“Not one more”
“Not one more” was one of the many slogans chanted in front of Parc Metro station on Jul. 30, when demonstrators gathered to commemorate femicide victim Rajinder Prabhneed Kaur and demand the government do more to prevent conjugal violence against women.
This came after Kaur’s murder on Jul. 19, allegedly at the hands of her husband, becoming the 14th femicide in the province of Québec that year. The protest was organized by the South Asian Women’s Community Center, which helps women of South Asian origin find autonomy and act against discrimination.
“We are here to commemorate those we have lost throughout our lives, throughout the years and also for the women that should be here with us but are suffering in silence,” said lifelong Park Extension resident and activist Samia Hussain.
Many advocated an overhaul to domestic violence laws, with tougher sanctions on abusive partners and better strategies at keeping abusers away from their families.
Demonstrators were gathered to raise awareness on a growing problem that they say knows no boundaries and affects all people regardless of cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic background. Protestors spoke in front of Parc Metro station before walking down Jean-Talon and ending the march at the apartment on Birnam where Kaur was killed.
Vaccination clinic moved
On Aug. 4, the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, which serves Park Extension, moved its COVID-19 vaccination center from the MIL Université de Montreal campus to a new location on the corner of Parc and Jean-Talon.
The move came after months of demands by various community groups to make the clinic more accessible to Park Ex residents and closer to where they live. “You can come by bike and you can come by car,” said CIUSSS spokesperson Francine Dupuis, underlining its popularity as over 800 people had already gotten a jab on its opening day.
Although closer to residents than previously, many community groups complained of its location. “It’s not central enough,” said Eve Torres, coordinator at The Park Extension Round Table. “It starts to get central as of Saint-Roch and Jarry,” explained Torres, adding that a clinic in that area would have given better access to more unvaccinated people.
“Our relationship with the CIUSSS has changed entirely,” said Torres, remarking that “during the first wave they (CIUSSS) had no sense of the reality on the ground.” She applauded the health authority’s willingness to try innovative new strategies but said more still had to be done.
In early August, a new strategy of promoting vaccination in the neighbourhood began appearing around Park Extension. The WeCanVax poster campaign kicked off, displaying the faces of a number of residents along with the reason why they got vaccinated.
Using colourful and multilingual posters, WeCanVax’s objective was to increase confidence in vaccines and motivate people to go and get their jab in an area that continued to see lagging vaccination rates.
Started by McGill University students Tammy Xuan Bui and Nehal Islam, they wanted to create a public health campaign that was innovative and relevant. “As part of this project, we thought why not create a vaccine confidence campaign to promote confidence in racialized communities,” said Bui.
Both from immigrant backgrounds, Bui and Islam were well aware of the challenges around accessibility to medical services in communities like Park Extension. Posters were displayed in various locations across the district.
“We really wanted to represent the people of Park Extension,” explained Bui of how they showcased residents on their posters. “It really means a lot to people going up to the posters and seeing themselves represented in the campaigns,” she continued.
Early election call
To the chagrin of many people across the country, Prime Minister and member of parliament for Papineau Justin Trudeau called a snap election on Aug. 14. Election posters immediately sprung up across Park Extension, a long-held Liberal Party stronghold.
Many residents weighed in on the early election call and how they felt it would go. Frank Monthy was struck by how the Liberal posters outnumbered those of the other parties. “Trudeau handled the pandemic perfectly, so people will vote for him,” he said, adding “you couldn’t have done it better.”
But others in the area were not so positive about their local member of parliament and his governments’ track record. “I’m not particularly impressed [with the Liberals],” said Laura, a new Park Ex resident who preferred to only use her first name. “For the most part, I think that there are certain communities that feel like they’ve been left in the dust in terms of the pandemic,” she added.
“I’d really like to see some of the money that goes into policing in Canada redistributed into social programs or arts programs of various kinds,” stated Laura. On election day, the Liberals again received a minority government with few changes brought to the electoral map.