Concordia student takes the stand in front of the Police Ethics Committee

Anastasia Boldireff filed a complaint in 2020 against the two officers who helped her file a report after she was stalked.

A legal-size clipboard, a pen and a rickety chair next to the door. That is all Anastasia Boldireff said she was given to write her report at Montreal police station 20 in 2019 after being stalked. For almost two hours, she wrote her report, trying hard to recall the events, balancing her clipboard on her lap.

Last week, Boldireff stood in front of the Police Ethics Committee and testified against the police officer who took her report, Officer Kevin Jacob, and his supervisor, Sergeant Martin Bouchard. 

Adamo Bono first approached Boldireff on St-Catherine St., as she was heading to school—Boldireff is a PhD candidate at Concordia University. He started following her and asking her out, even after she repeatedly told him she was not interested. This was on Oct. 25, 2019.

On Nov. 5, 2019, she saw him outside a coffee shop where she was meeting a friend, he followed her, and he refused to leave until she gave him her number. Bono knew her name and personal details about her life. Boldireff saw Bono again, standing in the EV building on Nov. 11, 2019, as she was headed to an evening class.

On Nov. 7, 2019, two days after the coffee shop interaction, Boldireff decided to go to the police. She went to Police Station 20, where, according to her, the officer told her he was busy and that she could come back later. 

Boldireff decided to turn to Concordia security. She filed a report with a security agent, who then offered to return to the police station together and give an officer the report.

The same officer Boldireff had spoken to previously, Officer Kevin Jacob, was still there. Jacob asked the security agent to leave and told Boldireff that she would have to file another report. 

Boldireff spent two hours filing this second report. She gave Jacob her stalker’s phone number, and Jacob looked it up. “The entire expression on his face changed,” Boldireff said. “And I said: ‘He’s in the system, isn’t he?’” 

Jacob confirmed that he was, but did not give her any more information.

Bono had sexually assaulted two victims in 2016 and 2017. Boldireff would not learn that information, nor her stalker’s full name, until days later, when another officer accidentally handed her a laptop on which Bono’s file was open.

At this point, according to Boldireff, Jacob left to get his supervisor, Sergeant Martin Bouchard. Bouchard asked Boldireff to describe her stalker. Boldireff remembers describing him as around six feet tall, Middle Eastern but pale, lanky, built like a soccer player. 

“He [Bouchard] says: ‘Oh, sounds like a good looking man. A soccer player, you say? Why don’t you go on a date with him?’  He had his arms crossed, he was leaning back, and he laughed,” Boldireff recalled. 

“I remember just being shocked,” said Boldireff. Later, she asked for a ride home, as she felt unsafe walking alone. The officers told her they could not provide one. When she asked about the next steps, she said the officers advised her to watch what she was wearing. 

As she left the station, she said Jacob told her: “I’m sure being an attractive woman like you gets you into trouble.”

The two officers have denied making these comments.

After these incidents, Boldireff did not feel safe in the city. She left the province and, eventually, the country. In April 2022, Bono pled guilty to harassment and was sentenced to two years of treatment in a mental health facility. 

In March 2020, Boldireff filed a complaint against Jacob and Bouchard. She said they were “dismissive, condescending, and inappropriate,” and she suffered from systemic sexism, according to a later complaint to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

Last Wednesday, Boldireff recounted her story in a hearing in front of the Police Ethics Committee. She then answered the defense attorney’s cross-examination as even the smallest inaccuracy in her story was brought forward and criticized.

Boldireff denounced the fact that she had to stay standing for her whole testimony, which took the better part of the day. The way the room was set up meant her family, who attended the hearing to support her, was outside her field of vision.

On Thursday and Friday, Boldireff sat in the audience as the testimonies continued. Most of the legal proceedings were in French, a language Boldireff is not completely fluent in. “It felt like the worst language exam,” she said, adding that it made her feel confused and frustrated. 

“It makes all the sense in the world to me, given my experience in the last three days, of first having felt like it was a psychological stoning and it ending with me listening in silence, unable to contribute… It makes sense to me why so few women, so few victims of sexual violence, would come forward with complaints,” she said. 

She highlighted how grateful she is to the Police Ethics Commissioner for helping and believing in her, and to the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) for helping her throughout the process.

Boldireff had some words of advice for other people who might experience what she went through. According to her, having a strong support network is vital, including seeking help from organizations who know the bureaucracy of filing reports and complaints. During the hearing, Boldireff was accompanied by family members as well as a massage therapist, who helped her relax during the breaks in her testimony. 

She also advised victims not to post on social media and to be careful with the messages they send, as posts and messages can be used as proof in an eventual legal case. 

Boldireff carries around a notebook, which she uses to remember everything that has happened to her in relation to her case for the past four years. On one side, she writes the facts. On the other, she writes her thoughts and feelings. She advised other victims to do the same. 

“A lot of the time, […] when you’re victimized, you feel like it’s in your head. Or you feel like it’s not happening to you. You know, ‘Just walk it off’ kind of thing. Like, ‘Oh, that was just a bad day, a bad moment,’” said Boldireff. “I would say that you’re not alone, and reach out to the services that are there to support you, and to your friends and family.”

The decision of the hearing has not yet been announced. 


Concordia student files two ethics complaints against five SPVM officers

Student said she felt dismissed and minimized when reporting her harasser to the Montreal police


A Concordia University student has filed two ethics complaints against five Montreal police officers over the dismissive treatment she endured while reporting a harassment complaint.

The 30-year-old PhD student Anna* told The Concordian she felt continuously dismissed and disparaged by the SPVM officers.

Over the course of a month, Anna said she made several attempts to report a man who had been stalking and harassing her on the downtown campus.

The Center for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR) will be assisting Anna with the two complaints filed with the Quebec Police Ethics Commission. According to a statement on the issue released by CRARR, Anna was harassed in October and November of 2019.

“He followed me to coffee shops, and my workplace at Concordia, and would seemingly know my schedule,” said Anna.

She decided to file a formal criminal complaint to police at Station 20 near the downtown campus after the two months of harassment escalated to a physical altercation with the man.

She explained her situation at the station but was told that the officer who would listen to her complaint was busy with an Amazon package theft, and that she had to come back later.

“I had a feeling that there was no sense of triage, there was no sense of the gravity of my situation being taken seriously,” said Anna.

After she returned to the station, this time escorted by a Concordia security guard later that evening, Anna said she had to fill out a document about her complaint behind a glass window sitting in a waiting room chair.

She said this process took hours of back and forth with the officers, who asked her to describe details such as what her harasser was wearing, what time of day the incidents occurred, and what was said.

When she described to the supervising officer what the man looked like, Anna said the officer responded, “Sounds like a good looking man, why don’t you go on a date with him?”

“I was really shocked at this callous and offensive conduct,” said Anna.

After filing her complaint, she told an officer that she was scared, and asked to be escorted home. The officer dismissed Anna’s request, asking her if the attacker was at her home “right now,” and if she had any friends or family that could help her instead.

“Instead of supporting vulnerable women, who already self-identify as ‘I’m in trouble, I’m vulnerable’ there’s a sense of ‘we can’t help you, go find some friends, why don’t you call your family.’”

Anna is not originally from Montreal, and said she didn’t have a support system she could rely on at the time.

A few days later, Anna said she was terrified to be walking home from class at night, only to find the door to her apartment already open. She called 911, but the police officers took over an hour to arrive. The officers then gave Anna a document for her to fill out her complaint report, again.

The officers told Anna she would have to follow up with her complaint at the police station near the downtown campus, where it was initially filed.

After they left, Anna said she felt she needed to know more about her harasser. She decided to research about him online after obtaining information on her harasser from a police document. That’s when Anna found out he had a history of sexual assault.

“It hit me at that moment, that the police had a record of him and yet still did nothing to protect me, or even inform me of his record.”

Afraid for her safety, Anna went to the police station and waited for hours at the detention centre for a detective to look at her case.

“I was too afraid to go home,” she said.

On several occasions, Anna said when she tried to communicate in English about her case with the SPVM, officers were reluctant or outright dismissive of her case.

Anna described trying to follow up on nine separate occasions, and officers would hang up on her, or walk away from her at the station. On one occasion, she said she called and spoke to a supervising officer about her case only to have him say “tabarnak” and hang up on her.

“Being minimized, being laughed at, and not being taken seriously, and to have to chase the police down for my own safety, all of these are barriers to access to justice for women like me.”

Executive Director of the CRARR Fo Niemi, who is assisting Anna with her case, says this is the first time he has seen a case like this.

“We haven’t seen something so blatantly egregious like this, especially in terms of the very offensive comments that she got at the police station, and the fact that she had to run after police officers and the police department and after [reaching out] several times in order to get at least somebody to call back,” said Niemi.

According to Niemi, Anna’s two police ethics complaints involve incidents which occurred at the SPVM police station, and the incident in which the officers came to her apartment after it was broken into.

What concerns Niemi is not only the treatment Anna endured, but whether this is a systemic issue.

“If accessing a police department or police services involves this kind of reaction and conduct, you can imagine how many women may not even go to the police for fear of not being taken seriously and not being believed.”

SPVM spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant says the SPVM could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

*to protect the subject’s identity, we are using a pseudonym.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab



GSA members not surveyed about harassment, discrimination

Dean of graduate studies says university receives few complaints from graduate students

After finding that many of the consultations and complaints filed with Laval University’s student help centre, the university’s centre for the prevention and intervention of harassment, as well as the university ombudsman came from graduate students, the school’s graduate student association (AELIES) surveyed its members and released its findings in November 2017.

The results: 58 per cent of the graduate students surveyed said they had uncomfortable interactions with their master’s or doctorate supervisor “on a few occasions,” and 16 per cent of students surveyed said those situations happened “regularly.” In November, AELIES president Pierre Parent Sirois told Le Devoir he found the statistics “worrying.”

Concordia undergraduate students were recently asked questions regarding on-campus harassment and discrimination as part of the 2017 Concordia Student Union General Undergraduate Student Survey, which was presented to the CSU council on Oct. 11. However, a similar survey of its members has not been conducted by the Graduate Student Association, according to the association’s president, Srinivas Bathini. The GSA’s vice-president of academic and advocacy, Thufile Ariful Mohamed Sirajudeen, said the association would consider surveying its members.

According to the Le Devoir article, students and their supervisors at Laval University sign mentoring agreements (“ententes d’encadrement”) to prevent conflict or discomfort. AELIES’s survey revealed that, in 70 per cent of cases, the agreements had a positive impact on the relationship between the student and the supervisor, and on the progress of the work.
In an email to The Concordian, Paula Wood-Adams, Concordia’s dean of graduate studies, wrote that the university does not have the same type of contract, “as is the case with a good number of universities.” She added that Concordia has “clear guidelines explaining the responsibilities of the students, supervisors and their respective programs.” The guidelines, she said, were revised last year and are “clearly posted” on the university website.

The master’s and PhD supervision guidelines each state that, “while it is important to acknowledge that students are partners in the university enterprise, it is equally important to recognize their differential power status, especially as it relates to their supervisors.”

According to Wood-Adams, the School of Graduate Studies communicates the guidelines to new graduate students twice a year, in January and September.

The guidelines indicate that, if an issue arises between a student and supervisor and an informal resolution is “unsuccessful or inappropriate,” and the graduate program director determines that the student-supervisor relationship is “beyond repair,” the director “must make a recommendation to the dean of graduate studies to terminate the relationship.”

Wood-Adams added that the School of Graduate Studies only receives a few complaints every year through the office of the ombudsman or the School of Graduate Studies itself—two avenues students can use to come forward.

“Most issues are resolved following a meeting with the student where we provide advice on how they might clarify or resolve the situation,” Wood-Adams said. Students can also bring along an advocate from the GSA or student advocacy office, she explained.

Wood-Adams said consultations with the School of Graduate Studies remain confidential, “except in cases where they are alleging conduct that might be illegal.” The final option available to both students and supervisors is to terminate the supervision.

“I should emphasize these are very rare situations,” Wood-Adams wrote.

Photo by Alex Hutchins


The line between incautious confidence and paranoia

One student’s experience with harassment, and the steps she takes to stay safe

I enter the metro car to find it practically deserted. Despite the empty seats, I decide to stand. I look around, but there isn’t much to see. A woman staring pensively out the window, a young guy shouldering the burden of a school bag and a man sitting with his legs spread apart. He is sitting behind me, so I’m able to observe his behaviour in the reflection of the glass. That familiar, feminine voice announces the name of the next metro station, and I notice the man shift in his seat.

Suddenly, I can feel his gaze on my back. I take a step towards the door, pretending that I’m getting off at the next station. The man jolts up out of his seat, like this has suddenly become his stop too. Of course, when the doors open and I do not exit the train, neither does he. Instead, he drops right back into his seat and waits.

A minute passes before we arrive at the next stop. Now, it really is my turn to get off. I squeeze through a sea of faces on the platform and join the others waiting for the green line. And I wonder about the whereabouts of the peculiar man from the metro car.

That’s when I spot him just a few feet away from me. I notice details about him: his long, grey coat, his sunglasses, his ghostly skin with red patches. I start to worry the man is following me, so I decide to walk away from the platform. He follows me. My instincts propel my feet into action. I dart to the orange line with steps as fast as my racing thoughts—what are my options, where is the exit, who can I call, am I exaggerating, what is he planning to do, what was he wearing?

That’s when I spot the man, stomping furiously back in the direction of the green line.

In a recent report, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) received a rating of A+++, earning the title of best transit system among major Canadian regions, according to CBC News. Factors considered in the grading included the number of passenger trips per service hour, passenger trip intensity and operating cost. Unfortunately, safety was not taken into consideration. Perhaps all the flashing lights, slick screens and sophisticated sounds of the new Azur metro cars distracted these examiners from spotting the new danger of one endless train—potential predators are no longer cars away. They’re steps away, always.

At least the old, separate metro cars inherently minimized your chances of encountering a predator, or at least gave you the possibility of switching cars if you were uncomfortable. I admit the old cars need upgrading. And while improvements are being made, there are still too many issues to warrant top marks.

The Montreal transit system doesn’t need praise. It needs police. In fact, a more effective police presence is the only advantage I see to having one long car. Now, a single officer can monitor the safety of a whole train, rather than just one section. But until I actually see police roaming the new trains with vigor, I won’t feel any safer taking the metro.

When I finally got to class that day, after I was followed in the metro, I was so relieved I could have burst into tears. However, the city’s streets haven’t always been a sanctuary of safety for me either. After some window shopping between classes, I walked into the EV building to sit down and eat my lunch. My appetite was quickly spoiled, however, when a man plopped himself beside me and said he’d spotted me out on the street. “I followed you in here so that I could say hello,” he explained, waving his hand in the air innocently, as if that would shed years off his wrinkly face.

Recently, the Crime Scene Index evaluated the level of safety in 15 Canadian cities. Being followed in broad daylight is just one of many reasons why I’m not surprised Montreal came in 13th in that ranking. All too often, women disregard experiences like these as mere instances of discomfort. They console themselves with the fact that he walked away, or that nothing really “bad” happened. They convince themselves that they’re making it into something that it’s not, or that they’re just being dramatic.

They see men gallivanting through the streets alone at midnight, jamming with headphones on in the metro, wearing whatever clothes they please, and many women think they too can live with these same freedoms, without worry. I used to think that way too, until I realized this was an arrogant approach to take toward my own safety.

Women cannot live in constant paranoia because that is self-destructive and unhealthy. Yet, they cannot live with their head in the clouds either. Paranoia and incautious confidence are two extremes, and our solution is found in between. Do not become shy and reserved in an effort to avoid low-lifes and losers, but don’t live in denial that there are creepers lurking.

For me, being less arrogant about safety has prompted me to make very specific changes. I look up from my phone every once in awhile to observe those around me. I keep my music at a slightly lower volume than before, so that I’m more aware of my surroundings. I tie a sweater around my waist when I’m riding the metro in an effort to thwart at least a few strangers from unnecessarily lusting over my body. I carry a rape whistle.

Some of these tips might make sense to you, while others might not appeal to you in the slightest. The good news is that these are just a few amongst a plethora of options women have when it comes to taking a more proactive approach to their safety. At the end of the day, only you will know what works for you—what changes or sacrifices you are willing to make in the name of safety.

But options aside, I do urge you to choose proactivity over arrogance, because half the victory lies in acknowledging there is a battle to fight in the first place.

Graphics by Zeze Le Lin


Catcalls can’t continue: stop street harassment

Recent events highlight the need for allies against sexual comments

Ever since the video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” by the Hollaback! collective gained notoriety, catcalling and street harassment seem to be all over everybody’s newsfeeds. In Montreal, some people took the matter into their own hands. About two weeks ago, the city was wallpapered with anti-catcalling posters, an initiative taken by collaborators of a blog called OntWatch on WordPress. The writers invite people to take back our public spaces and to “reiterate that it’s not our responsibility to alter the way we dress, where we walk, (and) at what time.”

But what’s the big deal about street harassment? A quick Google definition search will tell us that a catcall is a loud noise or comment of a sexual nature and that it is a form of sexual harassment. If you are a woman, this probably rings a bell. In fact, 65 per cent of women in the USA report being victims of some form of street harassment (compared to 25 per cent of men, with LGBT-identified men reporting more street harassment than heterosexual men) according to In Canada, the number reported of female victims escalates to 80 per cent, according to a study by Macmillan and colleagues in 2000.

The problem with catcalling is not necessarily the intention of the catcaller or the actual words that are used; it is the underlying assumptions behind it. What are just harmless comments for some, for me and for many women is a really unpleasant experience. Catcalling perpetuates and promotes the idea that women’s bodies exist mainly for the purpose of pleasing men, that we owe them something for giving us what they might consider a compliment; that being men somehow grants them the power to scrutinize or even have a say over our bodies. The bottom line is that this practice, which tends to be the precursor of more severe forms of street harassment, is not justified by a woman’s outfit, her physical appearance or the time and place she happens to be out and about.

Although these posters around the city may come across as aggressive or even radical—and are probably not the best way to address this issue—they are a reflection of the frustration and feelings of powerlessness that many women experience daily as victims of street harassment.

Like many, I wonder if there is a solution to this problem. I think that the best way to fight street harassment is to raise awareness, to speak up, to let others know how catcalling makes women feel, and to expose both men and women to testimonies of sexism and street harassment; such as those on the site Everyday Sexism.

It is important to keep in mind that in the fight against street harassment, and other gender inequality issues, men are our indispensable allies: only by understanding, educating and supporting each other will we get rid of this increasingly troubling practice.

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