Black student accosted, then arrested at Stinger’s Dome

After his complaint against was disregarded, the Concordia student must face court.

It all started on Dec. 23, 2023, when a Black second-year student was playing soccer, a common occurrence, in the Stinger Dome at Loyola. Due to the ongoing criminal case, we will not disclose the student’s real name and will instead use “John” as an alias. The student’s daily routine came to a halt when a staff person at the dome played referee for the student’s game, resulting in a violent altercation that ultimately led to the student’s arrest. Now, the student is due in court on March 12, and is being supported by the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

When John was playing soccer in the Stingers Dome alone, which he’s been doing for a while now, a staff person came up to him, telling him he wasn’t allowed to be there, and demanded to see his student ID. 

“[The staff person] said to me, ‘What are you doing on the field?’ I said that I’m from Concordia, and that I have been training on the field for a long time. He asked for my ID and he still told me that I couldn’t play,” John said.

A teacher at the Loyola High School who knew John came to his defense, advising the staff person that John was allowed to stay. 

Two days later, John returned to the field for another practice when that same staff person approached him, telling him that he was not allowed to play, and threatened to call security.

John asked the staff member why he was calling security. “I have the right to play, I’m not a danger,’” John replied. 

“Then we start to discuss, I explain my situation in English,” he said. “It’s not my first language, I don’t fully express my words very well, and I don’t know why but he started making fun of my English.”

The staff person proceeded to make racist comments, stating that he should “return to your country like all immigrants” and that he’s “not a real Canadian.” The staff person then called security, pulled out his phone and started recording John.

John knocked the phone out of the staff person’s hands to stop him from recording. He didn’t understand why the staff member was taking extreme measures this second time, when two days earlier, they already resolved the issue. 

“There were other members of the staff that I saw a year ago and they asked me for the ID and I continued playing, no problem,” John said. “There are other people who are not even from Concordia who play on the field, there is no problem. So, why are you calling the police on me?”

The staff person picked up the phone off the ground and continued filming John, who repeatedly said that he didn’t want to be filmed. The situation escalated when the staff person punched John in the face. As the fighting continued, players from the Stingers soccer team saw the altercation and separated the two. 

“Afterwards, [campus] security came, they came to see the staff member. I explained to them that the staff member insulted me and that he attacked me. But they didn’t want to listen to me,” John said. 

When the police arrived, John and the staff person were each given a complaint sheet for security. The staff person gave his paper to the police without any problems, but John couldn’t.

“I was writing my complaint when the police came up to me and told me that I am under arrest,” John said. “I said ‘I have my complaint sheet, can I give it to you?’ They didn’t take it, they arrested me entirely. They asked me for my wallet, my phone, my personal information, all that.”

Fo Niemi, executive director of CRARR, will file the complaint on John’s behalf to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission next week. When a student experiences an incident tainted by racial, gender, or homophobic bias, Niemi encourages students to take that action to strengthen their case. John’s is no exception.

“Because fundamentally, it’s about the rights to equality, the rights to safety, and the right to the safeguard of their dignity,” Niemi said. “In [John’s] case, we believe that there were many elements that were present during the incident that jeopardized the rights of the student.” 

In 2022, Concordia published their final version of the Task Force on Anti-Black Racism to promote Black excellence and to protect Black and Brown students on campus. Despite this milestone accomplishment, Niemi intends to look at John’s case as an example to identify what more needs to change to ensure the safety of these students.

“We are to take this opportunity to look at where things are at in terms of anti-Black racism and actions that the university has committed itself to set in place in order to prevent race-based incidents like what happened to John,” Niemi said.

John hopes that the complaint sent to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms will help him for the outcome of his case. John is set to appear in court on March 12.


  • In a previous version of this article, in paragraph 15, it was written that “Fo Niemi, executive director of CRARR, filed the complaint on John’s behalf to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.” This is not correct. Niemi will file the complaint next week. We apologize to our readers for this mistake and take full responsibility.

Black Ice: testimonies of discrimination in yet another sport

The Montreal premiere of Hubert Davis’ Black History documentary took place in Concordia’s Hall building on the evening of Feb. 13

“Talk to anybody of colour that tried to make it playing hockey up there, listen to the stories they had. It would be like, ‘Dude, were you in Alabama? No, I was in Manitoba,’ said comedian Bill Burr during an interview with Conan O’Brien on TBS. 

The clip kicked off what seemed like an endless series of videos and news reports of soul-crushing acts of racial atrocities: social media posts, videos of fans, and players spewing slurs and pantomiming acts of hate, all without any repercussions. In his new documentary, Hubert Davis underscores that BIPOC have seldom been accepted in the sport dominated by white people. 

Black Ice covers the Black history of hockey, and how Black players’ relationships and experiences with the sport have forever been bitter.

From the immigrants escaping slavery through the underground railroad to young children presently learning how to take their first strides on the ice, Davis covered the wide-spanning history of racial intolerance from the perspective of the harmed. For decades, ignorance and intolerance have been commonplace in locker rooms, from youth house leagues all the way to the NHL.

More importantly, the documentary focuses on current trailblazers who aim to make hockey a more inclusive sport, once and for all. These important members of the community have made waves by spreading awareness and encouraging BIPOC children to pursue their love of the game, all while educating and supporting them through the challenges they face.

Many beloved names from the hockey community spoke on their experiences with hate, such as producer P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Sarah Nurse, and Matt Dumba. The latter was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2020, which recognizes exemplary leadership qualities and contribution to the community. Dumba is also a member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance. 

Black Ice speaks about many historical figures and events such as the Coloured Hockey League, which was founded in Nova Scotia in 1895, and where the slap shot was pioneered. The greatest Black player to never play in the NHL, Herb Carnegie, was also featured in the documentary. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame a whole 68 years after his retirement, and 10 years posthumously. He turned down the New York Rangers’ low-ball salary offer, only after Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe announced that he’ll give $10,000 to anyone who can turn him white.

After the screening, a Q&A panel was held including former Montreal Canadiens Georges Laraque, Frantzi Joseph (father of NHL players Mathieu and Pierre-Oliver Joseph), and thirteen-year-old aspiring hockey player Keisha. The three discussed their own experiences, setting an even more intimate tone to the evening.

Black Ice is available to stream on Crave, and aired on TSN.


Montrealers gather to mourn the life and demand justice for Ronny Kay

communities came together in support of Kay’s family as they demand official condolences and explanations for his death

Protesters gathered at Sun Yat-Sen Park for a vigil and march in support of the family of Ronny Kay, a 38-year-old man who was killed during a SPVM intervention on Sept. 17 in Nun’s Island. 

According to his family and recent reports, police were called to Kay’s home while he was in an argument with his ex-girlfriend. Police were responding to reports of a suspected firearm. His family says he was in emotional distress during the incident, allegedly getting shot several times by a police officer before being taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. 

The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) is currently investigating the circumstances of Kay’s death.

Kay’s family is asking the BEI, Quebec’s Minister of Public Security, the SPVM and Mayor Valérie Plante for psychosocial services and official condolences.

The march was organized by the ad-hoc committee ‘Justice for Ronny Kay’ formed to support Kay’s family in their search for answers. People visited to pay their respects including local community organizers, and members of the Montreal Chinese community, in which Kay was involved, according to his family.

One of Kay’s siblings, Michelle Kay, expressed her frustration by the lack of transparency surrounding the case. The explanation regarding the death of Ronny Kay still remains unclear after two months. 

“The BEI tells us [to] ‘just wait, it can be another six months, seven months’ but for us to mourn seven months without understanding why is simply not normal,” Kay said.

Kay also mentioned how waiting for answers has added much difficulty to the family’s grief, and that she is saddened that the SPVM and other Montreal officials are not sending condolences regarding her brother’s death. 

“We are a family that contributes to this society, I speak French, Ronny spoke French, we grew up here, we were all born here,” she said. “And yet, this story of a Montreal citizen was barely covered by the media, it’s unbelievable.”

This case comes at a time when racial profiling and the mistreatment of people of colour by the Quebec police has been gaining a lot of attention.

Director Racial Profiling & Public Safety for the Red Coalition Alain Babineau said Kay’s story is concerning to the Coalition, a group who works on eliminating racial profiling and systemic racism in Canada. 

“The other thing that preoccupies us a lot is the way that Ronny Kay’s mother was treated a few weeks after his death,” said Babineau.

According to the Kay family, their mother was picking up a prescription a few weeks after Kay’s death when she got into an argument at the store. The police were called, who proceeded to handcuff her and charge her with a criminal offense of “disturbing the peace.”

“For us this is an aberration because the police are victimizing a victim,” said Babineau. “This mother just lost her child, it’s a terrible trauma, she’s under medication and they arrested her, handcuffed her and put criminal charges on her, it’s very serious.”

Babineau said the coalition talked to the Kay family and will most likely be helping them through the process. For him, the way the family has been treated ever since Kay’s death is unacceptable.

“You can’t do that, you can’t victimize a family who are already victims,” said Babineau. “You have to be human and understand that what they lived through is appalling.”

When asked to comment on the case, the SPVM said they would not make any further comments in order to avoid influencing the BEI’s investigation.


First Peoples Studies students shocked by lecturer’s comments

Many students in a First Peoples Studies class walked out due to a speaker’s claims on residential schools.

Multiple Concordia students walked out of a class on Algonquian Peoples on Oct. 28 due to the comments of a guest lecturer, Toby Morantz, a retired McGill professor. Morantz told the class that the James Bay Cree suffered less in residential schools than other Indigenous people.

Morantz was invited to speak in class by the professor, Emanuel Lowi, on her book The White Man’s Gonna Getcha: The Colonial Challenge to the Crees in Quebec, which was assigned reading for the course.

“She basically tried to argue that the James Bay Cree suffered significantly less than other [Indigenous] nations,” said Mavis Poucachiche, who is from the Waswanipi community that is part of the James Bay Cree Nation. Poucachiche explained that Morantz was specifically talking about residential schools in Fort George, and how the children did not have to travel far from their homes to attend. It was common practice for Indigenous children to be sent to residential schools far from their community, and not allowed to return home for the summer or holidays.

Poucachiche said that another student in the class, who is also James Bay Cree, told Morantz that their grandparents, who were from Fort George, were forcibly taken away to a residential school. Morantz then apparently wagged her finger at this student, saying “No, no no, no.”

“A few students felt uncomfortable with what I had said and walked out of the classroom. That is their prerogative,” said Morantz, who explained that she miscommunicated the differences in the policies enacted in James Bay and elsewhere after WWII, and tried to correct what she said once she saw the students misunderstood her.

She also stated that she is upset by how people and the media have labeled her as racist, and that she has received many emails in support, saying that she is being misrepresented in the media.

Morantz is credited along with other historians in an open letter from August by the Dorchester Review, which disagrees with the Canadian Historical Association’s statement that the Canadian government’s treatment of Indigenous people was an act of genocide.

Shortly after Morantz wagged her finger at the student, multiple people, including Poucachiche, walked out of class.

“It was just so disrespectful,” said Poucachiche, who said that Morantz’s studies were from a colonial perspective; that in her book she only references the Hudson’s Bay Company and other non-Indigenous sources. “She just kept telling that we were wrong, like us Cree people were wrong.”

“It made us really uncomfortable and it was traumatizing for us to have to hear this,” said Catherine*, who is white-mixed and Mi’kmaq.

Catherine explained that Professor Lowi did nothing to stop Morantz for the entire class, besides stating during the class that some of Morantz’s comments were inappropriate.

Even as students walked out after Morantz said the children at the Fort George residential schools suffered less physical and sexual abuse compared to other schools, or when Morantz called Indigenous people Indians and referred to them as homeless and drunks, Lowi did nothing to intervene and stop the presentation.

“[Morantz] said that if you are a lawyer or a teacher, bush life doesn’t impact your everyday life,” said Catherine. Bush life refers to the social, cultural, and physical skills that Indigenous people practice in nature. “This was incredibly insulting, traditional life literally shapes our entire being, it’s not some distant thing.”

The class now has a new syllabus and is being taught by Manon Tremblay, the senior director of indigenous directions, and who is a nêhiyaw-iskwêw (Plains Cree) from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. On Nov. 4, Tremblay, alongside Dr. Catherine Kinewesquao Richardson, the director of First Peoples Studies at Concordia, and who is Métis with Cree, Dene, and Gwich’in ancestry, held a space for students to share their experiences and thoughts on the issue.

“It really reminded me of being back home with my family and where we would sit around the table and just laugh,” said Poucachiche, describing what having Tremblay as the new professor is like. “It was a heartwarming experience and I’m really grateful that Catherine [Richardson] and Manon are listening to us and taking this seriously.”

“I think her [Morantz] conduct in class is terrible and really disheartening,” said Richardson, who explained that she and her colleagues always work hard to implement cultural safety, and uplift Indigenous students who have already faced many obstacles to be in the classroom.

Richardson stated that for legal reasons she cannot say if there have been repercussions for Lowi, but he is currently not teaching any classes at the moment. She also explained that he was remorseful about what occurred, and there have been letters sent supporting Lowi, but it is also clear that inviting Morantz was a mistake and her lecture caused harm.

On Oct. 29, Lowi sent a Moodle message to the class, stating that Morantz’s remarks were outrageous, and that he had never met her before that class.

“Those students who walked out were totally right to do that. If I had been a student in the classroom, I would have walked out too,” said Lowi in the message.

Lowi has not responded to any requests for an interview.

*Catherine requested anonymity of her last name.


Graphic by James Fay

”Not a hate crime”? Or anti-Asian racism denial?

Anti-Asian violence is more than just a few isolated cases

It’s very rare for me to tear up when reading the news — as a journalism student, I have headlines for breakfast and newscasts for snacks. But just last week, I came across a CTV News article that mentioned a man who killed two Asian individuals in September after plowing through them with his car.

This happened in broad daylight. The police asserted that these crimes weren’t racially motivated, that the victims had been hit “at random.” But what really affected me was that these murders occurred blocks away from my mom’s house; a street my sister and I biked on every summer growing up was the site of 50-year-old cyclist Gérard Chong Soon Yuen’s death.

The same day I read this story, I had my mom on the phone. I told her to be careful and not to leave the house unless she absolutely needed to. She told me the same, thinking I was worried about COVID. I wasn’t.

I’ve spoken before about the model minority myth and how its toxicity breeds a culture of indifference towards anti-Asian violence. For decades now, the contrast between the treatment of white and East Asian people hasn’t been stark enough for our society to acknowledge the correlation between crimes against people of our race and the discrimination they face.

This leads to international media outlets shamelessly publishing articles headlined with variations of “Why is anti-Asian racism on the rise in the U.S.?”

But even worse, it causes the police to dismiss acts of violence as isolated incidents instead of facing what they truly are: manifestations of our society’s disbelief in racism, and particularly anti-Asian racism.

What really breaks my heart is this: what do you tell your community after the cops close an investigation into a series of assaults where the victims were all Asian and choose to deliberately ignore the fact that race was the one common tie between all these cases?

South Korean journalist SuChin Pak recently published a detailed account of the time a colleague of hers at MTV said, while watching her present the news in a room full of people, that Pak looked like a “‘me sucky sucky love you long time’ whore.”

For months, she fought to have this man removed, a scary and anxiety-inducing endeavour for a young journalist who wasn’t used to having to stand up to workplace discrimination. She stopped showing up to work and hired a lawyer, yet still faced pushback from the network’s administration, who tried to negotiate and get her to back down.

She didn’t. And after months, she was handed a letter from the man asking her one last time to reconsider.

“One last attempt was made,” she said, “to ask me to swallow my dignity, my identity, my rage to make a white man feel like he was still [okay], loved and respected … I was reminded once again, by the white male executive, that someone’s livelihood was on the line, that I was somehow responsible for that.”

I’m still dumbfounded by the lengths organizations go to protect the egos of people who clearly perpetuate toxic racism in the workplace. And every time, the very individuals who have been made to feel small and alienated are the ones who have to prove they are worthy of basic decency.

What I found especially relatable about Pak’s story is her mention that this experience didn’t make her feel strong or empowered or courageous. The whole time, she was filled with self-doubt and fear; the only thing that kept her going was the feeling that she needed to.

It’s scary to speak up. It’s scary to defend your honour. It’s scary to actively protest racist treatment in a society that gaslights Asian people into thinking they aren’t discriminated against and have no right to call out their oppression.

And it’s not an immediate process. It takes months, years for us to even see a glimmer of change. The Montgomery Bus Boycotts initiated by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give her seat up to a white person lasted 381 days. It took decades until the suffragette movement’s protests bore fruit and granted them the permission to vote, a struggle which dragged on even longer for women of colour.

These are issues that today are seen as blatant violations of human rights. So how long will we have to endure degrading treatment that is invisible to a majority of people? How long until anti-Asian hate crimes are finally considered legitimate enough for police to even consider as motives for violence? How many more Asian people are going to be assaulted and killed at the hands of the “model minority” label and the denial of Asian discrimination?

Changing a whole society’s mindset about race requires constant efforts by those who are negatively impacted by it. It’s tiring, time-consuming, and more importantly a huge privilege to have the education and resources to spend on being an activist — Pak even recognizes how lucky she was to have the leverage and the funds to hire a lawyer and see this battle through.

The white-passing appearance my mixed race heritage has “endowed” upon me hasn’t sheltered me from anti-Asian racism. But the reason I write, speak out, and protest against anti-Asian racism so fervently isn’t because of my personal encounters with it; it’s because I can’t stand knowing that my mom is unsafe in a country she came to with the hope of a better life.


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab


Anti-Asian hate crimes spike in Canada

Following a mass shooting in Atlanta that targeted Asian businesses, Canada reckons with its own anti-Asian racism problem

Spikes in anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported all around the world, including here in Canada. Anti-Asian racism has been present throughout the nation’s history, and this year, the Asian community reports racial violence is becoming increasingly aggressive, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent study outlined that over 1,150 incidents of anti-Asian racism were reported in Canada between March 2020 and February 2021. According to a report published by The Chinese Canadian National Council’s Toronto chapter (CCNCTO) and Fight COVID Racism, Vancouver has experienced up to a 700 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. 

In Montreal, there were 30 hate crimes reported between March and December of 2020, up from just six reported in 2019. Last May, a man of Korean descent was stabbed in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

In September, two victims of Asian descent were killed in a double hit-and-run in Brossard. A 30-year-old man has since been arrested and charged with second degree murder.

Police insisted the hit-and-runs were not hate crimes, but failed to explain why. Both victims were of East Asian descent; Huiping Ding, 45, was Chinese, and Gérard Chong Soon Yuen, 50, was Korean.

This year on March 11, a man of Korean descent was walking in the Plateau when he was attacked with pepper spray in broad daylight. Initially, police were not investigating the incident as a hate crime, although the victim considered the incident to be one. However, following media coverage, the hate crimes squad was brought in to investigate. The victim, a man identified as Nicolas, detailed that while he was carrying “the latest iPhone, the latest Apple Watch, the latest iPad and MacBook Pro,” but his attackers made no effort to rob him.

Days later on March 16, breaking news of a mass shooting in Georgia reported eight dead, six of whom were Asian women. A 21-year-old white gunman targeted three separate Asian-owned spas in Acworth and Atlanta. The shootings sparked outrage among Asian communities across the U.S., with protests held in Atlanta and New York the same weekend.

In the wake of that tragedy, Montreal community leaders organized a march against anti-Asian racism on March 21. Organizers led thousands of supporters on a three kilometre march from Cabot Square to Chinatown, stopping at Quebec Premier François Legault’s office on Sherbrooke Street. Activists demanded acknowledgement of the sharp rise in anti-Asian sentiment within Quebec. Premier Legault continues to deny the existence of systemic racism in the province.

Speeches made by leaders of Montreal’s Asian community outlined Canada and Quebec’s own colonial and historically racist treatment of Asians. Cathy Wong, councillor of the Peter-McGill district, spoke passionately of the racist history that the Asian community has endured.

“We march in remembrance of our history, as racism against Asians did not begin yesterday. It was not born from the pandemic. We march in remembrance of our history because our history is coloured by racist laws that excluded the Chinese — targeting our great grandparents, despite building railroads in exchange for dreams of a new life,” Wong said to the crowd in French.

Among the speakers was part-time Concordia professor Jinyoung Kim, who identifies as Korean-Canadian. Four of the six Asian women who were killed in Atlanta were of Korean descent.

“[It became] an immediate reality for me and for my friends, my parents, and everyone I know with Asian bodies in North America,” she said, before describing the threat of violence against Asians in the last year. “It’s been a year of fighting for justice, and it feels like nothing has gotten better.”

“I feel deeply the traumas that my BIPOC students go through,” Kim said, speaking of her Studio Arts students at Concordia. “I have heard stories from my students.”

The Atlanta shootings have sparked conversations about the fetishization of Asian women, with many activists citing the gendered violence and racism that Asian women face. In a press conference held shortly after the shootings, law enforcement officials said that the gunman confessed to the shootings, but denied racial motivations behind the attacks. Instead, the shooter saw Asian women as “temptations that he had to eliminate,” that he had a “sex addiction,” and that it was a “bad day.”

Following the Atlanta shootings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement saying, “While we have made progress toward a more just and equal society, more still needs to be done, and the Government of Canada remains committed to this work.”

On March 22, New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh introduced the Anti-Asian Hate motion, which passed in the House of Commons. The motion called for the federal government to “properly fund” hate crime units across Canada, and make efforts to “identify best practices in countering this trend.”

But Singh echoed the sentiments of many, tweeting in response, “Justin Trudeau needs to do more than offer words, he needs to act,” in order to combat anti-Asian violence.  


Photographs by Christine Beaudoin

O Canada… Whose home and native land?

Canada is finally breaking the silence around anti-Asian racism

Ever since I’ve been old enough to recognize patterns of race and gender-based discrimination in society, my mother has denied being a victim of either of those things.

My Taiwanese mother immigrated here over 20 years ago. Single-handedly, after only a few years of living here, she had bought a house and started taking French classes offered by the Quebec government’s immigrant integration services — the fourth language she would be learning after Hokkien, Mandarin, and English.

I’ve witnessed her being talked down to by bureaucrats at government offices and had countless store employees turn to face me to answer a question she had asked, sometimes with a look on their face that was asking me to relate to their deliberate misunderstanding of her Chinese accent. As a teenager, I remember looking at my sister as we drove past someone who had just yelled out a racial slur and commented on our mom’s driving. I’ve never rolled up my window so fast. To this day, I’m still glad she didn’t hear it.

And yet, despite all this, my mom is probably the person I know who is the most optimistic about the social climate of Canada; she’s never let her optimism and gratitude towards the country be clouded by microaggressions and negativity.

I was on exchange in Singapore when COVID first hit, when the western world was busy making coronavirus memes instead of planning ahead for an inevitable pandemic. And one day, on a WhatsApp call with my mom, as I was telling her I was okay and was monitoring my temperature every day, she told me she didn’t want to go out too much because there were increasing reports of anti-Chinese violence in Chinatown. She told me there was a lot of racism around Montreal those days.

To say the least, that made me terrified.

East Asians are often dubbed the “model minority”: they have the benefit of a skin tone fairer than other ethnicities’. Some have even said they don’t fall into the “people of colour” category.

And the stereotypes associated with being East Asian, including academic excellence, obedience, bring really good at martial arts, and eating dogs are frankly not as harmful as being associated with inherent violence, terrorism, and drug addiction.

They also experience discrimination to a lesser degree than other visible minorities; Chinese people in Canada only earn 91 cents for every dollar a white person makes, which is far higher than for, say, Black people, for whom this number is 73 cents.

Yet, the model minority attribution becomes especially toxic when it comes as an excuse to dismiss anti-Asian racism on the belief that Asian people don’t stand up for themselves or fight back. It takes advantage of Asian stereotypes being associated with silence and endurance to double down on bullying, microaggressions, theft, and violence.

In my view, this is why we never heard about anti-Asian hate crimes until the numbers shot up by over 700 per cent in the past year, like the Vancouver Police Department has reported. In Canada alone, community-based groups have reported over 600 cases of racial aggression against Asian people since the start of the spread of COVID-19. In the first four months of 2020, 95 per cent of reported incidents happened in March and April, as the country entered lockdown.

Our generation is pretty good at recognizing and calling out discrimination when we see it, and especially taking a stand against it. But the state of anti-Asian racism in Canada has gotten so bad that even my mother, who has always had so much faith in this country, has noticed and become apprehensive because of it. For a second-generation immigrant, it’s almost worse than seeing your mom cry.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


Yes, we need to celebrate Black History Month

It’s not just about slavery and hardships

n February 1926, a week commemorating “Negro History” was launched by American historian Carter G. Woodson, who in his mission to incorporate Black history in school curricula, was also looking to honour the legacies of president Abraham Lincoln and human rights leader Frederick Douglass, both of whom were born in February. Its successor, Black History Month, would be institutionalized across the United States half a century later.

First celebrated in Canada in 1988, Black History Month was then officially recognized nationwide in 1995. In 2007, the Quebec government also adopted this event in the province.

Black History Month isn’t just an important event; it’s a necessary commemoration.

Every year, I log onto Twitter — where else? — and find, within a sea of tweets highlighting the work of Black pioneers, some users’ hot takes about why it’s an unnecessary event. Their argument goes that singling out the Black community in recalling and calling attention to their history contributes to keeping them in the past and holding their identities tied to a past of enslavement.

Many also have had qualms with Black History Month because it’s a celebration of a certain group of people. You’ve probably heard someone at some point say, “But what about white history month? Or Asian history month?”

Yes, what about them?

Celebrating a specific group of people, and especially providing them with tools to overcome and make up for the institutional problems that have caused many to fall behind compared to their white counterparts, is one of the main purposes of Black History Month.

These arguments have some merit, and I’m saying this so as not to completely discredit the opinion of those who see things such as affirmative action and “preferential treatment” as another dividing factor between the multiple ethnicities in our societies.

But shining a spotlight on an issue doesn’t mean we’re putting all other ones in the dark.

It’s true that in an idyllic world, diversity hires and ethnicity quotas in schools and workplaces wouldn’t be necessary, and that making use of these methods of race-based professional considerations would contravene the meritocratic process.

Still, racism is a very real social issue in our societies, and it’s no secret that Black and Indigenous people are bearing the brunt of it.

Of course the goal of Black History Month isn’t to further the association of Black people with slavery. But by associating Black History Month as being solely about slavery and a past paved with subjugation is also reducing the richness of Black culture to their role in Western history.

For the record, Africa was a continent long before the slave trade began, and we’re getting closer to the two century mark since its abolition. Ignoring the achievements made by Black people and the Black community in North America throughout the 20th and 21st centuries is more distracting to the movement for racial equality than preaching silence.

Highlighting certain parts of history and pointing out their flaws also doesn’t mean we’re trying to remain in that place, on the contrary. How are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if we keep trying to distance ourselves from them?

And as we’ve seen throughout Canadian history and into the past year as the Black Lives Matter movement was reignited, our country is far from the point where we can say affirmative action is causing an unfair advantage for people of colour.

If you don’t want to learn about Black history or about anti-Black racism, consider examining why. But know what mindset you’re feeding into and how it’s helping the causes you support — and beyond everything, if you don’t have anything nice to say … don’t say anything.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

The costly ticket to Gold Mountain

Yet another racist chapter in Canada’s history

Do you ever get carried away in random rabbit holes and spend hours looking things up online? Me too. Here’s my latest one (and the one that has made me frown the most in weeks): the Chinese Head Tax and Chinese Immigration Act.

It all started when I watched In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, a documentary created in 2004 by filmmaker Karen Cho for the National Film Board. It follows the director’s journey across the country to interview survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act and their descendants, while unpacking the historical context behind both of these policies.

The 19th century was a chaotic one in China. The Qing dynasty was faltering under Western military pressure and internal turmoil: circumstances like the start of the Opium Wars in 1839 and the eruption of the 14-year-long Taiping Rebellion in 1850 triggered an exodus from the region, a movement which was compounded by the buzz surrounding the discovery of gold in North America.

Hopeful travelers flocked to British Columbia in 1858, determined to find a better life in ‘Gold Mountain,’ a nickname for Canada that, for decades, became synonymous with opportunity.

The Chinese Head Tax was implemented in 1885, when the Canadian Pacific Railway had been completed and Canada no longer needed Chinese labour. Starting at $50, or just over $2,200 in today’s currency, the price for a ticket to Gold Mountain got steeper and steeper as the government tried to preclude Chinese migration into the country. By 1903, the tax had been brought up to $500, equivalent to over $11,000 today, and accounted for two years of a labourer’s salary.

This exorbitant sum still didn’t grant Chinese migrants citizenship, and between 1910 and 1953, travelers were issued a CI 9 certificate, a document that proved they had paid their entry fee into the country. Authorities could ask to verify this certificate at any moment, requiring migrants to carry it on them at all times.

From collecting the head tax of around 82,000 Chinese migrants, the federal government amassed around $23 million, or just over half a billion dollars when adjusted for inflation today.

On Canada Day, 1923, when the tax failed to keep Chinese people out of Canada, the Chinese Immigration Act was passed, officially barring them from entering the country. The bill was officially repealed in 1947, a victory accredited by some to the enrollment of about 1,000 Chinese migrants into the Canadian military during both World Wars.

Anti-Chinese discrimination was rife throughout the country, which prompted the diaspora to gather into ghettos known as ‘Chinatowns’. Even after 1947, family reunification was the main motive for allowing Chinese travelers to Canada.

When In the Shadow of Gold Mountain was made, the Chinese community was still seeking reparations from the government for those who paid the head tax and their families. In 2006, Stephen Harper’s newly elected government extended a formal apology to the community and compensation for the 20 remaining survivors of the head tax.

The discriminatory policies that peppered Canada’s justice system throughout the 20th century — and that, arguably, continue to this day — were always somewhat skimmed through in our school curricula growing up. The racist reactions surrounding COVID-19 and the memes made out of them while the virus was still regional to east and southeast Asia — and it wasn’t the world’s problem yet — probably won’t make it into the history books. I’ll concede that high school classes are too short to learn about every important piece of Canadian history; and that’s what rabbit holes are for.


Photo collage by Kit Mergaert


The stigma of coily hair and the lack of diversity in salons

Racial segregation of Black people continues, and it’s in the hair salons

From more than 200 years of slavery in Canada, to the racial segregation in schools, employment, housing, healthcare, and more, the Black community continues to be segregated today. Racial inequality has become an important and prevalent discussion in our current political climate. One instance that racism can still be seen in contemporary Canada is through beauty standards, and we must address this.

Our premier denies systemic racism’s existence here in Quebec; however, this is highly questionable. Systemic racism refers to the ways and ideas that perpetuate white supremacy. Suppose systemic racism didn’t exist in our province — why then, for example, are Black women required to go to different hair salons specializing in coily, kinky, and natural hair because they can’t be properly serviced at “regular” hair salons?

Five months ago, Nancy Falaise, a hairdresser who owns a salon in Plateau Mont-Royal, started a petition demanding change. In her petition, she insists that the Ministry of Education and Higher Education revisit the Hairstyling Program Standards of Quebec and mandate that all hairstyling institutions include the education and training on Black textured hair. Let’s normalize all hair types and put an end to the disparity found in hair salons.

This is strongly discriminatory, and evidence that there’s still racial segregation in our modern day. It is not fair that someone like me, with type one (straight) hair, can walk freely into any hair salon and get service, whereas Black women with their natural hair have to go to specific hair salons. When did we normalize this kind of everyday-segregation?

Isabelle Joseph , who works in the beauty industry, notices the stigma around Black hair. She says women often enter the store and buy products that different hair stylists recommend but are damaging for their hair type. Joseph emphasizes that even at her job, they don’t get training for her hair type.

“You cannot call yourself a hairdresser or a hairstylist if you have no ounce of knowledge about hair types that are not the typical hair type,” stated Joseph.

She said that anyone who works in a hair salon who can’t work on Black hair should not advertise themselves as a hairstylist. Instead, she suggests hairstylists claim they are specialists in straight hair or even loose curls.

“You can’t claim that term because you are excluding us,” points out Joseph.

Joseph explains that by saying you’re a hairstylist, without even considering a whole group of people whose hair you can’t work on, is problematic.

“It’s really frustrating for me. I live outside of Montreal, and if I want to get my hair professionally done, I would have to drive an hour, whereas women with any other hair type can easily walk in any salon,” said Reyanne Desir, who has tight, corkscrew-like curls (type 3C).

“I don’t bother going to any hair salons because I don’t trust hairdressers to touch my hair if they don’t know anything about my hair type,” shared Elisabeth Ndeffo.

The stigma and discrimination around Black hair in beauty salons is unjustifiable. Black women should have the same opportunity and equal treatment as all the others with type one to two (straight to wavy) hair regardless of their natural hair type. The Black community has long faced injustice, and it’s time we take action and address all the areas where they continue to face discrimination.


 Graphic by @the.beta.lab


Untold Concordia features anonymous stories of discrimination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The posts speak to the larger issues of discrimination.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

A brief history of medical racism in Canada

How the healthcare sector has repeatedly failed Indigenous people

Content warning: This story contains some elements of racism and abuse, which some readers may find disturbing

Though the topic of anti-Indigenous racism in Canada has regained some public attention since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, nothing has served as a more vivid reminder of this reality than the recent death of Joyce Echaquan and Georges-Hervé Awashish.

Hospitalized for stomach pains, Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman livestreamed the abuse she experienced by the medical staff whose care she was under, as she screamed for help and pleaded that she was being given too much morphine. She passed later that evening, after spending two days in the hospital, leaving her husband with the care of their seven children. Awashish, an Atikamekw man from Obedjiwan, did not receive the same spotlight from the public, but his treatment was just as poor. The circumstances of his passing are still being investigated.

As protesters decried the deeply entrenched problem of racism in the medical industry, specifically when it comes to the care of First Nations peoples, Premier François Legault’s reaction and apology sparked controversy when he didn’t directly address the systemic nature of racism in our province, with many recalling his denial of it over the summer.

We know this is false. And the fact that Legault used to be our province’s Minister of Health makes this belief all the more alarming.

Articles revealing the absurd statistics about racial bias in our medical system are not scarce. A 2017 report confirmed a five-to-seven year gap between the life expectancies of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, as well as an infant mortality rate 1.5 times higher for Indigenous populations. These numbers barely touch the surface of the issue; among these communities, studies have recorded higher rates of HIV/AIDS, diabetes, tuberculosis, depression and anxiety, substance abuse, and deaths from accidental or preventable conditions.

Studies about the disenfranchisement of Indigenous people in the medical industry point to disproportionately inaccessible and underfunded services, deficient education and data collection systems, and failure to consider cultural barriers as the main culprits.

But the government isn’t the only authoritative body to have failed Indigenous people; so have medical practitioners themselves. Other than the victims of doctors and nurses’ individual discrimination, who have turned into statistics and archived stories in the public’s eyes, genetics-based medical research has also often proven to uphold or be rooted in racial biases.

In 1962, geneticist James V. Neel formulated what he called the “thrifty gene hypothesis” — a supposed genetic explanation for Indigenous people’s higher tendency to be affected by diabetes and obesity.

In 2020, this hypothesis still has yet to be confirmed, and many experts have flagged it as a lazy excuse to shrug off responsibility for the type II diabetes epidemic currently plaguing First Nations communities.

The emphasis on genetics has repeatedly served this purpose. During the H1N1 pandemic, researchers were quick to suspect a correlation between the exponential rates at which the virus spread in Indigenous communities as a genetic predisposition. This meant relieving some of society’s accountability for the long-standing socio-economic circumstances that have led to higher chances of transmission and greater risk for medical complications — circumstances which have re-emerged in the age of COVID-19.

And let’s not forget the healthcare workers who took the practice of eugenics into their own hands for decades and performed forced, irreversible sterilization procedures on over a thousand Indigenous women. Shielded from legal repercussions by proclaiming these women were “mentally defective,” overly promiscuous, or alcoholics, practitioners were allowed to continue these operations until 2018, as far as we know.

The indictments of these practices as a form of genocide can hardly be called controversial. And those who choose to fool themselves into thinking that we aren’t a racist province are those who will continue to vote for a leadership whose agenda purposely excludes Indigenous rights and issues. I wonder how Premier Legault has managed to convince himself that these blatant acts of racism aren’t systemic. Crying ignorance to these issues is unacceptable; in 2020, it’s become irresponsible not to know.


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab

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