It’s been quite a summer! While you were away, activists took to the streets of Montreal on numerous occasions, while the university has seen drama in student politics, new hirings in the administration, and changes in the labour scene. In case you missed anything, here is a look at some highlights from the last four months.
Floor fellows join AMUSE
On May 6, the McGill floor fellows’ union drive came to an end when their request to unionize under the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) was accepted by Quebec’s Commission des relations du travail.
On August 29, the floor fellows held their first annual general meeting and elected Christina Clemente as VP Floor Fellows. The unit is entering into collective bargaining this fall.
Quebec student organizers host international convention
In June, student organizers who were active in the 2011-12 Quebec student strike hosted a four-day international convention during which they shared lessons and experiences with like-minded attendees from across North America. Members of the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ), a student union federation, led a variety of workshops and discussed their organizations direct democratic decision-making process. Organizers of the convention also dedicated a significant amount of time to workshops on feminist and anti-racist practices, highlighting the challenges students face as they attempt to build an inclusive movement. The convention allowed participants to make connections with other activists and build international solidarity, though some attendees found many workshops too theoretical and hard to apply.
Montrealers remember victims of police shootings
August 9 marked the sixth anniversary of the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva by a Montreal police officer, who has yet to face serious consequences for his actions. Montreal North community members held a candlelight vigil at the site where Villanueva was shot to commemorate his life and demand justice. On the same day, a few hours before the vigil, another unarmed 18-year-old, Michael Brown, was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, leading to an uprising in the Ferguson community. A week later, nearly 100 Montrealers gathered for a vigil in solidarity with the Ferguson protests to speak out against police violence and its intersection with institutionalized racism.
Three-story condo to replace razed Parc Oxygène
On July 7, the construction of a three-story condo began on a razed laneway garden that was known as Parc Oxygène in the Milton-Parc community. The neighbourhood’s beloved green space was destroyed on June 26, a few days after the Superior Court refused a safeguard order to the Milton Park Community (CMP) housing cooperative network that would have stopped a condo developer from bulldozing the garden. The board of the CMP has chosen not to appeal the decision for the time being.
Dance demo protests sex work legislation
On June 14, about 75 people staged a dance-a-thon at Place de la Paix. The demonstration was part of a national day of action during which sex workers and their allies protested the content of the proposed Bill C-36, which criminalizes sex work more severely than ever before in Canada. Bill C-36 is the Conservative government’s response to the Supreme Court’s December ruling on Canada v. Bedford, in which the court unanimously struck down three central provisions of Canadian sex work legislation and left the government one year to draft a new law.
Sophie Leblanc takes Chief Investment Officer position
McGill has hired Sophie Leblanc as its new Chief Investment Officer to oversee the endowment fund and pension plan. Leblanc will take advice on the ethical side of McGill’s investments from the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR), whose terms of reference were recently updated to expand the definition of social injury, which now includes ìgrave environmental damage.î In light of these developments, it remains to be seen whether Leblanc will be more receptive than her predecessor John Limeburner to Divest McGill’s demand that McGill divest from the fossil fuel industry.
Montrealers with disabilities demand accessible transit system
On July 25, Accessibilize Montreal organized a protest outside the Place-des-Arts metro station to speak out against the inaccessibility of Montreal’s public transportation system for people with disabilities. Accessibilize called on the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) to install more elevators in metro stations and install more ramps on buses, as currently only seven out of 68 metro stations have elevator access – of which only four are on the island – and not all STM buses have ramps installed.