses in the area, they also gained new customers, according to one of its managers, Yoan Mailhot. Additionally, sales of certain drug-related items such as blowtorches and crack pipes have spiked heavily in the past couple of years.

Despite these business advantages, they also have had to cope with other issues that are increasingly common in the area. “Stealing is a big thing here. Compared to other stores, let’s say,” Mailhot said.

The shop has also had to deal with erratic and visibly extremely intoxicated customers.

Despite the challenges they encounter in the Village, some businesses like Bar Le Cocktail are closely connected to queer culture and the queer community, which makes them very hesitant about a prospective move.

 “I don’t think we’d have success outside [the Village], maybe,” Généreux said. “I won’t take that risk. I think that our business must be in the Village.”

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How would less international students affect Concordia’s student associations?

With international students under attack by tuition increases, international student associations have mixed reactions.

International students have long been an integral part of the academic appeal of Concordia, contributing not only to the university’s global outlook but also to the local economy. 

International student associations, such as the African Student Association of Concordia (ASAC) and the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), are key organizations representing the interests of students from around the world. Through outreach initiatives, support networks, and collaborative efforts with university administrations, the associations seek to empower their members and amplify their voices. 

Iman Kande, the communications executive for ASAC, said: “We try with the resources that we have […] to make people’s voices heard.” Kande said that since ASAC is not an official group, it is difficult for them to help students in every capacity. However, if someone comes to them with a problem, they will be able to point them in the right direction.

According to Kande, ASAC sees a lot of African students approaching the association and encourages others to come to their events even if they are not African themselves. 

“It’s our way to spread our culture, […] we were taught that a stranger becomes family and that’s kind of our goal,” Kande said. 

With approximately 11,000 students coming from outside of Canada, Concordia has a lot of international students, many of which contribute to their respective international student groups. Now with the implementation of the tuition increases for international students, many are wondering how international student groups will survive?

“In terms of social media, in September we had 1,900 followers and today we have 2,400, in the span of like 6-7 months,” Kande said.”For example, when we host events, there’s more people than there were last year and every year, it just grows and grows.” 

She attributes the growth of the association to the exposure that international students are receiving due to the tuition increases. 

There still is a large negative aspect to the tuition increases for international students. Mathieu Gonzales, president of LASO, said: “It’s scary to know that maybe LASO was going to cease to exist further down the line, or it’s not going to be as important as it is now.” 

“I do know certain people that are still debating whether or not it’s the right decision for them,” he added. Gonzales mentioned that members of LASO know that loved ones back home are looking more into options like the U.S. for their education “now that the tuition is going to increase” in Canada.  

Gonzales said that it is difficult for people to afford to come to Canada to study since the cost of living is so high. Adding higher tuition on top of that would be a huge barrier for a lot of students coming from Latin America. 

But with Concordia’s other student associations striking and picketing classrooms against tuition increases, some international students have felt ostracized from their in-province peers who pay a lot less per class. 

International student associations like ASAC and LASO want to see more international student groups included in the discussions surrounding striking. 

“It would have been nice to be included in that because it affects international students especially. So obviously, if they wanted to have a better result with the strike, it would have been smart for them to contact us,” Gonzales said. 

Gonzales stressed that if students were part of the strikes, the associations cannot help them if they got into any trouble: “LASO cannot be responsible or can’t protect anyone, even if it’s the good cause.”

Kande from ASAC also wished the strike organizers had reached out to international student groups such as theirs.  “If our voices were more heard, I think more impacts would or could have been made,” Kande continued.  

Kande said that individually, ASAC supports the movement against the tuition fee increases, but ASAC has not adopted the stance officially. With more strikes set to happen in March, and Concordia taking the Quebec government to the Superior Court, international students will be paying attention. The next strike dates are March 11 to the 15.

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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.

Corrections:

  • 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.
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Hockey News Sports

The three-peat is complete: Stingers women’s hockey wins RSEQ championship

Stingers beat Université de Montréal Carabins in winner-take-all game three.

Following a series win against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team shifted their focus to their next and final opponent in the RSEQ final— the Université de Montréal Carabins.

Though both Montréal and Concordia had clinched their tickets to the U SPORTS National Championship tournament by becoming provincial finalists, there was plenty at stake coming into this series. For the Stingers, a series win would make it their third straight RSEQ championship, a feat that has not been accomplished by Concordia since 2002. On the Montréal side, a first RSEQ title since 2019 was up for grabs, as well as revenge from last year’s heartbreaking final that saw them lose to the Stingers in three games.

The first game of the 2024 RSEQ final took place at the Ed Meagher Arena on Thursday, Feb. 29. Defense on both sides was the story of the first period. Concordia was held to 10 shots while Montréal only managed to total five, meaning quality scoring opportunities were minimal. The first period would come to a close as a scoreless draw.

Thirteen minutes into the second frame, Stingers forward and assistant captain Rosalie Bégin-Cyr broke the deadlock. Forward Jessymaude Drapeau patiently held onto the puck before finding her linemate who buried a shot past Carabins goaltender Aube Racine.

It did not take long before the Carabins evened up the game. A deflected shot from the point found its way past Stingers goaltender Jordyn Verbeek, tying the game 1-1 late in the second period.

As the third period got underway, Montréal took its first lead of the series, scoring one minute into the frame. The Stingers began to show desperation as they fired everything they had at Racine. With five minutes remaining in regulation, a golden opportunity emerged as the Stingers earned a late power play.

On the ensuing advantage, the Stingers tied it. Forward Émilie Lavoie scored on a seeing-eye wrister from the blue line, tying the game 2-2. Unfortunately, the momentum of the Stingers was short-lived.

With less than one minute on the clock, a deflected shot from the Carabins found its way into the Stingers’ cage, sealing game one for the Carabins. Stingers head coach Julie Chu offered some insight on what the message would be going into game two.

“I said to the team [today] the same as I did against Ottawa— ‘we have to reset, we have to get going and make sure that this loss is just a loss for today. So process it as you need to and don’t let it hit your heart,’” Chu shared after the loss. The message sent was received for the Stingers in game two.

As the first period got underway at CEPSUM Arena at the Université de Montréal on Saturday, March 2, the pace of play was the epitome of playoff hockey—fast-paced, physical and scoring opportunities at both ends. The Carabins came out of the gate firing, knowing the RSEQ title was in their hands with a win; but the Stingers knew if they lacked effort, their RSEQ season would end. Despite the quality chances, the first period ended 0-0.

Five minutes into the second period, the Stingers broke the tie. Forward Megan Bureau-Gagnon parked in front of the Montréal net and capitalized on a perfect deflection off a shot from forward Émilie Lussier. Bureau-Gagnon spoke on what it meant to score the opening goal.

“It felt good. The couple of shifts before the goal, we were buzzing around them so it was just a question of timing—and to put that [goal] in, it gave us a little room and we started to play freely which was great.” Once going up 1-0, the Stingers did not look back.

A goal by Drapeau in the second period and a goal by Lavoie in the third gave the Stingers the insurance they needed to close out game two. The Carabins got a goal of their own to narrow the deficit to two, but the Stingers would add an empty netter and win the game by a score of 4-1. Coach Chu spoke about returning home for the winner-take-all game three.

“We love playing at home. For us, we’re going to enjoy [the win] today but we’re going to turn the page really quick because [game three] tomorrow is going to come fast.”

The Ed Meagher Arena saw a packed crowd for the rubber match of the provincial final on Sunday, March 3. As fans supporting both sides piled in, the puck dropped to begin action. In what became a theme in the series, the first period resulted in both goalies making key saves to keep the game scoreless. This would change drastically in period two.

Three minutes into the middle frame, Montréal opened the scoring on a rebound that was put home by forward Marie Terriault. The lead for the Carabins, however, would not last long.

For a second game in a row, Bureau-Gagnon netted a huge goal for the Stingers, this time tying the game 1-1. This ignited the Stingers to take over the play overwhelmingly, resulting in an onslaught of goals.

Four goals by the Stingers over the next 12 minutes put them in command up 5-2, heading into the final period with the championship in their sight. For the players, the three goal lead, although nice, was not satisfying enough.

Following two goals by Drapeau and one from Lussier, defender Camille Richard and forward Emmy Fecteau, Concordia put the game to rest. The Stingers defeated the Carabins soundly by a score of 10-4, clinching their third straight RSEQ title. Coach Chu closed out the RSEQ season by sharing what this win means to the team heading into the National Championship.

“Anytime you win, it builds momentum. If anything, it helps us feel confident that we can go through a game where we are down a goal, where we are going through ups and downs of emotions, where the fans are incredible and the energy is great.”

The U SPORTS National Championship will be the next stop for the Stingers women’s hockey team. The team will head out to the University of Saskatchewan for March 14 where they will face the best university hockey teams from around Canada. The matchups and game times are still to be determined.

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News

Breaking: Concordia files lawsuit against the Government of Quebec

Concordia and McGill file lawsuits for the Quebec Government’s implementation of damaging tuition increases for out-of-province students.

Concordia University is taking on the Attorney General of Quebec in the Superior Court over the tuition increases for international and out-of-province students. 

On Feb. 23, Concordia University filed a lawsuit where it aims to “quash the decision of the Minister of Higher Education” to significantly raise tuition rates of students living outside Quebec, regulate tuition fees of international students and require francization of non-resident students

In the 47-page lawsuit, Concordia calls out Pascale Déry, the Minister of Higher Education of Quebec, for basing the “decision on stereotypes and false assumptions about the English-speaking community of Québec and its institutions.” 

The lawsuit also calls out the “underlying mobility rights of Canadians,” according to Michael N. Bergman, the lawyer for the Task Force on Linguistic Policy.

“All Canadians are equal. All Canadians have mobility rights, meaning all Canadians can travel without restriction,” Bergman said. 

Limiting mobility rights directly goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to the lawsuit, the tuition increase directly “engages the [Charter] values underlying equality rights, in particular, as they relate to discrimination based on language.”

Bergman believes that Concordia has “a very reasonable chance in succeeding in their lawsuit.” Since this directly contradicts the Charter, they have a strong case but the results of which remain to be seen.

As it currently stands, McGill University is asking for an immediate injunction, which is a court order to suspend the tuition increases. If the injunction is granted, the tuition increases will be lifted until further examination through the courts, Bergman said.

Along with Concordia, McGill also filed a lawsuit against the Quebec Government for their tuition increase for students living outside of Quebec. 

More to come on this developing story.

Corrections:

  • In a previous version of this article, in the second to last paragraph “As it currently stands, Concordia is asking for an immediate injunction, which is a court order to suspend the tuition increases,” we indicated that Concordia asked for an injunction. This is not correct. McGill is the university asking for an injunction. We acknowledge the mistake and apologize to our readers.
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News

Less is more: Activists denounce greenwashing over the future EV battery plant

When it comes to lowering emissions, these environmental activists say car culture will always stand in the way.

In the overcast afternoon of Friday, Feb. 2, environmental activists held a demonstration at the construction site of an upcoming electric vehicle battery factory, Northvolt, located in Saint-Basile-le-Grand in protest against the project.

Organized by activist coalition Rage Climatique, the group of around 50 people held up road traffic on Chemin du Richelieu as they marched and danced from the McMasterville train station to the nearby entrance of the Northvolt site. They expressed their indignation at a project they feel will result in far more ecological harm than good. Signs reading “For the environment against greenwashing” showed the group’s skepticism of this project that aims to lower the car industry’s emissions. They claim it will inevitably cause ecological damage to the local environment, and perpetuate Quebec’s culture of car reliance.

In September, the federal and Quebec governments approved a $7 billion project with Swedish company Northvolt to build a gigafactory that will manufacture electric vehicle (EV) lithium-ion batteries from start to finish in Quebec. The factory site is located in Saint-Basile-le-Grand, 30 km east of Montreal. This project is Quebec’s largest private investment in the province’s history.

Member of Rage Climatique Yolann Lamarre asked: “When we destroy the wetlands and encroach on the territories of endangered species, is this really what we call an ecological transition?”

Clad in crafted bird masks, the lively gathering blocked the way of construction workers wanting to move in and out of the grounds. The crowd cheered “L’air, la terre et les rivières ont besoin de révolutionnaires” [the air, the land and rivers need revolutionaries] while individuals distributed hot chocolate and hand warmers.

Environment studies student Benjamin Savard traveled by a bus organized by Rage Climatique to get to Saint-Basile-le-Grand from downtown Montreal. Savard protested what he feels is the government’s misuse of provincial budgets, “knowing the massive amount of funding being put into this project while our public transportation is deteriorating from lack of investment.”

The project has not been as wholeheartedly accepted by the public as it has by the CAQ government. On Jan.18, the Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement (CQDE) and three citizens took the matter to Quebec courts to halt what they say is a project that will bring major ecological damage to the area. The CQDE argued that the battery plant’s construction will destroy the high diversity of flora and fauna unique to this wetland habitat.

“This project perpetuates a culture that prioritizes individual car reliance,” Lamarre said. “This leads to pollution from car production, mineral extraction and all the extra energy needed to do so, plus the pollution from building more dams on Indigenous land.”

On Jan. 23, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ké announced that a lawsuit has been filed to demand the federal and provincial government’s consultation with the Kahnawà:ké community  about the Northvolt battery plant.

On Jan. 26, the Quebec Superior Court rejected an injunction requested by the CQDE last month to halt construction. The Court ruled that the company’s measures to make up for the plant’s destructive nature are sufficient, like planting almost three times the amount of trees cut down and a $4.7-million investment to restore wetlands elsewhere.

The lack of consultation of the nearby communities is a major concern of Saint-Basile-le Grand resident Christine Lambert. The first time Lambert heard of Quebec’s investment in the Northvolt EV battery gigafactory was in the newspapers.

She said community consultation meetings did not take place before the project announcement and that her community feels blindsided: “We don’t know how the aqueduct will be built, we don’t know the impact on our roads, we don’t know if our schools will overflow with the arrival of workers, the impact on our clinics, on our services. We are in the dark.”

On the same day as the protest, Northvolt announced that it will create a citizen liaison committee to open a line of communication with the public in the coming weeks.

But to protesters like Savard, the issue with projects such as the Northvolt battery gigafactory is that they maintain the status quo of energy consumption instead of finding ways to decrease it. Savard said: “We’ve arrived at a point where our economy is so energy-intensive that it has passed the planet’s limits.”

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Concordia is on strike, but what do international students think?

International students speak up on the tuition hike, current strike, and their concern for what’s to come.

Nearly 11 thousand of Concordia’s students went on strike last week to protest the government’s increase of tuition costs for out-of-province and international students, but the decision to picket classrooms left some international students feeling left out of the discussion.

Last October, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) announced that it would be raising tuition for out-of-province and international students. After back and forth between the universities and the tabling of a petition with over 33,000 signatures, the CAQ lowered the proposed tuition increase for out-of-province students from $17,000 to $12,000. Yet, the decision to maintain the doubling of tuition for international students remains firm. Further, 80 per cent of students from outside Quebec must achieve Level 5 French by the time they graduate. 

Thirteen student associations from Concordia picketed the entrance to classes from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.. The three-day strike polarized the student body, with some students  remaining unaware that their Member Associations (MA) even had a General Assembly (GA) to decide on striking and picketing terms. 

Stikes get voted on by the MAs for specific programs during their GAs. At these GAs, there is a minimum threshold of members, called a quorum, that is required to be present in order to pass motions. For example, the Political Science Student Association’s Constitution states: “Quorum is twenty-five (25) or 1.5 per cent of members, whichever is higher.” 

“As much as I agree with what the strike stands for, I can’t give myself the luxury to not go to class,” said Catalina Abello, a third-year international student from Colombia. “For me, one lecture costs almost $300.” 

For full-time international students such as Abello, , this winter semester amounted to $11,000, and for international students in JMSB, up to $14,000. This means that while, at the moment, average yearly tuition is between $20,000 to $30,000, it is estimated to rise up to roughly $60,000 under the new policy. 

According to several announcements by Concordia, the tuition hikes will not affect current students, but it will affect any student applying for fall 2024 or any student who switches majors or minors, “I´ve fallen in love with Montreal, I’m almost fluent in my French, and I was really looking forward to doing a graduate degree [in Montreal], but now I’m not sure what I’m gonna do,” said Abello. 

Another international student, who wishes to remain anonymous, emphasized the importance of solidarity and dialogue in addressing the underlying issues driving the strike.

“I just find it ironic,” they said. “I completely agree that the rise in tuition is devastating and students have the right to speak up, but no one is putting into consideration my opinion as an international student.” 

They suggested that for something this concerning, protesting outside of the university would’ve gotten more attention from the government. “Striking wouldn’t be my choice of action because I’m losing all that money that I’m fighting for at the end of the day,” they said. 

Vannina Maestracci, Concordia’s official spokesperson, gave the The Concordian the following statement when asked about the strike: 

“While we respect the freedom of students to peacefully protest and to express their views, we made clear before and during the strike that students who wanted to attend class should be able to do so.”

Maestracci showed her concerns about how this will affect the university. “We were saddened that the strike took place in our buildings, affecting the university, which has not made the decisions regarding tuition fees that were being protested but, instead, has clearly stated throughout the fall its disapproval of the tuition measures and has worked, and continues to work, hard to reverse them,” she said.

Despite the efforts, on Feb.2, the government announced that the tuition hike is still going forward. As the situation develops, the international student community in Concordia will be closely watching the impact of the strike and the ongoing discussions surrounding the laws proposed by Premier François Legault. The outcome will not only affect these students’ immediate academic futures, but it may also impact future immigrants arriving in Montreal in hopes of receiving better education. 

The next strike being planned by ASFA against the tuition hikes will be a five-day strike taking place from March 11 to 15.

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From truce to truth: Insights on conflict reporting from General Roméo Dallaire

General Roméo Dallaire explored the importance of contextualizing conflicts from their prelude to their aftermath.

On Feb. 8, retired Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire gave a talk at the Loyola Campus about the role of journalism in relation to complex conflicts. Dallaire is a former Canadian Senator as well as a former government and United Nations advisor. He served as a force commander of the United Nations assistance mission in Rwanda and witnessed the 1994 genocide first-hand. 

Walking into the room with his brown briefcase in hand, Dallaire made his way to the whiteboard to map out the three parts of any given conflict: the “pre,” the “during,” and the “after.” He said the “after” category has demonstrated to be one of the most temporary periods of the whole process: “We’ve never, ever, achieved peace.” 

“The best we’ve done is establish truces. Over the last 20 years, of the nearly 15 truces and agreements that are happening in the world, the longest one lasted seven years,” Dallaire said. He added that since solutions in the “after” stage are so temporary, conflicts often go right back to the “pre,” and there is never any lasting peace.

The general also spoke about his time in Rwanda in the 90s. During the genocide, over 800,000 people died (excluding all the untold deaths in refugee camps), over 500,000 were orphaned, and four million people were displaced or became refugees. This all occurred over the span of only 100 days, and tensions between the two ethnic groups, the Tutsis and the Hutus, remain today. 

“This is a crisis. So where do you fit? Where does journalism fit?” Dallaire asked. He explained that more often than not, journalists and the media decide to start their reporting amid the “during” stage of a conflict. If the “pre” stage of a conflict was reported on, a deeper understanding of the existing frictions and build up could be understood. 

Dallaire also spoke about how he treated journalists not as the enemy in Rwanda, but as individuals with whom he could exchange information and have an open dialogue. This allowed for optimal broadcasting. “The media ultimately ended up, during this period, as the only weapon I had as a peacekeeper,” Dallaire said. He noted, however, that little to no journalists were there from the beginning to understand the “fundamental premises and debate behind why this [conflict] has blown up.”

Dallaire emphasized the importance of separating reporting from sensationalism to the room filled with future journalists. Situating a conflict and presenting it to the audience as a culmination of social elements rather than a spontaneous explosion or a re-assault of frictions is key. Dallaire also discussed the reality of the business side of journalism and how certain stories end up on editors’ chopping blocks.

After a question about seeing children growing up in war-torn countries and generational wars, a point the general had brought up during his presentation, Dallaire said that love had a big part to play as to why he didn’t take his own life after everything he’s lived through. “True love, not convenience—not temporary like our truces,” Dallaire joked. 

A student asked him how a journalist can recognize a crisis before it happens when reporting in a foreign country, and how to act accordingly. Dallaire said journalists should strive to remain cultured, open, curious, and want to know more about systemic frameworks. With those skills, one can then gather information on what is evolving in those countries in order to paint a picture of what is going on.

A student later asked Dallaire: “As somebody who has seen genocide with his own eyes, do you believe the war on Gaza is a genocide?” The general recalled that many major nations and the UN took six weeks to call the Rwanda conflict a genocide, subsequently sent the troops he’d been asking for. It was too late. “And what did [calling it a genocide] do? Absolutely nothing,” he said. 

Dallaire said it is far more important to consider how nations are reacting instead of being hung over the word. “You can articulate the term ‘genocide,’ but it has no power, because the national bodies that are governing us are not using it, don’t want to use it, and don’t want to read the convention that says that they’re supposed to commit to that.”

Dallaire also believes it is essential to integrate the powers of both men and women to restructure the institutions that govern and have been built by men. “[If not] we will continue to respond to these very powerful male-dominated institutions, and women—too many women—simply adapt into it versus fighting it,” Dallaire added. “Let’s put an end to this male-dominated misogynist egocentric paternalistic masculinity that has created the state of humanity and bring the women in full force.”

His new book, The Peace, is set to come out this April, and argues that people are often still unable to acknowledge crises and make decisions that could prevent or resolve them before it’s too late.

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Housing crisis deepens in Canada

Canada’s housing crisis hits a new low with a 1.5 per cent vacancy rate in 2023, the lowest since 1988.

On Jan. 31, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported that Canada’s rental market has hit a new low, with the national vacancy rate having plunged to 1.5 per cent in 2023. This rate, the lowest since the CMHC began tracking it in 1988, underscores a growing crisis in housing affordability and availability across the country.

The CMHC’s annual Rental Market Report paints a concerning picture of the state of housing in Canada, where demand for rental units far outstrips supply. This imbalance has put renters in a tight spot, facing increased competition and higher costs for available spaces. With average rent growth for two-bedroom units hitting 8 per cent in 2023—which is well above historical norms—the financial strain on Canadian renters is intensifying.

Urban planner Jason Prince, has two decades of experience in housing and community development. Currently teaching at Concordia’s School of Community & Public Affairs, he actively shed light on the CMHC’s findings in an interview with The Concordian

“When the vacancy rate falls below 3 per cent, tenants are at a disadvantage,” he explained. This situation gives landlords the upper hand, enabling them to set rents at will, due to the scarcity of available units.

The roots of this crisis, according to Prince, can be traced back to systemic issues within Canada’s approach to housing. He referred to a continuous rise in construction costs and a significant reduction in federal investment in affordable housing since the early 1990s. 

“The federal government has not been actively constructing permanently affordable rental housing like it used to,” Prince stated, highlighting a shift away from social and community housing projects that once provided viable options for lower-income Canadians.

Prince believes that the solution to this problem is not as simple as increasing the total number of housing units. “Building condos and new rental units that nobody can afford are not solving our housing crisis,” he said. Instead, he advocates for a substantial investment in social and community housing—tens of thousands of units that are permanently affordable and not subject to market fluctuations.

To address this crisis effectively, Prince calls for a comprehensive national program focused on community and cooperative housing. He stressed the need for a collective effort that employs the resources and tools of municipal, provincial, and federal governments. Such a program would mark a significant shift towards de-commodified, nonprofit housing models, away from profit-driven market dynamics that exacerbate affordability issues.

The Montreal-based urban planner further suggested that smart development around transport nodes can enhance accessibility and affordability, reducing the need to encroach on green spaces and agricultural lands. “There is a connection between transportation and housing, but it must not destroy our remaining green spaces,” Prince asserted.

As Canada grapples with this housing crisis, Prince’s insights offer a path forward that prioritizes affordability, sustainability, and inclusivity. His call for a critical mass of nonprofit housing stock and a reevaluation of urban development strategies underscores the urgent need for a shift in how Canadians think about and address housing. 

With the CMHC’s report laying bare serious challenges, the time for action is now, lest the dream of affordable housing for all Canadians slips further out of reach.

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