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Volume 103, Issue 6 Monday, October 7, 2013

Abhorrent!! since 1911

Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.


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Computed CAPEX and OPEX. Then learned how to cook Tex-Mex.

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Annual vigil for missing and murdered Indigenous women Asbestos: past, present, future Rehtaeh Parsons’ father speaks



One-woman show

Battling it out on a canvas Inkwell






Against the culture of silence surrounding Indigenous women


This week in science The internet of the future

Student of the week(ly): Persistent Existential Dread

Bullying on the internet

Believing in life after love?

University of Ottawa



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On the demonization of Israelis

Unicorns and science myths

Free. Confidential. Non-Judgmental.


Experimenting with literature online


Sexual Assault Center of the McGill Students’Society


Confronting an attempted rapist

Queer performers walk through our campus


The politics of fat

Fortier visits PGSS council


See every amazing angle at ]p[]hlagfYd=Q&[ge&


FIFA’s World Cup controversy Immigration detainees call for dignity and justice McGill sports scoreboard


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The McGill Daily


Monday, October 7, 2013

Vigil and march honours murdered and missing Indigenous women Over 600 Indigenous women mourned and remembered

Dana Wray | The McGill Daily


or the eighth year in a row, Missing Justice held the Vigil and March for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Montreal. The vigil was one of 360 similar events held across the world, according to organizers. Around 200 protesters gathered at Cabot Square, where speeches were given to an emotional and applauding crowd by Viviane Michel, Joey Shaw, John Cree, and others. Afterward, the march winded down Ste. Catherine and ended at Phillips Square with a candlelit vigil and various performances. Those who spoke at the rally talked about the long-lasting effects of residential schools, the ongoing colonization of Indigenous people and lands, and the injustice of missing and murdered Indigenous women from their communities. “I want justice. I want justice for my mother. I want justice for myself. I want justice for everyone here. I want justice for the hundreds of missing and murdered Native women across this country,” said Irkar Beljaars, a Métis journalist and activist, in one of the speeches. “And more importantly, I want justice for everyone across this country.” “There’s a phenomenon of native women going missing and being murdered across Canada,” Bianca Mugyenyi, Programming and Campaigns Coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy, told The Daily in an interview. One demonstrator, who identified only as Caroline, shared that she was at the march because of a close personal connection to the issue. “My auntie went missing from Winnipeg in 1992 and she was supposed to go home to Vancouver after our grandfather passed away and she was never heard of again. We don’t know where she went, we don’t know if she

made it, there has been nothing that has come to light.” According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), there are around 600 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Activists argue that this figure is too low, citing a shortage of data due to a lack of funding and political support, while police claim that the figure is too high. “One person, one woman, one girl, is way too many already,” said a member of Missing Justice at the march. Bridget Tolley began the annual march in 2005, when her mother, Gladys Tolley, was struck and killed by a Surêté du Québec police cruiser. The officer in question was never charged, and an independent investigation was denied. According to Mugyenyi, this lack of resolution is not uncommon, and is instead a major problem when dealing with the issue of violence against Indigenous women. “When the police don’t take these cases seriously, as indicated in that these cases are not solved, and when the justice system does not give the same support, people need to act.” “If women keep going missing, and there will be this silence around it, which means that they are more vulnerable [… and] in even greater danger,” she said. Many demonstrators felt that it wasn’t remarkable that they were attending, but that it was their duty. “I am not doing anyone a favour by coming here, I am not doing anything excellent [by coming here …],” said Sara Sebti, a McGill student, adding, “As a privileged person you have the responsibility to use your privilege in a productive way.”

Hera Chan | The McGill Daily Others pointed to ongoing colonization in Canada as a concern, and as motivation for attending the march. “Our whole Canadian, Quebec [sic] society is built on colonization,” said Cleve Higgins, an attendee. “You can see it in the banks we are walking past, and the tar sands and all those things that destroy the lands Indigenous people are living on.” Mugyenyi echoed this concern. “All Canadians have a historical obligation to right the wrongs of the colonial legacy.” When asked what the next steps were for the movement in the future, Mugyenyi highlighted the vastness of the issue. “In terms of research and awareness, we need funding for it,” she said, referring to the fact that the only federally funded initiative – the Sisters in Sprit database – lost its

financial support in 2010. “[We also need to] counteract stereotypes of Native women, which increase their susceptibility to violence. […We need] cultural sensitivity for police forces; they don’t have the tools to investigate completely and thoroughly, or with the will to do so,” Mugyenyi continued. Many of the demonstrators at the march and vigil agreed that while the government had a role in helping with funding and broader support, there needs to be more power given to Indigenous communities. “We only [march] one evening a year but it should be a lot more than that,” said Higgins, “[We should protest] until it is taken seriously by the government [and] they actually put some effort in helping these Indigenous women.”

AUS Council talks student engagement Fortier visits, asks for more student input


he Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) held their bi-weekly Legislative Council meeting last Wednesday to discuss various issues, including opening the Arts Lounge to non-AUS groups and the proposed restructuring of the Leacock Building’s third floor. Fortier visits AUS Council Principal Suzanne Fortier was also present at the meeting and spoke about the relationship between administrators and students. “I didn’t come here to be an administrator, sitting in a corner there, and enjoying my wonderful office. [...] I want to be a part of this community, and I want [to] do good work for this community, and I think my attitude and my beliefs are shared by my colleagues,” said Fortier during the meeting. However some of the councillors, including AUS President Justin Fletcher and

Cem Ertekin | The McGill Daily Arts Senator Claire Stewart-Kanigan, later raised their concerns about the physical disconnect between the James Administration building and the overall student body. “As the James Administration building does not provide any direct services for students [...] spatial issues foster a natural disconnect between administration and students,” Fletcher said later in an e-mail to The Daily. During Council, Fortier also emphasized the need for communication between the administration and students, telling the Council to “tell us” when issues arise. “There are formal avenues and less formal. It’s important that we can talk to each other at an informal level, and be able to sort out why we see things differently,” Fortier added. Stewart-Kanigan said later in an interview with The Daily, “I think that it is inappropriate to put the onus as much on students perhaps as she [did].”

However, Stewart-Kanigan noted, “It’s the first few weeks of her principalship. She has taken some actions that have definitely challenged the way McGill has operated in the past in terms of accountability.” Student space allocation discussed Another business item on the meeting agenda was a motion to allow access to the Arts Lounge for non-AUS organizations. “I know that [SSMU gets] many, many groups looking for bookings and that they only have one room that’s similar to the Arts Lounge (the Club Lounge) so this offers another room and one that’s different than what SSMU offers,” said VP Internal Enbal Singer, who moved the motion, in an e-mail to The Daily. The motion was passed and the Arts Lounge will now be available for the use of non-AUS groups for a fee of $25, while AUSaffiliated clubs will continue to be able to

book the Arts Lounge without paying. The money will be put into the AUS budget for lounge maintenance. Council also discussed the proposed restructuring of the Leacock building, although Council, according to a straw poll, was not in favour. “Based on the discussion, Council’s sentiments were largely that a third floor reception area is unnecessary given current staffing constraints and that staff knowledgeable about programs should remain within departments,” President Fletcher noted in an e-mail to The Daily. “Furthermore, it was the sentiment in the room that our time and energy would be better spent advocating for more student spaces in Leacock,” Fletcher continued. “The onus is on us as students to approach our department chairs and make sure the space is allocated for us as students; [it’s a] you snooze, you lose kind of thing.”

The McGill Daily




Monday, October 7, 2013

A brief introduction to asbestos and McGill

Nicolas Quiazua | The McGill Daily author of an epidemiological study on the health of some 11,000 workers born between 1891 and 1920 who worked in the Quebec chrysotile asbestos industry. Many allege McDonald’s acknowledgments of the presence of industry funding in his publications and presentations were misleading at best, despite claims made to the contrary by McGill. In one instance, in 1972, McDonald testified before hearings of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in favour of looser asbestos safety regulations. According to the book Expendable Americans, at the hearings, McDonald identified himself as an independent researcher and denied any connection to the asbestos industry. For more than two decades, ranging from

cGill’s intimate ties with the asbestos industry began in 1965, when the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association (QAMA) sought ties with an academic institution. The QAMA found its ally in former professor John Corbett McDonald, then an emeritus professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health at McGill. That same year, the Association founded and helped establish QAMA’s Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health (IOEH) in Montreal. McDonald received a large portion of the organization’s money – nearly $1 million from the IOEH over six years during his research. McDonald, who is now retired, was the

1971 to 1998, McDonald and his team published a series of articles concluding that the health risks associated with chrysotile asbestos were “essentially innocuous” at certain exposure levels, much lower than those of other asbestos fibres. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asbestos is primarily used in two forms: chrysotile and amphibole fibers. Chrysotile asbestos, which is the kind primarily mined in Quebec, represents 90 to 95 per cent of the world’s production. A CBC documentary that aired in February of last year put the issue back at the forefront by claiming that the asbestos industry used its ties with McDonald and McGill to promote its image. In response, in an open letter sent in February 2012 to members of McGill’s

Board of Governors, and published in various media outlets, a group of academics and health experts asked McGill to break its ties from the asbestos industry, and called for an independent investigation into McDonald’s research. Soon thereafter, it was announced that the University would conduct its own internal review. In a report released on October 17, 2012, the University’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO) rejected allegations of collusion and by the same token found no need to launch an independent investigation. The RIO’s report concluded by recommending that McGill hold an academic conference on the topic of alternatives to asbestos and the challenge of asbestos removal, resulting in this past week’s one day conference, “Asbestos: Dialogue for the Future.”

Speakers critique McGill’s review of asbestos research

Emma Noradounkian | News Writer


McDonald openly admitted in 1998 to “a degree of arbitrariness in some of the pooling carried out,” Egilman argued that the conclusion of the research was founded on data manipulation. “They threw data out because it gave them wrong results,” he said. According to the speakers, asbestos mining and manufacturing companies today continue to justify the promotion of chrysotile asbestos in developing countries using McDonald’s asbestos research. Later, Ruff explained the origin of the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association’s (QAMA) reasoning in funding and using McDonald’s research on the so-called innocuousness of asbestos. “[In the 1980s] asbestos sales plummeted, and the industry thought it would die, but Professor McDonald helped them save the day by coming in with his message arguing that it can be safely used in controlled circumstances,” she said. “So the industry went

A. Jean de Grandpré

Distinguished Speaker Seminar Series

n response to McGill’s controversial history with the asbestos industry, the McGill Faculty of Medicine held a public conference on the topic of asbestos and research integrity at the Faculty Club on October 1. Two guest speakers, Dr. David Egilman of Brown University, and Kathleen Ruff of the Rideau Institute, focused on their past and present criticism on the asbestos research of former McGill professor John Corbett McDonald in the 1960s and 1970s. The speakers proposed that the University take future action with respect to meeting its intellectual and ethical standards in research. The two spoke in the second half of the afternoon, beginning with Egilman. His presentation largely consisted of a scientific critique of McDonald’s research. However, he added, “I am not here to question the motives of the scientists.” After reading through a quote in which

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on a mission to developing countries to get them to use chrysotile asbestos.” Egilman and a number of scientists worldwide had filed complaints with McGill in 2002 and 2012, both of which claimed inaccuracies in McDonald’s research and a need for the University to pursue “independent, transparent and thorough” investigation of these criticisms. In February 2012, the University began a departmental review that would assess the integrity of McDonald’s research and work under McGill’s scientific standards. Soon after the review, which found no evidence of research misconduct, McGill’s Research Integrity Officer issued a consultation report in September 2012, which, Ruff alleged, was fatally flawed. She also emphasized one of the report’s flawed statements concerning the so-called “international consensus” of McDonald’s findings.

“Not a single reputable scientific organization in the world supports Professor McDonald’s findings that chrysotile asbestos is virtually innocuous,” she said. “The consensus is overwhelming in the world, in the scientific community. Chrysotile asbestos, all forms of asbestos, are hazardous and should stop.” McGill’s report also states that the safety of chrysotile asbestos is a highly controversial and conflicted issue, rather than an established scientific consensus. “It is a disservice, a great disservice, that McGill has been promoting [this message],” Ruff stated. Egilman and Ruff both stated that McGill should retract McDonald’s study, and that its ultimate aim should be to positively impact the real world with research and scholarship that meets the University’s intellectual and ethical standards. “This conference is excellent,” said Ruff. “[However], it is not a substitute for doing the right thing.”

Sci+Tech is looking for ONE columnist! email scitech@ mcgilldaily. com for more information Applications due OCTOBER 20TH


The McGill Daily

Monday, October 7, 2013


Conference leaves questions unanswered about research, ethics at McGill

Molly Korab & Emmet Livingstone | The McGill Daily


hile this week’s “Asbestos: Dialogue for the Future” conference touched on a wide range of issues related to McGill’s history with research ethics and asbestos research, the event left a number of questions unanswered. In particular, some alleged that there was not enough explanation of the University’s next step forward in terms of its research ethics policy, a question that the conference attempted to address throughout the course of the day. Questions remain on University’s research ethics policy The conference left Kathleen Ruff, senior advisor to the Rideau Institute, who presented on McGill’s failure to adequately address asbestos research at the university, largely unsatisfied with its outcome. While Ruff congratulated McGill on holding the conference in her initial presentation, she also critiqued what she saw as the University’s silence on its contentious history with both former professor John Corbett McDonald’s research and corporate-sponsored research at large. “I absolutely do not think at all that the conference was enough,” Ruff told The Daily. “It’s not a substitute for doing the right thing. [...] The shadow on McGill’s reputation will not go away until it addresses this issue properly, and so the conference was a fine thing to do.” Ruff said that conference guest speaker David Egilman’s presentation, “The Past is Prologue: Universities in Service to Corporations: The McGill-QAMA Asbestos Example,” brought up a litany of criticisms against the University that remain unaddressed. Furthermore, she noted that such behaviour represents a pattern of ethical leniency at the university. “If a professor at McGill goes and lobbies to advance the interests of the industry and to oppose health measures, and not only does not disclose, but falsely says, ‘I have no connection with that industry,’ does McGill feel this is appropriate conduct?” Ruff asked. “McGill has always refused to answer that question. I think they need to answer that question, because they need to set an ethical standard.” However, David Eidelman, Dean of Medicine, pushed back against the notion that the University’s ethical standards are unclear. Eidelman also emphasized that the criticism brought forth by Ruff and Egilman is a significant source of contention. “There are people who believe that Kathleen Ruff and Dr. Egilman are misrepresenting what [McDonald] said. There are other people who say, ‘no they’re not misrepresenting it, they’re absolutely correct,’” Eidelman said. “That to me sounds like an academic controversy. Universities are about academic controversies.” “I believe the function of a university is to allow people to say what they have to say, and where possible, to put data behind it to prove it,” he said. SSMU VP University Affairs Joey Shea,

Alice Shen | The McGill Daily one of the primary actors involved in organizing the conference, also pushed back against some of the criticisms brought forward by Egilman, calling parts of his presentation “a bit sensationalist, regardless of where you are on the political spectrum.” Despite pointing to the criticisms of McDonald’s research as largely an academic controversy, Eidelman acknowledged that there are certain questions to be addressed at the university. “The fact that there’s no research misconduct doesn’t mean that there’s no problem. That’s why I wanted the conference,” he said. No easy solutions to questions of for-profit research in academic settings The conference’s closing panel had a broader scope, addressing the ethics of corporate research at McGill. In recognition of the controversy surrounding McDonald’s asbestos research, Eidelman highlighted the last panel as crucial for talking about the larger issue of private sector investment in universities. The speakers tackled various ethical complications of for-profit research at publicly funded universities. All were unified in stressing the need to reconcile private with public interests, though not at the expense of academic freedom. “Academic freedom is a terribly important topic that universities have to take perhaps more seriously than they have,” explained Daniel Weinstock, a professor in McGill’s Faculty of Law and one-time director of the Research Centre on Ethics at the Université de Montréal. “But we have to approach this in an all-encompassing manner,

[and] that includes both government and corporate threats to academic freedom.” Weinstock warned tha too often, “Ethics [are] very superficial, [they are] something that we think about at the tail-end.” He added that research ethics are divorced from moral implications and have come to be seen as a bureaucratic control. Though the speakers all recognized the importance of the issues discussed, none offered any solutions, inviting criticism from some audience members. “The afternoon panel didn’t address the issues we put forward. It dealt more with general issues about communication. It spoke about corporate social responsibility,” said Ruff. “They didn’t address any [...] of the issues in our complaint or any of our criticisms, and they didn’t provide any answers on the very serious and disturbing questions we’d raised about the failure of McGill to [deal] with our complaints. The evidence I put forward, I think, was very clear and damning.” The Research Ethics Office (IRB) at McGill operates a review process of research proposals that Ruff criticized as “biased, lacking in transparency, and incorrect.” Eidelman, in part, agreed with Ruff. “We think that the biggest challenge for this university in terms of research ethics is post-monitoring.” He elaborated that mechanisms to assess whether research has been carried out as planned should exist, alongside procedures to see whether IRB approvals are justified. “That’s something which we’ve never done at McGill,” Eidelman admitted. “Right now, to be honest, I don’t think we have the

resources to do it. This is something we should certainly think about.” After the conference, Ruff sent an email to conference participants and organizers to reiterate her questions surrounding the University’s research ethics policy, which was also made available to The Daily. The first situation that Ruff addressed involved the hypothetical situation of an industry-funded McGill researcher intervening at a public policy hearing and using their privately funded research to influence policy in that field. Ruff asked if the University’s ethical standards “require or expect that the academic should disclose the fact that his/ her research is financially supported by the industry in question.” Secondly, Ruff asked if it were “acceptable,” under University standards, for the academic to deny any connection to the industry financing or supporting their research. After inquiring if McGill’s ethical standards address such a situation, Ruff requested documentation and asked if the University is concerned with such an issue. “Is McGill prepared to examine and to adopt ethical standards so that these actions would be addressed and so that McGill academics and the wider public would know what McGill’s position is?” she wrote. The question of research ethics at McGill remains up in the air. Echoing an earlier discussion with Principal Suzanne Fortier, Shea told The Daily that when it comes to ethical standards and corporate-sponsored research, McGill has “a reputation of having particularly tricky regulations in comparison to other institutions.”

The McGill Daily



Monday, October 7, 2013

Rehtaeh Parsons’ father speaks at McGill Addresses victim blaming, consent, prevalence of rape culture

Jordan Venton-Rublee | The McGill Daily

Robert Smith | The McGill Daily

Trigger warning: This article contains discussion of rape, rape culture, suicide, and depression.


he Centre for Gender Advocacy’s “Another Word for Gender” series closed with an emotional keynote event on October 3 – a talk by Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, about the failure of the justice system, and the forces that normalize sexual assault in Canada, including victim-blaming. Canning told the audience of around 100 people in the Shatner Ballroom that it was his first time speaking in front of a large group of people, but that he wanted to share the story of his daughter. Parsons’ case first gained media attention last year, following the teen’s suicide after aggressive and prolonged bullying in response to her sexual assault. In November 2011, Parsons was gang-raped after attending a house party. A cellphone photo of the rape was shared days later by students at her school across social media sites. According to her father, the photo was taken by one of the rapists and was not only shared at her school but across her district. “It was going everywhere, and everyone knew about it,” said Canning, adding, “She wasn’t just raped, she was humiliated and destroyed.” Not long after the photo was shared with the community, Parsons and her family came forward to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to report the incident – which is where the victim-blaming began, Canning said. “I think it is outrageous that this hap-

pened, I think it’s inexcusable for the police to bungle this case the way that they did, and they did it right from the start.” The investigation went on for one year, with few updates given to the family and no arrests made. The case was declared closed in March 2012, without questioning or consulting any of the people who were involved with the allegations of sexual assault. The police told her mother when the case was deemed closed that “there [were] mistakes made that night, and Rehtaeh made mistakes too.” “They were essentially saying she shouldn’t have been drinking at that party, and to us that is just wrong. It didn’t matter what she did that night, no one had the right to rape her,” said Canning. He noted that his daughter was heartbroken by the case being closed. “She felt she did the right thing by speaking up and it was used against her.” Parsons, Canning revealed, turned to drugs and self-harm to cope with the pain and feelings of isolation spurred by the events. Eventually, Parsons and her father decided that she would seek medical treatment at a local hospital. Canning also pointed to faults in the hospital system. “Taking her to that hospital was the biggest mistake of my life,” he said. “I think she learned nothing in that hospital that she could use to cope with the issues she was going through.” “The hospital that she was admitted to treated her like a drug addict because [the drug treatment program] is the only program they offer teens that age,” he told the audi-

ence. “So you have to be a drug addict, you are not a sexual assault victim.” Not long after she was admitted, Parsons was discharged. She committed suicide shortly thereafter. Canning believes that her time in the hospital made her worse off. Shortly after her death, her mother posted a Facebook status regarding her suicide that quickly gained international media attention, with her parents receiving calls from CNN and MSNBC. However, not all the attention was positive. A “Support the Boys” campaign started in the community, with people rallying around the assault suspects, declaring their innocence. The group printed signs and went to the police system to protest, alleging that Parsons lied. They also created Facebook groups claiming that since the boys were “good-looking [and] cool guys, that she probably wanted her assault because they never would have committed the crime,” Canning explained to the audience. The cyber-bullying continued even after Parsons’ death – Facebook groups were created with tormenting titles and photoshopped pictures mocking her suicide. Some of the content was sent to her family. When Canning wrote a letter to Facebook to take down one of the groups, they responded that the group did not “violate their standards.” Canning posted the message on his blog, where it was picked up by the hacktivist group Anonymous. Anonymous tracked down the Facebook group owners and shut down the groups.

Charges of creation and distribution of child pornography have now been laid against two of the boys. “[However] despite them sending it to hundreds of kids, who then sent it to hundreds of [other] kids, [those are] the only two charges they came up with in this entire thing.” Canning is adamant that the police never investigated the sexual assault aspect of the crime. “For them to say they have no evidence to substantiate a charge of sexual assault is a blatant failure on the side of the police to do their job.” “This is just wrong, this is a failure in a system here. Her school didn’t even call her once, the police never investigated her crime at all.” Canning hopes that by talking about his daughter’s case, change will occur. He noted that the sexual assault centre he took his daughter to prior to her death is faced with wait times of several months and is desperately in need of funding. “[It is] inexcusable that this is happening in our community and people aren’t getting the help that they want.” “We have a problem in our system in Nova Scotia with young people, because they don’t know what consent is, what healthy relationships are,” said Canning. “They don’t know what healthy sex means, they don’t know about respect or empathy or compassion.” “I think there is a failure in investigating sexual assault in Canada, and hopefully by sharing our daughter’s case we can highlight that and we can try and fix it. We are not going to be able to do that though if we don’t admit it is broken.” With files from Hannah Besseau

The McGill Daily



Monday, October 7, 2013

A call for dignity and justice

200 immigration detainees strike for better access to services

Hannah Besseau | The McGill Daily


00 immigration detainees are calling for justice, striking over prison conditions, and asking for better access to medical care, social services, food, and legal aid. The strike, which began September 17, was largely provoked by a prison transfer that resulted in limited services and decreased accessibility for detainees. In August, the detainees were moved from prisons in the Greater Toronto area to Ontario’s Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay, Ontario, in light of the upcoming closure of the Toronto West Detention Centre. “We’re talking about a mass civil disobedience action within prison cells,” Jaggi Singh, an activist with No One Is Illegal Montreal, told The Daily. “This is very significant. These are people who are in a very precarious situation, who might not get support from wide sections of society.”

Conditions at Ontario’s Central East Correctional Centre The migrant detainees were moved in two batches from Toronto to the CECC in Lindsay, Ontario, according to Emelina Ramos, an activist with Toronto-based migrant justice group Fuerza/Puwersa. While the Toronto West Detention Centre is a lowsecurity public prison, the CECC is a highsecurity private prison. “There’s been a lot of wondering as to why the detainees were moved to a private prison,” Ramos told The Daily. As a private prison, CECC offers fewer

“I’m suffering here, I’m suffering. In my country they don’t let you suffer, they shoot you and you’re done. Here, they make you die very slowly.”

the way down here – my wife and son are on welfare,” Joshton told The Daily in an interview. “I haven’t seen my son in seven years – he was 14 months and now he is eight years old.” “I’m suffering here, I’m suffering. In my country they don’t let you suffer, they shoot you and you’re done. Here, they make you die very slowly.” A major issue with the transfer has also been access to phone calls. Detainees are not given access to making international and long-distance phone calls, according to Ramos, and local calls have been consistently dropping. Erik Kusi, a current detainee, told The Daily that the inconsistency with the phone service has strained the detainees’ communications with lawyers and families. Kusi is a permanent resident of Canada. He arrived as a refugee from Liberia, and was detained due to a prior conviction. Before his detention, Kusi was two years away from being eligible to apply for citizenship. “Their [CECC] phone systems cannot get ahold of our lawyers and families because supposedly their phone system […] is very sensitive,” said Kusi. “You cannot make 20 minute phone calls without the phone cutting off. The phone systems are most important to access our lawyers and our family members. This is [one of ] the demands we’re striking for.” Access to medical services and social workers have been limited since the transfer as well. “There is no social worker. They say they are going to get a social worker but there is no social worker yet. They hired one, but she hasn’t [seen] anyone yet. The situation, if they are making money off of me or what, I have no idea, they must be making money. Three years of my life, and next to [no changes],” said Joshton.

Detention in Canada for non-status people A joint statement on the issue was released on September 23 by Books to Bars Hamilton, Dignidad Migrante, Fuerza/PuJalal Joshton wersa, No One Is Illegal Montreal, No One Is Illegal Vancouver, and Solidarity Across classes and life skills programs than the Borders Montreal. Over the past ten years, according to the Toronto West Detention Centre. According to Ramos, these programs are crucial statement, the number of people without full status – including temporary workers for many detainees. The transfer of prisoners from Toronto and refugees – has risen to 60 per cent, and to Lindsay also means that prisoners are yet the number of permanent residency vinow two hours away from essential services sas granted is the same. Less than 25 per cent such as legal resources, social services, and of refugee claimants are accepted. Approximately 82,000 migrant peofor some, their families. One of the prisoners, Jalal Joshton, is ple have been detained in Canada since originally from Iraq. He has lived in Canada 2004, and 25,000 have been imprisoned, for 16 years, and has been detained for seven. according to the statement. One third of For Joshton, the move meant that he was cut detainees are held in maximum-security provincial prisons. off from his family. In 2012, Canada passed Bill C-31, which “I can’t even see my son. Windsor is six hours away [from Lindsay]. [My fam- amended the Immigration and Refugee ily doesn’t] have the money to come all Protection Act. The Justice for Refugees

and Immigrants Coalition – comprised of groups such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Amnesty International – argued that the bill works to arbitrarily detain groups of refugees, and has too much power to deem those who hope to escape violence and persecution in their home country as illegal. The amendments gave the state “broad, unfettered, and unprecedented powers,” according to a press release by the Coalition. Provisions in the bill allow the government to “arbitrarily detain groups of refugees; keep parents, children and spouses apart for years; [...] and authorize the stripping of permanent residence from refugees.” There are many reasons why non-status people can be detained, according to Ramos, including but not limited to: not having the correct travel documents, an inability to be deported because their home country will not take them, or having prior convictions. “We should be aware of the reality of the immigration detention and the injustice of it. We aren’t [necessarily] talking about people who are being detained for being convicted of a criminal offense. These are people in administrative categories – that is, they haven’t necessarily committed a crime, their only ‘crime’ is to have been a migrant. So it’s particularly insidious that detention is being used against people,” said Singh. “The system is flawed, it’s not working,” said Ramos. “Some people who have prior

“Some of these individuals have been held in detention for ten years and they’re not being told when they’re going to be released because Canada doesn’t want to release them in their own community.” Emelina Ramos convictions, their convictions are completely bogus in our courts. For example, in countries where it is illegal to be gay, and you have a conviction for it – you could come here and all the government of Canada sees is that you have a prior conviction and so you get detained.” Unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, which limit detention of immigration detainees to 90 days, Canada does not have a limit to how long people can be detained.

While immigration detainees are supposed to undergo a monthly detention review, at CECC, their isolation from lawyers has impeded progress on their cases. “Some of these individuals have been held in detention for ten years and they’re

“People should not have to go hungry to have access to phone calls, to call their family, to call their lawyer, when you’ve been jailed without [being charged with a] crime. That in itself should call people to act, to rise up, and to question the immigration system in Canada.” Syed Hussan not being told when they’re going to be released because Canada doesn’t want to release them in their own community,” said Ramos. “In some cases, their home country doesn’t want to take them either – and [so] they’re stuck.” The majority of migrant detainees at the CECC come from African countries and the Middle East, according to Ramos, and there are no European migrants currently detained. Strike actions and response On September 17, the detainees led a walkout where they left and refused to reenter their cells. The detainees were forcefully put back into their cells by the guards, according to Ramos. On September 18, detainees held a hunger strike that lasted 24 hours. A second hunger strike started on September 23, and lasted the subsequent 11 days. At least six detainees were reported hospitalized during the hunger strike. “[People are feeling] frustration, headaches, anger, and other stuff too,” said Kusi, who went on hunger strike. “There is [a lot of ] yelling going around. It’s just getting people stressed out. I’m getting frustrated myself.” The CECC responded to the strike by enforcing lockdowns, Ramos told The Daily, (Continued on Page 8)

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Monday, October 7, 2013 (Continued from Page 7)

where detainees are not allowed to leave their cells for extended periods of time – even up to 18 hours a day. Certain detainees were put into segregation. According to Ramos, the communi-

Unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, which have a limit of 90 days detention before releasing immigration detainees, Canada does not have a limit to how long people can be detained. cation between the CECC and the detainees has been limited, and only furthered frustrations.

“The warden has told them he was going to make the canteen better, which he did. But he also told them they would get a better phone line, but calls continue to drop and are fuzzy. They hired a social worker, but she has yet to show up. The relationship [between the detainees and CECC] has not been very good at all,” said Ramos. As for a response to better health services, Ramos said the CECC did bring in nurses, but the initiative fell short of a real change. “They asked for better access to medical services, and there were nurses, but only because of the hunger strike. Now that the hunger strike is over, the nurses are gone. It was a very conditional thing,” said Ramos. *** The hunger strikes ended on October 1, Ramos told The Daily, because of complications with health and hospitalizations, in addition to a lack of response from the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA). The detainees are still on strike, but are trying a different tactic to have their de-

mands met. They will now be boycotting their hearings that will decide the outcomes of their cases since, according to Ramos, many of the detainees report seeing no progress at their monthly meetings.

“People who are detained are the tip of the iceberg in terms of people who live in Canada without full status.” Jaggi Singh The strike has garnered the attention of the United Nations Refugee Agency, who have since visited the CECC to talk to detainees, according to Ramos. “They said they’re working on it, but that the government is not budging,” said Ramos. “The CBSA has told detainees they they’re going to deport 60 of them Monday [October 7] or Tuesday [October 8],”

Ramos told The Daily. “No one thinks it’s going to happen because they bluff like this all the time. But if it does happen, it means that we’ve lost.” “What we need is a way to regularize the status of people who are dealing with irregular status,” said Singh. “People who are detained are the tip of the iceberg in terms of people who live in Canada without full status. There are anywhere from half a million to a million people who live without status. In the U.S. it’s closer to 12 million.” “First and foremost this is about undocumented people struggling to get dignity and justice within the limitations of the Canadian system,” said Syed Hussan, an activist with No One Is Illegal Toronto. “These are people trying to get better standards. People should not have to go hungry to have access to phone calls, to call their family, to call their lawyer, when you’ve been jailed without [being charged with a] crime. That in itself should call people to act, to rise up, and to question the immigration system in Canada.” With files from Emelina Ramos

PGSS talks student grants, funding campus media Suzanne Fortier makes surprise appearance

Tom Portsmouth | News Writer


he Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) held its monthly Council meeting on October 2. On the agenda was the amelioration of post-grad life, internal business, and a surprise visit from Principal Suzanne Fortier. Post-graduate life In his Secretary’s report, PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney said that steps had been taken to ensure the even distribution of student grants. On occasion, some post-graduates and post-doctorates get more than enough grants while others get none. The problem, according to Mooney, stems not from a lack of funds but rather from bureaucratic oversight. “The central administration has the money and it is sent off to the various faculties, but sometimes it does not make its way to the right people, and we’re talking to the administration to figure out a way to do that,” he said in his address. PGSS also plans to make post-graduate student rights regarding their supervisors more clear. A recent PGSS survey that asked students to assess their supervisors came up with mixed results. PGSS, Mooney says, will aim to “increase awareness, protect, and advertise student’s rights regarding their supervisors.”

vote. According to Mooney, the Tribune started covering Council and graduate student issues about a year ago, and is interested in expanding its coverage. When the proposed $1.00 per semester fee lost in referendum in April however, Mooney said that the upcoming referendum will be lesser in scope. “We agreed that we’ll ask the question again, Internal business Four motions were discussed and voted on but we’ll ask for a smaller fee,” he told The Daily. Another motion aimed to institute a McGill during Council. The first was a motion to impose a non- Writing Centre fee of $1.80 per term, to avoid opt-outable fee of $0.75 on PGSS members the cessation of “all one-on-one tutorial serviconce per semester to financially support the es for graduate students” provided by the centre. The motion passed, but the follow-up mooperations of the McGill Tribune, making PGSS members part of the Tribune Publica- tion, which aimed to amend the PGSS budget for a one-time transfer of $3,000 from the tions Society. This motion passed. A similar question was put to referendum Special Projects Fund to the McGill Writing in late April of this year, but it lost by a close Centre for tutor wages, did not.

Khoa | Photographer questions from students afterwards. On several occasions, she emphasised the need for herself, the administration, and the professors to be “connected to the student body.” “Open communication and honesty” between the two bodies, she said, is vital in order to improve students’ university experience. Her speech also emphasized the need to maintain and better McGill’s status as a world-class university despite financial troubles. To do this, Fortier emphasized, the priority investment must be in people – attracting top-level graduate students and professors – rather than in material. Fortier’s visit, Mooney said, was largely A visit from the principal The highlight of the meeting was McGill successful. “[It’s] clear that this was a great Principal Suzanne Fortier’s surprise visit, forum for her to hear about what issues are when she took the floor for a short speech and happening at the local level,” he said. “Some people said, ‘even though it’s an important service […] we don’t feel comfortable allocating money from the budget,”’ Mooney later told The Daily. The fourth motion aimed to create a policy regarding Mandatory Institutional Fees (FIOs). PGSS currently risks seeing new FIOs created by McGill’s Fee Advisory Committee without an official PGSS referendum, the standardized process utilized for fee increases in other student bodies at McGill. A policy for structuring a referendum process in the event of any fee changes or increases was voted on, and the motion passed.


The McGill Daily


Monday, October 7, 2013

A strange compassion Confronting the attempted rapist at the door Kai Cheng Thom From Gaysia With Love


o: Random White Cisgender Guy Somewhere on the Streets of Montreal An Open Letter

Re: Forgiveness and the Making of Monsters Dear Random Guy Who Tried to Break into My House and Rape Me, You know, when I was little, my father used to tell me that there were monsters that lived in the alley behind our house. These monsters, he said, awoke at night to stalk the streets of our neighbourhood and eat naughty children who disobeyed their parents. This was why I should always listen to my father, stay in at night and go to bed on time, eat all my rice, be quiet and sit still, and never, ever talk to strangers. If I behaved, if I obeyed, if I was a good little boy, then I would be safe. When I set out to write this letter, Random Guy, I wanted to be angry. I wanted to write a searing critique of your behaviour in the context of patriarchal violence and rape culture that would make you feel ashamed and small and pathetic. I wanted to be a Strong Independent Woman, a militant radical feminist. I wanted to hate you; wanted to justify that hatred with such fiery poetic eloquence that not even you could disagree. And I know I have the right to hate you, Random Guy. When you try to rape someone, they have the right to hate you. But the truth is, I don’t hate you. I don’t feel angry – I never did. Not this summer when you rang my doorbell at midnight and told me through the locked door that you had seen me on the street and followed me home. Not when you told me that you thought I was beautiful. Not when you demanded to come inside. Not when you looked me in the eyes and sadistically asked me if I was scared. Not even as you started to pound on the door and pry at the lock. I never once felt rage as I ran upstairs and tried calling all of my big, cisgender male friends, none of whom answered. Not as I gave up and called the police, not when they arrived and told me that they couldn’t detain you because you “hadn’t really threatened me.” I didn’t hate you then, didn’t hate you after, and I don’t hate you now, no matter how much I wish I did.

What I did feel was fear. I did feel terrified, knowing that just on the other side of the door, there was someone who had picked me out, tracked me, who had definite intentions to harm me. I felt the terror of knowing that my body, my personhood, and my desires are less than inconsequential to you. And I felt shame. I was ashamed of being so weak, when for so long I have been able to rely on my strength. Ashamed that I called the police, who are responsible for the brutalization and deaths of so many of my transgender sisters. I was ashamed that I had brought the horror of you upon myself. You see, Random Guy, I believed my father. I internalized the story that it is the weak, the deviant, the naughty, the disobedient, the careless and stupid whom are singled out as prey by the predators of the night. For all my feminist learning, I have yet to unlearn the notion that it is my fault for choosing to walk home alone at night, for presenting my body as ‘feminine,’ for being unable to defend myself against you on my own. I was raised not just by my father, but by this racist, transphobic nation to not be angry, to not know how to hate predatory white men like you. I grew up keeping my feelings inside ‘for my own safety,’ just as I kept my body confined to spaces that grow ever tighter as I age. I was taught to turn the other cheek – to consider your desires and freedoms as essentially more important and potent than mine. I was taught to dismiss my humanity so that society can forgive your monstrosity. So it is with a strange compassion that I write this letter, Random Guy, an odd kind of forgiveness that causes me to consider the kind of life you must lead that has made you the monster that haunts my nighttime streets. How were you raised in order to think of me as a piece of meat for you to consume? How is it that power made you so broken? What part of your soul did privilege rob that you treat other people this way? How is it that you are not alone in this, but only one of many such monsters in infinite guises whom I, and my racialized and transgender siblings, meet every day? The thing is, I don’t have the answer to

Alice Shen | The McGill Daily these questions, Random Guy. You do. And it’s your job to answer them for us both. Because my job is to survive you. We are trapped in this nightmare of predator and prey, and you have the power to wake up first. And while I may not hate you yet, I must still be prepared for you. The next time we meet – and we will – I will have hatred on my side, or my sisters, or a knife.

And one of us may not survive. Never yours, Kai Cheng From Gaysia With Love is an epistolary exploration of intersectionality by Kai Cheng Thom. They can be reached at fromgaysia@

Web-only Commentary content McGill Board of Governors rejects petition to divest from fossil fuels, Divest McGill responds www.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Why we must learn to hug the Jewish state On the sentiments of the Israeli people

Daniel Lombroso | Commentary Writer

A Palestinian and an Israeli build a primary school in Jaffa, Israel.


2 years ago, 3 years after Israel had achieved its independence, my father was born in the port city of Haifa. He often speaks of this period as a time of remarkable optimism. After centuries of persecution in the diaspora, the creation of Israel was a rebirth for the Jewish people. No longer would they have to shy away from their unique identity or accept a subordinate position in society. In the State of Israel, the Jewish people could finally enjoy a peaceful and normal existence. That was the hope, at least. The early State of Israel failed to bring the normalcy that the Jewish people desired. Sure, my father listened to the Beatles and adored the stoner-biker flick Easy Rider, but he also spent his young adult years as a soldier protecting Israel’s borders, and he could not travel to any neighbouring country without risking his life. The Arab states viewed Israel as a demon in their midst and many openly expressed a desire to eradicate it from the world map. On a bright morning in the autumn of 1993, the politics suddenly appeared to change. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat agreed to mutual recognition in the celebrated Oslo Accords. This framework pledged a new, more cooperative Middle East, where an Israeli and Palestinian state could live side by side in peace and security. Rabin, considered one of the greatest Israelis in history, announced to the world: “We, like you [the Palestinians], are people who want to build a home, to plant a tree, to love, live side by side with you in dignity,

in empathy, as human beings, as free men. We are today giving peace a chance and again saying to you in a clear voice: enough.” The Oslo Accords were viewed by Israelis as an historic olive branch to the Palestinian people and the Arab world. At the climax of the Camp David Summit in 2000, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as its capital. This did not appease all of the Palestinian demands, such as the right of return, but it was by far the most wide-reaching proposal in the history of the conflict. To the disappointment of many, Arafat rejected this compromise and did not offer any counter-offers. The peace process broke down soon after. This provoked a decade of violence in the consequent Palestinian Intifada (uprising). For many Israelis, Arafat’s rejection at Camp David was an illustration of the world’s perennial unwillingness to accept the State of Israel. They see a long history of rejection that began in 1948, when the Arab states attacked Israel the day it declared its independence. Over the years, the region has remained equally hostile to the Jewish state. Although the faces may have changed, the threats to Israel’s security and its soul are perpetual. I spent this past summer volunteering at an NGO in south Tel Aviv, helping poor Israelis from all ethnic and religious backgrounds to become self-sufficient. In my time at the job, I quickly discovered the directness and brutal honesty of the Israeli people. Shop owners, bank clerks, taxi drivers, and businesspeople opened up to me without any reluctance.

Daniel Lombroso | Photographer

Again and again, I heard the same views. Israelis want to believe that this conflict will come to an end, that they will no longer have to send their teenage children off to fight, that the State of Israel can just be an ordinary nation. They are tired of losing friends and family members in this regrettable war of attrition, at the hands of a people who are really their cousins, not their enemies. They crave the fruits of a real, lasting peace. No one wants eternal strife. But after 65 years of rejection, and then the violent aftermath of Oslo, they also fear being fooled again. Israelis feel the world will always hate Israel, so it is useless to even try. This thinking must change and it begins with us. If we want to see peace in Israel and the broader Middle East, then we must learn to hug the Jewish state. The trend of demonizing the State of Israel is counterproductive. It silences the moderate majority that makes up the country and gives voice to the belief of the Israeli right that the pursuit of peace is futile. Global movements like Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) that ban Israeli artists, academics, and scientists from sharing their ideas with the world only reinforce the right’s argument that Israel is alone in the world. After my experience this summer, I am convinced that Israel will never pursue peace out of fears of demonization, regardless of whether it is coming from its Arab neighbors or Western NGOs. Its people have been through too much turmoil to be pressured solely by international ridicule. If anything, backing them into a corner will only increase their resolve.

Israel will only make another serious attempt at peace if it is persuaded that the world is ready to accept it into the brotherhood of nations. A broad dialogue based on mutual respect, understanding, and an opportunity for normalized relations can convince the skeptical Israeli public that peace is possible in our times. After two decades of failed negotiations, over 70 per cent of Palestinians and Israelis still support the idea of a two-state solution. We must convince both parties that this idea can be implemented into a feasible, secure, and just reality. The current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority may represent the final opportunity to reach a lasting peace. Many obstacles stand in the way, including a divided Palestinian leadership and the influence of Israel’s pro-settlement lobby. As outsiders, we of course have little leverage over the negotiations themselves. We do have the ability, however, to reinvigorate the Israeli public’s confidence in the potential for peace. I urge any interested individuals to talk with Israelis on social media and to listen to their unique perspectives. If possible, check out the Facebook pages “Israel-LovesIran” and “Israel Loves Palestine,” and take part in these efforts to promote co-existence. Through dialogue, not demonization, Israelis may again feel ready to take a chance at peace. In that event, let’s hope its partners in the Arab world are equally as willing. Daniel Lombroso is a U2 Political Science student. He can be reached at daniel.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

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Monday, October 7, 2013


Alice Shen | The McGill Daily


ut of the corner of my eye, I see the threat. Pulsating as it usually does, my shadow haunts, foretelling the arrival of reflection. It’s the fear of myself – my body and its image – that is on my mind as I make my way to class. It’s not that I’m resolutely afraid of my essential self; rather, I’m scared of seeing the image of that person, how it moves, how it acts, how it looks. Walking through campus is a skill I have mastered, probably the most refined talent I have developed in university. I’m not talking about the literal action of moving my legs (not my arms, they are usually awkwardly static); I am talking about the performance inherent in the walk. Performance in the sense that I see myself as a focal point, performance because it demands my concentration and it forces me to calculate my gestures. In most aspects, my upbringing in Colombia was a privileged one; I do not remember any instances of having to worry about having food on my plate, as some of my peers often did. I lived in an upper stratum of society that allowed basic freedoms to pass off as niceties. But the unlimited abundance of food did little to appease the ever-pervading hole in my stomach; instead, my growing pains were aches of a different kind of absence – I lacked myself. In my memories, the men surrounding me were masculine and macho. They were capable, strong, and powerful. In a sense, they were everything I thought I could never be. I

grew up knowing I was different. In most social situations I was on the outside looking in: window-shopping for social affirmations and

“Being non-normative in gender performance creates a lot of backlash. You are constantly reminded that you are different. I’m sure that has some sort of effect on how I feel; it’s stressful being at school, I’m not going to deny that.” Kai Cheng Thom positive reinforcements. Queerness created the gap between me and them. To this world, queerness was signified by effeminate mannerisms and deviation in physical appearance. From an early age, I learned to adapt and move my body to mimic those of the macho ideal.

I went through childhood and adolescence constantly oscillating between safety and danger – between hiding and showing. At an early age, I started my magnum opus, the same performance I have continued to this day, and the day-to-day performance by which I undo my queerness when I feel surveilled. It is a perfect balance between self-loathing and self-control, in which a constant fear of being different morphs into supervision of body flow. The way I move my hand to smoke a cigarette governs my thought and debilitates my confidence. By experiencing a type of privilege, I grew to loathe its absence in other aspects of my life. Leading up to my high school graduation, McGill’s campus took upon itself bold tones of utopia. I thought of it as a space I could truly inhabit; after living life in moving between various stages and catwalks, the university was the place where I destroyed the macho character I had perfected. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was less about the campus and more about my life and experiences. It took an even shorter time to see that I had not reached utopia. In a sense, McGill’s campus is a maze, a space of confluence where all our stories and experiences intersect in a common physical space. We interact with it in similar ways, yet these interactions vary tremendously, just as our backgrounds do. In the process of navigating to the end of the maze, we realize that it is harder for some to make

it to the end, that every experience we live informs our decisions to turn left or right, and that in end we are all lost. *** Angel* is a U2 Sociology student at McGill, and a newcomer to the Montreal performance art scene. After being encouraged by a friend with more experience in the art, Angel gave it a try with a performance relying heavily on drag. They described the performance as being grounded in a concept of “a sad striptease.” “[…] I wanted to start out your run of the mill popular drag performance where it is just like fun and silly. But as the performance progressed it got more and more intense, so I pulled a marker out of my underwear and I would write insults on my body that I have received and then I would lick them off and then undress, and at the end I would unroll my dress, I was just in the bottom of the dress. Before the performance I had written a whole bunch of shit over my stomach.” Angel’s performance asked for a physical transformation in many senses, transforming the way they were dressed and painting themselves in “blue alien-y” paint, and also adapting their mannerisms to their performance. “I was in this outfit the whole night. It was weird; I was pretty frightened to be

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Monday, October 7, 2013

GO ON ON MY EVERLASTING PERFORMANCE honest. […] I had friends come with me, but taking the bus from […] the venue was pretty terrifying. I got a lot of funny looks… It was terrifying but it was really empowering, I felt really badass. To be honest, the looks I was getting were looks of confusion, scared [ones]. I feel like if anyone did anything, I would have the confidence to freak them the fuck out. But the venue itself, going there, was great. It felt fine there, because it was a performance,” Angel said. “And then when I was going home, at this

“This school forces you to feel like an outsider as a queer person, or as not really feeling like you fit. But I… started to embrace that, because it is not going to change here, and push those boundaries, because I think that [pushing boundaries] is beautiful.” Shahir Omar point I was wearing shorts and a tank top, I had washed most of my makeup off but there were still remnants of blue, I actually got followed and kind of attacked by two guys, not physically, but like a verbal fight.” *** Apart from being a Social Work master’s student at McGill, Kai Cheng Thom is a queer performance artist. In an interview, Thom and I discussed our experiences with performance and gender. When we were about to start, I asked what pronoun to use for the article, and inadvertently started a discussion about the politics of self-identification. Thom spoke of an acquaintance they met at a critical ethics studies conference, where they discussed giving people the choice of pronoun identification. In our interview, Thom problematized the institutionalization of this practice, “I generally go by they, but I have a long answer to that question,”

they said. “[It is] not necessarily liberatory, it creates this illusion that gender is a choice, when gender is not a choice, it is a systematic expression of violence.” “If other people want to self-identify and go by they, she, he, that’s awesome and people should definitely respect that. But the institutional practice of saying what gender pronoun do you prefer as a way of alleviating liberal guilt is not necessarily something that erases the fact that when people look at our bodies, […] there’s a kind of violent choice that occurs when gender is imposed regardless of what the person says he/she/they/zie are,” Thom said. Thom started as a literary artist, focusing on experimental poetry. Their transition to performance art arose from a confluence of elements: their desire to experiment with drag and an opportunity at Radical Queer Semaine. Thom’s performances have evolved from their desire to be a storyteller incorporating theatricality in actions, as well as an emphasis on vocalization in all its variations – screaming, chanting, singing, sighing, et cetera. Thom strives to make people uncomfortable through their art, but for the right reasons. “People who are oppressed are often prevented, literally, from speaking what is true to them. This attracts me: the idea of speaking truth to power, the idea that when we speak a thing, it becomes reified as truth and then we can reify our own experiences – these violences, wars, and oppressions that are actually happening. That draws me to performance art, and I also like making people feel uncomfortable.” In speaking truth to power, Thom brings these ideas out of their performance and into the spaces they inhabit. Like me, Thom comes into contact with campus quite often, and this particular space influences a lot of our experiences outside of it. In spite of this, our relations to it differ immensely. “There is a constant knowledge that I am not normative, or that I don’t fit. This plays out a lot around narratives of who should be in the academy and who gets to do things,” Thom mentioned. “This speaks about the necessity or pressure of attempting to conform to an ideal through [...] which you can attain safety or power, respect. [...] I [certainly] think the academy is conservative in some ways; McGill particularly. It can exert this pressure to comport ourselves in a certain way, in terms of gender it came down to this decision of: ‘do I try to conform?’ […] I made the decision to not change myself for school in terms of gender, or not try to restrain myself. I don’t really see a difference in how I perform gender [at] school and other spaces, but there definitely was a time [when

Juan Velásquez-Buriticá | The McGill Daily

that was the case],” Thom said. “Being non-normative in gender performance creates a lot of backlash. You are constantly reminded that you are different. I’m sure that has some sort of effect on how I feel; it’s stressful being at school, I’m not going to deny that. There are spaces, queer spaces, where I work, where I feel more relaxed. I’m sure my physicality changed in relation to how I feel, but I don’t intentionally try to change gender physicality for school.” For Shahir Omar, an Arts student, performance at McGill’s campus is also a way to push boundaries in an attempt to make people question gender roles. “This school is extremely conservative, in terms of queerness and identity. I definitely feel like I try to test limits at this school, I try to push aesthetic choices that relate to identity politics because […] that’s how I feel, but also what I hope people [...] question. This school forces you to feel like an outsider as a queer person, or as not really feeling like you fit. But I… started to embrace that, because it is not going to change here, and push those boundaries, because I think that [pushing boundaries] is beautiful.”

“I started out doing drag. I was gender-bending for artistic effect and now I find that my, like, daily appearance has been modelled around my stage appearance.” Kai Cheng Thom Omar has encountered performance in different ways. Although they have just started experimenting with performance art, Omar was part of Effusion, a campus acappella group. “I was always really conscious of the fact that I was transforming to have a way more masculine presentation in order to perform. […] So it did feel, in a microcosmic way, like a transformation to perform in a way that I was never comfortable with,” they said. “It definitely comes with a certain vibe or a certain mentality that you take on. But I guess I just felt very insecure about myself and the way I was orienting myself toward my environment as a performer. I felt [like] I had a projected path

of ‘this is how you are going to relate to the space as a conformist, mainstream singer who wants to appear the same as everyone else.’ It was a constant place of insecurity for me, because it was so not how I would feel, or how I would want to perform, and none of my politics were in my performance. […] That is what made me quit.” For Thom, performance was at first an opportunity to explore a more feminine physicality. “I started out doing drag. I was gender bending for artistic effect and now I find that my, like, daily appearance has been modelled around my stage appearance. I think my stage appearance is a lot more hyped up; I wear a lot of makeup and really try to create a mask – like a storytelling mask out of makeup. I try to embody the same physicality now, [wherein] the physical body is embraced… I believe I can perform any kinds of gender regardless of anatomy, and I try not to work with progressions from male to female or from female to male just in case, it’s not who I am,” confessed Thom. Performing is institutionalized in many ways: by placing oneself up on a stage, by standing in front of an audience, but most importantly, by acknowledging a performance as performance. For Angel, Shahir, and Kai Cheng, many actions become institutionalized performance in this way; their self-expression becomes an emancipatory act, or gesture of rebellion. Performance is, and will always be, present in my actions, but after talking to other performers I realized that I am privileged in many senses. Cis privilege earns me a sense of security and access to many spaces on campus with which other students have more difficulty interacting. From the people I talked to, I learnt that there are many similarities, but also immense differences, in our experiences. For many students, moving through campus comes with many more prejudices that affect their lives. I also came to realize that to many of them I owe a lot for their constant efforts to engage in ‘gender-fucking’ actions. In the end, on a day-to-day basis, my performance is much less subversive and much less pervasive. I also gained a grasp of what my performance ought to be. Art and performance are about self-expression, about the creation of characters and acting out their storylines. The script I want to act out is one written by me: with all its complexities and falsities, sure, but a script I can fully support, no matter what the plot twist. This is my way of effacing empty gesture, of getting rid of generic movements and performances that don’t speak of me. It is my way of burning the tired, destructive script. *A stage name has been used


The McGill Daily


Monday, October 7, 2013

The legend of the unicorn Exploring myths in science

Zapaer Alip | Science+Technology Writer


n September 27, PhD students Emily Bamforth and Eliza Rosenberg presented the first talk of the Freaky Friday series on a common mythical creature known to appear as a white horse with a single horn growing from its forehead – the unicorn. The Freaky Friday lectures are organized by Redpath Museum and aim to examine and debunk myths related to science. In their opening lecture, Bamforth and Rosenberg explored the theology and the scientific perspective behind unicorns. Mythical creatures are often a result of fear that stems from lack of knowledge – as in the case of sea monsters and werewolves. “The unicorn is interesting because it is one of these mythical creatures that is very similar to animals we know about […] so it is easy to imagine existing,” Bamforth and Rosenberg explained to The Daily. In fact, until the ‘Age of Reason’ – when intellectuals began promoting skepticism toward the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in the late 17th century – many people strongly believed unicorns existed somewhere in the world that had yet to be discovered. The story of the unicorn commences with the attempt of prominent Greek philosophers to translate the Bible from Aramaic to Greek. During the translation, the philosophers stumbled upon the word Re’em, which was referred to several times throughout the Hebrew Bible and Jewish texts to describe a certain animal that they presumed was extinct (now assumed to be the auroch, a progenitor of cattle). Thus, philosophers made assumptions about the now mysterious animal based on descriptions provided in religious sources while translating the word to Greek. Eventually, the word Re’em was translated to monokeros (meaning single horned) and was

later changed to unicornis in Latin and then to unicorn in the King James Version of the Bible. Based on their understanding of the descriptions provided, the Greek philosophers started to review travel logs and scriptures from other nations in order to find this legendary monokeros. Over time, the concept of the unicorn became a deer- or horse-like creature with a horn, and was believed to be incredibly difficult to hunt due to its speed and strength. Its horn was alleged to have magical healing properties and the ability to purify poisonous waters. Since unicorns were never found near areas populated with humans, it was assumed that they lived in an unknown part of the world. Yet, with the Age of Reason and increased globalization through trade and expeditions, uncertainty and doubt about the existence of unicorns began to arise. This was in direct contravention with the scripture of the Catholic Church, which soon began to distance itself from the notion of the unicorn. It was concluded during the 16th century that unicorns indeed did not exist. Nonetheless, unicorns continued to inspire art and literature, resulting in their inclusion in many children’s books. The existence of unicorns, based on the provided descriptions through history, was found to be impossible as scientists discovered that horns must be paired unless manipulated surgically. Unicorns were described as ungulates (hoofed animals) – and more specifically, odd-toed perissodactyls such as zebras and horses that do not have horns of any kind. On the other hand, even-toed artiodactyls – which include goats and antelope – do have horns, though they do not fit the given description of unicorns. But despair not, for there are ‘unicorns,’ of a sort, in real life. For example, the surgical ma-

Midori Nishioka | The McGill Daily nipulation of horned animals such as cows and goats resulted in the birth of unicows and unigoats. Unicorns also live on as symbolic figures – the Ottawa House of Commons is guarded by two unicorns to this day. Throughout history, people have mistaken certain animals for unicorns. These include: the oryx (a species of large antelope), viewed from the side; rhinos, whose horns are actually made of hardened hair; narwhals, who live underwater; and the various multihorned animals that have formed unicorns in response to mutations. These shortcomings in visual perception could explain the random sightings recorded in various travel logs studied by the Greeks. These sometimes innocent misconceptions spread through folklore and false interpretations of religious texts have associated the horn of the unicorn with magical properties. This led

to the sale of unicorn powder to the wealthy and powerful during the Middle Ages. Bamforth told the audience, “When scientists tested the unicorn powder that was sold, they found anything but unicorn powder.” What was found in these concoctions involved horns of other animals, rocks, and even human bones. To this day, there are cultures that believe in certain medicinal and aphrodisiac properties of elephant tusks, rhino horns, narwhal horns, and other unicorn-like animals. Through seemingly harmless, a simple misconception can have strong and lasting implications for society and the world. For more information on unicorns, you can read the book “The Natural History of Unicorns” by Chris Lavers. Freaky Fridays are held every Friday at 5 p.m. in the Redpath Museum. More information available at www.

The Pearl Diver

Observing the deep ocean


he oceans cover 71 per cent of the earth’s surface and absorb 90 per cent of all the heat it accumulates. This makes it a critical component in providing a comprehensive understanding of the effects that climate change may have on our planet. Due to a lack of data collection, scientists have dubbed the ocean as being ‘data poor.’ Traditional methods of data collection involved launching expeditions on specialized ships, deploying buoys, and using data from island or coastal stations. Yet, oceanographers are now starting to use autonomous underwater robots to gather data more easily and effectively. Jaime Palter – a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at McGill – and her team, have been taking advantage of their recently acquired observational autonomous underwater glider. Using this new apparatus, they are exploring the role of vertical deep ocean mixing, car-

Zapaer Alip | Science+Technology Writer bon dioxide and oxygen absorption, and the temperature and freshwater concentration of the ocean. The glider, also referred to as the “Pearl Diver,” is equipped with sensors for measuring oxygen, temperature, and chlorophyll (the pigment found in plant and algae). The data collected is transmitted from the glider to a satellite that is accessed by Palter’s team. The satellite serves as a two-way communication system between the researchers and the glider, allowing them to track its position, receive data in real time, and navigate it towards locations of interest. The lab’s research focus is set in the Labrador sea, known to have the coldest, saltiest, and densest surface waters in the open ocean of the northern hemisphere. It is a region in which freshwater from the melting ice in the Arctic starts to mix with the saltwater of the north Atlantic ocean. “In the process of making the water dense by becoming cold and sinking, [Arctic water]

also brings in oxygen because it mixes with atmospheric gases and anthropogenic [man made] carbon dioxide,” Palter described. When the cold water sinks from the surface of the ocean to the bottom due to convection (in this case nearly 3,000 metres deep), it mixes and carries oxygen and carbon dioxide into the deep interior of the ocean. This process is sometimes referred to as the ocean ‘taking a deep breath.’ It is rare for the deep ocean’s water to be exposed to the atmosphere. This exposure typically only occurs in certain regions such as the far north or south latitudes. Only half of humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions stay in the atmosphere, and the rest sinks to the land and ocean. It is because this sinkage only occurs in the areas of deep exchange within the ocean that Palter and her team have set out to observe the Labrador sea, where there is more absorption in terms of relative surface area than in other parts of the world.

During a two week excursion in the summer at Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, Palter successfully tested the glider. This signals the beginning of a multi-year observation program in the service of answering bigger questions about the role of the deep mixing in the Labrador sea. Her group’s research could provide critical pieces of information in understanding the oceans’ roles in storing oxygen, carbon dioxide, and heat, and their subsequent effect on global warming and climate change. The glider project is only one of the multiple research focuses of Palter’s lab. Though the glider currently rests in the hangar, it is expected to launch again next summer.

Science blurbs What’s happening in science at McGill.

The McGill Daily



Monday, October 7, 2013

Let there be light

Silicon photonics and the internet of the future


he internet has integrated itself into almost every aspect of our lives. Every year the global demand for capacity of the internet doubles. And there is no sign of it slowing. This leaves engineers with the pressing problem of how to develop the technology to meet these demands. The internet is a global network of interconnected computers that carries a huge amount of data to and from users all around the world. At the very core of these computers are transistors – the basic building blocks for modern electronics. Transistors control the movement of electricity, enabling switching or amplification of an electronic signal. Today’s transistors are made of silicon and are packed onto a set of electronic circuits making up the chips that are built into devices like smartphone and laptops. As technology has progressed, transistors have gotten smaller and smaller. This trend was predicted by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in the 1960s, who projected that the size of transistors would shrink in half approximately every two years. As transistors became smaller, more of them got packed onto chips. But due to the limits in miniaturization, engineers had to look to other avenues to meet the growing demands for the internet. Scientists and engineers came up with a potential solution: silicon photonics. The basic idea behind silicon photonics is connecting modern electronics with speedof-light capabilities. The Daily spoke with

Diana Kwon| The McGill Daily

Master’s students and postdoctoral fellows at the Plant lab

vides enormous implications for the future: devices run with this light-speed technology would see increased performance and decreased power consumption – two major issues we are faced with today. “The modern issue is to move onto the next solution, where the dream is to replace electricity with light,” described Imran Cheema, a postdoctoral fellow at the Plant lab, “We want to replace electricity with light because the speed of light is faster than the speed of electricity, and light can carry more information than electric current.” The main problem this group is working to solve is how to integrate this new technology into the current system. Because the current infrastructure that is built for the transmission of electricity is so widespread, replacing it all would be much too great a challenge. Instead, the goal is to develop a compatible system that will pump light through existing devices. Diana Kwon | The McGill Daily Silicon photonics chips from the Plant lab As of now, they are looking into how to allow electrons and photons to co-exist. DevelDavid Plant – a researcher in the Photonics – the particles that make up light – travel at oping a system where these two fundamental Systems Group at McGill – and his lab about rates much faster than electricity. “Instead particles can interact and help improve the their dedication to the study of this fast-de- of an electron moving down a wire, it’s a pho- performance of devices across computing, ton moving along a waveguide,” explained communicating, and sensing systems. veloping technology. “There is always a trade-off,” explained The term ‘silicon photonics’ was first Plant. This new platform for technology procoined in a 1984 paper by Joseph Goodman, a researcher at Stanford University. Silicon photonics is the concept allowing silica to use light. Silicon is the material most commonly found in today’s electronics. Photons

WEB-ONLY SCI+TECH CONTENT Review of the Science & Policy Exchange www.

Diana Kwon | The McGill Daily Alireza Samani, a master’s student in the lab. “When you want higher bandwidth, you need to have higher power consumption. What we are working on is trying to find a device that is efficient and [able to] hit that sweet point where you have good performance and good power consumption.” The internet’s energy consumption is 2 per cent and growing, making it important to develop new solutions. The silicon photonic devices that are now beginning to emerge are moving the capacity of the internet upwards to meet the growing demands. According to Plant, “What’s driving this all is the internet, [and] there is strong positive feedback – which is very exciting. We are trying to solve problems that people really care about.” “I’m from Pakistan. In the late 1990s, there were only a few homes with internet and computers,” Cheema told The Daily, “and now it’s pretty much in every home – even in small villages. My kids are accessing the internet at an age I didn’t even know internet existed. What they will have at my age, I can’t even imagine.” Someday soon, we may have photonic laptops and smartphones that run on light instead of electricity. Only time will tell.

The McGill Daily



Monday, October 7, 2013

Screens like shields, words like swords The invisible face of cyberbullying

Christopher Cayen-Cyr | Science+Technology Writer

Carmen Fenech | The McGill Daily


nvulnerability: one key word that describes the driving force behind the feeling of empowerment provided by digital personas. When using social media or other forms of online networking, computer screens quickly give an illusion of comfort and anonymity, lifting the inhibitions and restrictions normally imposed on oneself. The word illusion is to be emphasized, as the social laws common in the ‘real’ world turn out to have homologues in the digital world. Yet, trends of cyberbullying keep gaining online territory, sometimes giving the impression that the web is a shelter for injurious behaviour. The expression ’digital citizenship’ has been of growing importance over the past few years. With quickly developing technologies and faster ways to interact, a digital citizen is expected to make the most out of the positive aspects of new media while understanding the legal implications of this budding power. Shaheen Shariff, an associate professor in McGill’s Faculty of Education, has devoted herself to promoting this concept. “Ten years ago, as I was completing my doctoral studies, we only had e-mails,” she recalled. “Technology has advanced rapidly since then, and I built on my research concerning bullying to include the legal responsibilities that came with such progress.” Indeed, the proliferation of social networks within the last ten years has caused

considerable changes to the way individuals use the internet. The list of social networking websites has grown exponentially, and social exchanges have become closely entangled with the evolution of technology. All forms of human behaviour are now reflected on the internet. This includes both the positive impacts of these interactions, like linking people across the world, and the less-than-stellar aspects, like harassment. The new generation is now so closely associated with the digital world that it is sometimes referred to as a generation of ‘digital natives,’ a term originated by American writer Marc Prensky. One of the main consequences of this is the increasing overlap between the private and public parts of life. Broadcasting oneself has become easier, and while it can be viewed as self-expression, some of it also represents a loss of privacy. This increase in exposure makes one more vulnerable to the dangers of the web, and this can be observed on various platforms. In a 2011 survey conducted by Kids Help Phone, 65 per cent of respondents reported being a target of cyberbullying at least once. Define the Line, a program at McGill started by Shariff, is dedicated to cyberbullying research. Their research touches on a variety of related subjects, such as sexting (sending sexualized text messages), homophobic cyberbullying, and the place of technology in classrooms. One of the particular topics is the concept of ‘digital

bedrooms,’ which corresponds to the trend of private spaces becoming gradually more public. ‘Digital bedrooms’ again raise the challenge of finding a balance between self-expression and over-sharing personal information. While the internet can be a powerful tool, it can also be used in detrimental ways by those who struggle to ‘define the line’ between what is harmless and what is not. This issue is what led Shariff and her group to work on researching and advocating the legal implications of using the web for bullying purposes. The website, launched in 2011, exposes the risks undertaken by cyber-bullies depending on the level reached by their acts. Cases of online defamation, for example, can be dealt with both from the perspective of civil law (with the victim having to prove their case for compensation) or by criminal law (in extreme cases). Online threats can also reach the status of criminal harassment, regardless of the intentions behind them. As the cyberbullying phenomenon expands, more and more legislation is created to target it directly. Quebec’s Bill 56, passed in 2012, makes it compulsory for schools to come up with plans to fight both bullying and cyberbullying, leading education into the new reality of social interaction. When questioned about the most important breakthroughs of her research, Shariff explained that considering the multiple faces of the problem is key: “What I consider a

major achievement is to have been able to see things from a unique perspective. We’re not only considering behavioural problems with new technology, we’re looking at it with public policy and education in mind.” As for youths’ understanding of the problems associated with cyberbullying, Shariff mentioned that new legislation is not a magic solution. “It’s striking to see that teens can launch into competitions about who can post the most insults on a Facebook page,” she elaborated. “Many seem not to understand what terms like defamation mean. What we see here is a lack of ‘legal literacy.’ Laws will make little difference as long as people don’t understand how they are liable,” said Shariff, stressing the importance of including education in the process, “The pressure doesn’t rely entirely on governments; we also want to provide workshops so that people can get a better understanding of the risks they are facing with [the] internet.” While feelings of invulnerability open the doors to a lack of awareness toward actions performed on the web, another key concept behind Shariff ’s program describes solutions to online self-expression issues. Individuals have to balance private and public life, while assuming their responsibilities as good digital citizens to avoid the harmful effects of cyberbullying.


The McGill Daily


Monday, October 7, 2013

The politics of fat It’s not about the jeans size


Chloe Nevitt | Health&Ed Writer

e’re afraid of cellulite, flab, love handles, belly pooches, muffin tops, and flabby arms. We automatically associate ‘fatness’ with these though they can be found in bodies of all sizes and shapes. We are taught that being overweight is a moral failing, a weakness, and something extremely shameful. And we’re treating fat people with hatred and intolerance. Fatphobia is a term for this system of oppressions. A system that propagates that fat people are not attractive. A system that stops fat people from getting jobs and even making friends. A system where fat people cannot access proper health care. A system where fat people have their own section on YouTube under comedy. A system that tells everyone that our self-worth is largely dependent on body size, and that those who are too big (who decides that?) are worthless. Fat, like everything else, is a social construct. The term was invented by people, and so it is open to debate. For the purposes of this article, I will try to reclaim the word fat as empowering; something totally different than what society thinks it is. It is a word we cannot fear. All our lives we’re conditioned to think that ‘fat’ is gross; why? “I think the media has morphed [our] ideas and perception of what is actually realistic and what they portray as being realistic.” Randi Fogelbaum, Director of the McGill Eating Disorder Program, told The Daily. “[We have] this distant ideal, [of ] how people should look but it’s fixed up and photoshopped. Media affects how we think about body image.” Fogelbaum, who has been working with the McGill Eating Disorder Program – a part of McGill Health Services – for seven years, believes that worrying too much about diet only creates more problems. This fixation increases the risk of not only eating disorders, but also of being dangerously overweight. Instead, she thinks that every person has a “set point” of what their weight should be. It’s when people try to control their set point that problems arise. “Size doesn’t mean anything about health,” Fogelbaum insisted. Health Services includes a multi-disciplinary team approach that gives individual attention to each case they are presented with. While they specialize in anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, they insist that they can help anyone with anything they are struggling with. This approach of unconditional help is what proves to be the most effective. There are ‘thin’ people who eat poorly and don’t exercise, and there are ‘fat’ people who treat

Jennifer Said | Illustrator their bodies very well. Ultimately, your weight is not necessarily an indication of your overall health. The Health at Every Size (HAES) movement has been fighting to prove that people can be healthy regardless of size. Their website proudly states, “People are tired of diets, tired of feeling like failures, and tired of being scared of food. They are excited to find a paradigm that respects the diversity of human bodies and starts from the very basic premise that they can trust themselves—a paradigm that respects pleasure rather than denial.” Having fat can actually positively impact your life and increase lifespan by a few years. It has been proven that certain fluctuations in weight can cause health risks for some individuals, but even minor weight fluctuations are heavily criticized and looked down upon. People are plagued with this idea that if we shame fat people enough, they’ll lose the weight. But, as Fogelbaum put it, “If someone criticizes, attacks, or has unrealistic expectations, it [ just] creates more problems.” Making

people feel bad about their weight and shaming them is not giving help, and it is surely not constructive. Ragen Chastain, dancer, writer, speaker, and, most importantly, self-identified fat person and fat activist, has developed a cult following with a simple mantra, “Everybody of every size should be treated with respect.” Chastain, who has won three National Dance Championships, still believes learning to love herself is her greatest accomplishment. She champions the idea that everybody deserves respect and that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not contingent on size. “A lot of my ‘normal weight’ friends complain about having trouble finding the time to exercise. Imagine how much harder that is when carving out time to exercise also means carving out time to be ridiculed and humiliated,” Chastain told The Daily. Although the parameters of someone’s size are largely genetically determined, people still

insist on scapegoating fat people, and perpetuating fat discrimination. The Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS), as part of its anti-ableist mandate, considers it vital to support people of all genders who have encountered fatphobia, struggled with eating disorders, or faced harassment because of body issues. Too often, complaints of sexual harassment and attacks on overweight citizens fall on deaf ears. SACOMSS provides a non-judgmental and confidential service that anybody is welcomed and encouraged to use. School Schmool, a planner pblished by QPIRG McGill and Concordia, addresses the issue of fat phobia and the importance of “[allowing] the focus of fatphobia to be shifted from aesthetics to health, [because] there’s nothing left to reap from the ‘being fat is unhealthy’ phase.” If that happens, it’ll allow people to focus on something else: accepting everyone regardless of the shape of their bodies.

APPLY TO BE A HEALTH&ED COLUMNIST! Submit a letter of intent and two 500 word writing samples to by October 20.


The McGill Daily


Monday, October 7, 2013

The World Cup: built by exploited workers FIFA and a complete disregard for worker conditions


n 2010, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association – international soccer’s governing body) announced the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Russia won the 2018 bid over England and joint bids from Netherlands/Belgium and Portugal/ Spain, while Qatar, a small Middle Eastern nation, won the 2022 bid over Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States. When the decisions were annlounced, there was much howling from the English-speaking media, in part because the UK and U.S. had lost to – as they saw it – worse hosting bids. Immediately after the announcement, the Western press spread rumours that bribery and ‘pressure’ on FIFA were in part responsible for the unexpected result. FIFA, on the other hand, celebrated its first-ever World Cup in the Middle East, a sign of its commitment to the region. In the years since, the rumours of bribery have only increased (and FIFA has launched their own independent investigation on the matter) without any definitive proof. More worrying, however, is FIFA’s blasé attitude towards the process of setting up for the World Cup in their chosen host countries, and the seeming outside resignation to the incompetence and moral corruptness of the organization. Last week, the Guardian ran a report claiming that Nepalese workers had been brought into into Qatar to work on the new stadiums, highways, and other infrastructure needed for the nation to be World Cup-ready. The accounts of worker abuse in Qatar are stunning: forced labour, withheld pay, stolen passports and identification, and lack of access to drinking water, among others. The rate of worker deaths this summer was one a day. Again: it’s 2013 and there are basically slaves working on stadiums for the World Cup. Only two members of FIFA’s governing board expressed their outrage at the situation before FIFA’s executive committee meeting last week, while the rest waited until after the meeting (where the primary discussion was on whether rescheduling the 2022 event is plausible). After the meeting, FIFA president Sepp Blatter told the press that FIFA could not “change things” and that “workers’ rights will be the responsibility of [Qatar]” but that FIFA could not “turn a blind eye, but it is not an intervention from FIFA that can change things.” These are probably the emptiest words spoken in human history. Sadly, they’re hardly surprising. One only needs to look at the situation in Brazil, which will host the World Cup in 2014. A recent BBC article alleges that 111 workers were living in poor conditions near a São Paulo airport, which is currently being expanded for the influx of visitors during the World Cup. Again, the word “slave” comes up, this time from Brazil’s own Labour attorney general’s office. In a separate BBC piece, it is reported that construction was halted at a Brazil stadium because of countless worker safety issues – of “being buried, run over and of collision, falling from heights and being hit by construction material, among other seri-

Evan Dent | The McGill Daily

Kristian Picon | Illustrator ous risks.” In addition, riots have broken out across Brazil in protest of the government’s spending on the World Cup instead of education or health care and the rampant government corruption. This is for the 2014 World Cup – the one that’s happening in less than a year (!), and FIFA has effectively done nothing to halt rampant worker abuse. Maybe you’re wondering how the process for the 2018 World Cup in Russia process is going – unfortunately, the situation there is just as dire. According to The Russian Reader (an English blog devoted to reading Russian news articles and spreading news of various governmental abuses), the Russian government passed laws that allow anyone in contract with FIFA to hire immigrants and/or “stateless” people. According to the same source, one section of these laws basically “abolishes all regulation and control over the recruitment of foreign nationals and stateless persons as volunteers – that is, it practically and plainly permits employing migrants without remuneration.” At the same time, the government is imprisoning illegal or soon-to-be deported immigrants – many of whom were working on buildings for Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympics – around where new stadiums are to be built for the

2018 World Cup. It hasn’t quite happened yet, but the potential link is there: builders working with FIFA have the ability to hire these prisoners for their upcoming projects. If that’s not an open invitation for horrible working conditions and near slavery, I don’t know what is. In essence, FIFA awards World Cup bids to nations on shaky principles – bribery and corruption is often alleged, and has been discovered in other aspects of FIFA decision making – and then basically allows them to do as they please. They have nothing in place that prevents nations from abusing immigrant or lower class workers on a large scale. And when faced with the news, stern words come out from FIFA leadership, but these abuses continue regardless. FIFA knows they’re happening, but, as Blatter demonstrates, they won’t actually do anything about it. A New York Times piece recently laid out the situation in FIFA from the viewpoint of an independent governance committee (a committee set out to investigate the soundness of their own organization) member, Mark Pieth. Pieth said that “[the committee] underestimated that this is a purely self regulated body. They are a bit like the Vatican. No one can force them to change.” FIFA will continue to do effectively nothing to curb worker

abuse, because they cannot be challenged. That’s precisely the problem: almost every person who’s looked into the situation has accepted that FIFA is a colossal clusterfuck littered with corruption and poor practice. Reaction to the latest news of worker abuse has been vociferous, but also strangely resigned – there have been plenty of tweets and stories that paint this as ‘business as usual,’ or ‘classic FIFA.’’s Jeff MacGregor has a column against it, but it’s hardly prominent on their website; has reported on FIFA’s course of action but withoutthe righteous anger the situation deserves. FIFA has done so poorly to fairly regulate soccer throughout the world with a basic regard for humanity that people are no longer shocked by it. All we hear is a weak call for action with the knowledge that nothing can be done. It’s a monolithic federation run by incompetents with little regard for humanity, yet they’ve become ingrained in the sports world. Most soccer fans just want to see the World Cup above all else – above directly acting or protesting FIFA and the countries that are working the way they do. Fans are either apathetic, or feel powerless. Worker abuse has become FIFA’s business as usual, and barely anything has been done to stop it.

The McGill Daily



Monday, October 7, 2013

Scoreboard Team Records (W-L-T)

Redmen Football 3 - 2 Martlet Soccer 6 - 4 - 3 Martlet Rugby 4 - 2 Redmen Baseball 10 - 6 Redmen Rugby 4 - 0 Redmen Lacrosse 8 - 1 Redmen Soccer 4 - 5 - 4

Recent Results Martlets Field Hockey, at Guelph Field Hockey, at Guelph Hockey, at Providence (NCAA) Hockey, at Northeastern (NCAA) Rugby, vs Bishop’s Golf, at RSEQ Championship Redmen Football, at Concordia Football, vs Bishop’s Hockey, at UQTR (exhibition) Soccer, vs Laval Lacrosse, vs Trent

Lacrosse, vs Concordia T 1 - 1 Lacrosse, at RPI NCAA L 0 - 6 Soccer, at Concordia L 3 - 5 Golf, at RSEQ Championship L0-1 W 109 - 5 Rugby, vs Concordia 3rd place Rugby, vs Bishop’s Baseball, vs John Abbott Baseball, vs John Abbott W 53 - 52 Baseball, at Carleton L 29 - 30 Baseball, at Carleton W 5 - 1 Baseball, vs John Abbott T 1 - 1 Baseball, at Ottawa W 19 - 7 Baseball, at Ottawa

W 23 - 1 L 6 - 11 W2-1 3rd place, adv. to Nationals W 35 - 28 W 24 - 5 W 15 - 5 W 14 - 3 L2-3 W8-7 W 20 - 6 W9-3 W 10 - 4

Upcoming Games Martlets 10/11 - Volleyball, vs Memorial and Regina* 10/11 - Rugby, at Ottawa 10/11 - Hockey, vs Montreal Stars (exhibition)*

4 p.m. & 8 p.m., Love Competition Hall 7 p.m., McConnell Arena

Redmen 10/10 - Rugby, vs Sherbrooke* 10/11 - Basketball, 13 Jack Donohue Memorial Tip Off Tournament in Ottawa 10/11 - Hockey, at Ryerson 10/12 - Hockey, at Toronto 10/12 - Rowing, Brock Invitational

7 p.m., Molson Stadium

Co-ed 10/12 - Cross Country, at UQAM RSEQ AUS Interlocking meet * denotes home games

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The McGill Daily


Monday, October 7, 2013

One actor, four characters Letters to my Grandma tells a story of post-partition India

Christian Favreau | Culture Writer


n September 27, Letters to my Grandma, written by Anusree Roy, was performed for the first time by an actor other than Roy herself at the Teesri Duniya Theatre. There are a variety of emotions wrapped up in this particular premiere. Roy was excited to see her work presented to her rather than by her, while actor Sehar Bhojani was both terrified and determined to do this one-actor performance justice. And, without a doubt, she succeeds. The plot of Letters to my Grandma

jumps from protagonist Malobee’s story in Montreal to her grandmother’s life in India, but it also alternates between past and present, vividly retelling a story of the Hindu-Muslim conflicts of post-partition India. Playing a total of four characters – Malobee (an Indian immigrant to Canada), her grandmother, her mother, and a Muslim nurse – Bhojani jumps back and forth onstage, with only scarves and sound effects to differentiate her characters. Though the bulk of the play consists of back-and-forth conversations between


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grandmother and granddaughter, the story takes a turn when Malobee admits to her grandmother that she is dating Mark, a Muslim (unwelcome news for her narrowminded grandmother). Instantly, a wall comes up between the two women and the communication ends. The two women’s interactions with Muslim characters deepen throughout the play, hinting at a potential for personal growth and acceptance. Bhojani needed to fully understand the intention of each character’s lines to take on this “amazing challenge” of playing four different roles, she explains. When asked how she was able to keep a clear picture of all her parts, Bhojani replied that she had “sat down with the director and mapped out each [role].” To find the humanity of each of her characters, Bhojani walked around as each and exaggerated every physical movement. The focus needed for this task proved to be even more laborious when considering the story’s nonlinear plot. But it was worth it: this tactic of showing only brief scenes of the very different lives of the two women proved to be very effective, leaving the audience wanting more and yet simultaneously satisfying it with heart–wrenching moments. “For me, the main thing to take away is that change is possible,” says playwright

Anusree Roy. Multiple interpretations of the story exist – some in which Malobee’s boyfriend is British, some in which he is Muslim. When asked why Roy had chosen to make her Mark Muslim, she admitted: “This is something like the fourth version [of the play]. I wanted to get it right.” For now, Roy says she has decided to focus on the Muslim/Hindu conflict rather than a British/Hindu one so as to better link the conflicts the characters face in Canada with the ones they face in India. Roy hopes that these conflicts deliver her message. Similarly, director Lib Spry wanted audience members to be able to reflect on the “decisions we make in life, why we make them, and how they can affect future generations,” she explains. But more than anything, both writer and director wanted people to be moved by the story. The beauty of Roy’s short play (clocking in at a mere 60 minutes) is that the audience can easily understand and universalize its simple moral. Coupled with a devoted woman portraying the depth, but also the comedic quirks, of each character, this tale made for an exceptional performance. Letters to my Grandma is running at the Teesri Duniya Theatre at 3819 Calixa-Lavallée through October 13.

The McGill Daily



Monday, October 7, 2013

Squeezing the juice out of Lemon Hound The online literary journal celebrates its first anniversary

Rachel Eban | Culture Writer

It’s crazy, it’s fabulous, it’s crazy,” says Sina Queyras, founder and editor of Lemon Hound. It is the one year anniversary celebration of Lemon Hound’s evolution from blog to fully fledged online literary journal. Standing in the corner of a packed bookshop, readying the place for an evening of readings and wine, Queyras explains how the transition has been brilliant but hectic, with the server crashing the day before. She smiles as she says this; her pride and excitement are palpable. They are also well deserved. Lemon Hound began in 2005 as Queyras’ own small, singleauthored blog. Now it is a multi-authored, bimonthly site posting a range of poetry, prose, essays, and reviews, all with a focus on experimental writing and free thinking. Queyras explains how she repeatedly attempted to shut the blog down but, she says, “people kept saying if you shut down there’s not going to be this voice for all these women, and I said yeah but I can’t be the voice for all these women.” The publication does have many female contributors, and one might expect Lemon Hound to be a purely feminist arena, but Queyras is clear that this is not her intention. “They need to get their own blogs, have their own voice. And also I didn’t want it to be a segregated space,” she explains. “The aim is to create a space for really diverse voices and also cross borders. A lot of subscribers are American. [There are] a lot of male subscribers. It’s really international. I’m interested in creating a space where people who wouldn’t normally talk to each other are discussing literature. I’ve got a young working class writer from Vancouver next to Lydia Davis. I love that.” As poet and contributor Nicholas Papxanthos argues, “There’s certainly that edge to it I think. When you set the foundation with something in such a strong way you have a strong sort of undertone. I think that’s going to resonate throughout but so far as I see it, it’s just about who sends in good work. Of course there are feelings about whether you’re a female contributor or a male contributor but really quality is the concern.” Certainly Lemon Hound seems to have achieved a balance between giving female voices a place to be heard and creating a forum where all are free to speak. Quality writing and open dialogue are

Alice Shen | The McGill Daily noble aims but breaking down boundaries is a tricky business. The question must be asked, how accessible is Lemon Hound really? Anyone can click the link, anyone can read an article, but can just anyone understand and enjoy this journal’s level of literary analysis? The anniversary attendees included a couple of graduate students, a writer, and a few too many young intellectuals in hipster beanies. With readers like these, and article titles like “Brushing the Silence: The Politics of Urban Articulation in Nicole Brossard’s Notebook of Roses and Civilization,” it seems the range of writers and readers won’t be limited by the simple fact that, without an English Literature degree, this seems to be a difficult conversation to contribute to. However, the reply from the evening’s readers and contributors was unanimous:

there is a place for everyone on Lemon Hound. You don’t need an English Literature degree to enjoy reading poetry. If one piece of criticism proves inaccessible because of its highly academic register, simply look for another. The site is broad and multifaceted. As Queyras puts it, “I think people find their spots. I don’t think I’m writing to a specific audience other than people who are literary. People who are interested in books.” A visit to Lemon Hound may require sifting through a few posts to find the ones you like, but should prove well worth it. Kathryn Mockler’s essay “On Printing Out the Internet” gives an accessible analysis of how capitalism influences art production and the need to literally “print out the internet,” while Stephen Collis’ “Towards a Dialectical Poetry” breaks down

the more complex terminology of poetry analysis before launching into his take on dialectical poetry. An anniversary is not just a time to look at the past, but also an opportunity to take stock of the present and look to the future. “I’m going to focus on really trying to get the best fiction writing and poetry. I want people to want their first story to appear on Lemon Hound,” says Queyras. Submission is a simple online procedure and every submission is read, every piece of work given a chance. Jamie Lee Kirtz, a poetry editor at the journal, offers this advice to potential contributors, “Don’t be afraid. And also one thing that we always look for is people taking risks and people doing something subversive or something ‘other.’” In short, if your writing seems a bit crazy, for Lemon Hound, it might just be fabulous.

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The McGill Daily



Monday, October 7, 2013

Art Battle number 68 20 minutes to paint

Joseph Renshaw | Culture Writer


he first floor of La Sala Rossa is a strange little restaurant, with a front room populated by old people on plastic garden chairs. From the kitchen, the sound of flamenco wafts out in time with the smell of bulls’ blood. Upstairs is Canada’s 68th Art Battle. The format of the event is simple. 12 artists, divided into two rounds, have 20 minutes to paint the best thing they can. At the end of each round, the audience votes, and the top two from each round go on to the final. The selected four have another 20 minutes to paint; then the audience votes for the winner. Thought-provoking questions, like the point of such an activity, or the ramifications of democratizing the judgment of art, are forgotten the instant a man sporting a painted duck on his head floats through the crowd. The room has an industrial-warehouse-trimmed-in-velvet vibe to it, with six blank canvases in the middle. After a time, an announcement is made from the stage to the artists: “prepare your palettes.” When the painting begins, “art battle” suddenly becomes a more apt title than it first appeared. Hassane Amraoui immediately removes his canvas from the easel and begins to violently slap paint down from above. Others drop their brushes entirely and battle it out with their hands. From the first round, a gothic portrait by an artist who goes by Miss Yad, and a staged lunar landing by Emmanuel Laflamme are picked. The second round of artists are told to prepare their palettes. In round two, Judith Brisson, while painting a fictional meeting between Bashar al-Assad and Barack Obama, practically hurls her easel at Melissa Montagne, disguising it superbly as a clumsy accident. Eve Laguë’s colorful geometrics are countered by the least artistic-looking man in the world – he looks like a surfer who got seriously lost – who is furiously painting his canvas white. Spectators exchange

looks of approbation. The Duckhead bobs around in his shiny black and gold dressing gown. Maliciouz, with a painting of an African woman with neck rings, is sent through to the final round. So, too, is Raphaele Bard, who painted a woman’s face in a bright hue, with a hint of the manga around the eyes. The final round is a close contest, where the artists’ capacity for invention is really tested. Maliciouz paints a couple in flagrante delicto, while Emmanuel Laflamme spends 19 minutes painstakingly drawing a fan, a suspended paint bucket, and a board. Miss Yad again paints with her fingers, this time a swirling portrait, and Raphaele Bard meticulously drafts a more overtly manga-style character. In the final minute Laflamme throws down his canvas, pouring and splashing blue, so by the end paint from the bucket is hitting the fan and rebounding off the board; Maliciouz takes her final erotic strokes, Miss Yad dips her fingers for the last time, the Bard steps back from the canvas. Art Battle 68 is over. One by one the spectators drop their tickets into their chosen boxes. After a tense few minutes the winner is announced, without ceremony or cheap delay tactics. The winner takes to the stage, winning a $100 gift card to spend at the arts and crafts store of their choice. Few battles have had less at stake, fewer still have been fought in the presence of such quantities of velvet, and absolutely none have had participants wearing ducks on their heads – yet a battle it has undoubtedly been. Maliciouz steps gingerly down and poses with her canvas, victorious. If you think you have what it takes, register at The next battle is a Halloween-themed event, at La Sala Rossa, on October 29. The winners of these preliminary rounds will meet in the Montreal final, some time around June.

Emily Martin | Illustrator




By Shivan Kaul


This sweet agony that stems from my Nucleus accumbens — Down my spine Down the veins of my right arm Down to you.

This touch — A feather tickling a hole into a corner of my Brain; Oh. Oh would it that I could Capture one or two of these tumbling, fumbling Pleasure crystals and save them for A moonless day, When the lack of a person streams in through The blind-ed windows, and When my midnight coffee foxtrots With my restless tongue, And the smell of wetness just won’t go away.



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ctober 4 marked the Annual Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the eighth year of the Sisters in Spirit March and Vigil, an international event that seeks to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women. Apart from providing an opportunity for the families, friends, and allies of these women to speak and mourn, the vigil shines light on Canada’s complete failure to address the problems faced by Indigenous women across Canada. Indigenous women are three to four times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women, according to a Statistics Canada report from 2004. There are close to 600 missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada, as documented by the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) Sisters in Spirit (SIS) database. Between 2000 and 2008, NWAC’s research shows that, despite making up only 3 per cent of the female population, Indigenous women represented almost 10 per cent of all homicides against women in Canada. Figures and statistics are only part of the picture – the underlying problem is much bigger. The ongoing colonization of Indigenous communities in Canada creates a culture of silence surrounding the issues faced by Indigenous women – and more, a culture of violence against those women. This culture of violence dehumanizes Indigenous women through racist and sexist stereotypes, colonial policies such as residential schools that separated families and impoverished communities, and the consistent inaction of the police. The Canadian government continues to reject calls from the NWAC, premiers of provinces and territories across Canada, and the United Nations, to form a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. The federal government defunded the SIS database in 2010 in a move that Indigenous leaders say was a concerted attempt to silence the NWAC. The government is instead directing those who seek to file missing persons reports to the RCMP, an organization that questions the num-

ber of women missing and is part of the system that continues to marginalize these women. Earlier this year, the federal government took a step forward, and with the support of all parties, created the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women. With the recent prorogation of Parliament, however, the Committee was dissolved, and it is back to the drawing board for federal support. In the meantime, grassroots organizations have put in hard work to raise awareness and pressure the federal government to take concrete action. In Montreal, the Missing Justice campaign – an action group of the Centre for Gender Advocacy – pressures the government to act on this issue. Families of Sisters in Spirit (FSIS) is a notfor-profit grassroots group led by the families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women. FSIS and another organization, No More Silence, have teamed up to compile a database of missing and murdered women, to better fill in the knowledge gaps left in official data collection by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The Daily editorialized on this same topic last year. In the intervening time, despite the hard work put in by grassroots organizations, little has been accomplished. This is an issue of enormous magnitude, far too big to be addressed solely by grassroots organizations and Indigenous communities, and needs the government’s support. A national enquiry would be the most basic step toward helping families find closure about their loved ones, and solving the persistent problem of violence against Indigenous women. As of now, however, this basic, foundational step has yet to be accomplished, and seems to be a stumbling block for the government. More pressing at the moment is support for direct, grassroots action, and for groups like FSIS or Missing Justice. The federal government’s inaction and antagonistic approach to this issue is disgraceful but the onus for ending the culture of silence is on us all. —The McGill Daily Editorial Board

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In the article “Indigenous Awareness Week” (September 30, News, page 6-7) The Daily stated that Allan Vicaire is the Aboriginal Sustainability Project Coordinator for SEDE. In fact, he is the Indigenous Education Advisor for SEDE. In the article “PGSS takes stand on Charter of Values at General Meeting” (September 23, News, page 8), The Daily stated that passing a motion does not mean any action will be taken, but instead that the PGSS Council will vote on it at a later date. In fact, motions that pass at the General Meeting do not need to be voted on at PGSS Council for any action to be taken. In addition, The Daily stated that Guillaume Lord was a representative of the English Graduate Student Association. Lord is in fact a representative of the Economics Graduate Student Association. The Daily regrets the errors.




The McGill Daily


Monday, October 7, 2013

Lies, half-truths, and not being strong enough

Student of the week(ly)

Persistent Existential Dread, U∞ Pins and Needles


his week’s Weekly’s student of the week(ly) is arguably the single best known figure on campus, managing a hectic social life alongside a jam-packed school schedule. Hir courseload is off the charts, using nothing short of a time-turner to make sure ze sits down next to everyone and chats idly about the bleak and incomprehensible future that looms after graduation. Ze always shows up on time for dates too, smiling devilishly and putting hir cold hand on yours, making your hairs stand on end and your skin crawl under hir unwavering gaze, peering into your very soul and the most uneasy, unsure parts of you. Ze also manages to drop in and visit every dark corner of every crowded party when you’re feeling low, making you feel even more impotent and alone than you were when you arrived, realizing you don’t recognize anybody and they’re all staring at you down their noses, equally confused and disdainful, and you catch a glimpse of a friend but only out on a balcony surrounded by people you don’t know and they’re all laughing and the moonlight catches in their hair and it looks like it’s right out of a goddamn rom-com, and you know you’ll never be that picturesque and successful, even if you were fashionable or good-looking or had marketable skills anyways, so you just go back inside for another beer by yourself at the bottom of the stairs, because what’s the point? Ze is, of course, Persistent Existential Dread, no stranger to any of us as an arbiter

of self-worth and hope for future successes. Ze sat down with The Weekly for a brief chat last week. McGall Weekly (MW): If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Persistent Existential Dread (PED): Totally torn between lab-grown meat and 70 per cent chocolate. MW: What’s your favourite place to go for first dates? PED: Corner of your bedroom, 4:30 in the morning, when you’ve broken down after a night of looking up grad school applications between trying to finish two research papers at the same time. Nothing breaks the ice better. You really get to know someone that way. MW: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? PED: I dunno if this technically counts, but I’d really like to live in a spaceship. Seems cozy up there. MW: What’s your favourite class you’re taking this semester? PED: Taking a lot of interest in my psych classes this term – I’m pretty into Child Development, feel like it relates a lot to some of the stuff I do. MW: Favourite music to fall asleep to? PED: I don’t really listen to music, other than some experimental industrial electronica stuff. The more closely it resembles white noise and screaming, the better, really. Puts me right out. MW: If you were a fruit, what fruit

E.k. EK | The McGall Weekly would you be, and why? PED: Dragonfruit. Because, like everyone, I appear interesting and flashy on the outside, while on the inside I am in fact bland and full of unappealing seeds. MW: Diet Coke, or regular Coke? PED: I like the taste of Diet Coke. It tastes… empty. MW: Lastly, could you describe your

McGill experience in three words? PED: Total dread feast. —Compiled by E.k. EK Full disclosure: E.k. EK was previously in a long-term relationship with Persistent Existential Dread, and while things have been kinda on-and-off, the relationship has (probably) not coloured this piece with any particular bias.

Ask The Weekly Life after love Dear Weekly Do you believe in life after love? —Wondering Dear Wondering, The Woman in White is standing still. Her eyes glower from the darkness of her phone booth like far-off stars. She’s surrounded by bodies, writhing and twisting and snapping, tooth-bearing grimaces plastered across faces as heads bob and weave. A white man with dreadlocks won’t stop staring at me. The Woman in White is crowned

in glowing green, tendrils that might be tentacles. I don’t know. Her adepts press face and hand to the sides of her booth, trying to gain some semblance of intimacy with their vision of the divine. She does not acknowledge them. She sings, moves her hands in arcane, unknowable patterns, graceful like the swaying of an octopus’ limbs. The Woman in White becomes the Woman in Black, cloaked in dark silk, her antennae abandoned for the moment. She towers over the teeming masses, raising those terrible pale hands to conduct the swirl of

humanity as a symphony. Her mouth opens wide, and out pours the impossibly deep, resonant song of her age, so far removed from our own, generations removed, pouring like water, pouring like a river. She tries to shimmy. She dances like my mom. I run for the fire escape, climb to the roof of the compound, feel the air and the rain on my face. The man with the dreadlocks is leaving, I can see it. With one less horror awaiting me on the inside, I consider braving the inner catacombs once more.

Have some biting satire you want to share with campus? Drew some comics or made a crossword you want in print? Want to ask The Weekly for advice?

I feel the presence of the woman behind me, like an apparition in the night air, like a cold spot in a warm house. She is cloaked in silver, I know. Her eyes bore through the back of my head, until she is peering through my own eye sockets. She is me as I am her. I am not sure how much of myself gets into the car to drive home. I am not sure how much is still on that rooftop. So, dear questioner, do I believe in life after love? Do I? Well, I can feel something inside me say: I really don’t think I’m strong enough. —The Weekly

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