Concordia University


Laurence Parent is a PhD student in Humanities at Concordia University. She holds a MA in Critical Disability Studies from York University and a BA in Political Science from Université du Québec à Montréal. She lives in Montréal and is involved within the Québec Disability Rights Movement. In 2009, she co-founded a disability rights organization called RAPLIQ which aims to eradicate discrimination based on disability. She wrote, directed and produced her first documentary film-Je me souviens: Excluded from the Montréal subway since 1966- which has won the award of Emerging Artist at the 2010 International Disability Film Festival in Berkeley. She is currently working with Professor Kim Sawchuk on a project called Montréal *in/accessible.

The Politics of Snow

Space is a theme that is gaining in importance in disability studies. Many geographers who define disability as a socio-spatial phenomenon assert that disability is spatially, as well as socially, constructed. However, very little attention has been paid to the intersections between mobility and the disabling effects of weather. When weather is mentioned it is generally in anecdotal terms, and rarely as an important theme worth considering in detail. In a city like Montréal, which receives annually an average of 200 centimeters of snowfall, one cannot think about space and mobility without thinking about winter, the changes it brings to the urban landscape, and its influence on those with disabilities. This paper will discuss how winter conditions, and more specifically snow, have an impact on the movement of people with disabilities who use mobility devices to move through space. While winter is generally understood as a purely natural phenomenon, as this research demonstrates, snow is political. Using a multi-methodological approach that brings mobility studies into conversation with critical disability studies, this paper foregrounds the stories of Montrealers, living with disabilities in the winter to analyze the politics of snow.