For many students, March 15 was a day of mourning: 50 people were killed in a terrorist attack targeting two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Although New Zealand may seem distant, for Muslim students, the fear of Islamophobic violence hits close to home, and it still permeates campus life. Grieving after international or even local tragedies is an incredibly isolating experience; however, it is still a part of many students’ lived realities, especially Muslim, racialized, or international students. For Muslim students still learning how to cope with this tragedy, The McGill Tribune has compiled a list of resources that may provide help, support, or a safe space to mourn.
McGill Racialized Student Support / Students of Colour at McGill
McGill Racialized Student Support is a Facebook group with over 450 members. This group serves as a virtual resource for racialized students, offering them a safe space for discussion, posts, and questions. Students can come to this forum to exchange advice, share relevant events, or just to vent. For students of colour who may feel isolated on campus, this group can give Muslim students a place to comfortably share their feelings in a supportive environment.
The Muslim Students’ Association
The Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) provides regular spaces for Muslim students to come together and find community, including weekly Jum’uah (Friday) prayers, discussion circles, social events, and workshops. In the past, they have also held events including an Islamic Geometry workshop, a Q&A with Muslim Law students, and Iftar dinners for Ramadan. On March 18, they co-hosted a vigil for the Christchurch victims at the Y-Intersection.
Naseeha is a hotline that provides an “anonymous, non-judgemental, confidential and toll-free peer-support helpline” centred around supporting Muslim youth across North America. However, anyone can access their services regardless of religion. For Muslim students, a hotline with the express purpose of listening to their lived experience is particularly helpful, especially regarding issues of discrimination, culture, and mental health. Naseeha is available daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. (EST) at 1.866.NASEEHA.
Online mental health resources
Dealing with the emotional stress of grieving can take a major toll on students’ mental health. For those who do not want to seek in-person help from counselling services, online resources can make seeking help more accessible. For example, Empower Me connects students with qualified counsellors, consultants, and life coaches. Under the Student’s Society of McGill University’s health plan, students have access to telephone counselling, video-counselling, and e-counselling services. Empower Me is available 24/7, year-round, and is confidential and faith-inclusive. Another option is 7 Cups, which also serves as an online chat service that connects individuals with volunteer counsellors. Additionally, 7 Cups has a ‘Young People of Color’ support network with over 5,020 members.
Besides online resources, McGill student volunteers run organizations on campus dedicated to mental health support. McGill Students’ Nightline offers a “confidential, anonymous, and non-judgmental listening service” for students, including a chatline for online support. The resource runs from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. every night. The Peer Support Centre which provides an in-person listening service for students. Student-run resources like Nightline and the Peer Support Centre provide free and accessible options for students to receive support without leaving campus.