Untold Concordia features anonymous stories of discrimination

Anonymous co-creator speaks about how the page can validate student experiences

Untold Concordia is an Instagram page that features anonymous submissions detailing stories of oppression, such as racial, gender, and sexual discrimination by Concordia faculty members and student organizations.

One of the two creators behind the page agreed to speak with The Concordian under the condition of anonymity. They told us they started the page after seeing how popular the Untold McGill page became in early July.

“The [McGill] page was getting so much traction and so many people seemed to have a desire to have a space to share stories like this, [we thought] that was probably shared at Concordia, and we were right,” they said.

As the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum in the early summer following the death of George Floyd, conversations revolving around discrimination came to the forefront. The goal stated on both Instagram pages is to highlight experiences of oppression and discrimination at the respective universities.

“Your experience is valid,” reads the first post. “Submit your stories and help create a platform for others to be heard.”

All posts are referred to as submissions rather than complaints. The co-creator told The Concordian the page is not affiliated with Concordia University and the submissions “aren’t complaints in any official capacity.”

One of the posts describes witnessing how a professor teaching a sexuality class did not use the right pronouns for one of their students; another describes being severely let down by the Concordia administrations’ handling of their sexual assault complaint.

Anyone can anonymously fill in a submission form by clicking the link in Untold Concordia’s bio. They can also choose if they prefer to keep the comments on or off on their post.

“We never ask them to reveal their names and we encourage them not to reveal the names of anyone involved … for their safety and our own,” said the co-creator.

“Some of these accusations can be relatively serious, and we want it to be truly up to the submitter if they do want to file formal complaints. They have the lee-way to do that without any of these submissions coming to hurt them in that process,” they said.

One of the issues with anonymity is determining the validity of the complaints. From the beginning, both creators discussed this issue and what to do if someone were to try trolling them.

So far, the posts have all been believable. Both creators are members of minority groups who have experienced “varying levels …  of oppression and systemic oppression within the University and outside, and coming from that place, you can kind of tell.”

Because the account isn’t an official complaint forum, anonymous users can feel free to describe the experience according to their understanding.

“They’re not meant to be perfect, factual re-accounts of events that happened. They are people’s perspectives; they are all true in their own way.”

“I’ve never seen one that I’ve been like — I don’t believe that — every single one of them to me is truly believable,” they said.

The posts speak to the larger issues of discrimination.

“The university is a structure like every other built on centuries of oppression that is rooted in Canadian history and much of the world’s.”

They feel some of these posts don’t refer to instances of “active hate and active oppression, but they are people not realizing how harmful what they say is and how harmful what they’re doing is just because it feels normal to them.”

“A few of our posts have been around the subject of various professors using slurs in quotations or in discussions, and saying ‘since I’m referencing, quoting a text is allowed.’ Students who are directly affected by the slurs feel very uncomfortable.”

Just this week, University of Ottawa part-time professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval was suspended and later apologized for using the N-word during an online lecture after a student made a formal complaint. Several professors and government officials are weighing in on this issue, with Legault denouncing backlash against the professor.

They said many submitters have thanked them for the page, especially as many submitters have tried to file formal complaints and it is difficult to get through.

Concordia Student Union (CSU) General Coordinator Isaiah Joyner said that the process of submitting a complaint against someone with the University can be challenging for students.

“The whole overall process [for complaints] is not student friendly, it’s more bureaucratic…it’s very rare that you see the effects yielding the result in the favour of what the students want.”

The co-creator of the account said they would like Concordia to realize students are turning to anonymous means to voice their concerns.

“Eventually, maybe, Concordia will kind of realize that there are so many students that feel uncomfortable reporting these instances and that these instances are more harmful than they think they are, [and] maybe take action for that.”

“For these young people who are for the first time stepping into their own, there needs to be ways for them to express how they feel and how they’ve been harmed that is more streamlined and … accessible,” they said.

Concordia Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci released a statement to The Concordian on Untold Concordia: “Although we understand that some prefer to use social media anonymously to be heard, we’d also encourage all members of our community, if they want, to take advantage of our internal accountability mechanisms so that we can properly address these issues.”

“Complaints brought through our mechanisms are treated confidentially and independently and can be addressed in a variety of ways, including with support services, depending on what a student wants.”


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


Editorial: Hideous figures in history must be taken down

You’ve probably heard of the debates surrounding whether or not certain statues of historical figures should continue to be proudly displayed. The reason for removing these statues is often that they’re celebrating historical figures that promoted and perpetuated oppression. Take the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Montreal’s Place du Canada, for example. Just last week, a group identifying itself as part of #MacdonaldMustFall drenched the statue in red paint, according to the Montreal Gazette.

In a statement, the group said, “Macdonald statues should be removed from public space and instead placed in archives or museums, where they belong as historical artifacts.” Similarly, the statue of Queen Victoria in front of McGill’s Schulich School of Music was coated in green paint on Sunday, according to the Montreal Gazette. An anti-colonial group called the Delhi-Dublin Anti-Colonial Solidarity Brigade said it was responsible. In a statement published online, the group said, “the presence of Queen Victoria statues in Montreal is an insult to the struggles of self-determination and resistance of oppressed peoples around the world, including the Indigenous nations of North America (Turtle Island) and Oceania, as well as the peoples of Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, and wherever the British Empire committed its atrocities.”

We at The Concordian  strongly agree with groups like #MacdonaldMustFall and the Delhi-Dublin Anti-Colonial Solidarity Brigade. Proudly displaying figures like Queen Victoria and Sir John A. Macdonald means praising their actions––actions which, in reality, are nothing to be proud of. As most know, Sir John A. Macdonald was a part of the approval of the first residential schools in Canada, according to Global News. He set up treaties with Indigenous Peoples and broke them, and starved thousands who lived on reserves, according to the same source. The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (EFTO) has called him the “architect of genocide against Indigenous Peoples.”

To this day, many of the struggles Indigenous communities face in Canada can be seen as results of Macdonald’s legacy. How can we praise a leader who helped create these hardships? The same goes for Queen Victoria––how can we praise a leader who perpetuated oppression for so many around the world? How can we support colonialism, imperialism and repression of self-determination?

The answer is, we can’t. And we won’t.

We at The Concordian support groups who dedicate their lives to combating and resisting against symbols of oppression––symbols like statues, plaques or any other form of commemorating a hideous figure in history. The call to remove these statues reminds us of another event two years ago, where counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia clashed with white supremacists who were protesting against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon General Robert E. Lee. The protest turned violent, with a car ploughing into the crowd of anti-racist and anti-fascist protestors, killing one and injuring 19 others, according to Al Jazeera.

We at The Concordian believe statues of oppressive historical figures is one of the many ways white supremacy is still upheld in our society. We’re proud to see groups and people that fight against this in proactive ways, by choosing to attend anti-racism protests. We must remain vigilant, and we must become more outspoken against all forms of oppression. For those who think this is an old conversation, it’s too close to home for us to turn a blind eye—our current CAQ government is playing a role in upholding racist ideologies, by establishing values tests and French-language tests for immigrants. Canada’s complicit too—Barbara Perry, a professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and an expert on hate groups in Canada, believes between 120-130 hate groups exist in Canada today, according to Al Jazeera.

Some of these hateful people exist online, in the darkest corners of the internet and some even in broad daylight on Facebook comments and Twitter threads. Others form and join far-right groups like La Meute in Quebec, the Proud Boys, Soldiers of Odin and anti-immigrant group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA). Perry told Al Jazeera that this onslaught of hate groups is “a unique era in our history.”

Unique, indeed. Uniquely terrifying, wrong and downright disgusting. We at The Concordian fiercely denounce all oppressive acts, figures and groups. We stand by those who fight against this systematic oppression and white supremacy that continues to see the light of day in our society.

Graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee


Are we preserving history or honouring hate?

A pedestal is no place for a Confederate symbol, and taking them down won’t erase the past

An increasing number of symbols commemorating Confederate “heroes” have been taken down throughout the United States and Canada, including here in Montreal. A plaque hanging on a wall outside the Hudson’s Bay department store on Ste-Catherine Street honouring Jefferson Davis was taken down on Aug. 15. Davis was the president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, and he briefly lived in Montreal with his family after being released from prison in 1867.

The recent violent protest in Charlottesville, Va., encouraged even more people and organizations to remove plaques, statues and monuments that pay homage to important actors of the Confederacy. On Aug. 12, white supremacists and neo-Nazis rallied in Charlottesville to condemn a proposal to remove a statue of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee. A woman was struck and killed by a car that drove through the crowd of anti-racism counter-protesters who had turned up at the rally.

Though tensions around Confederate symbols aren’t a new phenomenon, some argue that taking down such signs threaten the preservation of history. For hundreds of years, the KKK and other white supremacist groups have used various symbols as emblems of their far-right ideologies. The Confederate flag is especially controversial because it has become a symbol of oppression and hatred of black people and other non-whites. Waving the flag is often interpreted as blatant racism in North America.

Though some argue Confederate symbols represent pride in the southern United States, they inarguably carry a heavy burden. For many, the Confederate flag is a reminder of black men, women and children being dragged off public transportation, beaten to death, locked up on unfounded rumours and assumptions and killed for defending basic civil rights.

Statues, plaques and monuments are intended to honour people who have positively contributed to society’s growth and freedom. Davis, for his part, owned hundreds of slaves and led a movement that fought against their emancipation. So, if public officials want to lessen racial tensions and reconcile with citizens of different cultures and races, they must not tolerate public displays that glorify the very people who went to war to maintain slavery and other oppressive systems.

Those who fear history will be erased by removing Confederate emblems shouldn’t worry.

Many have tried to suppress dark parts of North American history, yet they endure. Davis and his Confederate friends will always be part of our history, but they have no place on pedestals. No one has forgotten about Hitler, right? Yet, even naming a garbage dump “Adolf Hitler” was deemed scandalous and inappropriate by Oregonians in the 80s.

Closer to home, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario recently announced that they want to remove John A. Macdonald’s name from their school buildings so that Indigenous children won’t have to attend schools named after an individual who played a key role in developing residential schools and destroying Indigenous culture.

Taking down honourific plaques, statues and flags simply shows solidarity and inclusion towards ethnic groups who have been chronically oppressed and discriminated against throughout history. The goal is not to erase our past, but to reclaim a history which has been “whitewashed” for far too many years. History books are filled with one-sided stories of white heroes protecting their people from evil “savages.”

Cruelty and injustice have been excused for centuries. If dozens of government buildings and plaques have to be renamed and removed to begin righting those wrongs, then so be it.

Graphics by Alexa Hawksworth

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