Youth Stars Foundation platforms West Island youth to express their visions for the future

Initiative to raise awareness on community challenges gathers West Island citizens at Pierrefonds Community High School to recognize racial, mental and physical minorities.

Pressing issues affecting minority voices in the West Island community were the main topics of discussion at the West Island United rally hosted by the Youth Stars Foundation on March 26. 

The event’s main goal was to ally West Island community members under “unity, inclusivity, diversity and equity amongst all cultures, including racialized and BIPOC communities,” according to their website.

Teenage students spoke about how inclusivity at school helped them to feel more confident in their lives. In an environment that affirms their identity, they can be accepted for their differences and avoid exclusion.

The annual rally was held at Pierrefonds Community High School. Representatives from the local community were invited to speak, or share a poem to the audience.

Among the speakers at the meeting was high school student Kate Zarbatany, who performed a nine-minute monologue on neurodiversity by labeling autism as a misunderstood diagnosis. 

“It is unbelievable to think that so many people go through their lives struggling because they are not diagnosed,” said Zarbatany. ‘It’s important to remember that there isn’t just one form of autism. It’s a spectrum. Our world is designed for the neurotypical.”

“This is why I’m asking you to be our allies and try to better understand us,”  

she added.

The event hosted various West Island organizations providing different services.

Carrefour Jeunesse-Emploi de l’Ouest-de-l’Île, Action Jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’île, the West Island LGBTQ2+ Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Island each had their own booth.

SPVM agents were also present to provide community outreach.

However, Benoit Langevin, councilor of the City of Montreal for the Bois-de-Liesse district in the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, noticed that there was an absence of Indigenous voices at the meeting.

“I think that we have to make bigger efforts for the Indigenous population,” said Langevin. 

In the near future, Langevin’s team is seeking to develop a new set of activities with the local library in consultation with the West Island Black Community Association (WIBCA). In February, the library hosted different shows to inform its residents on the roots of their Black community. Langevin plans to continue working closely with the association.

The event gave Pierrefonds Community High School students an opportunity to express themselves and their needs. “We’ve always talked about the importance of community, the importance of inclusion, the importance of belonging,” said Lester B. Pearson School director general, Cindy Linn. 

“We’re also realizing that in order to make those things happen, we need to involve everybody in the conversation,”

Linn Said.

Trans rights activists lead march against Bill 2

A march in solidarity with the transgender community precedes Nov. 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance

Kicking off a weekend of events for the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, Aide aux Trans du Québec (ATQ) held a solidarty march for the gender plurality community of Quebec in front of the Montreal Courthouse on Nov. 19.

The march, which saw over 50 people in attendance, was held to so show support for the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community, as well as to protest the proposed Bill 2. Notably, Manon Massé, one of the leaders for Québec solidaire, was present at the march.

Bill 2 would make it a requirement for people to undergo gender-affirming surgery if they want to change their assigned sex on their birth certificate. The bill would also make it so there is a new section for gender on birth certificates, with the possibility of a third non-male or female gender. Another aspect of the bill is that intersex people would have to apply for a change of designated sex as soon as possible.

“This really is a place for the whole trans community and allies to just to pour out our grievances against the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government for proposing the most transphobic bill ever introduced in Quebec and Canada,” said Celeste Trianon, a trans rights advocate at the Centre for Gender Advocacy (CGA) and a speaker at the march.

The CGA is a Concordia fee-levy group that promotes gender equality and empowerment, specifically as it relates to marginalized communities. The centre does various programming, campaigns, advocacy, and has resources and services open to Concordia and the LGBTQIA2+ community.

“[Bill 2] would lead to so much harm for trans people,” said Trianon, who explained that not all trans people would want genital surgery, and that the wait times for such a surgery could be up to five years.

They explained that without a recognized photo ID, people will struggle to apply for employment and housing.

“It’s like another coming out for people, and we don’t want that,” said Trianon.

Jason Noël, the treasurer, secretary, and event planner for ATQ, explained that the on the weekend of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, there were multiple events planned throughout the day, such as conferences and brunches.

“We are going to have a moment of silence,” said Noël, who explained that Nov. 20 is to remember the trans people that have disappeared and raise awareness of the violence against the trans community. “It’s a very special thing, I would say it is one of the most important parts of trans pride.”

“We are hoping that for the night, people will be able to forget everything that’s happening in the world right now,” said Noël, who stated that because of COVID-19 they had to delay trans pride three times, and the weekend would mark the first time since the pandemic began that the trans community of Montreal would be able to come together and party.

“We’re just gonna dedicate the dance floor to the people who are not with us anymore, who disappeared because of violence,” said Noël. “And then the next morning […] we will go to brunch and that will be super fun.”

According to Noël, multiple organizations will be going to court to try and reform the bill on Nov. 29, but it may be delayed until December or later in 2022. 

“It’s a bill that’s bringing us back like 15 years,” said Noël, who criticized Canada and Quebec for appearing to be supportive of trans rights while allowing this bill to be proposed.

According to an article by the CBC, this bill is being presented as a victory for transgender people by the Quebec government, but could actually put trans people in a dangerous situation by outing them every time they show their ID.

“Get involved, be at protests, denounce the CAQ, hold your friends and entourage to do the same.” said Trianon. “We need more people to speak out against this bill.”


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds


The World March of Women’s fifth action concluded this Sunday

Marchers chanted “Equity is Possible through Diversity” as this year’s focus was on the rights of Indigenous and marginalized women

Montreal’s Coalition of the World March of Women (WMW) held a march this Sunday Oct.17, concluding the fifth international action which, this year, emphasized the rights of Indigenous women.

Marchers wore red, a symbol that shows solidarity for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Red scarves were given out by event organizers at Cabot Square Park before the march departed at 1 p.m.. The crowd chanted “Equity is possible through diversity” during the speeches, right before taking off for the march.

Protesters of all ages, backgrounds and genders chanted and marched down Saint-Catherine Street to the beat of hand-held drums.

The WMW was a feminist movement that initiated in Quebec after the Bread and Roses march in 1995 to combat the growing impoverishment and violence against women.

The movement was “born of the desire to unite women of the world around a common project,” as stated on the official WMW website, and grew to “an international feminist action movement connecting grass-roots groups and organizations working to eliminate the causes at the root of poverty and violence against women.”

The first international action happened in 2000 and has since occurred every five years. Beginning on March 8, International Women’s Day, and closing on Oct. 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the WMW holds a series of events to put forward and raise awareness for their demands.

The fifth action was projected to take place in 2020, but the Coordination du Québec de la March mondiale des femmes (CQMMF) decided to postpone it due to the pandemic.

The WMW regroups activists and women’s groups in Montreal. But, it is also just one part of a global movement. Diana Lombardi, coordinator for Réseau d’action des femmes en santé et services sociaux, an umbrella group for women’s groups in Montreal, explained: “When we sit down and think about what themes to bring up for the march, we ask ourselves: how can what we are doing in Montreal support and make space for women’s voices who are less heard?”

Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, highlighted why the WMW is fighting for Indigenous women’s rights. “We’re still facing no clean water in Iqaluit, we’re still facing missing and murdered Indigenous women, we’re still facing poverty, we’re still facing homelessness, we’re still facing our children being apprehended in youth protection.”

“We learned this summer that there are over 6500 children in mass graves, therefore we need your help,” she said.

This year’s march was organized around five major themes: a strong sense of solidarity and the demands of indigenous women, poverty, violence against women, climate justice, and the rights of immigrant, racialized, and migrant women.

Lombardi was also on Montreal’s WMW coordinating team for this year’s actions. “Our goal is to speak more to the population that it is possible to make changes […] and what we are suggesting is good for all communities, not just a few. We are thinking of a society with less violence, cleaner spaces, less poverty, and a place for all people” said Lombardi. “How can we not fight for that?”

The poverty theme assesses the growing impoverishment of women by asking decent livable wages. “The housing crisis in Montreal is making it harder for women to come out of poverty, which makes accessing clean and affordable housing more difficult,” said Lombardi.

Montreal’s Rental Market Report for 2020 highlighted that the average rental prices on the Island of Montreal went up 4.2 per cent in 2020, which has been the largest increase since 2003.

The WMW is also demanding more recognition of violence against women. Femicide has been discussed by Quebec media more than ever since the start of the pandemic. In 2021, 16 women in the province of Quebec were reported murdered through acts of domestic violence, with an alleged 17th case on Monday.

Lombardi adds, “the housing crisis in Montreal is not helping women who are experiencing domestic or interpersonal violence looking for a safe place to be.”

She also notes that immigrant, racialized, and migrant women “who might not have high status” and “who are trying to be included in Montreal and in Montreal’s society” are failing to be noticed by the city.

“Can we recognize that we have a problem with systemic racism?” she asked.


Photograph by Lou Neveux-Pardijon

“A safe space to learn and grow:” an interview with Alina Murad of PoliticalThot

 Political podcaster Alina Murad talks social justice, Concordia, and getting involved in activism

Alina Murad is a Concordia student and the host of “PoliticalThot,” a political explainer and interview podcast with a specific focus on systemic and institutional racism and xenophobia. The first five episodes are available on Spotify, and the most recent two are in video format on Instagram. I spoke to her via video call on Friday.

What prompted you to start your own podcast? 

I’ve always been a pretty politically involved person, but one day I was in class and learned something that really pissed me off, so I went on Instagram and I took a selfie, captioned it “political thot of the day” and just, like, did a rant, and I got a bunch of responses. Positive, negative, I got some threats, it was a whole mixed bag of things. And I realized, like, I actually have a lot of thoughts here that need a platform, so why not make a podcast?

So now that you have that platform, who are you speaking to?

It’s geared toward millennials, young people, primarily, but focused on people of colour. And the reason for that is the topics my podcast deals with — racism, xenophobia — this isn’t the first time people have heard about them, but a lot of the time the way these topics are dealt with doesn’t keep in mind that they are sensitive and emotional and triggering, especially for people of colour. So I am keeping in mind that these topics are sensitive … It’s primarily a safe space to learn and grow.

I definitely get that impression listening to it — often political podcasts tend to be more news-focused, analyzing specific current events as they occur, but PoliticalThot seems broader in scope. During this time of the 24/7 news cycle, what role do you see your podcast playing in the political media landscape?

I’m actually really glad that you asked this question, and especially that you mentioned the 24/7 news cycle. While it’s so important to keep up to date with news, the way that the news is dealing with reporting, it’s often very sensationalized. And most media outlets will not show you what’s happening behind the scenes, they’re not going to say “hey, here’s the reason for all of these xenophobic behaviours we’ve been seeing.” So PoliticalThot deals with things more broadly in the hopes that it’ll help people to analyze more news, more everyday situations.

Likewise, your most recent episode was a three-parter on anti-Blackness at Concordia. Alongside checking out that episode, what do you think Concordia students should be considering about this institution as we start our classes this year?

There’s so much to consider. I find it really interesting because part of the appeal, to me at least, of Concordia was that it’s this integrated campus in the city, and the facade they give off in their advertising is “oh we want you to get involved in the community, give back, get involved with politics, get involved with social justice,” but they have a very long line of “political incidents,” if you will – good and bad – that they cover up. So the first thing I’d say is to do your research, learn the history. The computer riots, the bomb threat in the EV building three years ago that was targeting Muslim students, the sexual assaults that still haven’t been properly dealt with. And the second thing is to really actively bring pro-Blackness into our institution. Because more times than not, Canadian institutions will inherently be anti-Black. So pay attention to Black scholars, Black activists– and not just on Instagram! Read books written by Black Canadian authors like Robyn Maynard and be aware of the racism disguising itself as credibility in academia. Actively seeking pro-Black information and materials and bringing them into the institution is so important.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take action on social justice issues but might be afraid to get started?

It’s definitely a scary thing to put yourself out there, but I think the one thing to keep in mind is that everyone is learning, and making a mistake isn’t the bad part, the bad part is not taking accountability, not fixing it, not learning from it. That’s all we can ask, right? For people to learn, to try, to grow. And if you’re gut-wrenchingly terrified of doing something, I’m sure you can find friends that also want to try and get involved — you’ll have friends who might already be involved. Just ask people. That’s honestly one of the best things about social justice work, it’s the humanity. It takes a village to do anything, and when you trust people and you put faith in people, people are good.


Graphic Courtesy of Alina Murad

Now what?

Now what? Changes we can make following George Floyd’s death

We ask for peace and it’s quiet. We scream for justice and we’re silenced. We go for a simple walk, yet we have to run and hide. We live in the same house, yet we’re treated like guests. We do nothing wrong, yet we get framed. We do the same things as everyone else, yet we’re not treated the same. We can’t breathe— we can’t even get some air. We have had enough, and not enough has changed. Now what?

The death of George Floyd seems to be the tipping point. It’s unfortunate that it was only reached in 2020, seeing that the same story has repeated itself every year. We’ve heard stories like Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Nicholas Gibbs, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and many more way too many times. What’s different this time? It could be the fact that it isn’t just black people who’ve had enough. The faces seen, the fists thrown, and the voices heard all seem different this time. There’s more than just black people speaking out. This isn’t a black problem anymore, it’s everyone’s problem. So, people are starting to get it. We need more, but it’s a start. Now what?

Black screens and reposts are great, but it’s not worth much if you don’t know what you’re fighting for. You might know what’s going on, but do you know why it’s happening? Your repost helps, but did you ask yourself if it’s enough? You could list out all the campaigns to donate to, but did you contribute? Educating yourself is just as important as educating others. Education is free these days: it’s called Google. That goes for everyone, black or white. It’s a matter of talking and listening, communicating and understanding. Once everyone is on the same page, ask again: now what? 

It’s one thing to talk about racism at the dinner table, but government tables should be having the same conversations. From every small county to the federal level, systematic changes must be made. While racism is still very much present, a lot of it is amplified because of systematic realities. Government officials should have more knowledge of the subject, but many are incompetent in a lot of people’s eyes—but you didn’t hear that from me! The public should educate themselves and hold the people in positions of power accountable for a lot of the injustice and prejudice currently happening. Our good old friend Google can help with that! People who want a better understanding should probably look him up.

Racism won’t be fixed any time soon. It’s a long-term process. While we make strides as people towards improving the state of humanity, every step of the way, we should ask ourselves: now what?













Concordia statement on Black Lives and demandsfor an anti-racist pedagogy



Photo by Hadassah Alencar.


Montreal women march towards social justice

Montrealers join forces in support of inclusive, intersectional feminism

Hundreds of Montrealers gathered outside Place-des-Arts at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20 for the second annual Montreal Women’s March. Organizations like the Centre des Femmes de l’UQÀM, a feminist group from the Université du Québec à Montréal, helped organize the event alongside many diverse groups and volunteers.

People from all across the city joined dozens of other marches taking place across the country, and more throughout the United States, demonstrating for much more than just gender equality. Demonstrators and representatives from various organizations showed their support for several social justice issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBTQ+ community.

Claire McLeish (left) and Samantha Skallar hold up their signs at the Montreal Women’s March on Sunday. Photo by Alex Hutchins

At the rally, women from all backgrounds cheered loudly, wore pink “pussyhats” and brandished poster-board signs that featured phrases like, “We love, support and fight for our trans friends,” “Talk to boys about toxic masculinity” and “Respect existence or expect resistance.”

The largest sign, held up on the steps at the Esplanade, read the hashtag of the day, “#ÇaPassePu,” which roughly translates to, “This doesn’t work for us anymore.”

The march took place exactly one year after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States and the first Women’s March on Washington, when hundreds of thousands gathered in their respective cities to protest his proposed policies.

A demonstrator brandishes a poster-board sign that reads, “GIRL POWER.” Photo by Alex Hutchins

One year later, the rally was now about much more, specifically amplifying the voices of marginalized communities, including sex workers, transgender people, those with disabilities and victims of sexual assault.

Many of the women who spoke at the rally highlighted the #MeToo movement, which has become internationally popular for denouncing sexual violence and harassment, as well as voicing support for survivors. Several speakers in Montreal shared their personal stories of sexual assault and harassment.

Those attending the Montreal rally demanded inclusivity and intersectionality. One speaker announced to the crowd: “If we do not have an intersectional perspective, we will fail some of our sisters.”

The rally came to a deeply moving and emotional peak when one of the speakers instructed everyone in the crowd to hold hands and chant, “I am on fire, I am powerful,” in reference to Alicia Keys’ song “Girl On Fire” and her speech from last year’s Women’s March on Washington.

Another notable speech came from Nathalie Provost, one of the survivors of the December 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, where 14 women were killed in an anti-feminist mass shooting at the hands of gunman Marc Lépine. Provost survived the shooting after being shot in the forehead, both legs and a foot, according to Maclean’s.

In her speech, Provost looked back on the tragedy, telling the crowd about how, at the time, she had said she was not a feminist. She mentioned that her daughters were in attendance with her at the rally to support women’s rights.

Demonstrators Anastasia Katsoulis, 14, and Edgar Jose Becerra Granados, 16, told The Concordian they decided to attend this year’s rally because they believe everyone should have equal rights.

A man at the rally holds a sign that reads, “Men of quality do not fear equality.” Photo by Alex Hutchins

“That’s what feminism is. It isn’t just for women,” Katsoulis said. “It’s for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s for people of colour. It’s for everyone.”

Becerra Granados stressed the importance of actively demonstrating for movements you believe in.

“It’s important to go to these kinds of things if you consider yourself a feminist, especially nowadays with social media,” they said. “It’s easy to just say you support something, but you really have to go out and do stuff like this to show that you do.”


Photos by Alex Hutchins


Modern-day Robin Hoods protest against austerity

Coalition de la Main Rouge advocates for reinvestment in public services

About 700 people dressed as modern-day Robin Hoods gathered in Villeray Park on Oct. 28 for the Grande manifestation pour la justice sociale. The event, organized by Coalition de la Main Rouge (CMR), aimed to symbolically give back to the community, as Robin Hood would, by denouncing the provincial government’s austerity measures.

The Grande manifestation was the first event in the CMR’s campaign for social equity and justice which advocates for a more fair distribution of wealth.

The protest began at 1 p.m. with a speech given by CMR spokespersons Dominique Daigneault and Véronique Laflamme, who welcomed those who had travelled from regions like Estrie, Quebec City, Chaudière-Appalaches and Mauricie to show their opposition to Couillard’s government.

A carriage filled with fake money bags then led the march through the Villeray—St-Michel—Parc-Extension borough to represent the money taken away by provincial budget cuts. During the march, the band of Robin Hoods stopped the procession in front of strategic places, dropping off the money bags to demonstrate how austerity measures have affected the community. One such stop was at the Centre de la petite enfance (CPE) St-Marc. According to CMR’s Facebook page, the CPE has faced budget cuts of $300 million in recent years.

Among the protestors was Alexandra Pierre, the supervisor of communications and records for La Table des regroupements provinciaux d’organisme communautaire et bénévole, an alliance of social services groups. According to Pierre, it is crucial to maintain and reinforce the province’s social safety nets.

CMR’s goal is to push the government to reinvest significantly in publics services, social programs and independent community action, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Daigneault, who is also the president of the Conseil central de Montréal métropolitain, said implementing harsh austerity measures that limit public services ignores the fact that those services are still needed by the community. She claimed the government lacks compassion and consideration for citizens, especially the most vulnerable.

Laflamme argued that the Liberal government should use the money at its disposal to invest in the community rather than to reduce taxes.


The complicated ‘F’ word

The definitions of feminism and why it still needs to be applied in Canada today

I’m bringing up the “F” word again, and some of you may not like it. Some find it uncomfortable and are unable to situate where they stand on the matter. Some are passionate about it, while others are annoyed over how repetitive the topic is. However, seeing as we’re in the midst of Women’s History Month in Canada, I think it is fitting to once again open up the conversation about feminism.

Feminism is a difficult word to define. Google it and you get an endless amount of web pages trying to define it, outline the different types and argue whether or not we need to define it. After searching through more than 100 pages to find a worthy article, it seems Wikipedia provides the longest list of the different types of feminism, including mainstream feminism, intersectional feminism, ecofeminism and even Marxist feminism. It’s daunting to even try to define this complex term and it raises the question: can feminism really be defined?

Since I personally identify as a feminist, I believe feminism can be defined with a very simple explanation: feminism is the movement of equality for men and women—regardless of your ethnicity, religion, culture, age, profession, etc. I believe the need for feminism is due to society’s gender norms that continue to be applied today. Feminism is necessary because it breaks down these norms. However, this is my own interpretation and understanding. As mentioned before, there are several ways of interpreting feminism today, but it seems this multitude of ways leads some people to think there’s no way to simply define it.

Is it a movement that cannot be justified due to society’s indefinite perceptions, sexism and patriarchy? Throughout history, Canada has made great strides in applying laws to instill women’s rights, such as the 1883 Married Women’s Property Act that allowed women to have legal control over their earnings. Also, women’s right to vote was fully established nationally once Quebec jumped on the bandwagon in 1940. The Civil Rights Act later prohibited discrimination in the workplace. Equal pay was established in 1977, and abortion was made legal in 1969.
Back in 2015, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected, he made the bold move to form Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet. Many applauded his act and saw it as something obvious that should have happened years ago. But little action has been done to improve the state of feminism in Canada since then, or at least that’s how some see it.

However, women are still not treated the same as men. One in four North American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to Sexual Assault Canada. And despite the equal pay law, women are still only making 72 cents to a man’s dollar, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Furthermore, women of colour, women with disabilities, older women and women of specific religions and minorities face even more extensive oppression.

I personally believe the relation between what is considered “feminine” versus “masculine” has disrupted the freedom of choice to living independently. Why are women still struggling to find their voices in corporate, technological or political settings? Why are they worried about getting a job and starting a family?

This traditional understanding of gender norms must be rehashed since it’s one of the prime reasons feminism is still being fought for today. The application of human rights and respect is not being understood as rights for a “human,” regardless of gender. They are being applied as a division of rights: men’s rights and women’s rights. In order to combine this division into one issue, both women and men have to be more vocal about changing the way we view gender.

Parents must begin educating their children about the fact that the polarization between genders is wrong, and that it places unfair expectations on people. Society, as a whole, has to realize we are all entitled to make personal decisions, receive quality education and be respected. Until this is universally applied, the need for feminism will still exist.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth 


Podcasting social justice in hockey

Concordia student’s master’s study analyses the sport’s culture

When I met Aaron Lakoff, the Concordia media studies student was wearing a Montreal Canadiens cap. It’s his favourite hockey team, he told me a few minutes after our first handshake. It’s also a case study for hockey culture: the Canadiens are the National Hockey League’s oldest and winningest franchise.

Lakoff admitted he has difficulty accurately defining this culture. Nonetheless, it will be his object of analysis in the four-episode podcast about social justice in hockey he is producing to complete a master’s study he began in September 2016.

If the time to start such a study was fascinating—former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had begun kneeling during the national anthem of NFL preseason games to protest the oppression of people of color in the United States—the topic of social justice in hockey has never been more prominent.

On Sept. 24, the Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins accepted American president Donald Trump’s invitation to visit the White House with the cup, a tradition in the NHL.

“I think it’s completely tone-deaf what the Penguins are doing by accepting the invitation,” Lakoff said.

A day earlier, Trump rescinded his offer to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors after star player Stephen Curry openly criticized the American president.

“My research looks at social justice in hockey and asks this question: Why are we not seeing the same political stances [from players] like we see in the NBA and in the NFL?” Lakoff explained. To answer that question, he said he will be examining “several different social justice hockey perspectives,” starting with colonialism in Canadian hockey, racism in hockey and the Indigenous hockey experience.

The latter is especially salient to the Concordia student. “For me, what’s really important is centring on the fact that we live on Indigenous land; Montreal is unceded Mohawk territory,” Lakoff said.

The popularization of hockey among First Nations intersects with Canada’s assimilation process during the 20th century in the government-sponsored residential schools, according to Lakoff.

Hockey was a bit of an imposition, he explained, because “priests wanted to get young Aboriginal boys into hockey to inculcate them with Canadian values.”

While the Indigenous hockey experience isn’t his main focus, Lakoff’s first interview was with an Algonquin media producer who directs Hit the Ice, a TV show on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) featuring the best Aboriginal hockey players participating in an NHL-like training camp.

Lakoff said he also has interviews lined up with Indigenous hockey players, thinkers of the game and feminist sportswriters, among others.

Hockey writers, Lakoff argued, “have to acknowledge that sports are inherently political.”

“Sometimes the backlash that you’ll hear from people who don’t like to see these anthem protests will be ‘stick to sports,’” he said. “But that is an incredibly ignorant statement because it doesn’t recognize the fact that sports are so embedded in politics.”

According to Lakoff, political influence is found in many forms in hockey, such as the anthems themselves, the presence of military before some games and taxpayers’ money used to fund private stadiums and arenas.

The Concordia student said he “would love to produce something that gives people a tool to confront and oppose, fix and repair the negative aspects of hockey culture.”

“What those protests do is create a space to have a discussion,” Lakoff said. “My research is a humble addition to this discussion.”

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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