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Volume 107, Issue 17 | Monday, February 12, 2018 | Praying the straight away since 1911

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Abolishing the prison system PAGE 10




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Contents 4 EDITORIAL Following the one-year commemoration of the Quebec mosque shooting

5 NEWS New briefs McGill medical residents strike School of social work conducts town hall SSMU council

10 Commentary Exploring the prison abolition movement

February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily

12 Features Black resistance: poetry and pictures

14 Sports Sports media and the underdog phenomnon The resurgence of Roger Federer

17 Culture Rising Voices: a review BlackTalk at CKUT Reviewing ‘Born in Flames’

19 Letters, Compendium!



Volume 107 Issue 17

February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


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One year after Quebec City Massacre, we must actively combat Islamophobia

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Xavier Richer Vis coordinating news editor


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Rayleigh Lee Yasmeen Safaie Victor Dépois commentary + compendium! editors

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Jack Ball, Margaret Bruna, Ella Corkum, Marina Cupido, Jason Gales, Aidan Kearney-Fick, Serene Mitchell, Jay VanPut, Yasir Piracha

Content warning: Islamophobia, Islamophobic violence


n January 29, 2017, Azzeddine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Aboubaker Thabti, and Khaled Belkacemi were killed, and 19 others injured, in a mass shooting in the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. This massacre is indicative of deep-seated and widespread Islamophobia. Following the event’s one-year commemoration, it is important to recognize ongoing prejudice and violence enacted against Muslim communities. We need to recognize this as Islamophobia, to name the distinct political and ideological underpinnings to these acts of hate, centered on the “War on Terror” rhetoric. In addition, we must actively support Muslim communities in combating Islamophobia. Quebec’s legislative history shows that the province has not taken substantial measures against Islamophobia, and has failed to support Muslim communities. In March of 2017, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid proposed Bill M-103, which passed as a non-binding motion which was merely symbolic in condemning “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” Despite M-103, the number of reported incidents of Islamophobia in Quebec City doubled in 2017, with 42 incidents recorded by the police. The recent passing of Bill 62 in October, which bans people from wearing religious face-coverings — like the niqab or burqa — while accessing government services, exists under the guise of religious neutrality, but is an act of state violence against the Muslim community. Islamophobia continues to pervade the lives of Canadian Muslims, and must be eliminated. The pervasiveness of Islamophobia extends as far as the language we use in describing the experiences of

marginalized communities, particularly when articulating acts of violence. After the NCCM (National Council of Canadian Muslims) sent a letter urging Trudeau to endorse the anniversary of the shooting as a national day of remembrance and action against Islamophobia, the Parti Quebecois (PQ) argued that the term Islamophobia was “too controversial” and should be changed to “anti-Muslim sentiment.” On January 22, McGill’s administration sent an initial email with the heading “Anniversary of Islamic Massacre,” which they then changed to “Commemorative Ceremony Paying Homage to the Victims of the Islamic Cultural Centre Massacre.” We must be careful of using trivializing phrases like “anniversary” and “anti-Muslim sentiment” to describe devastating events. This practice is diminutive and obscures the clear violence of the massacre. Furthermore, we should be wary of calling for “tolerance,” a term often used to shift responses to discrimination towards a diplomatic agenda that does not necessitate active support. Lastly, we cannot focus on condemning Islamophobia only on days of remembrance. We must be active in combating Islamophobia daily through conversation with those who experience and work against it directly. For example, students can reach out to NCCM, an independent, nonprofit organization that advocates for civil liberties and human rights to challenge Islamophobia within Canadian communities. Financial support for Aymen Derbali, who was shot several times at the mosque and subsequently paralyzed, can be donated at the link found below to fund an accessible home for him and his family. To combat Islamophobia in our daily lives, it is important to question our own use of language in response to micro-aggressions and larger acts of violence. —The McGill Daily Editorial Board

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Nouédyn Baspin, Yves Boju, Marc Cataford (Chair), Mahaut Engérant, Ikram Mecheri, Taylor Mitchell, Inori Roy, Boris Shedov, Rahma Wiryomartono All contents © 2018 Daily Publications Society. All rights reserved. The content of this newspaper is the responsibility of The McGill Daily and does not necessarily represent the views of McGill University. Products or companies advertised in this newspaper are not necessarily endorsed by Daily staff. Printed by Imprimerie Transcontinental Transmag. Anjou, Quebec. ISSN 1192-4608.




February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


McGill discusses ethical volunteering Panelists discuss importance of acknowledging positionality

Yasmeen Safaie & Rayleigh Lee The McGill Daily


n February 7, World University Service of Canada (WUSC) McGill hosted an info-session on how to ethically volunteer abroad. The session involved discussions from a panel of five guest speakers, which included two McGill students, Vincent Yagayandi and Meagan MacKenzie, one member of staff, Antoine-Samuel Mauffette Alavo, and two other key speakers involved with volunteering overseas, Rodolphe Lasnes and Sophie StLaurent. Yagayandi, a second-year social work student, began the discussion by recounting his childhood in a refugee camp in Malawi, South Africa. He described his first-hand experience with volunteers who oftentimes come to the country with “good intentions,”, but approach their experience in a way that does not take into account their “positionality”. “When you are going there as a white person, you have power,” Yagayandi states. He further remarks that when asking children to take a picture with them,

a volunteer must, “check consent via a vis [their] positionality and power,” because oftentimes there is a racialized power dynamic that exists. Yagayandi stated that he believes that McGill should focus more on making sure that students are aware of the space they are occupying within the country they are touring, and the reality of their impact. Yagayandi went on to say that people engaged in voluntourism (a form of tourism where travelers participate in volunteer work) should be aware that realistically, their short period of time in another country, such as Kenya or Malawi, will not make a significant difference on the state of the country or its people. In order for volunteers to recognize their place in a foreign community, they must acknowledge that they do not have the power to “empower” people in the community in a short span of four months, for example. Yagayanandi says this rhetoric of “facilitating empowerment,” requires volunteers to answer the question, “Did you actually empower people, or are you fitting the narrative?” Mackenzie, a fourth-year Sustainability, Science, and Society student, described how the, “origins

of international development [comes] from colonialism,” and how, “Development still focuses on western powers bringing change and development to its former colonies.” There is an inherent problem with language like “developed or developing” used by Western powers in referring to countries overseas, which indicates that “Western superiority is still present”. Mackenzie further says that these regions have been, “actively undeveloped by the people who prospered”. Mackenzie, like Yagayandi, also expounds on the importance of volunteers situating themselves and their experiences in the context of the community they are touring. “The biggest impact you can [have] is absorb[ing] what you learn and apply[ing] it…you are going to get infinitely more than you can give,” says Mackenzie. She also mentions that an ethical way to volunteer is working with organizations that invest in social enterprises that work with businesses in the private sector,” which contribute to building up the local economy. Mackenzie mentions the Kumvana program, which translates to, “unite so we

Bailee Johnson| The McGill Daily may discuss and understand” in Chichewa, which, “facilitate[s] cross-cultural understanding and leadership understanding for… African… social entrepreneurs.” The Kumvana program is different from traditional fellowships because, “it actually brings people from the Global South to the Global North,” says Mackenzie. Lasnes, a member of the Tanzanian Tourist Board, recently spent three months in Tanzania with the organizations Village Monde and Uniterra working with local ethnic groups to help

develop cultural tourism in the region. He explains that tourism can work as a development tool, but can also be harmful to the local economy, especially in the form of voluntourism. People come to the country to see the “national parks,” for example, but oftentimes the guided tours are run by large companies from the United States or Europe, and the money does not stay in the country, which perpetuates the dominance of large corporations in foreign regions. As Lasnes concludes, “A good tourist is better than a voluntourist.”

Gerald Stanley acquitted of all charges All-white jury rules Stanley ‘not guilty’ after a day’s deliberation

Inori Roy The McGill Daily

Content warning: anti-Indigenous violence and racism


erald Stanley, a white Saskatchewan farmer on trial for shooting and killing 22-year-old Colten Boushie, was acquitted of second-degree murder charges on Friday evening. Boushie was a young Indigenous man from Red Pheasant First Nation, who was killed by Stanley when he stopped at his farm to ask for help with a flat tire. At the time of his death, Boushie was accompanied by four friends.

Stanley’s lawyer claimed the shooting was a “freak accident,” which resulted in the gun going off in his hands. The ‘not guilty’ verdict was met with grief-stricken reactions by Boushie’s family and supporters. Shouts of, “Murderer!” followed Stanley through the courtroom as he was ushered out by law enforcement officers. “How First Nations are treated in the justice system is not right,” said Boushie’s uncle Alvin Baptiste, speaking to the Toronto Star. “A white jury came out with a verdict of not guilty [for] Gerald Stanley, who shot and killed my nephew. This is how they treat us First Nations people. It is not right. Something has to be done about this.” “I ask you to try and understand the nearly bottomless disappointment [of the family],” said Chris Murphy, lawyer

to the Boushie family. “There is a darkness that exists in this country [...] I believe we are going to have feel our way out of it.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould both tweeted their sympathies as well, but made no comment with regards to the steps they would be taking to secure justice for Boushie’s family. The family has expressed the intent to potentially appeal the decision. Jade Tootoosis, Boushie’s cousin, said in a press conference after the verdict, “We will fight for an appeal. We will fight for an appeal and answers to all of the racism that my family has experienced from the day that Colten was shot until the jury delivered the verdict of not guilty. We will not stop our pursuit for justice.”

International News

Claire Grenier The McGill Daily


BDS nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

oycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), the Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice, and equality has been nominated the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Norwegian MP Bjørnar Moxnes, the leader of Rødt (the Red Party), nominated the movement with the support of his party. The nomination was also endorsed by Norwegian trauma surgeon Dr. Mads Gilbert, who has worked for fifteen years in Gaza, and written Night in Gaza, a book which describes his experience

at Al-Shifa hospital during Israeli bombardments. In January, Norway promised to impose sanctions on 26 states and countries who have commited or are committing violations of international laws and human rights. Yet, as Moxnes’s press release points out, Norway leaves Israel off the list, “despite Israeli occupation, annexation and collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” it states. “If the international community commits to supporting BDS to end the occupation of Palestinian territory and the oppression of the Palestinian people, new hope will be lit for a just peace for Palestinians, Israelis and all people across the Middle East” the

press release stated. “My hope is that this nomination can be one humble but necessary step towards bringing forth a more dignified and beautiful future for all peoples of the region.” Norwegian parliamentarians. those who have received the prize in the past, and any university professor in an appropriate field have the authority to nominate any organization or person to the Nobel Peace Prize. Nominations for the prize closed on February 1. The proposed candidates will now be evaluated and a nominee shortlist will be released in September. Nobel Laureate(s),will be announced in October and then celebrated in Oslo at the end of the year.


February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


99 percent of McGill medical

Medical residents make allegations

Rayleigh Lee & Victor Depois The McGill Daily


n Friday February 2, the Fédération des médecins résidents du Québec (FMRQ; i.e. Federation of Quebec’s Medical Residents), voted in favour of an unlimited strike mandate. Out of the 3,600 members of FMRQ, a professional union representing medical resident associations from the universities of McGill, Montreal, Sherbrooke, and Laval, 97 percent voted in favour of a strike, with 99 percent of McGill residents voting in favour. According to Christophe Lemieux, the president of the FMRQ, this is the highest proportion of favorable votes from Quebec’s four medical residents associations. Negotiations between the Quebec’s Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux (MSSS; i.e. ministry of Health and Social Services) and the FMRQ started eighteen months ago, in the fall of 2016. After 16 meetings between the two parties, and an intensification of negotiations in late 2017, they reached a stalemate in December 2017 as the government’s position had remained mostly unchanged. The last collective agreement has expired in March 2015.

Union demands Medical residents are workers of the health system employed by hospitals, but affiliated with a university. *Robert, a medical resident at McGill University Health Centre, told The Daily that medical residents are paid a fixed annual salary, without remuneration for overtime work. “In theory, we’re not even employees,” said Robert. “If a nurse who is an employee is expected to work, let’s say forty hours per week, and any hour over that, they have to get paid overtime. A resident is expected to just take their salary and work as much as their supervising doctors tell them to.” Under the 2015 collective agreement, a first year resident earns a fixed salary of $44,552. The salary is calculated on an annual basis rather than an hourly basis. The yearly wage, when factored in with the 72 hour per week workload, amounts to 11.9 dollars per hour of pay. As of May 1 2018, this will be less than the new provincial minimum wage of twelve dollar per hour. According to Lemieux, residents’ salary is on average twenty seven percent less than what a Specialized Nurse Practitioners (SNPs) would earn with the same amount of experience. “SNPs fully deserve their salary, but [...] we wish [...] for the Ministère

de la Santé et des Services Sociaux to acknowledge the importance of medical residents in Quebec’s health care system.” The FMRQ are demanding a 17 percent increase in remuneration for medical residents. According to Lemieux, residents in the province of Quebec have the lowest salaries in Canada; there is a thirty percent gap in wages between Quebec and other provinces. “The MSSS has never accepted the comparison with other provinces, because they argue that the cost of living is lower in Quebec than in other provinces.” Residents are also asking for a new contract for maternity leave, as medical residents do not receive their full salary amount on leave. “The MSSS only calculates their remuneration on [a] leave bas[is] on their base salary, and not counting bonuses. These account for about twenty percent of medical residents’ salary. As a consequence, female medical residents are disadvantaged relatively to other professionals when they go on maternity leave. We have fought on this point for a while, but still have not reached a satisfying agreement.” 72 hours of work per week “On average, medical residents work 72 hours per week; it is difficult

for us to work more,” told Lemieux, emphasizing a need for change in working conditions. “It is not rare for medical residents to remain on duty for 16 hours straight more often than the legal limit of six times over a 28 day period. Yet, the ministry wants us to work more, and to decrease our salaries. It is simply unacceptable.” In 2009, Quebec outlawed 24 hour shifts for medical residents in response to grievance filed by McGill residents, as shifts longer than 24 hours endanger both patients and residents. This point was reiterated in the case against the McGill University Health Centre in 2011, where 24-hour shifts required of medical residents were deemed to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to the evidence used in a grievance case led by the FMRQ against the McGill University Health Centre, medical residents are 2.3 times more likely to crash their vehicles after working 24hour shifts. Lemieux mentioned that medical residents are also responsible for multiple duties which include teaching medical students, and various academic obligations. “We are still in transition on certain points. Consequently, after work, we have readings to do, presentations to prepare, and research projects to work on,” said Lemieux.

“Fifty percent of residents present burnout symptoms, which is worrying. The medical profession has changed over the last twenty years: it is time for the ministry to acknowledge that and to reform the framework around the profession.” Robert commented that the Quebec health care system systematically relies on residents, but is “designed […] for the government to save a lot of money.” In 2015, the Quebec government passed Bill 10, abolishing individual health boards and merging 28 regional health boards to centralize the decision-making process. The bill, which cut 1,300 administrative jobs, was expected to save the government $200 million per year. Bill 20 was subsequently introduced among other budget cuts, which proposed minimum patient quotas on family physicians. The Critical Disability Studies Working Group (CDSWG) criticized the policy in an open letter, as the quotas would cut out support services, “cutting budgets and staffing in an already overburdened system.”

“It is not rare for medical residents to remain on duty for 16 hours straight more often than the legal limit of six times over a 28 day period.” ­– Christophe Lemieux FMRQ President “I don’t think the public realizes how the health system and the ability to see patients is built around that,” told Robert. “There aren’t enough personnel that are seen fairly and treated with normal working conditions to cope with the demands, it’s not set up that way.” “The reason that the residents’ strike ended just after 4 hours a few years ago is because without residents, the health system collapses.” On September 19, 2011, the FMRQ had mandated a strike during salary negotiations with the government. The strike, which occured from 8am to around 11:30 am resulted in an agreement which included a 20.3 percent increase in salary over five years, and a 6 percent annual increase in salary, a


February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


residents vote in favour of strike

of labour undervaluing and systemic overworking doubling of on-call hourly wages, and a $210 teaching stipend for every rotation. Lemieux told the Daily that the MSSS is unresponsive, and ignores medical residents’ demands. However, the FMRQ will not call a strike yet. “Medical Residents Associations have voted in favour of supporting a strike if we need to call one. However, we are not there yet. We want to give the ministry the chance of coming back to us in good faith, with serious reform proposals. [...] We want new people around the table of negotiations because those that are here are not responsive to our demands, and do not attribute value to the work of residents.” Working Conditions Alongside having to cope with long working hours, medical residents have to cope with the stress of being constantly evaluated by their superiors. A 2017 survey revealed that 40 percent of medical residents had been intimidated by their superiors, and other hospital professionals, into working more. Robert explained, “you’re basically evaluated all the time. […] Imagine if you’re at a job, just working, and everything you do in that job [...] is being supervised. […] So no matter how tired you are, whether you haven’t eaten, which is common, you’re being evaluated. […] it takes a toll.” Surveys done between 2008 and 2011 showed that between 45 and 50 percent of Canadian medical residents have been victims of harassment, intimidation, and mistreatment during their residency. A 2013 survey done by Resident Doctors of Canada found that medical residents often experience yelling and shaming, racist and homophobic remarks, as well as negative and unconstructive feedback. Robert continued: “Who are you going to complain to? Your supervisor? The one [who’s] writing these [evaluations]?” He further explained: “I work really hard, but I burn out, because it is so important for me to impress my supervisors, and it’s like a bit of a pathology because I’m obsessed [with] it. […] At the end of the day, when you come home, and you have a relationship, you have friends, family, and you’re just burnt out. You’ve worked to get this for 72 hours per week.” A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that thirty percent of medical residents have depressive symptoms, as opposed

to eight or nine per cent in the general population.

“Was I honest? Was I sensitive? Did I have responsibility? Did I communicate with compassion and empathy? Did I realize my own limitations? Did I seek advice when needed? [...] You get marked on all those things by each doctor you work with. ” – Robert McGill medical resident

“The [residents] are seeing patients frantically, working furiously to get these kind of scores, so that they can […] achieve their dreams […] they’ve been treated in this way so that the system works,” said Robert. Robert detailed the evaluation criteria residents are subjected to, which determine a resident’s evaluation for each shift. “How was I as an advocate? Did I get on the phone and, if their patients don’t get the stuff done, am I calling and yelling? […] did I read enough? […] did I critically appraise the literature? […] was I honest? Was I sensitive? Did I have responsibility? Did I communicate with compassion and empathy? Did I realize my own limitations? Did I seek advice when needed? Was I ethical? […] You get marked on all those things by each doctor you work with.” Robert mentioned that professional expectations contribute to a disregard of personal needs, which is a normalized working condition for residents. “It’s a job for which you get minimum wage but your whole future depends on it, and […] the stress of being constantly evaluated… constantly. If you make a decision to go to lunch instead of seeing an extra patient, you wonder how that’s going to reflect. […] the way that I get these [scores] is by sacrificing meals, not going to the

Laura Brennan | The McGill Daily bathrooms, and putting my needs last. […] we’re used to doing this. [...] So you’re really being evaluated on an insane number of things, all the time.” Gender based intimidation *Janet, another medical resident, spoke to the Daily about gender-based intimidation. “There’s still a subculture that’s not really spoken about that glorifies stereotypically masculine traits as better than stereotypically feminine traits. [...] It’s very patriarchichal. [...] It’s a strange dynamic because the majority of the residents and medical students are women, but more staff are men with […] preconceived notions about gender roles,” said Janet.

According to a Canadian Medical Association survey done in 2017, the proportion of male and female doctors is almost equal (48 percent female; 52 percent male). Women are a majority in younger generations of doctors until the 45-54 age group. Senior professionals remain largely male supervisors, who conduct evaluations on a board range of criteria from ‘Interprofessional relationships with physicians’, to ‘sensitivity & respect for diversity’. Janet told the Daily that female residents “negotiate the role of being taken seriously” as medical professionals, but are pressured to “do the song and dance” as students who are evaluated by

the same supervisors over a multi-year process. “We’re being graded by these people, so we have to be able to laugh at their jokes, and go along with what they say, even if it’s inappropriate. […] it’s difficult because we have no objective body of people we can talk about that to.” “It’s exhausting. [...] It’s also true in a lot of different fields. It’s not unique to medicine, but it’s [...] something we have to contend with.” Robert concluded, “[The health care] in Canada is free, and there’s a lot of great things about it, but it needs to be more humane for the people that work in it, and that will improve the quality of care for patients in it too.” *Names changed to preserve anonymity


February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


Students in the School of Social Work voice concerns at town hall

Issues include degendered bathrooms, curriculum, and stage placements Xavier Richer Vis The McGill Daily


wherein “one hour of work meant one hour completed,” giving students “a measure of safety,” knowing that if they no longer feel comfortable in their current stage, they can transfer without fear of the hours they had already completed.

A lack of support from the School of Social Work Matthew Savage, VP External of the McGill Social Work Student Association (SWSA), read a prepared statement addressed to members of the SSW’s faulty. He detailed how he had been overjoyed at being accepted by the SSW as a mature student, but had grown to become disillusioned with the faculty, having heard testimonies from students surrounding stage placements [i.e. field placements students in the SSW need to complete in order to graduate], inappropriate relationships between students and the stage supervisor, students being forced into doing additional hours, or claims that students were not receiving support from the school, despite years of advocacy from SWSA representatives. “Students are still reporting not feeling supported by the faculty, [and are] being told to ignore problematic behavior from supervisors and/or clients, and are left feeling trapped in a toxic environment. [...], says Savage. “Although we have nothing to report to you in writing, I can guarantee you that everyone in Wilson Hall has experienced or has had a friend experience one, if not all, of these situations.” “Students are afraid to come forward,” Savage continued, “[and fear] being reprimanded by the School for making a complaint, due to the culture of inaction and history of lack of support for our students.” SSW has faced criticism from students for internal practices: in 2013, course lecturer and doctoral student Woo Jin Edward Lee filed a human rights complaint against McGill, alleging systemic racism on the part of the school, specifically that the Employment Equity Guidelines of the SSW perpetuated “practices that discriminate against racialized persons for faculty positions.” Savage stressed the need for the SSW to establish a “bank hours” policy vis-a-vis stage completion in light of students feeling a lack of support from the administration,

De-gendering the bathrooms Savage also stressed his frustration with the issue of de-gendering Wilson Hall’s bathrooms. The School has already degendered all of its bathrooms except for those on the second floor, in response to allegations of one student who had been followed into the bathroom by a member of McGill security, who told them they were going into the wrong bathroom. The School had agreed to make existing gender-inclusive bathrooms more accessible, but failed to redesignate other gendered bathrooms, leading members of the SWSA to organize protests outside the school and sticker campaigns to push the School to comply with student wishes. “I am disappointed that it took stickering and protesting to get a seat at the table to address these issues,” expressed Savage. “I am disappointed and embarrassed that a respected and sought-after member of the community addressed all of our classes about the changes occurring within our schools in order to promote an exclusive environment, just to be informed in a meeting held on the 31st of January, that the Faculty would not be complying with degendering the bathrooms on their own floor.” Later on during the townhall, SSW Director Nico Trocme was asked to clarify the current situation regarding the Wilson Hall’s bathrooms, answering that seven out of the eight signs for degendered washrooms have been ordered. When asked specifically about renovations, Trocme conveyed his own frustrations. “You can’t have an employee of the university or a tradesperson going into a [McGill] building and touching a pipe or anything if it’s not code,” he explained. “I’m not very hopeful to be honest,” Trocme continued. “When talking to [contractors], one thing that became clear, which I didn’t know [was that] once you touch something, not only does that washroom have to be code, but the whole floor has to be code. So that means we would have to add a wheelchair-accessible washroom on the 3rd floor as well.” “What I keep hearing when we talk about the gender neutral bathrooms,” said Mariana Sosa, the SSW’s elected representative to the McGill Senate, “is that the comfort

n Wednesday, February 7, McGill’s School of Social Work (SSW) organized a town hall meeting allowing students to ask faculty members questions regarding the completion of their degrees. Dozens of students were in attendance, many of whom expressed their frustrations with the SSW.

Rayleigh Lee| The McGill Daily of cis people is being put at the forefront before trans and gender nonconforming individuals and that this is unacceptable coming from a school that loves to pat itself on the back when it comes to social change. [...] This is a super simple issue. We’re just trying to have anyone use whatever bathroom they want to go in.”

“Students are still [...] being told to ignore problematic behavior from supervisors and [...] or clients.”

—Matthew Savage SWSA VP External

Issues with the curriculum Over the two and a half hour town hall, a number of issues were addressed, but one that was mentioned several times was student’s concerns with the SSW’s curriculum. One student, Andy, spoke about his experiences in a prepared statement. “In my first year I did expect repetition,” said Andy, a student in his third year completing his BSW with previous education in social work. “I knew that I was going to learn a bit of the same thing, that was no surprise. But I still had

hope that I would learn from all of the smart students and teachers around me.” “In my second year,” he continued, “I started to understand that I saw the same thing with less practice and even more theory.” Andy shared concerns that the SSW fails to integrate the practical side of social work, notably “intervention processes,” into the curriculum and certain SSW cohorts’ feelings of disillusion with the program. Other participants in the town hall, like Shimmon, voiced similar concerns, expressing that they feel that a “lack of communication” exists on all sides. “One of the things that I haven’t seen too much of are those practical aspects,” explained Shimmon, “actually sitting down and doing a oneon-one interview with somebody [and] getting to understand how you physically, mentally, emotionally react in a situation” is critical for experience. Once you’re in the field, there is more of a likelihood that you’ll react with a more clinical response,” Shimmon concludes. “Sitting where I’m sitting, in terms of social work, I didn’t actually come [to McGill] expecting it to be a safe space in a lot of those ways,” said one participant, “but I did expect to learn more [...] than [...] theory, [like] about what to do when there’s a literal human sitting in front of you who is having a certain type of issue and I feel it’s been very lacking in that.”

“When we talk about gender neutral bathrooms [...] the comfort of cis people is being put [...] before trans and gender nonconforming individuals.” —Mariana Sosa SSW Rep. to the McGill Senate

Another townhall attendee, Marie, who holds a technical degree in the field of social work from Dawson College said, “for someone like me, who has a technical degree, that might be okay, but for someone who has never done social work, it’s difficult because, going into the field, they are not going to know how to do certain things.” “Going out into the field, and not knowing how to do an intervention,” they continued, “not knowing how to ask questions, not being able to practice certain skills [...] we can keep the theory, we can keep the critical, but there needs to be a real portion focusing on the how-to.”



February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily

Tense debate over AVEQ in SSMU VP Finance alleges bias and financial mismanagement

Marina Cupido The McGill Daily


n February 8, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council convened for its third meeting of the semester. Council passed several motions related to equity and social justice without significant debate, but the evening was mostly taken up by a tense and ultimately inconclusive discussion about SSMU’s relationship with the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ). This discussion was sparked by an announcement from newly-elected VP Finance Esteban Herpin, who expressed concern over certain expenses made by VP University Affairs Isabelle Oke and VP External Connor Spencer. Herpin framed his announcement in the context of the upcoming Winter Referendum, which is expected to invoke discussions among students about affiliating SSMU with a provincial student federations such as AVEQ. “Given that we are expected to discuss the topic of provincial representation,” Herpin states, “I would like to make Council aware of certain expenses that have come to my attention.” He went on to explain that in January 2018, SSMU had hosted an AVEQ congress, and that Spencer and Oke had used SSMU credit cards to fund the attendant expenses, which totalled over $4000. These expenses, Herpin said, had not been mentioned in advance to the Provincial Representation Committee (PRC) of SSMU - the body chaired by Spencer and Oke which is tasked with gathering information about different Quebec student organizations “SSMU has a mandate to participate in.” He also objected to the fact that the conference expenses had not been included in SSMU’s operating budget for the current year. “I believe that this is a severe transgression of the financial responsibility these [executives] owe to the Society, and further, that this presents a serious financial conflict of interest between the Society and AVEQ,” said Herpin. “AVEQ now owes us over $4,000. This sort of monetary liability to the Society could be a point of pressure that AVEQ could push.” He also claimed that “this compromises [Oke and Spencer’s] roles” on the PRC, given that the committee is ultimately tasked with delivering a report on the respective advantages and disadvantages of affiliation with both AVEQ and the Quebec Student Union (UEQ). According to Herpin, the fact that the two VPs had worked with AVEQ to host the conference constitutes proof of a pro-AVEQ bias that will hinder the integrity of the PRC.

Oke addressed Herpin’s concerns as Spencer was unable to attend Council. Oke explained that, in fact, it is standard practice for members of AVEQ (and observing members, like SSMU) to host the student federation, front its costs for such events, and subsequently invoice it in order to get fully reimbursed. The costs involved were not included in this year’s budget because last year’s VP External, David Aird, had failed to include them. “The point of hosting [the conference] here,” said Oke, “was to make it more accessible for students, so that they could see how AVEQ actually runs. This seems like a perfectly reasonable [...] motivation for hosting it on campus.”

“The point of hosting [the conference] was to make it more accesible for students, so that they could see how AVEQ actually runs. This seems like a perfectly reasonable [...] motivation for hosting it on campus.” – Isabelle Oke, SSMU VP University Affairs Regarding the accusation of pro-AVEQ bias, and in response to a question from First Year Council (FYC) Representative Anthony Koch about whether SSMU executives have attended or worked on UEQ events in a comparable way, Oke explained that UEQ has simply been less active in this area. “In order to do the work that we want to accomplish, it involves coordinating with other student associations and getting involved with things happening at the provincial level, and I think because AVEQ is just doing more this year on that subject, that’s why we keep hearing about AVEQ,” said Oke. “There isn’t anything that UEQ is


Yasmeen c. Safaie | The McGill Daily

putting on that we haven’t gone to or that we wouldn’t, it’s literally just the fact that AVEQ has organized a couple more things. [...] So it’s not in the spirit of always trying to be where AVEQ is at, it’s in the spirit of going to where the student associations are and working on similar projects that we share.” Oke added that the PRC will be speaking with UEQ representatives on February 12, and that she and Spencer are scheduled to attend a UEQ conference later this month. While she firmly rejected Herpin’s allegations of bias and malicious mishandling of SSMU funds, Oke said that his claim regarding a conflict of interest was “a valid point.” She told Council that the invoice has already been sent to AVEQ, and it is strongly in the student federation’s interest to reimburse SSMU fully and promptly. However, she also proposed that should AVEQ fail to do so, SSMU refrain from including AVEQ as an option on a referendum question about provincial representation, as a way to prevent the outstanding debt from influencing the result of such a referendum in any way. Herpin objected to Oke’s proposed solution, but did not suggest any alternate options. This prompted several councillors to express frustration with the length of the discussion and with what they saw as an unconstructive attitude from Herpin. “I just want to say that I’m disappointed with what the VP Finance has said tonight,” said one such councillor, proxy Science Representative Joey Decunha. “I can’t help but feel that the introduction of this controversy was a calculated political move to prevent SSMU from affiliating with AVEQ, and the reluctance of the VP Finance to accept any sort of reasonable solution that’s been proposed only makes me further convinced of that view.”

Decunha added that serious accusations such as the ones Herpin had raised effectively discredit SSMU and do further damage to the already fraught relationship between McGill students and their representatives. Herpin responded by saying, “[in response] to the speculation that this was politically motivated, [...] I would ask you to keep your speculations to yourself and not to bring them to Council.”

“I can’t help but feel that the introduction of this controversty was a calculated political move to prevent SSMU from affiliating with AVEQ [...]” –Joey Decunha, Proxy Science Represenative Ultimately, Council voted against prolonging the time available for discussion, and no resolution to the issue was decided upon. During the remaining portion of the meeting, motions to renew the ECOLE Project’s fee levy; to de-gender the language used in SSMU documents, spaces, and meetings; and to support efforts combating systemic racism in Montreal all passed unanimously with little or no debate.

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February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


Are prisons obsolete?

On the abolition of the prison-industrial complex

Nelly Wat | The McGill Daily Yasir Piracha Left of the Left Content warning: mentions of abuse, incarceration, anti-Indigenous racism


n July 2016, Bresha Meadows, a 14-yearold girl in Ohio, allegedly killed her father, who had inflicted years of violent abuse on her and her family. Charged with aggravated murder, Bresha was criminalized for what many consider to be self-defense. She was sentenced to one year in juvenile prison (with 10 months served), six months in a mental health facility, and two years’ probation after her release. After months of active community mobilization, she was finally returned to her family on February 4, 2018. Bresha is another survivor of the powerful connection between girls’ experiences of domestic and sexual violence and their forced entry into carceral systems.” Once arrested, Black girls like Bresha face disproportionately high rates of incarceration, and once incarcerated, Bresha joins the 84% of girls in juvenile prisons who have experienced family violence prior to arrest. There are currently around 41,000 adults in custody in the prison system in Canada, and roughly 2.2 million in the United States. The demographic makeup of this population has been a topic of discussion for over a century, and there are a number of reports that testify to the fact that almost all minorities (disabled, TLGBQ2S+, and racialized people) are overrepresented within prisons. Indigenous adults account for a quarter of all admissions to correctional services in Canada, despite only representing 4 per cent of the Canadian population. There are 70 per cent more Black and Brown inmates in Canada than there were ten years ago, and 48 per cent of TLGBQ2S+ victims of violence report experiences with police misconduct. Many internationally renowned organizations, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Coalition, publicly advocate for and endorse prison reformation efforts. These organizations often engage in activities such as improving prison conditions, working to

diversify guards and police officers, and reducing racial bias. Many of these efforts are supported by the public, with a common, uncontested assumption that prisons and police are necessary institutions in a safe, democratic society. However, the illustrious and important history of prison abolition movements is often overlooked or ignored . For over a century, a vast number of different groups have been working towards dismantling the prison system, and trying to educate the public on why the prison system is inherently harmful and unnecessary. 10 per cent of the average police officers’ time is devoted to dealing with violent crime. The remaining 90 per cent is spent dealing with administrative infractions, such as where you must sit, eat, drink, drive etc. If two people pull knives on each other, it is statistically unlikely that the police will get involved or be called in time to prevent a crime for occuring. Not to mention, nearly 75 per cent of convicted prisoners are in prison for nonviolent crimes. What’s more, 70 per cent of all prisoners in the U.S. have not even been convicted of a crime, costing 27.3 billion dollars a year. Unconvicted prisoners are being held in jail awaiting trial, 50 per cent of whom were not able to afford to post bail amounts of $2500 or less when first incarcerated. The origins of the prison-industrialcomplex The prison-industrial complex (PIC) is a term used to describe the overarching and interconnected systems that “use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.” The PIC operates to “maintain authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other privileges.” By perpetuating deviant/criminal stereotypes of people of colour, TLGBQ2S+ people, Indigenous people, and economically disadvantaged people, the PIC both produces and reproduces its control. This system has been created and fine-tuned over many decades. The origins of policing in the West can be traced back to cities like New Orleans and Savannah, where full-time officers in uniform were accountable to local civilian officials,

The questions that must then be asked: who do prisons benefit? Who are the police working for?

ized communities are right to be wary of the prison-industrial complex. Assata Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Party, writes: “Who are prisons for? They certainly aren’t planning to put white people in them. Prisons are part of this government’s genocidal war against Black and Third World people.” Hundreds of reports reveal how economically disadvantaged people are more likely to commit a crime for survival and out of desperation. Furthermore, a critical analysis of criminal law in North America can make it very clear that most crimes are designed to police the poor. Under capitalism, the PIC maintains power and safety for the privileged in society by both igniting and perpetuating the oppression of marginalized communities. In her book “Are Prisons Obsolete,” Angela Davis argues, “The prison [...] functions ideologically as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of the responsibility of thinking about the real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in such disproportionate numbers [...] It relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.”

Who does the PIC protect? Modern day policing has technically distanced itself from its origins, but its legitimacy and means of operation must still be called into question. Critical investigation of the basic mission of the PIC reveals how the modern-day prison system continues to reproduce both classist and racist inequalities. Within a racialized, capitalist society, there are communities that are protected, and others that are policed. The questions that must then be asked: who do prisons benefit? Who are the police working for? If you’re white, upper-middle class, cisgender, heterosexual, and able-bodied, the prison-industrial complex probably protects you. For the rest of us, not so much. Black, Indigenous, brown, TLGBQ2S+, and disabled communities all report feelings of unease rather than safety when they see police officers patrolling areas. With the threat of unjust arrest and incarceration, marginal-

Violence vs. non-violence Many argue that perhaps the solution is to focus on prosecuting violent crimes rather than nonviolent crimes. Shouldn’t prisons still exist for violent, inhumane criminals? Yet invoking a violent/nonviolent dichotomy ends up being reductive, glossing over systemic issues. Take Bresha Meadows, for example. At face-value, she too was charged with a violent crime: aggravated murder. Ignored are the context and circumstances of those who are implicated in crime. Where was the judicial system when Bresha faced domestic abuse? Who protected her and her family from the crimes of her father? And who is benefitting from her incarceration? Bresha’s history of domestic and familial abuse was repeatedly ignored in her prosecution, as is common for communities whom predominantly white juries judge to be inherently violent, due to the deep-seated, racist history of the PIC.

and connected to a broader justice system. These early police forces were not designed as a watch system, however; they were instated to patrol enslaved people. These patrols violently enforced prohibitions on enslaved people holding meetings, harbouring fugitives, and learning how to read and write. From these informal patrols emerged the professional urban police, who were in charge of managing the mobile urban enslaved population. Even after slavery was abolished, these patrols set the groundwork for materializing the modern-day police force. For many years after the civil war, police officers maintained racial inequality through incarceration and prosecution based on flimsy to nonexistent evidence. Local police also worked closely with (and were populated by) groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily

Commentary This is what allows the system to solely prosecute and imprison marginalized communities. At its heart, the PIC is constructed to hide away racism, mental illness, and poverty, instead of addressing them. White-collar criminals, businesspeople, murderous cops, and lawmakers molding racist structures continue to walk free because the PIC is simply not configured to criminalize them. Examining what is criminalized and what is not reveals the illegitimate core of the carceral system. What does the PIC achieve? “The War on Drugs” and the “War on Crime” are both systemically targeting non-white poor people, and increasing the percentages of their populations that are jailed. First and foremost, stigma and institutional oppression lead to marginalized groups being unfairly targeted by the entire PIC. Second, if non-white and/or poor people do, in fact, have higher rates of drug use and other crimes, the PIC does nothing to address the institutional and social processes that produce these statistics. Moreover, poverty exacerbates and increases crimes, as people are forced to find alternative methods of survival at the hand of capitalist hegemony. It is claimed that everyone has freedom and agency to make their own choices, but Angela Davis rightly asks: “if you are free in a political sense but have no food, what’s that? The freedom to starve?” Time and time again it has been proven that prisons do not have effective rates of rehabilitation or reformation, and do nothing to reduce crime rates. The PIC does not address systemic problems, such as racism or poverty, that result in marginalized communities turning to crime, and instead creates a place where they can be removed from the sight of white, privileged society. Once imprisoned, a capitalist carceral system is designed to dehumanize prisoners, “to turn people into things.” Prisoners have no stable educational opportunities and widely insufficient living conditions; they are forced into labour; they are referred to by numbers rather than names. Devyn Springer argues that “a system rooted in that act of racist, capitalist thingification can never be reformed into allowing humanity of its subjugated people to exist or flourish. Along with this, realizing that in most cases crime is a social construct created by the arbitrators of socio-economic conditions, the need for prisons becomes, well, obsolete.” Abolitionist Movements For over a century, groups and organizations have mobilized against the PIC, in an attempt to both dismantle and remove the need for prisons and the carceral system. Organizations such as Critical Resistance, co-founded by Angela Davis, work to “end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe.” Black and Pink, founded in 2004, is another organization that advocates for the abolition of the PIC, focusing and mobilizing around TLGBQ2S+ issues. While many abolitionist groups do advocate for a physical, symbolic, and, if necessary, violent dismantling of all pris-

ons, others maintain that abolition can be achieved through alternative practices. In general, abolition aims to build institutions that undo damage done by racist, capitalist structures, and work against them. By improving education as a form of resistance and mobilization to limit the scope of the PIC, we can render prisons useless and empty. The goal of many abolitionists is to create a society in which prisons are no longer used, or at the very least, are no longer the primary source of punishment/reformation for crime.

“A system rooted in that act of racist, capitalist thingification can never be reformed into allowing humanity of its subjugated people to exist or flourish.” Abolition vs. Reform When I first began engaging with criticisms of the prison-industrial complex, I thought, as many do, that prison reform was the way to go. There are many things wrong with the way prisons operate, but I never considered the possibility that they weren’t necessary. Yet it soon became apparent that arguing for prison reform presents many contradictions. Celebrating and advocating for murderous cops to go to prison or for the prosecution of upper-class businessmen stirs a feeling of unease. If these are the same oppressive systems that marginalize non-white, lower-class, and TLGBQ2S+ people, how can we continue to sustain their legitimacy? If we are trying to incite change, what does the continued advocacy and promotion of the use and abuse of these systems do? Why are we suddenly so supportive of the PIC and the state when oppressive men are on trial?

Time and time again it has been proven that prisons do not have effective rates of rehabilitation or reformation, and do nothing to reduce crime rates. Ever since the first prisons were erected, the PIC has undergone near-constant reformation. Yet it remains systemically oppressive. Prison reform has continuously created “fairer” prisons, but only at the expense of increased surveillance and reach of the PIC. We are told that prison is a place where bad people go, yet by not abolishing prisons, we never have to ask further questions. Why did that person do that? Why is this person bad? Why are these types of crimes so common? Who are these people hurting?


By advocating for reform, we both accept and reinforce the necessity of a system that is built upon and stems from oppression. The system isn’t changing, so we must look for alternatives. A common argument against prison abolition is one of replacement. What is the alternative to the police surveillance and prison containment? The authors of “Octavia’s Brood” claim that all movements for justice must start with the question: “what is a world we want to live in?” rather than, “what is a realistic win?” Nobody claims to have a perfect solution or alternative to the prison-industrial complex. A common theory amongst abolitionists refers to “transformative justice” : a multi-pronged approach to crime in society. Transformative justice includes simultaneously coming up with individualized strategies to address abusive/violent behaviour and supporting targeted community members, as well as working to transform the political conditions that allow oppression and violence. This approach has shown to be effective in rehabilitation, while also addressing institutional problems to reduce crime rates.

The goal of many abolitionists is to create a society in which prisons are no longer used, or at the very least, are no longer the primary source of punishment, or even reformation, for crime. What you can do Start thinking critically about the prison-industrial complex. Has it become obsolete? Who does it work for, and who does it work against? If you decide to support the PIC abolition movement, consider joining or donating to community organizations, like the Prisoner Correspondence Project (PCP) in Montreal, that are working to resist the PIC. It’s also understandable that as a university student, you often don’t have the time, money, or energy to physically/financially engage with activist organizations such as these. One new, affordable way to support abolition is through a software called Bail Bloc. Bail Bloc is a cryptocurrency scheme against bail that uses a small part of your computer’s unused processing power to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero. This cryptocurrency is then converted by the Bronx Freedom Fund to USD, and used to post bail for lowincome people awaiting trial. While this does mean your Hydro Quebec bill might go up by a couple of dollars per month, the program can be adjusted to use more or less of your processing power, depending on your needs. If necessary, consider only running the program while your computer is plugged in at, say, McLennan Library. This way, although McGill’s hydro bill may rise, the university will finally be engaging critically in some of the institutions it has historically, implicitly supported.

Nelly Wat | The McGill Daily


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Every dog will have its day Why do we support the underdog?

Aidan Kearney-Fick The McGill Daily


he word underdog comes from dog fighting, a prevalent gambling outlet in the 1800s. It stems from the dog on the bottom being the dog that was about to lose, while the dog on top was in a position to win. Why is our society so obsessed with the resistance of sure defeat, and why do sports make us bet against a sure thing?

[The favorite] does not operate by the same rules as the rest of the world. Throughout sports history, the majority will often root for the underdog. We portray the favourite as an oppressor, a force that does not operate by the same rules as the rest of the world. This is only too true in the case of the New York Yankees. The Yankees were deemed the “Evil Empire” throughout the early 2000s, because of the ways they went beyond what other Major League Baseball (MLB) teams could do, such as using lavish contracts to tempt away local stars. What is confusing about the widespread

loathing of the Yankees, however, is the way that this loathing was not directed at the players. Yankee players like Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada were adored. Instead, it was the owners of the team, Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family, who were seen as the external oppressor. The sports world’s dislike for the Yankees was obvious when the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series in the bottom of the ninth inning with a hit from Mariano Rivera, immortalizing this moment as a blow to the overarching “evil” nature of the Yankees. In this Yankees example, was it the ownership that created the ‘oppressor’ dynamic, resulting in fans rooting for the underdog, or did the onus still fall on the players? Why did a neutral fan base root against star player Derek Jeter? They did, and it is in part due to the narrative that the sports media fosters around underdogs. Media is really what drives the underdog narrative. They stand to gain the most from creating a story in a playoff series where there is none, as they can churn out articles, increase viewers/listeners and appeal to audiences outside of the two regions whose teams are being represented. This year’s Super Bowl is a prime example of the sports media needing a narrative and pushing the idea of an underdog where it really does not exist. Throughout the playoffs, the Philadelphia Eagles were cast as an underdog, despite being the

number one seed in the National Football Conference (NFC). When their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, was injured, their backup was Nick Foles, who led the League in touchdowns only three years ago. The Eagles also had recently traded for a great running back, Jay Ajayi. Finally, and in spite of all the talk about their ineptitude, the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Yes, they faced adversity, but were the Eagles actually at such a disadvantage in the game against the Patriots? As demonstrated by their 8-point defeat of the Patriots, the Eagles’ label as underdogs was not entirely deserved.

Quite literally in the case of the Patriots, the favorite represents the oppressor and their conservative, stagnant ideals. The Patriots’ Tom Brady was picked 199th overall in the 2000 National Football League (NFL) draft. He was taken to be a backup for Drew Bledsoe, a high quality starting quarterback for the

Patriots. Only once Bledsoe was injured did Brady take over, leading the team to a Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams. In 2001, Tom Brady was the ultimate underdog. Now, he is the personification of a drab, dominant sports force. He has the exact same style of play as he did in 2001, and is still an absurdly boring athlete. Brady is universally both loathed and respected: for headlining a boring franchise’s boring quest for more championships, and for eliminating the hopes of upstart franchises along the way. It’s not that Brady is a gloating winner, it is moreso that he represents stagnancy in sports. His coach, Bill Belichick, is a domineering football maven that has ties to Donald Trump and conservative advocacy groups. Quite literally in the case of the Patriots, the favourite represents the oppressor and their conservative, stagnant ideals. The Yankees, the Patriots, and the Lakers are the American dynasties of our era, and all employ similar tactics to win. They amass the free agents, get the best out of underperformers, and win, over and over again. In many fields, such success would warrant respect, but the sports world takes a different approach. Sports means a great deal to many people, and I believe that at its heart it signifies the unpredictability of life. No matter where the ball rolls, something can happen; someone can turn a defeat into an impossible victory and rescue the average person from mundanity. People wish for an aber-

ration. We want teams that were bad last year to win this year. The everyday sports fan has nothing in common with anyone in a professional sports league. They work five days a week, doing effectively the same thing every day and they are not an athletic demigod. To us, sports symbolize that there can be a deviation from the norm. The underdog is, paradoxically, a less risky choice to root for than the favourite. If the underdog wins, the fan is extremely pleased as the odds have been defied. If the underdog loses, there is no great shock, and the fan’s knowledge of the game remains unchallenged. Why do people believe in underdogs? Everyone on the grand stage of sports was a star at some point in their life, and the lowest of the low in a Big Four league are still dominant in any other league. For the media, creating an underdog allows a proliferation of content and something for their anchors to discuss. For the teams, it allows them a measure of fandom their ownership and players may not warrant. For the fan, it is a manifestation of their dreams, of their desire to resist an oppressor, and provides a method for coping with loss. Looking at statistics, there usually isn’t much separating our beloved underdog from the hated favourite. Professional sports are balanced, more than we care to think or the leagues want to admit. Unlike in dogfighting, these teams are usually on a level playing field, and when there is a dog truly on top of another, it probably deserved that spot.

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February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


Time travel in the tennis world Federer’s resurgence and the big four relay race

Laura Brennan | McGill Daily Jack Ball Sports Writer


had only recently started following professional tennis when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the top ranked players on the men’s circuit, met in the 2008 Wimbledon final. I had also recently come to the conclusion that Federer was my favourite player, largely because he could play so effortlessly: where Nadal used both hands on the backhand, and would drip with sweat and yell every time he touched the ball, Federer used one, and had the seemingly impossible ability to play without showing any signs of physical strain or fatigue. This difference surely led some people to side with Nadal — the mere mortal whose expressiveness captured the effort it took to play at such a high level. And besides, Nadal had the underdog’s appeal. He may have won three straight French Open finals against Federer — the most recent with a bagel (a 6-0 win) in the third set — but Federer was Wimbledon’s five-time defending champion. Maybe it was also this fact, and his an unprecedented 65-game win streak on grass courts, that made me want Federer to win: I didn’t want to witness the end of a streak because, however shallow my reasoning sounds to me now, it had a certain purity that I didn’t

want to see broken by Federer’s loud, sweaty rival. The 2008 Wimbledon final is widely considered the greatest tennis match of all time. It was the second longest grand slam final ever, obviously exciting in and of itself, but I think its reputation derives more from what it represented in the context of the Federer–Nadal rivalry. Its significance, and my disappointment when it was over, were one and the same. That is, the match acquired a legendary status because in winning, Nadal brought an end to the most dominant phase in Federer’s career and arguably the single most dominant four-year display of tennis ever. Watching Federer lose 9-7 in the fifth set was disappointing because it made me feel like I had missed a once-ina-lifetime display of excellence: I had missed the golden era of Roger Federer, in which he won eleven of sixteen grand slams and held the number one world ranking for a record 237 consecutive weeks. Nadal’s 2008 Wimbledon victory changed the landscape but not, as I was drawn to believe, for the worse. As Federer’s best years came to a close, the “Big Four” was born, and excellence in the men’s game was subsequently shared not only with Nadal, but also Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray: in the past decade, all but five grand slam men’s singles

events (and every Olympics) have been won by one of these four athletes. The tight competition within the Big Four, along with the consistency they have given to the tennis season year after year, has been a captivating narrative to follow, one that some have dubbed a “Golden Era” and one that I have to admit is probably more interesting than Federer’s own golden era. A familiar cast of characters makes any sport more interesting to follow, but especially a sport without fixed teams to rally around: tennis’ Big Four is baseball’s Red Sox–Yankees, or hockey’s Leafs–Habs. In the world of individual sports, it’s boxing’s Joe Frazier–Muhammad Ali. My wish for Federer to have won the 2008 Wimbledon final is like wanting Lebron James to sign with the Golden State Warriors: both would extend transcendent sports streaks but competition is obviously more fun, so long as some sort of narrative keeps the stakes high, whether that’s four players trading grand slam victories or two teams competing in three straight National Basketball Association finals. Two weeks ago, Federer won his 20th grand slam. This victory is the most recent in a period of unexpected resurgence for Federer and for Nadal. If I didn’t know better, I might be convinced that 2017 and 2018 are an alternative time-

line in which 2007 and 2008 are being repeated with slightly different outcomes. My disappointed kid self, convinced that he had missed Federer’s greatness, would never have seen this one coming.

This period of resurgence is more than a dose of nostalgia. It’s also a testament to [Federer and Nadal’s] longevity as professional athletes. This period of resurgence is more than a dose of nostalgia. It’s also a testament to their longevity as professional athletes, especially in Federer’s case. Continuing to win grand slam singles titles in your early 30s is rare. At 36, Federer has reclaimed a level of excellence we haven’t seen since he was 28, and he seemed old by tennis standards even

then. But Federer’s longevity is not unparalleled. Ken Rosewall won two grand slams in the 1970s at the ages of 36 and 37. Among Federer’s contemporaries, there’s the even more impressive case of Serena Williams, who has won ten grand slams since turning 30 and will hopefully return in top form after taking a year off to have a baby. Unlike the women’s game, however, the men’s seem to have been engaged in an unorthodox relay for some time: Federer and Nadal passed the baton to Djokovic and Murray, but now seem to have taken it back for a victory lap. This relay is largely a function of their relative health: Federer and Nadal may not have been able to win the past five grand slam tournaments, if not for the injuries suffered by Djokovic and Murray. Going forward, the relay will be determined by the Big Four’s relative longevities, all having reached 30: it seems as though they will have to pass the baton on rather than have it taken from them by a new generation, who may well have also watched the 2008 Wimbledon final as children and thought, somewhat naively, that Federer’s days were numbered and their own time was nigh. For now though, 36 is the new 26, and 2018 the new 2008. And most importantly, at least for my 12-year-old self, Federer seems poised to continue serving aces for some time.


February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


Empowering young people Rising Voices showcases Canadian youth activism

Margaret Bruna Culture Writer Content warning: colonialism, Indigenous genocide


n January 30, 2018, the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness and TakingITGlobal hosted a screening of the documentary Rising Voices, made by Canadian filmmakers Adrian Assoufi and Michael Lobel, at WeWork Place Ville Marie. The directors travelled across the country for the film, stopping everywhere from rural towns to big cities, to interview young activists working on a variety of social issues. The film exuded a sense of commitment and drive, and asserted that, with enough care, dedication, and solidarity, young people in Canada can create meaningful change. The screening was followed by a discussion panel with the co-directors and also two of the youth activists featured in the film, Emilie Nicolas and Wentaron Roundpoint.

The film exuded a sense of commitment and drive, and asserted that, with enough care, dedication, and solidarity, young people in Canada can create meaningful change. Connecting Youth through Film Indigenous rights, climate change representation, immigration, and trans and queer rights are all discussed throughout the film. Rising Voices showcases the fluidity, creativity, and intelligence of Canadian youth as they tackle significant issues in their communities. Assoufi and Lobel initially conceived the film through the project ‘Wish150,’ an initiative under TakingITGlobal meant to engage Canadian youth in Canadian culture and history, in this case particularly for Canada’s 150th anniversary of the Confederation, the colonial occupation of the land. The idea for a full length movie organically

emerged as the co-directors began talking to young people participating in the project and learned about their dreams and aspirations. According to Canada150’s official website, the anniversary “focused on engaging and inspiring youth; celebrating our diversity and encouraging inclusion; establishing a spirit of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; and discovering Canada’s natural beauty and strengthening environmental awareness.” Supporting the documentary Rising Voices is an unsuitably small step towards rectifying the atrocities committed against Indigenous cultures, but is nonetheless a start. Each location, topic, and individual is given only a short slice of time in the film, but there is a strong sense of connection and celebration throughout. Rather than deeply exploring just one issue that Canada faces, the film is described by Assoufi as more of a “call upon everyone to whatever caught their curiosity.” From Akwasasne, Ontario; Whitehorse, Yukon; Montreal, Quebec; Toronto, Ontario; St-John’s, Newfoundland; Vancouver, British Columbia, and many more, young people with an awareness of systemic issues are using their privilege and awareness to bring attention to the problems discussed. Many of their peers who encounter the same obstacles often find themselves underrepresented because they are part of a minority group, or come from remote villages that garner less attention. What connects the youth interviewed in the movie, and the groups they represent, is that they all fight an uphill battle. Many different perspectives are presented, yet it feels like there is an ongoing conversation between everyone featured. There’s a strong sense that everyone is working towards the same final goal — a better Canada. Hearing the Indigenous and Queer Youth of Canada Issues such as language loss, land ownership, and settler ignorance of the Indigenous genocide continue to perpetrate harm towards Indigenous people, and are frequently discussed by the young people in the movie. Roundpoint and other activists emphasized that there needs to be a dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures that’s more open and receptive to change. She and the other advocates for Indigenous rights talk about the importance of regaining a connection with land, culture, and ancestry through artistic expression. Young people all over the country dance, sing, carve, and paint

Laura Brennan | The McGill Daily to raise awareness and regain a connection that the settler state of Canada has tried to sever them from. One of the activists in the film noted the importance of tradition, and of honouring ancestors and their sacrifices. The youth interviewed demonstrate a fluidity and openness in their art, which included a variety of expressions like traditional dances, electro-pop music, and original songs about Indigenous history to work towards changing outdated Canadian perspectives. “What was mentioned in the film is that we are thriving; we are no longer surviving,” said Roundpoint during the panel.

Issues such as language loss, land ownership, and ignorance of the Indigenous genocide by non-Indigenous settlers continue to perpetrate harm towards Indigenous people, and are frequently discussed in the movie.

The documentary also expands on trans and queer rights in relation to Canadian youth. In Whitehorse, Yukon, Chase Blodgett, a transgender activist, uses his voice and experiences to help people in his community gain political rights. During the movie, Blodgett points out that Yukon is the only place in Canada with no laws governing trans, intersex, and queer discrimination in the workplace, and that that needs to change. His activism and outreach has greatly improved the discourse that surrounds transgender rights in his province and across Canada. Similarly, there are many young people in Toronto, Ontario working for the organization Pieces to Pathways to change the stigma surrounding addiction and how it is treated, particularly in queer communities. They provide an alternative to the traditional programs found in normal rehabilitation centers. The LGBTQ+ community is particularly in need of these kinds of programs as they are more likely to suffer from mental health issues. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, the risk of suicide or substance abuse for LGBTQ+ youth is 14 times higher than for heterosexual youth. People like Blodgett and the workers at Pieces to Pathways are protesting the conditions the Canadian government enables for queer, transgender, and intersex youth, and providing a voice and services that the government does not. Participating in the Conversation Rising Voices and the young

people featured are part of an effort to not only spark the conversation surrounding change initiated by Canadian youth, but also to keep it alive and progressive. The film connects seemingly unrelated problems by joining the young people making change in their communities and drawing on links between their experiences to create a cohesive picture of youth activist culture in Canada.

People . . . are protesting the conditions the Canadian government enables for queer, transgender, and intersex youth, and providing a voice and services that the government does not. Unfortunately, the film isn’t available for viewing online. It will be screened on a tour around Canada throughout the year. The trailer can be viewed on under Rising Voices Documentary Trailer 2018.


February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


Black voices galore, uncensored Blacktalk 2018 broadcasts McGill’s Black voices

relations of domination. Another speaker, however, thought that in order to cut its dependency on the west, African nations would need to cooperate by creating institutions to encourage trade amongst each other instead. All the speakers were refreshingly unafraid to voice their opinions and engage with each other’s perspectives.

Ella Corkum Culture Writer


ast Thursday, February 1, the Black Students’ Network (BSN) collaborated with CKUT for an exceptional 12-hour radio program — Blacktalk 2018. In a series of segments that covered topics ranging from music to panel discussions to poetry, Black students on campus and beyond explored issues facing Black people today. Blacktalk was founded by BSN in 1987, but was interrupted between 1996 and 2016. Despite this, the program’s legacy and potency shone through as it introduced this year’s Black History Month and set the stage for the month’s other upcoming events. The honour of such a task was not lost on the contributors; each segment was passionate and informative, resulting in a thought-provoking listening experience. Blacktalk’s program Blacktalk 2018 was the first of many Black History Month (BHM) events at McGill, and set the stage for this year’s theme — resistance. Each segment expanded on existing issues, stereotypes, and misconceptions surrounding and projected onto Black life today, whether it be the cultural appropriation of hairstyles, the media’s portrayal of Black men as threatening or hypermasculine, or the underrepresentation of Black women in McGill advertisements. This February is only McGill’s second institutionalized Black History Month, a fact which, as Shanice Yarde, the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE) Equity Education Advisor, put it in the first hour of the show, “speaks volumes” to McGill’s relation to Black students — especially considering that the labor of James McGill’s slaves is the main reason this institution exists in the first place, a fact still unacknowledged by the university. Embracing identity in the face of anti-blackness The show was organized by Torie Williams, BSN’s VP Social. “A lot of what BSN tries to do is provide those spaces where Black people and everyone, but Black students [especially], can talk about relevant issues: where we can just get together and have that sense of community,” said Williams. Blacktalk provided an environment in which the speakers seemed comfortable discuss-

Serene Mitchell | The McGill Daily ing uncomfortable topics. In one segment, the Black Women Roundtable Discussion, participants shared stories to answer the question “have you always embraced being black?” The group discussed internalized colourism: the internalised belief and the oppressive system that advantages lighter skin people over darker skin people. One woman talked about her tendencies as a teenager to wear sunscreen and avoid going to the beach to prevent tanning, which stemmed from a desire to keep her skin lighter, less black. Another talked about feeling a sense of pride, and later on, shame, as a child after being labeled as an “oreo,” because her eloquence and good school performance was perceived as white while being black. In spite of the harm these experiences caused, the conversation was lively, honest, and unafraid to pinpoint the crux of an issue and tear it apart. One woman stated that “Black female friendship to me is therapeutic,” and was met with a roar of agreement. The discussion delved into the pressures of always being the one educating in a relationship, or being the only Black person present in the face of racist remarks. The women valued being in all-Black female spaces because they can relate to each other and relax, without feeling responsible for explaining their experiences to people who do not understand. Blacktalk was composed entirely of Black folks, which, as Williams had hoped, created a sense of trust that allowed for an uninhibited flow of discussion.

This February is only McGill’s second institutionalized Black History Month, a fact which, as Shanice Yarde put it in the first hour of the show, “speaks volumes” to McGill’s relation to Black students.

Being creative and Black Williams had a clear vision to promote the talent and hardwork of Black people: “I just wanted it to highlight Black achievements at McGill, expose McGill students to the history and prejudice towards Black people, but also connect it to the current struggle of Black people in modern day society, and then also just provide a platform for Black individuals to engage in discussion and share thoughts on relevant issues.” Blacktalk also showcased a lot of Black talent, including two Montreal artists, Maky Lavender, a rapper, and Chelsy Monie, a photographer. During the Peterson Trio segment they talked about being Black artists in Montreal. Monie observed that

Black artists are often expected to make art about their blackness while white artists are free to make art about whatever they like. Similarly, Maky Lavender said that he is often assumed to be a rapper as soon as he mentions he is a musician as a result of racial stereotypes. “We impose blackness on Black artists [...] so many white artists out here make work but nobody imposes their whiteness on them,” said Monie. Enacting Black diversity Blacktalk also took active steps to promote diversity, and criticized the media’s lack thereof. Chloe Kemeni was the host of Bad Service, a segment which discussed issues that the panelists face as Black students at McGill. She made an effort to feature a range of perspectives on her panel, including the voices of queer people, cis men, and cis women. Kemeni affirmed that “the process was really about just making sure that it was diverse, and that whoever I was contacting, I knew they had different experiences.” Diversity was found in each of the segments, not only in terms of identity, but in terms of ideas as well. In the segment Rebranding Africa, the panelists debated the pragmatism of the continental institution, the African Union. One speaker expressed concern that although the African Union was supposed to bring African nations together, in practice it would not be so simple due to external repressing factors such as neo-colonialism and the possibility for African countries to be in

“We impose blackness on Black artists [...] so many white artists out here make work but nobody imposes their whiteness on them.” —Chelsy Monie

Blacktalk’s aim Each segment of Blacktalk 2018 was hard hitting and unapologetically honest, honoring BHM’s theme of resistance. “A lot of the topics that are going to be covered, like the hypersexuality of Black women or hypermasculinity of Black men or violence against Black people, are topics that affect people and have dangerous consequences. So I think when listening to that, especially as someone who may not identify as Black, it’s very important to understand and process it and then reflect and look at what can I do or how can I be an ally or how can I help, as opposed to saying, ‘its not my fault, I’m not the one doing it,’ and completely disregarding what the person is saying,” said Kemeni. However, Blacktalk was not aimed at educating non-Black people. Its primary aim was for Black folks to gather, discuss, and organize around different ideas related to Black liberation activism. As an intellectually and artistically stimulated radio show, Blacktalk 2018 was an excellent introduction to Black History Month at McGill. After the show Williams told me, “despite the long hours spent planning, it was more than worth it and I just want to do it again.” Although Blacktalk 2018 has come to a close, you can listen to the recording at radiockut/sets/ blacktalk-2018 and attend other Black History Month events throughout the remainder of February.


February 12, 2018 | The McGill Daily


In response to the $233M chopper deal in the Philippines


nce again, Canadian imperialism demonstrates its support to the US-Duterte fascist regime in the Philippines. Anakbayan Canada, a national democratic organization of Filipino youth and students, denounces the most recent $233-M chopper deal between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The deal, which involves the acquisition of sixteen combat helicopters, will only intensify the violence against the Indigenous and peasant communities. The $234 million deal involves Bell 412 utility helicopters, which are expected to be built by US company Textron Inc.’s plant in Mirabel, Quebec. This is not the first time Ottawa has colluded with Manila. In fact, this unequal relations is to primarily protect Canadian-owned mining companies scattered across the archipelago. Using disaster aid as Canada’s benevolent face, the Philippines purchased eight Quebec-made helicopters to be used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in 2015. Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) showcased the capabilities of the aircraft when the four pairs went into action in central Philippine island of Iloilo in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan. A year later, a confidential agreement was signed. The deal was brokered by the Canadian Commercial Corporation—a Crown corporation that had boosted arms trade with Saudi Arabia, Colombia and other governments with appalling human rights records. History repeats itself as most recent Ottawa-Manila deal, signed on December 29, 2017, was anchored on the premise the helicopters will be used for “disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport, and utility transport,” according to Global Affairs Canada. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not whitewash their purchases. The Philippine government is spending a total of $3-B for its armed forces modernization program until 2022, but putting priority on equipment and armaments for “internal security” operations to defeat


“domestic threats” as well protect its maritime borders for five years. Numerous reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, Philippine human rights organization KARAPATAN have incriminated the AFP and its surrogate paramilitary groups as the perpetrator of direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks on areas in which civilians are present, thousands of killings and torture of activists, and other human rights abuses. The Philippine state continue to sow terror as it sponsors campaign to silence dissenting opposition to the US-Duterte regime. “It is evident that Canada’s involvement in Philippine military affairs, under the guise of disaster relief, will contribute to the decline of democracy and the rise of fascism in the Philippines. Canada and Trudeau are directly complicit in the potential deaths of the most vulnerable in Philippine society,” said Nicole Sudiacal, Anakbayan Ottawa. She adds, “It is a direct example of their disregard for human rights in the archipelago. With Duterte’s fascist regime increasing in its violence, the Philippine government has been targeting youth and student activists who oppose the degradation of human rights, which includes militarization of Lumad (Indigenous) communities, and the disastrous extra judicial killings of thousands in Duterte’s unjust drug war.” The helicopter deal does not serve the interests of the Canadian and Filipino people. It is endorsed by a power-hungry authoritarian and a pretty boy, who, with an ugly foreign policy, represent the exploitative ruling class and imperialists which intends to salvage US-led hegemony in the world. “Similar to his many promises, PM Trudeau pays lip service to his pronouncement that human rights in the Philippines should be upheld. This new military deal shows the true face of pretty boy Trudeau—an accomplice to murderous Duterte regime. The Canadian government is supplying Duterte’s war against Moro people, Lumad and other national minorities in the Philippines.

Jay VanPut Official Crossword Wizard

“I smell the Blood of an Englishman...”

Canadians should denounce this military deal that will only aggravate the human rights crisis in the Philippines,” said Renz Grospe, Anakbayan Canada. “Trudeau’s support for the Duterte fascist regime’s “internal security operations” will only further enable more horrific human rights violations committed with impunity. Supplying the military will necessarily incite more violence against Indigenous and other minority communities, who are already the least protected among the population. Empowering a corrupt government waging a war against its own people makes Trudeau and Canada complicit in the continued bloodshed of thousands, simply for the sake of economic interests,” said Beatrice Dimaculangan, Anakbayan Montreal. “Youth and students in the Philippine diaspora in Canada must directly oppose this blatant violation of human rights and dignity. We must directly target the Canadian government for propping up the Duterte fascist regime, and continue to struggle alongside the Filipino people in their fight for genuine national democracy and a just and lasting peace,” added Nicole Sudiacal. As an organization concerned with people’s rights, AnakbayanCanada condemns the helicopter deal between Ottawa and Manila. We demand an all-out withdrawal of Canadian financial, moral, political and military support for the US-Duterte regime’s wars against the Filipino people including the so-called war on drugs, martial law in Mindanao, and counterinsurgency. We call on all our member organizations, human rights organizations and peace advocates to stand up for human rights and take action to oppose the murderous deal between Canada and the Philippines. From Canada to the Philippines, stop the imperialist war machines! No to tax dollars for human rights violations in the Philippines! End state fascism!

Across 1. Pepsi or Coke 5. Transition points 10. Pledge 14. Eurasia’s ___ Mountains 15. Grayish 16. Actress Jessica 17. “___ Lama Ding Dong” (1961 hit) 18. Food for captive aquatic animals 20. Sac in the pelvis 22. Prefix with metric 23. ___ Moines, Iowa 24. Bridge support 29. Storage room 32. Middle of the month, typically 36. Princess who died in 1997 37. ___ fixe 38. Go to and fro 39. Engine speed, for short 40. Type of home or pyre 43. Copy 44. Big-ticket ___ 46. Indian bread 47. Noblemen 49. Predicts the future 51. To this point 52. Car brand recently sent to space 53. Dude

–Filipino youth group Anakbayan-Canada

54. “If I Ruled the World” rapper 57. Some lense shapes 61. Way to get rid of an infestation 66. Neighbor of Pakistan 67. Foreboding 68. Chain of mountains 69. Landed 70. Called 71. Squeeze 72. Laughs over a text Down 1. Side of a road 2. Type of history 3. Dalai ___ 4. 1992 Disney Film 5. Coffee shops 6. Computer operator 7. That girl 8. Mani-____ 9. Nintendo game console 10. Idiot 11. Muhammad ___ 12. “The Office” Airer 13. “That’s a laugh!” 19. Learning method 21. Coffee order 25. Hi-___ 26. Not cautious

27. Thing found in the corner of a paper 28. Most quiet 29. Wandering 30. Walk quietly 31. People who work with lions at a circus 32. Cause for stress at school 33. Perfect 34. Flowerless plants 35. Oolong, for one 41. French 101 article 42. Discover 45. Actor Gibson 48. One who doesn’t want to talk 50. Zest 53. Components of a skeleton 55. Modern Maturity grp. (US) 56. Arouse 57. Gear teeth 58. Folkie Guthrie 59. Colorado resort 60. Tolkien tree creatures 61. In favor of 62. Actress Thurman 63. Guys 64. Gerund’s end 65. Suffix with chlor-

The McGill Daily Vol. 107 Issue 17  
The McGill Daily Vol. 107 Issue 17