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University of the Streets Café: Black community engagement in 2023

How have the past three years impacted our approaches to organizing?

Thursday, March 9, 2023
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

This event is free


533 Ontario Street East, Berri-UQAM metro


University of the Streets Café is back!

This winter, our season will focus on the theme of "Community engagement in a changing world."

What does community engagement mean to us today? How has the pandemic changed the way we engage, the issues we engage in, and the way community engagement is perceived? Why does community engagement remain important? What is the role of a university like Concordia in supporting and developing community-building movements and projects?

Our first conversation will focus on: Black community engagement in 2023: How have the past three years impacted our approaches to organizing?

This public conversation will explore how members of Black communities view their community involvement in this changing world. What are the pressing issues that need to be addressed to ensure that Black individuals and Black communities thrive? Have the last three years of living with the pandemic and social crises influenced their perspectives? 


Idil Kalif

Idil Oumalker Kalif, has been a sociologist, youth coach, and director of non-profit organizations for over 15 years. Born in Djibouti and proud child of the Little Burgundy neighborhood, she has lived in Quebec for more than 30 years. Carrying strong African, Black and diasporic identities, Idil is sensitive to issues related to racism, immigration and access to a better quality of life for all. As a community worker, director and sociologist who is used to work for/with Black populations that have too often been marginalized, Idil’s professional perspective is strongly informed by her own unique diasporic experience. A former collaborator at the Research Chair on Social Inequalities and Life Courses (Université de Montréal) and co-founder of the Black Muslim Women in Quebec collective, she supports efforts that aim at a deeper understanding of anti-Black racism, sexism and/or islamophobia in Quebec and elsewhere. Her love for her different communities is above all expressed through a focused and pragmatic approach to action.


Idil Kalif

Marlihan Lopez is a Black feminist community organizer tackling issues surrounding anti-blackness, gender-based violence and its intersections. She coordinated the EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) division for the Quebec Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, where she did advocacy work and raised awareness on how gender, race, class and disability intersect in the context of sexual violence. She has also organized with movements such as Black Lives Matter around issues such as racial profiling and police brutality. She was co-Vice-President of la Fédération des femmes du Québec from 2017-2022 and is currently Program and Outreach Coordinator at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University. She is also a cofounding member of the coalition to defund the police in Montreal.

Idil Kalif

Svens Telemaque experienced multiple arrests, a failed kidnap attempt, and various brushes with death. He abandoned familiarity and a life of drug trafficking to start anew. He is now an acclaimed author, speaker, spoken word artist and social entrepreneur. His mission is to arm audiences to face, embrace, and overcome adversity with hope. Svens has empowered thousands through his youth empowerment tour across the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and Africa. His compelling story does not idolize a troublesome past but reminds us that even "broken crayons still colour".

What is University of the Streets Café? 

Our University of the Streets Café public conversations are much like any you’d have with friends or family around a dinner table, except with more people, more points of view, and slightly more structure. Conversations are hosted by a volunteer moderator who is there to foster an atmosphere of exchange and keep things on track. To get things started, there are a couple of guests who get the ball rolling by sharing their ideas, experiences and questions. After that, it's all up to the participants.

Please join us! 

Admission is free. No reservation is required.

The conversation will take place in English and French.

The venue is accessible for those whose mobility is reduced. 

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