The Arepa ‘Unstuffed’

Can the arepa do for Venezuela what the taco did for Mexico?

It was quite the moment, seeing an arepa on the big screen as depicted in Disney’s Encanto. It made my eyes water. It was such an important moment for me, especially as a Venezuelan woman with Colombian ancestry. Seeing an arepa with queso in a character’s hand validated my experience and belief that all Latin American cuisines deserve to be in the spotlight, explored and tasted by all.  

It’s quite interesting that food references have had to widen their perspectives from a French and European focus, but the arepa’s popularity has been blooming in the North American media. We see this with Encanto, where Colombian arepas and characters are at the centre of the story.

As an introduction to solid foods, Venezuelan babies are fed the inner fluffy dough of the arepa, making it an essential part of growing up Venezuelan. My parents weren’t any exception in raising me with an intense love for arepas.  

It’s quite common to see children bring arepas wrapped in napkins or aluminum foil in their lunchboxes. I often brought an arepa for lunch in my elementary school days, which continued into high school and even CEGEP and university. Other kids were shocked at what I was holding in my hands. Since the gesture of holding it reminded them of a sandwich, the interest would soon fade. “It’s just a sandwich,” they’d all say.

It’s much more than Venezuela’s bread; it’s such an important part of the collective Venezuelan gastronomic conscience. The arepa represents venezolanidad — it’s at the core of a Venezuelan’s DNA and identity. It’s a food that creates an identity and immediate connection. Even when outside of their motherland, Venezuelans are drawn to the arepa. I am, personally! My family buys corn flour weekly and enjoys arepas often. 

The arepa is a round, mostly flat, corn maize split in the middle and eaten like a sandwich, with any topping you like. It’s a staple meal for Venezuelans, as it has been eaten for centuries. The arepa is vegan and gluten-free. In Quebec, 13 per cent of the population is Latin American, but despite that, there aren’t many places where the arepa is celebrated.

Why is the arepa, despite being such a versatile and healthy meal, so underrated? It doesn’t make any sense at all! The arepa has been loved and eaten by millions of Venezuelans for centuries, including me. It deserves to have its own spotlight and be appreciated for its own history and flexibility. 

While Mexican cuisine remains popular in North America, I’m hopeful and optimistic that this will change in the years to come. I’m sick of people only associating Latin America with Mexican cuisine. Ignoring the fact that Latin America is filled with vibrant, colourful dishes that deserve every ounce of appreciation is wrong. It’s time to celebrate all of Latin America, not just a select few countries! 

Let’s make the arepa global, especially since it can accommodate most diets.

It’s hard not to fall in love with what the arepa represents. It’s a small portion of pre-colonization that has outlived Venezuela’s ever-changing society. Of course, the arepa has been modernized with the invention of the tostiarepa, an arepa maker, and the corn flour that has aided in making the preparation process much easier than with maize grains. Its core ingredient, maize, has not changed in the slightest.

The name arepa comes from “erepa,” which originates from the Indigenous tongue of Cumanagoto. Erepa simply means corn, showing just the humility and simplicity of what the arepa has always been. The arepa is also one of the manifestations of the importance of corn in many Latin American gastronomies.

It’s much more than what may seem a one-dimensional, one-time item. In fact, any ingredient can be used as filling, from chicken, avocado to braised beef and cheese. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to arepa — the sky’s the limit!

Although it may look simplistic in its preparation and presentation, reminding many of another iteration of a sandwich, the arepa has filled dining tables at sunrise, midday and after sunset. 

As a Venezuelan woman who has lived in Montreal since she was seven, I’m pretty sure that at least one of my DNA strands is made out of fluffy, inner-arepa dough. The arepa has such a big significance for Venezuela, showing its multicultural idiosyncrasies. 

It highlights the impact of not only the Spaniard Conquistadors or the African Slaves who left their mark on Venezuelan cuisine, but also the country’s first inhabitants. It’s also a representation of the inclusion of the many immigrants that Venezuela welcomed during its days of glory.  

What’s intriguing about arepas in other countries is how they put their own twists on the ingredients. It becomes much more than a food item; it turns into an experience. It’s interesting to note that areperas (arepa-only restaurants) weren’t being gatekept by Venezuelans and were enjoyed by many, as they welcomed migrants from all over the world. 

An important facet of globalizing the arepa is through areperas that have popped up all around the world. The importance of Venezuelan restaurants and areperas outside of Venezuela can be the key to a smooth transition in immigrating from one side of the world to another. In Montreal, we have such places where we can sense a beautiful blend of Spanish and French in the air, being reminded of the beauty and importance of embracing Montreal as a home to multiculturalism. 

I firmly believe that the arepa will help Venezuela be even more known and beloved by the masses. The future is as bright as the inner, white fluffy dough of the arepa and can take any shape like its endless list of fillings.


How the legal system has failed victims of sexual assault once again.

Warning: this piece deals with mentions of rape, sexual assault and abuse. 

It all began on Oct. 5, 2017, with an article in the New York Times which contained accusations agaisnt Harvey Weinstein, a revered movie producer, of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact by Ashley Judd and Emily Nestor. They were the first women to publicly come forward and share their experiences with Weinstein.

Although the #Metoo movement has existed since 2006, and was started by Tarana Burke, following her own personal experience with sexual abuse, the movement became widely popular in 2017. The use of the hashtag by Alyssa Milano on October 15 of that year is what revived it.

Burke’s goal was to “build a community of advocates, driven by survivors, who will be at the forefront of creating solutions to interrupt sexual violence in their communities.” The #MeToo movement is an amazing medium that has encouraged women to come forward with their stories. It helped them to no longer be afraid of sharing what they’ve been through.

The fact that Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison instead of walking away free is a great victory, but why did it take over three years for him to be convicted? the legal system definitely has to become more tailored to these cases, as it can be traumatic having to tell time after time what these survivors went through, especially when they aren’t believed. It’s quite upsetting and unjust that these hearings take forever.

According to an article by CNBC, the maximum sentence for rape in New York is 29 years. This is yet another instance where the legal system continues to reduce the consequences of dire actions, especially when powerful people hire the best lawyers in the field. In order to keep this from happening again, the justice system has to change and become easier for victims to navigate. The stigma and discreditation of victims are some of the numerous reasons  why so many survivors are ashamed to come forward.

According to Beverly Engel, a psychologist at Psychology Today, three out four victims of sexual harassment decide against telling anyone in authority about the abuse. Instead, they choose to avoid the abuser, downplay the gravity of the situation or attempt to ignore what is going on. Feelings of shame, denial—especially when the victim blames themselves for  the abuse––and fear of consequences fuel the desire to stay silent. Combined with the fact that the legal system can be overwhelming to navigate without a lawyer, since some can’t possibly afford one, the system unconsciously grants privilege to the accused.

It’s honestly disheartening that we continue to live in a world where class and fame determine the chance of someone being taken seriously in a court of law.

If the legal system were to offer more options for victims to have proper representation, quicker court hearings and not have their stories questioned every second, we could make sure that more rapists and abusers end up behind bars.

As a society, people in positions of authority such as the police force and important players in the judicial system need to change their ways of viewing these survivors. Victim-blaming isn’t going to help anyone. Times have changed and the legal system needs to go through an enormous reformation for the better. 



Photo collage by Laurence B.D


Beading as an art form: land activism, cultural history and resurgence

How are Indigenous artists beading today?

Embroidery has always been an important part of Indigenous culture, especially with its prevalence on personal items. Embroidery showcases layered floral patterns, often described as a “relatively narrow spectrum of colours.” It carries an important tradition and representation of artistic freedom for these communities, who have distinct and unique styles even to this day.

Another important medium for Indigenous women is the use of shells, bones or seeds, the earliest form of beadwork. This was used in everyday life and sacred times, using geometrical patterns, showcasing different shapes and ornaments in a variety of colours.

Created with string, white and purple shell beads, wampum belts were the physical representation of treaties and alliances. Wampum symbolizes a living record of events, relations and agreements and could even be used to represent the confirmation of relationships, including marriage proposals. Wampum belts were also used to invite nations and settlers to a meeting. They represented agreements on the behalf of First Peoples and settlers, however settlers chose to disregard the wampum belts as legally-binding.

Following European colonizer contact with First Peoples, the introduction of glass beads through trade between the 15th and 19th centuries allowed for more intricate designs.

These changes led  to the creation and use of floral designs, which date back to the 1800s. Geometric designs also began to take an important place in Indigenous communities, used as decorative elements on clothing and footwear. To completely understand the sudden return of beadwork, the concept of resurgence has to be defined in its entirety. Resurgence represents “the assertion of Indigenous world views that are fluid yet connected to ancestral ways of knowing’’ and “a way of being that is inherently Indigenous at the exclusion of the colonial state, an insertion of Indigenous ways of being into the colonial status quo,”  as stated by a portfolio on Beadwork at Carleton University. 

These designs are honoured and embraced by Indigenous artists today,  across Turtle Island

Concordia-based artist, Skawenatti, works primarily with digital art, but has created a modern day example of a wampum belt, titled Intergalactic Friendship Belt (Xenomorph, Onkwehón:we, Na’vi, Twi’lek, E.T.). Her work focuses primarily on comparing Indigenous and settler relations with alien, futuristic worlds.

Indigenous art and jewelry is often associated with activism. The Birch Trail sells “Land Back” and jingle tin earrings, in addition to their regular collection of traditional Indigenous medicinal herbs contained in resin.

These jingle tins are used in dance and in protest, wearing them makes a statement in support of Indigenous causes. These earrings are sold to raise funds for Wet’suwet’en in flash-bidding sales on Instagram.

 Beading as land activism, cultural history, resurgence and wellness

According to Mohawk artist, Destiny Thomas, beadwork holds a special meaning and is much more than a beautiful form of art to her. “Beads, for me, hold a therapeutic property that I feel could be implemented in today’s therapy,” Thomas said. “It’s culturally relevant to Indigenous peoples. It creates an open and understanding space to discuss topics like personal hardships and identity issues.’’

Thomas was only 19 when she first arrived in Montreal to study Art Education at Concordia University. She’s originally from Akwesasne, New York and was taught beadwork by her mother, who continues to practice today.

“Beadwork allowed me to calm my mind. When I came to Montreal to begin my studies, I felt so very alone and anxious because I had to somehow navigate public transportation in french, finding my way between both campuses, and making all new friends who aren’t from my community.’’ she said.  Thomas no longer wants to keep beadwork to herself and uses it to converse, where offering a safe space to discuss trauma and abuse is possible all while creating something beautiful.

Her goal is to make beadwork completely inclusive, her philosophy being to make jewelry that is for everyday rather than traditional wear.

“In the United States, I know someone who is Indigenous, who would not wear her beaded earrings because she feared being targeted whilst taking public transportation,” she said. “She felt the need to hide. So, when I make beadwork to sell, I want it to be that a person, regardless of gender or ethnicity, is proud to be wearing my products. If they’re Indigenous, I hope they feel comfortable and confident to be wearing beadwork.’’

“I’ve witnessed that Quebec has a discriminatory view on English-only speakers. Of course, this isn’t applied to universities or a few work places,” Thomas noted. Montreal’s art world is accepting but it has its hardships, especially when artists only speak English. The English and French art communities rarely overlap.

When it comes to figures of authority, such as police officers, Thomas admits the conflict she feels within: “I’m already faced with a push-back because there’s a chance that once I reveal my Indigeneity, I will not gain the help I need,’’ said Thomas. She was also referring to experiences from friends of hers where police officers refused to assist them.

Cultural appropriation or appreciation?

“I have had people ask the question ‘I’m non-Indigenous, so is it ok if I wear your products?’ and my response is that this is the opposite of cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is when a non-Indigenous person produces and sells Indigenous products. That’s a no-no.’’ she said. Thomas always lets her customers know it isn’t problematic to be wearing Indigenous products as long as they are made and sold  by Indigenous creators.

In times of crisis, be it in social action, fighting for Indigenous land rights or in social isolation, it is essential to continue to support local artists. Thomas’ online shop showcases gorgeous and extremely colourful circular bead earrings, pins, hide holders (small pouches made out of animal hide) with beaded edges in black, purple, blue, chartreuse and orange on each distinctive design.

For materials, gifts and more visit


Images courtesy of Destiny Thomas @destinythomasdesigns


Simply Scientific: Seasonal Allergies

As winter nears its end and spring is right around the corner, it’s the season of runny noses, sneezing and watery eyes for many people.

Whether it’s oak, grass or birch pollen that triggers an allergy, we can all agree they’re a pain. But how does an allergy come to be, and what can be done to treat such a reaction?

According to Heathline, an allergy, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, is when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance it sees as harmful. As a response, the immune system produces histamine, a chemical whose role is getting rid of the allergen that happens to be the cause of unpleasant symptoms.

These allergies are more heightened in spring than in any other season due to the fact that trees begin to pollinate. Examples of outdoor allergens include, but are not limited to, cedar, alder, horse chestnut, willow and poplar.

The common symptoms of seasonal allergies include a runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat, ear congestion and an overproduction of mucus, while the rarer symptoms are coughing, wheezing, headache and shortness of breath.

Regarding treatment for seasonal allergies, there are a few ways to go about it with medication. Over-the-counter medications such as Zytec, Tylenol, Benadryl, Pfizer and nasal steroid sprays can relieve and lighten the burden of allergies. However, these types of medicine can cause side effects like dizziness, drowsiness and confusion.

In very severe cases of allergies, allergy shots may be recommended by a doctor. If medicine isn’t your cup of tea, there are alternative treatment methods like the consumption of vitamin C or Lactobacillus acidophilus, a bacteria found in yogurt.

Don’t let allergies stop you from enjoying spring and summer after such a long time in wintry darkness!


Graphic by @sundaeghost


The importance of Feminism in the 21st century

Officially recognized since 1977 by the UN, the goal of Women’s Day has always been to pay tribute to the achievements of predecessors in the labour movements and the feminist movement that succeeded it.

The history leading up to International Women’s Day is rich and full of brave women who fought for more rights and equality in the societies they lived in.

Though it’s a day to celebrate the achievements of women and how far we’ve progressed, we need to stray away from patting ourselves on the back and becoming passive in the status quo.

I am honestly grateful to have access to education, voting and having rights in general. I am my own person and I have a say in matters that involve my body and choices. But the heartbreaking truth is that reality isn’t like this for every woman around the globe. Just because we’ve progressed, doesn’t mean that we can’t do more to finally achieve gender equality—the same dream that fuelled so many feminist icons in the past to fight for all women.

International Women’s Day is a celebration of feminism and how brave women took to the streets of New York to ask for rights and less detrimental working conditions in 1908.

This year’s theme, which was  #EachforEqual  is wonderful to me because it is reflecting on what we should all be doing and pondering during the rest of the year. The goal of challenging stereotypes, fighting bias, broadening perceptions, improving situations and celebrating women’s achievements is what we all need to be doing. Why do we have to celebrate women’s achievements only once a year? And why does it have to become another marketing ploy abused by corporations?

Female empowerment isn’t properly celebrated with cutesy merchandise that may take the form of a bright pink t-shirt with the slogan ‘Woman Up!’ written across it or with a BrewDog pink beer ‘‘for girls’’ (it was in poor taste, even if it was ironic). It’s all feeding into sexist advertisements—and we’re in 2020. Do we seriously need to continue having this conversation and continuing to treat stereotypical gender roles as social restraints?

The world isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns and I’m aware of that. This is why corporations need to do better and invest money in the cause all year long, not only showing support on March 8 to be trendy.

International Women’s Day should always be about realizing how much we have progressed but also recognizing our shortcomings, and how much we can improve and continue to pave the way for less privileged women. There are still 132 million girls who don’t have access to education and are forced out of school worldwide.

In fact, many of these girls are refused opportunities due to sexism and outdated gender stereotypes, where girls are perceived as being housewives and don’t deserve an education, unlike their male counterparts, as reported by World Vision.

These biases against women aren’t only happening in underdeveloped countries.

On March 5, the United Nations Development Programme came out with a report with findings that 90 per cent of men and women alike hold a bias against women especially in areas such as politics, education and business. These results are upsetting and show that there are still invisible barriers blocking the achievement of equality.

Feminism isn’t only a trademark to show off once a year.

The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of equality of the sexes needs to be kept alive in 2020 and the years to come—so that all women around the world can accomplish their dreams and are finally seen as worthy of holding titles that were traditionally held by men.

We all have a role to play in making this a reality. 



Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


Dear YouTube, mukbangs are a dangerous and deadly trend

Warning: This article contains sensitive material relating to eating disorders. 

If you’re an avid Youtube watcher like me, you’ve probably heard of or have been recommended mukbang videos. Before we dive into this topic, according to, the concept of a mukbang video is a ‘’livestream of a host who binge-eats large quantities of food as they talk to their audience.’’ These videos are often done in storytime format, where the host tells a lengthy past experience while eating and responding to comments from their fanbase.

These videos are also known as eating shows. Popular content creators include Nikocado Avocado, Trisha Paytas, Zach Choi and Stephanie Soo.

Mukbang has often been used by the hosts as an excuse for the abundance of food they consume. Mukbanger Livia Adams, also known by Alwayshungry, admitted to having had an unhealthy relationship to food, as written in The Odyssey. She has gone as far as congratulating herself for the number of hours she lasted without food in a day. Paytas has also admitted to starving herself for weeks to give entertaining mukbangs for her viewers. On Paytas’ page, you can read some seriously disturbing comments.

“I’m on a diet… watching this is giving me some sort of satisfaction like as though I ate, you know?” 

“I watch these videos because I know I physically can’t afford to eat like this because I gain weight too easily.”

“When having an eating disorder, watching Trisha’s mukbangs is sorta comforting in a way omg”

Let’s not forget that these people become famous and rich by starving themselves, downing nauseating amounts of junk food and promoting their self-destructive behaviours to younger audiences. It’s disgusting and disappointing that YouTube is monetizing eating disorders.

One of the biggest issues that I have with mukbang videos is the fact that these Youtubers eat junk food in large quantities—I can assure you that the most popular content creators aren’t downing a salad nor are they inviting their viewers to live a healthy lifestyle. They’re often eating heavily fried foods, fast food, chips or sweets. A lot of mukbangers only show themselves eating, and, since it’s not glamorous, don’t show how their bodies react. Why don’t they show what really goes on behind the scenes? No human being can be healthy and alright after consuming 10,000 calories in one sitting—by themselves—without any health repercussions, especially after starving themselves.

A study by Hanwool Choe, a sociolinguistics Ph.D. student at Georgetown University shows that many people resort to watching mukbangs to feel less alone while eating, provide a sense of community and sometimes even satisfy some fetish.

As stated by Medical Daily, mukbangs promote overeating and may be causing people to practice detrimental eating habits. We all need to hold Youtube accountable for the content they promote and monetize. It’s unethical for behaviour like this to be so openly presented on a website used by 1.9 billion users every month.

Why do people enjoy watching this sort of content, where people are witnessing the destruction of someone else’s body? Well… it’s actually a brutal human emotion called Schadenfreude, defined by Science News as the “process of perceiving a person or social group as lacking the attributes that define what it means to be human.’’

Schadenfreude, the phenomenon of online voyeurism and the strong influence of social media, all feed into the obsession of looking at others rather than working on ourselves. With one click, we are able to look through digital windows and learn everything about that person, even though it may be an inaccurate depiction.

In all honesty, mukbangs aren’t all created to cause harm, but they seem to be hurting more people than helping.  The internet should not be where people with eating disorders hurt themselves and inadvertently trigger those who see these videos. Youtube needs to care more about their viewers than the money they make.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


We have to stop romanticizing serial killers

For decades, serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Jeffree Dahmer and Charles Manson have fascinated the minds of many people, but some take their interest in true crime too far.

Obsessed people often find themselves on Tumblr in a “True Crime Community,” an online space made up of mainly women who venerate killers and school shooters.

They show their obsession by creating collages of serial killer pictures in typical Tumblr style: pictures of them juxtaposed with flower crowns and transparent stickers that say “fab,” “okay wow” and other sayings that definitely do not go with men who murdered, raped, and hurt so many innocent people. These collages were very popular back in 2014-15, and this fandom has only grown and moved across different social media platforms over the years. It has recently invaded Tik Tok, with point of view videos where someone pretends to “kill” the viewer.

Last year, as reported by Kelly Weill in The Daily Beast, Brein Basarich, under the taking-lives username, was calling mass murderer Dylann Roof “precious” and threatened to kill bystanders at a club or bar – a public place she described as having a single entrance and exit. She was arrested following her threats, along with two other serial killer fans from Ohio. This proves how some don’t think of these people as criminals, but as heroes and rockstars; it shows that this extreme obsession is dangerous and harmful.

It has to end, for the sake of safety.

If you think that this is awful and not very normal or healthy, you’re not wrong. In fact, this sort of behaviour is known as hybristophilia, which is described as an “attraction to those who commit crimes,” according to the APA Dictionary of Psychology. This philia often pushes women specifically to reach out to incarcerated criminals – it is more common in women than men, according to Mark D. Griffiths on Psychology Today.

Fan mail was sent quite often to Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffree Dahmer and Richard Ramirez, who were all famous killers during the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

There are two types of hybristophilia: passive and aggressive. Passive hybristophiliacs excuse the horrifying acts that the killer committed, believing that they can change those criminals, and that they would never hurt them despite being murderers. People who exhibit this type of hybristophilia often don’t have any desire to commit crimes. Aggressive hybristophiliacs are likely to commit horrendous acts along with their criminal significant other, who often manipulate them. 

One of the biggest issues with this twisted admiration for criminals is that hybristophiliacs forget lives were taken and destroyed as a result of those crimes. Sexualizing these monsters disrespects victims and their mourning families. Family members suffer enough following the loss of someone they love and deserve better than seeing people discrediting the wickedness of these men, and sexualizing them.

No, random person on tumblr, you can’t help someone who wants to kill another human being, unless you’re a psychologist, which I doubt you are. 

Next time, before sexualizing a serial killer, remember all of the lives they took and how many people they hurt during their lifetime. There’s a reason they went to jail and it wasn’t to receive your love letters.

Feature graphic by @sundaeghost


The President’s back-to-school get together

Newly appointed Concordia President and Vice-Chancellor Graham Carr met with students on Jan. 8 at the SP Atrium on the Loyola Campus. It was Carr’s first official event, as his five year mandate began on Dec. 12, 2019.

‘’I think it’s a great way for the whole community, students, faculty and staff to get an opportunity to get together at the beginning of the semester, before the semester gets too stressful,’’ said Carr. “To say ‘welcome back,’ and wish the best and success for the year ahead.’’

Carr revealed that he plans on continuing initiatives that have already been implemented at the university, such as Indigenous relations, sustainability and growing research.

As students, faculty and staff gathered, doctorate biology student Safa Sanami remarked that the event ditched plastic entirely. All the food was served on washable platters, no cutlery was used, drinks were distributed in large jugs and attendees were invited to bring their own cups.

The university has put these new initiatives into effect to improve its recycling, all while promoting ways for students to have fun, while highlighting that no act is insignificant to help the planet.

According to biology graduate student James Perry, cutting back on single-use and consumable products is essential.

‘’I like the idea that these plates and drinking glasses are compostable and recyclable, as opposed to mass-produced items that are not often made of recyclable materials,” he said. “Although, there isn’t an advanced and efficient upcycling or recycling system in place, I feel that we are improving and are more conscious than a year ago.”

It seems that Concordia University will be looking for more ways to evolve during this new era, as Carr also mentioned that he plans on doing more complementary things to improve Concordia’s teaching agenda and offering a panoply of opportunities to its student body.


Photos by Britany Clarke


Illumi, an ode to winter’s beauty and magic

The incredible outdoor light show proves that winter isn’t so bad after all

As winter progresses and the days become shorter, Illumi–A Dazzling World of Lights by Cavalia–which took place in Laval from Nov. 1 to Jan. 5, showcased winter’s beauty with millions of gorgeous lights, all while transporting visitors through different places with sight and sound.

Illumi offers much more than a dazzling, original, and seemingly endless universe of lights. The experience also includes food trucks and numerous small stores to visit, all placed at the main entrance of the course and referred to as the Christmas Market.

Illumi presents eight different worlds, beginning with The Many Colours of the Savanna, followed by Feliz Navidad, Infinite Poles, Santa’s Real Home, Dreaming of the Star, The Merry-Go-Round Square, Magic Lanterns and Frolic on the Boulevard. These different worlds are placed on a course and visitors are free to visit at their own rhythm, though the light show’s website states that it takes 90 minutes to get through them all.

When I attended with my family over the break, we spent over two hours outdoors which allowed us to disconnect from our phones and spend time together and talk. We began in the The Many Colours of the Savanna, which showcased animals composed of different coloured fairy lights; elephants, giraffes, flamingos, zebras and lions were presented beautifully. Trees were also different shades of white, purple and green. The bright adventure was accompanied by african music which seemed to melt the snow away and transport us back to summer.

Moving on to Feliz Navidad, the even brighter coloured world represented the beauty of South America, drawing inspiration from multiple hispanic cultures, from Mexico to Perù. The exhibition celebrated the multiculturalism of South America through its visuals and blend of different types of hispanic music. This world contained llamas, giant piñatas, birds, Indigenous-inspired masks, butterflies, flowers and a multitude of other tropical animals. It was a nice part of the Illumi experience as I was able to feel pride for being part of the latinx community.

Infinite Poles contained many arctic animals such as penguins, polar bears and deer, surrounded by a seemingly-endless legion of stalagmites and igloos of different sizes and colours to explore. Infinite Poles was also accompanied by a very adorable holiday world which exhibited snowmen, gifts and snowflakes among other holiday symbols.

Although Illumi is a light show throughout, a short film titled Dreaming of the Star  was presented on a large screen that was solely made up of lightbulbs–four million in total. The multimedia tale told the story of two siblings who went on a quest to find the brightest star in the sky to decorate their christmas tree.

The Merry-Go-Round Square, which had a carousel composed of white cavalia horses, gave visitors a fun place to rest. Magic Lanterns was mainly composed of Asian fauna and references to samurai and geishas, as well as pandas, fish, dragons and cherry blossom trees. Frolic on the Boulevard honoured Hollywood with a bright silhouette of Marilyn Monroe as well as a clapperboard, among other pop culture references, all accompanied by popular film scores.

Though its prices and location aren’t the most accessible, Illumi filled visitors with wonder over the holidays.


Photo by Camila Caridad Rivas


My skin colour does not determine my ethnicity.

In sociology, racial passing is a term defined as ‘’the ability of a person to be regarded as a member of a combination of sociological groups other than his or her own,’’ according to Enacademic.

Racial passing means passing as white. And that includes a lot of systematic privilege, especially when living in a country like Canada. But it also means part of your identity is removed. There’s a problem with people who assign a specific look, skin colour or whatever description they’ve been fed, to an entire people that is actually diverse.

It wasn’t until I was told by a close friend of mine told me about racial passing as a phenomenon that I realized that it was my life story summed up. I had unknowingly been passing as white, particularly since moving to Montreal 14 years ago. As a Venezuelan with white skin, growing up in Montreal, I can recall the surprise on people’s faces when I would speak in French with no stereotypical accent, and then speak in Spanish to my parents. People couldn’t believe that I spoke Spanish; I had to explain that I was born in Venezuela and that we had immigrated here to live a better life.

Explaining our immigration story results in a wave of unwanted questions and comments:

‘’Wow, but you’re so pale!’’

‘’How do you still know how to speak Spanish?’’

‘’Tell me something in Spanish!’’

‘’Your father’s skin is darker than yours, were you adopted?’’

and the most famous of all: ‘’oh, I could definitely tell!’’

No. You could not tell — if you could, why were you so surprised in the first place? 

The official language of Venezuela is Spanish; it’s my mother tongue. Venezuela, like much of Latin America, has a number of varying races that share the same ethnicity. This means Black and White Venezuelans alike, are simply Venezuelan, and speak Spanish. In fact, Venezuela’s population is so diverse that a graph from Britannica states that 63.7 per cent of the population is mestizo – a person with both European and Indigenous ancestry – 20 per cent is local white and 10 per cent is local black. When I lived  there, people didn’t regularly comment on skin colours, and no one was shocked to see someone with pale skin speaking Spanish. But outside of that community, from my experience, people are so immersed in their idea of what a latin person looks like, they forget there’s no one-way.

Due to my light skin tone, I can never identify myself as being a member of the latinx community without having someone scoff and bring up the fact that I am white. It’s racist to assume that only specific races belong to a specific ethnicity.

My white-skin doesn’t make me less Latina. It’s exhausting to have my identity questioned because I don’t fit some people’s idea of what a latin person looks like. It’s frankly outdated.

The fact that appearances carry such importance in our society is something that has always frustrated me, especially when my parents’ ethnicity was never doubted because their skin is a little darker than mine. Appearances are not a sole factor in determining what makes an ethnicity and nationality.

I deal with microaggressions in the form of people’s blatantly racist and ignorant comments often, which chip away at my feelings of belonging  within the hispanic community.

All minorities suffer enough racism and discrimination as it is. Let’s not divide our communities further with ignorance.

I may not be exotic or Latina enough for some people’s narrow concept of the Hispanic community, but I am Latina. 

Before asking someone who’s different than you to speak their language, or question why they look a certain way, try to get to know them as a person and treat them kindly and with respect. Just because someone doesn’t fit the mould of what an ethnicity may look like to you, doesn’t mean  they’re not part of their culture, honouring it. It’s time to stop projecting your perceived ideas and respect the person who’s from a different place when they tell you they’re from there.


Photo/Graphic collab: Brittany Clarke, @sundaeghost


The Mandalorian: Untold tales in a galaxy far, far away

 Star Wars lives on in Disney+

Set five years after the Return of the Jedi, the Disney+ original takes the viewer on a journey alongside an unknown character who is addressed as The Mandalorian, referred to as Mando, seemingly being his sole alias. The title character wears a helmet that is eerily similar to Boba Fett’s during the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983).

The first episode of the Mandalorian takes us to a cantina, located on Arvala-7, a remote desert planet, where the protagonist walks towards the bar to get a drink. A fight breaks out and Mando takes care of the men in the altercation without much trouble.

The title character is a ruthless, cold loner. There is no explanation nor peek in his backstory, which is quite an enigma, as members of the audience are often offered a flashback to explain why the character acts in a certain way. It is another side of the Star Wars universe, which makes it interesting and fascinating to the viewer – it definitely was for me.

In the usual Star Wars fashion, the protagonists are often good and have a desire to stand up to an evil regime – it is completely different here. It is a lawless and chaotic galaxy, which is unseen and unprecedented. Something that makes Mando different, contrary to Greedo, the bounty hunter we met during A New Hope, is that he doesn’t kill his mark, he only takes them to his employer.

Mando has different motivations as a bounty hunter other than killing or a thrill from power, contrary to those who worked under antagonists, such as Jabba the Hutt or Boba Fett. Although Mando’s morals fall in the grey zone, though he has a human side that few get to see. This side of the limitless universe that we see isn’t only fascinating, but it teaches that what makes someone evil isn’t their circumstances – it is up to the person to decide how to act. Your circumstances do not determine who you are, we always have a choice.

In my opinion, as a lifelong Star Wars fan, Jon Favreau  is doing amazing so far with the four episodes that I’ve seen. The cinematography maintains the classic Star Wars movie aesthetic, from the transitions used to the colour scheme. However, the pacing of the episodes is slower, and there are no central Jedis. This is what makes the show so intriguing: it’s different from the movies, all while still being true to the franchise.

Although the main movie saga is going to end on Dec. 20 with its ninth movie, The Rise of Skywalker, with this series, it still feels like Star Wars will live on. There are so many other worlds and characters to explore. Disney+ may just be the perfect medium for that purpose.


Illustration by @joeybruceart


Simply Scientific: Addiction

‘Addict’ is a label that is often thrown around without much thought. If someone likes something a little too much, they’re considered an addict in the eyes of their entourage.

Addiction is not a quirky way to describe someone’s love and passion for a hobby. The reality is that addiction and negative stereotypes are causing fewer people to seek help, according to Recovery Lighthouse’s website, an addiction recovery clinic. Due to a fear of judgment and rejection, addicts often suffer alone and in silence.

How does addiction start though? An addiction is when people lose control over their consumption behaviours as well as the freedom to stop despite the consequences. Lacking self-esteem or being fueled with high levels of anxiety can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and sadness, due to missing their family and friends.

This loneliness may be the door that lets an addiction makes its way into their life. A person may perceive the consumption of certain substances as helping them cope with their negative feelings. The substance brings instant gratification – a phenomenon where a desire for instant happiness causes the person to do certain acts in order to feel better right away.

Sometimes it’s merely habit-related. Imagine someone drinks every single day at a certain time. The repetition becomes a habit and triggers a need. An addiction will start to form, not only when the person obsessively thinks about drinking, but when habits result in negative consequences. Such consequences can be social isolation from being in a state of enormous exhaustion, caused by the physical and mental toll of over-consumption.

Other symptoms of addiction include depression and high levels of anxiety during periods of withdrawal. Some may become aggressive. Even when the desire is present, cutting back altogether can be difficult when emotions the addiction helped cope with were never really dealt with.

The victim may not be aware of what they’re going through. It is important never to judge a person who is suffering from addiction: you’re never alone.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

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