Commentary | Letters

As a new working group at QPIRG-McGill we have received unlimited and indispensable support from the QPIRG team as we continue to fight for the rights of immigrant and migrant workers.  QPIRG is an important link between students and the community connecting campus and community social justice groups.  It gives balance to an often one-sided academic environment, giving students access to space, knowledge and resources to make positive and meaningful social change and make connections between theory and action.  Student groups, working groups, and research initiatives are vital, not only to campus life and learning, but to the greater community.  PIRG’s across the country support grassroots groups and alternative action and re-action and QPIRG-McGill is no different.

Dignidad Migrante
QPIRG McGill Working Group

 

The Black Students’ Network stands in complete solidarity with QPIRG McGill, an organization “opposed to all forms of discrimination on the basis of: class, gender, race, sexual orientation, and dis/ability,” and actively strives to make the McGill community a community of safe space. A vital organization for the McGill community, QPIRG caters to the interests of a variety of students with informative events such as: Rad Frosh, Culture Shock, and Social Justice Days. This is just one of the many reasons why we, the Black Students’ Network, urge all students to support QPIRG and vote ‘yes’ towards the referendum.

The Black Students’ Network
McGill Student Group

 

Campus Crops has been a working group of QPIRG-McGill since 2007. Ever seen the lovely gardens north of the Birks building or behind the James Administration building? That’s us.
Every year since 2007 we’ve been growing veggies on McGill campus.
Our goal in these past five years has been to grow food on campus and to provide students and community members with space and opportunities to learn by doing. We also seek to promote discussion around issues of food politics and food security through social and educational events such as workshops, film screenings, and potlucks.  Throughout the years we have offered workshops on everything from permaculture, to herbal gynecology, to canning, to seasonal Temporary Foreign Worker Programs.
Through the means of popular education and knowledge sharing, our goal has been to empower people of all-skill levels. Indeed, many to-be green thumbs found their life-long passion for urban agriculture at the Campus Crops gardens. Many of us would never have discovered our love and respect for food and agriculture in this bustling urban setting had it not been for Campus Crops or the support of QPIRG-McGill.
Before “being green” became the new big thing, QPIRG gave us voice, and empowered us to grow food on campus. QPIRG provided us with space to start our seedlings and hold meetings, funds to buy tools and materials, and trainings to sharpen our critical analysis and organizational structure.
Dedicated to both environmental and social justice, QPIRG provides students like us with the opportunity to seek knowledge outside of the classroom and to better both the McGill community and the Montreal community at large.
In supporting QPIRG you are supporting initiatives like ours. You are saying ‘yes!’ to creative, empowering, educational working groups and initiatives here at McGill and beyond.

The Campus Crop Collective
QPIRG McGill Working Group

 

Letter of support for QPIRG McGill

Dear McGill Daily,

The Prisoner Correspondence Project has been a working group of QPIRG-Concordia since 2007. We coordinate a direct letter-writing program for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, gendervariant, queer, 2spirit and intersexed inmates in Canada and the US, linking these communities with people who identify similarly and are outside of prison. The project also coordinates a resource library of harm reduction practice (safer sex, safer drug use, clean needle care, safer tattooing, et cetera), HIV and Hepatitis C prevention, homophobia, transphobia, et cetera. Since our inception, we have worked closely with QPIRG-McGill in a variety of ways; whether co-organizing popular education events, supporting us with discretionary funding in order to work on special projects, promoting our project to the McGill campus and greater Montreal Community, or allowing us to use their space for our bi-weekly meetings, QPIRG McGill has been crucial to our project. QPIRG-McGill has helped us to fulfill our mandate of linking marginalized imprisoned communities with those on the outside so as to foster solidarity based relationships of support and friendship, helping break down walls of isolation. QPIRG-McGill is a unique gem of an organization that encourages students to break outside of the university walls and engage in political activism and social and environmental justice causes.

The Prisoner Correspondence Project

QPIRG Concordia Working Group

Dear McGill Daily,

We are writing on behalf of the First Peoples’ House at McGill University to publically endorse the QPIRG Yes Referendum Campaign.
The First Peoples’ House is dedicated to providing support for First Nations (status and non‐status), Inuit and Métis students at McGill, by establishing a sense of community and a voice to aboriginal students who have left their home communities in order to pursue their education. One of our objectives is to collaborate and engage with local and national communities to support and raise awareness of Indigenous issues.
QPIRG has taken initiative on a number of issues and topics related to Indigenous peoples and we are happy to work in collaboration with them and truly value this partnership.  During last years’ Social Justice Days, we co-hosted a film and discussion on the Tar Sands and their impacts on ecology and Indigenous Rights.  This summer we co-sponsored activities for the 2-day National Aboriginal Day event at the Montreal Native Friendship Centre and this year we are collaborating again for the annual Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving Dinner.
QPIRG also houses KANATA, McGill’s Indigenous Studies Community.  KANATA is a McGill-based student support community that explores, shares, and provides learning opportunities for anyone interested in Indigenous Studies.  One of their main activities is the development and production of a student-led annual interdisciplinary academic journal.  This year also marks their first peer-to-peer led seminar on Indigenous issues.
All to say that we believe QPIRG does an excellent job at bringing important issues to the forefront and we think they play an integral part in the McGill community, so we agree with and support their referendum.

In Peace & Friendship,

First Peoples’ House

 

The recent referenda put forward by both QPIRG and CKUT needs to be recognized and examined for what they are: a willful twisting of the arm of the student body, while simultaneously being a propagation – albeit indirect – of student political apathy.
Both resolutions are worded in the same manner, and both deal with legitimate financial concerns of the two groups as a result of the online opt-out process for student fees. Theoretically, the vote is on granting the organizations the sole ability of tailoring specialized opt-out processes. Unfortunately, rather than having a clear, democratic vote on the true issue at hand, both resolutions are weighed with the ominous-sounding clause, a “no vote will result in the termination of all undergraduate fee-levy funding” to the groups.
Not only is this a not-so-subtle attempt at framing the question in the pursuit of maximizing a desired political outcome, but it alienates the segment of students who are sympathetic to the continued presence of QPIRG and CKUT on campus, and recognize the virtue of transparency, especially in monetary transactions. This forces a black-and-white choice upon these students of the middle, students who likely form a large portion of the electorate, if not the majority. The resulting moral dilemma – voting against transparency or voting against supportive funding – means the only conscientious choice for this constituency is abstention.
No doubt that CKUT and QPIRG’s respective calculuses have prophesied the success of the as-worded referenda. Maybe the groups even believed that the distortion of the question into a stark choice would force students to evaluate to a clear position. In reality, the dulling force of the artifice will only motivate students to opt-out once more; this time, out of the referendum process. The only clear loser is student democracy.

Chris Liu
U1 Political Science and Philosophy

 

As a faculty member, I have great admiration for QPIRG McGill, which serves as an invaluable resource for students, faculty, and others in the McGill community and beyond who seek a better world. Through its many activities and roles, QPIRG not only helps to engage the campus community in crucial local and global struggles for social and ecological justice, but offers a unique space for critical ideas, education, knowledge production, reflection and action, complementing – and sometimes challenging – the more formal kinds of learning which take place in the classroom or lab.
QPIRG offers many ways for students (and others) at McGill to meaningfully connect with, and support broader struggles for social justice and appreciate the ideas and debates behind them. For example, its Community-University Research Exchange (CURE) provides an innovative means through which students can integrate their academic research with the work of local movements and activist organizations, encouraging and supporting socially relevant research via independent studies, projects internships. The many panels, workshops and cultural events which QPIRG organizes or co-sponsors have brought top-notch critical scholars from across North America and beyond such as Biju Mathew, Vijay Prashad, Radha D’Souza, Robyn Rodriguez, and Jasbir Puar who have participated in QPIRG’s Culture Shock program in recent years, as well as an array of activists, artists and community organizers from Montreal and around the world.   This is a great student-supported resource at McGill, and richly deserves more recognition for its work, and ongoing support!

Sincerely,

Aziz Choudry, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, International Education
Department of Integrated Studies in Education
Faculty of Education, McGill University

 

Since 2001, the Midnight Kitchen has been a vegan food collective that promotes a critical view of capitalism, consumerism and colonialism as they influence and control our lives.
The Kitchen aims to make people’s lives easier with a cheap nutritious meal and to create a safer, less stressed space. It is in this space that we can begin to question the stress and misery that we’ve come to view as normal.
There are too few such spaces, where the daily bustle is broken and we’re able to step back and ask ourselves ’why?’ Why such disparity? Why do our dumpsters overflow while people starve? Why accept such a volatile economic system? Why aren’t we (really) doing anything about climate change? Why, in our ‘democracy’, do we let any of this continue?
These aren’t easy questions to answer. It takes an incredible range of information from all disciplines to start to detangle the web of issues that are so deeply rooted in our society. It takes a huge amount of support to keep going even when the answers to these questions challenge your own assumptions and personal habits.
QPIRG is the place to get these questions answered. They have working groups spanning almost any interest, and a library spanning many issues.
The Midnight Kitchen hopes to be a bridge between the mainstream that we serve and the social justice that we work towards. Without the community resources –without QPIRG – the Kitchen would be a bridge to nowhere.
In 2001, it was active QPIRG members involved in GRASPé who started the Kitchen.  Without early support from QPIRG, we may have never existed, and without their continued existence, we will lose a valuable ally in our shared struggle for social and environmental justice.
A vote for QPIRG is a vote for MK, and we hope you will.

Midnight Kitchen
QPIRG McGill Working Group


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