As always, the summer has been full of action in Montreal and at McGill. The city witnessed unions launching their new campaigns, police cracking down on protests, a petition to fight the patriarchy, and we even saw a scandal regarding the McGill Faculty of Medicine. If you weren’t paying attention over the summer, now is your chance to catch up on the news.
March in solidarity with Unist’ot’en Camp ends in arrests
On July 24, approximately twenty demonstrators gathered at Roddick Gates to show support for the Unist’ot’en Camp in British Columbia. The camp is located in unceded Wet’suwet’en territories, which are currently endangered by 11 different pipeline proposals, including Chevron’s Pacific Trails Pipeline project.
An organizer who wished to remain anonymous explained that the Unist’ot’en have been practicing “free prior and informed consent protocols.” This method entails asking potential visitors about their intention when they access the territory. “If [the visitors] are not approved by the hereditary chiefs, then they’re not allowed on the territory,” stated the organizer, adding, “[the Unist’ot’en have] made it very clear that […] Chevron is not allowed in the territory and the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police], who is just acting to enforce this capitalist agenda, is not allowed on their territory either.” The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) responded to the protest with several arrests and tickets.
On August 26, the members of the camp announced on their Facebook page that they were “on high alert and if [their families didn’t] hear back from [them] in 24 hours, it means [they were] unable to get word out” about their situation. They later made other posts about increased police activity around the territories.
McGill’s undergraduate medicine program put on probation
Over the summer, McGill’s undergraduate medicine program was placed on probation by the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The announcement came in the form of a letter, dated June 15 and addressed to McGill’s Principal Suzanne Fortier. While the letter expressed that “probation is an action reflecting the summative judgment that a medical education program is not in substantial compliance with accreditation standards,” McGill’s undergraduate medicine program has not lost its accreditation. Amongst reasons cited for the probation was inadequate instruction in women’s health and family and domestic violence. The faculty has until 2017 to address the issues mentioned in the letter in order for the program to be taken off probation, and it has already begun to do so.
Unions at McGill join $15 minimum wage campaign
On May 1, McGill’s Inter-Union Council (IUC) organized a rally at Community Square in front of the James Administration building to celebrate International Workers’ Day and to stand in solidarity with the university’s academic and non-academic workers. Following the rally, which included speeches by community members, the organizers of the rally delivered a letter to the University, signed by the event’s participants. The letter condemned many of the University’s policy decisions in response to the provincial budget cuts.
McGill worker Agatha Slupek, speaking on behalf of the IUC, announced that unions at McGill would be joining their “comrades in the fast food and retail industries [in calling] for a $15 campus-wide minimum wage.” As the collective agreements of most unions, such as the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA), are about to expire, it is expected that the campaign will affect the re-negotiation processes.
Petition starts “alcohol does not equal consent” campaign
Earlier this spring, a petition was launched demanding that the Quebec government make it mandatory for alcohol bottles to have the slogan “alcohol does not equal consent” written on them, as well as for establishments with alcohol permits to display the same slogan at their bars and restrooms. According to Kharoll-Ann Souffrant, one of the people behind the petition and a social work student at McGill, the petition sought to make the message visible and create awareness about the issue of sexual assault. Mélanie Lemay, an administrator at the Centre d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel (CALACS) Agression Estrie, the first step to fight rape culture is admitting that it exists. “That’s the biggest test, and most people don’t do it, because it’s hard to believe that actually everything’s made up so that women [are not even the owners of their own bodies],” Lemay told The Daily.
By the petition’s deadline on July 24, 574 people had signed the online petition; however, the organizers claimed that the total number exceeds 1,000 if paper versions of the petition are included.
Affordable housing group’s camp dispersed by the police
The Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), an affordable housing group, took to the streets on May 21 to denounce the limited funding for social housing from the federal and provincial governments and protest housing inaccessibility. Several hundred demonstrators joined the march in downtown Montreal.
Around 2:30 p.m., the congregation arrived at the Quartier des spectacles, where approximately sixty campers from Montreal and surrounding regions who were either facing housing difficulties or were tenants of social housing intended to stay in tents.
At approximately 4 p.m., the SPVM intervened, making three arrests and seizing some of the protesters’ tents. Eventually, police surrounded the camp from multiple directions and by 5 p.m. had dismantled the protest.