The Centre for Equity and Human Rights (CEHR) of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) held its press conference about the racism in the U of O School of Nursing today.
The CEHR has received twenty racism discrimination complaints from students in the School of Nursing since 2009.
The press conference testimonies by two plaintiffs were detailed and disturbing.
There can be no doubt that Nursing has an urgent and widespread racism problem that has been disregarded for years by the university administration.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs Yavar Hameed stressed that the problem was not only from bad management but was also systemic, pointing to a lack of internal structures to solve and correct racism problems.
Unlike previous press conferences at the University of Ottawa, the university communication staff and legal counsel were nowhere to be seen on the floor. Instead, they have installed a new electronic lock on their main door and called the media behind closed doors for private conferences.
The presenters avoided naming the six university staff complained against in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario complaints but Student Appeal Centre director Mireille Gervais had the following statements for UofOWatch.
"[Professor] Isabelle Cyr is a problem regarding differential treatment of Nursing students based on the colour of their skin."
"Kirsten Woolend, ex-director of the School of Nursing, acknowledged in 2008 -- at a meeting with me, CEHR director Francine Page, SFUO VP-University Seamus Wolfe, vice-dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Francis Reardon, and School of Nursing administrator of undergraduate programs Joanne Larose-Dubois -- that the School of Nursing had received many complaints about Isabelle Cyr."
"It is a widely known fact that Isabelle Cyr once physically shook [assaulted] a black Nursing student."
As the event was closing, former Governor General Michaelle Jean, who now has her UNESCO office beside university president Allan Rock's office, happened by accident to walk by and stopped to chat with some of the plaintiffs. Jean inquired why they were in Tabaret Hall. After some explanation Jean asked CEHR director Francine Page to send her all the documents so she can prepare for a possible informal chat with Rock. Maybe Rock will listen to Jean? He hasn't listened to anyone else.