Callout for Event Proposals: Remembrance and Militarism Event Series

Every year, the Royal Canadian Legion holds a Remembrance Day ceremony on McGill’s campus, bringing active and veteran members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP, artillery, armoured vehicles, and other weapons onto campus in a bombastic and uncritical celebration of Canadian warmaking and policing.

We believe that, regardless of any individual acts of bravery and self-sacrifice that military personnel may have committed, the overall histories of these institutions are stories of imperialism, genocide, and tragedy, not the triumphant heroism the official history proclaims. As red and white poppies begin to appear on lapels this fall, we want to invite reflection on Canada’s history (and present) of militarism, resistance to state violence in all its forms, and celebrations of those who have stood up to these institutions over time.

Join us in countering the official Remembrance Day ceremony with two weeks of popular education, critical discussion, and movement-building! Demilitarize McGill is currently soliciting event proposals to be held in the first two weeks of November, 2015. Events can include panel discussions, workshops, film screenings, walking tours, performances, etc. Events in English or French are welcome; we will arrange for whisper translation as needed.

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Summer update! ‘Intimidation’ on campus, McGill profs aiding state surveillance, and more…

This summer has been rich with outrage, resistance, and uncomfortable revelations (for the powerful) across this land, and McGill campus has been no exception.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 6.47.53 PM

Screen capture of May 27th, 2015 Journal de Montreal article.

Intimidation, on campus and off

Earlier this summer, Demilitarize McGill shared a communique we’d received about sabotage in McGill’s Macdonald Engineering Building targetting the Aerospace Mechatronics lab, and the story blew up in Montreal media. Soon McGill professors Inna Sharf and Andrew Higgins were making news appearances on the radio and in the Journal de Montreal; claiming they were victims being “intimidated.” We’d laugh at the irony of tenured McGill profs—who benefit from lucrative contracts to develop technologies that enhance the deadliness of military drones, aircraft, and explosives terrorizing entire populations—claiming victimhood in the face of a few crickets, if there weren’t literally lives at stake.

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Demilitarize your campus!

McGill University is not an anomaly in their military involvement. Across Canada, the US, the UK, and Israel, universities are sites of this kind of research and development. The Canadian Department of National Defence, weapons contractors, and the defence departments of the US, UK, and Israel use the labour, resources and prestige of universities to improve their capabilities to wage wars at home and abroad.

A protest organized by Students Against War against military recruitment at UC Santa Cruz in 2005. Two protesters hold a banner reading "Military Off All Campuses" with dozens of people marching behind them.

A protest organized by Students Against War against military recruitment at UC Santa Cruz in 2005.

While McGill University is receiving some pressure to end its collaborations with the military, and while crucial pressure is being applied to the government from other sectors of society, we need to spread this pressure to other universities in order to make it more impactful. The campaign to “Demilitarize McGill” is not the only one of its kind, other campus campaigns against militarism have developed in the recent past and provide great examples of where to start (for example, see Study War No More or Students Concerned About Militarism.)

We’re happy to work with interested groups and individuals to get things started at other campuses. For more information on how we can help check out our Demilitarizing Your Campus page. For resources such as zines and research guides, see our Resources page.

We look forward to intensifying and spreading opposition to imperialism and militarism with you!


McGill covers up explosion and fire in weapons lab

Students active with Demilitarize McGill have revealed that on May 31, 2013 an explosion and fire occurred in the lab facilities of the Shock Wave Physics Group, injuring workers. Two researchers suffered from smoke inhalation, and the uncontrolled explosion and fire, previously unreported, resulted in damage to property. The SWPG, located in the MacDonald Engineering Building, regularly conducts experiments involving explosions in its lab complex located on a busy university campus.

On March 19, 2015, in response to an access-to-information request for incident reports for the Macdonald Engineering Building between January 1, 2011, and present, the University released no documents regarding the explosion and fire of May 31, 2013, and explicitly stated that no documents were withheld under any provision of access-to-information law.

However, Demilitarize McGill is in possession of the Montreal Fire Department’s Intervention Report which details the emergency calls made by McGill security reporting an explosion at approximately 2:13pm and calling for the Fire Department. The report describes a “small explosion fed by two recycled tires in a boiler room, no damage to the building but a lot of smoke in the room [and] two researchers overcome by smoke inhalation”. Three fire trucks were dispatched to the scene.


AIA retaliates in solidarity with Demilitarize McGill

Via Contra Info

“In the evening hours of March 24 2015, we slashed the tires of a McGill security division SUV and attacked the James Admin. building with flying chunks of concrete, vanishing quickly thereafter into the darkness of night.

We claim responsibility for this latest attack in retaliation to the University’s profiling, surveillance and harassment of students and activists affiliated with the group Demilitarize McGill.

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Demilitarizing McGill: Illustrated

Demilitarizing McGill: IllustratedWe’re thrilled to be releasing an info-graphic, Demilitarizing McGill: Illustrated, meant to be an accessible introduction to the campaign against military research on campus. If you want copies to distribute somewhere on or off campus, email us at

View a printable version here.

Blockade of James Administration

The James Administration Building was shut down by a group of around 30 people on the morning of March 24, 2015. Opponents of military research and austerity blocked access to the building starting at 7:45am and remained in place despite a heavy police presence on campus. The James Building contains the offices of the Vice-Principal, Research and the Office of Sponsored Research, which oversee military research contracts on campus. Many workers had gone home for the day by the time the group decided to end the blockade at 10:00am.


See below for more photos and media coverage.

A flyer distributed to students and workers witnessing the action read as follows:

We are blockading the James Administration Building today as an act of resistance to McGill’s unending history of participation in colonial and imperialist projects. It follows that we also oppose McGill’s cooperation with the government in imposing austerity, which contributes to the militarization of the University while rendering the lives of students, workers and others more precarious.

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‘Non-criminal mischief’: the University’s file on Demilitarize McGill, 2013-2014

Students have obtained over 200 pages of documents held by the University concerning Demilitarize McGill activities between 2013 and late 2014. See them below (the first 84 pages are security reports, while the rest are mostly internal emails).

ATI – McGill’s File on Demilitarize McGill

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Shock Wave Physics researchers running front companies out of homes to dodge scrutiny of military contracts

Documents obtained through an access-to-information request and other records collected by Demilitarize McGill show that researchers in the Shock Wave Physics Group are involved in a scheme functioning to shield their weapons research from regulatory and public scrutiny. Professors David Frost, Samuel Goroshin and Andrew Higgins are using companies based at their home addresses to sign research contracts with the Canadian military. The research is conducted at McGill and employs McGill students and University resources. Entering into the agreements through the companies, ZND Inc. and Reactive Energetics Inc., allowed the professors to escape the requirement to disclose whether research funded by military agencies may have harmful consequences, before that provision was abolished by University Senate, and it is making it more difficult to find out the full extent of military research on campus.

Click here to read the full press release.

ATI – ZND/DRDC – Reactivity Study for Gasless System

What Dr Derek Ruths’ data says about him: Insights into surveillance and complicity at McGill

Take an interactive tour of Dr Ruths’ social networks.

On Thursday, December 11th, the Redpath Museum’s Cutting Edge lecture series is hosting McGill professor Derek Ruths to give a talk entitled “What our data says about us – Insights into human behavior from social media.”

Dr  Ruths would indeed be the person to tell you what your social media use says about you: he is actively involved in developing technology to surveil and control social networks – both the online kind and the  real-life networks they represent.

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by Bliss Drive Review