On Sunday, November 20th, authors, editors and supporters packed into the aisles of Librairie Paragraphe outside McGill University for the first ever local live launch of the book “The Fire That Time.” Published in 2021, the story recounts the events of the 1969 Sir George Williams Affair – one of Canada’s largest student uprisings and most influential anti-racist protests.
In 1969, six Black West Indian students filed a complaint against their biology professor, Perry Anderson, for intentionally failing Black students. The complaint went unaddressed for eight months, leading students to organize a peaceful sit-in on the 9th floor of the Hall Building. Twelve days later on February 11th, a riot broke out as students were still dissatisfied with the [lack of] response from the university. Riot police were summoned and eventually a fire broke out on the 7th floor of the building. Protesters trying to escape were greeted with racist screams and death wishes by bystanders and eventually 97 students were arrested. Anderson was reinstated to his position and Montreal became the epicenter of Black activism in Canada.
Coverage brought to you by Sarah Jesmer – a CUTV Grassroots Coverage Fund contributor.