Concordia Student Union News

Concordia Student Union divests $10M from Scotiabank over defense ties

The motion was passed unanimously and will go in effect in late June.

In a significant pivot towards ethical banking, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) has decided to withdraw its investments from Scotiabank, citing the bank’s financial entanglement with Elbit Systems, a noted defense electronics company supplying the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).

This decision aligns the CSU with the broader Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement, aiming to pressure entities involved in the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

At the heart of the divestment is Dave Plant, a CSU council member, who introduced the motion during a union meeting. “Our funds and where we place them can influence corporations […]. It’s about making a stand,” Plant said.

The CSU’s financial shift will move away from Scotiabank by the end of June, redirecting $10M to Desjardins, a banking institution noted for its adherence to ethical investment guidelines. This move was unanimously agreed upon by the council, consisting of elected representatives from all faculties. 

Plant’s motivation stemmed from Scotiabank’s investments in Elbit Systems, but also in Vanguard and Blackrock, both of which are heavily invested in arms manufacturing and the North American housing market crisis. 

Concordia University’s Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) Coordinator Zeyad Abisaab shed light on the organization’s strategic involvement in the BDS movement and its historical roots within the context of Palestinian advocacy in the West.

Abisaab is also a history student at Concordia. He emphasized the role of economic sanctions used to enact change. “Economic pressure has been the tactic used by every single country on earth,” Abisaab said.

Detailing the BDS movement’s objectives, this approach seeks to dismantle the economic structures supporting Israel’s military and colonial endeavors through targeted boycotts and divestments.

“BDS, just like the foundation of all of these human rights organizations, like SPHR for instance, aims to address [Israel’s actions] and combat them or fight them in a way that isn’t violent,” Abisaab explained. 

Highlighting the incremental impact of these actions, Abisaab drew parallels with the significant economic repercussions experienced by companies like Starbucks, which faced backlash for their ties to funding Israel’s military actions.

Abisaab hopes for increased student mobilization and engagement with BDS efforts, emphasizing the importance of collective action in achieving tangible results. Abisaab encouraged students who want to make a similar impact to join the student walkout and rally on April 11. The rally will have Concordia students as well as those from McGill and Dawson. 

“Considering moving billions of dollars from one bank to another, there’s a lot of intricacies to be expected,” explained Kareem Rahaman, the CSU’s finance coordinator.

Addressing the divestment’s rationale, Rahaman concurred with the sentiment that the move aligns with broader divestment principles, particularly in protest against investments that indirectly fund conflicts in the Middle East. 

He described the switch as “more of a moral and ethical switch,” emphasizing Desjardins’ cooperative nature and its closer alignment with CSU values than Scotiabank. Rahaman assured that future planning would ensure seamless operations.

“It’s $10M divested from Scotiabank, which will be probably put into Desjardins, a not-for-profit bank that focuses on the Quebec economy above all else, which is good,” Plant said.

Plant further highlighted the alignment with the BDS movement. “In our current capitalist system, I think we should be voting with our money as a means of enacting change we want to see,” he said. 
Plant believes the move by the CSU may inspire other students to scrutinize other institutions for their unethical investments.

“It sets a precedent,” Plant said.


Beyond strikes: next steps for anti-tuition hike mobilization

In lieu of picketing, Concordia students organize demonstrations and events to mobilize students.

From March 11 through 15, Concordia saw 30,000 students across departments on strike. No strikes have continued past that week and no further strikes are being organized by Member Associations (MAs) at Concordia. However, mobilization in support of paid internships, anti-austerity actions and the ongoing strike of the teaching assistants at the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) is still going strong.

Though the strikes are over, support for accessible and affordable education remains important to many students. Despite the lack of further strike action, those who have helped with the mobilization against tuition hikes are maintaining their support for common financial issues facing students.

The Coalition de Résistance pour l’Unité Étudiante Syndicale [Resistance Coalition for the United Student Union] (CRUES) is one key group organizing mobilization in support of students. CRUES aims to unite students across educational institutions to tackle issues faced by students.

At 12:00 p.m. on Friday, March 29, the student body at CÉGEP de Rimouski organized a demonstration against unpaid internships at the Émilie Gamlin Park. CRUES and the Social Sciences Student Association at Laval University have also expressed support for their own students’ access to paid internships. 

The momentum behind such rebuttals against internship conditions has been carried over from past student strikes in Montreal, like the 2019 and 2022 strikes at UQAM demanding internship remunerations. 

Jasper Cobb, an upper-year geography student at Concordia who helped organize picketing during the recent strike week, spoke to the importance of solidarity.

“It all boils down to austerity measures and capitalism, whether that’s making students pay insane amounts of money for tuition or doing unpaid labour,” they said. 

This sentiment was echoed by Mowat Tokonitz, a first-year urban planning student, who pointed out that increased tuition rates are “going to affect everyone’s university experience.”

While the complete extent of service cuts at Concordia is unclear, the university is already anticipating cuts on certain services such as Adobe. Last November, Concordia spokesperson Vannina Maestracci said in an interview that the university “was looking into what the total effects of the tuition increase will be on smaller programs like creative arts,” since the majority of its students come from outside the province.

Despite the dedication of those involved in mobilization, there are no further strikes planned at Concordia. “When the strike ended, we had a long talk and came to the conclusion that we don’t really have the capacity to extend the strike or have another strike this semester,” said Cobb. 

In lieu of picket lines, students have organized a demonstration on April 10 with a student mixer afterward, as well as a “DJs Against Austerity” event on May 2 at Reggies bar.

Further mobilization efforts will be planned over the summer, with further emphasis on anti-strike action being ingrained into next fall’s frosh events.

There are several opportunities for those willing to get involved in collective mobilization. Cobb and Tokonitz suggested that students reach out directly to their Instagram account (@tuitionstrikes) for general information.


Montreal vigil mourns the death of trans teen Nex Benedict

After the 16-year-old died following an attack at school, the Montreal community gathered to grieve and advocate for the protection of trans youth.

Trigger warning: transphobia, transicide.

“I have a question for Nex’s killers: how many more do you want to take? […] When will you stop treating trans lives as disposable? When will you stop treating Indigenous and Two-Spirit lives as disposable?” Trans-activist Celeste Trianon proclaimed to the crowd, “You’ve already got so much blood on your hands; they can’t get any redder.” 

On March 1, over 100 people gathered in Montreal’s Cabot Square to commemorate the death of 16-year-old Nex Benedict, an Indigenous non-binary youth from Oklahoma. 

One month ago, on Feb. 7, Benedict was attacked and beaten by three girls in the washroom of Owasso High School in Oklahoma. On the day of the attack, Benedict was taken to the hospital by their mom, Sue Benedict, and sent home after assessment. The following day, they collapsed at home and were rushed to the hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

After a thorough investigation, the police ruled Benedict’s death as a suicide on March 13.

A number of vigils memorializing their passing have been held across Canada and the United States. Montreal’s vigil was organized by Atreyu Lewis and Rising from Our Roots, an anti-oppression community organization that provides funds and resources.

Despite the incident taking place outside of Canada, organizers of the event made it clear that Benedict’s death has an impact on Indigenous and queer communities worldwide. “I think it’s really important because we want to establish transnational solidarity with what is happening in the U.S.,” Lewis said.

“I think a lot of trans LGBTQ+ people in Canada really want to […] have that tangible action. Especially since it can be hard to do it on the ground [in the U.S.] because of all of the policies.”

Candles were laid out alongside the cement surrounding the signs honouring Nex Benedict. Courtesy photo by Youssef Baati / The Concordian

On social media, they emphasized the vigil aimed to hold space for BIPOC LGBTQ+ people in Montreal as well as to commemorate and grieve the death of their non-binary Chahta peer.

Attendees were encouraged to bring candles, lights, flowers, and sacred items. The vigil included a smudging ceremony; an Indigenous practice in which herbs and resins are burned to purify the mind, body, and spirit.

Since Benedict’s death became public, school officials in the district have faced extreme backlash. Oklahoma’s superintendent for public schools, Ryan Walter, has been adamant in his anti-transgender stance since being appointed to his role in 2022. Later that year, Oklahoma became the first state in the U.S. to prohibit the use of non-binary gender markers on birth certificates. 

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a federal investigation into the Oklahoma school district after the Human Rights Campaign filed a complaint.

Benedict’s loved ones reported that Benedict had been experiencing bullying for more than a year leading up to the incident. Their death has renewed the fight against the growing number of anti-trans bills in the U.S., which many queer advocates say played a vital hand in the teen’s death.

Lewis explained that attending protests, advocating for trans rights in policy, and ensuring spaces are accessible and diverse are ways to help protect trans-BIPOC folks. “Learn about the trans and queer people in your life and show up to support them,” they said. Lewis also mentioned Project 10 Montreal, which is a nonprofit community organization that supports 2SLGBTQIA+ youth.


Going beyond land acknowledgements

Five years after the publication of Concordia’s Indigenous Directions Action Plan, has our university really changed?

When Alicia Ibarra-Lemay, a Kanienʼkehá:ka and Chilean student who grew up near Kahnawà:ke, started at Concordia in 2018, she lost no time finding a community in her new university. Her sister, who started at Concordia before her, had prepped her: go to the Otsenhákta Student Center, talk to student advisors, and sign up for activities. 

In her First Peoples Studies (FPST) courses, she was happy to see Indigenous professors and staff. She remembers being excited to see similar representation in other courses outside her program. “It definitely wasn’t like that though,” she said.

With her minor in education, Ibarra-Lemay immediately felt a difference between her two programs. She explained that there was very little inclusion of Indigenous knowledges in her education classes, and she felt uncomfortable pointing this out. “I don’t want to raise my hand in case they call me out and then make me have to be the Indigenous representative,” she said. 

Ibarra-Lemay is not the only Indigenous student to feel this dichotomy within Concordia. Since the publication of the Indigenous Directions Action Plan in 2019, Indigenous faculty, staff, and students have been working hard to decolonize the university and make it a safer place for Indigenous students.

“Obviously some of this work is really long term,” said Manon Tremblay, Senior Director of Concordia’s Office of Indigenous Directions (OID) and Plains Cree from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. “It’s frustrating to us that things don’t move faster. We are facing systemic barriers in Canada’s post-secondary institutions, and they’re really hard to break down.”

Ibarra-Lemay is now a master’s student in the Individualized Program, a self-directed program in which students can stretch the limits of research practices. According to her, a lot of Indigenous students choose this program because it allows them to incorporate their community’s knowledge and ways in their studies. Ibarra-Lemay decided to take her research about storytelling and oral knowledges out of the classroom.

“When I’m presenting my thesis to my committee, I’m inviting them to my totà’s [grandma’s] home, around a fire and cooking them food,” she said. Her goal is to share the culture of oral storytelling, reciprocity, and the passing down of knowledge.

Despite this openness from her committee members, Ibarra-Lemay said she had to jump through a lot more hoops to get her methodology approved than other students. The inclusion of oral tradition in writing-based research settings was especially hard.

“Students are doing really creative things through the proposals, in the way that they present their thesis,” she said. “This is thanks to their committee members, their faculty that are helping do this, but not the program itself.”

Undoing expectations

When it came to integrating culture to university work, these challenges were not only felt by Ibarra-Lemay. Jared Gull, a Cree student from Waswanipi, was studying film at Concordia until recently. “I came [to Concordia] because it was the dream,” he said. “Then I got here, and it’s not what I imagined.”

Gull expected Concordia to be very inclusive, and while he praised the services offered by the Otsenhákta Student Center, his experience in his classes was very different. 

He recalled questions from his classmates about which race he was, and the discomfort of land acknowledgements, during which students and professors often looked straight at him. “I’m just sitting there thinking, I feel like I had caused this just by walking into the room,” he said.

“It kind of feels like I just existed as a person without any identity,” he said. “And I usually just try to take it on the chin and roll with the punches, crack a joke. But at some point, it just wears you down.”

Gull also got a lot of pushback when trying to make movies that showcased his culture and were entertaining. “The Cree don’t have those kinds of movies,” he said. “Everything is so documentary-focused. So when I go to make these movies, people are expecting me to be this depressed Native with all these stories about residential schools.”

He found his classmates and professors tried to politicize his stories in a way that he didn’t want them to be, and their feedback often made him uncomfortable. “People didn’t really see what I was doing. I had a teacher even say: ‘Oh, this is not the kind of Natives that I see on CBC,’” he recalled. “Sometimes, it just felt like I was talking to a wall, or I had to play to people’s expectations to be heard.”

Creating change 

Tremblay said she hears about these behaviours from professors and students far too often. “Ignorant comments, presenting things only from a Eurocentric perspective, situations where Indigenous contributions to the classroom are treated as if they’re inferior… We see this all the time,” she said.

This is not to say that nobody at Concordia is working towards change: the OID and other groups have put many measures in place to decolonize Concordia, such as the Indigenous learning series Pîkiskwêtân, or the recently-announced plan to decolonize the university’s curriculum. But change is slow to be felt throughout the university. 

“We have to start from somewhere,” said Allan Vicaire, Senior Advisor of the OID and Mi’kmaq from Listuguj. “[Concordia] is an institution that is colonial and in order to decolonize, it’s going to take another 50 years, right?”

The difficulties of changing an institution like Concordia are woven even in something as simple as its furniture. Catherine Richardson Kineweskwêw, director of the FPST program and member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia with Cree and Gwichʼin ancestry, shared that she often struggles to find a classroom where the desks are not nailed to the floor and can be moved into a circle, an important part of Indigenous pedagogy. 

“Circle teaching is paramount, and it has important implications such as the equality of the participants, the demand for respect, dignity, and collective care,” she said. “This Western worldview that you would sit in an amphitheater, and you look at the back of the head of the person in front of you, it doesn’t promote relationship building, or even care.”

Vicaire also emphasized the importance of visibility of Indigenous peoples on campus, something he said students have been asking for for a long time. “The symbolic things actually do matter,” he said. “But it can’t be just one area,” he added. “I’m hoping [such symbolic actions] will influence other ways of thinking of other art projects or other renovations that will include more indigeneity into the actual project.”

Cheyenne Henry, Manager of the Otsenhákta Student Centre and Anishinaabe from Roseau River First Nation, sees these projects as an opportunity to expand the services offered to Indigenous students. “That’s always great to have that representation, that recognition that we’re on Indigenous land,” she said. “Having those spaces, that’s important. And what we do in those spaces is also going to be important.”

One of the visibility actions outlined by the Action Plan is the land acknowledgements, which are becoming more and more common, but are not unanimously appreciated. “I find them kind of insulting,” Gull said, “just in that the acknowledgement is that the land has already been taken and they’re giving thanks for taking land.”

According to Tremblay, it is important to really take time to understand what the acknowledgement is about. “[People] read it and they can’t pronounce the words, they read it in a way that is very stilted,” she said. “It just has no meaning. It feels as if, okay, let’s get this stuff out of the way before we get down to the real business. So for me, if you’re not going to put your heart into it, then just don’t do it.”

Ibarra-Lemay pointed out that most of the actions to decolonize Concordia were led by Indigenous students, faculty and staff, which has led to burnout in the community. “We need to be the ones leading it, but we still need the support of non-Indigenous people to be able to do this,” she said.

Tremblay argued that more allyship would speed up the process of making Concordia a place of belonging for Indigenous students. “Although my office is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the Action Plan, it is not our responsibility to implement every recommendation,” she explained. “The whole university has to put their back into it. It is the affair of everybody in this university: faculty, staff, and students.”


Resistance from a distance: How Ukrainians in Canada are showing solidarity for their home country

Canada’s Ukrainian diaspora is working to remove Russian influence from their culture amid the ongoing conflict.

It’s been a while since Mariia Zaborovska has spoken Russian, her mother tongue. She, her husband, and their two children all conversed in the language regularly at their home in Montreal, even seven years after immigrating to Canada from Ukraine. Following Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine in the winter of 2022, she switched to Ukrainian—a show of solidarity for her compatriots, and a small but significant effort to eliminate Russia’s cultural influence on the eastern European nation.

Zaborovska is not alone in her decision, nor is language the only change taking place. The Russo-Ukrainian war has sparked a greater movement among Canada’s Ukrainian diaspora to draw a line between Russian and Ukrainian identity and culture. This comes after numerous historical periods of Russian territorial occupation, and repeated efforts by Russia to stomp out all traces of Ukrainian identity and culture—an imperialist endeavour that has bled into the 21st century.

The war has created a ‘cultural emergence’ in many Ukrainian diaspora communities across the country, according to Milana Nikolko, an adjunct research professor at the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University. 

She explained how in the past, there would often be disputes among the Ukrainian diaspora over how Russia’s actions against their home country could be perceived. “We do have a significant shift in terms of not just how we describe the war, but also what language we use in our everyday communication,” Nikolko said.

Nikolko is part of a group of Ukrainian expats who communicated among themselves in Russian prior to 2022, switching to Ukrainian after the war began.“Even though it may not be so efficient, we are putting our effort into making Ukrainian the language of communication between us,” she said.

Adopting the language

Transitioning to Ukrainian was not an easy venture for Zaborovska. She grew up in Crimea, a heavily Russian-speaking peninsula which had been part of Ukraine until Russian annexation in 2014, and had little knowledge of the Ukrainian language. Russian music, blogs, literature and YouTube videos were eschewed from her everyday routine in favour of Ukrainian-language content.

Zaborovska started off by practising Ukrainian at home. “My husband and kids carried on for a while in Russian,” she said. “And then my husband also switched to Ukrainian. And then very quickly, in the matter of a few weeks, we noticed that the kids were speaking Ukrainian.”

She was amazed by their progress, even more so when her elder daughter, aged 6, asked her mother what their first language was. “Well, unfortunately it’s Russian,” Zaborovska said with a laugh. “And she was so surprised, like she didn’t recall speaking Russian […] It was amazing how far they kind of switched.”

Eventually, Zaborovska started speaking Ukrainian outside of her home. In doing so, she developed a closer connection with Montreal’s Ukrainian community. 

Unity in nationhood

Zaborovska views these changes in language and lifestyle, as a small victory for Ukraine against the claims made by the Russian government and president that Ukrainians and Russians are the same people. 

Hanna Kovalenko, a Ukrainian refugee and former resident of Mariupol, vehemently disagrees with those claims. Mariupol was one of the first cities invaded by the Russian army in February 2022—Kovalenko and her family escaped, arriving in Montreal the following May. 

“We have a national culture [that’s] different from Russia,” she said. “I speak Russian and other people speak Russian in Mariupol. There was no discrimination!”

Polina Khrystuk, a political science student at Concordia University and Ukrainian immigrant, agrees. “As someone who grew up in eastern Ukraine, I know what language was actually oppressed, and it wasn’t Russian,” she explained. “It wasn’t socially cool to use Ukrainian . . . it didn’t have the strong social status the Russian language had.”

Having immigrated to Canada with her family 14 years ago, Khrystuk said it was interesting to see the love local Ukrainian communities had for their country and culture. “There’s a big joke going on in Ukraine that the best people who speak Ukrainian are the Canadian Ukrainians, because they’re the ones who try to preserve the culture the most,” she added.

A history of Russian oppression

Zaborovska, Nikolko, Kovalenko, Khrystuk and many other Ukrainians in Canada are well versed in the history of Russian oppression of the Ukrainian language and culture. One such historic instance looms large in the collective memory of Ukrainians: the Holodomor. Literally translated as “death by starvation,” the Holodomor was a famine orchestrated by the Soviet Union which killed some four million Ukrainians from 1932-1933. 

Starving Ukrainians sold family heirlooms for meagre portions of grain. Some were forced to resort to cannibalism. All international relief efforts were blocked by the Soviet government. Thirty-five countries recognize the Holodomor as a genocide, including Canada, the United States and most countries in the European Union.

Nikolko draws distinct parallels between the Holodomor and the current Russo-Ukrainian war. Both tragedies involved Russian aggression against the smaller Ukraine, and both triggered an “emotional symbolic unity” of Ukrainians around the world. “We have the same story told in a different way,” she said.

The destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure last winter by the Russian Armed Forces left many in eastern Ukraine facing the bitter cold without power. This led to the term “Kholodomor” (literally death by cold) being coined by historian Alexander J. Motyl to describe Russia’s brutal disregard for the lives of Ukrainian civilians.

Daring to speak out

The Holodomor was not just designed to kill Ukrainians, Zaborosvka explained: “It’s meant to instill this fear [for] generations to come […] It is so deeply instilled that it is a taboo. It is a topic you’re not supposed to speak about.”

She believes that’s why it’s important that modern-day Ukrainians speak out about it, and about other atrocities Ukrainians have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of Russia.

Since the war began, Zaborovska helped organize numerous rallies, protests, and other events designed to show support for Ukraine and keep Canadians from turning a blind eye to the war. 

Zaboroska said that becoming a social activist was not a conscious decision, but was rather something she felt needed to be done to show support for her home country from thousands of kilometres away.

Zaborovska’s activist group also organizes events highlighting past injustices. For example, a Holodomor Memorial Day vigil and rally took place at Place Dorchester in downtown Montreal on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. 

Over a hundred supporters braved the -8 ºC weather, bundled up with winter wear. Blue and yellow bicolour flags filled the square, flying alongside several Quebec and Canadian flags. The group marched for over an hour that evening. Their chant rang out:

Holodomor is genocide. Let’s not forget those who died.”

Demonstrators hold up a sign at the Holodomor Memorial Day vigil in Dorchester Square in Montreal that reads “at least 4,000,000 Ukrainians exterminated by the U.S.S.R.” Photo by Joshua Allan / The Concordian

Events like these mourn the millions of victims of the genocide. They also demonstrate to the Russian government that they no longer have a stranglehold on Ukrainians’ spirit, Zaborovska explained.  

A permanent change

Zaborovska’s ancestors spoke Ukrainian, but her grandparents had made the switch to Russian and had passed the language down to their children.

“It was frowned upon in the Soviet Union to speak Ukrainian,” she explained. “If you wanted to advance in your career, you had to be a Russian speaker […] In that sense, I’m coming back to Ukrainian culture, coming back to [the] Ukrainian language.”

She does not plan on reverting back to Russian after the war ends, regardless of the outcome. “[Russian] feels so strange and foreign to me now […] When I come back to the videos of our family archive and I hear myself speak Russian, it feels, to be honest, like a different person speaking. And I’m not so sure I like that person.”

“The language you speak definitely makes a lot of internal difference in you,” she added, “I’m definitely not going back to Russian.”


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.

Arts Theatre

The radical importance of gigues in Quebecois culture

Pas Perdus | Documentaires Scéniques presented this year at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde

The Théâtre du Nouveau Monde presented Pas Perdus from Feb. 24 to a crowded room filled with an excited public. 

The design and direction of the play was helmed by Émile Proulx-Cloutier and written by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, who also acted as a silent narrator. 

The performance was prefaced with a short reading of the Ukrainian play A Dictionary of Emotions in a Time of War to commemorate the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Theatres across Montreal read excerpts to signify their solidarity with Ukrainians. The crowd was extremely moved. 

The play centers around eight characters, who seem to at first live categorically different lives, but are in fact united by their passion for dance. They are introduced within their life stories, and how dancing gigue orients their existence. 

The Quebecois gigue was inspired by Irish stepdancing upon their immigration to Canada in the late 19th century. It is a lively dance that consists of steps, the last one being more emphasized.

It is danced alone or in front of an audience, usually in a room, each dancer revealing their steps. Most Quebec gigues dances are on a two by four tempo, while some places like Outaouais dance on three by four tempo. Gigue is a staple of Quebecois culture. 

Pas Perdus was conducted in a unique fashion, as characters did not speak, while a voiceover resonated between them, composed of excerpts from a podcast series Barbeau-Lavalette had created, centering the voices of the dancers. 

The actors were merely dialoguing through the movement of their bodies. This silence plays a symbolic role in the demonstration of dance as a language, and of spoken words as only parallel to the meaning of dance. They are introduced within their life stories, and how dancing gigues orients their existence. 

Each character is introduced separately, completing their daily tasks while the voiceover explains their lives. The first character, Réal, is from a rural town and spends his time knotting a pair of snowshoes and explains how dancing is a part of who he is, while others like Odile are presented in the workspace as the voiceover explains their life path, and what brought them to dance. 

This play questions the meaning gigue has in Quebecois culture, the shame that surrounds the dance, and the risk of forgetting it as time passes. 

The play layers on the tone of humour despite difficult times.

Barbeau-Lavalette discusses themes of shame around Quebecois culture, and how it directly produces erasure. One character talks about “collecting steps,” as she meets people within the gigues community, learns their unique steps, and is thus able to carry them with her. This prevents the steps from being erased, even when the person dancing gigue dies. 

Pas Perdus is a demonstration of the adaptation of Quebec culture to modern times, noting the importance of not constraining our history to the past. Although there are fewer people dancing gigue, culture cannot be forgotten. This play is an homage to preserving culture and steering it away from erasure. 


Queer Montrealers gathered for a vigil in memory of the victims of the Club Q shooting

The local LGBTQIA+ community met in solidarity with queer Americans after a shooting in an LGBTQIA+ club

On Nov. 26, Montrealers gathered in the Gay Village for a solidarity vigil sharing their thoughts and grief surrounding the recent Club Q shooting. For many, this was a time to discuss the violence queer people experience on a daily basis.

On Nov. 19, the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a gunman entered the LGBTQIA+ club in Colorado Springs and opened fire where 25 people were injured and five were killed. This event has left Colorado’s queer community devastated, serving as a reminder of a past shooting that had killed 49 people at the Pulse gay club in Orlando, Florida in 2016. LGBTQIA+ people throughout the world have spoken out in support of the victims and their loved ones. 

“Five lives were stolen away by systemic homophobia and transphobia,” said Celeste Trianon, one of the organizers of the vigil.

Trianon said that, while the shooter was responsible for the tragedy, the system itself was at fault. According to them, queer people experience systemic violence due to the spread of a far-right political agenda in North America.

“What kills us in the end is isolation, poverty, officials who never respect our identities,” said Trianon. “It is all the forms of hatred that we live every day that kill us and that is what we must fight against.”

Gabriel Paquette, a speaker at the event, said they came to support their American counterparts. 

“The thing about the queer community is that we’re not blood related so we’re all a little bit family, as idealized as that idea may be,” said Paquette. “When there’s an attack on a few of us, there’s an attack on all of us, especially when it’s in a space where we’re celebrating our joy of being ourselves, especially on trans day of remembrance. It shocked us to the core of our being, but we knew it was coming with the legislative violence in the US.”

Paquette also denounced the growing climate of hate and fear surrounding queer people in the US, a sentiment echoed by many in attendance.

“In Canada it’s coming as well. For example, in Ottawa there was an anti-trans demonstration yesterday [Nov. 25],” said Paquette, referring to an incident at an Ottawa high school surrounding transgender students using the restrooms corresponding with their respective genders.

They also mentioned how candidates in the most recent Ontario elections pushed for the abolition of support for queer children.

“In Quebec we have the particularity that there are language barriers so the American and British philosophies take longer to reach us but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have organizations that have the same issues […] and that are doing political lobbying to take away our rights in the long run,” explained Paquette. 

They cited, among others, the organization Pour les droits des femmes du Québec, a women’s rights group receiving funding from the provincial government and known to be trans-exclusionary.

The last survey conducted by the Bureau de lutte contre l’homophobie et la transphobie in 2017 found that “over 40% of the population surveyed has witnessed an act of homophobic or transphobic discrimination.”

Participants shared their worries but also their hopes, hugging those who were crying and trying to comfort each other.

“Today was about getting together as a group to try to send some love to those who are there [the US], our distant family,” said Paquette.


In solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

Recent tensions concerning the Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. have been thoroughly discussed on social media, with solidarity protests happening all over the country—from Saskatechewan, to Ontario, to Quebec.

Reports from the CBC state that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) enforced a court order against the Indigenous communities blocking construction on the Coastal GasLink pipeline last Thursday. Camps were set up near the pipeline, including at the Unist’ot’en healing village, which was a Wet’suwet’en-operated checkpoint on the road in 2009, preventing people working on the pipeline from accessing the territory.

Media coverage of the ongoing issue has varied, with some publications learning from past mistakes and putting the work in to accurately reporting on a complex situation. Despite these steps, The Concordian can’t help but notice that this progress is taking far too long. As members of the media, we have a responsibility to not phone in stories on this topic.

Some still don’t even know about the issue, nor the history behind it if they haven’t stumbled upon vigils, protests, or if they aren’t following Instagram accounts addressing the recurring problem. Facebook instates a “Standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en” profile picture frame to get people involved, and encourage them to further educate themselves.

The RCMP is forcibly removing people trying to guard land they never ceded to begin with. Does this ring any bells for anyone? How can Canada, or more specifically, the Liberal Government, claim to be moving forward with Truth and Reconciliation when they are consistently participating in colonialism and land theft?

The media should be doing more to call attention to this. The Via Rail train cancellations are being covered thoroughly, but the reason for them? Not so much. The media is covering the inconvenience that protests are causing privileged individuals, but not adequately educating the public on why the protests are taking place.

Wet’suwet’en land is being stolen and used for something its custodians don’t believe in.

This has been happening across North America for centuries––but we’re supposed to be correcting those mistakes. We’re supposed to be righting those wrongs. Remaining silent in times like these upholds and reinforces centuries of colonialism.

We need to do better. 


Graphic by@sundaeghost


Montrealers gather in solidarity with Chilean protests

Protesters in Montreal gathered on Nov. 2 in solidarity with Chilean protests against the government at the Émilie-Gamelin Place.

“People need to believe in making something better and building it together as a society,” said protester Julio Gajardo.
The protesters chanted in Spanish, “a united population will never be defeated!” They performed dances and sang Chilean songs, while others served traditional food, a form of rallying more pacific than the violence occurring in the South-American country.

Turmoil in Chile began amid government decisions to increase subway prices from the equivalent of $1.47 to $1.52, reported the CBC. The same article draws a comparison between military violence and the long-lasting regime of Augusto Pinochet.

“We feel angry, we’re feeling the same way as we did during the dictatorship of 1973,” said Andrea Astral, an organizer of the Montreal protest. “We’re living under the same constitution. But even though we feel a lot of anger, it feels good to see our country fighting for their rights.”

President Sebastián Piñera ordered the police and military forces in Chile to contain the crowds on Oct. 19 after violence erupted among the protesters. The situation has gone viral around the world accusing the Chilean police and military of violating human rights, reported the CBC.

Chile is one of the countries in Latin-America with a major increase in its economy. In fact, its GDP increased by four per cent in the past year, decreasing the rate of poverty. Nevertheless, Chileans are struggling to keep up with the constant increasing prices.

“All pensions are privatized in Chile, except the ones of the military. So if there’s money for the military, why isn’t there for everyone” said Gloria Martinez, a protester in Montreal.

“It feels good, it feels exciting. It’s the least we can do, living here, ” said Gloria Ramirez, another protester. “It’s not enough watching videos, sharing posts on Facebook. The important thing is to participate and be solidary to our people.”

“A feeling of belonging that I haven’t felt in a long time with the Chilean people, seeing that we can join together despite the distance and give support to our families, friends, our grandmothers who are seeing their grandchildren disappear,” Astral said. “We have to be present and do what is possible despite the distance.”


Graphic by @Tiyasha



Solidarity for Lebanese protests reached Montreal on Friday

Protesters gathered in front of the Lebanese consulate in Montreal last Friday in solidarity with the uprising that started on Thursday in Lebanon.

Montreal joined many other cities like New York and London in this solidarity movement, where protesters chanted anti-government chants in Arabic like “Montreal to Beirut, we want to kick out every jerk.”

“We’re trying to show Lebanese people that we are with them and we stand by them and we are all against the government and what it’s doing,” said Dhalia Nazha, the event organizer in Montreal.

The small 10,500 square kilometer country has entered its biggest protest since the garbage crisis in 2015. Citizens are denouncing corruption among government officials and calling for the government’s resignation.

The protest sparked up after the government announced new taxes including one on the use of messaging apps during a major economic crisis. However, the decision was quickly retracted by officials amid the reaction of the population.

But it’s not all about Viber and WhatsApp. The regional turmoil in the Middle East has been affecting Lebanon’s economy for decades. The country now ranks third in debt levels worldwide at $113 billion US or 150 per cent of its GDP according to Trading Economics.

“They steal from the taxes, they steal all the money and they don’t renovate and don’t do any construction in Lebanon,” said Nazha about the current government. “We don’t have any recycling facilities, there’s a lot of pollution and they don’t try to tackle it in what way whatsoever.”

The country struggles to this day for better infrastructure even after billions invested since the end of the civil war in 1990. Citizens deal with daily electricity cuts, trash piling on the streets and limited water supplies from the state-owned water company, according to the Associated Press.

Many Lebanese chose to flee those conditions in search of a better alternative. Some that chose Montreal as their new home took part in the protest.

“I didn’t have a job or education, because education is really expensive in Lebanon, so I was forced to move here for better life conditions,” said Najib Issa, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering student at Polytechnique.

Job shortages and poor salaries also pushed Chantal Stephan to flee her home country. Stephan said she moved to Canada in 2004 to raise her three children who were there with her, all waving small Lebanese flags and chanting along with the crowd.

“I graduated in Lebanon and I didn’t manage to find a decent job, so I decided to move here to work and be well paid,” said Stephan. “Even with my master’s degree, I couldn’t find a decent job [in Lebanon].”

But there is a feeling of hope for the future of the small Middle Eastern country. This is one of the first apolitical, non-religious movements in Lebanon. The Lebanese population has been divided by political and religious affiliations for the past decades.

“We need to unite all together and stop to follow politicians that are controlling us by the tip of our noses,” said Stephan. “It’s important to stay all united because after all, we all want is the good of the country.”

Nazha, Issa and Stephan think this protest is the beginning of a big change that will enable them to reunite with their roots.

“I’m here tonight for my brothers, sisters, parents and every Lebanese that are still in Lebanon,” said Issa. “We’re only defending and reclaiming our rights. And now, we finally have a chance to  come back to our country.”


Feature photo by Jad Abukasm


Standing stronger in solidarity

It hurts our hearts to write this editorial. On Oct. 27, 11 Jewish people were gunned down in a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Just three days earlier, a man killed two black people at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky. These horrific events remind us of another massacre close to home; less than two years ago, on Jan. 29, six people were killed in the Quebec mosque shooting. These fatal shootings have one key thing in common: minorities targeted by hateful white men.

When he opened fire on the worshippers in Pittsburgh, the gunman shouted, “All Jews must die,” according to CBC News. He had a far-right social media presence, especially on the website Before the shooting, the gunman posted: “HIAS [an American non-profit group guided by Jewish values] likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

The gunman in Quebec held similar sentiments towards Muslims and was pushed over the edge when he saw a tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising to accept more refugees. According to the Montreal Gazette, the day the perpetrator saw the message, “he took his gun into the mosque and started shooting ‘to save people from terrorist attacks,’ he said.”

Before he was captured by police, the gunman in Kentucky told a bystander that “whites don’t shoot whites.” According to CNN, he tried to enter a predominantly black church shortly before he shot Vickie Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice E. Stallard, 69, at a grocery store. The shooting is being investigated as a hate crime, according to the same source.

What are the common denominators here? The truth is, these are all hate crimes, whether or not they’re labeled as such by authorities. We must recognize the fact that when hatred brews and explodes in such violent and extreme ways, these acts are not “senseless” or “random.” They are vicious attacks on people who are constantly demonized. All of these gunmen were white and were fueled by ignorance, anti-black racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia.

These tragedies are all the more difficult to process and reflect upon when the 24-hour news cycle seems to churn out such stories every single day. We must find a better way to interact with these occurrences and understand that they are more than just news stories.

Most importantly, we need to show solidarity. Even if we don’t identify as Jewish, Muslim or black, we cannot simply express shock when violent acts happen. When we stand together and condemn hate crimes, we are not only showing support for victims—we are telling the world that we vehemently disagree with those who perpetuate hate crimes. We are rejecting the motivations that spur white men with guns on. We are choosing to emphasize our humanity and renounce intolerance.

It warms our hearts to see people around the world attending Shabbat services, even those who don’t identify as Jewish. Seeing Muslims forming human defence lines around synagogues, the same way the Jewish community did after the Quebec mosque shooting, is uplifting to see. Watching Montrealers rally against anti-Semitism and attend vigils for the victims reminds us of the strength of community. Hearing members of a black church in Kentucky express solidarity with victims at the Pittsburgh synagogue reminds us of an important trait we all share: compassion.

Graphic by @spooky_soda


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