On January 21 SSMU opened its “Introduction to Quebec” week with a debate on Quebec sovereignty hosted by the McGill Debating Union.
The week of events – a collaborative effort between SSMU and student organizations on campus – aims to better educate the student population about the unique cultural, historical, and political identity of Quebec.
SSMU VP External Robin Reid-Fraser organized the week of events after conversations about the recent student strike made her realize that students didn’t know much about the history of the province.
“It seems like one of the reasons that folks at McGill didn’t have as much of a connection to the strike is because they aren’t from Quebec, and don’t have the history and sense of the province because of that,” Reid-Fraser told The Daily by email.
“I’ve heard a lot of students saying that it can be really difficult to break out of the McGill bubble, and get involved in the greater Montreal community. That being said, there’s a real desire to get to know this province,” Reid-Fraser said.
Reid-Fraser explained that SSMU aimed to create a mix of more traditional events, such as discussions on Quebec sovereignty and Bill 101, Quebec’s charter of the French language, and less explored topics, such as black history in Montreal and the historical relationship between Aboriginals and white settlers in Quebec.
A workshop on Monday aiming to provide a basic introduction to Quebec, and a presentation on Tuesday aiming to explain the relationship between different regions in Quebec, were both cancelled due to miscommunications in scheduling.
Tuesday’s workshop on Montreal’s black history was cancelled as the presenter was ill.
Wednesday’s events included a workshop by Paige Isaac from the McGill First Peoples’ House on the Aboriginal community in Quebec, and a workshop on the Quebec student movement.
Thursday’s events are slated to include a workshop on Bill 101 and other legal issues in Quebec, and a francophone night at Gert’s featuring the Montreal band Les Lazy Lovers.
On Friday, SSMU plans to host a presentation on the history of Canada from a francophone perspective, followed by a poutine crawl.
Reid-Fraser was enthusiastic about future possibilities for the Quebec-themed week of events.
“I would love it if this can be an annual thing…and bring in more speakers from outside of McGill to have even more of a diversity of perspectives, and a lot more from actual Québécois,” she said.