In October, Blain Haile (Dawson Class of 2023- Social Science (Law, Society and Justice) won a $5,000 TELUS Student Bursary.
Blain is pursuing a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Juris Doctor with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, & Social Justice Studies. She is thrilled to win the bursary: “This bursary will allow me to spend my time in a way that will nurture my growth as an activist, a student, and a community member. I am also going abroad for a legal internship in France this summer. I will spend the whole month of June in Paris and Lyon, learning more about the French legal system.”
One of the criteria to win this bursary is the student’s commitment to undertaking a project that will have a positive social, environmental or health impact during their studies. Blain is particularly committed to École Sans Police and mentoring Black youth through McGill’s Pick Your Path program.
Blain described her volunteer and advocacy work in an interview with Dawson’s Communications Office:
“I work with École Sans Police, an organization I joined in the summer of 2022. Since then, I have organized and participated in a press conference, protests, town halls, and so much more. Our campaign is centred around the elimination of police in schools. We are a part of the international team of Policing-Free Schools. Of course, flowing from that idea, we also call for the defunding of Montreal’s police service and the dismantling of the current carceral system.
“Our most recent event was at the NDG/CDN town hall where we got the community together (teachers, students, parents, and NDG/CDN residents) and had a fruitful conversation about police in schools and the future solutions to fight back. Our next step will be moving away from concrete organizing to academic research on policing in schools in order to further understand the issue we are dealing with and deepen our grasp of the large body of doctrine available about the core efforts of our organization. Feel free to follow us on social media @ecolesanspolice, as we will update folks on our work and future organizing efforts.
“Mentoring Black Youth in the McGill Pick Your Path program is another project I joined. I am incredibly excited to see how this academic year unfolds! All the mentors have been paired up with younger students who aspire to enter their respective fields of study. Check out their website.”
How does Blain manage her studies, activities, social life? “Balancing is a lot easier as my schooling, job, and volunteering activities are all experiences I genuinely love. My readings are lighter, my days are shorter, and I smile a lot more when I engage in activities I enjoy. It might seem like I have no time (which I do not), but passion gets me through. This does not mean that I manage my stress any better. The work is still overwhelming, and the sustainability of my current schedule is iffy.”
Blain appreciated her time at Dawson: “My time at Dawson felt extremely short, but yet so full of memories and amazing people. …significant ties I’ve had time to develop are between myself and the amazing educators I had the chance to encounter at Dawson. The myriad classes available to every interest marked my experience at Dawson. I took three courses with Professor Eliza Wood, an amazing educator whom I will forever be grateful to have met. I would even say that Professor Wood became a mentor throughout my two years at Dawson.
“One of my English teachers, Andrew Katz, is also very high on my list of great professors at Dawson. Caring, compassionate, and full of knowledge would be the words to describe both of these professors. In fact, I appreciated their classes and their teaching so much that I asked them to write my reference letters for my admission at McGill Law.
“Dawson College is full of different people, opinions, and political beliefs. However, I am fortunate to have found my community. The bottom line is there is always something for everyone at Dawson. No matter how isolated you might feel, someone else sees the world just as you do. And just like I found them, you will find them too.”
Her advice to Dawson students: “My advice is to find your thing. That one thing you could spend hours talking about, that one thing that gets you going, that one thing you constantly find yourself gravitating towards, that one thing your friends are so tired of hearing you say, that one idea or statement you agree with, but can never say out loud. Identify it and pursue it. Embody it. The next step would be to find people who feel the same way about that thing. Whether it is radical organizing, a niche author, an unknown sport, a historical event you can’t seem to stop thinking about, or a Buddhist mantra you love quoting. Whatever it might be, there is always more digging you can do. There is always someone else who feels the same way. There is always a student association, there is always a Facebook group, and there is always a common ground. And once you find whatever that might be for you, everything will flow from there.”
Blain plans to pursue graduate studies after McGill, hopefully in the U.S. in race relations and critical race theory. “No matter where I might find myself in a few decades,” she said, “I will always be on the ground floor, organizing and, most importantly, radicalizing.”