William Weintraub Prize


Established in 2018 by Joanna Riesman and Diane Riesman in memory of William and Magda Weintraub. William Weintraub was a McGill graduate and renowned Montreal journalist, author and filmmaker.

Awarded by the Quebec Studies Program in the Faculty of Arts to one undergraduate student exploring the politics and culture of Quebec and Montreal through a research paper, piece of creative writing, graphic novel, poem, audio or video podcast, narrative or documentary short film or other format. 

Students will be selected through a competitive application process. 

The prize jury will be composed of the members of the Quebec Studies Program Committee (including the Program's Director). 

Submissions from students are to be judged on the following criteria: 

  1. Originality
  2. Narrative Structure
  3. Accuracy of Facts
  4. Interdisciplinary Approach
  5. Quality of Language

Amount Awarded: $2,000 CAN

The award will be awarded annually to one undergraduate student enrolled in a course for the list of courses that are part of the Minor in Quebec Studies, or in a course offered by one of the departments, schools and programs of the Faculty of Arts and whose main topic and subject focuses on Montreal or Quebec.

2022 Recipients

Gabrielle Gagnon

Abstract of the winning work written by the author:

“The Birth Control Handbooks 1969-1975” explores the series of informative handbooks published under McGill’s Birth Control Committee from 1969-1975. Through a thorough analysis of the Handbooks, we discover that the booklets, which were illegal under the criminal code of 1892 at the time of its publication in 1968, were very medically based but also highly political. It’s very public critiques of the Canadian government, the Zero-Population Growth Movement, and its strong ties to the second-wave feminism made the Handbooks a strong political staple for reproductive rights in Canada and the United States with its millions of copies sold across America by 1971. Furthermore, it had strong implications for the services offered to women Montreal. This project draws a portrait of McGill student activism in the 1960s and the long-lasting legacy of Peter Foster, Donna Cherniak, and Allan Feingold who were at the root of the reproductive rights movement at McGill University.

Fern Lou Fernandez

Abstract of the winning work written by the author:

While currently considered one of the safest and most inclusive cities for members of the LGBTQ+ community, Montreal has its own rarely-discussed history of homophobia, which included police raids on gay parties and bars alongside apathy regarding the AIDS epidemic as well as toward the serial murders of gay men. A pivotal moment in Montreal LGBTQ+ history – and perhaps even the starting point of Montreal queer history – remains the raid on the Sex Garage party on July 15th of 1990. During this raid, police threatened, beat, and arrested party-goers. In response, Montreal’s anglophone and francophone gay and lesbian communities came together to stage a love-in and multiple other peaceful protests – often also broken up brutally by police. This activism and organizing led to important pro-LGBTQ+ changes to Quebec and Canadian legislation as well as increased coalition-building and the creation of a more unified queer identity. Based largely on archival research, this paper explores the media reaction to the raid and subsequent protests, as well as their impact for the development of a sense of queer community across gender and language lines.

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