The Rideau Students' Union's research efforts span back to the organization's founding, deeply rooting itself in how the organization operates and informs its policy and action decisions.
One of the earliest such initiatives was in March of 2021, when the RSU published a Mental Health Report with the efforts of many of our members. We ultimately spun off the organization to operate as an independent research and policy think tank called Peace of Mind as we realized the project's potential.
Since then, POM has made strides in research into mental health, education, affordable housing, the justice system, and more. During the time since its separation, we've maintained a tight-knit partnership with POM, working alongside them in many endeavors.
The RSU is proud to announce that we will be taking the next step in this relationship, by re-acquiring Peace of Mind.
Over the next few months, the RSU plans to transition POM into a part of the RSU's portfolio of projects and properties, spanning the limits of what positive change we can make in our communities, both local and elsewhere.
Interested in running as officer, co-president, or board director of the RSU? Join the RSU and let us know on Discord of your interest by April 2nd!
The RSU has updated the constitution to remove the minimum 13 years age limit for membership, such that all high and middle-school students may join, as well as removing the requirement for membership signup to be done online.
The RSU has also moved all procedures relating to constitutional amendments and motions to a new special by-law SB-2023-02, which also includes new procedures on passing and amending by-laws
On November 15, the OCDSB will be swearing in newly elected and returning Trustees at their first Board Meeting. A number of RSU members will be attending the ceremony in-person at the OCDSB offices on 133 Greenbank Road at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will also be streamed online for those who prefer to watch online. Watch it at this link.
For details, see the slides embedded below (also available at this link).
Over the past months, the RSU has continued to meet with and endorsing candidates for our Board of Trustees project, with the goal of electing pro-student trustees that will listen to students and act in their interests.
The full list of candidates currently endorsed by the RSU is as follows:
Gananatha Subrahmanyam (Zone 1);
Alysha Aziz (Zone 2);
Patricia Kmiec (Zone 3);
Suzanne Nash (Zone 4);
Steven Warren (Zone 5);
Keith De Silvia-Legault (Zone 6);
Jessie-Lee Wallace (Zone 9);
Nili Kaplan-Myrth (Zone 9);
and Justine Bell (Zone 10).
You can find out what zone and ward you are in at this link. Please consider voting for one of the above candidates if they are in your zone! If you are a student, you can still help by volunteering for these candidates.
The Ottawa South NDP, in collaboration with the RSU and MP Taylor Bachrach's office, organized a rally supporting Bill C-210 on Parliament Hill on the afternoon of September 22. The bill would lower the voting age to 16.
The RSU's own co-president, Sharanya Sivasathiyanathan, gave a great speech at the rally. Thank you to her and everyone who attended on behalf of this important and exciting issue!
For more info on lowering the voting age in Canada, check out https://vote16.ca/ and https://vote16rally.ca/.
As the school year has ended, here's a summary of what we did this year!
January 2022: OCDSB Mark Freeze Petition - Led by Austin W.
Due to the fifth wave of COVID-19, other boards had implemented a mark freeze for a semester, as students were being affected academically by the constant to and fro from online learning. As such, the RSU petitioned for a mark freeze at the OCDSB. We reached out to students at every school in the Board to spread the word and attempted to contact as many media outlets as possible, allowing members such as Austin Wang & Miriam Abdalla to speak on CBC & CFRA. We accrued 4500+ signatures from the entirety of the OCDSB, including hundreds of parents and even a dozen teachers! Despite this, the Board elected to reject the demands of the petition after stalling until the semester had more or less ended. Regardless, it showed how students can achieve great feats by working together!
April, May 2022: Student Senate Representation for OCDSB Alternate Schools - Led by Austin W.
The Rideau Students’ Union fought to bring Student Senate representation to the OCDSB’s Alternate Secondary School Program, launching an awareness campaign over social media and holding a rally outside one of the Alternate Program sites. Ultimately, our efforts prevailed, with 4 out of 5 Alternate program sites electing Student Senators by the end of the 2022 School Year.
Late 2021-Early 2022: The Endometriosis Project - Led by Samantha K.
The endometriosis project was started to raise awareness about the medical condition which is more prevalent than it may seem. We created several posts to raise awareness on:
- what the condition is
- symptoms and causes
- potential treatments
- correlation to menstrual stigma
- effects on employment and marginalized communities.
We also collaborated with EndoAct Canada to continue spreading information as well as with Mariem Samour to create a post on pelvic floor physiotherapy.
The Equal Access Initiative
The EAI, a coalition of organizations advocating for mental health reform, created a White Paper outlining the struggles those in school and the workforce were facing with current mental health-related procedures. They held events nationally in order to encourage governments to take up multilateral commitments to action - like advocating for specific policies to overcome the crisis. On April 2nd, members of the RSU joined Sharanya Sivasathiyanathan at Parliament Hill to rally for improved mental healthcare in Canada. Speeches from members in the RSU and our overall support in numbers helped ensure the demands listed in the White Paper (from improved accessibility, to the eradication of discrimination) were heard by provincial and federal legislatures.
June 24th, 2022: RSU Picnic
The Rideau Student's Union held a potluck at Mooney's Bay, on top of the hill. Multiple OCDSB Board trustee candidates also showed up, such as Keith de Silvia-Legault, Steven Warren, and Jessie Lee-Wallace.
The picnic was a resounding success, with plenty of food and ~40 people showing up. It can be safely said that everyone who attended had a great time :)
June 27th, 2022: OPSB - Led by Will C.
Will Cooper, one of the RSU's BoDs, spoke at an OPSB meeting. He discussed police presence in schools, specifically about the dress code 'blitz' at Béatrice-Desloges École Catholique Secondaire. Police have no role in schools, which are meant to be a place of learning. Rather, they have a history of targeting marginalized groups - which was why the SRO program was scrapped in the first place.
Ongoing - Board of Trustees
As municipal elections open up, school trustees are also being elected. The RSU is vetting and endorsing progressive trustees to form a board that we believe will strive for positive change for students.
Board of Trustees
We'd like to give a huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped to organize the RSU's picnic at Mooney's Bay last Friday, June 24th! We had a great time with all the Union members, other high school students, (who are hopefully now RSU members!), and Board of Trustees candidates, playing icebreakers and games, getting to know each other, and enjoying the various foods and drink that were brought!
If you want to participate in future RSU events, be sure to become a member and join our Discord server!
Reasons for the RSU endorsement:
The Rideau Students' Union will be holding a picnic/potluck at 5:00 p.m. on Friday June 24th at the Mooney's Bay hill (previously at Lansdowne but we had to move)! Anyone, including non-RSU members and friends are welcome! Please fill out the RSVP as soon as possible if you will attend, and add to this document if you wish to bring anything!
We already moved our main communications to the RSU Discord Server (join this if you haven't already!), so it was natural to move out weekly meetings from Google Meet to Discord as well! Join us in the Main Voice channel every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. to get involved with the RSU and its projects!
Non-RSU members can sign up for our official newsletter here, where you will receive monthly updates on union happenings. RSU members (who've signed up) are already in our mailing list and therefore do not need to sign up for the newsletter again.
Continuing with our Board of Trustees project, we will be meeting with Jessie-Lee Wallace, an OCDSB School Trustee candidate for Zone 9, at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 16th (formerly Friday the 17th). More info including the link to the meeting coming soon.