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.

Protesters gather against injustice

The International Day Against Police Brutality protest highlighted concerns about police accountability and mistreatment of detainees

On March 10, the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations hosted an event in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood to gather victims of crime, city officials, and community groups to discuss crime prevention. The event began with organizers acknowledging the pain and suffering felt by attendees in the room and hoping that they could start a conversation on how to overcome violence in the area. 

On March 15, the International Day Against Police Brutality, over 100 demonstrators marched through the streets of NDG to protest police brutality. The protest aimed to highlight brutality throughout the justice system, not just among police officers. Demonstrators demanded accountability for the individuals responsible for upholding systemic racism.

The demonstration was organized by the Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP), who founded International Day Against Police Brutality in 1997.

The protest also highlighted the case of Nicous D’Andre Spring, a 21-year-old Black man who died during an altercation with police while illegally detained at Bordeaux prison. Quebec’s chief coroner has ordered a public inquiry into Spring’s death, and provincial police opened a criminal investigation into the incident, which resulted in the suspension of a correctional officer and a supervisor.  

Alain Babineau, director of The Red Coalition, a group in Montreal that advocates for social justice issues, shared his perspective on the progress made in addressing racial profiling and police brutality. “Protests are good, but there has to be some type of objective behind it. They raise awareness, but it has to be sustained. Otherwise, the powers that be, the politicians, go along with the popular [sentiment]. If they see there is merit in supporting your claim or what it is that you’re pushing forward, then they’ll go along with it.” 

Babineau stressed the importance of treating people with respect and dignity, rather than just focusing on reconciliation efforts. 

Earlier this year, the Quebec Police Ethics Committee ruled that two Montreal police officers, Dominique Gagné and Mathieu Paré, knowingly omitted key information about David Tshiteya Kalubi’s medical condition before his death in their custody in 2017. The officers failed to document Kalubi’s sickle cell anemia on the inmate control sheet, a condition he took medication for. The committee found the officers’ omission amounted to negligent and careless behaviour. 

However, the Quebec Crown Prosecutor’s Office decided not to charge anyone in connection with Kalubi’s death. The case has raised questions about police accountability and the treatment of Black individuals in police custody. 

Quebec’s Crown Prosecutor’s Office has announced that the police officers who shot and killed Jean René Junior Olivier in Repentigny in August 2021 will not face criminal charges. The Crown’s decision was based on an analysis of evidence, including video footage from one of the paramedics at the scene. The incident sparked outrage in Repentigny’s Black community against racial profiling by law enforcement. 

The march served as a reminder that the fight against police brutality is ongoing and that it is the responsibility of everyone to demand justice and accountability from “les brutes en uniformes,” as one masked organizer called police. The COBP and other organizations have been fighting for decades to end racial profiling and violence by law enforcement, and they vow to continue until significant changes are made. 

Babineau highlighted the need for sustained activism to bring about real change.

“Apologies are apologies are apologies,” he said. “If it sort of atoned for evil that you did, great. It’s not a licence for the things you’re about to do.”


Concordia inches forward with the promises of the president’s task force on anti-Black racism

Four months after its announcement, the first recommendations outlined in the task forces final report are starting to reach fruition

On Feb. 6, Concordia’s President and Vice Chancellor Graham Carr unveiled a temporary plaque to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the 1969 Black student protests. The plaque, which will be replaced with a permanent plaque in the coming months, stands as a reminder of the events that lead to the protests and the presence of anti-Black racism at the University. 

Angélique Willkie, former head of the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism, said it was important for the university to commemorate the significance of the 1969 Black student protests ahead of the upcoming anniversary. 

Willkie elaborated on the added importance of marking the site of the Sir George Williams protests with a physical representation of the event.

“And subsequently, it remains the location of the largest student protest for anti-Black racism in Canada,” said Willkie. 

The event was the first of many initiatives that the University intends to implement in hopes to combat anti-Black systemic racism within the institution. In late October, President Carr pledged his support for the 88 recommendations included in the final report of the President’s task force on anti-Black racism. Concordia’s official apology is primarily in relation to the mismanagement of Sir George Williams University’s former administration throughout the 1969 Black student protests

In addition to the commemorative plaque, the University also launched a website detailing the experiences of those who lived through the events of 1969. Willkie also stated that the University is pursuing its plans to create a new program for Black and African diaspora studies in the Canadian context, as well as founding a Black Student Centre.

Willkie says that since the anti-Black task force disbanded in the fall of 2022, she is no longer responsible for the implementation of the task force’s recommendations. However, Willkie insisted that the university intends to actively pursue all of the recommendations outlined in their final report. 

“So there are many things ongoing, but of course, not everything has the same timeline, either,” said Willkie. “So certain things can be completed relatively quickly, others less quickly.”

Willkie said that she has experienced no pushback from individuals, but rather from institutions as a whole.

 “Institutions have square wheels, and they’re made to reproduce themselves” said Willkie. “So somehow or another in order for the system to work differently it takes a while for the actual procedures to change. In the meantime I kind of go around them,” she added.

Despite this, Willkies said that the cooperation of the University and actors within it should be a point of celebration. 

“When those 88 recommendations were published, none of them came as a surprise to any of the people who were responsible for their implementation,” said Willkie. “They had all been consulted beforehand, every single one without exception. And that’s huge.”


Concordia officially apologizes for mishandling 1969 Black student protests

The University recognized its role in anti-Black racism during Computer Centre incident

On Friday Oct. 28, 2022, Concordia’s President and Vice Chancellor Graham Carr formally apologised on behalf of the University for mishandling the events leading up to the 1969 Black Student Protests. 

“We recognize the deep and often dire consequences that the actions of the University had at the time, and how these consequences have continued to echo through the years,” said Carr.

Carr delivered the apology at a press conference on the Sir George Williams campus last friday. In attendance were Rodney John and Lynne Murray, two of the students whose complaints of racial discrimination at SGWU ultimately lead to the 1969 Black Student Protests.

The University’s apology comes after the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism issued its final report on systemic anti-Black racism at Concordia. Assembled in the fall of 2020, the President’s Task Force was charged with investigating how anti-Black racism is perpetuated throughout Concordia. Its findings encompass over 88 recommendations for combating anti-Black systemic racism at Concordia, including acknowledging “the role of racism in the events of 1969 at Sir George Williams University.”  

“Sadly, the University’s actions and inactions were a stark manifestation of institutional racism,” said Carr. “The adverse effects of that behaviour reverberated widely, not just in Black communities in Montreal but also beyond, particularly in the Caribbean, where several of the Sir George students were from.”

After SGWU rejected the students’ complaints on Jan. 29 1969, 200 students took to the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall Building in protest. Negotiations between the University’s administration and protestors broke down on Feb. 10 and the Montreal police were called in to resolve the conflict the following day. 

Riot police stormed the building, intent on dispersing the occupation by force. In response, protesters resorted to smashing windows and hurling University property onto the streets below. 

While police and protestors clashed, a fire began in the computer centre, the cause of which remains disputed to this day. Those who were still inside the building were forced to flee for their lives as crowds of onlookers chanted “let the n****rs burn.”

The riot’s aftermath resulted in over 97 people in police custody, $2 million in damages had been reported, and professor Anderson, who had been put on administrative leave during the unrest, was reinstated.

To this day, the Sir George Williams Affair remains the largest student occupation in Canadian history and a stain on Concordia’s reputation.

“For Concordia, reckoning with these events is a long overdue, necessary step. But it is not an end in itself,” Carr said last Friday.

For many, including co-founder and president of the Black Student Union (BSU) Amaria Phillips, this means ensuring that last Friday’s apology is followed up with concrete actions.

“I just really hope it’s not performative,” said Phillips. “I really hope that it’s sincere, with the intention of apologizing to make sure that we prevent anti-Black racism in the school and the University on campus for students, faculty and staff.”

According to Phillips, the BSU was heavily involved, both directly and indirectly, with the President’s Task Force on anti-Black racism during its mandate. She agrees with its findings and recommendations, but worries that the University’s commitment to tackling systemic anti-Black racism will wane if the public’s attention shifts.

“My fear is that, unless the story dies down, the cameras are off, and we’re not the focus of this anymore, they’re just going to let it slide through the cracks, and then we’ll slip back into that cycle,” said Phillips.


Town Hall on Anti-Black Racism: Why there is nothing wrong about Black-only spaces

 This event was done in part to value and protect spaces for Black students to share their experiences and voice their opinions freely

Concordia’s President’s Task Force on Anti⁠-⁠Black Racism held an online Town Hall on Anti-Black Racism on Feb. 10 during which students and alumni gathered to discuss the preliminary recommendations put out by the Task Force in Nov. 2021.

The online event was exclusively open to Black Concordia students and alumni with the goal of creating a safe space and prioritizing Black voices.

The event gathered about 30 individuals from different departments and was coordinated by three members of the Task Force’s leadership committee — Camina Harrison-Chéry, Alysha Maxwell-Sarasua, and Isaiah Joyner.

“In terms of interactions, people were very vocal, Concordia students are always ready to share their experiences,” said Harrison-Chéry, communications student and external affairs and mobilization coordinator at the Concordia Student Union (CSU).

“We had some really great discussions, and it made me recognize that we need these spaces more often — spaces where we can prioritize Black voices being heard,” said Maxwell-Sarasua, political science student and intern for the Black Perspectives Office.

“There’s a sense of safety in terms of being in a group that understands you and shares the same experiences as you,”  said Maxwell-Sarasua.

“This was to prioritize our safety essentially because unfortunately, despite people’s best efforts and best intentions, they might not understand how they continue to perpetuate the harm that we’re trying to stop,” said Maxwell-Sarasua.

The event was exclusive to Black students and alumni in an additional goal of protecting their privacy and encouraging participants to speak freely, without any judgment.

“On the sensitivity issue, we [organizers of the event] signed up for this to act as representatives, but they [other participants] did not sign up to be the display,” said Isaiah Joyner, former general coordinator of the CSU

“Right now, we’re in brainstorming mode, but there’s going to be a time for allyship, there’s going to be a time for when people want to support the Black community,” added Joyner.

Main Feedback from participants

The Task Force offered 12 preliminary recommendations detailed in their report, as part of their two-year mandate to address systemic anti-Black racism at Concordia.

In getting students and alumni to register for the Town Hall, individuals were asked to fill a form indicating which recommendations they wished to prioritize during the meeting.

The following three are the recommendations that were the focus of this Town Hall.

  1.       Create a certificate and minor program in the short term that focus on Black and African diaspora studies in the Canadian context and commit to the ultimate creation of a major program.

Participants had two main strands of thought regarding this recommendation, says Maxwell-Sarasua.

“One was that it can’t just be an isolated certificate or course that you can opt into — it should be part of a core-curriculum within all faculties.”

“The other strand was to see how to corporate a diverse view of Black and African diaspora in terms of the curriculum and having an intersectional approach to building these programs while recognizing that we’re not all a monolith — we don’t all come from the same places or have the same experiences.”

  1.       Implement a mandatory and continuous university-wide training program on anti-racism that includes a specific chapter on anti-Black racism.

“The main points for that one was mainly to offer Concordia students a kind ground line and basis of information about microaggressions,” says Maxwell-Sarasua.

However, participants during the Town Hall said they were skeptical about a one-off training that many would forget shortly after completing it, according to Maxwell-Sarasua.

“I think the main focus was that there should be lived, and practical experiences implemented into the training,” says Maxwell-Sarasua, “it shouldn’t just be given by someone with a PowerPoint, rather it should be offered by local community members who can give more of a practical base rather than just generalized theories of microaggressions.”

  1.       Create a permanent student centre servicing Black students.

“Now that we have the Black Perspectives Office, it’s kind of growing itself and has the potential to become this Black student center where you’ll have an office space and more social space for students,” says Harrison-Chéry.

Participants shared how important they felt it is to have these dedicated spaces on both campuses, which are often predominantly white spaces, adds Harrison-Chéry.

Another goal of this centre would be to reflect the diversity of students and understand different perspectives, including those of Black students who live in residences, or international students.

“The goal is really to have a Black students center that revolves around all those different needs that Black students have across campus,” says Harrison-Chéry.

Forced to repeat messages 

Despite this being the first time the Task Force opened up its floor to hear from  Black students and alumni about its preliminary recommendations, many sub-committees and the CSU have previously held similar student consultations regarding anti-Black racism.

“The CSU had a town hall specifically related to the Black Lives Matter campaign and we noticed a lot of things overlap and similar discussions,” said Harrison-Chéry.

“It’s important to acknowledge that these aren’t new ideas that we’re communicating,” she added.

As part of the sub-committee that deals with history, Harrison-Chéry said she often comes across documents from the ’60s and the ’70s of Black students voicing similar opinions as today.

“Black students say the exact same things and the exact same demands so hopefully this institutional push means that there’s no need for town halls like these in the future,” she adds.

More work needs to be done

“Even though this work won’t affect us right now in the short term, we know in the long run this is what needs to get done,” said Maxwell-Sarasua.

“I find that there’s this sense of erasure — that this has been done by many people before us, so there’s this sense of ‘how much longer do we have to yell for us to be heard.’”

Maxwell-Sarasua added that though we are far from the 1968 computer centre incident era, “we still have a lot of work to do.” The 2015 documentary Ninth Floor depicts the events also known as the Sir George Williams Riot, where Montreal students occupied the university’s computer room for 13 days to protest discrimination — one of the most important student protests in Canadian history.

“It’s not being told to Concordia students even though it’s part of Concordia history,” said Maxwell-Sarasua.

Similar to this Town Hall event, the Task Force is hosting a Roundtable on Campus Safety and Security on Feb. 17 for Black students and alumni to share their ideas on making safer and more welcoming and supportive spaces.

Visuals by Alex Hawksworth


The 30th Black History Month in Montreal

Montreal’s Black History Month is fully virtual for the first time

February marks the 30th Black History Month in Montreal. This year’s theme is 30 years of success and highlighting individuals who have over 30 years of achievements in areas such as art, media, business, and community.

Black History Month is an annual event, yet with the pandemic, the entirety of Black History Month is virtual, with events being held on Zoom. The launch event was streamed on Facebook on Feb. 1, with over 250 people attending.

One of the twelve laureates selected by Montreal’s Round Table on Black History Month, Kemba Mitchell. They are chosen from numerous candidates, which are nominated by the broader Montreal community for their outstanding achievements.

“Usually there is a huge event of celebration,” said Kemba Mitchell, a social community activist, Chairperson of the West Island Black Community Association, and Concordia alumni. “We are getting our awards in the mail, there is a disconnect.”

Mitchell believes that while there are cons, Black History Month being online created an opportunity that would allow more people to view the events as well as reach people that had no idea about Black History Month in Montreal.

Mitchell is one of 12 laureates who are representatives and spokespersons of Black History Month, nominated by the Round Table in coordination with each year’s theme for their involvement in the community.

“I was taken away,” said Mitchell, explaining how she felt about being nominated. “Sometimes you are in the grind, you are going and going, and don’t have time to reflect on your work. I was humbled by what the acknowledgment meant.”

I celebrate being Black all year round, it doesn’t start in February,” she said. “But I think it is important we have a moment to shine a light on Black history.”

Mitchell explained that conversations about Black history should not be limited to slavery and that Black History Month is to honour the contributions of Black people that are omitted from the education curriculum.

Round Table’s President Michael Farkas was also chosen as this year’s official English spokesperson for Montreal Black History Month, for his decades-long dedication into organizing this event and community work in the city.

“In history books, the beginning of Black people always starts with slavery, that is not where we come from, that is not our origin,” she said. “Black History Month is a way to shine a spotlight on our accomplishments through history.”

Mitchell stated that there was no reason for people not to go to an event this month, learn about the accomplishments of the community, and join in on the celebration.

There are a large range of events happening throughout Black History Month, varying from workshops for children, poetry jams, discussions on Bob Marley, a virtual book launch, and many more.

The president of the Round Table, Michael Farkas, said the major message of Black History Month is to learn about things such as Black inventors — contributions that the Black community made to society that have been swept under the rug.

Quebec can not hide that they were racist, that they come from a society that saw Natives and Blacks as commodities. As slaves, as savages,” said Farkas. “And that’s the foundation until Quebec chooses to change it.”

“The history of Black People is not about slavery, there was a time before, there’s a time during, and there’s a time after,” he said.

Farkas said a good way for people to involve themselves in the community is to simply go there and learn the history, to see the landmarks of Black history throughout Montreal.

Farkas recommended taking a tour with Rito Joseph, who does Montreal Black History walks. It states on Airbnb that he provides a way to deepen people’s knowledge of the Afro-descendant community in Montreal and learn more about its members’ ancestors.


Photographs of Kemba Mitchell and Michael Farkas are courtesy of Kétiana Bello. Montreal Black History Montreal logo courtesy of the Round Table on Black History Month.

Looking to anarchism for a police free world

How we can embrace community-driven approaches to safety

Since the eruption of international protests in response to the murder of Black man George Floyd at the hands of the police, the discussion of either defunding or abolishing police forces has taken centre stage. Yet, many still have concerns as to what a world with a radically diminished police presence would actually look like.

While there is no simple answer to the question of what abolishing or defunding the police would consist of, there are a lot of helpful tools we can take from anarchist mentalities that show how to build community-driven approaches to safety. It all starts with an acknowledgement that government institutions do not work for the benefit of marginalized people. With that, communities should keep an eye out for each other as much as possible and not rely on those institutions, because our reliance gives them power.

One main tenet of anarchism is the concept of mutual aid. Simply put, mutual aid is the practice of voluntarily exchanging goods and services for overall community benefit. The thrust of mutual aid efforts center on the idea that when communities can pull together to provide for themselves, they are less dependent on often oppressive institutions and become more tightly knit.

Mutual aid has become somewhat of a buzzword since the COVID-19 outbreak— and for good reason. In countless cities around the world, neighbours have come together in order to share extra food and supplies, give social support, offer delivery services, and more. One Facebook group for Montreal mutual aid now has over 17,000 members, where posters continue to help others who are sick or out of work. However, in the past week, many of the posts have pivoted to sharing resources for how to help Black people and protesters in the Montreal community.

It would be difficult to deny that mutual aid is necessary for people thrust into precarity due to a global pandemic; however, for Black communities, mutual aid has been a lifeline for decades. For example, in the 1960s, The Black Panther Party offered a free breakfast program to children in their community. These kids were overlooked by the government as they were redlined and ghettoed into impoverished neighbourhoods, often going hungry during the school day. The Panthers saw the hunger and inequality that was forced upon their community by an actively white supremacist government, and took power into their own hands. The breakfast program was a major success, but a few years after it was enacted, the FBI cracked down due to the government’s phoney labelling of the Panthers as a hate group. Ironically, the U.S. federal government ended up implementing their own school breakfast program just a few years later.

The turn away from reliance on government can be applied to more than just food programs and facemasks—we can look to these anarchist concepts for guidance on what a world would look like without institutionalized police.

Another useful concept within mutual aid is community self-defense— the notion that civilians should be in charge of their own safety rather than relying on cops. For many communities, most notably Black and Indigenous people, the police are a blatantly violent and aggressive force, who do more intimidating than protecting. Community self-defense may answer the following question: ‘when the cops are the ones committing the crimes, who are you supposed to call?’

It is not that the policing system is broken—  it was never designed to work for the benefit of marginalized people. Across Canada, the demographic makeup of police departments are overwhelmingly more homogenous than the cities they’re sworn to protect. This disparity can lead to not only cultural misunderstandings but also higher rates of violence due to implicit racial bias. With this in mind, it only makes sense that those who protect a community should be from the community itself.

Community self-defense can come in many different forms. This could look like neighbourhood walking-patrols, trained social workers countering catcalling, watchdog groups monitoring white supremacists, sexual assault survivor networks, etc. The goal is to reroute funding that previously went towards police into groups that will support communities at the civilian level. Any group with power is susceptible to corruption, and there’s always the chance that people will join for nefarious reasons. However, those within a community have a vested interest in the betterment and safety of their group, as well as an added level of empathy towards those they’re protecting. This is because they won’t just see the offenders as criminals, but also as friends and neighbours.

The shift to a less police-focused state would not be simple, and it would likely require a lot more action on the civilian level. Yet, with a shift towards community-building in marginalized areas, it is not an impossible task. The status quo is structurally failing our Black neighbours and that should be enough to have everyone question the system as it is.

Graphic by @sundaeghost


Peaceful protest against police violence followed by clashes between officers and demonstrators

Over 20,000 Montrealers came out to support a message against racism and police violence yesterday.

Clashes between police and protesters broke out Sunday night in the aftermath of a peaceful demonstration against police brutality. Organizers of the protest said they want the focus of the event to remain a message against racism and police violence.

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people gathered downtown to attend the protest, which had been dubbed Justice for Victims of Police Killings and was organized by a group of community activists. The event was created in solidarity with protests in the U.S. surrounding the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week after a police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes. Floyd was suspected of using a counterfeit 20 dollar bill to purchase cigarettes.

Marlihan Lopez, one of the protest’s organizers, said the event aimed to address the systemic issue of police violence not only in the U.S., but in Canada as well.

“This is not an American issue, this is also a Canadian and a Quebec issue,” said Lopez, before naming Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman from Toronto who died after an intervention with the police last week. Police had been called to assist in a domestic conflict involving Korchinski-Paquet. Shortly after arriving, police emerged from Korchinski-Paquet’s apartment and informed her family that she had fallen from the 24-story balcony. The incident is currently under investigation.

Protesters take a knee in front of a police line that had formed later in the evening.

Those who attended the protest said they came to support changes to systematic injustice. Chants such as “No justice, no peace,” “I can’t breathe,” and “Black lives matter” rang out throughout the march.

“I have four boys and we live to make sure that they will be growing in a safe place,” said Karen Abelard. “[Being] here is important not only for us, but for the future, for our kids.”

26-year-old Lindsay Williams, a white protester, said,“I feel like we need to use our voice and our privilege to do this. Even though this is scary and uncomfortable, it’s time to be scared and uncomfortable.”

Events began to turn around 8 p.m. Although the majority of protesters had left the area, police began lining up in full gear on certain streets, blocking the path.

“The moment that we want to do something for Black people they’re blocking us off,” said an anonymous protester in response to this issue. “We’re being peaceful about it [but] we’re still not getting the chance to get our word across.”

At 8:11 an SPVM bus equipped with a loudspeaker announced that, as some protesters were engaging in unlawful conduct, the protest was now deemed illegal. The crowd was ordered to disperse.

SPVM relations told the Concordian, “at this point objects were thrown to [sic] police officers, so that’s why we gave the warning and said that the demonstrations were illegal— some criminal act[s] had already started.”

According to Luca Caruso-Moro, a Concordia Journalism student who was live tweeting the event, there was still a large group of protesters demonstrating peacefully in front of the SPVM headquarters on St-Urbain when the message to disperse was played.

“[This] was then followed only seconds later by several tear gas canisters being shot into the air,” said Caruso-Moro.

Protestors dispersed as the police line advanced and officers continued to shoot tear gas canisters. Meanwhile, some individuals began breaking windows on the Bell building on St-Urbain, while other protesters yelled at them to stop. Some protesters gathered to form a barricade, which was eventually put to the side for a firetruck to pass.

“The majority of people that I saw continuing to demonstrate after the initial rounds of tear gas were fired were doing so peacefully,” said Caruso-Moro.

Clashes ended around 11 p.m., with officers continuing to monitor the area throughout the night.

Over 70 cases of mischief were reported, including vandalism and breaking and entering. Of the total 11 arrests, nine were for breaking and entering, one was for assault with a weapon, and one was for mischief. SPVM said that investigations are currently underway and may result in further arrests in the following days.

Marlihan Lopez said that, despite the clashes, the message of the protest should remain focused on justice against racism and police violence.

“The vandalism isn’t the story, the graffiti isn’t the story, the looting isn’t the story, and even the protest is not the story: the story is police violence, it’s anti-blackness,” said Lopez.

Another protest is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 7.

Photos by Hadassah Alencar


Concordia statement on Black Lives and demandsfor an anti-racist pedagogy


Student Life

The fight against black gendered racism in Canada

Why this side of the border shouldn’t be patting itself on the back

Three prominent black Montreal-based activists came together on the evening of Feb. 28 to discuss the history of anti-black racism in Canada, contemporary issues for people of colour in the country, as well as issues faced by the black LGBTQ+ community.

The panel was organized by Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy, and was part of the Centre’s Thick Skin speakers series—a series of curated discussions on race, gender and political resistance. The event was moderated by Jada Joseph, a peer support training and drop-in co-coordinator for the Centre.

“I will attempt to do a synopsis of anti-black racism in Canada in 10 minutes,” panelist Robin Maynard said with a small laugh. Maynard is a Montreal-based feminist activist and writer. She is currently working on her first book, Policing Black Bodies: State Violence and Black Lives, which will be released this year.

Maynard said the idea for her book came from her work with Stella, a Montreal non-profit organization that offers support and information for sex workers in the city. For almost 10 years, Maynard did street-based outreach with sex workers in the city—providing them with psychological and emotional support, as well as health services.  She said this work raised her awareness about deeply-rooted racism and violence against black women in Canada.

“The level of extremely vindictive racialized targeting… like calling people monkeys, pointing guns at their heads… extremely horrific violence that was [happening] almost daily, often including sexual assault, which was not being reported anywhere,” Maynard said about what she saw and heard about in her work. She wasn’t seeing these issues reflected in media outlets, so she took it upon herself to explore black women’s issues in a larger historical and socio-political context.

Maynard gave the audience some historical context on anti-black racism in Canada. She said many Canadians assume black slavery was only present in the United States. The first black slave was brought to Quebec in 1628. While Canada didn’t have plantation-based slavery, Maynard said people bought and exploited black people for various types of labour, reducing them, as slavery does, to mere commodities.

Maynard stressed that Canada was not transparent about its involvement in slavery. “In the 18th century, even as slavery is being practiced, you see the beginning of Canada’s self-representation as this benevolent state,” Maynard said. She said evidence of slavery in Canada was cast aside with its abolition in 1834. Following 1834, textbooks in Canadian schools made no mention of any black slavery in Canada’s history. In Canada, Maynard explained the history of black people being viewed and treated as criminal, as dangerous or as unwanted can actually be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Panelist Marlihan Lopez delved further into these deep-rooted stereotypes, and how they influence the way black people are treated today in Canada and abroad. Lopez has a master’s degree in international development and has over a decade of experience in community organizing, feminist activism and cultural education.

“We carry on these stereotypes of sexual deviancy. So when we report [sexual violence], there’s a tendency of not being believed because we’re not associated with the ‘perfect victim’ which is white, which is middle-class,” said Lopez about the phenomenon of hypersexualization of the black woman.

According to a 2009 report by the American Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in 15 black women report sexual violence. The same is true in Canada. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, “studies show that when women of colour report violence, their experiences are often taken less seriously within the criminal justice system and their perpetrators routinely receive less harsh punishments.”

Lopez linked this back to the expectations of strength and resilience from black women. “The matriarch stereotype, the strong black women, auto-sufficient, ‘we don’t need to ask for help.’”

Lopez said the fight against racism needs to be an intersectional fight—that is, a fight that considers gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, class in addition to race. Intersectionality is the idea that we cannot consider social action on race issues independent from other connected issues regarding gender and class, for example. “We have to fight for the liberation of all our peoples. It’s necessary for our movements to be intersectional because, if not, we are going to keep perpetuating the same oppressive systems that we’re trying to combat,” said Lopez.

“I’ve always felt that intersectionality multiplies itself exponentially,” said Montreal-based singer-songwriter and LGBTQ+ rights activist J. Elise Barbara. Barbara explained that there are so many different elements of one’s identity that need to be considered when fighting for race equality.

Barbara said while piercing the milieu wasn’t easy at first, they felt being a transgender black musician helped them thrive in the music industry in Montreal. “I initially felt a lot of resistance coming from people. And through the years, I’ve felt a shift in how open-minded people seem to be,” Barbara said.

They felt there has been a shift in recent years in Montreal for transgender acceptance—a kind of left-leaning trend, especially present in the city’s music industry. “I initially felt a lot of resistance, coming from people.  And through the years, I’ve felt a shift in how open-minded people seem to be,” said Barbara. However, they said they felt cynical about this acceptance, because “it might not last.”

The next Thick Skin speakers series event will take place on Thursday, March 9 at 11:30 a.m. in H-760. The discussion will explore Indigenous “feminisms and womanisms.”

Erratum: an earlier version of this piece mis-paraphrased panelist Marlihan Lopez on the link between the worldwide hypersexualization of the black woman to sex slavery in Cuba and Brazil.  We sincerely apologize for the mistake. O.E.

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