Sen. Anne Cools remembers Montreal's 1969 'Computer Riot'

The senator recalls the civil rights movement in Montreal and being arrested during the 1969 'Computer Riot.'

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Sen. Anne Cools talks about Montreal 'Computer Riot'


5 years ago
Anne Cools was one of 97 people arrested in 1969 after racial tensions culminated in Montreal's 'Computer Riot.' 9:38

Forty-seven years ago this February, six West Indian students at Montreal's Sir George Williams University accused their white professor of giving them unfair grades.

Those accusations caused racial tensions in the city to erupt, culminating in the events of Feb. 11, 1969 — a day that's come to be known as the day of the Montreal Computer Riot.

Students and other Montrealers protested outside the university during a two-week-long occupation of the Hall Building computer centre. (Radio-Canada Archives)

Students caused $2 million in damages and destroyed the university's lone computer. Police arrested 97 people, including Anne Cools, who went on to become Canada's first black senator.

A McGill University student in 1969, Cools speaks about her experience with the protests in a new documentary called Ninth Floor, being screened during Black History Month at the Ottawa Public Library's central branch on Feb. 10.

"The depth of the support for those students was enormous, extremely huge. And the magnanimity of it too was very impressive," said Cools, about the nearly "universal" support Montreal gave the six students.

Watch host Adrian Harewood's interview with Cools above, or tune in to Our Ottawa this Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 11 a.m. to see the entire show.

Also on Our Ottawa this week:

  • Mary Walsh drops by to talk about receiving the Canadian Comedy Icon Award this weekend at the annual Cracking-Up the Capital comedy festival.
  • We meet the members of an exclusive political club: the Parliament Hill swim team.
  • CBC weather guru Ian Black captures scenes from Winterlude this week in his digital photo album.