Dear Joe Rose project Feb 14 2023- photo supplied by CC4C

Dear Joe Rose: a Dawson love story

The Dear Joe Rose project started with a rose tattoo in 2011. A student of Kim Simard’s showed her his tattoo and shared the story of Joe Rose. He was working to get a plaque installed in the Conrod’s student space at Dawson in honour and memory of Joe. This plaque was installed in 2013.

“Since that moment, I sensed that there was room for more awareness around Joe Rose and his activism,” said Cinema | Communications faculty member and Co-lead of Creative Collective for Change Kim Simard in an interview with Dawson’s Communications Office. “When the AR Cité group took on my suggestion to do a project around him, there seemed to be a wave of support around exploring where we have come as a community, and how much we aim to value diversity of all kinds.

Working collaboratively

“It seemed fitting that the Creative Collective for Change would work collaboratively to shine a light on his story, and his tragic death, as a reminder that change can happen and that the fight against homophobia and transphobia is still necessary.”

Project participants have included student club Etcetera (the 2SLGBTQIA+ association, which Joe founded in the early 1980s), Campus Life and Leadership, the Dawson Student Union, the Warren G. Flowers Art Gallery, AR Cité, Sustainable Dawson and The Hive, among many other students and staff who have shown support. Artist Melanie Garcia and poet Jason Selmon provided guidance as the project was developed.

“By making a call for ‘queer love letters from all lovers,’ we hoped that participants could share gratitude for what Joe Rose was able to bring to our college and the larger Montreal community, but also as a reminder that being yourself despite what you might be up against can be a very inspiring thing,” Kim said.

Love letters for Joe

Students and staff were invited to submit “a love letteLove letters for Joe Rose in a display caser to Joe Rose and remind his soul how our community has been shaped by his efforts. Maybe his activism for queer safety has impacted your life directly, or you would like to share a story about your own love and your pride in it despite being marginalized. Perhaps there is a story of solidarity with queer activism that has shaped you as an ally, or as a parent, teacher, friend, student, neighbour. Perhaps you are joined to his legacy and are fighting for justice and social change. Tell him about it, share your gratitude and even ask him what he might do today if he were with us.”

The messages are being displayed outside the Warren G. Flowers Art Gallery by the de Maisonneuve entrance until the end of February.

Dear Joe Rose continues

This Thursday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m., at the intersections of Black History Month, Pink Shirt Day and the Dear Joe Rose campaign, all are invited to a CC4Change Occupy Oliver’s (student space in 2C hallway) event, with poet Jason Selman and Liana Cusmano as they do a poetry workshop about “Approaching Allyship.”

In addition, AR Cité has created an augmented reality experience entitled Joe Rose is in our Hearts. To experience it, download the AR Cité app and visit the Warren G. Flowers Art Gallery, the Joe Rose plaque in Conrod’s, The Hive or the Dawson Student Union Office.

Kim applauded the support from students in the Etcetera Club and the Dawson Student Union. “Calls for meetings before classes even started, and random acts of volunteerism throughout have been surprising and encouraging,” she said.

“Students, staff and faculty have been involved in everything from making pins and designing posters, filling the gallery vitrine with beautiful messages to hanging out at the Valentine’s Day booth, ready to share the story. A highlight for me was when Michelle Lee and Billi-Jo Poirier from CLL excitedly sent me an image of the pink heart with bright lights they placed around the Joe Rose plaque in Conrod’s. It felt as if there were more than just students interested in making this special in their own way, and we were all making an effort from different places.”

Dear Joe Rose collaborators will be evaluating the project to date and considering further development. “The next steps might be to name a place in the college after Joe and have a commemorative art piece with the messages collected in his honour,” Kim said. “Members of Student Services, the Dawson Student Union and the Dawson Support Staff Union have shown support for this kind of initiative, maybe that is where we will place out efforts in the coming year.”

Dear Joe Rose Logo

Last Modified: February 22, 2023