Anastasia Boldireff’s case goes to the Human Rights Tribunal

The Concordia PhD student finally receives justice on gender discrimination complaint filed against the two officers in her case.

Since 2019, Concordia PhD student Anastasia Boldireff has been demanding justice for the discrimination she had suffered at the hands of two police officers who discriminated her during her criminal harassment case. Now, she’s finally receiving it.

On March 1 of this year, Boldireff’s complaint against the two officers was upheld by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission and taken to the Human Rights Tribunal. 

In October 2019, Boldireff was stalked by a non-Concordia student. Her stalker followed her on Concordia campus and eventually assaulted her in broad daylight. 

She went to the police station where she was told to come back later. Boldireff returned with a Concordia security guard after she had made a statement with Concordia security. The Concordia security guard was asked to leave. The officer asked her to answer questions that he wrote on a clipboard and slid to her underneath the plexiglass. 

Upon answering each question, she returned the clipboard, and the officer wrote down another question. Each time she tried to talk with the officer and explain that she was scared, the officer asked her to write it down. It was only when she told the officer “Don’t you want his phone number?” that the officer wrote down a question requesting the phone number of the accused. Boldireff asked “Is he in the system?” and she said that the officer nodded and looked surprised and left.  

The officer returned with his supervisor. The officer’s supervisor then entered the room and asked Boldireff more questions about the accused. 

“I had just written it down, but I was asked to repeat myself. I described [the stalker] to the best of my ability, and the officer had his arms crossed. He was leaning back and he said, ‘Well, he sounds like a good-looking man, a soccer player. Why don’t you go on a date with him?’ and then he laughed,” Boldireff said.

She asked for an escort home since she didn’t feel safe, to which one of the officers asked: ‘Well, is he [the stalker] there now?” She told him that she was scared for her life and he rejected her access to a safe ride home. Realizing the officers wouldn’t provide the support she needed, Boldireff asked if there was any other advice they could give her before leaving. Boldireff said that the supervisor said, ‘you should consider what you’re wearing’. 

“It was a terrible interaction and things escalated from there [with the suspect] and I wasn’t provided the immediate support or sense of dignity,” she said. 

After that interaction, Boldireff filed a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner. It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that she got in touch with the Concordia Student Union Legal Information Clinic (LIC). They immediately put her in touch with the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) to receive the help she desperately needed. CRARR filed a complaint on her behalf against the two officers for gender discrimination, stating that they were “violating her right to equality, dignity, and security of the person,” as was detailed in the press release. 

“I don’t think there’s any excuse for a police officer to not treat a victim of crime, of any crime, without the basic need for dignity,” Boldireff said.

Now, the Human Rights Commission upheld her complaint against the two officers. In CRARR’s press release sent to The Concordian, the commission is asking for “$8,000 in moral damages from the City of Montreal and the two officers, and $2,500 in punitive damages from the two officers.”

The commission is also asking for training on the reality lived by people who file complaints for crimes involving sexual violence to be implemented for police officers. This is to ensure that there’s no gender-based stereotypes in the handling of these cases. 

After years of searching for help, Boldireff felt a sense of justice being served following this decision.

“It makes me feel supported. It makes me feel that if the Human Rights Commission is supporting this case, then fundamentally they’re supporting the belief that women should not experience [derogatory] gender-based comments at a police station,” Boldireff said. 

She’s continuing to advocate for safe spaces for victims who go to report their sexual violence cases, and for them to have guidance from social services such as CRARR.

She continues to voice how imperative it is that “victims should be believed when they’re coming forward, believed and supported, especially by the police who were meant to serve and protect [them],” Boldireff said.

As grateful as Boldireff is for the Human Rights Commission’s decision being in her favour, she is still waiting on the Administrative Police Ethics Tribunal’s decision from the hearings of her case last fall.


Malek Yalaoui: ASFA’s newest anti-oppressor educator

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) moves forward in educating and representing marginalized communities by providing a new anti-oppressor educator

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA), representing all Concordia undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science, recently hired Malek Yalaoui based on a recommendation by Nadia Chaney, another facilitator. Yalaoui is a Montreal-based writer, advocate, and public speaker who works to support marginalized communities at the university.

Yalaoui has previously worked at McGill for the Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) Office, supporting and advocating for racialized and ethnic students. She uses her work to highlight both her own voice and the voices of people of colour.

Additionally, she’s co-founder of SistersInMotion, an organization that welcomes BIPOC women and provides them with a platform to express themselves through art and other creative forms during annual shows.

“I was actually doing spoken word poetry,” Yalaoui said. “I went to a lot of poetry slams and competitions and I found the same thing there that exists, in every other sector of our society, which is, who was being lauded and lifted up and so often I felt like the voices of women of colour in particular weren’t getting the due that they deserved. And so I began this organization with a good friend of mine.”

Since leaving McGill in 2018, Yalaoui has been working as a facilitator for different small businesses and non-profit organizations working to help workplaces be more equitable.

Yalaoui said her work experience has helped her be more equipped for her current position in the ASFA as the new Care, Culture and Equity Commissioner (CCEC), through her previous work.

Part of her job is to ensure the implementation of ASFA’s policy on harassment, discrimination and violence, which was first adopted in 2018. This will require her to support and train the investigative committee, a group of AFSA councillors and members at large in charge of harassment complaints and other issues.

ASFA’s Mobilization Coordinator Payton-Rose Mitchell said prior to hiring Yalaoui, students used to report harassment complaints to the mobilization coordinator. Now, Yalaoui, “is the point of entry for students wishing to discuss their experiences of harassment, discrimination and violence within ASFA.” If an investigation is called, Yalaoui is responsible for participating in the role of a chair.

Her job also requires her to work with a task force of primarily students of colour, which would look at racialized sexual violence and discrimination. Mitchell said ASFA inaugurated the task force in compliance with a settlement agreement made between ASFA and two different  former executives who faced sexual violence and racism during their time on the executive team.

According to Mitchell, ASFA’s fee-levy raise in 2020 allowed the organization to begin to pay task force members $300 a month, “to share and discuss their experiences with of harassment and  Discrimination within the ASFA community, and make recomonations to the ASFA Council.” Prior to 2021, members of the task force participated on a volunteer basis.

“ASFA has recognized that a toxic culture of competition among past executives and a lack of institutional support has forced marginalized members out of the federation. The focus of the task force  is to shift ASFA’s culture by making informed changes to policy and procedure, as well as by building and delivering workshops on anti-oppression to ASFA and MA executives. This is also really cool because it’s an opportunity to provide paid work for BIPOC members to influence change within our student associations,” said Mitchell.

Yalaoui will also work with students who are well trained and equipped to work with the members of the faculty to offer anti-oppressive and anti-racism resources.

She has emphasized the importance of working to break down and understand microaggressions, implicit biases, and other racist patterns within the university. 

“We don’t want to look at these [student complaints] as an isolated incident. We want to understand the context in which they’re happening, and see what we can do to address that context,” said Yalaoui.

Moving forward, Yalaoui plans to examine policies and improve them. She believes in addressing barriers in systemic perspectives.

One example is the harassment policy. Where traditionally two people are involved, Yalaoui wishes to broaden this policy to consider everyone involved, including the bystanders.

“When [these incidents] happen, a whole community of people is actually getting involved,” she said.

Another plan which is currently being worked on, is to change the culture of harassment that can often be implicitly or explicitly prevalent among people.

Yalaoui hopes to see more training about harassment, especially regarding how to recognize it in the first place and ensure that such instances don’t happen again.

“The goal is not punishment. The goal is change.”


Photograph by Kaitlynn Rodney

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Justin Bieber – Justice

The Canadian pop icon’s latest is a solid outing held back by questionable decisions.

An album is only as good as the sum of its parts, and sometimes all it takes is one bad decision to derail an otherwise good project. Unfortunately, this is the case with Justin Bieber’s latest outing, Justice.

Justice is the Canadian artist’s sixth album and his second in a little over a year. While it is musically quite good, the album’s thematic framing is a massive misstep. The record presents itself to fit the theme of justice, yet Bieber never even mentions or sings about the concept.

This is a jarring decision that sours the listening experience from the very beginning. When you press play on this LP, the first voice you hear is not Justin Bieber’s, but a sample of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his famous quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s an attempt to set the tone for this album, enforcing its supposed “theme,” yet it goes absolutely nowhere with it.

It’s hard to understand the reason why Bieber or anyone else who heard this album in advance thought it was acceptable for the 27-year-old pop star to use the speeches of an important historical figure to introduce love songs about his wife. It’s a bizarre and confounding choice that comes off very disingenuous.

In such a tumultuous time, one when many social justice movements are fighting against inequality, Bieber tacking Dr. King’s words onto a collection of love songs just comes off as lazy and borderline insensitive. With so much happening, if he really wanted to say something of substance, he could’ve done it for himself instead of relying on these quotes.

It’s a shame because this album had a lot of potential. While some of the songs miss the mark, the production is solid throughout and Bieber is at his most mature, both personally and vocally, singing of marital love and spirituality. While he isn’t some out-of-this-world vocalist, he knows what he can do within his range and it makes for quite a few captivating moments.

One of the bigger standouts is “Lonely,” which sees Bieber reflecting on his life growing up in the spotlight and all of the repercussions and downsides that came with it. It’s an incredibly human moment, and one that, despite his unique situation, is actually very relatable.

It’s moments like this, “Deserve You” or the excellent summer jam “Peaches” that make Justice’s missteps so frustrating. This isn’t a bad album, but it is bogged down by some outright terrible decisions.

Instead of framing this record as being something it’s not, Bieber should’ve embraced what it’s actually about. He’s so impassioned when singing about his faith or his wife, shifting the focus to a theme that isn’t present is an injustice to the great moments Bieber produced here.



Trial Track: “Peaches”


Justice and Equality, Now

Some things are bigger than sports

On Aug. 23, a Black man named Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake was shot seven times, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

After this event, much of the sports world and its high-profile athletes used their platforms to speak out against systemic racism.

On Aug. 26, in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Milwaukee Bucks were scheduled to play Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Orlando Magic at 4 p.m. In response to Blake being shot several times, the Bucks didn’t emerge from their locker room, calling for justice for Blake. It was announced by 5 p.m. that all NBA playoff games were postponed indefinitely.

The Bucks then released an official statement explaining their decision not to play, outlining their inability to focus on basketball when change is needed. The strike sparked a chain reaction in sports, as people from all disciplines showed their support. Kenny Smith, former NBA player and co-host of Inside the NBA on TNT walked off the set of the show on-air, in solidarity with player protests.

In keeping with this idea, on Aug. 26, three Major League Baseball (MLB) games were cancelled in order to draw attention to systemic racism, while seven more were cancelled the following day. In the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), fourth-seeded Naomi Osaka won her quarterfinal matchup at the Western and Southern Open, but withdrew shortly after to fight for racial justice. The tournament responded to her courageous act by postponing all of Thursday’s scheduled matches. On Aug. 27 and 28, all NHL games were also postponed, and multiple football teams cancelled their practices as well.

We all can do our part to help make this world a better place, especially in 2020, where we have the tools and the technology to share our message and learn from each other. For example, a group of former and current NHL players started the Hockey Diversity Alliance in order to inspire the new generation of players and fans. By providing resources to the young generation, the Hockey Diversity Alliance is showing it wants to do more than just support a cause. Their ultimate goal is to eliminate racism and intolerance in the game.

The Concordian wants to support and follow the movement taken in the sports world. That’s why this article is the only one that will be published in the sports section for our first issue of the semester. Some things are bigger than sports, and we should never ignore them.

We stand for racial justice and equality. Black Lives Matter.


Graphic by Chloë Lalonde


Political tensions in Turkey forced many to flee to escape imprisonment

Four years after the 2016 coup attempts in Turkey, repercussions of the tensions between the long-standing leading party and its rivals are still felt among many.

Mehmet Said Noyan, 20, fled Turkey in 2017 following his father’s imprisonment.

“I think it was eight or nine in the morning,” Noyan said. “[My father] was having breakfast, and the law force came and said ‘sir, we have orders to take you in, we’re going to have to rush you.’ And so they did, and he’s been in jail ever since 2016.”

Noyan’s father, Ömer Faruk Noyan, was a university professor in Turkey. During his off time, Ömer parted in the Gülen movement. The Gülen movement—or Hizmet in Turkish, named after its leader Fethullah Gülen—is a non-governmental religious movement that promotes democracy while focussing on education stemming from “Islam’s universal values, such as love of the creation, sympathy for the fellow human, compassion, and altruism,” according to their website. The movement first appeared in 1960 and has been growing in popularity since the ‘80s.

Once strong allies of the Erdogan government, members of the Gülen movement became one of Erdogan’s greatest foes. So much that, since 2016, thousands of its members were targeted and imprisoned for their involvement in the Gülen movement, including Noyan’s father and uncle.

After leaving his family and his life behind two days after his 18th birthday, Noyan fled in a delicate attempt to California where he made his way to Quebec. He now studies political science at Concordia University.

But going back to Turkey is out of the question for Noyan. “I might get arrested myself because of my father and my affiliation with [the Gülen] movement,” he said.

In 2014, Turkey’s leading party, Justice and Development Party, underwent allegations of corruption and bribery. Although all charges were dismissed for the majority of the suspects, the government blamed the Gülen movement for orchestrating the investigations, paving the way for an attempted coup two years later. The movement was said to hold strong influence among the ranks of Turkish institutions such as the judiciary, the police, and the secret security sector, as explained in an article by The Guardian; all of these institutions spearheaded the investigation against government officials.

Individuals like Noyan’s father were accused of attempted terrorism, trying to bring the government down and hate speech against the prime minister, “none of which he had done,” Noyan said. “He’s a civil engineering professor and also a geologist back in Turkey, so I don’t know how he was in any way affiliated to these accusations. But they had to get rid of this opposition that was not working in their favour.” Although Noyan admits that some members could have acted in bad faith, he condemns Turkey’s “bold accusations.”

In Ömer’s ruling, it was stated that there was no tangible evidence other than statements from fellow detained members, translated Noyan from the official document written in Turkish. Noyan explained that tactics used by officials to target individuals resembles giving names in exchange of liberation. “And I get that as people trying to survive,” Noyan said, although condemning these acts as unethical.

Since his father’s detainment, Noyan’s family, with the expertise of his sister who is a lawyer, applied to all levels of courts in Turkey, none of which were accepted. However, last November, the European Committee of Human Rights settled a hearing with the specific date still unknown. However, Noyan is pessimistic about the process, he explained, since Turkey would be reluctant to give compensation to released prisoners.

Ömer’s sentence is coming to an end with little more than 10 months left to serve. Noyan still doesn’t know what will happen to his family since the interactions with his father consist of 10-minute periods every Friday morning over What’s App. Afraid of the calls being tapped, his conversations with his father barely passes the threshold of “how was your day and university,” he said. The difficulty of knowing what will happen also lies in the bans set on released prisoners.

They don’t let you out of the country, they don’t let you go to work, they just make you sit at home all day,” Noyan explained, referring to his uncle, who was released a few months ago. “As a man of his caliber, who speaks four or five languages, has published many books, appeared on national television and studied in France, it’s pretty much social death to my father.”

Such repercussions already affected his mother, Sümeyra, who was denied unemployment benefits and help finding work due to her husband’s situation.

While his father’s decision is underway, Noyan is focusing on his degree and hoping for the best. He wishes to start law school, following his sister’s curriculum, which he finds ironic considering how unlawfully Turkey judged his father, he joked.


Graphic by @sundaeghost



Law and Society program launches a new three-year partnership with the Court of Quebec

 Concordia students now have the opportunity to see the inner-workings of the Court of Quebec through select judges.

“Getting the acceptance letter moved me beyond happiness,” said pilot project participant Gelu Balan, a student in the Law and Society program.“[It] filled me with the sense that I was slowly paying my parents back, for all the sacrifices they had to make to bring us to this country, and to give me the life they would have never been able to envision us having back home.”

Balan is among the seven students who were chosen for this pilot project, which starts in the Winter 2020 semester. The dean of Arts and Science, along with Scott Hughes, senior associate chief judge of the Court of Quebec, signed an agreement for a three-year relationship between Concordia and the court. There will be a different group of students involved each term.

Jurist-in-residence and retired chief judge of the Municipal Court of Montreal, Morton Minc, along with Robin Schiller,  director of programming for the project, are spearheading this new partnership with the Court of Quebec. Next semester, the seven students will each partner with a judge from the Court of Quebec. They will have the opportunity to immerse themselves with the inner workings of the court, observe trials and have a sit-down with the judge after the trial to discuss the complexities behind the decision.

Understanding and knowing the legal system is an important element in a free and democratic society,” said Minc.

Minc continued that the project is a necessary bridge between the abstract nature of university studies and the realities of the court.

“We were looking for ways to get students out of the classroom and out of the university, to see the things they are learning about in action,” said Law and Society Program Director Eric Reiter. “One of the great things about having a Jurist-in-residence at Concordia is [giving students the opportunity to have] this sort of practical and experienced-based learning.”

For students like Balan, it’s a dream come true. He is aiming to become a criminal defence attorney who specializes in juvenile crime. “I want to gain the tools necessary to one day serve as a buffer between the accused and the state. I do not want to stand-by while youths have their lives destroyed before they even begin,” he said.

Reiter explained this project is unprecedented for a university that doesn’t have a Faculty of Law, and will give Concordia students the opportunity to understand how complicated the justice system really is.

“I think this will really give them a sense of how the justice system responds to much more everyday problems, rather than the big national issues that we tend to hear about in the media,” said Reiter. “[The Court of Quebec] is much closer to people and their ordinary concerns.”

The students who were chosen for the pilot project were carefully selected because, as Reiter explained, it’s quite demanding on the court. Invitations were sent to students based on specific criteria, such as bilingualism, high academic achievement, and their progress in the program. They also had to have completed specific classes in order to understand some of the content they will be faced with in court.

“I felt honored that my hard work and dedication over the past few years enabled me to be one of the students considered for this project,” said Balan. “I wish to acquire skill-sets that will enable me to do my part in the process of making the world a better place, one case at a time. I really hope that studying law will grant me the opportunity to do something meaningful and right with my life.”


Graphic and photo collaboration by Britanny Clarke and @sundaeghost

Student Life

Documenting a battle for indigenous land

Author Shiri Pasternak and band councilor Norman Matchewan from Barriere Lake gave a speech for the newly released book Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State. Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

Author Shiri Pasternak releases her book Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State

Four hours northwest of Montreal, you’ll find the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, an Indigenous community of about 450 people. It’s a community that has long fought with the provincial and federal governments for their rights and their land. Shiri Pasternak, an associate professor of criminology at Ryerson University in Toronto, tells their story in her new book, Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State.

The book was launched at McGill University on Oct. 11, with a speech given by Pasternak herself. She was joined by Norman Matchewan, a band councillor and community leader from Barriere Lake. In her book, Pasternak discusses the fight of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake from the point of view of Indigenous law and jurisdiction. “The book draws an analytic thread through the early colonial aperture between sovereignty and jurisdiction to the present day,” Pasternak said. She elaborated that the book chronicles the continuous evidence showing that state control over Indigenous lands only leads to a struggle between the two groups.

Pasternak started working with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake because of Russell Diabo, a Mohawk policy analyst and activist who explained to her that, in order to understand colonialism in Canada, she needed to understand the experiences of this community. In 2008, she began working in the community, and in 2012, she started writing her book.

The story of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake is a long and complicated one that concerns territory jurisdiction for the most part. It’s closely tied to the fact that the band lives on unceded territory, which means the land has never been surrendered to nor acquired by the Crown. In these cases, the federal government uses the Comprehensive Claims Policy to deal with Aboriginal and land rights “that have not been dealt with by treaty or other legal means.” The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have resisted this policy as it would force them “to cede their title to the land, forcing them to give up rights to 95 per cent of their land and accept provincial jurisdiction over their lands and territories,” according to Pasternak.

In 1991, to avoid the Comprehensive Claims Policy, Jean-Maurice Matchewan, the community’s band councillor at the time, and Norman’s father, signed a trilateral agreement with the federal and provincial governments. It’s a resource co-management agreement of the 10,000 square kilometres to “harmonize Algonquin land use with settler land use based on Indigenous land use, consent and decision making,” Pasternak explained. It would be funded by the federal government so the Algonquins of Barriere Lake would not have to take on loans, and they would make a modest revenue from any resource extraction on the land. According to Pasternak, however, neither government has abided by this agreement, even going so far as to deny its legitimacy.

This neglect is an “instance of how legal authority is established far from the courts and in a way that, nonetheless, shapes the boundaries of settler law: where it will have power, how it will have power, whether it will have power,” Pasternak said. Matchewan explained that the Algonquins of Barriere Lake’s values are about caring, loving and respecting the land and its stories. Even the Algonquian language is closely related to the wildlife and the land they live on, he said. Pasternak commented that this community’s fight is about the right to live and have food on their table—it’s not about the right to property or private ownership.

The book documents the accounts of all the forms of deception and coercion used by the federal and provincial governments. “In my book, I name all the bureaucrats, politicians, accountants and lawyers who terrorized these Indigenous people trying to defend their land from exploitation,” Pasternak said.

In 1995, as a way to withdraw from the trilateral agreement, the department of Indian Affairs debated the use of section 74 of the Indian Act, which imposes an elective system on the community, rather than a system of nomination. In 2009, the department sent a notice to the Algonquins of Barriere Lake explaining that the government would not recognize their customary form of government and imposed section 74. The way the Algonquins’ customary government works is that the elders of the band select the councillors by observing them from a young age, Matchewan explained. Grounded Authority shows that the conflict is about “whose laws will apply and on what grounds,” Pasternak said.

She shared a story about when the band councillors were negotiating with Copper One, a company that wanted to begin a mining exploration on their reserve last winter. While Matchewan was explaining that the company needed the consent of the families responsible for the land in question, the Copper One representative tried to bribe Matchewan into taking a 50 per cent share in the company, according to Pasternak. Since then, the Quebec government has refused to grant the company the necessary logging permits to bring equipment to the territory.

On Oct. 11, Matchewan announced the band would be signing a new trilateral agreement on Oct. 13 after 26 years of fighting. “We’ve endured hardship to battle the Indian Affairs Act. We blockaded, we were criminalized, we were shot at with tear gas and pepper spray […] It’s up to us to continue to fight,” Matchewan said.

Pasternak described the book as an expression of her deep respect for the community and their determination to protect their land. It’s a tribute to the Algonquins’ relationship with the land and the times they had to stay out in the cold to maintain their rights.

Find Shiri Pasternak’s book Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State at:

Music Quickspins

Justice – Woman

Justice – Woman (Ed Banger, 2016)

It’s been awhile since the Parisian duo Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay, from the electronic band Justice, were active on the music scene. After releasing Audio, Video, Disco in 2011, the French musicians vanished. Now, five years later, they re-emerged with the release of Woman, an album that has funky vibes and a rhythmic dance feel. As soon as the first song, “Safe and Sound,” hits your eardrums, you will surely want to crank up the volume. The high-pitched harmonies and contagious melody of the song are reminiscent of 70s disco music, but with a modern flare. “Chorus” will leave you waiting in anticipation of its peak moment as its everlasting intro with strong electro beats goes on and on. Overall, the songs will captivate you with their catchy vocals and groovy feel. Though the composition of each song is well executed, when melded together to create a full album, the finished product sounds quite repetitious.

Trial track: “Safe and Sound”



Injustices in our own backyard

The Secret Trial 5 takes a look at Canada’s unethical security-related legal practices

The majority of you reading these words are probably not going to end up spending multiple years in jail. If you were to, the chances are that you would know what you were being charged with, and hopefully have a fair trial.

When compared to other parts of the world, Canada is generally considered to be a country that has a strong, fair justice system. However, the individuals in The Secret Trial 5—next week’s Cinema Politica screening—didn’t receive this expected treatment.

The Secret Trial 5 tells the story of five men arrested by Canadian authorities without actually knowing why.

The movie examines the cases of five men who were imprisoned in the name of a “security certificate.” This is a section of Canadian law that is applicable only to non-residents, and as refugee immigrants these five men were subject to it. This certificate allows for individuals to be held in indefinite detention because of so-called secret evidence that is not revealed to them or their counsel. They are asked to legally defend themselves without any knowledge of what they are charged with. The film follows the stories of these five men and their experiences in prison, under house arrest, and within the judicial system of Canada. The Secret Trial 5 does not make a case for the innocence of these individuals, but instead calls for inspection of the unethical judicial conduct in their situations.

Evidence was gathered in secret against these individuals; they were tried in secret, and the arrests occurred unexpectedly. Their families and friends were transformed into full-time activists overnight, helplessly fighting for justice for years. Throughout this struggle, the men didn’t ask for all charges to be dropped—rather, they asked for a fair trial. Fair, in the sense that they would be given more information than the notion that they could possibly present a threat to national security in one way or another.

In the end, these men were never actually proven or even charged as guilty. Even if no longer behind bars, these men’s names are still permanently tainted, and the cloud of suspicion around them will never fully dissipate.

Documentaries are powerful cinematic tools that have the ability to edit materials to favour one side of an argument or frame a situation in an empathy-inducing manner. Although, to a degree, this film enacts these strategies to make its case, its appeal is more analytical. It looks at the facts of the cases in terms of fairness and human rights. This documentary allows for the understanding of an ongoing situation in which a difference can still be made. None of these men have officially been charged with a crime and some are still under house arrest to this day.

Even if the film doesn’t inspire you to militate for their cause, it starts a possible reflection on our judicial system, ethical laws, and our preconceived notions about criminal justice. Law is a powerful tool for preventing harm and criminal activity not only in Canada, but also in every country considered to be fair to its populace.  However, it is essential to inform oneself and understand how judicial practices can become misguided, unconstitutional or unethical.

The Secret Trial 5 will be screened by Cinema Politica on Nov. 14. For more information, visit


Osheaga bigger and better than ever

Fans by the tens of thousands tough out the heat for a day full of music by their favourite artists. Photo by writers.

Like most music festivals, this year’s Osheaga passed by in a flurry of stellar performances, overpriced food, crowded washrooms (crowded everything, really) and free merchandise.

However, this year’s line-up was bigger and better than ever, proven by the almost unreal number of tickets sold. Friday, Aug. 3 was the first day in the history of the festival to be completely sold-out (this was announced a matter of hours after yours truly purchased her own tickets, praise be!) Approximately 120,000 tickets were sold and by the end of the day both the Friday and Sunday performances were completely sold-out.

A blend of household names and up-and-coming Canadian talent, Osheaga sported something for everyone. Headliners for Friday included Justice, Florence and the Machine, Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros, MGMT and more. While Florence offered a magical, almost unearthly performance, MGMT brought their music video for “Electric Feel” to life, distributing glow-sticks and psychedelic vibes to all. Sigur Ros, the genre-defying Icelandic band, put on a characteristically unusual and ethereal show and Justice, the last show of the day on the main stages, was an electronic party, with screens flashing brightly on the stage and the La Ronde fireworks exploding into showers of colour over the nearby amusement park.

But the performance that delivered the most surprises was the second Icelandic group on the program (likely a first for the festival), Of Monsters and Men. They were not quite as big a headliner as the above four bands, as evidenced by the fact that they played before sunset and on one of the secondary stages, but they drew an enormous audience (even the band members expressed surprise at the number of people), which was itself enormously enthusiastic, singing along and filling every gap of quiet with cheers and applause. And, despite the rather intense heat in the tightly packed and shadeless standing area, the show was fantastic – I would venture to say that Of Monsters and Men might be better live – and worth the full-body-sweating experience.

Unfortunately, due to the overlapping performances, we could not catch all of the artists who played during our stay, but some of the lesser-known artists that we enjoyed and deserve mention were Yukon Blonde, a Canadian indie-rock band and luxuriant hair collective, who played a really fun show and shared some banter between the lead singer and guitarist onstage. Another was Charli XCX, with a drum set and keyboard decked with flowers and Charli herself in an outfit so outrageous that you (or, at least, I) immediately wanted to be her best friend.

A thorough review of the festival would not be complete without mentioning the impact the sheer number of people had on the experience. In all honesty, it really did take a ridiculous amount of time to get from one stage to another, thanks to the combination of a large crowd and a small staircase. More than one story of people passing out while waiting in line for food and water circulated amongst concert-goers.

Yet, many would argue that this is all part of what makes a festival, well, a festival. The constantly-having-your-toes-stepped-on closeness of bodies and hours spent waiting to buy four dollar water bottles, punctuated by performances by a varied and impressive array of artists, give the experience that certain je ne sais quoi that makes us all proud to say we were there.


It’s going to be a musical summer in Montreal

The season of flip flops, short shorts, fedoras and tank tops is upon us. Some of the best things are securely tied to the summer months in Canada, like patios, sangria and sun tans, and so too are some of the best music events in Montreal.
This year’s lineup for Osheaga Music and Arts Festival promises to be Montreal’s biggest music event. The city’s crowning festival glory has secured what has got to be the festival’s dopest musical lineup in recent memory, featuring S-n-double-o-p D-o-double-gee, Florence and the Machine, Sigur Rós, The Black Keys, Justice, Feist, and quite literally tons more. Weekend passes are available starting at $217, with day passes available later in the summer. The three-day-long festival will be rocking Jean-Drapeau Park from Aug. 3 to 5.
Montreal’s most famous musical event, however, has got to be Montreal Jazz Festival. In the 30 years that the festival has been bringing world-renowned musicians to the various festival venues scattered throughout downtown Montreal, it’s rare that the organizers have received a bad review. This year’s festival runs from June 28 to July 7. Performers include James Taylor, Montreal’s own The Barr Brothers, pop music icon Liza Minnelli, ‘90s R&B romantic Seal, Ontario folk project Timber Timbre, blues sweetheart Nora Jones and Roma-style indie rockers Beirut, among others.
If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a few days early, treat yourself to a performance by the ‘80s and ‘90s princes of funky alt-rock: the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After announcing their split following the tail end of their Stadium Arcadium tour in 2007, fans weren’t sure if or when they should expect the L.A. outfit to make their comeback. In August 2011, they finally released their tenth studio album I’m With You and began planning their next tour. Although their tour was postponed due to frontman Anthony Kiedis’ foot surgery, it’ll be worth the wait.
As if that wasn’t enough good music to blow your brains out, Radiohead plans to make a stop at the Bell Centre on June 15 after thoroughly touring the U.S. and before jetting off to Europe for the remainder of their tour dates. Supporting their most recent album, The King of Limbs, it’s the band’s first full release and subsequent tour in four years.
If you long for some real nostalgia, The Beach Boys will be bringing a little slice of retro California sunshine to the Bell Centre on June 20, while Roger Waters will be performing The Wall live at the Bell Centre on June 26. Looking for something with a little more weight? Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper will take the Bell Centre stage on July 11, and don’t forget Vans Warped Tour on July 14, which will feature tons of heavy punk-rockers, including Lostprophets, Yellowcard, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, All Time Low, Anti-Flag and Senses Fail.
No matter what your musical taste, Montreal is where you’ll find great music practically every night this summer. Hundreds of bands, from jazz to rock to pop to country, will be making a stop in this lively summertime metropolis, so keep your ear to the ground for concert announcements and you won’t be disappointed.

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