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.


  • 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.

Students meet to promote Mackay Street Pedestrianisation Effort

Thirty-year-long legacy continued by new cohort.

On September 8, a handful of Concordia students huddled around a bench on Mackay street to discuss what they hoped would be a big change for their community.

Organised by the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) mobilisation coordinator Lily Charette, the goal of the meeting was to discuss the long-lasting project to pedestrianise Mackay street, located on Concordia’s Sir George Williams campus.

“It’s something most people can get on board with,” said Charette. “There’s a lot of potential for building something that’s good for the community and Concordia students.”

Charette added that a pedestrianised Mackay would be a welcomed addition on campus, with the possibility of including water fountains and areas reserved for regreening, as well as a community garden.

Charette said she spent part of her summer break planning her project of a pedestrianised Mackay. She isn’t alone in her efforts. 

“This project has been going on for about 30 years now,” said Dashiell Friesen, a fourth-year student in design. “We think the push is way better now than ever before.”

Friesen shares Charette’s passion for public infrastructure and transportation. He explained that attempting a pedestrianisation of Mackay could prove successful in their latest attempt, despite the project’s history of failure. He attributed his faith in the project to recent pedestrianisation efforts for Mont Royal Avenue and Wellington street. 

Friesen argued that having a space for students to walk safely on campus, without the trouble of avoiding automobiles, would not only be beneficial to creating a larger sense of community on campus but would also boost sales at local shops as more on-foot traffic attracts more customers.  

Additionally, Friesen expressed his desire for Concordians to have access to walkable spaces, already available to students at neighbouring universities such as McGill.
Charette and Friesen explained they aim to send a letter to university officials proposing their project, with hopes of eventually appealing it to the city of Montreal. Their efforts would culminate in temporary pedestrianisation of Mackay, which would allow for time to observe its effect.   


Two Concordia Students claim they were violently arrested for Jaywalking

The students will file complaints against the officers for excessive use of force

One night at the end of July, at almost 3 a.m., Concordia PhD students Amaechi Okafor and Wade Paul were walking on Saint-Jacques street, heading towards Okafor’s apartment in NDG. 

As they walked, they saw police cruisers and officers gathered around an individual wrapped in a blanket. Not wanting to interfere with the situation, Okafor and Paul stepped into the street to go around the cruiser, then returned to the sidewalk. 

“We didn’t even cross the road,” said Okafor. “I actually told him: ‘Let’s step on the road and avoid these cars and step back on the sidewalk,’ which we did for a split second. And all of a sudden, we just hear yelling.”

“Next thing I kind of remember, there was a police car coming up onto the sidewalk,” recalled Paul. Okafor said the intervention was “very, very aggressive.”

The officers were speaking French, and while Okafor speaks French, neither student could understand the officers’ accent—Okafor is an international student from Nigeria, and Paul is from St. Mary’s First Nation in New Brunswick. When told this, the officers switched to English and requested to see Okafor’s ID. 

Okafor and Paul asked why they needed his ID, and the officers said that it was because they had been jaywalking. The students asked for clarification, at which point the officers asked to see Paul’s ID as well. 

“They said […] that we were under arrest,” said Paul. “I had my arm kind of twisted, I was thrown up against a fence. I had my rights started to be read to me. I was in full panic mode.”

“The way the arrest went was really strange for me because it’s something I’d never experienced,” said Okafor. He recalls being put to the fence, handcuffed from the back and searched from top to bottom.

He was then put against the cruiser, where the officers spread out his legs so far that his pants ripped and searched him again, he said. This also affected his old knee injuries, and he is still suffering from knee pain a month after the arrest. He said the pain makes it hard for him to walk and work.

“I felt abused. I think that was the word to use. Because I didn’t give them the right to touch me all over where they touched me,” said Okafor.

The students said they were put in separate police cruisers, where they were left alone for 20 minutes. Officers went through their belongings and wallets, and did not explain what was happening. Okafor said they never read him his rights.

Both were fined $49 for jaywalking and $499 for refusing to show their ID. 

Since the incident, Okafor’s family has joined him in Canada. He waited two years before bringing them here, wanting to make sure it was a safe place for them. Now, he fears what happened to him might happen to his three children.

“If my son is 16-17, what would happen if a cop were to stop him like that?” he asks. “I don’t want to lose my son because I’m ambitious.” 

The students have pleaded not guilty to their fine. With the help of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) and its executive director Fo Niemi, they are planning on filing complaints with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission for Racial Profiling and with the Quebec Police Ethics Commissioner.

“The only down thing is that the law, as it stands right now, will allow these officers not to cooperate with the Police Ethics Commissioner investigation,” explained Niemi. “Because they have the so-called constitutional right to silence. Not to incriminate oneself.”

Niemi is hopeful that the misconduct charges for excessive use of force will go far. “Just the fact that they were handcuffed, that’s a form of force that was used excessively,” he said.

“It all goes far to speak on how unsafe international students should feel,” he said. “Because if that could happen to me, it could happen to any other person.”

After hearing his story, other international students told him that they were worried about their own safety.

Niemi stressed the importance of speaking out about these situations. “Just because you’re international students, it doesn’t mean you have less rights when it comes to this.”

The SPVM declined to comment on the intervention.

Infographic by Carleen Loney / The Concordian

Dancing in public: Danse Danse’s outdoor program presents Caroline Laurin-Beaucage’s work

How Danse Danse brought the performance to you

The Place des Arts Esplanade became an exploration space this weekend for performers in the dance creation titled Habiter nos mémoires by Caroline Laurin-Beaucage. The performance was part of Danse Danse’s outdoor program called Hors les murs kicked-off their fall season. On Friday and Sunday — Saturday had to be cancelled because of the rain — each of the eight performers spent an hour in an open cube that had been set up for them in the public space. The performances lasted from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for passersby to watch.

This performance followed Laurin-Beaucage’s solo piece that was initially titled Habiter sa mémoire. The artist’s idea was to bring the rehearsal space closer to the audience. Laurin-Beaucage said that her goal for this project was, “to bring my dance studio outside, to give me a new challenge and to explore what it means to work outside while generating an authentic dance.”

For Habiter nos mémoires, the artist shared her process with eight women aged between 25 and 60. Carol Prieur, Brianna Lombardo, Angélique Willkie, Ariane Levasseur, Susanna Haight, Marie-Reine Kabasha, Claudine Hébert and Marine Rixhon wore red clothing and started each moment in the cube by recording their voice. The improvisation that followed aims for the dancers to connect to the way their bodily sensations inspired them to move in that moment. Each hour was concluded by  recorded personal messages recalling what happened during the last hour.

Sound creator Larsen Lupin created a soundscape for the performances putting together the artists’ voice recordings. Visitors were able to access the soundtrack while watching. For Laurin-Beaucage, this was an important part of the presentation. She discovered that “the way we speak seems to fit the rhythm of our dance and it actually works, the soundtrack of our voice really accompanies our movements.”

Laurin-Beaucage’s process in the initial version of the project also included the same open cube and voice recordings. Laurin-Beaucage admitted that there is a kind of vulnerability that comes with presenting non-prepared movement propositions in front of an audience. She explored that vulnerability a lot as she presented the improvised outdoor exploration 32 times in the last five years in different locations and countries. Each event lasted approximately four hours, like a typical dance rehearsal would. She transmitted the knowledge she had gained in that process to the eight performers of Habiter nos mémoires when they were preparing for the event.

Habiter nos mémoires is one of the three dance pieces that are being presented by Danse Danse in the public space this fall. For Danse Danse’s artistic co-director and director of development Caroline Ohrt, the Hors les murs programming “gives audience members the freedom to wander […], it grasps the attention of people who do not necessarily come in the theatre.” The dance diffuser hoped to present an outdoor program last year, but the COVID-19 restrictions changed their plans.

Hors les murs started on Sept. 24,, with choreographer Sébastien Provencher’s piece Children of Chemistry presented in the windows of the 2-22 building on St-Catherine Street. Habiter nos mémoires followed on Oct. 1 and 3, alongside Sylvain Émard’s work Préludes, which was presented in the afternoon of Oct. 3. Émard’s outdoor presentation preceded his new show Rhapsodie, which is coming up in February 2022.

For more information on all of the pieces, please visit Danse Danse’s website.


Photo courtesy of Thomas Payette   


Concordia’s Black Perspectives Office strives to empower Black voices and aspirations at the university

The office offers mentorship, scholarship, and wide-range supportive opportunities for Black students

Having started off as a pilot project, Concordia’s Black Perspectives Office proved a success in 2019 and was permanently installed as an advocacy and support office for Black students at Concordia.

Three-time Concordia graduate, Montreal Black activist and author Annick Maugile Flavien is the founding coordinator at the office, which aims to address and challenge systemic racism by representing, connecting, and supporting Black perspectives.

“Our students, our faculty, our staff need spaces to connect with one another,” said Flavien during an interview with Concordia alumni Josie Fomé, Montreal journalist and podcast host featured in Concordia’s 4TH SPACE in December.

In this space, Black students can freely express themselves. Flavien said, “We can kind of talk about their actual issues, or like what they really want to talk about, because they don’t have to check their Blackness at the door.”

Advocacy, funding Black student projects and education, and creating new resources for Black students is part of the work done in the office. All scholarships and funds, which range from $300–$2,500, include consistent mentorship with Flavien to help students fulfill their goals.

Last year, the office began plans to build the Black Mental Wellness on Campus project: a new bilingual mental wellness website, which will include different year-long programs on wellness education, such as skillshares, workshops, and events.

The website says the project will integrate and work with practitioners and individuals “who are dedicated to anti-racist and holistic mental wellness.”

This term, the focus will be towards creating a mentorship program with Concordia alumni, and improving mental health services, by hiring from the Black community into the university and helping students find the resources they need.

Like everything else, the BPO services have moved online, and while that has presented many challenges, Flavien said students are working on innovative new ideas for Black initiatives.

 “It’s been really exciting because students have a lot of energy and want to engage and are coming in with their ideas,” said Flavien.

One of these new projects was Concordia’s Black Student Union (BSU), which began at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester.

Historically, Black student unions began as a way to fight racism and discrimination on campus in the 1960s. Concordia’s BSU aims to continue that legacy, along with celebrating Black excellence, and supporting Black voices and initiatives on campus.

Flavien’s vision for the office is similar to the decades-old practices of BSU: to create a culture and system similar to Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States.

“It was just about creating a space in which I could be myself, and I could meet people from my community; I could collaborate with them, I can innovate with them,” said Flavien.

“I think that long term vision, I see the BPO being a theoretical as well as a physical manifestation of that dream.”


Screenshot of the Black Perspectives Website


The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) makes it way to Concordia

The first of its kind in Canada, the club will bring a whole new industry to the university

This year, a new club is arriving at Concordia. The first of its kind in Canada, the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) will allow the immersive story-telling industry to make ties with our university.

Mitchell Stein, the President and founder of Concordia’s TEA club, has been a passionate member of the TEA for a while now. As the main association relating to the immersive storytelling industry, it was high time we set up a TEA club in Canada.

“Things that you’ll see in Orlando, Florida or in California, at the Disney or Universal parks, a lot of them have been created in Montreal themselves. So we’re hoping to partner with a lot of those companies to bridge the gap between students and the industry,” said Stein.

Themed entertainment touches any subversive and interactive storytelling experience. An example that most will be familiar with is a Disney theme park, where guests — the audience — are transported into an entirely different universe.

Stein goes on to explain that Concordia is the perfect setting for this club to make its debut to Canadian students.

“What we were hoping to do is tap into the creative and technical side at Concordia because there are so many great [creative and technical] programs. [Many] people don’t know about this really incredible industry,” said Stein.

However, Stein is well aware of the challenges that are associated with this year. A pandemic makes it difficult to get the word around.

“We’re still really new, so I’m still learning the ropes of marketing a club, especially digitally … But so far, everybody we’ve told about it has been very passionate.”

The club will expose students to an industry that isn’t well-known to many.

“We had a lot of interest with the creation of the club, and I think that so many programs and clubs are interested in these types of things — understanding technology, creativity and immersive storytelling is always something people are interested in,” said Stein.

Although the themed entertainment industry seems far away, Stein ensures that the creation of this club will open the door for students.

He said, “Something that people always told me was to get involved in the themed entertainment association. Because it is the biggest organization that represents the industry, and everyone who works in the industry.”

The TEA club at Concordia will bridge the gap between companies and students by building relationships. Stein explained that he has already reached out to companies based in Montreal, and is looking forward to working with them.

“A lot of students don’t even know this industry exists, they might know of Disney or Universal, but they don’t know of these jobs that are right in our backyards.”


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


What it really feels like to take antidepressants

Why I decided to start taking prescription medication to treat my depression and anxiety

The sun rises over the sleepy city, and I’ve already been up for several hours, lying in bed having an early morning existential crisis—the usual. The winter semester has just ended, and instead of feeling relaxed and elated, I feel tense, exhausted and utterly tortured.

My entire body is extremely bloated, and I struggle to find the energy to get out of bed. My skin itches and burns all over, and my jaw is locked shut from fiercely clenching it throughout the long, arduous night.

The last few months of university had proven to be extremely challenging for me. I could barely manage to stay afloat. I defied all deadlines for my schoolwork, pulling crazy stunts—like handing in a research project nine days late—and constantly asking for extensions. I also struggled to produce my opinions section for The Concordian on a weekly basis, and felt that I didn’t deserve my editorial position. I saw myself as an imposter hiding amongst a bevy of accomplished and ambitious journalists.

The pressure felt overwhelming, and the cracks in my life were becoming fissures.

Over time, everything became complicated and difficult, and my emotions went into overdrive. Even writing—my one true passion—became almost impossible. I was barely able to type out a single word. Staring at the blank screen, I felt infuriated and cursed.

I entered a period of self-imposed exile, where I withdrew from society—only speaking to a handful of close confidants. Everyone knew something was wrong and urged me to speak to a medical professional.

Almost a week later, I found myself in the doctor’s office, feeling like a wounded animal. I spoke with my family doctor for almost 45 minutes, and we filled out a survey together that asked general questions regarding mood, behaviour and appetite. By the end of the appointment, he concluded that I was suffering from severe anxiety and depression, and sent me off with a prescription in tow.

The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve always been an anxious person, but I’d always kept it under control. I was too naïve to realize that all these struggles could be related to mental illness. And now I’d be taking medication that would alter my brain chemistry?

Well, it turns out, 20 per cent of people in this country will experience some manifestation of mental illness at some point in their life, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. It’s a lot more common than we think. In an article published in MacLean’s in 2009, Lev Bukhman, the executive director of a student insurance program, revealed that antidepressants were the number one drug purchased by students.

Graphic by Patricia Petit Liang

“Mental health issues are one of the biggest challenges facing students today,” Bukhman said in the same report, highlighting that many students become susceptible during their time at a postsecondary institution.

Citalopram—the drug I was prescribed—is an antidepressant from a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). They are commonly used to treat both depression and anxiety, since they increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, according to Mayo Clinic—a renowned medical nonprofit based out of the U.S.

As one can imagine, I was incredibly anxious and cynical about taking these pills. The fear of losing my artistic abilities and personality were my main concerns, and I desperately loathed the idea of turning into a mindless buffoon pumped full of sedatives.

After doing a lot of research, I decided to take the plunge and swallow the first pill. Expecting to feel an immediate sense of euphoria, I was disappointed to discover that I didn’t feel any different. Everyone kept saying that I’d only begin to see a change in four to six weeks, but I didn’t want to wait.

All hope seemed lost, and I felt once again lost at sea. Was this what rock bottom felt like?

Small victories were made, though—one afternoon I found the will to find a new therapist. My old one had been a vapid creature with frazzled baby hairs and a medieval approach to mental health.

New research indicates that the most effective treatment for depression is a combination of both therapy and medication, according to research published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2014. This study followed 452 depressed individuals—some were given medication, while others were given medication in conjunction with cognitive therapy. The findings showed that the latter group fared far better, and their symptoms improved faster compared to their counterparts only taking medication.

Things gradually improved—albeit at a snail’s pace — and I began to notice tiny changes. I was able to get more than four hours of sleep each night, and on certain days, I successfully made it to the gym. My body returned to a normal state as I regained my appetite and the scars from those nasty rashes began to heal.

A huge debate continues to rage around the topic of antidepressants, with many diminishing the reality of mental illness, stating that they shouldn’t be treated with drugs. Giles Fraser, a journalist for The Guardian, wrote in his weekly column: “Happiness can be reclaimed by doing a bit more exercise or being more sociable. This sounds healthier than pills.”

I’m not saying antidepressants are for everyone, but I can definitely say they helped me tremendously. Although the process was painstakingly slow, my chutzpah has returned, and the very fact that I’m writing this article is a testament to the fact that you can recover from anxiety and depression.


  • Visit the offices of Counselling and Psychological Services on campus at H-440 (SGW) or AD 103 (Loyola) to request to see a counsellor. You can reach them at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 (SGW) or at ext. 3555 (Loyola).
  • Visit a nurse at Health Services on campus at 1550 De Maisonneuve W. Room GM-200 (SGW) or AD 131 (Loyola). You can reach them at 514-848-2424 ext. 3565 (SGW) or at ext. 3575 (Loyola).
  • Visit the Centre for Gender Advocacy at the SGW campus for support at 2110 Mackay St. between Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or at (514) 848-2424 ext. 7431. For peer support call (514) 848-2424 ext. 7880.
  • If you are in immediate danger on campus, call 911 or security at (514) 848-3717—option one.

Concordia launches a free online course partnered with the United Nations

The goal of the course is to educate as many students as possible worldwide

Concordia is now offering a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) this fall, not only to Concordia students, but to students around the world.

The course, entitled Wicked Problems, Dynamic Solutions: The Ecosystem Approach and Systems Thinking, educates students on ecosystems and conservation theories, said director of the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre Peter Stoett. “[There is a necessity for thinking] about socio-ecological systems as we try to find solutions for some of the greatest challenges we face.”

“[The course] is an attempt to give widespread access to a course that teaches people some really necessary concepts and case studies related to the survival of future generations,” said Stoett. The online course is free and available to anyone around the world, as a part of the United Nations’ objective to make this course accessible to as many people as possible.

“The focus of the course, as the title implies, is on systems thinking and the ecosystem approach,” said Rebecca Tittler, coordinator of the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability & Loyola Sustainability Research Centre. “Systems thinking involves consideration of the various components of a system and the interactions between components.”

Tittler was on the core development team for the MOOC. She said the course discusses how to resolve colossal issues that result from climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, deforestation and forest degradation.

Stoett has connections with the UN, having previously worked with them, which prompted the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to contact Stoett for the opportunity to create this course at Concordia.

Robert Beauchemin, CEO of KnowledgeOne, the company in charge of developing eConcordia online courses, described the MOOC as a web-based platform. Beauchemin said the course is accessible through any web browser available on any computer, tablet and mobile device.

“The main reason we do that is because more people in Africa have cell phones than laptops and in Asia, as well,” said Stoett. “You don’t need a computer to take this course in a day and age when almost everyone—even really low income groups—have telephones.”

He said the second aspect to the course is to help compensate financial difficulties using a blended learning course available to all Concordia students.

Half of the blended learning course is offered online and half of the course will be taught in a classroom. The blended learning course will be a course available to all Concordia students, said Stoett. The MOOC will be a part of the blended learning course, which will be offered under the department of geography, intended as a course for first-year geography students.

Stoett said he believes the MOOC would be interesting to recent high school graduates, students mostly in the southern hemisphere, students who are entering university, who cannot afford university or either live in a country where university is not a well-developed system.

The Concordian asked Stoett if the curriculum is focused on North America or studying ecosystems worldwide. “It’s definitely worldwide,” said Stoett. “We have really tried to hit a global note with this—many of the case studies we used [and] many of the videos we used are from Africa, quite a few from Asia and some from Latin America.”


Political science petition garners support

A petition calling for significant changes within the department of political science was endorsed by the Concordia Student Union and the Arts and Science Federation of Associations this week.

The petition, brought to both groups by its author Gene Morrow, contains six points covering issues such as grade changes in the form of bell curving, loss of space on campus and cutting popular courses without consulting students or faculty.

The petition calls for immediate intervention by Brian Lewis, dean of arts and science, and has already been signed by 250 students. Lewis said that he is “talking to a number of people to try to better understand the situation in political science,” and that discussions with faculty and student representatives were continuing.

Schubert Laforest, president of the CSU, said that the issues raised in the petition are ones that have been followed closely by council. Council officially gave their support at the regular council meeting Wednesday with a motion that will promote and distribute the petition to students.

“I think that the petition does bring out a lot of issues not just at the political science department but across the arts and science faculty,” he said. “I think this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we’re going to be sitting down with [Morrow] and ASFA to figure out what we need to do going forward.”

James Tyler Vaccaro, VP communications of the Political Science Student Association said that while the association did not draft the petition, they had “acted as a source of information when called on by both ASFA and CSU councils” and that he hoped the issues raised in the petition would be resolved soon.

He also said that contrary to the sixth point on the petition, which deals with an apparent lack of availability and transparency by department chair Csaba Nikolenyi, the PSSA had not experienced the same problem.

“We have not had any difficulties meeting him to discuss a broad range of topics this year,” said Vaccaro.

Morrow, a student in the political science department, told The Concordian that he suspected he knew why the PSSA’s experiences had been different than those of some students.

“The PSSA, because they are the institutional actor within the department, they are the appropriate contact point between students and faculty,” he said. “I think that they have a much better time getting access to speaking with the chair, but they don’t necessarily have better access to the information than anyone else does a lot of the time.”

“For example a member of Senate tried to get minutes from the departmental council, and was told to file an access to information request,” Morrow said. “They were told point blank you cannot get access to this without filing an ATI request. Why is this necessary? Why does this have to be walled off and blocked?”

Morrow went on to say that students within the department were often starved for information when it came to decisions made by the chair and faculty, including why they were made or who was involved.

“People would be willing to tolerate that, but there’s never any communication from the department to students. There’s never any communication to students about what’s happening in the department. The general feeling is that we’re an afterthought.”

New copies of the petition will be available at the offices of the CSU and the PSSA for students who did not have a chance to sign the first petition.


Pens, paper, prestige

Graphic by Alessandra McGovern

All year long, students in English are busy writing essays and students in creative writing are cooped up composing works of poetry and fiction. However, once a year they have the opportunity to turn that essay or creative piece into more than just a grade.

The Excellence in Studies of English Literature and Creative Writing awards gift students with a monetary prize in return for their best work on the essay topics of English literary studies, literature written in English before 1700, literature written in English from the 18th century to the present and in the categories of poetry and fiction.

Submissions are usually due at the beginning of February and outstanding works in each of these categories are shortlisted, with the winners being announced at a ceremony dedicated to the finalists. This year’s ceremony will be held on March 23 in LB-646 on the SGW campus.

The 2012 finalists for the A.G. Hooper Prize awarded for the best essay on the topic of literature written before 1700 are Marta Barnes, Veronica Belafi, John Casey and Dylan Sargent. Casey was last year’s recipient of this award. His essay on Viola’s identity in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was said to have been chosen because the judges were keen to debate the arguments of his essay with him.

Along with the cash prize, Casey said the award “afforded a great opportunity to get together with my peers, other people that had similar interests to mine after the award ceremony. It was just a nice opportunity to hand in a paper to be read outside the classroom.”

The Irving Layton award, a tribute to the late author, is awarded for excellence in the writing of poetry and fiction. Professor Mary di Michele was this year’s judge for the poetry section of the award and described the shortlisted works as “beautiful pieces and very varied in terms of what they were about.”

One poem, for example, is a cycle of sonnets about working as a deck hand in Labrador while another is a celebration of pinball. This year’s shortlisted poets are Michael Chaulk, Stefano Faustini, Emma Healey and Domenica Martinello.
For Heather Davidson, last year’s recipient of the Irving Layton award for fiction, receiving the honour was about more than just the monetary reward. “I was nervous about graduating, so the award meant a huge boost. Keep doing this crazy writing thing,” she said. “It was the beginning of everything fortunate and literary that’s come after. The Irving Layton award represented all the great people at Concordia who believed in me while I was still trying to believe in myself.” The finalists for the Irving Layton award for fiction this year are Michael Chaulk, Alex Manley, Tyler Morency and Dylan Sargent.

The Compton-Lamb Memorial Scholarship is awarded on the basis of academic excellence as well as the submission of an essay about English literary studies. Finalists for this year’s scholarship are Robin Graham and Matthew Dunleavy. Finalists for the MacGuigan Prize, which is awarded on the merit of an essay written about a work of English literature written between the 18th century and the present, are Veronica Belafi, Danielle Bird, John Casey, Paula Wilson and Kevin Yildirim.

Winners of the Excellence in Studies of English Literature and Creative Writing awards will be announced on March 23 during a ceremony in LB-646 at 2 p.m. All faculty, staff and students are invited to attend.

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