Protests in NDG: CDN in defense of Palestinian Solidarity

The Revolutionary Communist Party came together in defense of Palestinian solidarity and the right to protest peacefully.

During the week of March 10, the Revolutionary Communist Party held two demonstrations in support of Palestine in Montreal. The first was on Tuesday, March 12 in front of Premier Justin Trudeau’s constituency office to protest the federal government’s decisions regarding Palestine and the selling of land on the West Bank.

“These capitalist regimes have decided to bet everything on genocide on the Palestinian people,” said Fehr Marouf, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

According to Marouf, this was the first time the party had organized a demonstration directly in their name. The protest was small, with around 50 attendees, but Marouf believes it is the start of something, even if it’s just the party and their supporters for now.

The Trudeau government has been placed under scrutiny for sending military aid to Israel, something that may go against Canadian export law stating that Canada may not supply weapons if they may be used to break international law. In light of this, new export permits to Israel have been frozen indefinitely, according to CTV news.

The Trudeau administration also significantly changed a motion put forth by the New Democratic Party (NDP) to recognize Palestine as a state. What the Liberal party offered was a conditional acceptance based on the goal of the two-state solution, which would allow Israel to keep existing alongside Palestine as opposed to the landback goal that the RCP is calling for.

The second demonstration held on Friday, March 15 was called to protest the Quebec government injunction against pro-Palestinian protests outside Jewish institutions in Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. It took place in Girouard park. Less than 10 people attended, but passers-by would stop and ask questions.

A member of the party giving a speech to protest the war in Gaza and show their unwavering support for the Palestinian people. Photo by Semira Kosciuk / The Concordian

The Revolutionary Communist Party came together in defense of Palestinian solidarity and the right to protest peacefully.

“There’s been a process of many years of land being taken up by settlers in this area. Where it looks like—if you look on a map—it looks like a big chunk of land, but over time, bits and pieces have been eaten up,” said Calvin Brett, a member of the party.

Criticism of the pro-Palestine movement arose. Trudeau has denounced violence from both sides, something that has frustrated certain activists, as they feel this doesn’t acknowledge the issue.

“No one should in this movement—the Palestine movement—be against someone going to pray or engaging in their culture in any way they see fit,” Brett said. “The actual continuation of this genocidal onslaught in Palestine was continuing here in our neighbourhood.”

Friday’s rally was proposed by fellow party member Tony Miller-Smith after the injunction was announced. He believes he should be able to protest in the neighbourhood he lives and works in. Miller-Smith also stressed the importance of collective action in the fight to free Palestine.

“If you want to fight to free Palestine, you should help us build a Revolutionary Communist Party that can help to overthrow the Quebec capitalists and the Canadian capitalists,” he said.

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“Queers against the CAQ” protest held in Old Port

Several queer organizations in Montreal came together to protest against anti-trans actions by the current Quebec government.

At 4 p.m. on Jan. 15, about 50 people gathered in front of Montreal’s Palais de justice in the Old Port. Co-organized by Mubaadarat, Com (CUMSLUTS) UQÀM, Première Ligne, P!nk Bloc and Queer McGill, this protest comes as a response to recent decisions made by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ). 

On Dec. 5, Quebec’s Minister of Families, Suzanne Roy, announced the creation of a “comité des sages” or “committee of wise people” to guide the province in legislation concerning trans people. Though one of the three goals of this committee was to “ease social tensions,” many trans and queer people have expressed concern about the implementation of the committee.

“[Their] job is essentially to debate ‘the trans question’ in a way that really is debating whether or not we are allowed to exist and how they presume how to let us integrate into society,” said protest coordinator Ki’ra, who preferred not to share their last name. “Conservative governments are generally not very queer-friendly, but this [government] particularly has taken several steps to alienate queer people in an attempt to garner more support.”

Much of these criticisms come from the absence of trans people or allies within the committee.

Celeste Trianon, one of the protest’s co-organizers, chimed in: “It’s a committee that’s going to make so many decisions about the future of queer and trans rights in Quebec, yet does not contain any trans people, concerned people such as parents of trans people, nor experts.”

Speeches began shortly after the crowd gathered, with various organizers speaking in English and French about the CAQ’s policies, why they were harmful, and what they hoped would be done moving forward. “This committee is François Legault’s response to [the anti-trans protest on] Sept. 20,” Ki’ra said. “If [the committee members] cared about trans people, they would resign from the committee and call for its dissolution.”

The implementation of the committee was not the only criticism made about the CAQ at the protest. “F*** the CAQ, everyone has a good reason to hate the CAQ,” said Ki’ra. “It’s been months that we’ve seen rotating strikes going on in the public sector. They don’t have any solutions for that, they don’t have any solutions for housing, they’ve recently put through a law that would allow landlords to refuse lease transfers without any reason.”

After the speeches concluded around 4:45 p.m, the group of protesters, now closer to 100, began marching north towards the Palais des congrès and Place D’Armes metro station. They continued chants such as “Tout le monde déteste François Legault” [Everyone hates François Legault], “When trans rights are under attack what do we do? Stand up fight back,” and “Contre Legault et la CAQ, queers bash back” [“against Legault and the CAQ, queers bash back”].

“I want to be part of the protest, to be part of the change,” said protestor Coralie Chouqette. “What’s happening everywhere in the world is unacceptable, but we have to start somewhere.”

Protesters then arrived at the Palais des congrès, marching through the doors near the Place D’Armes metro station. Chanting “on avance, on avance, on recule pas” [“we move forward, we move forward, we don’t move back”], protesters marched through the convention center.

Though mall security tried to stop the protestors and redirect them through the first exit toward the parking lot, the protesters persisted. Refusing to divert from their planned course, there was a brief stand-off between some mall security officers and those at the front of the protest. The protesters continued down the center, chanting “hey hey, ho ho, François Legault has got to go.” The protesters then left the complex, marching down René-Lévesque Blvd. Chanting continued, with “dans la rue avec nous” [on the road with us]. 

After marching down René-Lévesque Blvd, police positioned their bikes in a diagonal line in an attempt to redirect protesters toward the other half of the road. The protesters persisted, chanting “get a real job” as they pushed through their attempted diversion, forcing police to further reroute traffic.

Throughout their march, organizers and coordinators offered informational flyers about why the queer community was marching against the CAQ to those they passed.

The group continued marching towards Place Victoria, arriving at the square around 5:30 p.m.. Shortly after, final remarks were made and the group of protestors disbanded.


Support for Palestine maintained in new year

Vigil and weekly pro-Palestine protests held in Montreal.

At 6 p.m. on Jan. 11, around 100 people attended a vigil for Palestinian journalists in the Old Port. Organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, the vigil was a break from the protests the organization has focused on in the past few months.

A volunteer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that the event was “an opportunity for the community to come together and mourn after the deaths of several journalists since October in Gaza.” 

“The majority of our events since October have been protests. This is really intended for us as a community, to give ourselves a chance to honor people in between continuing to march and continuing to fight,” they said. 

They also mentioned the importance of maintaining support for Palestine in the new year.

“As time goes on, people might feel hopeless, people might feel like what we’re doing is not working. Our political leaders are banking on us getting tired and are banking on us eventually just giving up, and three months in we have proven to them that this is not the case,” they said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by attendees. Sarah Graham, a Montrealer and vigil attendee, said that it was important to show solidarity and support. “We’re all implicated in this. Our government officials are actively or passively supporting Israel, and I think we all have a collective responsibility. I don’t want to tell my grandkids that I didn’t do anything.”

Organizers set up a projection of video footage that included a list of 112 journalists killed, photos of the journalists accompanied by their quotes, and graphics calling for the liberation of Palestine.

At 6:30 p.m., a loudspeaker was set up and one of the vigil’s organizers welcomed the first of many speakers to address the crowd. A Mohawk activist drew parallels between Indigenous struggles in Canada and the genocide in Palestine before calling on attendees to join her for a moment of silence for the journalists killed.

After the moment of silence, the names of journalists killed echoed through the crowd. Speakers from Independent Jewish Voices, Students for Palestinian Human Rights, the Journalism Department of the University of Montreal, the Montreal chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement, and the McGill Daily spoke to the importance of journalism and the bravery and sacrifice of Palestinian journalists.

Sarah Shamy, an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, expressed, “It is really important to recognize that the aggression is getting worse and spilling over into the region. Tonight, we had news that Yemen has been targeted by the US with airstrikes for standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Shamy said.

Another attendee expressed, “What we are fighting for right now is not just a ceasefire. A ceasefire is just the absolute bare minimum that we can accomplish.”

This vigil comes in between the weekly pro-Palestine protests that have continued since October 2023. At their latest protest on the afternoon of Jan. 4, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Israeli consulate before marching downtown.

The Palestinian Youth Movement’s next protest is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Jan. 14 at 730 rue Cathcart. It will mark 100 days since the “Zionist-American aggression and genocidal campaign,” according to the group’s Instagram page. 


Pro-Palestinian students blame mainstream media for biased coverage in Israel-Hamas war

Montreal students demand an end to unfair media coverage.

As the Israel-Hamas war continues to create polarized tensions, students in Montreal accuse the media of biased coverage and creating mistrust.

At a pro-Palestian march on Nov. 9, protesters directly targeted Radio Canada, TVA and CTV, all of whom were present. The protesters yelled: “Every time the media lies, neighborhoods in Gaza die. Shame on you!”

At the demonstration, a young woman half-masked by a red keffiyeh was surrounded by individuals holding “Jews say ceasefire now” and “Ending the genocide of the Palestinian people” signs, when she took the megaphone to denounce TVA Nouvelles. 

“They [TVA] said there were only Arabo-muslims yesterday,” she added, referring to the incident at Concordia the previous day. “Can I hear all the other nationalities and religions here?” The crowd replied: “Yes!”

The march occurred a day after the incident at Concordia’s Hall Building on Nov. 8. The aftermath of the incident caused tensions to rise on campus, as various media outlets attempted to accurately recount the beginning of the conflict through interviews.

The Concordia pro-Israel club StartUp Nation called out CBC’s latest article, promising to “release the truth about yesterday’s horrific events on Concordia campus.” 

According to a statement given to CBC, “Pro-Israel people came barging in and began screaming anti-Palestinian slogans and slurs at them.” This statement was denied by StartUp Nation. The group has since then published videos of the escalation on Instagram that contradict the statement given to the CBC.

During the protest, The Concordian spoke to various students from neighboring universities, to get their thoughts on the media coverage of events that ocurred over the past few days.

Karim, a UQAM student, deplored the polarizing angle of Canadian media stories. “The media are trying to show some sort of consent that Israel is right to do what they’re doing,” Karim said. “But people don’t believe them anymore. The information intensely flows through social media.”

Luz Montero, a UQAM student, held a painted portrait of Netanyahu with the word “infanticide” sprayed around his head. Montero said she stopped following mainstream media, instead getting information through alternative media. “The last thing I saw from CNN, I was like, ‘Oh my God, come on… Stop!,’” Montero said. “We are not ignorant, we know what’s happening there.”

David Derland-Beaupré, a Concordia student and member of La Riposte Socialiste, recounted challenging a Radio-Canada reporter about their support for either the pro- or anti-Israeli. “Where you don’t take sides, you take the side of those who oppress,” he told them. “So you have to expect that people don’t trust you anymore.”

Tara, a member of the Independent Jewish Voices at McGill, weighed in on the Nov. 8  incident at Concordia’s Hall building. “It’s really a horrific show of what divisive rhetoric can do, especially from university administrations that have a duty of care to protect all of their students rather than just a certain cohort,” Tara expressed. 

While Thursday’s protest was unfolding, the Canadian Jewish Advocacy (CJA) federation held a press conference to express safety concerns following two Jewish school gunshots that occurred overnight.

Yair Szlak, CEO of CJA, said that the pro-Palestinian protest was “salt in the wounds” of the Jewish community, as the demonstration was scheduled on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a Nazi assault against the Jews in 1938. “The poster that [the pro-Palestinian protesters] use shows the breaking of glass,” Szlak said. “‘Kristallnacht’ means the night of broken glass,” which represents antisemitism for the Jewish community.

During a press conference on Nov. 8, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed that Canada is indeed facing a rise in antisemitism, which instills fear in Canadians across the country.  

“We need to make sure that Canadians are doing what we do best, which is listening to our neighbors, understanding and acknowledging our neighbors’ pain, even though it may be diametrically opposed in its cause, to the same pain that we are feeling.”


Tuition increases loom over English Universities; Legault stands firm

English universities struggle to see what their future will be without diversity in registration.

Montreal is the diversity hub of Quebec, and the provincial government’s latest blow to its universities has led to uproar from all sides of the city.

“It feels terrible. Very like… have your cake and eat it too,” said Dyan Solomon, renowned restaurant owner in Montreal and once out-of-province student, on the topic of the tuition increases set by the government of Quebec. 

On Oct. 13, the Quebec government implemented measures beginning at the start of the next fall term to “rebalance” the university network in Quebec and protect the French language. To do so, the Quebec government will be increasing tuition for out-of-province students from $9,000 to $17,000 and charging universities $20,000 for every international student. This move would make Quebec universities the most expensive in Canada for out-of-province students.

Students who are currently enrolled in an English university in Quebec will be grandfathered in at their current tuition rate. 

“I’ve been paraded around a lot by the Quebec media,” she added. “It’s very charming, the anglophone who learned how to speak French.” Her overall experience with  francophone Quebec media has been positive, but she questions why she is being used for tourism in Montreal while supposedly being a threat to the culture.

Graphics by Carleen Loney / The Concordian

Solomon hails from Kingston, Ontario. She moved to Montreal to study English literature at McGill. Now, Solomon has gone on to open up three renowned restaurants; Olive & Gourmando, Un Po’ Di Più, and Foxy. She employs over 100 people and is a massive contributor to the culinary culture of Montreal. Her cafe/restaurant Olive & Gourmando was the first business to breathe life back into Montreal’s Old Port. So, being described as a threat to the French language did not sit right with her. 

She also spoke about many of her colleagues in the restaurant industry who have come from away and forged a life here in Quebec navigating the difficult life of entrepreneurship here as an Anglophone.

Since the tuition hikes were announced, she has been using her platform as an influential Montrealer on Instagram to share her story as a former out-of-province student. She quickly accumulated a lot of responses from other remarkable Montrealers who have come from away and decided to gouge out a life in Quebec. 

Being here during the referendum of 1997, Solomon felt the high  expectation of learning French as an out-of-province student in the 90s. “When you came here you had the responsibility to speak French,” she said. “This is what you do–get with the program.” 

Students who are currently enrolled in an English university in Quebec will be grandfathered in at their current tuition rate. 

In a press conference, Jean François-Roberge, minister of the French language, and Pascale Déry, higher education minister, presented the new tuition framework as a way to promote the French language in Montreal as well as redistribute funds in the under-funded Quebec university system. 

When asked if there is too much English being spoken on the streets of Montreal, Jean François-Roberge said: “Of course.” This has sent Quebec’s three English universities, McGill, Concordia and Bishops, into a frenzy, as they account for the largest population of students from outside of Quebec.

In the same press conference Pascale Déry stated that they are looking to “put an end to funding Canadians” by introducing this tarification model. She said that most of these students leave after their studies, and asked why the Quebec tax payer should foot the more than $110 million a year bill for these students. This number has yet to be proven in documents from the government.

Bishops University, with a student population of just 2,500 students, 30 per cent of which are out-of-province and 15 per cent international, will feel the biggest impact of the tuition increase. This new framework threatens to force the closure of the small liberal arts college in the Eastern Townships. 

As an out-of-province student from Alberta, Bishops’ student body president Sofia Stacey believes the measure will make out-of-province students feel unwelcome in Quebec. “Students are fearful, stressed, frustrated, but most of all angry, because they feel that they’ve been told whether they won’t be affected or not, that they don’t belong here,” she said and continued by saying that maybe there just isn’t a place for them in Quebec anyways. 

Stacey fear the news of the proposed tuition hikes will steer incoming students away from Quebec. “That’s heartbreaking for those who have contributed, not just to the economy, but to Quebec society and the culture,” she added. 

On Nov. 6, Quebec Premier Francois Legault refused a historic proposal put forth by English universities to significantly increase their French language education for students. This proposal included plans to help out-of-province students integrate into the French job market after they graduate.

After the announcement of the measure in October, Concordia University spokesperson Vannina Maestracci said in an interview that Concordia was not consulted on the new framework, but was notified two days before the announcement. 

She added that Concordia was looking into what the total effects of the tuition increase will be on smaller programs like creative arts with a large affected population of almost 50 per cent of out-of-province students. 

Graham Carr, president of Concordia University, shared the financial ramifications of the new framework in a letter to the Concordia community. With the added effects of the tuition increases on out-of-province and international students, the university will see a $62 million loss in four years, when the grandfathered tuition wears out. 

Quebec Liberal education critic Marwah Rizqy has been the loudest MNA against the tuition hikes and said Minister Dery needs to “find some common sense” when it comes to the new tuition increases. 

Many out-of-province students come here to learn French and experience the vast and diverse cultures of Montreal. Concordia student Semira Kosciuk from Toronto said she came here for the “culture and for the opportunity to learn more French by immersing myself in it.” Even if she did not speak enough French to complete a degree at a French university, Concordia was the next best thing to learn the language.

ASFA academic coordinator Angelica Antonakopoulos spoke after the Blue Fall Protest on Oct. 30, encouraging students to sign the petition sponsored by the Quebec Liberal Party to force the issue to be debated in Parliament. 

ASFA is currently working on other demonstrations in partnership with other institutions to bring out more students later in November. 


Thousands unite in solidarity with Palestine after over two weeks without ceasefire

Palestinians call out the censorship and lack of education circulating amidst the genocide in Gaza.

Thousands of Montrealers rallied at Dorchester Square on Oct. 22, to demonstrate their support for Palestine. The crowd marched for hours in the rain, demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and condemning Canada’s involvement in Israel’s war crimes against Palestinian civilians.

While many protesters wore the keffiyeh, a traditional Middle Eastern scarf that symbolizes resistance, to show solidarity to the Palestinian people, others raised large posters calling attention to the number of lives that have been taken so far due to Israel’s terrorist attacks on Gazans. Grievances were voiced through chants like “Gaza Gaza don’t you cry, we will never let you die!”

A speaker from the crowd spoke about the painful experience of having to wake up every day and check if his relatives are still alive back home in Gaza. The suppression of Palestinian voices in academic institutions was also denounced by another speaker.   

Several other emergency protests have been held in downtown Montreal over the last few weeks, as Israeli airstrikes continuously targeted homes, schools, hospitals, places of worship, the press and humanitarian facilities.   

Israel’s siege on Gaza has cut off the electricity supply, means of telecommunication, any access to food, clean water, fuel, and proper medical assistance, leaving over 2 million Gazans in urgent need of humanitarian aid. 

Since Oct. 7, 7,028 people have been killed in Gaza, along with 18,484 injured, 1,650 reported missing and around 1.4 million internally displaced. Moreover, healthcare facilities continue to shut down due to destruction or lack of supplies. Despite the constant increase in civilian casualties, the Canadian government has refused to call for a ceasefire. 

A petition was formed against the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), demanding the removal of their group for “Hate Speech and Terrorism Glorification.” However, a member of the SPHR who will remain anonymous for privacy reasons, assured that this petition has not impacted the organization or their work. “We are not doing anything wrong and everything is abiding by the laws set by the CSU,” they said.

They were met with “very mixed reactions” from people they have tried to educate about the ongoing massacres in Gaza. They claimed that while some held biases against Palestinians, others admitted that they were not well informed about the situation. They argued that “a lot of responses came from the influence of mainstream media unfortunately.” 

The SPHR also stated that the university should decry any attempts at doxing Palestinians who speak up about the genocide. “This silence is not acceptable and it takes away from the importance of freedom of speech that we are constantly being reminded of and educated about,” they said. 

Basma and Maya, two Palestinian students at Concordia, claimed to have witnessed many people showing their support for Israel on social media, while staying completely silent as the violence and death tolls escalate in Gaza.

Maya emphasized the lack of education amongst those who did not speak up for Palestine. “You don’t want to talk about it because you don’t know enough about it,” she said.

Basma also remarked on how Western media outlets such as CNN repeatedly ask activists and representatives for Palestine whether they condemn Hamas, yet completely disacknowledge the human rights violations Israel has committed against Palestinian civilians. 

The two students advise everyone to carefully research and inform themselves about the ongoing genocide, as well as reach out to Palestinian students and ask them questions. “It’s not that complicated, it’s not a conflict, it’s an occupation,” Maya asserted.

Briefs News

Concordia students walk out in support of Palestinians

Last week, Concordia students left class for a sit-in to denounce the war in Gaza.

Around 500 students gathered in Concordia’s Hall building last week for a walk-out in support of Palestinians in Gaza and around the world. Similar actions were held at McGill University, Dawson College, UQAM and Université de Montréal. 

The event was organized by Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), a Montreal-based group advocating for the liberation of Palestine. 

According to Noor, a representative of SPHR who did not disclose their last name for security reasons, the action had two goals: promoting “BDS,” which stands for “boycott, divestment, and sanction,” and condemning the normalisation of violence against Palestinians. 

Noor explained that SPHR is asking Concordia to stop investing in initiatives that support Israel.

“I think that we need to put our money where our mouth is, and the students are all speaking and they’re all saying that we stand for human rights,” Noor said. “And in this context, human rights are on the side of the Palestinians.”

Noor was happy with the number of people who showed up to the event and said that SPHR received supportive messages online from students who wanted to come but couldn’t make it.

“I am beyond hopeful for the future of our cause. Today was so inspiring,” Noor said. “Not only did we put this together in less than a week, but we did it in peak midterm season. The turnout was by far beyond anything that we could have expected.” 

They were glad that Concordia students were ready to show support for the Palestinian community. “We’ve got to keep building this community, not only in order to spread awareness and fight for our cause, but also to strengthen ourselves,” Noor said, “because as a Palestinian, the diaspora existing and taking care of ourselves is an act of resistance in and of itself.” 

Photos by Kaitlynn Rodney / The Concordian

Second nationwide counter-protests for trans rights breaks out following controversial legislations

The Canadian government’s new questionable policies regarding trans rights are fueling the 2SLGBTQ+ community to fight back.

One thousand pro-trans protesters gathered in front of the Ministry of Education in Montreal on Sunday to continue fighting for their rights. This is the second nationwide counter-protest for trans rights following the first protest one month ago. 

Now, defending trans rights is crucial after a controversial bill was passed in western Canada.

On Friday, Saskatchewan passed Bill 137, the Parental Bill of Rights, which uses a notwithstanding clause to prevent trans youth from changing their names or pronouns in schools. The bill suggests that if a trans youth under 16 wants to change their name, they must have parental consent. If they do not get consent and insist on having their name or pronoun changed, the bill excludes the possibility of suing the government.

New Brunswick also passed a similar law over the summer in July. 

Furthermore, Quebec Premier François Legault discussed creating a “comité des sages” (committee of wise people), regarding gender identity. The Minister of Families Suzanne Roy will be the committee’s chair. It is unclear who will sit on the committee, but it is set to be revealed during the holidays. 

Celeste Trianon, trans jurisist and activist, is horrified by these new legislations appearing all over the country. She expressed that the 2SLGBTQ+ community will not back down, warning opposing groups they will continue to defend their rights.

“Anti-trans legislation is an existential threat to Canadian democracy and everyone should be concerned,” Trianon said. “Even the very groups, especially most conservative groups, which depend on this very Canadian charter to defend its rights.”

Trans rights protesters and groups such as P!nk Bloc, Montréal Antifaciste, and Première Ligne rallied together for the fight. Trans flags gracefully blew in the wind alongside signs that read “Trans Rights = Human Rights,” “Education is not indoctrination” and “Protect Trans Youth.”

On the other side, anti-trans protesters arrived at the scene holding signs such as “Leave our Kids Alone” and “Hands Off our Kids.” Young children were also present; one of their signs read “Stop confusing me, I’m just a kid.”

A pro trans protester, whose identity will remain anonymous, finds these kids’ participation in the opposing movement sad and disheartening. They believe the group’s mission to “protect their children from the indoctrination of sexualisation and gender identity,” is causing more harm than it is trying to protect the kids.

“[The kids] have no idea what they’re really doing, you know, and it’s just their parents sort of teaching them this hate,” they said. “It makes me sad because if any of them are trans, they’re just taught from the beginning to hate themselves, and they don’t have any protection. They’re not being protected.”

The protester was not aware of Bill 137 passing and when they found out, they were devastated. However, they recognize that the beautiful 2SLGBTQ+ community and their peers are a beacon of love in their life. While their love makes the difficult journey a little bit easier to get through, doubt still creeps in. 

“There is this support in the [2SLGBTQ+] community that stands with me and that I can stand with that sort of gives me this hope for the future, but then it’s also like the government doesn’t care about me,” they said. 

The heart of the protest was that trans lives deserve to be here. Trianon encourages everyone to keep voicing their support for the 2SLGBTQ+ community no matter what the government is doing.  

“Things are not going to change unless the general population wakes up to this. Anti-democratic movements must face resistance from populations,” Trianon said. 

She explains that most civil rights have been acquired through protesting, striking, and acting against institutions in power. “That is how we got the minimum wage, how people now have humane working conditions. That is why we are here now,” Trianon said, adding that this is why the Canadian Charter, the Quebec Charter and other protections which haven’t codified in law for decades. “That is why women can now vote, why people can now live their best lives and that is why I can actually exist in this society.”

Photos by Lily Cowper / The Concordian

Thousands come together in support of Palestine in Downtown Montreal

Downtown Montreal was flooded with supporters for Palestinian liberation.

As war rages on between Israel and Hamas, demonstrators in Montreal banded together to show support for Palestine.

This war has prompted pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Montreal and across the world. On Oct. 13, protesters gathered in downtown Montreal to show their support for Palestinians. 

“We all know of Israel’s occupation,” said Emna Maaref, a woman of Tunisian origin who was attending the protest. “It is only normal that the people of Palestine would want to be freed.”

The war started on the morning of Oct. 7 when Hamas launched an offensive against Israel. The day after, Israel officially declared war against Hamas. Since then, there have been approximately 3,500 casualties and 12,500 wounded on the Palestinian side. Around a million Palestinians have also been displaced because of the conflict. While Israel had 1,400 casualties and 120,000 people displaced.

The demonstration drew people from many backgrounds, not just middle eastern people.

“I have full solidarity with Palestine,” said Richard Davis. “Canada should stop aiding Israel with imperialism.” Davis was among the many who decided to go out and voice his support for the liberation of Palestine.

Many protesters refused or hesitated to speak to the media at Friday’s demonstration. Many even hid their faces to protect themselves from the media.

“It’s not a new conflict,” said a woman of middle eastern descent who wished to remain anonymous. “For us, it’s not a political issue, it is more of a compassion thing. We are proud that Palestinians are doing something to liberate themselves.”

She argued that no country has ever won their independence peacefully. “I grew up with Palestine being everywhere in my life, love for Palestine, my father talking about Palestine. Palestine is etched to our hearts.”

“Hearing about Palestine throughout my life made me want to participate,”said Yasmine Rahmani, who was one of the participants in the demonstration, said that the reason she decided to attend was to make a difference beyond the bounds of social media. 

She criticized Canada for not doing enough to help Palestine, but also thought that maybe it is for the best to not get involved. “Western countries should not include themselves within this conflict, since it is their fault anyway that this conflict even exists.” 

The demonstration went on peacefully, as its chants filled the streets of downtown Montreal. Protesters united their voices and sang: “Justin Trudeau you will see, Palestine will soon be free!”


Crisis abroad ignites passionate response from Armenian students

There is a war to be fought in the hearts of Montreal Armenians as ancestral land falls to neighboring forces.

As the evening cold sets on Sept. 23, an ancient tune reaches the ears of Montrealers near the McGill campus on Sherbrooke street.

Its trail leads to the university’s Roddick Gates, in front of which a handful of people stand tall alongside a pair of speakers, large banners raised above their heads and dressed in muted colours. Some are adorned in flags flushed of red, blue and orange, wrapped and held tight to their person. 

As the melody carries further into the city, a young woman walks forward to the edge of the sidewalk. Slowly, she pours a dirt-red viscous liquid onto her dress. 

Passersby halt, their gaze locking on her as she stands on a white sheet that absorbs the residual liquid.

Their eyes eventually fall upon the words scribbled amateurishly across the banners: ‘Protect indigenous Armenians in Artsakh’ can be read on one of them. And the message becomes just a little clearer.

The protest was in response to Azerbaijan’s initial offensive on the capital of the Republic of Artsakh, recognized internationally as Nagorno-Karabakh. The breakaway region is located in Azerbaijan but is governed by its indigenous Armenian inhabitants.

“It feels like I have so much to lose now and something to protect,” said Maral Matig, one of the protesters and a Concordia student in design. “It’s a deep pain that I haven’t always felt.”

The attack was seen as a violation of the ceasefire brokered in 2020 between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the aftermath of the second major conflict for the region. 

“It was always in the background,” Matig said, referring to the 2020 war. “I was suppressing my emotions. It’s the first time in my life I’ve taken any type of concrete action.”

Since the early 20th century, Nagorno-Karabakh has long been disputed between its two Caucus neighbours. Although recognized internationally as a part of Azerbaijan, de facto control lay in the hands of its ethnic Armenian inhabitants since the 1990s—until now at least. 

More than half of the Nagorno-Karabakh population has fled due to Azerbaijan’s current control over the region. This outpour was a result of a cessation of conflict a mere day after the peace was broken again.

“They are trying to completely erase the Armenians’ identity in the region and they won’t stop,” Matig said. “We just want to live, we just want peace. And that’s it.” 

Back in March, Azerbaijan launched an unprecedented blockade on the path used to establish connection between Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh, known as the Lachin Corridor. This created a humanitarian crisis in the region, with the population having to ration food and medicine among other issues.

Matig considered the blockade prelude to the on-going situation as news of rising tensions appeared on her online feed.

Now, armed only with her passion, Matig took to the streets with fellow Armenians art students to raise awareness for last week’s events.

However, Matig explained her efforts are left unheard, as the international community offered little to no support to Karabakh’s former inhabitants. She feared this lack of support or condemnation to certain actors may lead to future escalation onto the country of Armenia itself. This fear is shared by many Armenians due to their contentious history with local powers since the 1915 genocide, perpetrated by the Ottoman empire.

“We just want peace, we just want to live. It’s about survival, the continuation of our culture,” Matig explained. “Because we’ve been through way too much for this to keep happening.” 

Mesrob Arsenian, president of the Concordia Armenian Students Union, shared similar feelings. “It’s a struggle—you have to fight as long as you want to keep your identity,” Arsenian said. “It’s a part of being Armenian.”

Arsenian felt strongly about the ongoing development. However, his faithful pride was sullied as he could only watch events unfold online, halfway across the world. 

Arsenian was not surprised by the news, as little was done since 2020 to prevent any kind of attack in Karabakh. Russia, for example, an ally to Armenia, has mostly taken a diplomatic role between the two nations, brokering cease fires or keeping the peace on the ground post-war, a responsibility inherited from the Soviet Union. 

This diplomatic approach taken by nations at large was something Arsenian criticised heavily. “I know nothing is going to change but please do something because this [inaction] is getting ridiculous,” Arsenian said. “You can’t choose which human rights to care for and which not to.”

Many in positions of power or expertise, have condemned the Azeri government’s actions.  

Kyle Matthews, the Executive Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University, has done the same. 

Matthews previously served as a United Nations official in the Southern Caucasus region and highlighted the severity of the crisis, calling for immediate action to assist the Armenians fleeing the region.

“What we’re seeing happen today is a grave violation of international norms and standards,” Matthews said.

Describing the current situation as “potential ethnic cleansing,” Matthews stressed that international law prohibits such actions, no matter what may be classified as after the fact. 

Matthews explained Azerbaijan has long found an ally in Turkey, from whom they receive support both politically and militarily. For a time, the south caucasian power received aid indirectly from Canada in the form of drones. Otherwise, Matthews said Canada as a nation has no interests in the region.

If nations were to choose harsher condemnation, Matthews suggested issuing economic sanctions against Azerbaijan or stopping trade relations.

“Rhetorical condemnation to a government who’s looking to displace a people is not enough,” he added. “Something more robust has to happen and putting a statement of concern on Twitter is not going to do that today.”


Counter-protesters defend trans rights amid outcry of opposing protest

Trans rights groups and anti-trans groups debate what is best for children’s education about gender identity

Five hundred counter-protesters took to the streets of Downtown Montreal on Sept. 20, fighting for trans people’s rights against the opposing protest “1 Million March 4 Children,” that seeks to advocate the “elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.”

Both protests took place nationwide, accompanied by 61 counter-protests. 

Anti-trans protesters chanted “Leave our children alone” and “Parents know best” in the direction of counter-protesters, who they believe are trying to “indoctrinate their children with sexualization” according to their website. 

Celeste Trianon is a trans jurist, organizer of the “No Space for Hate” protest and one of the two national coordinators of the same campaign. She has dedicated her life to standing up for trans rights and creating an environment where they feel safe and accepted.

“There is no space for hate across Canada, and we’ve historically been one of the safest countries for 2SLGBTQ+ people across the world and we want to make sure that continues,” Trianon said. 

“Remember, our Canadian Charter has protected us [the 2SLGBTQ+ community] since the 80s. Where have all those values gone? Let’s not dismantle our Charter and the very things that make us Canadian.”

Corey Kutner, a trans person studying at Concordia, attended the counter-protest. They do not agree with the way the trans community is being presented to children. 

“A lot of people are falsely equating being trans and educating children about what it means to be trans with really awful things like being a pedophile, a groomer. I just want to do my part of combating that misinformation and standing up for trans people everywhere,” Kutner said. 

Caroline Raraujo moved from Brazil to protect her and her sons rights to be a part of the LGBTQIA+, she shares that she thinks it’s ridiculous she still has to do this in Canada as well. Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian

Trans rights protesters walked down Sainte-Catherine holding signs such as “Protect Trans Kids,” “We Were Always Proud,” and “Trans people have always existed,” while chanting “Trans Rights are Human Rights.” While there were 750 anti-trans protesters, they were drowned out by the trans rights protesters, who made sure their message of solidarity was clear. 

“I’m hoping that everyone will just be able to get a better idea of just how many people there are out here who want to fight for transliteration and that it is a loud minority that is in opposition,” Kutner said.

Caroline Raraujo, a mother from Brazil, came to support the fight on behalf of her son, who came out as trans at the age of 16. She was actively involved in the 2SLGBTQ+ fight in Brazil and moved to Canada for a better life for the two of them. 

“Since he came out as a trans boy, I’m acting like a shield and I’m going to protect him. I’m going to protect him wherever they try to remove his rights or attack him. And not just him, but all the trans community,” Raraujo said.

Trianon ended her interview by addressing the public:

“To our queer and trans teens, kids, adults, and elders: you are seen, you are welcome. You are welcome here in Canada, and for us, as long as we can continue making sure that you are safe here, we’re going to do everything we can in our power to make sure you are not just welcomed, but loved.”

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