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Lecture and Workshop on AIDS Activism


In collaboration with the Concordia University Community Lecture Series on HIV/AIDS

Forgotten Stories: Early AIDS activism in Montreal

Thursday, October 27, at 7pm

Location: Room J.A. de Sève

More than twenty years ago activists confronted a time of political and social tumult in and around Montreal. Those years saw the conflict at Kanesatake, Oka, and Kahnawake; the massacre at the École Polytechnique; the murder of Joe Rose; police repression at Sex Garage; inadequate and racist responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis; and much more. Alongside the pioneering frontline work conducted by AIDS service organizations such as AIDS Community Care Montreal and its ancestors (beginning in 1983), activists worked in a complex context of colonial, national, linguistic, gendered, racialized, sexual, age and other rela- tions in creative and dedicated ways. In their lecture, Gary Kinsman and Alexis Shotwell will share some of the unremembered stories of early AIDS activism in Montreal, with a particular focus on the work of two groups - Réaction SIDA and ACT UP Montreal. These groups made significant interventions at the Fifth International AIDS Conference in Montreal in 1989, fought for treatment access and funding, wrote and distributed explicit safer sex materials in French and English, established Parc de l’Espoir and engaged in some of the earliest organizing around women and AIDS. Kinsman and Shotwell will offer some of the analysis they’ve generated through interviews with activists from the late 80s and early 90s about their accomplishments, as well as highlight what we might learn from some of the difficulties they faced.

Click here to register to this event.

Oral history, memory, and the social organization of forgetting​ - The AIDS Activist History Project

Friday, October 28, from 3-5pm

Location: Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling

In this interactive workshop Gary Kinsman and Alexis Shotwell will discuss the work of the AIDS Activist History Project to document the history of Canadian AIDS activism. Working in collaboration with the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and AIDS activist organizations across the country, the AIDS Activist History Project seeks to document the oral histories of those who have struggled – and many who continue to struggle – against the criminalization and stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS.

For Kinsman and Shotwell, engaging with oral histories means engaging with questions regarding the social character of memory and remembering. Their research practice makes visible a vibrant history of AIDS organizing that has largely been been forgotten. Moreover, it seeks to challenge the social organization which facilitates the forgetting of the roots of AIDS activism - especially in its more direct-action- oriented forms. The particular focus of this workshop will be on Kinsman and Shotwell’s first wave of interviews regarding AIDS activism in Montreal with a focus on Reaction SIDA and ACT UP Montreal.

Click here to register to this workshop.


Gary Kinsman is a long-time queer liberation, AIDS, anti-poverty, and anti-capitalist activist living on indigenous land. He is currently involved in the AIDS Activist History Project, with Queer Trans Community Defence and the We Demand an Apology Network. He is the author of The Regulation of Desire (Black Rose Books, 1996), co-author (with Patrizia Gentile) of The Canadian War on Queers (UBC Press, 2010), and editor of Whose National Security? (Between the Lines, 2000) and Sociolo- gy for Changing the World (Fernwood Publishing, 2006). He is currently working on a new book called The Making of the Neo- Liberal Queer. He currently shares his time between Toronto and Sudbury, where he is a professor emeritus at Laurentian Uni- versity, on the historic territories of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek nation.

Alexis Shotwell is an associate professor at Carleton University, on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin territory. Her politi- cal work focuses on queer liberation, indigenous solidarity and decolonization, and feminist community education. She is the author of Knowing Otherwise: Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding (Penn State Press, 2011) and Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times (Minnesota University Press, 2016). She has published in Signs, Hypatia, The International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics and Sociological Theory. Her academic work addresses racial formation, disabili- ty, unspeakable and unspoken knowledge, sexuality, gender, and political transformation.


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