Unionize WLU cancels the hate on campus

Event held in front of Bricker Academic to express disappointment with hosted lecture

On March 6, Unionize WLU in collaboration with PSAC 902, The Rainbow Centre, and Queer Youth Defense held a “cancel the hate event” on the Waterloo campus in front of Bricker Academic.

Photo by: Bronte Behling

Protesters gathered to express their disappointment with the university for allowing lawyer Lisa Blidy to give a presentation about professionals needing to give up their rights to free speech to work in Canada to Wilfrid Laurier Heterodox Academy. The topic for Blidy’s presentation asked “How much of their speech rights must professionals relinquish to practice in Canada?”

Blidy is currently representing Amy Hamm, a woman brought into disciplinary proceedings after co-sponsoring an “I [heart] J.K. Rowling” billboard in Vancouver. Blidy is also a central figure in challenging the ‘Statement of Principles’ requirement where the Law Society of Ontario was questioned for compelling the speech of professional college members.

The Wilfrid Laurier Heterodox Academy is an organization that “aims to resurrect the joyousness of respectful and lively disagreement.”

The protest saw over ten members of the Waterloo and wider Laurier community attend the event in support.

“You’re welcome to stay outside, take up space out here, or to move inside and take up seats inside. If you are going to be moving inside, we want to make sure that everybody remains respectful in that space,” said an organizer while addressing the crowd.

Protesters played music, addressed questions of those passing by, and moved inside the building during the event.

To protect protesters’ identities, attendees were given masks to cover any identifiable features.

“Upon learning [of the talk], not just actors or members of Unionize WLU but local members of the community gathered to voice our displeasure at Laurier for hosting this event, and not having the ability to realize the language that [talks like these] are attempting to weaponize,” said John-Lee Bannister, Chairman of the Unionize WLU Committee and vice-president of PSAC 902.

Care for protecting Laurier’s transgender students was at the forefront of the protest, and the number of community members gathered made the event a success.

“I thought that the number of people that contributed and participated in our action was beneficial to our goals and aims. It demonstrated the resourcefulness of our community when certain people would like to take space on our campus,” said Bannister.

I thought that the number of people that contributed and participated in our action was beneficial to our goals and aims

John-lee bannister, chairman of unionize wlu

There are many ways for Laurier students to become involved in protests for change such as this one.

“I think that every Laurier student should become more active, more vocal and connected to a larger network of student activists that have been ongoing,” said Bannister.

Some organizations mentioned by Bannister include Unionize WLU and PSAC 902, as well as clubs like Laurier’s Palestinian Culture Club, which has been boothing on campus to engage with students.

“The reality is that informed individuals are powerful, but informed individuals who aren’t active are less effective,” said Bannister. “There is always Unionize WLU as a place where [students] can connect with myself and others in the committee.”

While no future protests are currently planned, students can keep up with Unionize WLU on their Instagram account @unionizewlu.

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