Counter-protesters defend trans rights amid outcry of opposing protest

Trans rights groups and anti-trans groups debate what is best for children’s education about gender identity

Five hundred counter-protesters took to the streets of Downtown Montreal on Sept. 20, fighting for trans people’s rights against the opposing protest “1 Million March 4 Children,” that seeks to advocate the “elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.”

Both protests took place nationwide, accompanied by 61 counter-protests. 

Anti-trans protesters chanted “Leave our children alone” and “Parents know best” in the direction of counter-protesters, who they believe are trying to “indoctrinate their children with sexualization” according to their website. 

Celeste Trianon is a trans jurist, organizer of the “No Space for Hate” protest and one of the two national coordinators of the same campaign. She has dedicated her life to standing up for trans rights and creating an environment where they feel safe and accepted.

“There is no space for hate across Canada, and we’ve historically been one of the safest countries for 2SLGBTQ+ people across the world and we want to make sure that continues,” Trianon said. 

“Remember, our Canadian Charter has protected us [the 2SLGBTQ+ community] since the 80s. Where have all those values gone? Let’s not dismantle our Charter and the very things that make us Canadian.”

Corey Kutner, a trans person studying at Concordia, attended the counter-protest. They do not agree with the way the trans community is being presented to children. 

“A lot of people are falsely equating being trans and educating children about what it means to be trans with really awful things like being a pedophile, a groomer. I just want to do my part of combating that misinformation and standing up for trans people everywhere,” Kutner said. 

Caroline Raraujo moved from Brazil to protect her and her sons rights to be a part of the LGBTQIA+, she shares that she thinks it’s ridiculous she still has to do this in Canada as well. Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian

Trans rights protesters walked down Sainte-Catherine holding signs such as “Protect Trans Kids,” “We Were Always Proud,” and “Trans people have always existed,” while chanting “Trans Rights are Human Rights.” While there were 750 anti-trans protesters, they were drowned out by the trans rights protesters, who made sure their message of solidarity was clear. 

“I’m hoping that everyone will just be able to get a better idea of just how many people there are out here who want to fight for transliteration and that it is a loud minority that is in opposition,” Kutner said.

Caroline Raraujo, a mother from Brazil, came to support the fight on behalf of her son, who came out as trans at the age of 16. She was actively involved in the 2SLGBTQ+ fight in Brazil and moved to Canada for a better life for the two of them. 

“Since he came out as a trans boy, I’m acting like a shield and I’m going to protect him. I’m going to protect him wherever they try to remove his rights or attack him. And not just him, but all the trans community,” Raraujo said.

Trianon ended her interview by addressing the public:

“To our queer and trans teens, kids, adults, and elders: you are seen, you are welcome. You are welcome here in Canada, and for us, as long as we can continue making sure that you are safe here, we’re going to do everything we can in our power to make sure you are not just welcomed, but loved.”

Children with special needs must not be neglected by our education system

Now almost a year into a pandemic, educators are giving their best to the students that need it most

While many students of all ages are struggling to adjust, students with learning and language disabilities are struggling even more.

With varying measures set into place regarding the introduction of elementary students back into schools across the country, there are discrepancies. Every school board is left to set things up their own way. Though many school boards have made it a priority to allow students with special needs to return to the classroom, other boards across the country have not even mentioned this aspect of schooling.

In the Ottawa Carleton District School board (OCDSB) for example, educators are giving their best efforts for these students, offering parents either in-class learning for specialized program classes, or a virtual version of the classes through Ottawa Carleton Virtual (OCV). Nick Jiminez, a speech language pathologist, has been working with the OCDSB for nearly three years.

“I don’t think anything special is happening for the kids with learning disabilities who are at home.”

Conversely, there are a variety of different situations that show these students to need to work from home, but as Connie Allen, Ottawa-based speech language pathologist, puts it, “Think about the child that’s four [years old], would you have them watch a PowerPoint?”

To that extent, for the children who do learn from home, “Ideally there is a parent at home or a caregiver in a daycare facility who is able to monitor one or more children while they receive remote learning,” said Jiminez.

While the ideal situation for these students is to have an adult with them to facilitate at-home learning, the reality is that this is not always possible. What works for one family may not apply to another.

Families are being forced to try and make choices between safety and education, and these are not always easy choices to make.

I think it’s okay for families to do what they can to make it work. We will do our best to make it successful, balancing that engagement with family stress,” said Allen. “We don’t want to cause our families stress.”

For many of these kids, the developmental assistance they get from these specialized program classes and systems are invaluable. These programs can range from learning literacy, to independence, to getting dressed, and even more. In many cases, it can be difficult to learn and interact with a laptop for these adapted curriculums.

“They are dealing with fatigue from looking at a screen all day,” said Jiminez.

What has become the norm for learning at home, having students spread across different households, may work for the average student. However, children with attention disorders or sensory needs are more susceptible to distraction while at home.

“The demands for self-control are greater when there are lots of distractions close by,” said Jiminez

In the past year, the debate on school closures has been tossed around for all students, yet there are some students for whom it is not feasible to learn at home. For students on the autism spectrum, nonverbal kids and those with cognitive disabilities, they benefit most from in-person learning where they are able to receive the attention they require.

Allowing these kids to learn in person ensures they are given the best attention, but safety concerns surrounding in-person learning have remained imminent throughout the pandemic. For many of these children, wearing a mask is not always possible, for reasons such as sensory difficulties , varying levels of cognitive development and the inability to comprehend why they need to wear it.

With the situation imperfect as it may be, educators and staff have all been learning on the fly, and trying to adapt as best as possible.

“[School] staff [are] doing absolutely everything they can both at school and online to make it successful. It’s a team effort,” said Allen. With the end of the 2021 school year on the horizon, hope can be held that safe and calculated returns can be made for these students, and the general population as well.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


Is homework a vital part of education?

Discussing whether homework is an outdated concept, its benefits and adverse effects

As a kid, homework was often a major source of stress for me. On the other hand, I understood that it was a crucial factor in my educational development and saw it as an essential part of my everyday life. However, following the implementation of a no homework directive in November by Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary School in Montreal West, a new debate has begun to arise in the educational system, according to CBC News.

The focus of the debate is on whether or not homework still has any use in the present-day education of young children. Elizabeth Ballantyne is one of several schools to implement a no homework policy. By removing homework, the policy focuses on giving students more time to do their work in class. Even more importantly, the policy seeks to encourage parents to spend more time reading with their kids, according to CBC News.

Michael Brown, the principal at Elizabeth Ballantyne, explained the school’s reasons for adopting such a policy. CTV News reported that Brown believes students should not be spending more time continuing their schoolwork after a six to eight-hour school day. Indeed, a  period to relax is an essential requirement for young students. According to The Ventura County Star, schools in Finland adopted a similar approach. By allowing periods of recess in between classes, students are able to properly process the material they learn in class. This approach to Finland’s educational system is a major reason why Finnish schools are recognized as some of the best institutions in the world. Additionally, other schools across Ontario and Quebec have also implemented a homework ban, according to CTV News. The same source explains that homework can lead to conflicts between parents and their kids.

Unfortunately, despite these justifications, not all parents are as enthusiastic about the ban. Most parents believe homework is an essential tool for their children. According to the non-profit organization Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), the homework debate has been ongoing since the 40s. The United States educational system increased homework after the launch of the Sputnik satellite during the late 1950s, believing their schools lacked a certain level of educational rigour, according to the same source. Also, during the 80s, scientists claimed homework had adverse effects on children’s mental development and well-being.

A longstanding belief held by those who support homework is that it contributes to helping students develop and achieve academic success. However, not all social groups benefit from doing homework, according to ASCD. A student’s socioeconomic status is a crucial factor to consider. Most students who are of poor socioeconomic status or live in a poor home environment are sometimes put at a disadvantage when compared to their peers. According to Louisiana State University’s website, poor and unstable home environments affect students on a physical, social, emotional and cognitive level that is reflected in their school work and performance at school. Other disadvantages of homework include the possibility of teachers inadvertently assigning too much homework, which contributes to students’ stress levels. In such cases, some students find it difficult, as many of them differ in terms of learning styles, which affects their ability to do homework. Furthermore, some students have an after-school schedule that doesn’t give them much time to relax, let alone do homework, according to ASCD.

One of the solutions proposed to maximize the positive impact of parental involvement in homework is applying the concept of interactive homework. According to CBC News, school staff and education experts insist that, even without homework, parents should still take the time to read and review the work they completed earlier in the day with their children.

Presently, further research is required before a definitive decision can settle this debate. Additional factors must also be considered, such as whether a lack of parental presence is beneficial during homework or not. I believe it’s important to get more input from students about how their educational experience can be improved and if abolishing homework from school curriculums could contribute to this process.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


Call out for Concordia to support kids

Capitalize for Kids invites students to help support children’s mental health

Capitalize for Kids, a non-profit organization that helps support children’s mental health, is seeking the help of the Concordia community.

As part of their annual conference, the organization is encouraging students from Concordia and other Canadian universities to take part in their Student Challenge, where participants compete in a national portfolio management competition to raise money for programs related to children’s mental health.

“This is so important because brain and mental health is the number one health issue among children and youth,” said Andrew Barlett, Concordia’s Capitalize for Kids ambassador, “Mental illness affects one in five people, and the chance of depression is increased by three to five times after a traumatic brain injury.”

According to him, this challenge provides students with different opportunities to strengthen their finance and investing acumen and develop important career opportunities, all while raising awareness and funds for the cause. “I am working to bring together students, faculty, alumni and the Concordia community alike, to give back to the community all while providing a platform for students who are interested in participating in Canada’s first charitable national student investors challenge,” Barlett told The Concordian when asked about his role as ambassador.

The conference is conducted by the organization’s annual investors. “Since our first investors conference in 2013, we have raised over $4 million to help solve the toughest challenges in children’s mental health,” said Eyal Sequeira, the business development manager at Capitalize for Kids. The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, also known as SickKids, has been their main beneficiary, but he said that as Capitalize for Kids continues to grow alongside SickKids, they will also look to impact other institutions.

“Students will be exposed to the unique blend of professional development and philanthropy,” Bartlett said about the Student Challenge. “It is not often we see an initiative that adds value for all stakeholders, and [has a] positive social impact.” Barlett, who is also captain of the Concordia Stingers football team, graduated in 2016 with a degree in human relations and is currently in his second semester of the business administration graduate diploma.

This year’s Capitalize for Kids conference will be held on Oct. 18 and 19. “We have secured a few incredible speakers,” said Sequeira. The founder and CEO of Fairfax Financial, Prem Watsa, will be the keynote speaker at the event. Dan Dreyfus from 3G Capital will also be speaking. “Funny thing about Dan is that he credits his ‘breaking into Wall Street’ to winning a student investment challenge in the late 90s,” Sequeira said.

This year, the Student Challenge will run from Jan. 16 to April 16. Registration to participate in the student challenge ends on Jan. 15. Concordia students are encouraged to sign up on the organization website:

Student Life

Bilingualism on the rise

Organization Women on the Rise hosted a bazaar which aims to promote bilingualism in children

Women on the Rise held a Christmas bazaar to raise awareness and funds for their children’s programs that promote bilingualism at an early age on Nov. 26.

Women on the Rise was formed in the early 1990s and has since become an organization that empowers single mothers to return to school and the workforce while also preparing their children for early education, said executive director of Women on the Rise, Grace Campbell.

The organization offers several programs, including an early education program for children and a parenting program for mothers. “We see the community for what it is… and we also see the need. We realized we need more,” said Campbell. The money raised at the bazaar will go mainly to the early education program, which promotes bilingualism in children by teaching children to embrace their native language.

“We need the bazaar to really help our programs to improve and recognize that we’re doing more,” said Campbell. In the past, Women on the Rise has organized spaghetti suppers, pancake breakfasts and garage sales, but this was the first time they hosted a bazaar.

Many of the children who benefit from Women on the Rise’s early education program are from newly immigrated families, said Campbell. The children were born in Canada, but their parents are from other countries.

According to Campbell, Women on the Rise is looking to help new immigrant families with children between the ages of zero to five, otherwise known as the “sponge age.” During this time, children absorb a lot of information and the organization is looking to improve their language skills.

“The benefits of bilingualism are linked to children’s immediate personal lives but also linked to schooling, socioemotional development and globalization,” said Fred Genesee, a professor emeritus in McGill’s psychology department.

In Genesee’s article “At-risk Learners and Bilingualism: Is It a Good Idea?” he compares some of the advantages of raising and educating children bilingually. He found that “immigrant adolescents whose ethnic identities integrate and embrace both majority and minority cultures tend: to be more involved with both the majority and minority culture and to show higher levels of psychological and sociological adaptation.”

However, immigrant children who only speak the majority language and have little to no involvement with their ethnic group exhibit lower levels of adaption, according to the same article. This is similarly seen in those who isolate themselves from the majority culture by limiting their relationships to those within their ethnic peer groups.

“If community organizations like Women on the Rise get involved with having parents feel proud of who they are and proud of where they’re from, and have them transcend that to their child, then the child will feel and embrace the fact,” Campbell said. Their child education program is looking to not only teach language and culture, but also to teach children embrace and be proud of it.

These ideas have already been implemented into their programs. Mothers were asked to bring in books in their native language and read, not only to their sons and daughters, but all the children involved in the program. While some parents were surprised by the task, Women on the Rise wants to ensure that parents understand the importance of having pride in their culture and sharing that with their children.

These programs don’t stop with children—training will also be made available to teachers. Instead of prohibiting children from speaking in their own language, Women on the Rise hopes more teachers will ask the question, “What does that mean?”

“This will build a very good foundation for the child and by doing that it will give them confidence. Once they feel confident in who they are, it will help with their learnings,” said Campbell.

Women on the Rise was created at a time when many black women were having children at a young age and living on their own, said Campbell. “The social workers were out there, the nurses were out there but it seemed like [the mothers] were in isolation,” said Campbell.

Soon enough a small group was formed where women could socialize and learn more about each other. As it started to grow, it became an organization known as Black Women on the Rise. According to Campbell, although it was called “Black Women on the Rise,” it was not about race, but rather, on immigrant women living in isolation, and helping them become empowered and integrate into society.

In 2003, the organization dropped “Black” from their name to clarify they were seeking to give all women an opportunity to be a part of Women on the Rise, said Campbell. What began as a small program for young immigrant mothers has since developed into a non-profit offering physical, emotional and educational development programs and services.

For more information on Women on Rise and their fundraising events, visit their website.

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