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Vanessa Dorimain of the SFUO led the rally Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik

SFUO marches against anti-black racism

In light of the recent events at the University of Missouri and Yale University in the United States, rallies in support of black students took place across American and Canadian university campuses.

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) hosted the U of O’s march that took place on Nov. 18, with vice-president of university affairs, Vanessa Dorimain, leading the rally.

The march began at 9 a.m. outside Marion Hall with around 23 initial participants, and more students joining throughout the event.

The University of Missouri came under fire these past few months for multiple racial incidents, resulting in the resignation of its president, Tim Wolfe, on Nov. 9. Yale University also ended up in national headlines over e-mails about racially insensitive Halloween costumes.

The march proceeded across the U of O campus, passing The University Centre towards Laurier Avenue, where participants hung the banner “OttawaU to/à Mizzou”. The march then continued towards the Mackenzie King Bridge, where the banner was hung, ending the march.

“Our goal was just to get the message out that we’re in solidarity with Mizzou but also here at the University of Ottawa. We also provided our list of demands of things that we think that are necessary for students,” said Nicole Maylor, SFUO vice-president equity.

These demands included equity training for all staff, a racialized students’ space on campus, a black studies department, a therapist of colour, and free tuition for all black and indigenous students on campus. The demands also included divestment from prisons and investment in communities.

There was a referendum held last year to create a racialized students’ centre on campus, but it didn’t pass, which some students at the time said stemmed from racism.

The university was not able to provide comment regarding the demands at time of publication.

Participants also discussed their experiences at the U of O.

During the stop at Tabaret Hall, Roselyne Dougé-Charles, a fourth-year women’s studies and psychology student, detailed an incident where she says a professor asked students what good things colonialism brought in an effort to “end class on a good note”.

Charles calls out the issue that these rallies and other movements are bringing to the surface—that anti-blackness is everywhere, even institutions of higher education.

Bilan Arte, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, was in attendance showing her support and echoed the importance of the issues that Charles touched on.

“Right here in Canada we have a problem with racism and it’s time that we confront that.”