Last fall, a group of about 15 McGill students living in the university's Solin Hall residence banded together to aid Syrian refugee-students in their search for knowledge.
Taking to Skype, the group, known as McGill's Living-Learning Community tutored six Syrian student refugees living in Turkey, helping them learn English in preparation of taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam.
But beyond the educational directive, the rather devoted students hoped to demonstrate to these young individuals who were forced to flee their home country that there were young people in Canada who truly wanted to help them.
Now the group, who currently go by Students for Syria, hope to take their initiative to the next level, and they need your help.
In order to fund the education and living costs of incoming Syrian refugee students arriving in Montreal, the student-led organization are hoping to raise $25,000 USD.
The raised funds will be donated to Syrian Kids Foundation and World Universities Services Canada, two organizations that will directly aid Syrian students come to Montreal and enrol in a university here.
Students for Syria only launched their fundraising campaign 15 days ago, raising just under $3,000. Obviously they're quite a fair bit off from their $25,000 goal, which means they need your help to get there.
Even the smallest donation will go a long way in aiding Syrian students receive an education here in Montreal, so please do contribute in any way you can. For more information and to donate funds, head to the project page here, and watch Students for Syria's info video below.
Women will lead five of Quebec's eight largest cities following the 2021 municipal elections.
The biggest headline of the night may have been Valérie Plante's triumph over old foe Denis Coderre in Montreal, but across the province, the faces of municipal politics have become more gender-balanced.
According to the latest counts and projections, France Bélisle (Gatineau), Catherine Fournier (Longueuil), Évelyne Beaudin (Sherbrooke) and Julie Dufour (Saguenay) are all also on their way to their respective (and figurative) city hall corner offices.
In Quebec City, it seemed for a while like Marie-Josée Savard would join them. Multiple outlets had even called the election for her until the vote count for her opponent surged into the evening. Bruno Marchand ultimately claimed victory.
Mayor Plante commented on the historic nature of her second mandate in her victory speech Sunday night.
"Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first woman mayor in the history of the City of Montreal," she said.
"Tonight, they told us again, 'yes, this mayor, we're going to continue to work with her, we trust her!'"
This year, for the first time, Montrealers will have two women leading the city, as Projet Montréal's Dominique Ollivier is set to take over as president of the Executive Committee.
The government is in the process of filling a Service Canada job bank and it's advertising salaries of between $61,152 and $65,887.
On an online recruitment page, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) office says it needs to fill 45 benefits officer and program officer positions in Quebec and encourages qualified individuals to apply.
The only education requirement is a high school diploma.
While benefits officers review and process employment insurance applications, the government describes a wide range of duties for program officers, including coordination with local stakeholders regarding services from the ESDC.
Service Canada says it has EI processing centres and "program branches" in Montreal, Laval, Boucherville, Drummondville, Thetford Mines, Shawinigan, Quebec City and Saguenay, but that it may assign alternative workplaces to applicants who don't live in these areas.
In addition to a high school diploma, Service Canada is looking for applicants who have experience totalling six months "in delivering services or programs to the general public" or "interpreting and applying legislation or policies."
The language requirement is either French-only or French and English, depending on the position, according to the recruitment page.
Complete details about the positions available and the application process are online.
To the surprise of many, Quebec City also made the Top 10 — and it ranked higher than Montreal, with Quebec City at #4 and Montreal at #6.
This ranking looked at the cost of living, internet speeds, the percentage of young people, levels of safety, and more.
Our province may have been blessed enough to score two top spots in this ranking, but we still didn't make it to #1, which was Tokyo, Japan.
If ever you were thinking of going to study abroad, you may want to put Tokyo high on your list, considering it "ranks well in nearly all categories helping it to come out on top of the study. It has a good amount of high-ranking unis, great food options, and offers cheap tech. It has high levels of free speech and is above average for safety and high-ranking institutions."
"We live in a francophone province in a francophone city from a legislative perspective, but the reality of Montreal is far different," the leader of Mouvement Montréal said in an interview with MTL Blog.
"So, for us, it was important to re-establish the identity of Montreal, which is one that is inclusive."
"This is not a contested question," Holness said, citing a survey showing most Montrealers believe the city is bilingual. "We all know Montreal is bilingual and multicultural and it is something that we should embrace and recognize."
"Moreover, Montreal beyond that is even trilingual," he continued. "There are people from all over the world who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian. And all of these languages make up the diversity of Montreal, and it enriches us all."
Rather than contributing to the decline of French in Montreal, Holness said his language policies would help preserve it by offering non-francophones incentives to learn.
"The fact that we are going to incentivize and ameliorate the chances of anglophones to work in the City of Montreal means they'll be able to learn French through their employment activity," he said. "We're going to be increasing la francisation des anglophones."
"Right now, what's happening is that we're excluding anglophones," he continued. "They're moving to demerged cities such as Westmount, such as Côte Saint-Luc, such as Kirkland. They're not being incorporated into the reality and to the economic life of Montreal, and we're just pushing them all away."
Holness wants more jobs for people with spotty French
If elected, Mouvement Montréal would work to create a more inclusive municipal workforce because it's currently falling short in terms of ethnic and linguistic diversity, he said.
Of the city's roughly 25,000 municipal employees, "only about 2% of those in management positions are visible minorities and even less of those are anglophone," Holness claimed.
To change that he plans to lower the French language requirements for municipal jobs.
"Right now, when you go in for a [municipal] job, there is an evaluation based on your capacity to speak French," he said.
"So, we want to create assessments and evaluations of language that are less severe to allow individuals to get into the workforce. And then they can learn French, once they are on the job, through their interactions with their coworkers and with the public."
"The idea is that anglophones, especially those that are visible minorities, should have an easier time getting into the workforce," he continued.
'They don't want to be inclusive'
On November 7 people will vote to elect a mayor as well as 46 members of Montreal's City Council.
The current mayor, Projet Montréal's Valérie Plante, is seeking re-election and her main challenger is the previous mayor, Ensemble Montréal's Denis Coderre.
As Plante recently introduced an "action plan" to promote the French language in Montreal and Coderre is reportedly open to provincial government-led language reform, Holness accused his opponents of trying to impose provincial ideas on the metropolis.
"Valérie Plante is from Rouyn-Noranda, Denis Coderre is from Joliette," he continued. "And there's this whole idea that the regions are imposing on Montreal their vision for Montreal. And the question is, what do Montrealers want for their city?"
"Many people across the region say Montreal is the only francophone city in North America, and they're right, but Montreal also has a bilingual multicultural reality," he said. "So you have Quebec City trying to impose an identity on Montreal does not meet reality, which is multilingual and multicultural."
"We need a multilingual and multicultural policy and beyond that, a political party that reflects that diversity through and through," he added.
Projet Montréal does not reflect that diversity, he concluded, explaining how he helped organize a grassroots anti-racism movement, which he says prompted the city's public consultation agency to hold a series of hearings on systemic discrimination in 2019.
As a result, Plante created a commissioner on systemic discrimination and promised to hire more minorities for municipal jobs. But Holness had sharp words for the mayor, saying she only took those steps out of "obligation."
"The reason why there was a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination is because the administration had an all-white French executive committee when they were elected in 2017. Period. That's their vision of Montreal," he said.
"They don't want to be inclusive," he said. "Mouvement Montréal, my political party, is by its very nature, authentically diverse. We've done in two months what it took them nearly two decades to do, which is have a diverse team."