Meet Shanna Roberts Salée, just 28 years old and already a director and producer of her own television series titled "Mistakes were Made" based in Montreal.
From French Canadian background, Shanna grew up in the West Island. She has extensive experience in media arts, and completed a degree in Communication studies at Concordia University. She'sworked as an Assistant Director in Film and Television. In the last year, she has worked on Sony/Crackle’s The Art of More, starring Dennis Quaid and Kate Bosworth, and Bravo’s acclaimed cop drama 19-2 (which just won last night Best Drama at the Canadians Screen Awards). Her first novel The Lying Juilliardswas published in August 2015 by Thought Catalog Books.
I had the privilege to interview Shanna last week and got the inside scoop on what's coming next in the Montreal based television series MWM.
Quixote Productions has officially announced a second season for the millennial-centric comedy MWM. The series follows the lives of three girlfriends as they weave their dubious path to adulthood, one mistake at a time. Shanna stars as the main character Clara, an independent and self aware young lady who is struggling with the balance between love and not caring about love.
The irreverent series focuses on the obscure complexities of modern day romance, success, and why millennials are not yet fully formed human beings.
The girls are back! Season 2 is coming in stronger than ever, with longer episodes, and appearances from recognized actors in the biz. Of course, to find out who you'll have to tune in for yourself. The shooting will begin in April and will launch in late September... Keep your eyes out for this eccentric new hit you won't want to miss it.
All women enrolled in a full-time university program in computer science, computer engineering and construction, and electrical, electronic and communications engineering will be eligible for a $3,000 scholarship each year for up to four years — by the end of their studies, this would total $12,000.
Courtesy of BLUSH: Lesbian Party MTL Courtesy of BLUSH: Lesbian Party MTL
Montreal has all kinds of different bars, but these changemakers say many of them fall short in making space for LGBTQIA2+ women. For this reason, Avery Burrow, event organizer, and Resto Keela teamed up to create 5 à 7s for LGBTQIA2+ women that take place twice a month.
The events were created for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community to connect. According to Burrow, "queer women can actually have a reoccurring space where they can meet each other, flirt, make friends, and feel safe," at these new 5 à 7s.
Keela has a cute wooden terrasse located on rue Atateken with a beautiful spacious interior. These events are set to take place every first and third Wednesday of the month for the entirety of the summer and all LGBTQIA2+ women are welcome.
"[It was] better than I ever could have imagined! [...] And the wildest part about it was that I knew almost no one there (insert joke about how the queer community is super small and we've all dated)," Burrow said when asked how the first event went.
"Also the age range was awesome — from 18-year-olds attending their first queer event to women in their 70s catching up with old friends. This is how a lesbian space should feel; welcoming to all ages, gender expressions, and ethnicities."
During the events, you can get a pint of beer for $5 and any speed rail drink for $6.
5 à 7 For LGBTQIA2+ Women At Keela
Address: Resto Keela; 1237, rue Atateken, Montreal, QC
When: Every first and third Wednesday of the month throughout the summer, starting at 5 p.m.
Five months later, McGill has issued one statement and launched three investigations. But the accusers — who asked to be called "the girls" to protect their safety — told MTL Blog they've been left in the dark.
They said they received no updates on how investigations are progressing or whether the accused is facing any penalties.
Meanwhile, they said the student has continued attending classes.
McGill has been following its protocol for investigations into allegations of sexual assault — but this protocol has left the girls and other students in limbo for the majority of the school year.
"We can't feel safe on campus with him lurking around, viewing us as prey," one of the girls, Eva*, told MTL Blog.
Most of the girls were minors at the time of the alleged assaults, as was the accused student, whose name has not been released by the university or the police.
Eva told MTL Blog the accused student frequented bars near McGill residences where he would "talk to, touch and kiss [girls] who were drunk," and that he would persistently "beg" female students to "hook up."
In written testimonies shared with MTL Blog, each of the girls outlined how the accused student sexually assaulted them both off and on campus.
One of them said the accused sexually assaulted her when she was "completely blacked out" from alcohol.
What was McGill's reaction?
McGill responded to the December petition within three days. A statement written by Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning Fabrice Labeau assured the student body and the general public that McGill was "looking into the matter."
"Our foremost concern right now is student wellbeing," Labeau wrote. He expressed what he called a "steadfast commitment to a campus community where everyone feels safe."
Though none of the girls had formally reported their assaults to McGill at the time — something Eva said was because "the resources weren't publicized and the social consequences for reporting were immense" — that changed by the end of December.
Eva said one of the girls filed a police report, and three of the girls filed complaints with McGill, initiating three internal investigations. However, neither the police nor the university was able to confirm details of these investigations to MTL Blog.
A month later, the university had not issued any new statements nor updated the girls involved, Eva said.
MTL Blog asked Cynthia Lee, McGill's associate director of media relations, to confirm the status of the investigations in February. She said that according to McGill's Policy Against Sexual Violence, "when a formal report is made, the University must immediately appoint an external Special Investigator to conduct a full and impartial investigation."
She also said "the entirety of this process is covered by confidentiality regulations," and that she could not disclose any further information.
The silence surrounding the allegations began to disturb other McGill students who said they had to interact with the accused student in their classes.
Anna Ni told MTL Blog she attended an online psychology course with the accused student, where she said he would participate in group discussions while he was part of the ongoing investigations.
She said McGill's ambiguous response to the allegations made her feel "small and voiceless."
"I am grateful for the fact that McGill has resources that can help students struggling with this situation, but McGill's vagueness in their [statement] gave me the impression that they were not actively taking care of this situation," she said.
In a screenshot Ni took of her classmates discussing the accused student's presence in the course via group chat — which she shared with MTL Blog — one student asked, "I thought the school took care of this? Why is he still allowed to study?"
Amrita Kaur, a first-year student unaffiliated with the girls, told MTL Blog that McGill's communications to the student body following the incident — mainly emails consisting of links to support resources — felt "empty."
She emailed the Office of the Dean of Students to express her "extreme disappointment" in the school for allowing the accused student to attend classes "as if nothing ever happened."
"Now I wonder if it's true [...] all great institutions sweep sexual assault under the rug," she wrote in her email to McGill, which she forwarded to MTL Blog.
She said she did not receive a response from the university.
Lee told MTL Blog that at McGill, until an investigation is complete, "disciplinary actions cannot be taken pre-emptively […] however, interim measures are put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those directly affected."
Possible accommodations include late withdrawal from a course or a change in residence — but they only apply to survivors.
MTL Blog found that according to the Policy against Sexual Violence, the university can take pre-emptive disciplinary action if "there may be a risk of harm to any Member of the University Community."
MTL Blog asked Lee if the fact that the accused student was still attending classes meant that the university did not see him as posing a threat to university community members.
She did not directly respond to the question.
What is the 'Code of Silence'?
There is a legal reason why the university claims it is limited regarding what it can divulge about sexual assault investigations.
Brooklyn Frizzle, vice-president of the Students' Society of McGill University (SSMU), told MTL Blog they believe universities use this law as a "scapegoat" to justify a lack of transparency in cases of sexual violence.
Frizzle said this wasn't the first time students' questions about a case involving sexual misconduct were left unanswered.
"I've lost track of how many emails to the Dean of Students or to the Provost that I've seen, to which there was no response because the university can't legally give a response," they said.
Last year, representatives from l'Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) started a petition to amend the Act so post-secondary institutions could "inform victims of the disciplinary measures taken against their aggressors."
"Evidence shows that [the Act] contributes to victims' lack of trust in institutional channels, since it keeps the person most affected by the complaint from accessing crucial information for their healing process and to their sense of safety at school and/or work," the petition read.
McGill's Policy states that all investigations should be conducted within 90 days. According to this timeline, the girls' investigations should have ended by April.
But even when the investigations are complete, the Code of Silence means the girls cannot be informed of the penalties that may or may not be imposed on the accused student.
As Lee told MTL Blog, "details or updates concerning particular cases cannot be provided to anyone outside those immediately involved."
This means other students won't know if they can expect to see the accused student in their classes again next semester.
Could the 'Code of Silence' change?
While the public may never know if and how the accused student has been disciplined, McGill's Annual Report on the Policy against Sexual Violence gives some indication of the number of investigations the school has conducted.
McGill provided MTL Blog with a copy of the Annual Report, which specifies that, in 2020, eight of nine completed investigations yielding "a finding of sexual violence" resulted in disciplinary action.
These actions included "admonishment and conduct probation, formal reprimand [and/or] cease and desist communication and contact orders," but it's unclear which actions applied to which investigations.
Out of 18 incidents of sexual violence reported to the university in 2020, 83% were submitted by women. Just one report was submitted by a man, while two were submitted anonymously.
In May, a National Assembly committee presented its findings on possibly amending Bill 64. However, whether the amendments pass remains to be seen. For now, those involved can only know that the investigations are finished.
A 2016 Université Laval study found that 36.9% of Quebec students, faculty and staff experienced some form of sexual violence by another person affiliated with their university.
"It feels constant, like there's [always] some big allegation of sexual violence that we're talking about that we're trying to pressure the university to respond to," Frizzle said.
"It's just the name [that] changes every semester."
*The source's name has been changed at their request to protect their safety.
With files from Ilana Belfer, MTL Blog.
If you require resources or assistance surrounding sexual assault in Quebec, the CAVAC helpline is available 24/7. Those who may need support can call 1-866-532-2822. Other crisis lines and 24/7 options can be found at The Lifeline Canada.
Women also benefitted from the increase in high-paying jobs, as they "saw a larger increase in the number of jobs paying $30 an hour or more than men. The percentage growth in employment offering this compensation for women was moreover two and a half times higher than for men."
However, between 2019 and 2020, women lost "twice as many paying less than $20 an hour than men."
In addition, "people working in the finance, insurance, real estate and rental industries as well as professional, scientific and technical services [...] contributed nearly 40% to the overall increase in the number of jobs paid $30 an hour or more observed in 2020."