‘I salute how our community has rallied to tackle the crisis head on’

Message from Concordia President Graham Carr
April 9, 2020
By Graham Carr

As we head into a long weekend, I hope you and those close to you are in good health — and can take the next few days to rest, recharge and reflect.

Yet, as much as I sincerely wish, these are not normal times. I recognize that many of you are experiencing real financial hardship and that all of us are living with profound uncertainty about what the future will bring.

Rather than dwell on the many stresses we’re all confronting, I want to salute how our community has rallied to tackle the crisis head on.

Let me begin with enormous gratitude to everyone who has contributed to the COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund.

Thanks to an anonymous gift of $100,000, plus $50,000 from the Concordia University Alumni Association, the fund now stands at $700,000. The lives of many of our students have been turned upside down so, if you can, please consider making a gift.

I also want to share some examples of how, in the midst of this crisis, Concordia is collaborating with other universities and organizations to take on pressing needs in our society.

With schools in Quebec closed for the foreseeable future, our Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance, in collaboration with Université du Québec à Montréal, has made available a bilingual version of its innovative digital literacy-development tools, ABRACADABRA and READS, for all parents and primary school children.

The software, which won a UNESCO Prize in 2017, is available on the Ministry of Education’s Open School portal. In just four days, the programs attracted more than 30,000 users.

The Government of Quebec has designated one of our engineering labs as an essential facility to ensure that masks sourced from emerging Quebec suppliers, or uncertified masks received from suppliers outside our province, meet safety standards. We are proud to collaborate on this initiative with the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST), the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation to help supply masks to frontline personnel. ​

Like other universities, Concordia is donating large stocks of personal protective equipment — much of it coming from faculty research and teaching labs to support frontline health workers. And we have deployed key equipment, instruments and chemical supplies to support fundamental research.

Working in partnership with École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), for example, our faculty and students are using 3D printers to produce components for health care face shields. A similar project using 3D printers at the Webster Library’s Technology Sandbox has delivered more than 200 face shields to Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital.

Elsewhere on the spectrum of needs, our Ageing + Communication + Technologies (or ACT) research centre is tackling the vital issue of food security for seniors confined to their homes and who don’t have access to digital tools to place orders for delivery. The COVID-19 Grocery Response Project is partnering with various Montreal community groups to dispatch and deliver food to seniors and is also developing a toolkit to help other organizations in the city move to a similar footing.

I’m also extremely proud of how many of our graduates are doing their part to help face down this crisis. My hat goes off to Lili Fortin, BComm 04 and president of the Tristan fashion chain, who redirected her company’s manufacturing facility in Cookshire, Quebec, to produce 1,400 medical visors a day.

And during what is truly a dark time for many, I can only applaud the wit and ingenuity of NJ Wight, GrDip 92, MA 95. Her YouTube video, Pluto Living, about the exploits of her miniature Schnauzer, has brought joy to more than two million viewers worldwide.

Finally, as a segue into the weekend, today we launched a new feature called CU at Home. A virtual learning and entertainment series designed to help members of our community and their families cope in this crisis, CU at Home will feature webinars, short videos and interactive platforms designed by our faculty, staff and alumni.

As these examples show, the crisis is bringing out the best in our community. It’s their spirit of resilience and determination to engage that I will reflect on over this weekend.

Please take care of yourself and continue to follow the advice of public health officials wherever you are.

All the best,

Graham Carr
Concordia President

Back to top

© Concordia University