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New NFB doc looks at one of the most violent Canadian student protests

MONTREAL - Acclaimed filmmaker Mina Shum has started shooting a new National Film Board of Canada documentary on one of the most violent student protests in Canadian history.

Filming of "The Ninth Floor" coincides with the 45th anniversary of the infamous Sir George Williams riot where about 100 people were arrested and cards from the university computer lab were sent fluttering to the street in a blizzard of paper as it was trashed.

The protest erupted after six black students alleged racism against a white professor.

The occupation began after angry students walked out of a hearing where the complaints against the professor were dismissed.

The sit-in lasted almost two weeks and appeared to reach a negotiated conclusion until the deal fell apart at the last minute.

Police were called in on Feb. 11, 1969, and the incident exploded into a riot where a fire broke out and people were nabbed as they fled.

One of those arrested was Anne Cools, who was sentenced to four months in prison but later pardoned. She became a prominent women's rights advocate and the first black person appointed to the Senate.

The incident also initiated changes in how the university dealt with racism complaints and gave students a greater voice in decision-making.

Sir George Williams University later merged with another college to become Concordia University.

Shum, known for "Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity" and "Double Happiness" among other film and TV projects, also wrote "The Ninth Floor."

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