A never-ending pattern of racism in junior hockey in Quebec

CRARR is helping families in the fight against anti-Black racism in hockey

The fight against racism in junior hockey in Quebec advances this year, as more families are bringing civil rights complaints to the Quebec Human Rights Commission with the help of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), including a complaint against Hockey Quebec.

CRARR’s executive director Fo Niemi pointed out that although he gets many phone calls from parents, especially Black parents, not many go through the complaint process with the Human Rights Commission.

“I think there’s either reluctance, or a fear of retaliation, or there’s a concern that the process can take a long time,” he said.

But two complaints are being filed so far this year. The first was by Nadine Hart against the Lester B. Pearson School Board after her 13-year-old son, JC, was allegedly the victim of anti-Black racism through taunting, slurs, and assault while playing in the Pro Action Hockey program at John Rennie High School last fall.

Seeing a family file a complaint encouraged Laurie Philipps to do the same with a complaint against Hockey Quebec, stating that “the more people are doing it, it’s more likely they can’t ignore us all.”

Philipps and her 16-year-old son Aiden, who plays for the Île-Perrot Riverains, went through a similar situation after he was allegedly called a racist slur by another player during a game in December 2022 against the Valleyfield Braves. He also had to hear the word again twice during the other player’s hearing, who was appealing the length of the suspension he had received as a consequence. The suspension was downgraded from eight to five games following the hearing.

Philipps added that as a mother, seeing her son going through that from the sidelines was “heartbreaking” and that she felt helpless in the moment.

“But then even afterwards, […] I’m entrusting that the league and the association that is responsible for these kids and these games is there to protect all of the kids, all of their rights to be there and to play, and to play in a safe environment both physically and emotionally, and that they will take care of this, and they’re not,” she explained.

However, it was how the situation was handled by Hockey Quebec that pushed Philipps to follow through with the complaint.

“It was just the response that we were getting,” she said. “They just kept reiterating the point to us that they don’t get it. They’re not getting it and it doesn’t seem like they want to.”

According to Philipps, Hockey Quebec thinks that “it happened, it’s done, get over it, move on,” which doesn’t send the proper message and also doesn’t help anyone feel like the same issue won’t happen again.

In the complaint, CRARR and Philipps brought forward systemic remedies that they hope Hockey Quebec will implement. They include mandatory training for Hockey Quebec directors on racism and human rights, as well as having more diverse Discipline Committees.

“It’s about having a diverse panel who understands really what racism is and can acknowledge, not just these overt acts, but the little subtle things that happen and the microaggressions,” Philipps said. “And I’m speaking as a white person, we do not and we will never understand what those racist comments mean to somebody of colour.”

Racism can happen in many ways, and sometimes it can be less noticeable remarks, or microaggressions.

Jérémie Ndeffo, a hockey player who now attends the Ontario Hockey Academy in Cornwall, was a victim of daily racist microaggressions when he was in high school in Châteauguay.

“It was small things but very daily, affecting me,” Ndeffo said. “Every time I came into the locker room, there was going to be a remark. Or for example, we were doing a race and then I would lose, they would be like ‘why did you lose? You’re Black, you should run fast’ or some stuff like that.”

Something the 18-year-old would like to see is for more hockey organizations to raise awareness about racism, perhaps by holding conferences. An idea he suggested is having professional athletes who have experienced racism talk and share their stories with young hockey players.

Philipps had a similar point of view about how important raising awareness can be, in particular to teach people the meaning behind what they are saying if they don’t realize it.

“If they still choose to continue to use those words, then that goes to the next step: are we responding to that and are we giving out the punishments that are not only severe enough but impactful and in the right way to make the people understand that this is not accepted?” she added.

Aiden is still playing hockey and has no interest in stopping, but Philipps said that he did question if he wanted to continue after what happened in the hearing.

“But I think his drive, how much he loves the game, and I think all the support that he has from his teammates really helped to encourage him and kept him wanting to still play,” she said.

Philipps added that no one should have to lose out on the game because of other people’s ignorance and racism. But there are still many steps to take to eliminate racism from hockey.


University to contest accusations of social profiling

Commission des droits de la personne recommends damages to be paid to victim

In July 2013, Chantal Lapointe was making her way through the underground tunnel between Concordia’s EV building and the Webster Library. She had been doing paperwork in the library and was carrying multiple bags. As she was about to enter the building through the tunnel’s revolving doors, two university security guards asked Lapointe for ID. When she asked why they needed to identify her, the security guards told her they had the right to do so.

This identification request is one of many factors that were considered by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse in recommending that Concordia and the Montreal division of the Commissionaires—a security firm—pay Lapointe $33,000 in damages.

The Commission wrote that Lapointe’s race and social condition played a “decisive role” in the security guard’s decision to intercept her.

“The fact that she was perceived as a homeless person led her to be treated badly by security guards at Concordia,” said the executive director of the Centre of Research-Action for Race Relations (CRARR), Fo Niemi. Lapointe noted that nothing similar ever happened to her at the Université du Québec à Montréal while she was earning her bachelor’s degree.

The report further indicates that Lapointe was intercepted by Concordia security for no valid reason and that a security guard attempted to take a picture of her without her consent.

Lapointe said she tried to stop the security guard from photographing her by blocking their view with her hands. When another security guard intervened, the guard who took the picture told a colleague that Lapointe tried to slap him, according to the complaint filed a month after the incident.

The guards called police when Lapointe refused to leave. Police requested she provide identification, to which she obliged in order to avoid more trouble, she said.

In response to the accusations and the Commission’s reports, Concordia wrote in a statement that it “vehemently disagrees with the findings in [the] reports, which does not include all of the relevant facts.”

The university had until Oct. 27, 2017 to comply with the recommendations of the Commission—which doesn’t have the power to impose regulations—if it wanted to avoid going to trial for litigation.

Concordia failed to do so, writing to The Concordian on Oct. 24 that “it’s not appropriate for it to share those [relevant facts] at this time,” but that it “will be challenging the Human Rights Commission’s proposal, and the relevant facts will be brought forward through the judicial process.”

Commission legal counsel Buschra Jalabi—who prosecuted the case—declined to comment.

“We are the complainant, we have full legal status to be involved,” said Niemi in a press conference alongside Lapointe.

CRARR—where Lapointe has worked in the past—has offered legal support to the complainant.

In addition to paying the damages, the Commission also suggested the university give “anti-discrimination training” to its security guards and modify its institutional policies in order to “remove elements that target and stigmatize homeless people.”

Photo by Étienne Lajoie


Student to take alleged harasser to Human Rights Commission

CRARR and individual considering filing a civil rights complaint against Concordia

It’s Monday April 18, 2016. Concordia student Maria* checks her phone and sees a text message: “Hey Maria, my names [sic] Eric*, I saw you on [Plenty of Fish], how’s it going? (:”

She asks the man where he got her number. He answers with a screenshot of what Maria realizes is a fake account with her name on the dating app. “This is fake. Someone has been stealing my info,” she quickly replies.

A day earlier, according to documents obtained by The Concordian, a post appeared on the Concordia University subreddit—a forum dedicated to the university on Reddit—claiming Maria had been seen performing sexual acts in a university office.

Soon after the post was published, she was contacted by a student she had met a few months earlier. He informed her about the post and attempted to start a conversation. Maria told him she wasn’t interested in talking.

Less than 24 hours later, a second post was made on the Concordia University subreddit, describing Maria as a “whore.”

These interactions are included in a report written on April 22, 2016 by Concordia security investigator and preventionist Lyne Denis. The report documents weeks of alleged cyberbullying, online sexual harassment, intimidation and threats Maria faced from a fellow student.

The Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) offered Maria legal support following the recommendation of the Concordia Student Union Legal Information Clinic. On Sept. 2, the centre’s executive director, Fo Niemi, told The Concordian they would be filing a complaint against the alleged harasser to the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

In a press release sent out 19 days later, CRARR wrote that Maria was also “considering” filing a civil rights complaint against Concordia “for discrimination and failure to protect and support.”

Maria, a 21-year-old international student, first met her alleged harasser after posting a message on a Facebook page for new Concordia students. “I made a post [to introduce myself] trying to make friends in the group,” she said. She was 19 at the time. “We met up in person, and we became friends. We were on and off in that friendship.”

The harassment began when Maria ran for an elected position in a student association in 2016. A few months into her campaign, she said abrasive messages were being posted about her on Yik Yak, a now-defunct social media app that allowed users to anonymously post messages viewable by users within a certain radius, such as on or around campus.

Maria said she would receive messages from the alleged harasser shortly after the posts were made on Yik Yak. This behaviour became a recurring pattern.

“He messages me with, ‘Oh, look what’s being said about you.’ ‘Oh, I’m so sorry that this is happening to you,’” Maria said, referring to any time a message about her was posted on Yik Yak.

A Reddit account with her full name and the words “TheWhore” was also created around that same time. “He would always be the first one to message me with links to that,” Maria said. “It was posted five minutes ago, and he already knew. He already saw it, and he already had the time to text me about it.”

In April 2016, Maria said she confronted the student when another Reddit thread about her was created. “I know it’s you,” she recalled telling him. “Just stop. I’m going to go the police. If there’s a paper trail, I want it to lead to you.”

Maria explained that, “within five minutes of that conversation online, [the thread] was deleted.” During the same month, she allegedly got calls from men on several occasions because her Facebook pictures and phone number had been associated with fake online accounts under her name.

“I was walking to class, I would receive calls from strange men like, ‘Hey baby, I know you’re in the H building, just wait for me,” Maria explained. She said she also received rape threats “not from [the alleged harasser] but through the accounts he created,” yet she claimed little was done by the university to protect her.

A visit to Concordia’s security on April 22, 2016 was not the first step Maria took to address this ongoing issue. Two days prior, she went to the university’s Office of Rights and Responsibilities (ORR) to file a complaint for harassment, sexual harassment and threatening or violent conduct, according to CRARR’s Niemi.

The ORR’s annual reports indicate the office saw a steady increase in the number of reported infractions of the university’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities—which include cases and consultations handled by the office—between the 2012-13 and the 2015-16 academic years.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

In 2012-13, according to the office’s annual report, 59 harassment infractions and 16 sexual harassment infractions were reported to the office. Two years later, in 2014-15, 63 harassment infractions and 29 sexual harassment infractions were addressed by the ORR.

The academic year Maria filed her complaint with the ORR, 99 harassment infractions were reported, according to the annual report, as well as 33 sexual assault infractions.

Concordia’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities reads: “Formal complaints by students against other students shall be adjudicated by a hearing panel consisting only of students.” When a formal complaint is made, the secretary of the Hearing and Appeals Panel selects three graduate or undergraduate students from the Student Tribunal Pool, as well as one non-voting chair.

The Student Tribunal Pool is nominated by the Concordia Student Union (CSU) each year in June. A maximum of 15 undergraduate students are chosen by the student union, in addition to a maximum of 10 students selected by the Graduate Student Association (GSA), according to Concordia’s Policy on the Establishment of Tribunal Hearing Pools.

Every student hearing panel (SHP) also has a chair, whose role is “to preside over the proceedings, keep order and ensure fairness,” according to the Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

In November 2016, Niemi compiled an unofficial list of lawyers who have acted as student tribunal chairs, including Roanne C. Bratz, Emmanuelle Demers, Sandra Mastrogiuseppe and Angela Onesi. The Concordian confirmed the four to be acting chairs.

The chair for Maria’s case was Vincent Lesage, whose appointment had been proposed by the then-university counsel, Bram Freedman, in 2002.

“They tend to be from big law firms,” Niemi said. “And in dealing with sexual violence and harassment, we start to raise questions about whether these people are trained enough to deal with this issue.”

University spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr explained that tribunal chairs were chosen “due to relevant experience” and because they agree to chair the tribunals on a volunteer basis. “They are trained by our tribunal office on all our processes and policies,” she added.

Maria’s SHP did not take place until October 2016, four months after her visit to the ORR. In April, the same month she visited the ORR and Concordia Security, Maria filed a report with the Montreal police’s 20th precinct, near Concordia’s downtown campus.

An employee from Concordia Security accompanied her to the precinct on April 25 at 10:30 a.m., according to the incident report filed by Concordia Security’s Denis’s incident report.

When asked if Concordia had a copy of that report, Barr said the university would “not comment on a specific case.” “We can confirm that when a student brings to our attention a concern for their safety, with or without a police report, we look carefully at how we can support that student,” Barr explained.

According to Maria, the university offered her very little support.

“Pending the trial, at the beginning of April last year, [Concordia Security] offered to walk me to the metro [at] night, but that was it,” Maria said, adding that her alleged harasser could still approach her on campus.

Maria said she also received no follow-ups from the police regarding her report. “The Sexual Assault Resource Centre [SARC] offered to get me support, offered to be there for me, offered to email my professors asking for extensions, but that’s it. There were no continuous follow-ups.”

On April 20, Maria’s alleged harasser received an email from the ORR informing him that the office wanted to schedule a meeting with him and Concordia Security “to discuss […] concerns regarding his alleged behaviour involving another member of the university.”

A meeting was set up between the alleged harasser, ORR and Concordia Security on May 5, 2016. In her report, Denis wrote that the individual said “he would be available at any time after his last final.”

“The university accommodates him and his final schedule, but no accommodation was given to me,” Maria said.

On Oct. 25, 2016 at 1 p.m., Maria entered a room in Concordia’s GM building for the hearing.

Niemi and Maria later criticized the trial’s procedure. Maria told The Concordian there was a power imbalance. “I was represented by two CSU student advocates. He was represented by two university advocates paid by the university,” she said.

In addition, Maria had to sit at the same table as her alleged harasser. “If I wanted to go to the restroom, I would have to almost touch him because the room was very narrow, [and] he had his friends sitting outside, his witnesses, laughing. I could hear myself being called a whore,” she recalled.

According to Barr, “any party or person who feels uncomfortable in the physical setting can bring this up and solutions can be sought.” She added that survivors can be provided with information and support from the SARC coordinator throughout the process. According to the SHP decision, Maria’s advocate said SARC coordinator Jennifer Drummond would act as a witness. However, Drummond did not testify at the trial because “she had a prior commitment,” the SHP decision reads.

CRARR executive director Fo Niemi is offering legal support to a Concordia student taking. Photo by Kirubel Mehari

During the hearing, the respondent claimed he gave Maria’s phone number—which eventually ended up on fake online accounts—to an individual who used the alias William.

The respondent said he met the individual through the online gaming platform Steam but had never met him in person throughout their five years of acquaintance.

Maria’s advocates asked the SHP to expel the respondent, arguing that “if the respondent is not adequately sanctioned, the complainant will not be able to continue her studies at the university.”

In response, the respondent’s advocates argued that “the complainant’s advocates failed to establish a direct link between the respondent and the charges contained herein.” For that reason, they added, a sanction of expulsion “would be very severe.”

After a deliberation, the SHP unanimously upheld charges of harassment and sexual harassment, and a majority of the panel upheld the “threatening or violent conduct charge.”

In light of the decision, the SHP imposed a written reprimand and compensation for the cost associated with Maria’s need to change her cellphone. However, Maria said this was not an issue, since phone companies have policies to replace phones for free in cases of harassment.

Maria said it was very stressful for her to inform her family about the harassment. “I come from a very conservative family [and] the culture is not very feminist,” she explained. “Just the fact that I had to call my dad [and] having to explain to him, ‘I’m being called a whore. I can’t walk to campus without someone wanting to rape me.’” According to Niemi, Maria’s alleged harasser has also threatened to sue her.

In its Sept. 21 press release, CRARR wrote that “common patterns of the university’s failure to protect and support [students include] being kept in the dark about the aftermath once a decision is rendered, especially where personal safety is concerned.”

In its conclusion, the tribunal decision read that the “majority of the SHP recommended that the present file be forwarded to the appropriate department(s) for its assessment and management.”

Niemi said he doesn’t know where the file was forwarded. In an email, Barr wrote that the file “could be forwarded to Security, the Office of Rights and Responsibility and/or the Dean of Students—all depending on the circumstances.”

According to Niemi, Maria has been suspended from her program. Maria said she is not attending classes at the moment because her grades suffered too much throughout the ordeal. “In the middle of my finals, I was walking with security to the police department, spending five hours with them to write reports. How was I expected to do anything? Concordia was aware because I was going with [them] to do all these procedures,” Maria said, adding that the university did not unenroll her from the classes she expected to be excused from. “Classes that were supposed to be dropped were not dropped,” Maria said, and her GPA suffered as a result.

According to Maria, she only knew about the support available to her on campus because she was involved in student politics. “Had I just come to my class and then went home, I would not have even been aware of these bodies, and would have had effectively no support,” she said.

Niemi said the Quebec Human Rights Commission “will investigate the harasser [and] gather all the evidence to eventually rule whether she has been a victim of harassment and discrimination.” Despite the SHP’s decision to uphold the charges of harassment and sexual harassment, Niemi said he and Maria are not satisfied. As the SHP decision acknowledges, the tribunal “does not have the authority to impose conditions restricting the respondent’s movements on campus.”

If the Human Rights Commission recommends damages, Niemi said CRARR “is looking at five figures.”

Maria said she “wanted to make sure [her] experience had some good come out of it.”

“I want to make sure that this person will not go out in the world and perpetuate those same actions to someone else.”

*Names have been changed to ensure the individuals’ privacy and protection.

Feature image by Alex Hutchins.


Ex-CJLO employee files labour complaint

Former employee claims CJLO as a sexist work environment

A former employee of CJLO, Concordia University’s campus radio station, recently filed a labour complaint under the Canadian Labour Code, claiming the station’s executive team created a hostile work environment for women. The former employee also claims she was fired without just cause.

Ellen Smallwood, who served as the station’s director of promotions, fundraising and sponsorship from January 2015 to November 2016, filed the complaint on Tuesday, March 28. Smallwood will be represented by the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), a Montreal-based civil rights organization.

Smallwood claims tensions began between her and the station’s executive board and management team in June 2016. At the time, a group of employees, including Smallwood, suggested putting up posters around the radio station’s office to promote it as a safe space. The posters would have condemned sexism, racism, transphobia and other forms of bigotry. According to Smallwood, certain employees opposed the poster because they felt it interfered with their freedom of speech, as well as freedom of the press. She claims this was an indirect form of oppression against minorities.

According to Smallwood, in the weeks that followed, the pro-poster employees created multiple designs for the poster with various anti-oppression messages, but all of them were taken down or opposed. She said the station manager, Michal Langiewicz, eventually decided to hold an online vote for the station’s volunteers and staff on whether they approved of the poster. While Smallwood claims the staff overwhelmingly voted in favour of displaying the poster, she claims Langiewicz still refused to put it up.

Also speaking out is another female former employee, who wished to remain anonymous. The anonymous employee corroborated some of Smallwood’s claims regarding the work environment and tension created following the safe space poster debate.

“The problem is not only that the safe space poster has not been put up,” the anonymous employee said. “Proudly stating that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and, in general, any abusive language or actions will not be tolerated at the station should never even have been up for debate.”

Smallwood claims, after the poster debate, tensions grew and the workplace environment became increasingly hostile towards female employees.

Smallwood did not name any particular board executive when outlining her complaint, although she did describe Langiewicz’s leadership as being “paternalistic and sexist.”

Smallwood said the official reason she was let go was because the executive board believed a non-student would be able to commit more hours to the station. Smallwood added she was not informed in-person, and she received no advanced notice or warnings regarding her performance or behaviour.

“I was told I didn’t have to go back to the station after that,” Smallwood said. “I was told that they had everything taken care of, and I was never able to go back after that.”

Smallwood also claims an employee told her she was not fired in-person or given advanced notice because she would have “cried like a baby.” It is a statement Smallwood said she feels exemplifies the sexism she faced in her position. She did not disclose the name of the person who made this comment.

In addition, Smallwood was allegedly presented with a written document by Langiewicz full of “legal jargon” that offered her minimal compensation if she agreed not to discuss being fired.

“This is the first labour complaint in 17 years we are dealing with,” Langiewicz said. “We cannot comment on any details at this point for reasons of confidentiality, except to say that we are seriously disputing the allegations.”

Fo Niemi, the executive director and civil rights defender representing Smallwood said that the purpose of the complaint was not only to correct past actions, but to protect future employees from the same conditions Smallwood faced.

“[CJLO] treated an adult woman like a young, fragile girl, and created a toxic environment for women… this is not only corrective, this is preventative. It’s making sure these things won’t happen to other workers,” Niemi said.

Despite the complaint, Smallwood spoke positively about the majority of the station’s staff, and specified that she is speaking out not to attack the radio station as a whole, but to protect its current and future employees from facing similar circumstances.

“The volunteer community at CJLO is diverse, talented and does amazing work—they deserve better than the board’s toxic and dehumanizing processes, negligence and groupthink … They deserve to know the truth of why certain employees are no longer there,” Smallwood said.


CRARR calls for review of harassment policy

The civil rights organization is advising students to suspend ongoing internal complaints

A non-profit civil rights organization is urging Concordia University to fix what it considers to be inconsistent sexual harassment policies.

In a written statement issued on Friday, the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) also advised students currently filing a complaint internally at Concordia to immediately suspend their complaint.

Citing its work on multiple cases of discrimination against the university to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission—including
Mei Ling’s case in 2015 and Felicia’s case this year—CRARR said Concordia needs to improve the consistency of sexual harassment policies across the university to better protect victims of gender-based discrimination and other forms of harassment.

“We strongly encourage the university to immediately work with different stakeholders to harmonize these different policies and ensure that a single definition of sexual harassment that corresponds to the standard of the law is available to students and staff in Concordia’s complaints process,” said CRARR executive director Fo Niemi, in a written statement.

CRARR said the university’s Sexual Assault Working Group (SAWG) did not address what they consider inconsistencies with several definitions of sexual harassment in different policies.

“The fact that there are different definitions at Concordia, all of which can be deemed to fall below established legal standards of sexual harassment, may give rise to the possibility that victims of sexual harassment have been inadequately treated in all human resource practices and student support services at Concordia,” said Katrina Sole-Kähler, a member of the CRARR Working Group reviewing Concordia’s harassment policies.

Specifically, CRARR is criticizing differences in Concordia’s 2016 policy regarding sexual violence—which covers all members of the Concordia community—and three other policy agreements: the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association collective agreement which covers all part time faculty; the university’s policy on harassment as outlined in 2011, which covers all staff, faculty members and university administration; and the 2010 update of the Code of Rights and Responsibilities which encompasses all members of the university.

However, Concordia senior advisor of external communications, Cléa Desjardins, said all of the university’s collective agreements are meant to be read together with all the university policies.

“The definition of sexual harassment in CUPFA collective agreement is not intended to limit the scope of what constitutes sexual harassment,” she added.

Desjardins also said that the recommendations from the university’s SAWG, which was established in 2015, included making a standalone policy on sexual violence update and “harmonize” the Code of Rights and Responsibilities with the new sexual violence policy.

“Currently, a revision of the Code of Rights is underway and any appropriate modifications of the Code will be made during this process,” she said.

In response to CRARR’s call for students to suspend ongoing internal complaints at Concordia, Desjardins said the university still encourages any member of the community who feels that they have been the victim of violence or harassment to seek support either with Sexual Assault Resource Centre, the Office of Rights and Responsibilities or the Campus Wellness and Support Services.


Task force mandate on the horizon

Agreement and collaboration ensues after CRARR’s mention of lawsuit to ASFA

The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) issued a press release on Oct. 3 asking the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) to revise their current mandate for a student-led task force. If ASFA fails to accommodate the conditions of the settlement, CRARR is permitted to seek legal action from the provincial Superior Court.

The task force is a settlement requirement of the Mei Ling case—in which allegations of sexual and racial discrimination by the former ASFA president and an ASFA executive were made by Mei Ling, a pseudonym for a former Concordia University student and ASFA executive. She filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission against ASFA under the pretences of discrimination and harassment in February 2015, with CRARR as her representative.

As the Nov. 19 anniversary of Mei Ling’s settlement approaches, CRARR wants to ensure that ASFA has not forgotten about  the mandate or the need to assemble the task force, said CRARR executive director, Fo Niemi. He said the purpose of the press release is not to threaten ASFA. “We’re right now in October, and if things aren’t done by November, people are starting to then gear up for exams and likely people will wait for January,” said Niemi, adding that the winter semester can go by very fast.

He said CRARR is seeking to have a mechanism in place to ensure no problem is ignored and no one is left behind in cases of discrimination, racism, sexual assault and harassment. “My main concern is the way the task force was set up in May,” said Niemi. “It focused more on … sexual assault. You didn’t see racism as a stand alone issue.”

CRARR’s ultimatum was meant to motivate ASFA to make the necessary adjustments to the original task force mandate. Niemi said the focus of their current mandate focuses mainly on sexual assault, when the agreement talks about racism, sexism, discrimination and sexual violence.

Niemi said on August 30 he met with ASFA’s lawyer Michael Simkin, ASFA general coordinator, Andrea Krasznai, Sarah Oleil, councillor and social events coordinator for the Women’s Studies Student Association and another ASFA executive in the ASFA office and they were very receptive of CRARR’s demands.

However, Niemi referenced an article in The Concordian written on the last task force meeting. He said the meeting covered in the September 2016 article gives the impression that people are not set on or have understood that addressing racism must be part of the task force mandate. Niemi said since May, CRARR has been concerned with the fact that ASFA has not yet altered the mandate to comply with the spirit of the settlement.

Just hours after the Oct. 3 press release was published, Krasznai and Agunik Mamikonyan, community outreach and sustainability coordinator began working on an updated mandate to meet CRARR’s request. On Oct. 7, the revised mandate was sent by ASFA’s lawyer to CRARR for revision.

Mamikonyan said the mandate was re-written to not only provide solid steps on how they would take action, but they included the aspect of general discrimination.

Krasznai said once both the lawyer and the ASFA council approve this new mandate, the implementation process will begin. This includes an assessment of services to be provided for the task force, how ASFA decides who will be involved in the task force.

“Most likely I would assume that council will be more or less okay with the [mandate] because it’s things that were already in progress,” Mamikonyan said.

Niemi said CRARR is using a one-year mark to assess whether progress has been made and whether legal action needs to be taken.

“I don’t think that we will get to the point where they will have to sue us to a higher level or anything, because we’re really trying,” said Mamikonyan. “We think we can find a mutually agreeable solution.”

Approval of the revised mandate will be decided by ASFA council on Wednesday Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in room H-767 of the Hall building on Concordia’s S.G.W. campus.

Graphic by Florence Yee

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