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Building Solidarity :pdf
Searching for racial and migrant justice within the Québec Student Movement

Ilyan Ferrer, Farha Najah Hussain, Edward Ou Jin Lee, and Lena Palacios


Note: Another version of this piece was published in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing.


When we speak of solidarity and mutual aid, it is pertinent that we recognize the territory of our struggle. This territory is occupied Native land… . Whether it is Premier Jean Charest and his Plan Nord au Québec or the Harper government that encourages mining companies to exploit resources on Indigenous land here and in the Global South, these realities should be recognized as integral to the neoliberal policies—based on free market and for-profit ventures—displacing entire peoples … from their lands. Neoliberalism, as a process upholds the reality whereby capital can move freely, while borders are closed to the very people that are displaced."

(Translated from the original in French,
stated by a migrant justice activist at the Rassemblement Populaire de la CLASSE, 2012.)


As the 2012 Québec student movement gained momentum and grew into the Printemps érable Québec nationalist sentiment and rhetoric increasingly permeated the movement and framed its dominant discourses.1 Les Patriotes and Québec flags were ever-present in major demonstrations and the historical oppression of the poor and working class white francophone majority became the prevailing and overpowering story. While this discourse from within and about the movement contributed to the mobilization of a particular segment of the Québec population, it also served to erase Canada's historical and ongoing genocide and colonial violence against the First Peoples of this land2 and failed to acknowledge the histories of racialized people, especially the Chinese and Black communities, in the formation of Montreal and Québec.3 While this historical amnesia fed the mainstream media representation and perception of the struggle as a homogenous and "white" movement, a number of racialized students and community members challenged these narratives and asserted their place within the movement and its relevance to their communities.4 For example, a motion written by members of Students of Colour Montreal (SoCM) passed by a clear majority of members at the congress on May 5th, 2012, calling on CLASSE to adopt "an official position of anti-racism and anti-colonialism in education … in communications, including but not limited to publications, media relations, speeches and congress proceedings."

The SoCM motion called attention to the colonial and racist nature of the proposed tuition hikes, stating that "the earnings gap between Québec Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals is more than 33 percentage points; individuals with Arab ethnicities are more likely disadvantaged in the workplace, are less likely to be able to find gainful employment, and will have a lower annual income than the Canadian average; Irrespective of age, education, language abilities, or occupation, Black women have lower total incomes than all other groups."5 Racialized people, especially women of colour, systematically earn less income than their non-racialized counterparts, are two to four times more likely to live in poverty, are likely to encounter structural discrimination within the labour market and consequently, and are likely to take longer to pay off student debts.6 Under this system of "economic apartheid,"7 the proposed tuition hikes would systematically exclude racialized people even more from university education. In passing this motion, CLASSE acknowledged the structural and institutional racism embedded within the fabric of our society and accepted an anti-colonial, anti-racist mandate to confront and work to dismantle resulting systemic barriers to university education.

In this chapter, members of SoCM share further accounts of some of the ways that racialized students and community members asserted themselves within the Québec student movement. Our narratives combine personal reflections with critical analysis in order to explore the tensions, conflicts and possibilities of making links between the student movement and broader struggles for social, economic and racial justice. In doing so, we humbly align ourselves with the educational activism spearheaded by people of colour, queer and trans people, and those from working poor and working class backgrounds both before and since the "Third World" student movement that exploded on North American university campuses in the 1960s.8

collageA group of local activists organized an anti-racist feminist art action during the summer of 2012 to make links between migrant justice and accessibility to post-secondary education.

Reflections on networking, building anti-racist feminist solidarity and movement building

Farha Najah Hussain9

Student Strike 2012: To engage or not?

In the midst of denouncing proposed draconian changes to immigration law10 alongside fellow migrant justice activists and migrant communities, and as someone who is no longer a "formal" student, I found myself completely inspired and humbled by the effective organizing and mobilization of the student strike. At the same time, I joined other migrant justice organizers and racialized comrades—including students—who did not know where racialized people fit in a student movement that was not only white dominant in terms of its demographics, but lacked a comprehensive anti-racist and anti-colonial analysis. Despite these limitations of the movement, we felt that it was important to navigate this catalytic political terrain, one where students were being radicalized, and discourses around anti-neoliberalism were being held. Tactics to disrupt Québec's economy were being implemented, analyses rooted in anti-capitalist thought appeared to be evolving on a mass scale, and statements of solidarity with students in the Global South were articulated.

Some progress with respect to asserting anti-racist and anti-colonial positions seemed to occur when CLASSE adopted the motion initiated by the Students of Colour Montreal (SoCM) collective that spoke to the realities of racialized and Indigenous people (especially women) and the lack of accessible education. CLASSE had also adopted a motion in support of non-status Mexicans and the Montreal -based group Mexicans United for Regularization (MUR). Attempts to push an anti-racist analysis and build solidarity, particularly with anti-capitalist comrades organizing within CLASSE seemed crucial in the struggle for transformative change during this time of student unrest.

Navigating Imperfect Terrain: Networking and Building Solidarity

Fellow anti-capitalist activists and I coordinated efforts with individuals within CLASSE on International Women's Day for a demonstration called by the Coordination and Action Committee of Women of Diverse Origins (WDO) whose 2012 theme was denouncing capitalist mining exploitation, from the Plan Nord to the presence of Canadian companies in the Global South. Soon after Women's Day, WDO received an invitation from women from Le Comité aux luttes sociales of la CLASSE to attend a People's Assembly on April 9th, 2012.

As a way to express solidarity with the students, especially with women and marginalized communities fighting for accessible education, women-identified and feminist allies from migrant justice groups AGIR, Immigrant Workers' Centre, Dignidad Migrante, MUR, No One Is Illegal-Montreal, Solidarity Across Borders, South Asian Women's Community Centre (SAWCC), and WDO took part in the People's Assembly. Speeches strove to further an analysis against neoliberal projects within Québec and Canada, as well as to promote resistance against conservative agendas and racist immigration policies. Overall however, racialized speakers were a small minority of those present at the assembly, suggesting a lack of networking between CLASSE and racialized grassroots groups Furthermore, the scheduling of our speeches near the end of the event implied that they (and we) were perceived as marginal. Nevertheless, following the event participating migrant justice activists agreed to coordinate our efforts and amalgamate our energy against Bill C-31 within the context of the student movement, and to encourage ongoing reflection with respect to building anti-racist solidarity between students and community organizers.

The next phase of this collaboration of efforts was an invitation to women from le comité aux luttes sociales of CLASSE from the South Asian Women's Community Center (SAWCC) to elaborate a position on the student strike and its demands from an anti-racist feminist perspective, and to foster dialogue between these striking students and SAWCC community workers, youth organizers, and centre members. This discussion included a brief herstory of SAWCC's beginnings and its struggles against neoliberal, racist and patriarchal control of the community centre, and explored how tuition hikes and university tuition systematically impact and marginalize women, including migrant and Indigenous women, single mothers, and Queer parents. The exchange highlighted the importance of linking struggles against neoliberalism from anti-racist feminist perspectives and the importance of learning about local herstories, particularly with respect to fighting neoliberal projects as they impact working poor and working-class migrant women. Having le Comité aux luttes sociales of CLASSE interact with grassroots migrant justice and feminist groups was an attempt to lay the foundation for meaningful intergenerational dialogue, and building collective knowledge of stories of struggle that are often marginalized, especially in white/Eurocentric feminist circles in Québec.

In our quest to build a flourishing and healthy society based on justice and dignity, we organize ourselves within and as part of our diverse communities. As part of this organizing, it is pertinent to recognize the importance of and power in developing relationships with allies as part of the long-term process of building movements against capitalism, colonialism, and heteropatriarchy. The Québec student strike—despite its flaws—proved to be a time and space that allowed for meaningful exchange and the development of new relationships that lay the groundwork for solidarity in the day to day social justice organizing in Montreal.


Building collective power and mutual solidarity on unequal terrain

Edward Lee


In many ways, the fight against tuition hikes and the fight against Bill C-31 were parallel processes, the former being imposed by the Québec government, while the latter being imposed by the federal government. Although these struggles occurred during the exact same time period, they were mostly fought separately. However due to being a graduate student and course lecturer, while at the same time community organizing with queer and trans migrants, I was engaged in both struggles. By critically reflecting upon my involvement in these struggles, in this reflection I explore my conversations with both students on strike about Bill C-31 and with queer/trans migrants about the student strike. These conversations were filled with a mix of uneasiness, inspiration and fear. Over time, as I continued to engage in these conversations—I began to see the possibilities for critical consciousness raising and building of mutual solidarity.

From Political Profiling to Racial Profiling

Many students became aware of the physical and psychological brutality of institutional repression and state violence for the first time through their participation in the strike. Many students that I spoke with talked about how shocked they were about being politically profiled by some professors and campus security while at university, due to wearing the red square. This political profiling extended into the streets, as students also faced police repression and violence. These direct experiences of institutional repression and state violence provided opportunities to engage in critical dialogue with white students, linking their experiences of political profiling and the intense forms of social and racial profiling and surveillance experienced by poor and working class racialized communities every day in Montreal.11

Tuition Hikes and Refugee Laws

My conversations with students on strike included critical dialogue about the institutional repression they were facing and the kinds of structural violence that queer and trans migrants encounter on an everyday basis.12 We discussed the devastating impact anti-refugee Bill C-31 would have on the lives of migrants. The response from many of the students I spoke with was quiet, yet profound. It led to a deeper, historicized understanding of the structural violence that was already embedded within immigration/refugee policy13 and how it would get worse with the implementation of the new anti-refugee law.

After an intense period of student strikes and larger student movement protests, the newly elected Québec government has temporarily cancelled the tuition hikes. During the exact same time period, Bill C-31 was debated and passed by the federal government. This new refugee law expands the criminalization of racialized and migrant communities, increasing the surveillance and imprisonment of migrants. Even more migrants will be traumatized by experiences of detention and deportation. Many more will have to face the impossible choice of living in Canada undocumented or being forced to return to a country where they will continue to encounter violence and persecution. As students begin to strategize about the next steps in fighting for access to post secondary education, migrants directly affected by C-31 will be fighting for their lives and their humanity.

Building Mutual Solidarity and Collective Power

During the same period that I was speaking with students on strike, I was also engaging in conversations with queer and trans migrants about the student strike and the possibilities that come with building collective power. Many of my fellow community organizers were already directly affected by the structural violence that is embedded within the Canadian refugee process. Despite the threat of intense structural violence, some queer and trans migrants decided to fight back and worked together to develop a strategy to oppose Bill C-31.

During our conversations, I tried to identify the many victories throughout the student strike, in order to use the student movement as a source of inspiration. We spoke about the ways that students forced the government to negotiate and the power that came with collectively taking to the streets. Many of our conversations revealed the possibilities of collective power in pushing back against oppressive government policies and state violence. And some spoke of the ways that they were inspired by the student movement and actively participated in the protests and pro-strike activities.

At the same time, as migrants whose lives were already shaped by various forms of state violence, they could see the intensity of police brutality that met peaceful protests. If this is how the police treated students who are mostly white and (documented) citizens, how would they treat racialized migrants without citizenship? Some were afraid to participate in student protests and marches because they feared being arrested and potentially placing their status at risk. Some were just struggling to survive and simply did not have the time or energy to spend on supporting the student strike. Of course, there were some queer and trans migrants who actively participated in various student-initiated protests, the nightly casseroles and in the Status for All march held on May 26th 2012.14

As the student strike and larger social protests continued over summertime, I participated in an anti-deportation campaign with a refused gay refugee from Mexico. Some student activists also became involved in the campaign, with one racialized student in particular providing direct support to the person facing deportation such as finding him a safe place to live, pitching in money to facilitate his release from detention, and even driving to the airport to say good-bye and protest his removal. While sadly, the government succeeded in deporting the person and he continues to live in hiding and fear of persecution in Mexico to this day, I remain inspired by the commitment made by this student in supporting queer migrant justice organizing.

This small, yet powerful example points to the transformative possibilities of what could happen if the student movement used its significant social and collective power in the service of broader social struggles striving for indigenous and migrant justice. It makes me dream of what might happen if the masses of students impacted by the strike and their supporters were to engage in a process of learning in social action about how their struggle is tied to, yet different from the struggle of racialized and migrant communities. Building this kind of mutual solidarity on unequal terrain requires reflecting upon the role of poor/working class racialized students in shaping the direction of the student movement. What would the student movement look like if its analysis and actions centred the experiences of poor/working class racialized students and communities?


Struggle, sacrifice, and survival

Ilyan Ferrer


My earliest and most pervasive ideas about education were shaped by stern lectures from my parents who would say: "Go to school, and study hard. That's all we ask of you." When gentle but firm encouragement was not enough, they would resort to fear tactics, instilling into my imagination the supposed horrors of receiving a poor education: "If you don't do well in school, you will end up on the streets." Though they never specified what were "the streets," their warnings were enough of a deterrent to never stray far from the books.

It took me years to deconstruct my parents' meaning of a good education. When they first arrived in Canada, my parents found work in the low-skilled, secondary labour market, where they encountered hardships in caring for our growing family. As I was growing up, they would recount stories of how they had expected to lead a materially secure life in Canada, only to relive the scarcity they thought they had left in the Philippines. They told me about how they were sued by a landlord for failing to pay rent—a lesson that newly arrived immigrants were easy prey for slumlords. A repossession agent barged into their cramped apartment looking to collect items of value, only to find a poorly furnished apartment, and a small child with Down Syndrome (my sister) watching Sesame Street on the TV. The repo man walked away empty handed, not having the heart to take away from a family already hit up by hard times.

I remember my father returning home from work, unusually sullen and silent. As we sat around the dinner table, eating our usual rice and canned sardines, he sternly told me: "Study so that your life won't be hard." It was one of those raw and visceral moments that can forever shape the thinking of a young child—an acknowledgement that life is a struggle, and that he and my mother were barely surviving under the shackles of poverty. Looking back, it was this moment that I began to realize that "study hard" implicitly meant that education was a "ticket out." I later discovered that my father had earned a professional degree in the Philippines that was not recognized when he immigrated to Canada. As a matter of survival, he took on various menial and temporary jobs to ensure the survival of our family. He did everything … except the job he had assumed was waiting for him after receiving a letter from the Canadian embassy that read "We are pleased to inform you that your application to immigrate into Canada was accepted … "

Both younger and older generations of the Filipino-Canadian diaspora hold a pervasive view that life in Canada is better than in the Philippines. There is a degree of truth to this as some first generation Filipino-Canadians, despite being regulated to the secondary labour market, have reached middle-class thresholds over time; enabling younger generations to access post-secondary education. Though first generation immigrants like my parents were able to valiantly defy and navigate against encounters of racism and economic marginalization, they find themselves trapped in their own narratives of success. The common belief is that since they have been able to overcome systemic barriers (related to discrimination/racism, access to education, and poverty), newcomers can and should overcome these hardships as well. This notion borrows heavily from the "model minority" ideal typical within Global North societies whereby im/migrants are expected to pay their dues in the secondary labour market and eventually transition into the welcoming arms of the middle class. It is simply, as my parents would say, a matter of hard work, luck of circumstance, and prayer. However such narratives are predicated on a fixed and static context. The dream of accessing higher education and reaping the rewards of upward mobility is no longer a matter of struggle, sacrifice, and survival; it has turned into a nightmare of high school drop-out, student debt, and the cycle of poverty that characterizes my community.

My organizing work with Kabataang Montreal (KM), a grassroots Filipino youth organization, opened my eyes to the inaccessibility of education in my community as I befriended young Filipino-Canadians who have gone through the traumas of family separation and reunification within the Live-in-Caregiver Program (LCP). The lived experiences of Filipino newcomers are best summarized by what a KM organizer described as "the sacrifice of the Filipino family for the sake of the Filipino family": young labourers leave the Philippines so that they can financially provide from a distance, hoping to one day be reunited with their separated family (a process which takes up to five years). I met with adolescents who struggled with adapting to Québecois and Canadian society, learning a new language, and re-establishing bonds with mothers who they had not seen for most of their lives. I saw sacrifices not just by parents who worked two to three jobs under the table, but from the youth themselves who were taught that education was important, but were seeing their families crumble under the weight of poverty.

The Québec Student Strike of 2012 brought me intense feelings of ambivalence. On the one hand, student associations provided an accessible assessment of the tuition hikes, galvanizing the wider population to consider the increasing neoliberal privatization of Québec society. However I was disappointed by the movement's failure to acknowledge the structural inequalities felt so heavily by marginalized communities like mine. Filipino youth represent one of the cohorts most likely to drop out of high school in Canada15, and yet the social movement seemed blissfully ignorant of the conditions of my ghettoized community. As an outreach activity to mobilize the Filipino community, KM organizers distributed red squares on the streets of a Filipino diaspora neighbourhood where they encountered both youth and parents who were unaware of how the strike affected them, reflecting how the movement had failed to reach marginalized communities. After learning about the nuances of the strike however, nearly all Filipino parents and youth encountered proudly donned the red square on their shirts.

Though the overall movement largely ignored the struggles of racialized communities, SoCM created spaces where marginalized communities could highlight the realities that we face. We participated in monthly demonstrations, screaming chants like "Racist, classist, sexist shit: Fuck the hike, strike, resist!" with militant acknowledgement of the intersections between 'race', class, and gender in relation to the tuition hike. In April 2012, SoCM organized a "Beyond Tuition: Barriers to Education for Marginalized Communities" panel, where I was invited to speak about the growing inaccessibility of post-secondary education within the Filipino community. I thought that this would finally be an opportunity to discuss the issues that my community faces on a day-to-day basis; yet when it was my turn to speak, tears began to well in my eyes … my voice cracked, quivered, and then finally fell silent. Memories began to re-emerge: "Study so that your life won't be hard." … family separation, reunification, racial profiling … it was as if the collective voices of my community bore on me, so eager to be heard. Yet they weighed so heavily that they rendered me speechless because at the end of the day, people can hear about our experiences but they don't have to live through them. My community, like other racialized communities, continues to struggle, sacrifice, and survive. However we do so knowing that our ticket out (access to education) is no longer guaranteed. All the more reason for the struggle to continue.


Freedom with Violence or Freedom from Violence: What will the Student Movement Settle For?

Lena Palacios


I'm often asked "why does your research and activism focus on incarcerated people of colour, prison abolitionist and anti-violence movements, and transformative justice?" I didn't turn to these topics to answer some pressing questions that were unrelated to my own life as a queer Chicana feminist from a working-class background or to the predominantly racialized community I was raised in. The issue didn't hail me because I witnessed protesting college students get kettled, bludgeoned and arrested en masse by riot cops in the streets of Montreal or pepper sprayed directly in the face at my alma mater University of California Davis while protesting neoliberal austerity measures. Rather, a principled sense of mortal urgency has continued to propel me to act against the expanded usage of criminalization and cages as large-scale solutions to the socio-economic crisis brought on by corporate downsizing and massive global economic restructuring. Urgency drove me and other racialized activists to a lifetime commitment to waging war against the unnatural disappearance of entire communities by the neoliberal carceral state throughout the 1990s when California turned into a world-renowned "Golden Gulag."16 Seemingly overnight, California became comprised of over nine hundred miles of concrete prisons overflowing with the caged bodies of the "surplus population" of racialized youth victimized by "The War on Drugs" and by other horrors that start with the letter "D": devolution, downsizing, deindustrialization, and dehumanization.

Over thirty years before Canada's neo-conservative Harper administration realized just how profitable and crisis-proof prison expansion is thanks to Omnibus Crime Bill C-10 or the "Safe Streets and Communities Act", California had already cannibalized its young through gutting K-12 public school funding (1978); implemented the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Protection Act which labelled youth of colour "street terrorists" (1988); excluded mostly Mexican and Central American immigrants from education and social services via Proposition 187 (1994); increased life sentences via Proposition 184 ("three strikes" [1994]); implemented anti-affirmative action policy within public sector education and employment with Proposition 209 (1996) and locked up more, mostly racialized youth, in adult prisons with Proposition 21 (2000). And the "hits" just kept on coming as they always do in a time of crisis.

By the time I graduated high school to become the first in my family to access postsecondary education, I had benefited from involvement in student, immigrant, labour, and anti-prison activism. I had organized against a 134 per cent tuition hike targeting the University of California system, and against the elimination of affirmative action, equity initiatives, ethnic studies curriculum and other programs that are linked to peoples' justice movements. I didn't need higher education to see the writing on the wall: there is a strong correlation between increased rates of incarceration of poor youth of colour and the inability of our communities to access affordable education and the promise of a living wage.

For many of us, schools are just training grounds for long-stretches of prison time; the popularity of zero tolerance policies just reinforced the cradle-to-school-to-prison pipeline. When someone chants the catchy slogan, "Schools, not Prisons!" they forget that schools, for the majority of us without economic and racial privilege, are prisons: they look like prisons, they smell like prisons, and they incapacitate youth like prisons do. I've been schooled in underfunded public schools that look like prisons, schooled some more in juvenile detention facilities and now I feel that I've become permanently institutionalized at McGill University—home of elite, white Anglo power in Canada. It might be easy for me to settle for this "freedom with violence"17 instead of a freedom from violence if it wasn't for my social location, life experiences, and political consciousness.

Growing up I witnessed the criminalization and racial profiling of youth of colour and the bloody, repressive, corporate-driven police response to striking longshoremen, of which my father was one. Although I had read about inter-racial, New Left student alliances that formed during the Civil Rights, Black and Brown Power movements and against the US war in Vietnam as well as the state-sanctioned murder of protesting university students at home and abroad, I never actually saw "up close" the privileged children of the middle- and upper-middle classes get killed or injured by baton-wielding, trigger-happy cops or armed militia. I did know folks who had escaped the US-sponsored and -funded military juntas and death squads that had claimed thousands of lives, most notably those of youth and students throughout Latin America. I went to school with the children of those refugees who ended up facing even more brutality at the hands of school districts, police departments and the department of corrections. The violent state and police repression visited upon the students who participated in the Québec strike brought it all back home to me.

I don't wish to see university students finally experience their "fair share" of state-sanctioned bodily harm, to see more mangled bodies of students beaten bloody by cops or more activist youth acquire criminal records that can't be easily expunged. What I do want to see are more students critically engage in shared political struggles in opposition to the state's form and purpose alongside immigrants, workers, welfare recipients, criminalized communities of colour, and the over 2.5 million people incarcerated in North American prisons, jails, and detention centres. State violence is not an aberrant practice, but a standard operating procedure of white settler societies.18 The sooner students formulate a radical understanding of the violence that they have personally experienced during their many demonstrations as structural and systemic, not 'extremist' or 'exceptional', the better. Only then, I believe, can we transform a protest against neoliberal austerity measures into a transnational social movement that will be a worthy opponent of global capitalism and its partner-in-crime, the carceral state.

Although I believe what my ancestors, the Maya, said to be true about the end of the world, I am still an optimist at heart and believe that the end of the world just means the end of the world as it exists now. I am hopeful that we can not only take power but make power to transform our world. We make power on a daily basis, through our everyday actions—our protests, chants, graffiti, cacerolazos, missives, pedagogy, scholarship—and our ability to learn in social action and build capacity. We do all this so that we can shake the ground with our heavy pounding of the pavement. In order to build the kind of movement that can outplay and outlive the hegemonic order we need to break our dependence on the racist capitalist state and prison regime; we need to envision life beyond the nation-state and beyond the borders and cages that separate us. Ultimately, we need to fully embrace the notion—treat it like a mantra or prayer—that violence produces power but violence does not produce all power.


Closing thoughts

Sometimes we are blessed with being able to

choose the time

and the arena and the manner of our revolution, but

more usually we

must do battle wherever we are standing.

– Audre Lorde19

This battle was never just about tuition increases. From the outset it was clear that the Québec tuition hikes worked to embed corporate interests into university research processes, increasing the privatization of university space.20 While student activists are to be commended for their continual resistance against tuition hikes and the neo-liberalization of the academic industrial complex, questions remain about whether these victories will improve the life chances of racialized and marginalized communities.

All of us, all of our communities are all implicated in either abetting or challenging the social and economic violence perpetuated by neoliberal austerity measures. An ongoing commitment to learning in social action and to documenting the complex and contradictory processes involved in social movement building can offer critical learning about how we can challenge the white supremacist, settler colonial neoliberal carceral state. Our collaborative work can also serve as an alternative to the isolating and individualizing model of academic knowledge production. As activist-scholars we aim to challenge exclusionary professional labels that discount the knowledge produced by community organizers, and to develop research and pedagogical practices that are actively engaged with, and in the service of, grassroots anti-colonial, anti-racist, feminist social movements.21

1 For more detailed historical context, see Rosalind Hampton, "Race, Racism and the Québec Student Movement." New Socialist: Webzine (July 8, 2012). Retrieved from

2 T. Alfred, "Then and Now, For the Land."  Socialist Studies: the Journal of the Society for Socialist Studies 6, no.1 (Spring 2010): 93-95.

3 B.C. Chan and K.B. Chan, Smoke and First: The Chinese in Montréal. (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1991); Dorothy Williams, The Road to Now: A History of Blacks in Montréal. (Montreal : Véhicule Press, 1998)

4 Hampton, 2012

5 SoCM, "Students of Colour Montreal: Motioned by GEOGRADS for CLASSE Congress," In CLASSE (2012, April 20), Cahier de préparation des delegations, 9-10. Retrieved from
documents/fr/instances/CLASSE/Cahiers/Cahier de Congres 22 avril 2012.pdf

6 See Statistics Canada, 2006

7 G.E. Galabuzi, Canada's Economic Apartheid: The Social Exclusion of Racialized Groups in the New Century. (Toronto: Canadian Scholars's Press, 2006)

8 R.P. McCormick, The Black Student Protest Movement at Rutgers. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990)

9 This author would like to acknowledge Karl Kersplebedeb and Dolores Chew for their constructive critiques and comments, as well as others who challenged me, informed much of my critical thought process, and with whom I had the privilege of engaging in discussions around strategies, social justice and movement building during the Student Strike of 2012.

10 In February 2012, the Canadian Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney brought forth draconian Bill C-31. The bill became law in June 2012, amending the Immigration Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Balanced Refugee Reform Act (BRRA) with the pretext of expediting the processing of refugee claims. In actuality the changes implemented a two-tiered discriminatory refugee system, giving the Minister the power to designate any group of persons as irregular arrivals, and order them to be detained. Rooted in Canada's historical and current colonial, racist, patriarchal, ableist, and classist immigration system, this law, along with cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) for refugees, are ongoing manifestations of the state's authority and violence against poor and racialized bodies.

11 Samir Shaheen-Hussain, Robyn Maynard, and Anne-Marie Gallant, "The Police Killing of Farshad Mohammadi: Exposing the Root Causes." Coop Média de Montréal (January 21, 2012).

12 E.O. Lee and S. Brotman, "Identity, Refugeeness, Belonging: Experiences of Sexual Minority Refugees in Canada." Canadian Review of Sociology 48, no. 3: 241-274.

13 S.J. Aiken, "Of Gods and Monsters: National Security and Canadian Refugee Policy." Revue québécoise de droit international, no.14: 7-36.

14 See

15 G. Pratt, Working Feminism. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004).

16 Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden gulag: Prisons, surplus, crisis, and opposition in globalizing California. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)

17 C. Reddy, Freedom With Violence: Race, Sexuality and the US State. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011)

18 See Sunera Thobani, Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007)

19 Audre Lorde, "A Burst of Light: Living with Cancer," In I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde ed. Rudolph P. Byrd, Johnetta Betsch Cole and Beverly Guy-Sheftall (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press), 81

20 GEOGRADS, "Concordia Professors Oppose the Privatization of Universities." GEOGRADS-Geography, Planning and Environment Graduate Students Association Blog (2012).

21 J. Sudbury and M. Okazawa-Rey. Activist scholarship: Antiracism, feminism, and social change. (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2009)