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. 


Innocent man arrested without motive?

Calling the police into question and their ability to do their job right

A man named Brice Dossa was handcuffed by Montreal police on Thursday, Nov. 3 in the parking lot of Montreal’s Central Market. Police suspected him of stealing a vehicle which was later proven to be his own. The plainclothes Detectives who specialise in car thefts, however, were unable to release Dossa immediately because they had misplaced the keys to their handcuffs and needed backup officers at the scene to release Dossa.

In a video that has since gone viral, Dossa is seen asking officers if he was arrested because he’s Black. While the two officers deny that this unjustified arrest has anything to do with race, many on social media are concerned that this is just another case of racial profiling.

If not, why was the man suspected of car theft and arrested for it by police, prior to the officers verifying who the vehicle belonged to?

In the questionable sequence of events which led up to Dossa’s wrongful arrest, the unfortunate historical trend in which the Black community is faced with unwarranted and unjust policing has, yet again, resurfaced in the headlines.

The video segment of the arrest is truly abhorrent. It calls into question these cops’ ability to perform their duties. 

One major inconsistency in the officers’ discretion was that the car theft under investigation on Nov. 3 involved a vehicle which was reported to have visible signs of damage. However, CBC independently confirmed that Dossa’s car showed no traces of such damage. Yet, when Dossa arrived at the scene where the police were still examining his vehicle for evidence, they promptly arrested him.

Dossa claims he is left traumatized by the experience, which could easily have been avoided with proper due diligence from the police. This puts into question whether law enforcement can ensure equal treatment for all. 

Ironically, this event comes shortly after the Quebec Superior Court ruled in a racial profiling case that police could no longer pull over drivers without a valid reason, as it constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. Officers who are not dutifully impartial in service to the law might finally incur sanctions when these newly-established regulations become viable six months from now.

Meanwhile, instances of police brutality and racial profiling frequently continue to make headlines, yet our premier continues to deny the existence of systemic racism and bias

As he claimed in 2020, when addressing protests in response to George Floyd’s murder, “I think that there is some discrimination in Quebec, but there’s no systemic discrimination.” More recently, during the last electoral campaign, Legault again reiterated his stance that systemic racism does not exist. 

It is appalling that the government or law enforcement institutions in this province refuse to acknowledge the pernicious consequences of systemic racism. The foundation for such beliefs — and the inaction that follows — normalizes and legitimizes the abuse of power by the state in ways that undermine democracy, justice and equality for all citizens.

Following Dossa’s wrongful arrest, new policies need to not only be incorporated within the practices of law enforcement, but also should be made effectively operational.  Let’s hope that the recent decision ruled by the Quebec Superior Court will yield change in the years to come, so that everyone is guaranteed equal freedom and safety.

Women’s History Month is off to a terrifying start

The month began with the death of Sarah Everard, followed by a mass shooting and reports of femicide in Canada

As little girls, we were warned against straying from the confines of our gendered boundaries, because if we did, we would surely be punished for our curiosities — that transgressions of any kind would inevitably result in deadly consequences. What nobody prepares girls for is that the same boundaries we are told to operate within serve as challenges for boys and men. That we don’t have to earn gendered violence against us; it may happen anyway. In a month intended to celebrate women, Women’s History Month is off to a terrifying start.

The history of International Women’s Day (IWD) dates back to the early 1900s. Its cultural significance was strengthened by the participation of the United Nations in 1975, includes movements supporting women’s rights in countries all over the world, and has now expanded into a month-long celebration. While Canada celebrates IWD on March 8 along with the rest of the world, Canada’s Women’s History Month is observed in October. However, popular recognition and commercialization of IWD has coloured the way that women are celebrated globally. But despite these admirable goals, this Women’s History Month has been marred with terror.

On the night of March 3, 33-year-old Sarah Everard left her friend’s home in South London, heading on a 50 minute walk home. Sarah left at 9 p.m., well before what girls are told is the cutoff for their unspoken curfew. We learn that she was on the phone with her partner, Josh Lowth, for 15 minutes before it was cut short. She was dressed for an evening walk, wearing a rain jacket, pants, knitted hat and a face mask. When the Metropolitan Police raised concerns over Everard’s whereabouts on March 6, women understood the danger Sarah may have been in, silently praying for news that she made it home that night.

Everard did everything right — she was dressed in a way that would satisfy the “but what was she wearing?” crowd; she was walking home early enough for the “but was she out too late” crowd; and she was careful enough to walk on a main road while on the phone with her partner for the “but was she reckless” crowd. Everard was last seen on a CCTV camera alone at around 9:30 p.m. that night. When remains were found on the evening of March 10 in a wooded area 56 miles away from where she was last seen, we prayed harder. The body discovered was confirmed to be Everard on the morning of March 12.

To date, a 48-year-old police officer has been taken into custody in connection with Everard’s murder. When thousands of women gathered on March 13 in South London for a vigil in her honour, peaceful observers were met with violence from police. As footage of arrests circulated, public outrage prompted London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to declare the force from police “unacceptable,” and that they were “neither appropriate or proportionate.”

On social media, women began to share their experiences of sexual assault, only to be met with resistance from the “not all men” crowd. The widespread refusal to acknowledge mens’ complicity of gendered violence surprised no one, yet women continued to perform emotionally laborious tasks in defending their right to safety. Little did we know, Everard’s murder was just the beginning of the grim weeks to follow.

On March 9, Texas lawmaker Bryan Slaton introduced a bill that would allow the death penalty for those who would have abortions. HB 3326 would allow anyone having or performing abortions to be charged with homicide, a crime punishable by death under Texas law.

On March 16, a 21-year-old white gunman opened fire at three separate Asian-owned businesses in Georgia, killing eight people. Seven of the victims were women, six of whom were Asian women. The mass shooting occurs after spikes in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Asian Canadians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Canada, a report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability found that one woman or girl is killed every 2.5 days in Canada. #CallItFemicide reports that 90 per cent of cases of an identified killer are male, with more than half of them being the partners of their victims.

Women’s History Month has yet to conclude — but thus far, it has served as a stark reminder that violence against women continues to eclipse the celebration of their societal and cultural contributions. Author and activist bell hooks said, “What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe.” If Canadians and Americans believe at last, that women deserve the right to feel safe in their own bodies, then much has left to be done.


Photo collage by Kit Mergaert


100 seconds to midnight

What does the Capitol Hill siege mean for us?

It’s 100 seconds to midnight. Last year, the symbolic Doomsday Clock assessed that we are closer to a global man-made catastrophe than ever since the clock’s creation in 1947. The decision was made on account of the climate emergency, rising nuclear tensions, growing distrust in governments all around the world, weaponization of technology… and all this before the whirlwind that was 2020.

The evening of Jan. 6 saw “As a Canadian” trending on Twitter, as so many of us bemocked America’s fate, yet again turning a blind eye to our own run-ins with white supremacy in favour of our ‘it’s not as bad here’ façade. All of a sudden, we forgot that the founder of the Proud Boys is a Canadian man, or that there was a group of Montrealers who organized to participate in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

So let’s get this straight: the civil unrest in the US is especially concerning to us as Canadians.

Civil wars are started when a population loses trust in its government, and feels strongly enough that their issues can’t be solved by other means than organizing and taking arms. Statistically, poorer countries are more at risk of entering wars because of their inability to improve the economy, and financial and political inequality also often spark conflict.

Far-right groups have invented all kinds of conspiracies to discredit the media, Democrats, and basically anyone who doesn’t worship Donald Trump. They believe he’s the only one who can properly handle the American economy and save them from the looming threat that is socialism. They have expressed their anger at the dilution of (white) American culture through the apparent invasion of immigrants.

From what we’ve witnessed through their behaviour in recent years, which culminated with the attack on the Capitol, these far-right groups have shown that they aren’t scared — and are in fact proud — to take arms and uphold their views through violence.

On the left, the increasingly vocal contenders for the Black Lives Matter movement have shown their persistence to take to the streets and protest — rain or shine, through tear gas and pandemic. Left-wing groups have also demanded universal healthcare, erasure of student debt, more money towards climate action, and defunding the police and the army in the last few months.

Though I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, this seems to me a clear recipe for civil war.

Our economy, national security, military strength, foreign relations, everything down to the results of our elections depend on how the United States is feeling. There’s a reason people say “When America sneezes, Canada catches cold.” Nine days after Trump was sworn in as president, six Quebecers were killed in a Sainte-Foy mosque, a clear message that we haven’t been able to escape Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric.

Many have also wondered how Justin Trudeau will be expected to handle this. Will officially recognizing the Proud Boys as a terrorist group give the federal government reason to increase our military budget? As political unrest becomes inevitably more violent in the US, will it allow our federal government to take preventive, but invasive measures like increased surveillance and armed law enforcement?

For the past two years, I’ve been saying that I predict a civil war in the United States by 2025, and that I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen in the next three years. I think this is the most sinister ‘I told you so’ moment I’ll ever have.


Feature graphic by James Fay @jamesfaydraws


Putting the “Lib” in “Glib”: The modern portrait of Indigenous policing

The fight for Indigenous policing to be recognized as “essential”

On Sept. 23, in his Speech from the Throne, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau painted an optimistic and valiant picture of the country and how it is to be run in the next few years. He talked about a lot of things that Canadians love to hear: the government is supporting families, workers, small businesses, advancing scientific research for a vaccine, and saving orphaned kittens along the way.

This isn’t to say Canada isn’t doing well considering the circumstances. I can’t complain about the way the COVID-19 crisis has been handled, but one point many felt was majorly glossed over was that of racism and policing.

The polemical debate about the structure of our existing police system erupted over the summer, as the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis rekindled the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite the suggestion of sweeping reforms, many felt that the problem of discrimination in Canadian law enforcement could only be resolved by defunding it and focusing on local initiatives to prevent crime.

In fact, in late July, it was reported that 51 per cent of Canadians supported defunding, a figure that the Prime Minister was careful to omit as he proposed to “modernize training” and “move forward on RCMP reforms.”

Among the maelstrom of voices criticizing our current policing structure, I have heard few who took the time to be alarmed by the Prime Minister’s last point: “Accelerate work to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing as an essential service.”

Ever since the 1991 approval of the First Nations Policing Program (FNPP), the legislation granting Indigenous people their own police forces, it has never been granted the status of essential service. This is ironic because non-Indigenous police forces, considered essential, are allocated between eight and 29 per cent of their cities’ annual budgets. Meanwhile, Indigenous police forces’ budgets are considered negotiable because of their status as simply a government program.

Year after year, demands for proper funding to procure equipment that follows basic legal safety requirements and to run an adequately-sized police force have fallen on deaf ears. Between 2006 and 2017, the FNPP’s allocated budget stagnated, even though inflation made the Canadian dollar grow by 18.85 per cent.

A 2015 Public Safety Canada report noted that, of the 58 police forces created in 1992, 20 have disbanded — a 34 per cent failure rate for this program, most of them within their first decade in service. On average, the failed police forces had only five officers overseeing about 1,700 people, with a budget of roughly $0.7 million each.

Because the FNPP isn’t an essential service, the federal government has never implemented a reliable way to provide local police forces with the funds they needed. A lack of oversight and monitoring of Indigenous police has manifested into inconsistent payments and absent support, particularly for urban Indigenous populations, who are still subjected to metropolitan police officers’ racial biases.

These factors have been able to thwart the operations of Indigenous police, exacerbating the persisting crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Despite their best efforts, officers are often overwhelmed and burnt out, and aren’t given the resources to suitably investigate serious cases like the rampant disappearances.

Many have denounced the FNPP as a structure that was “set up to fail”; the truth is, our antagonistic system of law enforcement has always neglected Indigenous issues, and the Canadian public’s nonchalance towards First Nations has also contributed to their continued deficiencies. And with Indigenous people being 10 times more likely to be killed by police than white Canadians, providing communities with a racially and culturally sensitive police force is a question of life or death.

What happened to the “Truth and Reconciliation” we were promised throughout the past electoral campaigns? Eloquence and prudent remarks can only do so much, Mr. Trudeau. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.


Graphic by Lily Cowper


Anonymous group of activists and protestors topple Sir John A. Macdonald statue following a peaceful protest to defund the police

The incident exposes Canada’s divided opinion over the the legacy of the former prime minister

A peaceful Montreal protest in favour of defunding the police ended abruptly on Saturday after a 125-year-old statue of Sir John A. Macdonald was toppled by an anonymous group of activists and protesters.

Politicians such as new Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and Mayor Valérie Plante have largely condemned the act, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying Monday, “those kinds of acts of vandalism are not advancing the path towards greater justice and equality in this country.”

The protest was organized by the BIPOC Coalition for Liberation. In an interview with The Concordian, Elijah Olise, one of the coalition’s founders, said, “what we wanted from the protest is not what we got, because [we] got a lot of attention on the statue, and that’s not what we went out there for.”

“We were caught by surprise just as much as everybody else. Do I condone their actions? No…but also I do not condemn [them],” said Olise.

The protest was coming to a close on Saturday afternoon, during which approximately 60 protesters remained at Place du Canada park. According to Olise, another organizer had set up a speaker system located roughly 250 metres away from the Sir John A. Macdonald statue for the closing ceremony speeches.

Olise introduced the speaker list and remained in front of the crowd of protestors watching the final speeches.

Meanwhile, several people had climbed up the monument base to stand next to the statue and install banners, a regular occurrence at various protests over the years.

Olise said he was focused on the crowd when a rope was thrown to the ground by people standing next to the statue. A few individuals grabbed the rope and started pulling, with some protestors joining in to help.

At around 2:45 p.m., the statue of Sir John A Macdonald came crashing down on the hard pavement, with its head flying off while protestors cheered.

“The statue came down in a very short amount of time,” said Olise.

SPVM spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant said that after the statue fell, the SPVM announced over a P.A. system for everyone to leave the area “for safety purposes and to establish a perimeter.”

“I realized at that point I was probably a target as an organizer,” said Olise. He said the police shot rubber bullets at him and other organizers and protesters as they collected equipment and left the area.

Brabant said, “there was no confrontation and no physical intervention.”


On their Facebook page, the BIPOC Coalition for Liberation wrote, “these racist monuments don’t deserve space.”

The organization added a list of demands for the police-defunding movement, such as reparations for the BIPOC community and RCMP off of Indigenous lands. They later added the “removal of all statues, plaques and emblems both on public and private property of any person, act, symbol, or movement that promotes or has promoted slavery, anti-Black racism, or anti-Indigenous racism.”

A flyer with the headline “TIME’S UP, JOHN” was distributed following the toppling of the statue, stating it was a deliberate act by an anonymous group of activists.

“We offer this action in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of Tio’tia:ke, Turtle Island and across the globe,” the flyer continues, “and all those fighting against colonist and anti-blackness in the struggle for a better world,”

Olise obtained a copy and shared the contents with The Concordian.


An image of the flyer distributed after the statue was toppled, courtesy of Elijah Olise.

Serge Simon, Grand Chief of the Mohawk council in Kanesatake told The Concordian he was “torn” regarding whether the statue should be permanently removed, or should stay as a “reminder.”

He explained how the former prime minister’s actions against Canada’s Indigenous Nation still resonate today, stating “everything Macdonald did laid the groundwork for later on, for the RCMP interventions against First Nations to the residential schools … Macdonald planted the seeds of First Nation suffering.”

“The lessons of history just can’t simply be wiped out by taking down the statue. Maybe the statue could remain, as a reminder of what not to do,” Simon added.

Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, expressed concern over how the statue was removed, “if anyone should bring it down it should be the politicians, it shouldn’t be protestors.”

Nakuset said politicians should look into Macdonald’s history and compare it to the reconciliation promises that have been made.

“Don’t put up a statue without actually putting reconciliation forward,” said Nakuset.

Nakuset added that the statue could be replaced by Mary Two-Axe Earley, a human rights activist who helped change laws that discriminated against Indigenous women.

According to tweets by Valérie Plante, the city plans to reinstall the statue with new historical information on the former Prime Minister.

“Some historical monuments, here as elsewhere, are at the heart of current emotional debates. I reiterate that it’s better to put them in context rather than remove them. I am also in favour of adding monuments that are more representative of the society to which we aspire,” Plante said.

On Tuesday morning, Trudeau tweeted regarding a National historic designation for residential schools, saying, “We must acknowledge the dark and shameful chapters of our past, including the residential school system that tore Indigenous families and communities apart and has had enduring impacts on Indigenous peoples across the country. We must make sure such acts are never forgotten.”

The last residential school closed in 1996.


The SPVM has confirmed the statue has been taken by the City of Montreal for repair.

The SPVM is investigating the incident, and is working to identify a potential suspect involved.


Photo courtesy of @noreornot on Twitter


March against police brutality

The annual march against police brutality on March 15 is an international protest dedicated to raising awareness of the rights of citizens and supporting victims of excessive police violence.

Despite several other large gatherings being cancelled over the coronavirus, the protest took place.

Usually, the contentious event involves clashes between officers and protestors resulting in mass arrests, injured police officers and citizens, and vandalism, since its creation in 1997. This Sunday’s protest included a protest gathering, testimonials and speeches by victims of police brutality, such as Marie Dimanche who spoke about the issues of political corruption in Haiti.

The event was co-created and organized by the Montreal-based Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP), an autonomous group dedicated to denouncing violence by police through marches, workshops, research, and other social projects. According to COBP, there were a total of 150 people and three arrests at the protest on Sunday. The SPVM, however, said there were no arrests made.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, some conversations on notable issues of police brutality in Montreal were absent. This included speaks on the death of Pierre Coriolan who was shot by the SPVM and Gabrielle Duchesneau, who had suffered a fractured skull during a demonstration on International Workers’ Day in 2012.

Consisting of victims, witnesses and those troubled by police violence, some members choose to remain anonymous to not be targeted by the authorities, including a member of the COBP who helped organize the march and goes by the alias 1312.

“It doesn’t matter if it is a right or a left [government], the repression is always there,” said 1312, speaking of the theme of this year’s event, “Police everywhere, justice nowhere.”

He explained how the focus of the protest would also include solidarity with social movements against authoritative repression targeting citizens’ rights and freedoms. He mentioned issues abroad in countries facing government oppression such as Chile, Haiti and Iran, and here in Canada with racial profiling.

A report last year documented how the SPVM has a systemic bias in targeting racial minorities during street checks. The findings drew a wide range of criticism, with many defining the acts of the police as racial profiling and remarks from city officials such as mayor Valérie Plante for calling for a change in SPVM’s conduct.

“We already knew it was happening, the sole difference is now, it is written on paper,” said 1312, who explained the situation with the police concerning racial profiling in Montreal has not changed. “We are inundated with calls, people sending emails, and of people who are victims of racial profiling.”

Adeela Arshad-Ayaz, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the Department of Education at Concordia University and a fellow of Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability. Arshad-Ayaz researches and teaches on a variety of social subjects and issues, from multiculturalism to extremism.

She said, “Nobody is cut off from wider society. So police whether its police, or lets say academia, from where I am from, we are all a part of a bigger society, and the wider societal discourses they work on us and we are living in times where the tolerance is low and people try to take shortcuts, and we try to categorize people in small groups and label them and then it’s much easier for us to access that information.“

Arshad-Ayaz said that unlike those working in academia who have time to ponder decisions, “the nature of their [police] work is such that they have to take instantaneous actions.” She added that the only way to combat it is to increase transparency and to have, “balances, checks and measures, so that we can avoid brutality and violence because in the end we are all human beings and we can all make wrong decisions.”

The SPVM refused two attempts made to contact them for comment on the protest.


Photos from archive – by Alex Hutchins (2017)


Folks, we need to make cops more comfortable

A satirical approach highlighting why the SPVM should wear body cameras when dealing with citizens

Just last month, the SPVM released a whopping 215-page report concluding that body cams were an ineffective and overpriced project for the Montreal police force, effectively dropping it entirely. Additionally, the conclusions of a survey on officers revealed that they felt they were being watched and the cameras presented a breach of privacy, leading to them being uncomfortable having it on.

The conclusion of the report states that “according to the steps required by the local directive, it is up to the police officer to activate [the body camera], which has the effect of making them bear the weight of an important additional responsibility.” And folks, the last thing we need is around 3,000 people in possession of firearms and a dozen different incapacitating and violent tools (that are legally usable on civilians) to feel uncomfortable with the idea of additional responsibility!

This is why I come to you with a fervent plea: won’t somebody please think of the cops? Over the past few years, the SPVM has been through a myriad of “uncomfortable” situations and it would be a complete shame to burden them with extra responsibility.

Like when two Montreal police officers forcibly picked up a homeless man from downtown Montreal and drove him in a cruiser all the way to the Ontario border and dumped him there, according to CBC News. The punishment for essentially re-creating a kidnapping from one of the Taken movies with an innocent man off the streets was suspension with pay. However, fear not, because it took eight years to charge the officers with forcible confinement, assault and uttering threats, according to the same source. The arc of history is long, but it eventually ends with reluctantly admitting officers kidnapping people is bad. This whole conversation about using body cams does not consider the fact that serving and protecting Montreal is super hard when everyone can see footage of you loading a person into a cruiser like it’s moving day and chucking them into Ontario.

Or, imagine how awkward it would be if the officers tasked with spying and tracking journalist Patrick Lagacé in 2016 had to be held accountable for allegedly breaching his privacy by obtaining tracking warrants that allow the police to locate his cellphone via its GPS chip, according to The Globe and Mail. But, wait a minute, doesn’t the report on body cams mention that the officers felt uncomfortable being watched and isn’t this whole situation hypocritical? The answer is no, because cops need to be able to put someone in a chokehold for a minor infraction––turning on a surveillance device makes it difficult to squeeze a person’s entire respiratory system into dust as quickly as it would without surveillance. Meanwhile, journalists could potentially report on it and make the police look bad. Coming to terms with the consequences of your actions is just a hard concept to grasp when you’re on the force.

The report on body cams states that 90 per cent of the public has confidence in the SPVM. So, for the rest of you who probably think that cops harassing homeless people, spying on journalists to halt stories and pepper spraying protestors because they’ve been taunted one too many times is unwarranted—tough luck, because it seems like you hate cops getting comfortable with using their excessive amount of power on the daily. How dare you!

Finally, the report clearly indicates that it costs way too much to maintain the use of the body cameras. The pilot project cost $3.4 million and in order to implement them full-time, it would cost around $24 million a year, according to CTV News. I completely agree that it would be a waste of money for the SPVM. The police budget should strictly be used to make surveillance of citizens without their permission easier. Also, it should be used to equip officers with even deadlier weapons, so they can comfortably deal with people who are out of line. If the choice is between trusting the police’s promises or actually enforcing policies to keep them in check, you know I’m takin’ the path of least resistance…mostly because we all know what happens if we don’t.

Graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee

Student Life

Exploring the “Computer Riots” 50 years later

Exploring the Computer Riots 50 years later

Fifty years ago today, on Jan. 29 1969, the Sir George Williams Affair began—also known as the Concordia Computer Riots. According to CBC, about 200 students occupied the ninth floor computer centre in the Hall building and engaged in a peaceful sit-in protest for 14 days. The occupation was organized following the administration’s mishandling of racism complaints lodged by a group of six students against their biology professor, Perry Anderson, who they accused of unjust grading. Negotiations between the administration and the students fell through on Feb. 11. The peaceful protest turned violent after the administration handed the case over to the police, which resulted in 97 arrests, a mysterious fire and $2 million worth of property damage.

Blackout: the Concordia Computer Riots, organized by production company Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, is a play that explores the events that led to the student occupation and questions how race relations have changed in Quebec over the last 50 years. Blackout will essentially explore and interrogate the historical events of the Sir George Williams Affair through fictional characters.

About a year ago, Mathieu Murphy-Perron, the creative director and owner of Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, gathered a team of uniquely talented artists, poets and writers to start researching the history of the protests for Blackout. “We were trying to identify with these students who experienced injustice and, when they spoke out against it, realized the root of the problem was much bigger,” said Tamara Brown, a Concordia graduate as well as assistant director and part of the writing unit for Blackout. “We realized that the moments we read about were all too painfully familiar.”

Brown said that while they were exploring archived media coverage of the peaceful protests-turned-riots, the team also tried to look at what wasn’t covered. “When you do research on the event, you find images of the destruction and the $2 million of damage,” said Lydia Dubuisson, part of the writing unit for Blackout. “You don’t read about the events that led up to the riot.” Students were blamed for the mysterious fire that started after police got involved. However, according to the CBC, some believe police set the fire as a means to sidebar the protest.

Blackout invites viewers to question how different the events that unfolded in 1969 are in comparison to current events. “[The students] didn’t have support from the population, or from the media, or from society,” said Dubuisson. “Today, when people of colour express their same frustration, the response is the same.” The intersection of theatre, politics and education is unique to this performance in relation to its context and relevance within our current political state of polarization. “There is a terrifying racist rhetoric circulating now that makes people afraid,” said Brown. “We’re so polarized and it makes people afraid to stand up against injustice.”

In 2014, former Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) Executive Mei Ling, a pseudonym, filed a complaint against the administration after experiencing sexual and racial discrimination from two ASFA executives. Despite Mei Ling winning the case in 2015 and ASFA supposedly reforming its harassment policies to be more survivor-centric, the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) filed a sexual harassment complaint in 2018 against then ASFA president, on behalf of Harris Turpin.

“I observe how much things have changed, but also how they have not changed,” said Dubuisson. “I hope students take pride in knowing that it’s part of your job to fight your administration.” Brown, Dubuisson and Kym Dominique-Ferguson, part of the writing unit and one of the lead performers, all touched on the importance of re-examining history in order to fully understand where we are currently. “It’s time to start looking at the folks that have experienced oppression and look at the groups—white people—who benefitted from this,” said Dominique-Ferguson. “We need to look at that, acknowledge that, respect it and respect the individuals that are still affected by this.”

“I find what these students did to be so remarkable,” said Brown. “Everything we do matters, and the administration tried to tell [the students] otherwise, but they knew better.” Despite the 97 arrests and property damage, the protests led Concordia to revise its policies and procedures, which resulted in the creation of the Ombuds Office, according to CBC. According to Concordia University’s website, “the Ombuds Office’s role is to assist in the informal resolution of concerns and complaints related to the application of university policies, rules and procedures.” It is allegedly independent of all the administrative structures of the university, and impartial.

“We’re trying to frame extremely difficult events with a lens of hope, and I think that will inspire people to not be afraid,” said Brown. “They weren’t afraid, and we can learn from what they did.”

Blackout will show every evening from Jan. 30 to Feb. 10 in the DB Clarke Theatre from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.     

Feature photo courtesy of Concordia University Archives


Editorial: Vicious victim-blaming rhetoric needs to end

This past year, we’ve heard a lot of conversations about racism, sexism, equality and sexual assault. It’s safe to say that something has changed.

Perhaps it’s the fact that some voices are now louder than others, and these ‘uncomfortable’ conversations are happening more often. Regardless of the reason, when we reflect on this past year from an optimistic perspective, we can see many instances of positive change.

But while movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp successfully dominate the news cycle, we still have a lot of work to do within our local communities. This is particularly apparent in the recent actions of our city’s police. According to Le Devoir, Montreal police faced backlash for launching a sexual assault prevention campaign that implied women make themselves more vulnerable to sexual assault when they drink too much.

The campaign was called “Je sors avec ma gang, je repars avec ma gang,” and was initially launched in 2012. Montreal police recently decided to reactivate the campaign by distributing some leftover flyers in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough. However, they received a lot of backlash from social media users due to the victim-blaming nature of the campaign, and decided to retract it.

This isn’t the first time Montreal police have been involved in victim-blaming. In 2016, local police told girls at Villa Maria High School that they were “asking for harassment” because of their short skirts, reported CBC News.

We at The Concordian are appalled by the lack of social awareness in the Montreal police’s decision to re-launch this campaign. In a social climate bursting with conversations about sexual assault and victim-blaming, it’s inexcusable to promote the idea that victims are responsible for the horrible actions of perpetrators. While we’re glad they retracted the campaign and realized their mistake, the fact that they re-launched it in the first place shows we have a long way to go.

This isn’t an ongoing issue exclusive to Canada either. On Nov. 14, protests took place in Ireland against the use of a victim’s underwear as evidence in a rape trial. A 17-year-old girl accused a 27-year-old man of rape, and the man was found not guilty of the crime, according to Global News. The defendant’s lawyer argued that the jury should consider that the girl was wearing lacy underwear at the time. “You have to look at the way she was dressed,” the lawyer said. “She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” This sparked protests all over Ireland, and people posted pictures of their underwear on social media with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent.

Sexual assault is not the victim’s fault. It is the fault of the perpetrator—the one who chooses to violate and hurt an innocent person. We need to end the victim-blaming narrative, and we must continue to call out those who perpetuate it. Not only does this narrative place the blame on people who need to be listened to and believed, it also promotes lies. If sexual assault was related to how much someone drinks, then sober people wouldn’t get sexually assaulted—yet, they do. If sexual assault was related to how revealing an outfit is, then people wouldn’t get assaulted in the winter—yet, they do. If going to a club or bar makes people vulnerable to sexual assault, people wouldn’t get assaulted in their own homes—yet, they do.

We at The Concordian hope this upcoming year continues to see a huge shift in the narrative surrounding sexual assault. We hope survivors feel they are listened to, validated and respected, rather than blamed and condemned. The only people we must condemn are those who commit these acts—and those who continue to push this vicious, victim-blaming rhetoric.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Woman assaulted by police wants justice

Majiza Philip says Montreal police must be held accountable for their violent actions

After being acquitted in December of assaulting a police officer, 29-year-old Majiza Philip wants justice now more than ever.

During a Machine Gun Kelly concert at the Olympia theatre in 2014, Philip was violently arrested for alleged misconduct against the police. The situation arose while one of Philip’s friends was being arrested at the concert for loitering and excessive drinking. CTV News reported that, when Philip knocked on the window of the police car to tell her friend she had his jacket, she was violently grabbed by an officer and a baton was used to break her arm.

Despite being acquitted, Philip said she believes her case should be reviewed in order to serve as a catalyst for change within the Montreal police department. “I feel like I can walk the streets a lot more comfortably, knowing that I was acquitted, but I am still very fearful of the police because none of them have been held accountable,” she said.

Philip’s arm was badly fractured, and although no longer a physical restriction, she said the trauma from the incident follows her wherever she goes. She is often asked about the seven-inch scar on her arm. “I can’t just say I was assaulted by the police and leave it at that,” Philip said during a press conference on Jan. 24.

Prior to being acquitted, Philip filed a complaint at the end of 2014, but it was eventually dismissed by the Police Ethics Commissioner. According to CBC News, “Section 192 of the Police Act allows officers not to cooperate with the commission,” meaning police can refuse to work with the ethics commission when a complaint is filed.

“We feel that this has to be corrected and has to be prevented,” said Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR). “Not only for her, but also for every other citizen who may have a legitimate complaint against a police officer.”

Philip and her family emphasized their strength and resilience over the past three years. Philip’s mother, Suzanne Bruneau, said their family is “very fearful but very hopeful with the precedence that Majiza’s case has set.”

Philip and her mother said they believe race played a role in this situation. “It also speaks to us as a black family, to not forget what’s important in our integrity and respect towards our people and our race,” Bruneau added.

Philip said she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and has been coping with varying degrees of depression. For months following the incident, she was not able to continue working as a tap dance teacher, and she lost her job at a restaurant.

According to CTV News, “the police ethics commission still says the officers did nothing wrong.” However, if the request to review Philip’s case is denied, CRARR will ask the Quebec minister of public security to revisit the file, CTV reported.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


It’s all violence, and it’s all wrong

Recognizing that sexualized violence against women of colour is an unacknowledged crime

Andrea J. Ritchie is a lawyer whose speciality is police misconduct. In her 2017 book, Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Colour, she reveals that there are no clear statistics on the violence perpetrated by police against women of colour in the United States. “Although national data show more black men are killed at higher rates than women,” Ritchie writes, “those numbers don’t tell the whole story […] There are no numbers counting police rape or police sexual harassment or unlawful strip searches.”

Women of colour face incidents of police violence in statistically smaller numbers than men of colour, but they are targeted in a particular way. According to the Huffington Post, in 2015, a black woman named Charnesia Corley was stopped by Texas police for allegedly running a stop sign. The officers who stopped her said they smelled marijuana in her car, which, in Texas, is grounds for a cavity search.

Corley said she “felt raped” after the officers publicly searched her vagina for 11 minutes. Her lawyer, Samuel Cammack III, said a police officer “body slammed Miss Corley, stuck her head underneath the vehicle and completely pulled her pants off, leaving her naked and exposed in that Texaco parking lot.”

The officers involved in Corley’s case were charged with “official oppression,” but those charges were later dropped. Corley is currently pursuing a civil case against them, according to the same article. This case is an example of how police violence against women of colour often takes on a sexualized tone.

The lack of statistics available on sexualized police violence seems to point to the conclusion that sexual violence against women is not considered a form of police violence in American society. In my opinion, this lack of information is to be expected in a society that, as a whole, doesn’t take sexual violence, especially against women of colour, as seriously as it should.

Here in Canada, according to Sexual Assault and Rape Statistics Canada, only six out of every 100 sexual assaults are reported to the police, suggesting that many victims don’t trust police or the judicial system. If the government doesn’t even consider it necessary to categorize these actions as violence and gather statistics on them, should we be surprised that they fail to press charges against the officers accused of committing them?

This case reminds me of a situation very far north of Texas, in Val d’Or, Que. In 2016, the Crown decided not to convict six police officers accused of sexual misconduct against a number of Indigenous women. According to the CBC, there were 37 complaints filed against local police by members of the community, including sexual harassment and rape. As with Corley’s case, this situation involved a specific type of police violence, one that is both sexualized and racialized.

These cases demonstrate that women of colour are often the victims of not only violence but a dehumanizing form of sexual violence. Both Corley’s and the Val d’Or cases reinforce the notion that sexual violence is not really considered violence in North American society, and that public officials still fail to be properly reprimanded for the disgusting acts they commit.

Graphics by Alexa Hawksworth

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