CSU to Endorse November Anti-Racism Protest

New Annual Budget for First Voices Week

At their Oct. 11 meeting, the CSU decided to publicly support a Nov. 12 demonstration against hate and racism. Photo Nikolas Litzenberger

On the heels of the September decision to add anti-fascism to their positions book, the CSU has decided to publicly support a Nov. 12 demonstration against hate and racism.

On Oct. 11, Arts & Sciences councillor Eamon Toohey brought forward a motion to endorse the Grande manifestation contre la haine et le racisme. He told council that the demonstration is calling to community and student groups for support, and that it appears to be in line with what the CSU stands for. He also pointed out that this particular demonstration is “proactive,” in the sense that it is not a counter-protest against a planned demonstration by far-right groups.

While the CSU does not explicitly hold a position against racism, they do acknowledge, “different barriers based upon class, ability, race, gender expression, religion, ethnicity,” in their positions book, as part of a position in support of intersectional feminism.

While External Affairs and Mobilization Coordinator Ahmed Badr was concerned for the safety of participants at the event, councillors pointed out that it is meant to be a “family-friendly” protest, and that there are no signs that it will become violent.

“I’d say most times when protests do become violent, it is as a reaction quite often from the police,” CSU councillor Rowan Gaudet said at the meeting. “So I don’t think that’s something that we absolutely have control over.”

Councillor Julia Sutera Sardo added that the aim of the protest is not to incite violence, but to denounce hate and racism. She agreed with Gaudet, saying that violence would likely be in reaction to police behaviour and that groups who endorse the protest think that it’s worth the risk.

According to the protest’s website, which was last updated on Oct. 6, there are 71 groups that have signed on in support of the demonstration, including Quebec Public Interest Research Group Concordia. At the Fine Arts Student Alliance Oct. 4 general meeting, Concordia fine arts students also voted in support of endorsing the demonstration.

Funding for First Voices Week

A yearly $5,000 budget line will be added to the CSU’s operating budget in future years for First Voices Week. Council also decided to allocate $5,000 to the initiative this year, but the exact budget line where that cost will be tallied hasn’t been decided yet.

First Voices Week is an initiative led by students and faculty in the First Peoples Studies program that aims to educate the Concordia community on Indigenous cultures and communities, while teaching students about the colonial consequences academia has had on Indigenous communities.

Currently, First Voices Week has to submit a proposal to the CSU every year to request funding. The budget line will save them the extra step of having to submit a proposal, and would guarantee them funding. In order to access the funds, First Voices Week will have to submit a budget to the CSU every year.

In the past, funding for the event came from various student groups and associations, as well as programs in the university. According to Sutera Sardo, the event costs approximately $11,000 a year.

Last year, the CSU allocated $4,000 to the week.