Jaggi Singh Will Leave QPIRG Concordia

After Nine Years, Activist Hopes to Pursue Independent Media

Activist Jaggi Singh has worked at QPIRG Concordia for the past nine years. Photo by Ion Etxebarria

After working at Concordia’s Quebec Public Interest Research Group for nine years, Jaggi Singh will be leaving his position as program director and working groups coordinator in the the coming weeks to pursue other goals.

Independent from the university, QPIRG Concordia acts a social justice hub by supporting grassroot community and university activism through funding and collaboration.

While Singh initially announced he would run against Justin Trudeau with the NDP in the Papineau riding in the next federal election, he later confirmed it was an April fools joke. Singh says he wants to pursue radical advocacy journalism moving forward, to combat the rise of the far-right.

“There is a real vacuum,” Singh said. “While a lot of that [far-right] content is vile, they’re pretty relentless in getting out their content, and it makes a difference.”

“Whatever it is, I’m sure he’s moving onto better things, or finding new endeavours or new ways of contributing to the world,” said Rana Salah, who worked on the board of QPIRG Concordia from 2016 to 2017.

Singh currently runs a migrant-justice radio show once a month on CKUT called No One is Illegal, which he has been running since 2007, but said he’s open to working in any medium as long as it’s independent and appeals to a wide variety of people.

“He was very involved in the Montreal human-rights community in general, not just reserved to [QPIRG Concordia],” said Salah, who worked with Singh over the years to organize the yearly pro-Palestinian Israeli Apartheid week.

Singh has been organizing social justice movements in the Concordia community since 2001. Despite being somewhat of a “Concordia Lifer” Singh hasn’t studied at the campus, but has always kept ties with the university, describing it as a laboratory for progressive politics.

Police pushed Singh and knocked over his yellow speaker last summer, after he and others from Montreal came to protest a rally by the far-right group La Meute by the National Assembly. File Photo Brian Lapuz

From 2003 to 2008 Singh was actually banned from accessing Concordia by the administration. When asked if it came as a result of him being too loud with his yellow speaker, he told The Link he didn’t have the speaker back then. “Facebook didn’t even exist back then.”

The ban actually resulted from his persistence in supporting students who were facing suspension as a result of the 2002 Netanyahu Riot, which unfolded after then-former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to hold a talk on campus.

QPIRG Concordia is working this year with almost 30 groups. Some focus on fighting police brutality and far-right politics, while others provide legal support and childcare.

“People like being here because they can assess these groups [on campus],” Singh told The Link. “They like the fact that’s happening, and it’s been a real thrill and passion of mine to contribute to that in the last 9 years.”

“We’re currently living in a neoliberal model of the university, most students have no recollection of what of a non-neoliberal university looks like, where education exists for its own sake,” Singh said.

“What [QPIRG Concordia] has promoted through collaboration with other fee-levy groups is this idea that we’re a community, what community means is you support things, even if you don’t directly benefit.”

The current board of QPIRG Concordia declined to comment on Singh’s departure. The position of program director and working groups coordinator has been replaced, and a new hire will take on the position of programming and outreach, though it’s yet to be announced who has been chosen.