Browse "Communities & Sociology"

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Sir George Williams Affair

The Sir George Williams affair (also known as the Sir George Williams riot) took place in winter 1969, when more than 200 students decided to peacefully occupy the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall Building at Sir George Williams University in Montréal. These students were protesting the university administration’s decision regarding a complaint of racism that had been filed several months earlier by six Black students from the Caribbean. On 11 February 1969, to dislodge the students occupying the building, the police intervened forcefully, and the situation deteriorated, resulting in over $2 million worth of damage and the arrest of 97 people. The Sir George Williams affair is regarded as the largest student riot in Canadian history. For many observers and historians, it represents a key moment in the rebirth of black militancy in Montréal.

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Sisters of Providence

A female religious congregation founded in 1844 in Montréal by the widow Marie-Émilie Gamelin, née Tavernier, under the name of Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor (the present name has been in official usage since 1970).

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Sisters of St Anne

Sisters of St Anne, a female religious congregation founded in 1850 in Vaudreuil, Qué, by the Servant of God Marie-Esther Sureau, dit Blondin (Mother Marie-Anne), for the education of young rural girls and some activities of mercy.

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Sisters of St Joseph

In 1966, 6 Canadian congregations of Sisters of St Joseph (Hamilton, London, Pembroke, Peterborough, Sault Ste Marie, Toronto) working in the fields of education and health-care activities formed the Federation of the Sisters of St Joseph of Canada.

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Sixties Scoop

The “Sixties Scoop” refers to the large-scale removal or “scooping” of Indigenous children from their homes, communities and families of birth through the 1960s, and their subsequent adoption into predominantly non-Indigenous, middle-class families across the United States and Canada. This experience left many adoptees with a lost sense of cultural identity. The physical and emotional separation from their birth families continues to affect adult adoptees and Indigenous communities to this day.

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Sleeping Car Porters in Canada

Sleeping car porters were railway employees who attended to passengers aboard sleeping cars. Porters were responsible for passengers’ needs throughout a train trip, including carrying luggage, setting up beds, pressing clothes and shining shoes, and serving food and beverages, among other services. The vast majority of sleeping car porters were Black men and the position was one of only a few job opportunities available to Black men in Canada. While the position carried respect and prestige for Black men in their communities, the work demanded long hours for little pay. Porters could be fired suddenly and were often subjected to racist treatment. Black Canadian porters formed the first Black railway union in North America (1917) and became members of the larger Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1939. Both unions combatted racism and the many challenges that porters experienced on the job.

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Smallpox in Canada

Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by the variola virus. The disease arrived in what is now Canada with French settlers in the early 17th century. Indigenous people had no immunity to smallpox, resulting in devastating infection and death rates. In 1768, arm-to-arm inoculation became more widely practised in North America. By 1800, advances in vaccination helped control the spread of smallpox. Public health efforts also reduced rates of infection. In the 20th century, Canadian scientists helped the World Health Organization eradicate smallpox. Eradication was achieved in 1979, but virus stocks still exist for research and safety reasons.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Social Gospel

The Social Gospel is an attempt to apply Christianity to the collective ills of an industrializing society, and was a major force in Canadian religious, social and political life from the 1890s through the 1930s.

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Social History

Social history is a way of looking at how a society organizes itself and how this changes over time. The elements that make up Canada’s social history include climate and geography, as well as the transition to industrialization and urbanization.

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Socialism

Socialism is a political doctrine that criticizes the existence of social, economic and political inequality in society. Seeking to lessen class inequality, socialists call for a redistribution of power from the affluent owners to the working class.

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Sociology

Sociology is the study of human relationships, the rules and norms that guide them, and the development of institutions and movements that conserve and change society.

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SOS Montfort

In February 1997, the Ontario government decided to close Montfort Hospital in Ottawa. This decision led to a massive mobilization of the Franco-Ontarian community and the founding of the SOS Montfort coalition, which fought to keep the hospital open. After five years of political activism and legal battles, the cause was won. From an historical standpoint, this episode marked a key moment in the affirmation of Franco-Ontarian identity. From a legal standpoint, it confirmed the protections that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affords to Ontario’s French-speaking linguistic minority.