Campus news HP

McGill named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for fourth consecutive year

Campus news - Mon, 04/19/2021 - 09:17

McGill has been recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for a fourth consecutive year, Mediacorps announced on Monday, April 19. The University’s employee-led sustainability initiatives, community partnerships, and commitment to reducing its environmental footprint contributed towards the designation.

Canada’s Greenest Employers is an editorial competition organized by Mediacorp Canada Inc., which also hosts the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. The Greenest Employer designation highlights organizations for “exceptional sustainability initiatives” and environmental leadership.

Winners were selected based on their success across four areas: unique environmental initiatives and programs, environmental footprint reduction efforts and successes, the degree to which their employees are involved in these programs, and the extent to which these initiatives have become linked to the employer’s public identity.

“Year after year, we are honoured to see our community’s efforts in sustainability recognized,” said Executive Director of Sustainability Francois Miller. “It is their contributions that further embed sustainability in McGill’s DNA, making our University a more sustainable place to work and study.”

Staff-led sustainability initiatives push McGill towards zero-waste

Staff-led initiatives are integral to furthering a culture of sustainability across the University, making McGill an equitable and ecological space to work and study.

One such example is the Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC) Green Initiative, a joint effort between staff and students that is dedicated to reducing, reusing, and recycling non-hazardous plastic waste coming from the Centre’s labs. The group institutionalizes sustainable practices within their labs by diverting plastic waste away from the landfill.

“Empowering members provides them with the opportunity to exercise their own agency and still work as a team as they advance towards reducing the amount of waste they produce,” wrote Carlis Rejon and Sudipa Chatterjee, who lead the GCRC Green Initiative.

“People inevitably put their best foot forward when they care about something individually but work collectively, especially when it comes to strengthening a fledgling sustainability initiative. The GCRC Green Initiative is a proof of it.”

The GCRC Green Initiative, in tandem with other such staff-led projects bring the University closer to its long-term environmental footprint reduction targets of carbon neutrality by 2040 and zero-waste by 2035. Other examples include Buildings and Grounds’ Rethink React: Waste at McGill educational campaign and the Sustainability Project Fund-supported Active Transportation at Gault.

McGill’s zero-waste target was introduced in the recently launched McGill University Climate & Sustainability Strategy 2020-2025, and is also moving closer to becoming reality through a composting pilot project, which also contributed to the Greenest Employer designation.

In the first two months of the pilot project in late 2019, 2,300 litres of well-sorted organic waste were collected from the McConnell building lobby and diverted away from landfill. When on-campus events resume, organizers will also be able to opt-in to an expanded organic waste collection service provided by Events Support.

Accountability and community partnerships further sustainability at all levels

Also contributing to McGill’s Greenest Employer designation is the recently established Board Committee on Sustainability. This committee, which formed in 2020, further institutionalizes McGill’s commitment to building a culture of sustainability across its campuses.

Externally, McGill’s community partnerships also emphasize our work on social sustainability initiatives. Enrolment Services’ Branches Program, for example, co-builds transformative mentorship opportunities and networks of support for Indigenous learners to pick their educational paths. The program aims to learn from and incorporate Indigenous perspectives, uphold partnerships, and promote experiential learning.

Through the Chez Doris Legal Clinic, student interns from the McGill Faculty of Law offer legal information and assistance to the charitable organization’s clients year-round under the supervision of a law professor. The interns help clients with legal matters pertaining to tenant rights, family law, and criminal law, working towards the Clinic’s objectives of making legal advice accessible to low-income and vulnerable individuals.

“Sustainability at McGill is more than just green,” said Miller. “We are proud of our community’s efforts to continuously make our institution more sustainable for all.”

As a McGill employee, are you interested in learning how you can contribute to the University’s sustainability efforts? Find out more here. You can learn more about the Canada’s Greenest Employer competition here.

The post McGill named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for fourth consecutive year appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Campus update - April 18 - Provincial border closure

EOC updates - Sun, 04/18/2021 - 18:17
<p>T<i>his message is sent on behalf of Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), on behalf of the Emergency Operations Centre.</i></p> <p><i>Le présent message est envoyé au nom de Fabrice Labeau, premier vice-principal exécutif adjoint (Études et vie étudiante)</i> <i>au nom du Centre des opérations d’urgence (COU).</i></p> <p><i>La version française suit.</i></p> <p>Dear members of the McGill community,</p>
Categories: Campus news HP

Challenging times? McGill researchers step up to help

Campus news - Thu, 04/15/2021 - 14:28
This year’s winners of the Principal’s Prize for Public Engagement through Media were announced on April 13, 2021. The Quebec Network of Junior Pain Investigators (QNJPI) won this year’s Prize for Collaboration.

Over the past year, whether it’s been about managing pain, managing pandemics, or managing difficult conversations about race, McGill researchers have stepped forward in unprecedented numbers to share their knowledge and be of service to society.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier created the Principal’s Prize for Public Engagement through Media five years ago to recognize outstanding achievement among those who share their knowledge with the public and the media. They play a vital role in supporting McGill University’s commitment to being of service to society and engaging with the broader community.

On April 13, 2021, in a special virtual ceremony, Principal Fortier announced the winners of the 2021 Prizes in five categories. Vice-Principal (Communications & External Relations) Louis Arseneault was also on hand to honour this year’s winners and runners-up.

The number of applicants for this year’s prize grew by close to 60 per cent compared to the previous year. Those of us who work in the Media Relations Office also know that the number of requests coming from media for McGill experts has grown incrementally this past year. And that there are many other individuals across the University who didn’t apply for the prize this year, but who have consistently and generously responded to these requests.

The winners of the 2021 Principal’s Prize for Collaboration are the Quebec Network of Junior Pain Investigators (QNJPI).  In selecting them as the winners, the jury highlighted their broad reach, major impact and numerous community partnerships as they worked to inform and educate people about how to manage their pain better.

The two runners-up this year were Medical Herstory, who engage with the student population and beyond to share information about women’s medical health, and Brain Reach, who work with large numbers of volunteers to inspire a love of science and neuroscience in particular in students of all ages and at all stages.

Social work PhD candidate Susan Mintzberg is the 2021 winner of the Prize for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows.

The winner of this year’s Prize for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows is Susan Mintzberg, a PhD candidate in the school of Social Work. In selecting her as the winner, the jury highlighted Mintzberg’s intellectual work and prolific output in engaging with media about pandemic-related issues ranging from seniors’ care to religious diversity.

As runners-up, the jury chose Emily Choy, a postdoctoral fellow who is doing research about the effects of climate change on seabirds in the Arctic, and Ada McVean, a master’s student who has an active and ongoing presence as a well-versed science communicator on the radio, on TV and on various social media platforms.

The numbers of applicants for the Prize for Emerging Researchers grew significantly this year. The jury was impressed by the number of early-career researchers who see sharing their knowledge with the media and the public as being an important and natural complement to their academic work.

Prof. Debra Thompson is the winner of the 2021 Prize for Emerging Researchers.

The winner of this year’s prize is Debra Thompson, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and the Canada Research Chair in Racial Inequality in Democratic Societies. In selecting her as the winner, the jury pointed to the fact that over the past year she has produced a series of powerful op eds, published in high-impact papers, such as the Globe and Mail, on issues that require courage to speak up about, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

The runners-up in the category this year are Tina Montreuil, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology who has, since the beginning of the pandemic, shared her knowledge about youth mental health with parents, schools and the young people themselves. And Nicole Basta, an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health. She created a COVID-19 vaccine-tracker website to present comprehensive and accessible information about the process of vaccine testing and approvals to a worldwide audience.

Dr. Donald Sheppard is the 2021 winner of the Prize for Established Academics.

The winner of the Prize for Established Academics is Dr. Donald Sheppard, the Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity. In choosing him as the winner, the jury described him as hitting all the marks, from offering policy advice to his direct public communication. This included regularly sharing his expertise on COVID-19 with media in both official languages.

The runners-up for this year’s prize are Parisa Ariya, a Full Professor who is cross-appointed to the Departments of Chemistry and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and Jérôme Waldispuhl, from the School of Computer Science.

Dr. Matthew Oughton is the winner of the 2021 Changemaker Prize.

The Changemaker Prize, for which you cannot apply but must be nominated, was awarded to Dr. Matthew Oughton who worked tirelessly as an infectious disease physician in one of the hardest-hit hospitals in Quebec, the Jewish General Hospital, while at the same time managing to give over 400 interviews to media about the virus.

Watch a recording of the 2020 Principal’s Prize announcement—then listen to a CBC interview with Dr. Oughton and Dr. Sheppard about why it is important to them to communicate with media.

 

The post Challenging times? McGill researchers step up to help appeared first on McGill Reporter.

PLAN for a zero-waste future at McGill

Campus news - Thu, 04/15/2021 - 13:35
A conceptual image of what a future waste-free McGill might look like, created by McGill School of Architecture student Sahil Adnan.

Creating a sustainable waste system is key to becoming sustainable campus.

If you are a member of the McGill community wanting to get involved with this transition, but unsure where to start, look no further! As of April 14, 2021, McGill students, staff, and faculty will have access to a new and exciting sustainable resource: The Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN), a non-profit student organization which empowers community members to play an active role in the transition to zero-waste.

The result of a collaboration between the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) and the McGill Office of Sustainability, this membership aims to involve community members in progress towards McGill’s target to become zero-waste by 2035, launched in the McGill University Climate & Sustainability Strategy 2020-2025. Through this membership, the University hopes to make waste reduction efforts more accessible for all members of the McGill community.

“PLAN is an organization with a great mission,” said SSMU Sustainability Co-Commissioner Lauren Jelinek, who worked on involving McGill with PLAN. “As well as their work focusing on sustainability, they are community-oriented and emphasize inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility in their approach.”

PLAN was founded in 2013 by a group of post-secondary students who were concerned about the level of waste being caused by systematic issues on their campus and wanted to take action. From this grassroots movement emerged an international non-profit which supports zero-waste initiatives on campuses across North America. To date, PLAN has become a network of over 400 campuses throughout Canada and the United States, now including McGill.

“At PLAN we focus on the growth of students,” said PLAN Campus Network Director Chelsea Williams. “I believe [growth] to be a very important tool to empower students to care about their communities, both on-campus or at home.”

“We focus on showing students that there are many ways to achieve the same goal, as long as they are doing something to work towards that goal,” said Williams.

The membership includes free access to PLAN’s podcasts, workshops, guides, certifications, and more. One such resource is the Beyond Waste Leadership Certification. The program allows members to develop the leadership skills needed to be a changemaker on campus, such as project planning and execution, budgeting, and facilitation.

With the new membership, McGillians also have access to PLAN’s Program Case Library, which allows them to pick up and learn from best practices implemented at other post-secondary institutions.

To access this resource, simply visit the PLAN website here and register with your McGill email address. From there, a confirmation code will be sent to your email where you can create login credentials and access this resource whenever you like.

“What’s great about PLAN is that we don’t just focus on the end result … we do a lot of work around changing the current world we live in to fit our needs.” said Williams.  “This change is incremental, but if each college can commit to taking a deeper look at their systems and not only making programmatic changes but systematic as well, we all would be in a less wasteful society.”

The post PLAN for a zero-waste future at McGill appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Faculty and staff join the “200 for 200” challenge

Campus news - Thu, 04/15/2021 - 13:10

This fall McGill launched the 200 for 200 Legacy Challenge, a fundraising campaign that aims to secure 200 legacy gifts in celebration of the University’s 200th anniversary.

Legacy gifts – such as a bequest in a will – are not widely understood. But Robert Leckey, McGill’s Dean of Law, was wholly familiar with the concept: he’d already included McGill in his will.

Robert Leckey, McGill’s Dean of Law / Photo: Nicolas Morin

“As a lawyer who specializes in family law, I’m aware that people aren’t great at planning,” says Leckey. “But it makes sense to think ahead, and it struck me as important to give back to McGill with a bequest.”

Dean Leckey is not the only McGill community member who has left a legacy gift to McGill. Martha Crago, Vice-Principal of Research and Innovation, has a bequest that will establish a scholarship for Indigenous students. “My university was paid for by my parents, and I tried to do the same thing with my children,” says Crago. “I felt that our family should help someone else go to university.”

Martha Crago, VP (Research & Innovation)

Jennifer Abbott, Advancement Officer in the Faculty of Science, sees the impact of giving on a daily basis. That’s what inspired her to leave a gift in support of Science’s greatest needs. “Year after year, I meet with students and hear what a difference it’s made,” says Abbott. “I know the Dean. I know how he uses the money, and I know it’s a good place to give.”

The majority of legacy gifts left to McGill are bequests. Other options include designating McGill as a beneficiary of a new or existing life insurance policy, donating retirement plan assets, creating a charitable remainder trust, or establishing charitable gift annuities with the University.

History professor Faith Wallis (right) and her husband Kendall, a retired McGill reference librarian

History professor Faith Wallis and her husband Kendall, a retired reference librarian at the McLennan Library, founded the History and Classical Studies Graduate Excellence Fund, and by designating their life insurance policy to McGill, it will be funded in perpetuity. “It was our wealth manager who suggested that we make McGill the beneficiary of our life insurance policy,” says Faith. “He knew that we intended to leave a lot of our estate to the University, and this way our gift goes even further.”

Leaving a legacy gift can be financially advantageous. Depending on the nature of the gift, donors may benefit from tax deductions, or receive a steady stream of income for themselves or their partner in return. They are also an opportunity to make your mark as a philanthropist: a legacy gift is often a donor’s most significant gift, making a major impact on the University that lasts for generations.

Jennifer Abbott, Advancement Officer in the Faculty of Science, with her husband and daughter.

Dean Leckey’s gift will support the Faculty of Law. “We’re ranked among the top 20 or top 30 best in the world, and that’s extraordinary. Philanthropy is key to helping us compete at that level in the future.”

“Legacy gifts have the power to transform McGill,” confirms Susan Reid, director of McGill Bequests and Planned Gifts. “They will support the University’s most ambitious goals and ensure its students and academic community continue to thrive.”

The 200 for 200 Legacy Challenge continues until December 31, 2021. In the meantime, Dean Leckey encourages McGill staff and faculty to stand up and be counted. “There are so many creative ways to make a legacy gift,” he says. “I think [the Legacy Challenge] will help people realize that they’re not alone, and that others are doing this too.”

 

The post Faculty and staff join the “200 for 200” challenge appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Dobson Centre surpasses $1-billion milestone in startup seed funding

Campus news - Thu, 04/15/2021 - 09:15
The McGill Dobson Centre student committee 2019-2020

The McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship has reached a remarkable milestone: The startups it has supported have now raised more than $1 billion in seed funding (source: Crunchbase).

“To sustain a steep growth curve, startups often need to burn capital before achieving profitability. This new milestone demonstrates the strong momentum that our startups are experiencing,” says Marie-Josée Lamothe, Director of the McGill Dobson Centre and Professor of Practice at the Desautels Faculty of Management and the Bensadoun School of Retail Management.

“Reaching $1 billion in seed funding is a significant turning point for the McGill Dobson Centre and our startups,” adds Lamothe. “It’s a sign that investors are being persuaded by our entrepreneurs’ vision and see meaningful opportunities to contribute to our economy.’’

Founded in 1988 by the late John Dobson, BCom’49, the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship supports entrepreneurs from all 11 faculties at McGill University. The Dobson community has grown to include 450 active startups, which have generated more than 6,000 new jobs. More than 40 per cent of Dobson startups are cofounded by women and the Centre engages with 24 partner universities around the world.

Lamothe emphasizes that this success is a direct result of the seminal work of John Dobson, the Dobson Centre’s founding director Professor Peter R. Johnson, and former director Professor Gregory Vit who established the signature Dobson Cup competition and McGill X-1 Startup Accelerator program. “I have the privilege of building on that foundation,” says Lamothe.

Peter Johnson recalls meeting John Dobson in 1990, when Dobson asked him to lead the new Centre for two years. “I ended up staying for 15 years,” says Johnson. He built on his previous 25-year career as a business consultant and each year led international trips with his students. In 2006, Johnson was honoured with a Career Achievement Award for his outstanding teaching and mentoring. He then served as Vice-President of the Dobson Foundation until his retirement in 2008.

“John Dobson would have been unbelievably delighted by this $1-billion milestone,” says Johnson. “He was extraordinary — a founding funder of entrepreneurial programs at many universities.”

The McGill Dobson Centre has also been recognized as one of the Top 20 University Business Incubators by the UBI Global World Rankings of Business Incubators and Accelerators for 2019-2020.

And in 2020, the PitchBook University Rankings named the Dobson Centre second in Canada for undergraduate programs for entrepreneurs — and first in the country for developing successful female entrepreneurs.

Azadeh Dastmalchi is CEO and cofounder of VitalTracer Ltd., a medical startup that designs smart wearable medical devices. In 2019, she and her cofounders were accepted into the McGill X-1 Accelerator, an intensive summer program offered by the Dobson Centre that prepares promising startups for investment readiness and launch.

Recently named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence, Dastmalchi credits her Dobson Centre experience with helping her hone her public speaking skills, so that “the pitch became part of my DNA.”

“It was the first accelerator that believed in our idea,” she adds. She praises the McGill X-1 Accelerator program for teaching her and her engineering colleagues the skills they needed — everything from writing a business plan to preparing for investor meetings. “It was the first step in our entrepreneurial journey.”

The McGill Dobson Centre’s mission is to help entrepreneurs across the University to build innovative companies with purpose. The Centre offers programs tailored to the different stages of the entrepreneurial journey, as well as mentorship opportunities and access to a wide network of resources.

The Centre has recently completed its first McGill International Startup Tour to promote its most promising startups to potential investors in 16 cities across North America and Europe.

Since 1988, the Dobson Foundation has continued to provide financial support, including a $2-million gift in 2017 and $3 million in 2020. Others who have stepped up to support the Dobson Centre include the National Bank of Canada, the Zeller Foundation, Peter and Joan Monk, the Murdoch Family, Rene Cayouette, Steve Kokinos, Steven Pal, Tim Tokarsky, and the Mastercard Foundation, among others.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without our community of donors, judges, mentors and industry partners,” affirms Morty Yalovsky, Interim Dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management. “As our University enters its third century amid a critical time for the economy, we look forward to fostering the McGill entrepreneurial ecosystem as a driver of future job creation and strong, sustainable growth.”

 

The post Dobson Centre surpasses $1-billion milestone in startup seed funding appeared first on McGill Reporter.

McGill leads in urgent virus variant research network

Campus news - Wed, 04/14/2021 - 09:59

Experts across Canada, including researchers at McGill, are working to understand the impact of COVID-19 virus variants of concern on the health of Canadians and our public health measures. Recently, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $14.3 million from the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), to support new research on the COVID-19 virus variants.

This includes $9 million for the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network, or CoVaRR-Net, led by Dr. Marc-André Langlois from the University of Ottawa, which will coordinate and align variants research throughout the country.

CoVaRR-Net will enable the rapid assessment of the immune response to the virus variants, as well as assessment of whether these variants are resistant to existing vaccines. The findings will provide decision makers with guidance regarding drug therapy, vaccine effectiveness, and other public health strategies.

McGill researchers Ioannis Ragoussis and Jesse Shapiro of the McGill Genome Centre are among the eight principal applicants of the Network, and will join its executive committee. The two will also play leading roles in research activities: Ragoussis heading the Viral Genomics and Sequencing research pillar of the Network, and Shapiro the In Silico Modelling and Computational Biology pillar.

McGill’s Ciriaco Piccirillo, Don Vinh, Silvia Vidal and Jorg Fritz will also join this major effort by Canada to coordinate research in SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and inform public health and government.

“With this research network, we are now able to consolidate our expertise to ensure efficient and rapid responses to viral variants that have and will continue to evolve,” said Shapiro. “I am optimistic that CoVaRR-Net will contribute to a better year ahead for Canadians.” Ragoussis added that, “this nimble and efficient network of researchers will ensure a fast response of the Canadian biomedical research community to public health needs, as well as strengthen international collaboration to combat the pandemic.” Both Shapiro and Ragoussis credit the early engagement of Picirillo in facilitating McGill’s engagement in CoVaRR-Net.

Of the $9 million awarded to CoVaRR-Net, $365,000 will be directed to McGill-led research projects from the $2 million rapid-response budget. The additional $6.7 million will be distributed by the Network through funding calls and by supporting other CIHR-funded projects.

CoVaRR-Net will work with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Lab (NML), the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), provincial and territorial public health labs, and other national and international bodies.

This initiative is part of the Government of Canada $53 million investment in an integrated Variants of Concern Strategy to rapidly scale up surveillance, sequencing and research efforts.The Strategy is a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, Health Canada, Genome Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“We are investing in this research to accelerate our understanding of the COVID-19 variants to determine how we may need to adjust our strategies for protecting the safety of Canadians,” said Minister Hajdu. “The results will contribute to global efforts to address the variants of the virus that have emerged and provide key evidence to support our response in Canada.”

The post McGill leads in urgent virus variant research network appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Americans are super-spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation

Campus news - Mon, 04/12/2021 - 09:29

Misinformation about COVID-19 is spreading from the United States into Canada, undermining efforts to mitigate the pandemic. A study led by McGill University shows that Canadians who use social media are more likely to consume this misinformation, embrace false beliefs about COVID-19, and subsequently spread them.

Many Canadians believe conspiracy theories, poorly-sourced medical advice, and information trivializing the virus—even though news outlets and political leaders in the country have generally focused on providing reliable scientific information. How then, is misinformation spreading so rapidly?

“A lot of Canadians are struggling to understand COVID-19 denialism and anti-vaccination attitudes among their loved ones,” says lead author Aengus Bridgman, a PhD Candidate in Political Science at McGill University under the supervision of Dietlind Stolle. According to the study, published in Frontiers in Political Science, these attitudes are partially the result of massive Canadian consumption of information from the United States.

The researchers analyzed the behaviours of the 200,000 most active Canadian Twitter users and conducted surveys on news consumption habits and COVID-19 beliefs of Canadians. They found that those who use social media are relatively more exposed to US-based information than domestic sources of information, and that exposure to US news outlets was associated with misperceptions about COVID-19.

They also found that most of the misinformation circulating on Twitter shared by Canadians was retweeted from US sources. Canadians who followed more American users were more likely to post misinformation.

Canada is not immune to the American infodemic

While there has been a Canadian cross-partisan consensus on battling COVID-19, the political climate in the United States is very different. South of the border there is intense polarization over the severity of the pandemic, with misinformation being reinforced by American media and political figures alike.

Information circulating in the United States also deeply impacts Canadians, for better or worse. This is especially true in social media spaces, where Canadians are among the heaviest users – one out of two are on Instagram, five out of six are on Facebook, and two out of five are on Twitter. Moreover, Canadians pay special attention to American media. “On average, they follow three times as many Americans as they do Canadians on Twitter, and retweet them eight times more often,” says co-author Taylor Owen, an Associate Professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.

According to the researchers, this influence produces a troubling vulnerability for Canada during the pandemic. “It’s hard for Canadian journalists, scientists and public health experts to be heard by the average Canadian, given all the noise generated by American sources,” says Bridgman. “Countries with journalists and political leaders that don’t indulge conspiracy theories or profess anti-science views are simply not immune to dangerous infodemics.”

Finding a cure

Although many Canadians choose to consume news from the US, social media platforms likely play a key role in deepening this interest, say the researchers.

Not only do their algorithms saturate information streams with American news, they also propagate false news much faster than factual news. By privileging content that draws emotional responses from users, the algorithms help spread misinformation like wildfire.

Governments wishing to limit the spread of infodemics should consider the ways that social media platforms push out-of-country information to the top of news feeds. “This infodemic has the capacity to change important attitudes and behaviours that influence transmission patterns of COVID-19. Ultimately, it can change the scale and lethality of a pandemic,” says Owen.

The post Americans are super-spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Good oral health reduces risk of fatal outcomes from COVID-19

Campus news - Mon, 04/12/2021 - 09:05

Infected and inflamed gums may result in higher rates of complications and more fatal outcomes for individuals diagnosed with the SARS-COV-2 virus, according to a new international study led by McGill researchers recently published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. The study suggests that gum disease may be associated with higher risks of complications from COVID-19, including ICU admission and death.

Researchers discovered that COVID-19 patients with gum disease were 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit, 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator, and 8.8 times more likely to die when comparing to those without gum disease. Until now, no other research has been published about the destructive effects of gum disease in patients with COVID-19.

“Looking at the conclusions of our study we can highlight the importance of good oral health in the prevention and management of COVID-19 complications,” explains Belinda Nicolau, contributing author and Full Professor in the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University. “There is a very strong correlation between periodontitis and disease outcome.”

What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis, also referred to as gum disease, is a serious infection of the gums that damages supporting tissues of the teeth and if left unmanaged can lead to bone loss. Gum disease is the most common dental problem in Canadians, with seven out of ten affected to some degree in their lives. However, it is largely preventable by maintaining good oral hygiene through daily brushing and flossing and getting regular dental check-ups.

“Periodontitis has been considered as a risk factor for a number of both oral and systemic diseases,” explains Wenji Cai, co-author and PhD student from Faculty of Dentistry. “It’s an invisible pandemic. We need to raise awareness of the disease and make more effort to maintain periodontal health, especially during this global pandemic.”

The study also found that blood levels of biomarkers which indicate inflammation in the body were significantly higher in COVID-19 patients with gum disease, which may explain the higher rates of complications for those patients. “Periodontitis causes inflammation of the gums and, if left untreated, that inflammation can spread throughout the body,” says Cai. “In patients with severe cases of COVID-19, the virus causes an inflammatory response that can lead to complications such as being intubated or even death. Our research shows that periodontitis can exasperate this.”

This observational study crossed dental records with medical records of patients with severe cases of COVID-19 in Qatar between February and July 2020. “We included 568 patients in our study and took various factors into consideration, such as demographic, medical or behaviour factors, to avoid biases,” adds Cai. “In Qatar the medical and dental records happened to be digitized, which made it possible to collect data and conduct this research swiftly.”

The results of this multi-national study stem from a cooperation between researchers from McGill University, Complutense University of Madrid, and Hamas Medical Corporation of Qatar and Qatar University. The research team continues to expand data collection to strengthen the study.

Read the study online

The post Good oral health reduces risk of fatal outcomes from COVID-19 appeared first on McGill Reporter.

A made-in-Quebec blueprint for food security  

Campus news - Wed, 04/07/2021 - 15:29
Principal Suzanne Fortier (upper left); Anja Geitmann, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (upper right); and conference host Alex Johnston, open the A Road Map for Greater Food Security and Autonomy conference

On March 31, McGill University celebrated its milestone 200-year anniversary, marking the day with an inaugural Conference entitled A Road Map for Greater Food Security and Autonomy. The bilingual virtual event – a first instalment in the Bicentennial Conference Series, Providing solutions to global challenges – brought together experts to discuss issues facing global food security.

Conference host Alex Johnston (LLB/BCL’99) – uniquely tied to McGill as an alumna, Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees for the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, and the daughter of former McGill Principal David Lloyd Johnston – interviewed keynote speaker André Lamontagne, Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and moderated a set of expert panels as they discussed the impacts of public policy and higher education on the agri-food sector.

Celebrating the past while forging ahead 

In her opening remarks, McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier acknowledged that although the Bicentennial is an important opportunity to reflect on and celebrate McGill’s past, it’s also  crucial to consider the future and take the appropriate steps to address some of the biggest challenges facing food safety and autonomy, including rapid population growth, poverty and climate change. 

“It’s a topic that requires a commitment from our University to be a model of research and leadership in the field and to train the professionals of tomorrow to invent the solutions of the future,” Principal Fortier told Anja Geitmann, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, who joined her in the welcoming address. “We are very fortunate to have a lot of strengths in this area, particularly within the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security, and the strong, partnerships McGill has developed with other universities and partners in Quebec will be crucial in tackling these challenges.” 

For her part, Geitmann highlighted the importance of maintaining objectivity as the University continues to establish and grow these key partnerships. “Universities are neutral players. As such, we have the unique opportunity to unite people who might usually be in competition with the goal of collectively solving problems that are shared within the industry.”  

The role of public policy 

Following the introduction from the Principal and Dean Geitmann, Johnston sat down with alumna Chantal Line Carpentier (BScAgr’90, MSc’94) Chief of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD), and McGill Associate Professor, Political Science Krzysztof Pelc, to open the first panel discussion on the impact of trade agreements on food safety and autonomy, and to talk about Canada’s role in helping move these causes forward.

“It’s important to understand that it’s not question of quantity – in fact, there is enough food produced globally to feed the world. Instead, we’re mainly talking about access issues, distribution problems, political issues and economic issues, and this is where international trade agreements come into play,” Pelc began. 

“These agreements help protect small countries financially who can’t otherwise protect themselves,” added Carpentier, explaining that agricultural subsidies put in place by some European countries and the United States, for example, allow them to produce more at a reduced cost. “The result is that developing countries are discouraged from establishing their own agriculture and miss out on progress that developed countries have experienced through this type of growth.”

The panelists also agreed that good international agreements don’t have to come at the cost of maintaining strong food security systems nationally – quite the opposite. “Modern trade agreements have gotten good at balancing competing objectives, like efficiency on one hand and labour rights on the other,” said Pelc. “The objective would be to preserve social and cultural priorities linked to food and ensure that provisions around food are not exploited for protectionist ends because that’s what decreases overall production and limits food access in the world’s most vulnerable nations.” 

And whether it be through agreements like the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), or through progressive approaches to agricultural education, Canada is taking a leading role in establishing this kind of balance.  

“After graduating from McGill, I went on to do my PhD at Virginia Tech,” Carpentier recalled. “I quickly realized that I was the only one of my colleagues that had a deep understanding of soil science, plant science and animal science because most of my peers had gone straight from math to economics to ag–con.” 

It’s this kind of multi-disciplinary approach to agricultural education that is needed to adequately  prepare graduates to tackle the industry’s evolving challenges, argued Carpentier, and is the perfect example of a Canadian-made academic model that should be more widely adopted. “You need to make connections between these various disciplines and McGill has figured that out.” 

Knowledge breeds confidence  

Johnston invited the next set of panelists, Marcel Groleau, President, Union des Producteurs Agricoles du Québec (UPA) and Darlene McBainIndustry Relations Manager, Farm Credit Canada, to examine the role of higher education in strengthening the agri-food sector and discuss  how knowledge impacts industry stakeholders. 

Although Groleau and McBain acknowledged universities’ essential role in the obvious areas of research and development and partnerships with key players in the sector, they also stressed the significance of an enhanced education offering for new farmers, equipping them with the skillset to effectively navigate and adapt to this rapidly evolving field. 

“Quebec has a host of college– and university-level programs that support and educate new and young farmers and, statistically, we know that farmers educated in agricultural management or in agricultural production have much higher success rates. They can more easily obtain loans, they’re more receptive to new technologies, and they’re better equipped to work with industry professionals,” said Groleau.  

McBain agreed. “Our producers need to be experts in all parts of the agricultural value chain and a university education gives them a solid foundation in the key areas like production, environment, and economic and technology management that improve efficiency and lead to important developments in the industry.” 

Further, said Groleau, institutions like McGill have a social responsibility to share research that enables the public to make informed decisions about the foods they consume and to help them understand how those choices contribute to food independence.  

“Today’s consumers select foods based on factors like environmental impact and nutrition, and universities can demystify these concepts by sharing research and scientific data. They can also educate the public about how their choices impact food independence and help them understand how progression in the agri-food sector are helping drive society closer to achieving those objectives. 

Driving Quebec closer to food independence

In the final conference segment, Johnston sat down with keynote speaker André Lamontagne, Quebec’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and Minister Responsible for the Centre-du-Québec Region, to talk about the factors that promote and hinder provincial food autonomy and how education can impact consumer choices. 

Lamontagne pointed out that although a large part of the foods we consume can’t be produced locally due to Quebec’s northern geography and climate, vibrant agricultural community, supportive government, and informed consumers are all positive factors that help drive us closer to food independence. The key to the success of the agri-food industry, however, relies on confidence between those who produce and those who consume.  

“Quebec’s Sustainable Agricultural Plan, developed in October 2020, hopes to build that trust by addressing the need to take better care of the environment and move toward more ecological, sustainable agricultural models that will benefit both consumers and producers.” 

Like Groleau and McBain, Minister Lamontagne also stressed the vital role that higher education institutions like McGill play in strengthening food self-sufficiency. 

“Higher education makes several things possible: it equips today’s farmers with the essential knowledge and skills required to effectively manage modern-day agriculture; the investment in and application of agricultural research conducted through these institutions leads to practical improvements in the field; and it helps help to inform consumers, allowing them to make educated decisions about their food choices.”

Finally, when asked what advice he would like to impart on conference attendees, Lamontagne referenced the “$12 challenge” launched by the provincial government last year. “If Quebec households swapped just $12 of their imported grocery purchases for locally grown food, we’d see an additional $1 billion per year being put toward local producers and fishermen. It would represent a significant investment in our sector that could move us that much closer to our goal of self-sufficiency.” 

Visit the McGill Bicentennial website to watch a recording of A Road Map for Greater Food Security and Autonomy Conference.  

The post A made-in-Quebec blueprint for food security   appeared first on McGill Reporter.

McCall MacBain Scholars announces inaugural cohort

Campus news - Wed, 04/07/2021 - 11:40
(Left to right): Sinan Abi Farraj, Grace Ma and Josh Swain are among the 20 inaugural McCall MacBain Scholars who will begin will begin their fully funded master’s or professional degree in September

In all, 735 students applied from across Canada and beyond; 132 were interviewed; 50 were short-listed. And now 20 students have clinched the honour of being the first cohort of McCall MacBain Scholars at McGill.

The 20 students are all aspiring innovators, community-builders and leaders. In September 2021, the scholars will begin their fully funded master’s or professional degree in five faculties at McGill, while connecting with mentors and participating in an intensive leadership development program.

The program is the first comprehensive leadership-based scholarship for master’s and professional studies in Canada. The scholarships were created through a historic $200-million gift to McGill University from John McCall MacBain and his wife, Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain, in 2019.

“The global challenges we face as a society need the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of these scholars,” John McCall MacBain said in a statement. “Through this scholarship program, they’ll have opportunities to deepen their knowledge, develop their leadership skills, and create meaningful connections that will enable them to bring about positive change. We want to congratulate these students and recognize the hundreds of candidates across Canada who were considered for this scholarship.”

Three McGillians in the mix

The McCall MacBain Scholars were chosen based on character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength and intellectual curiosity.

Sinan Abi Farraj, who is weeks away from finishing his McGill Engineering undergraduate degree, is one of three McGill grads who made the cut. He’ll be joined this fall by fellow McGill alums Somaya Amiri (BA’20) and Zeytouna Suleiman (BSW’20).

Farraj, who will begin a master’s degree in chemical engineering, manages and helped expand the engineering faculty’s peer tutoring service. He has helped organize student elections, lead a space technology subcommittee and researched textile recycling solutions for an environmental organization, in addition to teaching refugees in Lebanon.

Farraj said he will pursue research on “nanomaterial-based technologies to solve critical environmental challenges,” and intends to “continue giving back to my community through academics and volunteer work.”

“It is an honour to be selected as a McCall MacBain Scholar and to join the cohort of Scholars with a shared vision to have a positive impact on the world… You never know how your kind actions, no matter how small they might seem, will improve the lives of those around you. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the help and support of people around me and others behind the scene – a lot of whom I may never even know or meet!”

A cross-country cohort

The first year of McCall MacBain Scholars will come to McGill from 15 Canadian universities, and one American university. The places they have called home span Canada and the globe, from Grande Prairie to Brossard to Beirut.

Grace Ma, for example, is a Winnipeg native who is currently finishing her undergrad studies at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College. There, she pursued her two passions, humanities and environmental science, by working for her college’s literary arts journal for four years, most recently as editor-in-chief, and co-leading a university-wide environmental action group. She also teaches violin to young people and spent summers working as a trail analyst, tour guide, and park outreach assistant. She will enter the law program at McGill.

Ma, whose family moved from Montreal to Winnipeg when she was eight, said she is “really excited to learn both common and civil law systems, and to brush up on my French!”

She plans to study various facets of environmental law “through the lens of constitutional law, Indigenous legal traditions and international law…  I feel immensely grateful, humbled, and honoured to be selected as a McCall MacBain Scholar. This scholarship means so much to me – it is not just my scholarship, but rather that of family, friends, peers and educators who have supported me throughout my life and my undergraduate years, [through] highs and lows.”

Another Scholar, Josh Swain, is finishing his studies at the University of Winnipeg, where he has engaged with his Métis heritage by helping run a campus group that supports Indigenous students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. He has also helped teach biology and financial literacy to Indigenous students.

He worked for seven years before beginning his undergraduate studies at the University of Winnipeg in 2016 – and continued to work part-time at a restaurant during his studies. Swain plans to study public health through his scholarship.

“I very much look forward to the rich and vibrant culture that Montreal has to offer, and McGill being very much at the heart of that with such a vastly diverse student body,” said Swain.

“I am very much looking forward to learning not only from my instructors at McGill, but also from my peers in both my MSc program and fellow McCall MacBain scholars. What a huge wealth of both talent and diversity of lived experiences… McGill has been a dream school for me.”

The complete list of this year’s McCall MacBain Scholars:

  • Sinan Abi Farraj, McGill University (BEng’21)
  • Kasem Alhaeik, Université de Montréal (BA’21)
  • Somaya Amiri, McGill University (BA’20)
  • Fatima Beydoun, Dalhousie University (BA’21)
  • AJ Bimm, University of Toronto (BA’21)
  • Larissa Chiu, University of British Columbia (BSc’21)
  • Brendan Cottrell, Simon Fraser University (BASc’20)
  • Daisy Couture, University of British Columbia (BA’20)
  • Nathan Duarte, University of Waterloo (BASc’21)
  • Grace Ma, University of Toronto – Trinity College (BSc’21)
  • Caroline Merner, Dalhousie University (BA’17)
  • Hayley Newman-Petryshen, Wilfrid Laurier University (BA’21)
  • Nicole Osayande, Queen’s University (BCmp’21)
  • Tyler Paetkau, University of Alberta (BA’21)
  • Amanda Sears, York University (BA’20)
  • Zeytouna Suleiman, McGill University (BSW’20)
  • Josh Swain, University of Winnipeg (BSc’21), Assiniboine Community College (Dipl’09)
  • Helen Thai, Carleton University (BCom’17, BA’20)
  • Raymond Tu, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (BSc’21)
  • Nico Waltenbury, Western University (BA’20)

The post McCall MacBain Scholars announces inaugural cohort appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Grad students give award-winning 3MT/M180 presentations

Campus news - Tue, 04/06/2021 - 16:45
McGill’s 2021 3MT/MT180 Competition winners: Trevor Cotter (top-left), Auriane Canesse (top right), Ida Derish (bottom left), Natasha Jacobson (center), and Lysanne Desharnais (bottom right).

On March 18, McGill announced the first-place winners of the annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) and Ma thèse en 180 secondes (MT180) competition. Trevor Cotter, a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, will advance to the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) Eastern Regional Finals, while Auriane Canesse, a PhD student in Physics, will be moving on to the Association canadienne-française pour l’avancement des sciences (ACFAS) MT180 national finals. Both students will now compete against candidates from across Canada for recognition of their outstanding public speaking abilities.

Every year, McGill’s Department of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies holds the 3MT/MT180 competition in collaboration with SKILLSETS. The competition, which began in 2008 at The University of Queensland, challenges graduate students to present dissertation research before a non-specialized audience and panel of judges in only 180 seconds (or less), using a single, static slide.

From the record-breaking one hundred and fifty students who signed up for the competition, fifteen students were chosen to move on to the finals after a challenging round of heats, representing six faculties and twelve departments from across McGill. The final competition event was livestreamed publicly on YouTube, where audience members were able to watch the presentations in real time and vote for the People’s Choice Award. To date, the video has garnered over 1,900 views online.

From spinal surgery to colliding protons

Cotter’s award-winning 3MT presentation, Spine Surgery: As Easy as Landing a Plane, highlighted the possibilities of using physics-driven surgical simulators to train spine surgeons – a prospect that impressed both audience members and judges alike. He expressed how, for him, “the most challenging thing about the competition was trying to compete with so many amazing presenters. They really forced me to think about my engagement and presentation skills much more critically than I had before.”

Meanwhile, Auriane Canesse’s presentation Observation d’un boson W et de deux photons produits dans des collisions de protons, shed light on a very different topic: What can happen at a molecular level when protons collide at the speed of light. “Particle physics is a subject completely disconnected from people’s everyday life. It’s not relatable and rather complex, so the most challenging part of the MT180 competition was introducing the context of my research in such a short time, and making people care about it,” she noted.

Both speakers were assessed by a panel of four judges on the basis of the content and delivery of their presentation, as well as the clarity of their supporting slide.

Thought-provoking presentations

Neither first-place finalists came to their titles easily; second and third-place runners up, Ida Derish and Natasha Jacobson, both gave the judges plenty to discuss.

Derish, a second-year Master’s student in Experimental Surgery, spotlighted her research on the new methods she is exploring for using stem cells in heart regenerative therapies. When asked, Derish admitted that “it was an interesting process to dismantle all the preconceptions I had about my own research, to only keep it at its bare essentials, but to still keep that same passion – in order for other people to become equally invested in what I do.” Her presentation distinctly outlined her enthusiasm about the future practical possibilities of her research for people who have suffered life-altering heart attacks.

Similarly, Jacobson, the third place winner and PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, delivered a compelling presentation on designing new medical devices to improve the treatment and diagnosis of patients suffering from incontinence – a reality, she emphasized, is experience by one in ten Canadians at some point in their lives.

Both students managed to articulate their research with ease, while clearly calling attention to the innovative nature of their work.

Finally, Lysanne Desharnais won the hearts of audience members, receiving the People’s Choice Award for her demonstration of how diet and obesity influence immune-based therapies in lung cancer. “I think it’s important to ensure that your presentation contains something that your audience can relate to,” she wrote. “It’s easier to keep your audience engaged if they see how your research could impact their life, or the life of someone they know.”

Virtual showcase of McGill talent

As with most recent events, this year’s competition took place virtually, and the finalists demonstrated perseverance and bravery in light of the unique challenges of competing in a remote context. Considerations like internet speed, background noise, and camera positioning became part of the orchestration of an award-winning thesis presentation for the first time in the competition’s 10-year history at McGill.

All of the competition trainings also took place on Zoom, which presented new obstacles for the organizing team; virtual platforms and technical solutions (including a myCourses training module) became essential to planning and implementing a successful online event. Nevertheless, organizers were thrilled to discover this year had the highest rate of pre-event RSVPs on record, signalling successful outreach efforts to teaching staff, alumni, students and program directors.

The 3MT/MT180 competition is always a showcase of McGill’s brightest student talent, and this year was no different. In taking on this challenge amidst pandemic upheaval, the 2021 finalists proved their dedication to their research and to sharing it with both the McGill community and the world at large. You can learn more about 3MT/MT180 here; registration for the 2022 competition will open in Fall 2021 for all eligible graduate students.

The post Grad students give award-winning 3MT/M180 presentations appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Impact200 finalists selected

Campus news - Tue, 04/06/2021 - 14:37

The judges’ votes are in. Ten finalist teams have been selected in the impact200 Bicentennial sustainability challenge, which aims to turn students’ ideas into innovative projects with real-world impact.

Among the proposals moving on to the next phase of the challenge: a plan to convert agricultural and cardboard waste from McGill’s campuses into edible mushrooms; a project to create 200 gardens on underused land in Montreal; and a program to build footbridges connecting rural communities with schools, markets and clinics in South America and Africa. All the projects address one or more of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Of the 44 teams that entered the impact200 challenge late last year, 22 were selected in January as semi-finalists. Those teams pitched their ideas during March to a judging panel made up of three emeritus professors and a retired University staff member.

The finalist teams each get up to $5,000 and expert mentors to help develop a proof-of-concept over the summer.

“Any one of the finalists could develop a sustainability project which will have a significant impact for many years to come, either locally in Montreal or abroad,” said judging-panel member Lawrence Mysak, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

The teams will pitch their final proposals to a jury in the fall. Winners are scheduled to be announced in late November.

Here are the 10 finalists:
  • 200 Urban Garden
    Did you know that Montreal currently provides only 35% of the WHO’s recommended greenspace per person? 200 Urban Garden aims to do something about that: The team’s goal is to establish 200 new gardens in Montreal by turning underutilized pockets of land into lively green spaces with themed gardens to match the spirit of the local community.
  • Algo
    Algal blooms are overgrowths of algae that can reduce oxygen levels in bodies of water, block sunlight from aquatic plants, and release toxins into their environment.Algo aims to remove algal blooms by collecting the excess algae and converting it into biomass. Once recovered, this biomass can be used as a sustainable source of energy such as biofuel or biogas, or it can be used as fertilizer.
  • CoolHealth/ The Sustainable Cooling Team
    This team is developing a mobile solar refrigerator to provide better access to sustainable cooling in mobile clinics globally. The prototype will be implemented in Burkina Faso to serve internally displaced communities, especially women and children, in collaboration with local partners
  • McGill Engineers in Action
    For people around the world, a river can mean the difference between receiving an education, getting medical attention, and selling goods – or not. Every year, this team will design a footbridge for rural communities in Bolivia or Eswatini to help connect them to essential resources such as schools, markets and clinics. Then, every summer, a team of students wlll live and work alongside the community to construct the footbridge.
  • McGill Food Analytics Centre
    There are over 150 food-based organizations in Montreal, and over 10,000 volunteers. But there is a supply and demand mismatch for the volunteers in the system. The McGill Food Analytics Centre has created a scheduling application designed specifically for volunteers at food-based organizations.
  • McGill Mycelium Project
    Imagine an innovative urban farm that transforms waste into a nutritional food source, in a space as small as a closet. The McGill Mycelium Project will convert agricultural wasted from Mac campus and cardboard waste from the downtown campus into tasty oyster mushrooms to be served at McGill cafeterias.
  • Mental Health Task Force
    Are you looking for ways to better cope with stress and anxiety in this time of uncertainty? Learn how to improve your emotional intelligence with this team’s gamified, scientifically backed EdTech tool. The platform helps you gain actionable insights in self-awareness, empathy, self-regulation, social skills, and motivation using the latest research in behavioural science.
  • MiniWaste
    Food bank demand surged after the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. But small food donors and food banks don’t have efficient logistics to coordinate their efforts. Food Map aims to bridge this gap. The information-sharing platform connects small food banks, food donors and people in need, with real-time geographical information on the availability, perishability, type, and quantity of donated food in the city.
  • SOlar-A
    Have you ever thought about how easy it is to access clean water with the turn of a sink handle? 29 per cent of the world’s population still lacks this basic service. In many communities, women and children make long journeys to bring home small amounts of dirty water, contributing to 485,000 diarrheal deaths yearly. The Solar-A team aims to tackle this problem with a backpack capable of purifying contaminated water using solar and biomechanical energy.
  • unearth
    The unearth platform will teach youth how processes within environmental systems are linked. For example, youngsters can explore how coral reef fisheries in the Caribbean can cause phase shifts to algae-dominated states when overexploited. The interactive platform, enriched with current scientific literature and animations, will be available in English, French and Spanish.

Watch a video montage of impact200 semi-finalist proposals.

The post Impact200 finalists selected appeared first on McGill Reporter.

McGill receives $5 million in funding from Quebec government to bolster retail sector

Campus news - Thu, 04/01/2021 - 17:38

McGill University’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management will receive $5 million in funding to drive retail innovation and research, and support the province’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As part of the provincial government’s economic recovery plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its new digital transformation initiative, the funding from the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation will be provided over four years to scale up interdisciplinary research activities, foster retail talent, establish professional development programs, and conduct knowledge transfer for Quebec SMEs.

“We are delighted to receive this vital support, which will enable us to help rebuild and strengthen a key sector of our economy at such a critical time,” said Professor Saibal Ray, Academic Director of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management. “I would like to thank the Government of Quebec for investing to help shape the future of retail and for their vote of confidence in our community of researchers, students and industry partners.”

A major portion of the funding will go towards the Bensadoun School’s newly launched retail innovation lab which integrates interdisciplinary research and artificial intelligence, enabling researchers to develop new ideas and technologies to improve the customer experience in a socially responsible fashion with the help of partner organizations. The lab’s inaugural retail partner is Quebec success story Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.

Funds will also be allocated towards supporting SMEs to succeed in their digital and omni-channel transformation through professional development opportunities, executive education, and dissemination of knowledge and best practices. A final pillar benefited by this government investment will be to help cultivate the next generation of skilled retail talent through student research stipends, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities via the Bensadoun School.

“Supporting the Bensadoun School will make up for the delay some of our storekeepers have faced because of retailers in major digital transformation chains. People have come up with new online consumption habits because of the pandemic. Consequently, it is imperative that our retail trade industry adapt and look toward new technologies and electronic trade,” states Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation.

“The trade commerce industry is faced with changes in technological access and their effects on our consumption habits. The Bensadoun School has developed great initiatives for its staff to adapt to the electronic trade era and benefit from new consumer habits. The contribution we are making today is the key to SME economic performance in this industry,” adds Lucie Lecours, Minister for the Economy.

“The retail sector – and SMEs in particular – has been strongly impacted by the pandemic. Innovation and digitization are critical to revitalizing the ‘new economy’. We are poised and excited to help put Quebec on the map as a hub of world-class retail excellence.” said Charles de Brabant, Executive Director at the Bensadoun School.

The post McGill receives $5 million in funding from Quebec government to bolster retail sector appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Global audience for McGill’s birthday celebrations

Campus news - Thu, 04/01/2021 - 16:35
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD’18, and Heleena De Oliveira, BA’21, co-hosted the Celebrate 200 anniversary event

It was a global celebration of McGill’s past and present – with a confident look to the future.

Yesterday’s Celebrate 200 virtual event attracted viewers from around the world and featured cameo appearances and shout outs from some of the most influential members of the McGill community. Principal’s Emeriti David Johnston, Bernard Shapiro and Heather Munroe-Blum, all made guest appearances, along with Ram Panda (Meng’71, MBA’77), Chair of the Board of Governors, and former Chancellor Michael A. Meighen (BA’60, LLD’12).

“Since its founding in 1821, McGill University has educated generations of students, and grown to become synonymous with excellence in teaching and research,” read a message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (BA’94). “As we also look towards the future, I know that McGill University will continue to take a prominent role in shaping our society and helping solve some of the most difficult challenges facing the world.”

Co-hosts share laughs, personal McGill anecdotes

The virtual birthday party was co-hosted by a pair of stand-out McGillians – Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD’18, and Heleena De Oliveira, BA’21. Duvernay-Tardif is an MD and Super-Bowl-champion-turned-frontline-healthcare-worker. De Oliveira is a U3 student completing a double major in Political Science and Anthropology, and President of McGill’s Black Students’ Network.

The co-hosts shared plenty of laughs, sharing personal anecdotes of their time at McGill and competing in a friendly McGill trivia competition. Duvernay-Tardif divulged that he and six other offensive linemen on the varsity football team got stuck in an elevator in Percival Molson Stadium for two hours before being rescued by firemen.

“[The elevator] was built for six people, but we were O-linemen, so we were heavier [than average people]. So, the elevator broke,” deadpanned the 6’5”, 320-pound MD. “It was dark and sweaty and hot… it was disgusting – and that’s how I became claustrophobic.”

Principal Fortier: Roddick Gates were “doors that opened a whole world for me”

Principal Suzanne Fortier (BSc’72, PhD’76) also shared her recollections of her days at McGill as a student. “Open, connected and purposeful – I don’t think I would have used those words when I was a student here 50 years ago,” said the Principal when De Oliveira asked her how the University has changed. “Not to the extent that I do today, where I see all that McGill is doing connecting with various communities around the world.”

“One thing that gives me a lot of joy – and this was true as a student – is just getting to McGill, to our beautiful campuses and, here in downtown Montreal, going through the Roddick Gates,” continued Principal Fortier. “The reason why this is such a joy for me is that I realized that the first time I crossed through those Gates, it was intimidating. And then it quickly became exhilarating, because they were not gates, they were doors… doors that opened a whole world for me.”

Fortier closed the interview by looking forward, calling McGill an institution that “thinks globally and acts globally, while being anchored in its own city, province and country.”

The Principal lauded current students, in particular, their efforts to address the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. “When I see all that is going on around campus, particularly with our students and all the initiatives they launch… they are ready to shape the future, and shape it into a better future,” she said. “To think that our community, our University, will participate in what is the most important project for planet Earth – that’s what we want to do in our third century.”

Kudos to staff and faculty

Faculty and staff were celebrated in a video narrated by Dianna Dutton (Gr.Dip.’88, MBA’89), Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources.

“What started with four professors and a few support staff, has grown to a community of nearly 12,000,” said Dutton. “It’s our community that attracts great students from around the globe and guides them on a journey of discovery and growth.”

On top of a series of diverse musical performances, Celebrate 200 heard from impact200 participants, a competition that brings together students and recent grads to develop transformative projects to enhance the sustainability of our campuses, our city and the world.

A short video celebrated McGill’s deep roots within the community. From the engineers who build bridges and schools around the world, to our students who deliver everything from music to free dental care to Montrealers, McGill has been serving people for two centuries.

Watch the recording of  Celebrate 200 event below

The post Global audience for McGill’s birthday celebrations appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Chemistry Outreach Group goes above and beyond at virtual Nuit blanche

Campus news - Thu, 04/01/2021 - 13:31

With a triumphant performance at Nuit blanche 2021, McGill’s Chemistry Outreach Group not only overcame the challenges of moving its spectacular chemistry show online, but also captured the imagination of its widest audience to date, with demonstrations more daring and intricate than anything it could ever attempt in person.

McGill’s Chemistry Outreach Group overcame COVID-19 restrictions to have its most successful Nuit blanche performance everAda McVean

Since their 2015 debut at Montreal’s annual dusk-to-dawn festival, the group has become a favourite of chemistry-curious Nuit blanche revellers who have flocked to the 220-seat auditorium in the Otto Maass Chemistry building to watch the show. This year, with the COVID-19 curfew keeping crowds at home, the group was forced to get creative, putting on a virtual edition that streamed on YouTube for people across the city, and even the rest of the world, to watch.

“Being able to perform the experiments in the lab allowed for more demonstrations to be done, especially ones that would be too dangerous to perform in an auditorium or would be too small for everyone to see if done in person from the back of a large room,” said the group’s coordinator, Alex Wahba, an academic associate in the Department of Chemistry at McGill.

Aligning themselves with this year’s theme of art and culture, the volunteers dubbed their show The Art-Chemist, pun intended, framing it as a night at a museum filled with visually striking experiments to transport viewers into another world. Realizing that livestreaming would put them in direct competition for audience attention with just about every other form of on-screen entertainment (the renascent hockey season, the latest bingeworthy Netflix series, etc.), the group resolved to be a lot more concise, adopting the rapid-fire style of modern television, while maintaining the precision of their chemistry.

Having already delivered several live, online demonstrations to school groups, the group was unfazed by the potential pitfalls of malfunctioning microphones and cameras. Reaching over 460 different individuals and families, their 2021 Nuit blanche performance may even have surpassed previous in-person attendance levels. And for those who couldn’t tune in on the night, both the French and English shows remain available on the group’s YouTube channel.

While the group plans to bring the most successful aspects of the virtual show into future Nuit blanche presentations, Dr. Wahba said that one of the major downsides was not being able to see and interact with the audience directly.

“We still prefer having people in person so we can get interaction and discussion – nothing beats seeing the public awestruck by an exciting chem demo. We are definitely looking forward to having guests back at McGill.”

The post Chemistry Outreach Group goes above and beyond at virtual Nuit blanche appeared first on McGill Reporter.

McGill celebrates leadership in sustainability with 11th annual Catalyst Awards

Campus news - Thu, 04/01/2021 - 13:13
From L to R: Nina Caporicci-Dinucci, Naila Kuhlmann, Theresa Degenhard, Nate Quitoriano, and Chloë Ryan, all winners of the 2021 Catalyst Awards for Sustainability.

2020 was, without a doubt, not the year that we hoped it to be.

But members of the McGill community have taken these tumultuous times in stride, passing over and around the roadblocks placed in their path to continue forging toward a more sustainable campus – virtual or otherwise.

The Catalyst Awards for Sustainability, celebrated each spring, allows us to come together to celebrate their achievements.

“The Catalyst Awards allow us to celebrate the top-tier achievements of McGill’s sustainability leaders,” said Executive Director of Sustainability Francois Miller. “Despite the challenges faced over the past year, the 2021 recipients have demonstrated upstanding commitment to creating sustainable change and opportunities for engagement across our campuses, for which we are incredibly grateful.”

The award recipients are decided annually by a review committee, whose membership includes staff and student representatives.

Demonstrated vision and leadership for a sustainable future

Each of the 2021 recipients have, in their own way, envisioned a sustainable future and taken the steps needed to turn that vision into reality.

Chloë Ryan, a third-year mechanical engineering student, has been a founding member of a number of student-lead sustainability initiatives that bring faculties together to solve multi-faceted challenges. Her work with Sustainability in Engineering at McGill (SEAM) and the BRIDGE Sustainability Case competition contributed to her designation as the 2021 Emerald Key recipient.

“I’m honoured to have been chosen for this year’s Catalyst Award, and I find it really rewarding to see that McGill values students’ efforts to grow a culture of sustainability on campus,” said Ryan, who stressed that she feels climate change is the greatest threat facing her generation.

During her time at McGill, Ryan says her focus has been making the change she wants to see happen. “I’m proud of the changes I’ve seen and am confident they will endure and lead to more progress!”

Green Labs Initiative

Similarly, the Green Labs Initiative at the Neuro – this year’s recipient of the Group Initiative award – first developed their vision for low-waste research labs after growing concern for the significant environmental costs of scientific research. Since first receiving support from the Sustainability Projects Fund in 2018, the Green Labs team has implemented infrastructural and cultural changes at The Neuro that have contributed to less waste and a better understanding of sustainable lab practices.

In the years since, the team has recruited ambassadors from more than 12 other labs across at least eight departments to kick-start their own initiatives.

In the years since, the team has recruited ambassadors from more than 12 other labs across at least eight departments to kick-start their own initiatives.

“We are very grateful for the recognition of our efforts in building a sustainable research community at McGill,” said Naila Kulmann, a member of the Green Labs Initiative at the Neuro team. “It’s been wonderful to see our grassroots initiative grow since its humble beginnings in 2018, in large part thanks to the support of [the Office of Sustainability] and the Sustainability Project Fund. It’s truly an honour to receive the Catalyst Award, and we hope this inspires other labs across campus to join us!”

The current Green Labs Initiative at the Neuro team includes Kuhlmann, Jana Schüttpelz, Theresa Degenhard, Nina Caporicci-Dinucci, Pascale Patenaude, Claire Honda, Alexandra Chapleau, Maleeha Khan, and Ghislaine Deyab.

Hands-on leadership

Professor Nate Quitoriano, who is the recipient of the 2021 Catalyst Award for Faculty & Staff, is equally being recognized for his ability to encourage leadership in others.

Quitoriano is the founding director of the goLEAD program, which unites students, faculty, staff and alumni towards his vision of hands-on leadership to address various challenges outlined by UN Sustainable Development Goals. The program, first developed in 2016, came into being after Quitoriano identified a missing niche for engineering students: applied leadership skill development. Through the program, Quitoriano and his team members provide hands-on experience on how to apply sustainability concepts to a variety of projects.

“I wish we could formally honour more people with this award since goLEAD has always been a group effort,” said Quitoriano. “ On behalf of that group, I am happy to receive the award and I hope that it will help us highlight the work of our student projects and give us more visibility to advance our need for funding to sustain our mission.”

The goLEAD facilitator team includes Sidney Omelon, Alexander Liepins, Larissa Jarvis and Heather McShane. The program also hosts an executive team consisting of 17 students from across the University.

Join the Office of Sustainability in celebrating the recipients of the 2021 Catalyst Awards for Sustainability in a live roundtable on Thursday, April 9 at 12 pm on YouTube. You can submit questions for the recipients by emailing sustainability@mcgill.ca.

 

The post McGill celebrates leadership in sustainability with 11th annual Catalyst Awards appeared first on McGill Reporter.

More than $1.8M to support open EEG data

Campus news - Thu, 04/01/2021 - 10:54
Alan Evans is the James McGill Professor in Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Victor Dahdaleh Chair in Neurosciences

Brain Canada has awarded a 2019 Platform Support Grant (PSG) worth $1,844,900 to Alan Evans and team at The Neuro (the Montreal Neurological Institute). As announced earlier today, this funding will support the EEGNet platform, an open repository for electroencephalogram (EEG) data, to better investigate neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and neurodegenerative brain disorders.

“We are grateful for this support, and excited about what the funding will mean for advancements in neuroimaging and the broader brain research community,” says Evans, James McGill Professor in Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Victor Dahdaleh Chair in Neurosciences. “Platform support grants like these contribute to building open neuroscience – and they provide us with the foundation for transformative discoveries, ultimately improving our understanding of the brain and its disorders.”

Evans leads national and international research in neuroimaging and neuroinformatics as the scientific director of five major initiatives: the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics & Mental Health, the Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform, the Global Brain Consortium, the McGill Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, and Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives.

Supporting collaboration, data-sharing

Brain Canada’s Platform Support Grants are awarded to teams that are creating and/or enhancing centralized shared resources to increase access to equipment, expertise, data, and protocols across research networks. Brain Canada will announce additional Platform Support Grants in the coming weeks, as part of a more than $25 million investment in brain research.

By working with scientists and laboratories from across Canada and around the world, EEGNet aims to standardize data formats and analysis tools to establish an optimal network for collaboration and data-sharing. The improved data analysis tools could lead to earlier detection in EEG abnormalities that are present early on, such as child developmental disorders, psychiatric or behavioural disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and in different states of consciousness (sleep, coma, anaesthesia, wakefulness).

Unravelling the mysteries of the brain

With several of its researchers belonging to the Global Brain Consortium (GBC), as well as the Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform (CONP), EEGNet advances the field of neuroscience at both the national and international level. The platform aims to position Canada as a leader in sharing EEG data by creating a substantial network that will advance the study of brain disorders.

“The brain is the most critical organ in the body, but the least understood,” says Brain Canada President and CEO, Dr. Viviane Poupon. “To better understand the mysteries of the brain, we must eliminate barriers and knowledge silos by supporting open access to equipment, services, results and databases for all researchers.”

Read the Brain Canada announcement

 

The post More than $1.8M to support open EEG data appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Super-Bowl champ MD to co-host Celebrate 200

Campus news - Tue, 03/30/2021 - 17:33
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the first MD, and the first member of the McGill community to win a Super Bowl title. Photo: Martin Girard 

Tomorrow, March 31, people are invited to Celebrate 200, McGill’s virtual 200th anniversary party. The virtual celebration will be hosted by two McGillians – famed NFL player and frontline healthcare worker, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD’18, and student reporter and President of the Black Students Network at McGill, Heleena De Oliveira, BA’21.

Both co-hosts represent some of the best qualities of McGill, including intelligence, perseverance and a commitment to serve.

In advance of Celebrate 200, we are profiling both Duvernay-Tardif and De Oliveira.

****

When Laurent Duvernay-Tardif made history in May 2018 by becoming the first active NFL player to earn a medical degree, he fielded questions from a media scrum in front of the Arts Building just minutes after receiving his diploma.

“Don’t get me wrong, football is an awesome opportunity, and not everyone can make a living playing it,” he said at the time. “At the same time, being a doctor is more than [earning a living]. You get to treat people, you get to change lives. It is an honour to be part of this community and I take that responsibility very seriously.”

At the time, it was a great soundbite.

Last year, Duvernay-Tardif put those words into action. Just weeks after helping the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV, the millionaire pro athlete dubbed “the most interesting man in the NFL,” reached out to local health authorities to offer his services on the COVID-19 frontlines working as an orderly in a long-term care facility outside Montreal.

One day, he was protecting superstar quarterback Patrick Mahones, the next, he was caring for elderly patients at the peak of the pandemic.

Doubling down on commitment

Last July, Duvernay-Tardif doubled down on his commitment, becoming the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif shares a moment with the NFL’s Vince Lombardi Trophy / Courtesy of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

“This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally,” wrote Duvernay-Tardif on his social media accounts at the time. “Being at the [COVID-19] frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system. I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”

And while by opting out of the season, Duvernay-Tardif made just a fraction of the $2.75 million he was scheduled to earn, he was not without his rewards. Last December, he was one of five athletes named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated as well as being named co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year.

In typical fashion, Duvernay-Tardif has no regrets about opting out of the football season.

“After seeing the impact of COVID-19 first-hand, it didn’t make sense for me to play football,” he told Maclean’s Magazine in a recent interview. “I didn’t want to regret that decision 10 years from now, looking back at 2020, thinking I was spreading the virus instead of trying to fight it.”

Grateful member of the McGill family

Where ever his life has taken him, Duvernay-Tardif is quick to thank McGill. “I wouldn’t be here if not for McGill,” he said at a banner-unveiling ceremony honouring him at McGill’s Athletic Complex on February 12, 2020. “You guys made me a better human being.”

“It’s incredible to think that McGill has been impacting people’s lives for 200 years – including my own,” he said just days before he will co-host the Celebrate 200 event. “McGill allowed me to combine my passion for both medicine and football at the highest level and to achieve my goal of becoming the first NFL player to graduate with a doctorate in medicine.”

On March 31, take part in Celebrate 200, the virtual celebration of McGill’s 200th birthday. 

The one-hour show begins at 12:30 pm and will feature performances by Inuk/Mohawk artist Beatrice Deer, Canada’s Chilly Gonzales, BMus’94, and students from our very own Schulich School of Music. Be inspired. Be amazed. Be proud of your community. Learn more and register today.

The post Super-Bowl champ MD to co-host Celebrate 200 appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Celebrate 200 co-host says experiences at McGill “have shaped a lot of my outlook on life”

Campus news - Tue, 03/30/2021 - 16:08
“I hope that we see the increased representation of Black and Indigenous folk on our campus, and the integration of knowledge from those communities within this institution,” says Heleena De Oliveira, co-host for the Celebrate 200 festivities

Tomorrow, March 31, people are invited to Celebrate 200, McGill’s virtual 200th anniversary party. The virtual celebration will be hosted by two McGillians – famed NFL player and frontline healthcare worker, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD’18, and student reporter and President of the Black Students Network at McGill, Heleena De Oliveira, BA’21.

Both co-hosts represent some of the best qualities of McGill, including intelligence, perseverance and a commitment to serve.

In advance of Celebrate 200, we are profiling both Duvernay-Tardif and De Oliveira.

****

Nearing the completion of her Bachelor of Arts degree, Heleena De Oliveira is grateful for her time at McGill.

“My experiences at McGill have shaped a lot of my outlook on life. McGill has fundamentally taught me about resilience, and what it means to work towards the things you believe are worth struggling for, despite the obstacles you might face,” she says. “McGill has also taught me a lot about community; it is here that I have come to deeply value being part of a community, especially given that this can be a challenging university to navigate alone (academically and otherwise). I have met many truly exceptional people here, some of whom have inspired me in insurmountable ways. In my time at McGill, I have learned the value of hard work, and I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to study here.”

However, the journey hasn’t always been easy for De Oliveira.

Working toward a double major in Political Science and Anthropology, she is a keenly attuned to social issues and the human condition.

Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, De Oliveira completed her high school in England. Having lived in both Africa and Europe, she set her sights on North American universities to continue her studies.

“I chose McGill because of its reputation as an academically challenging institution which has a great international standing. I had wanted to live in North America for some time… and Montreal was a place I had longed to discover for quite a while,” says De Oliveira. “I also knew some friends back home from Kenya who had studied at McGill and who had enjoyed their time here so that was also great incentive to apply.”

Looking for, and finding, community

De Oliveira remembers “feeling quite nervous” when she finally walked through the Roddick Gates three years ago. It was her first time in Canada and she didn’t know a single person. She was completely alone.

“I really craved being part of a community who understood me and who I could relate to. I spent a lot of time in my first year looking for this community and luckily, I came to hear about the Black Students’ Network (BSN).”

De Oliveira signed on, joining BSN in November 2019 as Project Manager under the Advocacy portfolio and becoming President in May 2020.

More than just giving her a sense of community, however, BSN gave De Oliveira an added sense of purpose.

“I grew up reading the work of Black women activists and writers like Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison and Angela Davis amongst others who I came to profoundly respect and even idolize,” says De Oliveira. “I wanted to be able to contribute to something meaningful for my community which they could be proud of and which would uplift them, and I think that is very much what the BSN stands for.”

“In being a member of BSN I have been able to be a part of something that truly adds value to my life, and which has allowed me to actually contribute towards making observable changes (no matter how small) in other people’s lives,” she says.

Working on McGill’s Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism

Despite the pandemic, De Oliveira and her BSN colleagues have been very busy this past year. On top of public education campaigns and continued advocacy for and support of McGill’s black students, De Oliveira and her colleagues have been invited to share their knowledge and perspectives with policy makers, including Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.

“I am proud that despite today’s current climate and the stress which has been brought on by the pandemic, we have still stood strong and have been able to adapt in order to hold a number of events which celebrate the beauty of Black culture, including our role in collaborating with McGill African Students Society and the administration for Black History Month,” says De Oliveira. “I am really looking forward to completing the rest of the events and initiatives that we have for this year, including Black Grad, and Youth Day.”

De Oliveira is particularly proud of BSN’s work last year helping create McGill’s Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism.

“I was quite heavily involved along with the rest of the BSN executive in consulting with the administration on the drafting of McGill’s Action Plan to Address Anti-Black Racism,” says De Oliveira. “Our role was to convey the needs of Black students to the administration and to suggest where the University needed to supply greater institutional support for those students. Right now, the BSN is still involved along with the rest of the Black community at McGill in giving feedback on the Action Plan as it gets implemented.”

“The greatest strength of the Action Plan in my opinion is that it is living and it is adjustable. I think it is extremely important that a plan of this nature is not set in stone but rather demands consistent feedback and appraisal from the Black community,” says De Oliveira.

The next hundred years

De Oliveira sees the Bicentennial as a critical moment for McGill. “Indeed, it is a time of celebration (this institution has come a long way), but also one of deep reflection. It is also a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of all past and present members of this community, including those who are part of the Black community whose contributions to the University, especially in the past, have often gone unrecognized.”

“I hope that McGill continues to challenge itself and its history and becomes an institution that leads the changes we will come to see in society. I hope that we see the increased representation of Black and Indigenous folk on our campus, and the integration of knowledge from those communities within this institution,” she continues. “My hopes are that we uplift those communities, not just in the University, but in Montreal, Canada, and around the world. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for our school.”

On March 31, take part in Celebrate 200, the virtual celebration of McGill’s 200th birthday. 

The one-hour show begins at 12:30 pm and will feature performances by Inuk/Mohawk artist Beatrice Deer, Canada’s Chilly Gonzales, BMus’94, and students from our very own Schulich School of Music. Be inspired. Be amazed. Be proud of your community. Learn more and register today.

The post Celebrate 200 co-host says experiences at McGill “have shaped a lot of my outlook on life” appeared first on McGill Reporter.

Pages

Back to top