‘Existence is resistance’: Queen’s Student Activists, part two

‘The Journal’ chats with Scarborough-raised Commerce student Fatin Noor

Noor recognizes the importance of representation and is ready to fight for it.

For Fatin Noor, Comm ’23, it was down to Queen’s Commerce and Ivey at Western University. A Google search of Canada’s top business school and a desire to explore an environment different than the one she grew up in is what pushed her to select Queen’s.

“One of my goals is building a strong network and getting people invested in my growth so I end up in spaces where I can then become that network for people. I can essentially come back and support women of colour,” Noor said in an interview with The Journal.

In her third year, Noor is an integral part of the Commerce community, where she’s worked as an Equity and Engagement Intern since 2020. Now working to increase the representation of racial minorities at the Smith School of Business, her love for activism was born from dance.

“I've been a dancer since I was in grade ten. I’m trained in a lot of styles—anything from ballet and jazz, salsa, hip hop, heels. I've done a lot of them because I wanted to increase representation of brown girls [in dance].”

Since coming to Queen’s, Noor has extended this passion to the Commerce Office, Q+, EDGE Queen’s, Roots and Wings Kingston, the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre, and as an undergraduate research associate.


“Coming to Smith was a huge jump. Advocacy was always something I did, but I didn't have the word for advocacy. When I was in high school, I genuinely cared about my identity, and other people's identities, and making sure everyone always felt safe in the work that they did.”

Though her hometown of Scarborough was a mere car ride from Kingston, Queen’s didn’t recruit at her high school, and she didn’t know what to expect coming into first year. Her first year attending a predominantly white institution was a culture shock, but she remained committed to authenticity.

“I felt like it was very important to bring all of my identities to all these places and just exist because existence is resistance,” Noor said.

After the release of @stolenbysmith—an Instagram page publishing anonymous submissions about instances of discrimination in commerce—Noor felt seen in a new way. It’s what ultimately inspired her to officially take up activism at Queen’s and what led her to the Commerce Office.

READ MORE: ‘A safe haven’: The impact of Stolen by Smith, as told by QTBIPOC students & faculty

In this role, Noor has spearheaded two major initiatives—a series of BIPOC-only sessions for prospective Commerce students as well as a data collection initiative on the demographics and backgrounds of Commerce students. The BIPOC-only sessions were particularly special since Smith hasn’t often targeted racialized students unless external recruiters call for it.

“We had over 300 attendees—prospective Commerce students—and they were all racialized. We tried to make sure 90 per cent of panelists were also racialized, so we were creating these spaces for racialized students, which was super fun.”

Since @stolenbysmith, Noor is optimistic about the growth she’s seen in her peers—who are now waking up to issues of discrimination they may previously have been unaware of. She also recognizes the importance of data and how it can validate student concerns.

“We collected data on the identities of folks in commerce, and then we tried to pull data for the different intersections of identities,” Noor said.

“There was nothing new revealed, we already knew, as students of colour, that there's definitely an issue for this, this, and this. But Queen's loves data.”


For Noor, radical change starts with self-preservation. Approaching her last year in the Commerce program, she’s taking time to look after herself and prevent burnout in activist spaces.

“Advocacy is a privilege—we demand change for those harmed, those hurting, and those who are yet to suffer,” she said.

“If we want to exist and advocate in this space, we must remain hyper-vigilant—recognize capacity, validate lived experiences, denounce self-serving altruism, and, sometimes, stop talking and listen.”

Authenticity is central to Noor’s self-care. For her, part of this means “leaving [her] whiteness at the door.” As remote learning continues, she surrounds herself with self-expression. You’ll find her learning and living in spaces filled with maxi dresses, incense, and a full spice cabinet.

As Queen’s returns to in-person classes in March, she hopes the University will take into account that many students are leaving their safe spaces in doing so.

“For a lot of people of colour, specifically, remote classes have been very important to find out more about who you are, and your values, and your space,” Noor said.

For student activists and students of colour in general, Noor emphasized the importance of taking a step back from activist spaces when necessary.

“I think a lot of students get caught up in ‘I’m here, and I want to make change, and I want to make it a better place for people that are to come,’” she said. “But at the end of the day, if it's at the expense of your own wellbeing, it's not worth it.”

“If something is meant for you, it shouldn't kill you in the process.”

For Noor, a better future for Queen’s students includes three major changes: increased diversity in staff and faculty, ensuring women of colour are receiving financial, and wellness supports from the University, and hopefully some better dining hall food.

“If you're here and you're a student advocate, and you’re healthy, you're eating, you're doing the school stuff you're supposed to, you're making memories and with friends […] that's all you can ask for at the end of the day.”

This is the second in a series of articles on Queen’s student activists. Tune in each week for the rest of the semester to see a new student activist featured! If you know of anyone interested in telling their story, email journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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