The island of Montreal is divided along more fronts than just the biguns and the littluns. A plethora of activist bands offer opportunities for you new castaways to ditch your apathetic stance. You don’t even need to dip into student politics to stay afloat in the big issues of the day. Just venturing around the sandy bays of McGill, you’ll find hundreds of socially-conscious island fugitives in their home-grown McgGill tribes. For those who are a little bolder, established niches of activism around Montreal will gladly have you rally with them as they try to set the entire island on fire.
With funds from students fees the Quebec Public Interest Research Group offers shelter from the storm for budding McGill activist groups taking a stand for social justice. They work for a variety of social justice and environmental causes, and support working groups like the McGill Global Aids Coalition, the Queer Team, and Tadamon, a Lebanese solidarity collective. QPIRG also has an impressive progressive library and media collection, and organize Social Justice Days and Radical Frosh. ssmu.mcgill.ca/qpirg
The Grassroots Association for Student Power (GRASPé), advocate for stronger student control over the University, and a smaller corporate presence in research development and student life. They’re known for their attention-grabbing demonstrations like last year’s die-in against military advertising and an occupation of principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s office to protest rising tuition rates. Other groups advocating for student tuition include: the Canadian Federation of Students at education-action.net, La Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec at feuq.qc.ca and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) at casa.ca.
More campus activism
The Black Students’ Network, Queer McGill, Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students’ Society, and Union for Gender Empowerment also offer shelter to all shipwrecked souls at McGill while fighting against discrimination on the island at large. If you’re looking for more wide-reaching projects, you almost can’t turn a corner without bumping into a McGill club affiliated with a larger, mainland NGO forcing their baked goods at you to fundraise for their initiatives. Groups like Medecines Sans Frontier McGill, Oxfam McGill, Engineers Without Borders McGill, and Santropol Roulant for Students are some more well-knowns. Set your sails for Activities Night on September 11 in the Shatner Building.
This meals-on-wheels deal established by two McGill graduates over a decade ago draws volunteers from all over the island to bring tasty food to people with disabilities, the elderly and others in need. They also have a bike collective in the warmer months and support sustainable gardening. Volunteer recruitment sessions are held every other Saturday morning at 4050 St. Urbain. For more information check out santropolroulant.org.
Urban Ecology Centre
UEC advocates for sustainable urban development with projects like improving air quality, rooptop gardens, a Green Lab, mass composting, and other initiatives to develop the city in more ecologically friendly ways. Join in the fun by calling 282-8378 or stopping by their office at 3516 Parc.
Apathy Is Boring
The Montreal branch of this national non-partisan organization aims to engage and inform youth about their role in politics and democracy. With plenty of online guides, workshops, and consulting services for oganizations they aim to engage the disengaged. They’re also present in the community with regular concerts and art events. Find out why democracy is sexy at apathyisboring.com.
A group well-known on the island for over a decade, this groups aims to support and inform sex workers for their own safety and dignity. They also educate the public about the realities of sex workers to combat discrimination and promote the decriminalization of sex work. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Social Justice Committee
The SJC seeks economic and political change in the developing world through education, advocacy work and engaging in policy work at the international and national level. Find out how you can join a sub-committee or become a volunteer in one of their many projects at s-j-c.net.
Reading Council for Literacy Advance in Montreal is a non-profit which provides free and confidential literacy instruction to English-speaking adults in Montreal through one-on-one tutoring and computer assistance. The group also promotes literacy issues in the community as a whole. Visit reclaimliteracy.ca for more info.