McLaughlin Lunch Talk examines historic moment in Canada’s race relations

Senator Anne Cools lecture
Senator Anne Cools lecture

The McLaughlin College Lunch Talk series will examine a pivotal moment in Canada’s race relations history on Wednesday, May 24, with a talk by both Senator Anne Cools and Rodney John.

Senator Anne Cools

The talk, titled “Ninth Floor,” takes place in the Senior Common Room at 140 McLaughlin College and features two presentations: 8:30 to 11:15am, and 11:30am to 2:30pm.

It started quietly when a group of Caribbean students, strangers in a cold new land, began to suspect their professor of racism. It ended in the most explosive student uprising Canada had ever known. Over four decades later, Ninth Floor reopens the file on the infamous Sir George Williams sit-in – a watershed moment in Canadian race relations and one of the most contested episodes in the nation’s history. Can we make peace with the past? What lessons have we learned? What really happened up there on the ninth floor?

Senator Anne Cools is a member of the Canadian Senate. Born in Barbados, she is the first Caribbean-Canadian to be appointed to Canada’s upper house in 1984. She is the dean, and the longest-serving member of the Senate. She is the first female black senator in North America.

Rodney John

Rodney John was born in St. Vincent. He moved to Canada in 1965 and attended Sir George Williams University. John was one of the six original complainants and signed the letter regarding racism that eventually led to the 1969 Sir George Williams University protests and sit-ins. He completed his PhD and eventually became clinical psychologist. He also has a bachelor of education from OISE, U of T and an LLM in dispute resolution from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.

Everyone is welcome to attend. RSVP to Vicky Carnevale by emailing For further information, call 416-736-5128. Light refreshments will be provided.

This talk is hosted by the Office of the Master, McLaughlin College, and the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.