Arts and Culture

An interview with Heather O’Neill

The celebrated novelist sat down with our Editor-in-Chief to discuss her published works and an upcoming novel. 

Montreal is ripe with celebrated authors, like Leonard Cohen, Mordecai Richler, and Heather O’Neill. On a sunny Tuesday morning in March, following a win on the Canada Reads game show, O’Neill met up with The Concordian to discuss her literary journey. 

The Concordian: Thank you again for sitting down with me. Let’s start by learning a little more about you.

Heather O’Neill: I was born here in Montreal and then my parents got a divorce. My mother took me to the American South, which is where she is originally from and I lived there with her for a while. After some years, she decided she didn’t want to be a mother anymore and sent me back to Montreal to live with my father.

TC: I’m so sorry to hear that. Through all that, when did you discover your passion for writing?

H.O.: I remember it started when I was in elementary school. I remember back when I was eight or nine, I got a journal for my birthday. I started journaling and I loved doing that. It was my favorite part of the day, getting back to my journal and describing my day. It was like the journal was the only person on my side. Afterward, in grade five, I had a teacher who was very excited about my writing. I remember she gave me this little folder and she told me to keep everything because she told me I’d be a great writer.

TC: I love that. Going into your young adult life, what was the first major inspiration for your first novel?

H.O.: Funny enough, I was in a workshop at Concordia. I wrote a short story with the characters that ended up in Lullabies for Little Criminals, Baby and Jules. I noticed that story in particular got a lot of attention and seemed to capture the attention of the readers. So I sent it to a magazine and it got published. After it got nominated for the Journey Prize, I told myself, “Okay, I have something here.”

TC: How do you feel now that your written works are now being studied in courses, like an English class that I took at Concordia?

H.O.: It’s funny because it’s just starting to hit me now, that sort of appraisal. As an artist, you don’t have a sense of the outside world. Now, turning 50 this year, I think I am slowly starting to see that impact. I have so many young women writers who have come up to me and told me that they have read my books.

TC: Which of your books do you find people come and talk to you about the most? 

H.O.: It’s hard to say, but Lullabies for Little Criminals has been around for the longest. I would say The Lonely Hearts Hotel has really struck a chord in people. 

TC: What would your advice be to young writers who are just starting out?

H.O.: I don’t know what exactly my advice would be because a novel is such a strange beast. I think people just get gripped by it and you can’t stop the writing until you finish it. It’s a lot like Narnia, you get into a novel and you don’t know how much time you’ll spend on it. When you finally finish that novel it could’ve been over a span of 10 years or even six months. The madness is real for sure.

TC: What does your writing process look like?

H.O.: I write in a very rough way, where I already have the idea of the novel in my head. It always changes as I go along. When I start the novel, I write the different scenes from different parts of the book to kind of get a feel of how it’s going to look. After that, I piece everything together into a legible book. Then I send it off to my editor and it goes back and forth four to five times.

TC: Do you currently have anything in the works?

H.O.: I have one coming out in September. This novel is my first that is not set in Montreal. It’s set in this little imaginary country and in this country, they base their entire identity on the arts. They have this incredible arts culture, but then they get occupied by another country. It’s sort of how occupying forces first destroy the artists.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting O’Neill’s next novel since her last release in 2022, When We Lost Our Heads. For updates on O’Neill’s newest creation, have a look at her Instagram account, which she shares with her daughter, @oneillreads.


Sledding my woes away on the mountain

How I discovered that snow days are good for the soul.

If you know me personally, you’d know I’m not an outdoor girlie. My dad, on the other hand, is the king of the outdoors. Whenever he wants to go for a walk, I always pass. Little did I know, fresh wintery air would do me good—both physically and mentally.

The last couple of months haven’t been the best. I’ve never been one to complain about every single detail in my life, but when things pile up, my anxiety shoots straight through the roof. 

Once 2024 hit, I was excited to start the year off fresh. I was prepared to leave behind all the dark thoughts related to my surgery in 2023. But one week into 2024, my car decided to give me a nice little welcome gift: the “check engine” light. Not only that, but my brakes were squeaking like mad. 

When my boyfriend and I dropped off Jukey (my beloved Nissan) at the mechanic, I was praying that this wasn’t going to cost me more than $500. I was shaking like a leaf as we drove off. 

The following day, the mechanic dropped a big one on me—the whole job would cost me $1,700. My heart fell out of my chest and anger bubbled inside of me. I told the mechanic to go through with the job. I couldn’t afford it, but I had no other choice.

In these scenarios, my anxiety jumps to the worst situations. I started thinking that I wouldn’t be able to save towards my goals for the year. I wouldn’t be moving along how I’d planned. I had a bit of a breakdown.

Luckily, my boyfriend was there to help me get through this time. My anxiety still loomed over my head but at least I had something positive to look forward to: snow tubing with my friends and boyfriend.

I think a bit of fresh air was just what I needed. According to the Ontario Parks website, we should be aiming to move our bodies 20 to 30 minutes per day outdoors during the winter time. By doing so, we’d immediately feel calmer mentally and our blood pressure would go down.

The day of the activity, I was looking forward to a change in scenery and getting some fresh air. We opted to get the full experience package at the mountain near Saint-Sauveur that included an option to bobsled.

Bobsledding for the first time was the most exhilarating thing that I’ve done in a while. I felt like I was in the Olympics, and I’d never felt such an adrenaline rush. I opted for my boyfriend to be the one to push the sled and jump in as we went down. Knowing me, my clumsy self would probably fall to the side or hurt myself.

Going down the mountain at lightning speed, I was so focused on the feeling of being so happy with wintery air gliding against my face. For the couple of hours that we spent at the mountain, I wasn’t focused on my anxiety. I only had positive thoughts and a really good time. I screamed it out, laughed it out, and most importantly, made memories that I’ll cherish for a long time.

If I can recommend anything to anyone going through a tough time right now, this is it. Get outside and get some air—it’ll feed your mind and soul.


Groundhog’s day tradition lives on in Fred Jr.

Will Fred Jr. predict an early spring?

Last year, in the small town of Val d’Espoir near Gaspé, brought the unfortunate tragedy of the loss of Fred la Marmotte on Groundhog’s Day. With this year’s celebration on the horizon, two organizers of the event, Roberto Blondin and Renée Laurendeau, look forward to continuing the tradition with Fred’s successor, Fred Jr. 

Both Blondin and Laurendeau have been the organizers behind the event for the last 15 years. In an interview with The Concordian, Blondin explained how he broke the news to the public last year about the passing of Fred la Marmotte. “I came to a point and asked to myself, ‘What do I tell everyone?’ AlI the journalists were approaching me  before doing the official predication and were asking how Fred was doing. I had to lie to them and say Fred was doing great,” Blondin recounted.

During the period of October to February, Blondin explained that he did not see Fred at all. He made sure that he had enough food and water during hibernation, as well as monitoring the temperature of Fred’s enclosure. “Groundhogs, in general, prepare hibernation in the autumn. It’s almost like the concept of photosynthesis—the leaves on trees start to yellow because of the colder temperatures of the season,” Blondin explained. “The groundhog thinks the same; as soon as it sees that the days become shorter, it’ll start its hibernation process.”  

It is not possible to say exactly when Fred passed, but he lived a truly long life. According to Blondin, Fred passed away at the age of nine—most groundhogs live at most three to four years! “You know the old saying, ‘Long live the king?’ So when the groundhog dies, the symbol is always there,” Blondin explained. “It’s just like Santa Claus,” Laurendeau chimed in with a smile.

Keeping the tradition of Groundhog’s Day alive is very important to Blondin and Laurendeau. Both agreed that the quaint town of Val D’Espoir is the perfect location for the occasion—a place where early in the morning, one could see the sun rise over the chain of mountains and feel the breeze coming from the ocean. “I find myself going into my corner depanneur and feeling surprised that people still talk about Fred’s prediction. The saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a kid,’ well, in our case it takes a village to raise a groundhog,” Blondin said.

In terms of planning the event every year, Laurendeau gets into the Groundhog’s Day spirit even before the holidays come around. “I start thinking about Groundhog’s Day generally right around the month of November. I’ll start by verifying my list of journalists that I need to contact for the event.”

Blondin expressed that he loves being Fred’s handler. Participating in the tradition each year, he sees it being passed down through generations—and how the kids that attended the event when it first began continue to show interest as teenagers. The sense of community brings pride to Blondin, who initially started the event as a way to raise money for the school board in Val D’Espoir.  

“It’s really a special thing, if you think about it, because we show a groundhog that we claim can predict the weather, and he has a 50 percent chance of being wrong. I truly believe that we are better than Phil in the US, Sam in Nova Scotia, and Willie in Ontario, in terms of getting the prediction right,” Blondin said.

Groundhog’s Day is not only a day all about Fred, but also a way to promote Gaspé. Everyone can tune in on Feb. 2 through the livestream, or better yet, in person. 


An ode to big chested girlies

How one surgery changed my life—literally.

Let me take you on a journey back in time to when I was around 11 years old. Mother Nature decided it was my time to become a woman. Everything happened all at once for me; I got my period and not long after, my boobs came in. Let me tell you, they were not subtle at all.

As you can imagine, this was a shock to my pre-teen self. I was the first one to blossom into a woman while all my other friends hadn’t even considered the idea of puberty. My early entrance into womanhood came at a time when the boys in my elementary school were also reaching puberty. 

I have vivid flashbacks of being in gym class and having all the boys stare at me. I remember feeling so self-conscious and embarrassed running and having these big boobs bouncing around. There were times where I had to wear two sports bras one on top of another—it was the only way to keep them in place even though I could barely breathe. 

My back pain grew excruciating and my self-esteem was already obliterated. Many tears were shed and my mom decided enough is enough. She got a referral from my doctor to see a plastic surgeon for breast reduction surgery.

To this day, I remember being 15 years old going into that surgery consultation. I was absolutely terrified. My mom was in the room as the surgeon examined my exposed chest. As she explained the process of the surgery, I was looking into her eyes with terror. The surgeon informed us that there was a long waiting list for the procedure and we wouldn’t hear from the hospital for a while. 

My parents and I were in for a rude awakening when the surgeon called  to propose a surgery date for the following week. Emotionally, I was not ready. Who could be at that age?

I decided this was not the right time for me. Instead, I used this time in my life to get serious with my health. I was not a super big girl at the time, but I knew I could benefit from losing some weight. After some time, my determination paid off—I lost weight and my chest was smaller. When I started college, my priorities shifted. I invested all my energy in school and slowly but surely, the girls made another grand entrance. 

Now well into my twenties, I’d had enough. It was time for me to feel free and confident in my body. To my surprise, the new surgery date came faster than I imagined: following my consultation this past April, the hospital called me at the end of September with an availability for Oct. 11. 

On the day of the surgery, I was not as nervous as I imagined I’d be. I was more focused on the growling sounds of my empty stomach. The nerves only kicked in when I said goodbye to my mom and waited for the surgeon alone. 

Being escorted to the OR was exactly like in Grey’s Anatomy. There were many machines and a gurney in the middle of the room. It finally hit me that this was about to happen. My fear of needles kicked in and I sobbed. A nurse in the OR held my face and helped me calm down. The last thing I remember before being put under anesthesia is being asked my doctor’s name—and I actually recited his full name. The entire OR laughed and he joked that his own mother doesn’t know his full name.

At almost one month post-op, I have some conflicting feelings about the whole experience. Last week, I discovered that the incisions had opened on both sides. I’ll spare you the gory details, but my chest didn’t look right.

After going back and forth from the hospital, my anxiety was at an all time high. I was getting a bunch of conflicting opinions of what was exactly happening with me. 

To ease my mind, I scheduled a follow-up with my general doctor. He explained it’s possible for incisions to open, after a surgery like breast reduction. Thankfully, I did not have any symptoms of an infection; no swollen lymph nodes, redness around the incisions, and most importantly no fever. I just have to exude a bit more patience than I anticipated and let my body do its thing. 

I don’t want my experience to impact anyone’s decision on whether to get the surgery or not. This period following the surgery has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, but I couldn’t have done it without everyone around me. 

In the end, I don’t regret the surgery. I believe everyone deserves to feel at home in their bodies. It’s the first time in years where I can finally say “Damn, I look good!” 


Master your Photo Skills with the Concordian

Photography is as easy as one, two, three!

Are you ready to switch out the average camera on the phone in your pocket for a more professional camera? The team at the Concordian put together a simple guide to help our fellow photojournalists out with some advice based on journalistic situations you would find yourself in.

To start things off, before you even start fiddling with your camera settings, set your camera to Manual mode. This will give you full control of the camera versus other default settings where the camera might automatically adjust settings based on the situation.

Understanding the basics of your camera – 

Now that your camera is in Manual mode, you have to understand the interaction between light and the camera, also known as the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle balances three elements: your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. 

Think of shutter speed as curtains for a window. Your shutter is the curtains that close inside the camera when you press the button to take the picture. It essentially opens and closes the shutter to either slow down or freeze movement. 

Imagine you open and shut the curtains at 1/500 of a second. Not a lot of light can get in during the short time it was open, right? You maybe get one brief glance out your window due to how fast the curtains shut, but not the whole scene. However, if the curtains closed at 1/30 a second, think of how much more you could see. The longer the shutter stays open, the more information the camera takes in. Longer shutter speeds can lead to motion blur, while faster shutter speeds freeze motion.  

Up next is your ISO, which is essentially light sensitivity. This concept goes back to the film days—each film had its own level and amount of light it was able to process. Think of it as a scale of light with 100 being a full sunny day and 3200 being nighttime. You can use this as wiggle room on your shutter speed or aperture. 

One more thing to keep in mind is higher ISO also comes with a bit more noise, or grain, and the camera would work harder to capture the scene.

The final component of the exposure triangle is the aperture. A camera is basically a hole that opens, lets light in, and then captures it in its simplest form. The aperture allows you to decide the size of that hole—it can either be wide open and let lots of information in, or tiny and only let a little bit in. This determines how much of your image will be in focus. 

Let’s say you just want to capture the foreground—whatever element is closest to your camera. You would use a smaller aperture of around F/2.8. For something like landscapes, where you would want everything in focus, we would suggest a wider aperture of F/14. 

Different journalistic situations –

As long as these three elements balance, you can conquer a lot of the photojournalistic scenarios you’d find yourself in. Are you on the news beat? In a lot of situations, you’ll be taking portraits of your subjects for a visual. In these types of situations we would suggest:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/100 or faster
  • Aperture: F/1.8 – F/5.6
  • ISO: 100-400
  • Focus: Auto (AF)
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Single Shot

Student leading the climate protest in downtown Montreal on September 23, 2022. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN.

Do you like to capture the action of athletes on the field during a game? We would suggest the following settings for sports photography:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/500 at a minimum to ensure the movement is captured
  • Aperture: F/2.8 – F/5.6
  • ISO: 400
  • Focus: Auto (AF)
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Continuous/Burst 

Photo by Catherine Reynolds / The Concordian

Maybe you prefer to photograph the emotion and excitement of a concert. This can be a little trickier with all the crazy lighting typical to shows. One important thing to remember is that red light is the hardest to photograph in. Here are some settings that we would suggest to elevate your concert experience:  

  • Shutter Speed: 1/250 or faster (pro tip: try lower for some artsy motion blur) 
  • Aperture: F/1.8 – F/4 ( preferably as low as it can go!)
  • ISO: 1600 – 3200
  • Focus: Auto (AF) as well as spot-metering 
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Continuous/Burst

Photo by Catherine Reynolds / The Concordian

Long story short, this little guide does not cover every situation you’ll be faced with. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for you and we hope above all that this is a good start for your photography adventure!


Check out Mile End’s Bernie Beigne

Tims ain’t got nothing on Bernie’s

Ever get a hankering for a delicious treat but don’t feel like going to your local Tims? Doughnut worry about a thing— there’s a solution.

Walking into Bernie Beigne, located on 23 Bernard St. in the Mile End, you are greeted with freshly glazed doughnuts hanging on drying rods. 

Dean Giannarakis, alongside his father John, and family friend George Giannopoulos, opened the doughnut shop in May 2021.

Bernie Beigne itself is a very simple store from the inside. Walking into the shop, to your right, you can see the open area where the Giannarakis family dips the freshly fried doughnuts. The sweet-smelling glazes migrate up your nose and right when you walk in, the doughnut display catches your eye.

“I never thought in a thousand years that I would work with pastry. So, for me it was going in and learning the basics of how dough works. Knowing the science behind it and translate that into doughnuts,” said Giannarakis, speaking about his time in culinary school.

Behind the counter, every kind of topping imaginable is at John Giannarakis’ disposal, from Kit-Kats to caramels, from sprinkles to every kind of glaze. John is the creative mastermind behind all the doughnut creations.  The famous pink glaze for their Simpson’s doughnut catches the eye from a mile away.

“The perfect doughnut, I haven’t created it yet. I always joke with Dean, and I tell him my dream is to make a sweet curry doughnut. When I perfect that, it will be the first of its kind, then I can retire,” says John Giannarakis.

Bernie’s is known for two types of doughnuts. They have their cake doughnuts, including the double chocolate and red velvet flavours. They also have the classic yeast-raised doughnuts, which include Simpson’s, Kit-Kat, Oreo and many more.  

The decorating station at Bernie’s. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

They also sell drip coffee and their own merchandise. This includes caps, hoodies and mugs.

My personal favourite is the Simpson’s doughnut. The classic pairing of the sweet pink frosting with the light doughnut – you could easily eat a dozen more. 

I also love the seasonal doughnuts that they make around Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s day. I always tend to go for the heart-shaped doughnut or the Lucky Charms decorated doughnuts.

For the family, quality is in the ingredients and great customer service.

“We didn’t open this because we wanted to be the best doughnut shop in town, we weren’t trying to pump our egos. We wanted to do something where it’s fun, you enjoy going to work every day, and you have to do it because your day starts at four in the morning,” says Giannarakis. 

Community Student Life

End of semester blues

Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this stressful time

End of semester is upon us, and it’s pretty much dreadful for anyone you talk to. Things are piling up and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

According to the organization Mental Health Partners, there are nine decompressing techniques that could help anyone get through tough times. 

While some enjoy going on a hike outdoors, others would rather decompress through meditation and deep breathing. Or even just simply talking it out with family and friends could make the world of difference.

In my personal opinion, the best techniques that work for me are exercising, taking a day off, and reading.

I am not the most active person out there, but with the weather getting nicer I have been finding walks really help channel my stress. I feel that while I’m walking I am not thinking about what schoolwork I need to do next. Instead, I am just focused on my surroundings. My boyfriend and I like to name out all the different models of cars that we spot while out walking.

Even though some decompressing techniques might work for me, I was curious as to which different decompressing techniques work for other Concordia students. 

For those I spoke to, it seems like there is a wide variety of preferred decompressing coping mechanisms.

Adriana Gentile, a third-year journalism student, explains, “I often like to go outside and take a walk and do some breathing techniques. Also, listening to music helps me a lot.”

Jessica Laturnus, a third-year Irish studies student, says, “Sometimes it’s a movie, sometimes it’s a rain app. I find my rain app so useful when I have so many things to do. I have a hard time sleeping.”

This high-intensity time could result in a lack of sleep for some students, (okay a LOT of students). I personally could attest to that one.

Laturnus also explained that aside from her rain app, she finds ambient noise or white noise helpful for sleep.

During these last few weeks of crunch time, I would like to remind all my fellow peers out there that it’s okay to take things a little slower and not so rushed. One thing at a time and things will all work out.

Community Student Life

Concordia’s Making HERstory Club

Learn all about how a group of Concordia students are empowering women

Making HERstory is a Concordia club that is dedicated to changing the perception about feminism, that perception being all about gender equality between men and women, not women being perceived as dominant.

The Concordian had the chance to sit down with some of the club’s executive members to understand what the club is all about and how it came to be. 

“Everyone that knows me well knows how passionate and dedicated I am towards achieving big goals. As a proud woman, I decided to join Making HERstory to show everyone what women are made of and what they are capable of,” said Gaelle Abou Issa, the club’s vice-president external.

Angela Farasha, the club’s president, explained that there is a special project in the works to commemorate International Women’s day, which took place on March 8. 

“We are preparing for a unique ‘Equality’ project in collaboration with some of our professors in Concordia,” Farasha said. “We can’t talk about it yet. However, make sure to follow us on social media @makingherstoryconcordia to know more about it when the time comes.”

The events that are hosted by the club are some of the highlights for the team. Farasha explained that a majority of the events are done with an educational purpose in mind.

“We focus on educational events that revolve around women empowerment. Such events will discuss raising awareness about women’s rights, issues women face in Canada and other parts of the world, the importance of financial independence for women, the importance of developing a positive body image and many more,” Farasha said. 

Social Media Manager Lana Haidar said she joined the club because she “wanted to make a change and difference and [felt] the need to be a part of something special.” She added that the group has been very welcoming.

The execs can all agree that the club truly took off during the pandemic, when they hosted a variety of online activities and workshops. The transition to in-person schooling made promoting the club much easier for the execs.

“After transferring to in-person, promoting and advertising became easier. The word spreads and a lot of people discover the association and learn about it from their peers, members of the association, as well as social media,” said Vice-President Internal Hajar Lamri.  

The execs look forward to connecting with women from different backgrounds at Concordia as the club continues to grow.

Community Student Life

The return of the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day parade

How Concordia Irish Studies student Samara O’Gorman is honouring her heritage

The month of March is a big deal for the United Irish Societies of Montreal and a cause for celebration for the students of the Concordia School of Irish Studies.

This year marks the return of the full-scale parade since it was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic. 

The Concordian spoke with Irish Studies student Samara O’Gorman ahead of the parade, which took place Sunday, March 19. O’Gorman was selected as Queen of the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day 2023 parade.

“The Queen selection evening is run by the United Irish Societies of Montreal. It’s a common misconception that it might be a pageant but it’s actually a public speaking contest,” O’Gorman explained.

Young women of Irish descent from the Montreal area come together and compete. The competition is based on Irish history, community involvement, volunteerism, and the extent to which participants are ambassadors for the Irish community.

Lauren Tracey, VP of advertising and public relations for the United Irish Societies of Montreal, explained that the selection of the parade court goes all the way back to 1956. 

In 1956, the Queen’s Pageant Selection Evening was first held at the Sailors’ Club in Old Montreal, and the first young lady chosen was Patricia Ann Craig.

“Different parishes had promoted young ladies as Queen of their units in prior years, and in 1956 there was a Queen of the parade. At some point in subsequent years, the United Irish Societies decided, ‘Why not us?’ and began holding the Queen’s Pageant at the Sailors’ Club,” Tracey recalled.

The return of the parade this year has truly put into perspective what Irish culture in Montreal means to O’Gorman. 

“Something that I’ve learned to appreciate is how important tradition is, especially in the Montreal Irish community,” she said.

O’Gorman emphasized that the return of the parade is significant because it brings the Montreal Irish community together in one place. 

According to Tracey, Irish culture is represented in Montreal in a variety of ways, not just through the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“One of the most prominent aspects of Irish culture in Montreal is traditional Irish music and dance. The Irish brought their music and dance traditions with them when they immigrated to Montreal, and these traditions continue to be celebrated today,” Tracey explained.

O’Gorman said there was one specific aspect of the parade that she was most excited about this year.

“At the end of the parade we are going to have a big Ukrainian group,” she said, referring to the community of Ukrainians new to Montreal who were invited to take part in the parade.

“If there is anything that the Irish people love to do, it’s to lend a helping hand and I think that narrative is really important right now.”


The 2023 Annual Fishing Derby

How fishing brings the community of Kahnawake together

Alongside the marina of Kahnawake, community members are setting up for the annual ice fishing derby. Walking out on the ice, one can hear the sounds of chatter and whirling, drilling down as fishers try to get the best spots. On the marina, you could see six pop-up tents and two huts spaced out on the frozen river. 

For the organizer Kirby Joe Diabo, the ice fishing derby is much more than a competition. Diabo also owns the REEL UM’ IN bait shop that overlooks the marina, where the event takes place.

“This event is all about getting people out there to enjoy the outdoors. Family gatherings and the added element of competition is always fun,” Diabo said.  

Fishing has always been an integral part of the Kahnawake community. It’s not only a way to feed families, but it’s also a way to promote healthy family connections and activities. 

“Ice fishing is a lost part of our culture,” said David Fazio, a longtime fishing veteran, and friend of Diabo. “With [Diabo], we are trying to get the people back into it. We used to live off of this. But when the white man came through the seaway, it killed off our natural resources.”

Diabo grew up fishing with his father in the winter and summer. “When I was younger there were a lot of tournaments outside of Kahnawake that we went to,” Diabo said.

But as Diabo got older, he realized the tournaments had stopped due to a decline in interest in the event. As he got more involved in the community, Diabo was motivated to bring them back to Kahnawake.

“When we first started the ice fishing tournaments here, we had a turnout of around 150 people on the ice. Nowadays, it has kind of slowed down and we get a turnout of around 30 people, which is still a lot for a fishing tournament,” Diabo said.

Although this year’s tournament happened, the mild weather created some challenges for the organizers. According to Outdoor Canada, the ice needs to be at least 12 inches thick, or thick enough to support a medium-sized pickup truck for the ice fishing tournament to take place. 

Diabo also couldn’t move his ice huts on the ice in time. Instead, pop-up tents that have heaters in them were set up so people could be comfortable. All the fishing gear that was needed for the day was found in the tents, including bait, rods, and heaters. 

The pop-up tents and ice fishing huts on the morning of the derby. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/The Concordian

Despite the challenges the event still happened, with temperatures as low as below 30 for a week or so leading up to it.

The cold weather didn’t stop the community from getting out on the ice on Feb. 25. 

For Landon Goodleaf, the marina’s owner, the ice fishing derby is linked to some of his favorite memories of growing up.

“I remember when I was a little kid… One of the marina members, who was a friend of the family’s, invited us to a fishing derby. I remember it being a blizzard and it was wicked cold,” Goodleaf recalled. 

Goodleaf went on to explain that the day was so cold he couldn’t bear staying out, so he ended up going home. The next day, the gentleman who brought him to the tournament came to his house with a trophy for the largest Pike fish caught. Goodleaf recalls that this made him extremely happy.

For Goodleaf, it’s not about winning; it’s about enjoying the moment with his community.

“No electronics for me, I am old school. I have a boat and I am familiar with the water levels, where the holes are,” Goodleaf explained. “I am not gunning out to win the tournament, I just come out and drill some holes and have fun.”

For others, it’s all about finding the most efficient fishing methods. Experienced fishing veterans like Fazio don’t let silly things like the weather get in the way.

At sunrise on the morning of the derby, Fazio got set up on the ice with a hut that he made himself. He acquired all the modern sonar equipment which was scattered around inside his hut. 

Near where he sits in the hut, he has a screen that emits live video from the underwater camera that he has set up. He also acquired a sonar sensor that emits a sonic signal that will bounce back when it encounters an object. Then, it determines the object’s distance and position based on the reflection time and wave pattern. Fazio’s sonar sensor is extremely useful for ice fishing because, on days when the visibility is poor, it helps him determine the distance of where the fish are.  

Fazio’s underwater camera. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

Fazio prefers his modern equipment in comparison to the traditional tip-ups that other community members like Goodleaf use for ice fishing. “I’m a cheater. I am 58 years old and I have had enough of this crap,” Fazio said jokingly. 

To optimize his chances of a good catch, Fazio also set up three fishing holes inside of his hut and five more outside. The five fishing holes had tip-ups stationed at each hole. Tip-ups are usually placed at the edge of the ice hole and are set at a specific depth without actively needing to be manned by an angler. When a fish comes around to bite, the tip-up flag goes up — that’s when Fazio knows he got a good catch. 

Tip-ups at the ice holes on the lake. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

The day prior to the fishing derby, Fazio had his hut set up in the “weeds” as he calls them because that’s where all the Pike were.

“It’s been pretty cold these past couple of days. I hope someone gets a decent catch. If it’s going to be anyone it’s going to be those guys out in the weeds over there,” Fazio said as he motioned to the window overlooking the other side of the lake.

However, since the fishing derby was offering a bonus prize for the biggest Walleye catch, Fazio moved his hut a little closer to where the marina entrance is located. 

Fazio with his first catch of the day, a Pike. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

“I’ll have a chance to catch Walleye here because they come in from the deep water to feed. The Pike, on the other hand, goes in to feed on the Perch,” Fazio explained. Pike fish have a more spotted look to their bodies and are naturally a little more slender, whereas the Walleyes are a bit longer in size and have a more striped pattern along their bodies. 

At the end of the event, many prizes were given to the community members for the longest Pike fish caught.

Ben Green was awarded first place for his 30 ¼ inch Pike catch, winning $100 and a $600 gift certificate.

Jaydence Beauvais won second and third place for a 29-inch Pike and a 28-inch Pike.

Finally, the Walleye bonus award was given to Dice Phillips for a 17 ½ inch Walleye.

Community Student Life

Concordia’s anti-consumerism week 2023

A look inside making your own t-shirt grocery bag.

With Earth Day on the horizon, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) hosted an anti-consumerism week. This year’s event theme was Food Sovereignty, Sustainability & Solidarity. 

In late February, the CSU put on a variety of talks, workshops, and presentations so that students could get inspired to lead a more sustainable life.

Personally, I am always curious about different methods and ways to lead a more environmentally-conscious life. When I was looking into events for the week, the ‘Make Your Own Grocery Tote bag!’ workshop appealed to me.

The use of single-use plastics has slowly but surely started making its way out of our everyday lives. According to a Global News article, two-thirds of people in Quebec say they use their own bags or bins to shop. 

Whenever I go to Dollarama or Walmart, I always forget reusable bags, so I always end up paying for them when I get to check out. So this workshop was perfect for me. It happened on Feb. 21 at the Hall Building at the Downtown Campus.

As soon as I got to the workshop space, I saw the event organizers setting up sewing machines and some tables in a ‘U’ formation. The event organizers were people from the Concordia University Centre for Creative Use (CUCCR). Leading the workshop were Sustainability ambassadors, Kavi Nera and Maya Jain. 

Kavi Nera, a Concordia sustainability ambassador, and Maya Jain, the Material Depot programming and coordinator for the CUCCR lead the participants in the workshop. Kaitlynn Rodney // The Concordian

Every participant was given a step-by-step guide on how to turn an old shirt into a bag. For participants who did not have an old t-shirt, the CUCCR provided one from past events, like Frosh week.

The workshop began by determining if you had a big enough shirt to make one bag and two smaller bags from the same shirt.

If you had a small shirt, you would begin by cutting the collar and sleeves off. Afterward, Neva gave a small tutorial on how to use a sewing machine to sew the bottom of the shirt closed. 

Community editor, Dalia makes her bag at the Concordia center for creative reuse’s workshop for anti-consumerism week. Kaitlynn Rodney // The Concordian

For those that had big enough shirts to make smaller bags out of, the procedure was a little different. People had to make small incisions on the bottom of the shirt and then use a double knotting technique to close up the shirt.

Al Turgeon, a contemporary dance major at Concordia is using one of the shirts supplied by the CUCCR to make her map using the non-sewing method. Kaitlynn Rodney // The Concordian

I feel that with inflation at the back of our minds, it’s always helpful to know some tips and tricks for cutting costs and helping reduce waste on earth. I look forward to next year’s activities for anti-consumerism week.

Community Student Life

Book Club at Concordia

Hit your reading goals for 2023 with the Concordia Book Club

Are you a bookworm and don’t know what book on your TBR list to attack first? I have a perfect solution for you: Concordia’s very own book club. 

Journalism student Alexandra Blackie started the Concordia Book Club this winter semester and is looking forward to welcoming many new students to the club. 

Blackie wanted to join a book club when she started university in September, but the only book-related club was Concordia’s comic book club. “No hate to the comic book club but that’s not really my niche,” she said jokingly.

The lack of an actual book club was Blackie’s motivation to kickstart the initiative and form Concordia’s official book club. 

“It did take a little bit of a long time for it to get started. There were a lot of back and forth emails with the CSU,” Blackie explained.

Blackie wanted to create a social space that did not feel like school. She wanted a space where book-lovers could come together to read novels that are either popular right now or ones that not a lot of people know about.

In this club, Blackie doesn’t dictate the books that the club members have to read. 

“I don’t actually choose the books, I gave them a stack for the first meeting that they chose from. We just go through a TBR jar. Everyone sent me titles that they want to read and we go from there,” Blackie said.

In terms of how the club functions, Blackie came to a mutual agreement with the other club members that they would read one book for the entire month. At the end of the month, the club regroups in a meeting.

“We picked our first book at our first meeting over Zoom out of a pile that they chose from. For the next book that we read, we are going to pick from a TBR jar,” Blackie explained. 

This month’s read is The Guest List by Lucy Foley. 

The club currently has 22 members.  As the weather warms up, Blackie hopes to host in-person events like picnics where the club can discuss their current reads.

For interested participants, you can go through the CSU active club portal and email

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