FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Pro-Life Ryerson Student Files Discrimination Complaint with Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

Ryerson student Talia Emanuel has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) against Ryerson University, Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR), and two individuals for discrimination in services on the basis of her pro-life belief or creed.

In her complaint, Emanuel claims that since 2016, she has been denied equal access to students’ union services, including Equity Service Centres, organizations created in order to combat discrimination. Emanuel is female, of a racial minority, and lives with a disability. In her complaint, she claims that she has been denied equal access to services for female, racialized students, and for students with disabilities. Emanuel, a survivor of rape, claims that she has also been denied equal access to students’ union services for victims of sexual violence.

Emanuel states, “I filed this Human Rights complaint because I don’t want any other students to be discriminated against because of their beliefs, treated unfairly by those in authority, or denied equal access to services—especially services as essential as support for survivors of sexual assault.”

The RSU and CESAR offer services to marginalized students through jointly operated Equity Service Centres. Emanuel claims that she has been denied equal access to these services because she shares her pro-life beliefs alongside others on public sidewalks at Ryerson University.

In her complaint, Emanuel stated, “It distressed me to find out that I could not access the five Equity Centres….I am not able to get the assistance I need, on the same basis as other students. This demoralizes me. I believe I should be treated with dignity, despite if others agree or disagree with my creed.” Emanuel claims she attempted to attend an Equity Service Centre event, and was asked to leave upon entering the room. She met with Equity Service Centre staff, whom she claims informed her, “even if there’s not going to be a discussion around that topic [abortion], that it’s still an unspoken conversation that’s really limiting people’s ability to express themselves.”

Before going to the Tribunal, Emanuel claims that she sought justice from Ryerson University, which she says failed to appropriately address discrimination and violence against pro-life students. Emanuel says that students who hold a pro-life belief are not treated evenly with those who hold a pro-choice view, in her complaint sharing that she experienced discrimination when she has hosted events on campus, and that she came up empty when she appealed to the University for equal treatment.

Pro-life students who exercise their right to freedom of expression at Ryerson have faced theft, property destruction, harassment, and assaults, often by students’ union employees. Violence against pro-life students at Ryerson University continues to escalate. Gabby Skwarko, at the time an employee of Ryerson University, is currently facing charges of assault and assault with a weapon for attacking two individuals during a pro-life demonstration near campus. Yet another Ryerson student is currently facing criminal charges for mischief and assault against a pro-life student at Ryerson as well.

The HRTO has accepted Emanuel’s complaint and has scheduled a hearing for May 15, 2019.

Emanuel states, “University campuses should be places where free speech is protected. I have not experienced that. I hope that my human rights complaint can help to change that so other students will be treated equally, no matter what they believe.”

Media Contact

Talia Emanuel
taliaemanuel+media@gmail.com

Talia Emanuel

The Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective: A History of Thefts, Assaults, and Harassment

Since November 2016, we’ve faced threats, assaults, thefts and other forms of pro-choice violence from the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective. We’ve followed up with Toronto Police and Ryerson University, and other legal action is ongoing.

After the attack by Gabby Skwarko on Monday, October 1, we are going public with the evidence we have of the pattern of aggression from this group.

Our team members have never been the subject of a police investigation for our activism. The RRJC has falsely alleged that we have assaulted them. This is categorically untrue, and we challenge the RRJC to produce any evidence whatsoever to substantiate the false allegations. Here’s our evidence of their consistent pattern of pro-choice violence.

The Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective has been trying to figure out how to censor us and prevent us from sharing the pro-life message for two years. They have no clue how to stop us. They have tried unsuccessfully to cover up the corpses and stifle the abortion debate on campus. Despite this opposition, we continue to change hearts and minds at Ryerson.

However, our team is consistently the target of pro-choice violence from the RRJC for our peaceful and civil outreach. The RRJC resorts to violence out of desperation because they are not content with civil discourse and they have been unsuccessful in trying to censor us or prevent us from sharing our message. This needs to stop. No one should be assaulted for having a civil conversation on a university campus. We are shining a light on the RRJC’s deplorable conduct to put an end to it.

Featuring…

  • Paige Galette, then Campaigns Coordinator for CESAR (Continuing Education Students Association of Ryerson) and Co-Founder of the RRJC (Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective) — a variety of incidents including theft, threats, disruption of University-sanctioned event. Cautioned by police, no charges laid. Student union employee, not subject to Ryerson University sanctions.
  • Cassandra Myers, then RSU (Ryerson Students Union) staff member as coordinator in an Equity Centre, then Ryerson Board of Governors 2016-2017 — assault by water throwing, theft and destruction of property. Cautioned by police, no charges laid. Ryerson University refused to investigate a complaint under the Student Code of Conduct after the police investigation.
  • Gabriela “Gabby” Skwarko, 2017-2018 Faculty of Arts Director for the RSU (Ryerson Students’ Union). Investigations underway from Toronto Police and Ryerson’s Student Conduct Office from Oct 1, 2018 attack.
  • Julia Pivetta and Alex Douglas — stole a sign with an image of a healthy embryo and attempted to put it into the trash. Cautioned by police, no charges laid. The Ryerson Student Conduct Office applied penalties, but refused to say what penalties were applied.
  • Liezl Yance, President (Interim) CESAR (Continuing Education Students; Association of Ryerson), seen blocking camera while incidents were in progress.
  • Hannah Levitt-Day, grabbing camera and using threatening language (“I want to rip you apart ’cause I hate you guys so much”, “I’m really gonna grab a can of spray paint and just spray you guys” minutes before Gabby Skwarko’s attack)

Some people question why we film our demonstrations. The video should make the answer to that question obvious — for our own safety and protection, we film during our demonstrations so that when we face pro-choice violence, we have evidence to report to the authorities.

Pro-Choice Violence at Ryerson: Gabriela (Gabby) Skwarko

On Monday, October 1, two Toronto Against Abortion team members were attacked while engaging in civil discussion about abortion with pro-choice counterprotesters at Ryerson.

Gabby Skwarko, a member of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective and last year’s Faculty of Arts Director at the Ryerson Students Union, approached Blaise Alleyne and Katie Somers from behind and launched into an attack on them and their property. Another member of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective attempted to block one of the cameras from filming the attack.

Police and EMS were called. Katie Somers suffered injury, including bruising to her leg. A police investigation is open, but charges have not yet been laid.

Free speech is under serious threat in Ontario, and especially at Ryerson, where people are being assaulted for peacefully and civilly sharing their beliefs. While we are always peaceful and civil, we face violence and illegal activity often at Ryerson. This is one of many incidents our Ryerson Team has had to endure over the past two years from the student unions and the Reproductive Justice Collective.

We continue to reach more and more people in the Ryerson community with the pro-life message every week, despite attempts by the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective to censor and stop us through assaults and thefts. Hearts and minds are being changed on abortion at Ryerson every week, and our team is growing. We will not be intimidated by violence. Pro-choice violence is a desperate attempt to slow our momentum, and the pro-choice violence we face is nothing compared to the pro-choice violence that pre-born children face in abortion.

Blaise Alleyne and Katie Somers are both available for comment by email or phone:
blaise@torontoagainstabortion.org
katie@torontoagainstabortion.org
647-478-6309