Quebec’s 2023-2024 Budget from a students perspective

Economics analyst Moshe Lander shares his observations from the budget data

The new Quebec Budget for 2023-24, presented by Minister of Finance Eric Girard, lays out several supporting plans for taxation, the health-care system, youth, education, and business budgets. 

Educational spending has risen by six per cent this year, for a total of approximately $20 billion. In terms of higher education, the two biggest expenses are faculties and facilities. However, specific details as to where funding is going remains unclear at this time.

According to Moshe Lander, senior lecturer of economics at Concordia, “More money on education isn’t necessarily a good thing. It could be, but it depends. It’s merely a promise that this year we will spend this money on education, but stay tuned for the details.” 

In addition to increases in the educational budget, $888 million over five years has been allocated to business productivity and encouraging business innovation. This demonstrates the possibility that students entering the job market will find more employment opportunities when they graduate. People looking to start their own businesses would also receive more funding from the government.  

“The traditional industry that they might go into might not be as popular as when they graduated. Innovations might change the nature of those industries,” Lander said. 

Lander thinks the province’s aging population and voter turnout could influence budget spending. 

“Young people don’t get a lot of money from the government because they don’t vote,” said Lander. “But old people do.” 

As the highest-taxed province in Canada, Quebec’s government reduced taxes by one per cent in this year’s budget, which will result in $9.2 billion of lost revenue for the government.

Lander agrees with the government cutting, “It (tax cuts) is a good sign, it’s small, but it’s better than nothing,” he said. But at the same time, he is concerned about balancing the budget. 

“You’re going to dramatically cut spending and there’s a whole bunch of things that you have to stop spending more,” said Lander. 

This year’s budget will lay the foundation for the government’s initiatives over the next four years. Lander pointed out that it’s unclear whether we’re heading into a recession, or whether we’ll avoid one.

“With that type of uncertainty, they’ll kind of wait and see what happens to decide how much they need to spend, ”he said.


Art Therapy: one of the many roles traditional art plays in the digital era

Concordia Arts Hive conjures the psychological and spiritual aspect of arts

The history of art therapy goes back to around the 1700s, when art was being used in various modes of psychological treatment. According to Lois Woolf, founder of the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute, art therapy was first explored in Europe and North America in the 1940s.

The study of this subject and human psychology was explored in increasing depth for years. Unlike art creation, art therapy focuses on the process of art rather than the result.

The Centre for the Arts in Human Development at Concordia University provides creative art therapy for people with disabilities and special needs, as well as for people with anxiety and depression. Senior associate director Lenore Vosberg says that instead of teaching art skills,  the centre helps people express themselves through different art forms.

“It’s a very supportive place. People get a lot of good and positive feedback for everything they do here,” Vosberg said. The centre works to build participants’ self-esteem and self confidence, as well as build relationships and trust through the process of art creation.

As art is a genre of work that embraces different ideologies, art therapy is useful for all kinds of people. It’s an alternative to traditional therapy for people who find it easier to express themselves through an art form rather than speaking to a therapist. 

The Concordia Art Hive is a public practice art therapy space, located on the first floor of the ER building downtown and on the fourth floor of the central building at Loyola in the G-Lounge. The spaces are accessible to anyone who wishes to achieve self-expression through art. Students sit around a table to communicate with each other while creating their crafts. 

Rachel Chainey is an art therapist who coordinates the Art Hive HQ located at Concordia’s downtown campus. She says that one of their challenges is getting people to understand what art therapy is.

“Some people would be intimidated by arts because they think they should be good,” Chainey said. “[But you approach] it from an angle of play. It’s not a performance, or result, but more of a process.”

There are more than 30 art hives in Montreal. Traditional arts are spreading internationally into many other fields, like technology, creating endless possibilities for artists everywhere. 

Art education student Kaida Kobylka stopped by the Art Hive with the goal of observing art studios in a public space. She explained the process of an AI project that she had explored, in which she had to put the artistic idea first to let it create. “AI can learn and create, but it can’t just make something out of nothing yet,” said Kobylka. “I have to put the artistic thoughts into the input, it isn’t just replacing an artistic mind.”

“Everybody has the crisis when they are an artist, like does what I made matter or would painting exist in the future,” Kobylka said, “but the answer is yes, the paintings are still evolving and relevant.” 

Indeed, art has been always seen as a form of self-expression and materialized thoughts throughout the existence of humankind, and this is how traditional art participates in society in a psychological and spiritual way. 


Love in the Modern age

Concordia student-run magazine launches love-themed poetry reading at Le Frigo Vert

On Feb. 9, the Concordia student-run pixie Literary Magazine and Soliloquies Anthology united to launch a poetry reading event on the topic of love, with the goal of expressing the understanding of love and its different forms.

Julia Bifulco, the founder and editor-in-chief of pixie indicated that her motive for doing the topic on love is the search for the meaning of the word love.

Bifulco was inspired by Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s poem “Variations on the Word Love.” She realized that people use the word love more than we used to. “But really, love is supposed to be the utmost passion that you can feel for something,” she said.

Modern love tends to evolve much more rapidly than it used to. With the flood of dating apps, love seems to be everywhere.

Bifulco recalled a conversation about dating apps that she had with her friend. “She told me that she doesn’t like dating apps because of the lack of power to converse, and it really makes me think about connections.”

The idea of trending on dating apps ties to some contemporary poetry. “Like trendy and instagram poetry,” Bifulco said. “Some of them are very desired, quick and easily digestible.” 

With the great belief that contemporary poetry seeks to create a new poetic movement, Bifulco uses the word “Groundbreaking” to describe the young creative writers. “I hope people that are writing now are writing new fresh things,” she said. “The writing era we are living in is something that’s looked back on is iconic in the way the romantic period is.”

Jade Palmer, co-editor-in-chief of Soliloquies Anthology, referenced a poem the magazine published last year as an example of contemporary love. “The poem used a lot of chat-speak, things like ‘lol’ that you would not normally hear in a poem — that’s so based in our time. It’s such an interesting way to express love rather than saying someone looks like a flower.”

Ribs Beauchamp was one of the presenters at Thursday evening’s event. She is a third-year Concordia student majoring in film studies. “The media makes more types of love accessible, and it makes it easier to share and witness and recognize and talk about,” she said.

The theme of the poem she shared was her mother. “Female love is much different than male love, and that’s one of the biggest reasons my poem is about my mom,” Beauchamp said. “It is because she shares her love and she is not afraid to do it, women are raised as caretakers — it’s a lot easier for us to share love.”


Quebecers unite in solidarity for the fifth annual Muslim Awareness Week

Six years after the mosque shooting in Quebec, the Muslim community is still fighting for change

On Jan. 29, six years after the Quebec City mosque shooting, a vigil to commemorate the victims took place at Parc station in Montreal. During the speeches, a man passed behind the crowd and shouted, “Islamophobia doesn’t exist in Quebec!” But is that true?

Hawraa Dbouk, a Concordia student who majors in biology, shared her own experiences: “I once was told, ‘If you want to work there, you might have to take off your hijab, at least at work.’” 

“I think we all take hijab in the wrong way, because we don’t actually know what Islam is about. Islam is all about loving, caring, sharing and tolerance,” 

said Dbouk.

On the evening of Jan. 29, 2017, gunfire interrupted the prayers in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. The shooter killed six people and injured 19, which prompted the public debate on Islamophobia.

With the adoption of Bill 21 on June 16, 2019, the Canadian Muslim community has faced even more challenges. This secularism law prohibits public services and public sector workers from wearing religious symbols like hijabs.

“We can’t neglect how many women are getting fired or not even allowed to get employed because of their hijab,” Dbouk said. “I don’t think any religion should be included in work or should be forbidden. We should raise awareness about Islamophobia and biases. Work with me because I am your co-worker, but not because I am wearing a hijab.”

Ghadir Elsayed, who works as an administrator of Integrated Health and Social Services Centres (CISSS), was one of the volunteers in the Jan. 29 vigil. However, she was one of the only two hijabis in the CISSS healthcare system building. 

“When I observed that, it was heartbreaking,”

said Elsayed. 

She also talked about her friend who works as a teacher: “They have to find a job in a school in another province, or in Ontario, and it’s even hard for the student to be appreciated by their act and representation of their own religion.”

Elsayed pointed out the fact that there are no specific resources for Muslim people who are affected by the secularism legislation. “Because of Bill 21, we should have a system built up, federally or provincially, to help teachers, students and other workers who are affected by this law to find a job,” she said. “And they don’t have social workers or psychologists that are more available to them than to other communities.”

Elsayed was encouraged by her friends to find jobs in locations that do not accept hijabi workers. “I didn’t want to go straight to my salary,” Elsayed continued, “I just want to make sure that I am represented, and my community is represented[…]”

Arts Exhibit

Exhibition review: Montreal printmaking artist’s life path

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts displays 30 remarkable artworks from Albert Dumouchel, representing the evolution of his art style throughout his career

“Printing remains a simple, Austere Language– As I have often said, it’s like chamber music” – Albert Dumouchel.

Albert Dumouchel (1916-71) was a Montreal printmaking artist. He met London artist James Lowe in 1940, which inspired the start of his printmaking career.

An exhibition in honour of the late artist is located on the second floor of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, surrounded by white walls. The room is lit in a warm tone, dimmer than the lobby but matches the tone of the artist’s featured works. This exhibition displays 30 of his prints from the 1940s to the 1960s. His printmaking has been influenced by the development of art in many other countries.

In 1942, Dumouchel’s artwork “Pietà” marked the beginning of his journey. Unlike the traditional drypoint technique, in which an image is drawn on the plate with a sharp needle-like tool. Dumouchel decided to carve his images into a sheet of transparent plastic. “Pietà” demonstrated a picture of the Virgin Mary mourning the death of her son. 

Although the overall lines of this piece are rough, the painted appearance on Mary’s face expresses strong emotions. The sharp white shapes in the background form a strong contrast with the surrounding dark round shapes, enhancing the viewer’s visual senses. His spiritual expression laid the groundwork for the later transformation of his artistic style.

In the late 1940s, Dumouchel turned towards surrealism, expressing external reality through his own psychological and poetic imagination. In “The Banners in the Night,” 1958, he used etching to show the technical improvement. Each line in the work flows naturally, twisting together to create the changeable forms of the wind.

In 1965, with the ascent of the Pop Art movement in North America, Dumouchel returned to figurative form in 1965. One remarkable technique he used was lithography. This technique was used in his piece “La mort de la cycliste” (The Death of the Cyclist), presenting his art in a completely new way.

Dumouchel returned to carving, making woodcuts late in his career, like his piece called “L’Horrible chat des neiges” (The Horrible Snow Cat).The penetrating gaze of the cat is what makes the work memorable. Referring to his earlier works, he has a talent of using minimal backgrounds to enhance the expression of the main subject’s manner.

Throughout this artist’s experience in printmaking, much of his inspiration has come from other cultures. “When I think of this artist, or any other artist, I would just think of his expression of art,” says one of the visitors. “Anything could be the inspiration, like what you learned and what you experienced.”


Exhibition review: Outside the Palace of Me

Shary Boyle’s exploration of the connection between society and the individual

This is a special show — the Toronto-based artist Shary Boyle has designed her exhibition on a stage setup at the Montreal Museum of Fine arts.

The moment visitors walk into the exhibition, they are standing in the middle of a huge stage. This implies that each individual not only observes society, but also participates in it. Shary Boyle’s artwork exposes a variety of phenomena in this society that we choose to ignore, which poses complex and sometimes paradoxical questions to visitors about our understanding of human nature.

The first sculpture visitors see is “The Potter”. It depicts an image of an artist’s process of making porcelain. However, the interesting thing is that this artist does not have a head, and there are six different porcelain pieces stacked up in front of them. Upon closer inspection, each piece has a different style that represents a different country. From the bottom up, they are China, Ghana, France, Greece, Peru, and Egypt.

Boyle is also very strict in the selection of materials: terracotta, porcelain, underglaze, china paint, luster, and brass rods were all used in her installation.

The headless artist of “The Potter” is captured making a gesture of lifting the porcelain as if they are trying to put these civilizations on their own head. This is a reflection of us being in a culturally diverse society. It also represents the ideology of each culture within society.

“Oasis,” another piece on display, is a woman sculpture that has both male and female sexual attributes. Although her face is covered by her hair, she is sitting sideways and presenting her sexuality in a confident pose. 

The idea of gender nonconformity created by this sculpture explores the people who break the gender norms that are expected for them. Her sexual organs look slicker than other parts of her body, because Shary Boyle uses luster as a representation of the gender stereotype, which is a beautiful and fragile material. This work poses the question to the viewer — why should the gender stereotypes in our minds be so solid?

Moving to the right side of the stage, visitors see a huge white statue sitting on the right side of the room, named “White Elephant”. Its whole body is painted and dressed in white. It is staring forward with no emotional expression on its face.

In a flash, its head suddenly turns around. Many viewers were shocked by this art installation, while others did not even notice its movement. According to Boyle, the title is inspired by the proverb “elephant in the room,” which refers to the phenomenon of people ignoring a very obvious fact. 

Shary Boyle sarcastically illustrates the whiteness of society, in which many politicians are aware of history of genocide, and the white privilege but choose to ignore it. The white elephant stands out in this dimly-lit exhibition room. According to my personal understanding, white has the ability to embrace any colour, just as this society can embrace any distinct being.

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