For some, November represents the impending cold of the long Montreal winter and the struggle to prepare for finals and assignments. For others, it also brings a whole different meaning. November marks the month of “Movember,” a movement started in Australia eight years ago by Adam Garone and a group of his friends. This movement has made its way to campus in the form of Movember McGill, a club that aims to increase awareness about prostate cancer and raise money to fund prostate cancer research.
Movember McGill hosts a variety of events on campus, the most common one in the month of November where participants grow moustaches or support individuals who are growing moustaches for the cause. The club, which began six years ago, has been successful in its campaigns so far, with positive feedback from students around campus.
“I think guys love Movember because growing a beard or a moustache makes them feel manly,’ said Siena Aberdeen, U1 Management student. “If this leads to spreading awareness for prostate cancer, it’s all the better.”
While the Movember movement originally started as a cause to raise awareness for men’s prostate cancer, there are also many women who participate in Movember and aim to raise money for the cause.
“We all know that moustaches are not always seen as something attractive, so we need ‘Mo Sistas,’ [female Movember participants] to reach out to the men in their lives to tell them they look good with their moustaches, as well as start conversations with them on the reality of prostate and testicular cancer,” said Margaret Markin, co-chair of Movember McGill.
The original Movember movement grew out of Garone’s recognition that growing moustaches would provide visibility to combat prostate cancer’s invisible nature. Garone realized that creating this movement to grow moustaches for a month would be an interesting and innovative way to start conversations about prostate and testicular cancer. Movember has increased in momentum and has expanded to North America, Europe, and Asia.
“Garone realized that cancer is something quite invisible, whereas moustaches are very much visible,” said Sahil Kumar, co-chair of Movember McGill.
Canada started embracing the organization eight years ago, and is now the country that raises the second most donations globally after the United States, with $5 million funds generated this year.
This season, Movember McGill is collaborating with McGill Athletics to create “Move,” a fundraiser series of sport-related events such as hockey and basketball games on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22. The organization is also hosting a speaker series on Nov. 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Otto Maass Chemistry Building with professors who have Movember grants that fund multidisciplinary approaches to answer questions with regards to prostate cancer to inform donors on where their money is being spent. Movember McGill also travels around campus bars, such as Blues Pub, to fundraise and organize head-shaving sessions.
“We’ll be at Blues Pub raising money, and people are going to shave their head once we have reached certain goals of money,” said Jessica Ferkul, U4 Engineering and Movember co-chair.
Movember celebrates the end of the month with a Gala party on Nov. 28 at the Rialto Theatre. This is a costume event, where teams create themes around the moustaches they have grown.
Other groups that are not directly linked to Movember McGill also organize Movember events. For example, EUS is organizing an apartment crawl, Desautels will host a Movember-themed ‘4-à-7,’and the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) hosts a special Movember poker tournament on a date that has yet to be decided
However, these societies tend to act independently, and Movember McGill’s role is to bring them together.
“Everyone does their own thing, and we want to become the liaison between the different organization’s that promote Movember events around McGill,” Kumar said.
Movember McGill aims to create a fun and inclusive environment where students, professors, staff, and security participate. “You feel a sense of pride and community when you bump into a fellow ‘Mo bro’ […] who is also trying to grow a moustache, even if he is a total stranger,” Ferkul said.