Quebec Bill 21 Secularism Law: A discussion for those impacted

For help, contact the Equity and Diversity Representative.

Posted on 2019-07-29

Summer 2019 has brought great challenges to certain minority communities amongst us. Quebec Bill 21, passed June 16th, bans wearing religious items while on the job as a public official (for example: a kippah, turban, hijab, or cross when working as, say, a teacher or police officer). We recognize not only the career and financial struggles this poses to physics students, staff, and faculty and our family and friends, but also the potential for deep emotional pain accompanying this message of exclusion from Quebec government.

As the MGAPS executive board, we want to offer some assistance to our affected members as well as highlight pre-existing avenues for support.

Internal support:

The MGAPS Equity and Diversity Officer, Talia Martz-Oberlander, is hosting two identical dialogues for those affected by Bill 21. The first will be July 30th from 1 - 2 pm (location: Physics Boardroom, RPB 105) and the second TBD in September. The session will run through an overview of Bill 21 logistics while focusing on providing a space to discuss personal issues surrounding this legislation. Anyone who feels impacted in any way may attend by emailing This is designed to be an informal space for discussion as opposed to, say, a legal briefing. The July 30th session is not exclusively for MGAPS members: undergrads, staff, and faculty are welcome.

Please find the event poster here and the Facebook event here

In addition, experience tells us that discriminatory legislature can lead to increases in hate crimes. We would also like to support you in accessing help, should you ever need it.

McGill Physics has certain positions that can assist:
  • MGAPS Equity and Diversity Officer (Talia) for a listening ear, requests for MGAPS advocacy, connections to/recommendations for/accompaniment to see professionals),
  • The Graduate Program Director (Prof. Andrew Cumming), or the Physics Chair (Prof. Sangyong Jeon) –for situations involving members of the McGill physics community
McGill and External Support Resources:
  • McGill Assessors (for Fac. of Sci. it is Prof. Tracy Webb)
  • McGill 24/7 support
  • McGill Nightline 514-398-6246
  • McGill Peer Support student-student counselling (during fall/spring semesters)
  • McGill Social and Cultural Resources
  • Multiple Crisis Lines in Quebec
  • The police (hate crimes in Canada are listed in our human rights code and as such have some special protections for victims). We also recognize the police are not a safe resource for everyone and Talia is available to discuss other options for assistance.

This session with NOT be recorded (i.e. who attends etc.)