Student Life

Student’s weigh in on Concordia’s vaccine mandate

We can thank the vaccine passport for Quebec’s high vaccination rates, but now all incentive to get vaccinated is gone. As of March 12, the Quebec vaccine passport is no more in bars, restaurants, movie theatres and more. This means people who chose not to get vaccinated, once incentivized to get the shot by limitations placed by the Quebec government – limitations as recent as January – have no more reason to get their covid immunization.

To be transparent, here’s how I feel about the whole thing.

Even as a pro-vaxxer who feels safer with the shot and boosters, no public incentive will make me drag my feet. So imagine someone who just doesn’t want to be vaccinated – despite the public and personal safety it can bring us, many will never get the shot(s) for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons should be respected, but the general population should make up the difference, in a way.

This is my opinion — one of many different ones felt on the Concordia campus, as the university dismantled their vaccine mandate. While it was only in place for certain gatherings, sports clubs, the gym and Reggies, our campus bar, students had a lot of thoughts to share.

We went around Concordia’s downtown campus on Friday to ask students how they felt vis-a-vis the return to normality.

Guillaume Sercia, studying Human Environment 

I think its a good thing [the vaccine mandate is going away]. At some point we have to come back to reality, to normality. […] It wasn’t a big issue for me, but I was frustrated for the people who couldn’t take part in regular activities. I would feel safe even without a vaccine, so it doesn’t bother me.”






Carles Ngoupeyu, studying accounting 

I don’t agree with the vaccine mandate. They didn’t think about the non-vaccintaed. […] You just feel alone, separated from others. Those who are vaccinated will say the opposite because they have access to everything. But when you are not vaccinated, it’s just different. And to feel like you can’t enter a store because you didn’t get a vaccine; feeling like you’re limited in your actions because of a vaccine, it’s just really terrible.”





Nadeem Alhajzein, studying studio arts and art history

I don’t totally agree with the idea of a vaccine mandate being removed. I feel like [the] Quebec government is kind of like, going up and down different rules.”

“But I do understand how it’s supposed to be trying and getting people to go back to normal, I guess. But I still feel like it’s something that should still be at places because it does help us.”





Yannis Affoum, studying for a certificate of Science Foundations

I’m actually kind of happy. It’s very annoying to always have to worry about these things, and always having to show your phone, show your QR code, and all these things… It’s kind of annoying. And for people who dont have a QR code, it’s kind of discriminatory.”






Ahmed Riad, studying electrical engineering

It’s great, people [now] have the choice of taking the vaccine or not, I personally took the vaccine. […] People should have the freedom to take the vaccine or not.”






Marwa Khalid, studying software engineering

I wouldn’t really feel comfortable. Obviously, it’s a really crowded place, there’s a lot of people, and if they are not wearing their mask, you don’t know if they have [COVID], or dont have it, or even if they are facing symptoms. The removal of masks doesnt mean they don’t have COVID. [But] I don’t think it was the university’s place [to implement a vaccine mandate], I think it’s the government that makes that decision, then the university should follow.”

Photos by Catherine Reynolds


My Strange Obsession – LEGO

Reconnecting with my childhood through a toy I always wanted

Growing up, I moved a lot. Not just houses, continents.

This may sound like I’m trying to brag, but in this context, it’s no such thing of the sort. Moving around meant LEGO bricks were the most inconvenient toy ever.

By the time I was five-years-old, my parents had learned that my sister and I were unable to keep a build together for longer than a few months, rendering the colourful blocks into sharp mounds of clunky rectangles.

I never lacked toys – I know I was lucky in that sense. But a part of me always knew LEGO and I had a forbidden love story, destined to happen and blow up all over my life.

And now, it has.

LEGO has taken over my social media feeds, my YouTube recommendations, even my relationship. My partner and I have adjusted our nightly routine to reflect the new change – we now watch videos of people building massive and expensive lego sets, reviewing all the fun playing features.

I don’t know what exactly it is about the building block – maybe the satisfaction I feel when two pieces fit perfectly together, to create a seamless and entirely new object.

Or maybe the feeling of accomplishment from seeing the finished product of a set that once started out as bags of what looked like confetti.

Could even be the childlike playfulness the toy brings out in me, imagining the different scenarios I could play out in my own little pretend world, making the mini-figures speak in funny voices…

Either way, it’s not a hobby I can easily delve into… not to mention it would cost me some serious money.

LEGO might be most commonly known as a children’s toy, but there is an entirely different “LEGO” world for adults, too. One that is expensive, filled with intricate architectural models, scenes from movie franchises, and creative objects such as flower bouquets or even globes.

My long-lost LEGO love found me one night when my partner unsuspectingly pulled out the LEGO Paris Architecture set, retailed at $70-$80. A tiny, innocent-looking box sparked this weeks-long obsession.

The evening was quite quaint, the two of us silently squatting on the floor sorting LEGO pieces into neat piles only to rummage through them when looking through the instruction manual.

Once we had completed the set – a total of 649 pieces and approximately five hours – we sat, content, observing our creation, now in awe of what had come from those mismatched pieces in the small, innocent box.

The next morning, we pulled out a 10-year-old un-assembled LEGO set from my partner’s basement storage closet. It was one of the big boxes. The ones you see on the shelves at the store that your parents would never buy for you. Over 2,000 pieces.

I haven’t felt pure excitement over a toy in a long time. But now, with my new LEGO obsession, I’m hoping I will continue to honour my inner child’s wildest dreams.


Graphic by James Fay

Do we properly engage with Black History Month?

Black Concordia students on BHM, allyship, performatism, and how Concordia’s administration and non-Black student body can do better

Special thanks to Sundus Noor, freelance journalist, and Amaria Phillips, co-founder and president of the Black Student Union for their contributions

On Black History Month 

Amaria Phillips  – “We should be able to do that all year. And that they believe that if we accept the month, we are basically accepting the bare minimum, and we’re accepting the fact that that’s okay.”

AP –  “I feel like this is a great way to focus in [on Black History]. I agree it should be for the whole year, it shouldn’t just be limited to one month.”

AP – “[February can be] a moment where we learn so much. And we get to celebrate and just really have this moment for us. Obviously when February ends, yes, of course — continue the celebration. Let’s continue recognizing the people who made contributions in this society, in this world and in history.”

Sundus Noor – “Over the past couple of years, I haven’t really felt very connected to the holiday, or felt like it resonated with me, simply because of how it is perceived in Canada. [It feels as if] the attempts of education sometimes come across as very disingenuous. People just kind of don’t really see it as an important month most of the time and they just sort of scramble for content.”

On performatism in allies 

AP – “Tap in as much as you can now, during Black History Month, so that you’re informed as much as you can be for the rest of the year.”

AP – “I don’t mind the [post] resharing. But I just really hope that like, it’s being actually read and meditated on and understood. But also I hope that they’re not just relying on that one post for education or whatever. Because there’s only so much you could put in a post, right?”

AP – “Reposting — that’s like the bare minimum. It’s great, but it’s the bare minimum as well. […] Are you having those difficult conversations? Are you speaking up for Black people when you hear something racist, or whatnot, like, what are you doing actively, right?”

“But where do I start?” 

AP – “You gotta know who to ask. For me, I don’t mind personally. Yeah, I’m just that type of person.”

AP – “For [a lot of Black activists], the work is draining enough. And to have someone on top of that [asking a bunch of questions], you know, kind of like asking a teacher for extra help after hours. It’s like, it’s after hours, you’re technically done, you know? […] If people are out there willing [to help], you can see that the person is willing to educate, then gravitate towards that person. But if you come across someone who, you know, they’re not really super willing to do that, respect that.”

SN – “It’s okay to be ignorant on certain situations or things. I think educating yourself, taking the time to learn, ask questions, [or] look[ing] at a lot of the resources that are available at Concordia is the step to educating yourself.”

AP – “Things are posted, things are out there. But people just decide not to listen or read or take in the information.”

AP – “I would like to see people participate in more active conversations. Not invading Black spaces, but when we do have […] these conversations where we’re actually saying, ‘yeah, come in, because we need to talk,’ be there.”

When trying to amplify Black voices 

AP – “So either you give the [opportunity to write/educate/create] to a BIPOC person, a person of colour, or if no one’s able to do it, then [do it yourself], but in a way where you’re saying, ‘this is not even about me, this is like me, amplifying the voice of someone who if I don’t do it, nobody’s gonna do it.’”

AP – “We can’t be saying we want changes, but no one is willing to actually be present to, you know, to help those changes move forward, right. So feel free to engage and be present when those [opportunities] are being offered.”

SN – “When it comes to any month, or any celebration that is centered around a specific group of people, [people who are not a part of that group may] feel very uncomfortable, when it comes to, you know, not wanting to step on people’s toes. […] With that in mind, they often leave [the event planning] towards the Black student population to, you know, organize and do the events and do everything. A lot of [the responsibility] is sort of on us.”

SN – “If people can work together, I think there would be like a way to collectively contribute and create events that are very much inviting to everyone, and also cater to Black students without feeling very awkward.”

On Black experiences in the academic realm 

SN – “I feel like the [Concordia] student body and the institution are two separate entities. In terms of [representation], the student body has the Black Perspectives Office, different clubs and even the student papers are always very diverse, and represent the student body, but I feel like the institution doesn’t really feel like it’s their job to do anything.”

SN – “A lot of the programming for Black History Month is curated by people of different clubs. And with all that going on, […] I feel like the most the university does is sort of share what’s going on as opposed to, you know, amplifying people’s voices.”

SN – “Concordia, the institution – I don’t really think that they’re doing the most that they can do for [Black] people. And I don’t know if there’s, like, an interest for that. Anytime I get an email from Concordia, I just see it as incredibly disingenuous.”

To communicate to the non-Black Concordia student body

AP – “I’m not saying that you have to be a full-on advocate and speak as a spokesperson or a panelist about Black affairs. That’s not what we’re saying. […] Because please do not speak for us. But there’s so many things that I feel like, you know, allies could do, that they’re not doing and yeah, and it goes back to like, are you speaking up? When you see that there’s only one Black person in the room, are you questioning that? […] Did we take the chance to invite [Black people]? Did we give them equal opportunities?”

AP – “That is what I’m talking about when I’m talking about allyship. Actively speaking up and doing things with your privilege that helps out the BIPOC community.”

AP – “There’s a lot of things that I would like to speak to, you know, non-Black people about that I don’t really fully understand. And it’s going to be a vice-versa thing. So having those conversations are necessary.”

AP – “Speak up when you see things that are not right, speak up when you’re, like, in a space and it’s just predominantly white.”

SN – “I think making the effort to educate yourself is like the first step of being an ally.” – Sundus Noor

Time to reflect

If you take anything away from his article, it’s that you need to take the time and read, truly listen, and watch every marginalized voice you come across.

You need to sit in the uncomfortable feelings of being a white person, complicit to the centuries of ongoing oppression still overwhelmingly present today.

You need to do whatever is in your power to create an equitable world, where people can re-learn and accept history, and grow in spaces that encourage cultural heritage.

You must create a space where marginalized voices can thrive in the absence of fear, persecution, assimilation and violence.

Take a minute and think of what you can do to make things better — and how to be better.

Graphic by Lily Cowper



Books & articles:

Montreal celebrates Black History Month 2022

“I am Black 365 days a year” by Myrialine Catule

“The Skin We’re In” by Desmond Cole

“Policing Black Lives – Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present” by Robyn Maynard

“Anti-Racist Ally – An Introduction to Action & Activism” by Sophie Williams

“A depoliticized and realistic portrait of hijabs” by Sundus Noor


A Conversation About Growing Up Black | Op-Docs | The New York Times

Do All White People Think The Same About Race?

“Blue Eyes/ Brown Eyes” Anti-Racism Exercise

When “Allies” Pass Their Place..

Ted Talks – link here for all their round-up of Black voices to uplift this month


Black Perspectives Office Peer Support Team

Black Mental Health Connections Crisis Hotlines

Black Healing Centre coming in Spring 2022

Resources to support against Anti-Black racism in Montreal list

Events list

Testimony: Visual and Embodied Gateways to Black Histories – Feb. 23

The Power of Our Stories: Black Families, Intergenerational Connection, and Belonging – Feb. 18

Distinguished lecture with Dr. David Herman Jr. of Temple University – Feb. 23

Black Dance in Black Dance in Focus – Feb. 24

Visions Hip-Hop QC – Phi Centre – Until March 26

Massimadi – Afro and LGBTQ+ film and arts festival – Until March 11

Student Life

A new way of recycling coffee bean packaging

A recycling project by Ethical Beans and TerraCycle mends the gap in the recycling industry one step at a time

Coffee is not just a drink, it’s a culture, a community, a lifestyle.

And like any lifestyle, you can buy swag. Certain key items you can acquire to help prove to others you aren’t a poser.

The entry-level includes single-use take-out coffee cups, a small drip coffee machine, a French press or a stovetop Italian espresso maker. You can upgrade to a reusable cup, a nice espresso machine at home, and the barista at your local coffee place knowing your name and/or order. And finally, you can call yourself a full-on coffee snob if you buy your own beans.

The highest level of coffee swag — walking home with an aesthetically pleasing bag of coffee beans that cost you between $20 to $30.

In Montreal, there are many different coffee beans you can buy, from Cantook to Café Rico, with distinct flavour profiles. But no matter where you get your beans from, the bags go into the trash and onto the landfill. NO MORE! There is now another solution to help make your morning routine more green.

Ethical Bean, a coffee company established in Vancouver, has partnered with TerraCycle, a global recycling solution conglomerate, to create a new recycling project key to helping the coffee consumer grow greener.

If you haven’t heard of TerraCycle yet, let me have the honour of introducing you. The company’s mission statement is to “eliminate the idea of waste.” It recycles materials in products and reshapes them for reuse. For example, melting down a bunch of plastic single-use packaging to make a new park bench.

Together, they have created a new recycling program that allows consumers of a hot cup a’ joe to participate. All you have to do is sign up for free, fill up any cardboard box lying around with coffee bean bags (perhaps a past Amazon order?), print the free shipping label and off the pretty coffee packaging goes to become something new!

In a city like Montreal, where one in every five people you see is a coffee snob, how will the community engage with this type of program? Will the endless array of coffee shops start recycling their packaging too?

Léa Normandin, an employee at Café Le Loup Bleu, one of Montreal’s “third-wave” coffee locals, is a self-appointed coffee snob. Her qualifications include spending over $20 on coffee beans.

She describes a coffee snob as someone who enjoys their coffee, for whom it isn’t just a drink you have in the morning, it’s the best part of your morning. She said, “Overall, someone who considers coffee as more than just their morning pick-me-up… like myself.”

Normandin sees first hand the kind of waste coffee shops and coffee consumers can create, like “coffee packaging, single-use plastic or cardboard cups when you go out to get coffee, […] not to mention all the waste we create when choosing what goes into our coffee, such as sugar packets, cream [containers], straws, etc.”

Excited at the prospect of new recycling possibilities, Normandin will eagerly take part in the new recycling initiative. The only thing left to do is get the city on board!


Graphics by James Fay

Opinions Student Life

Is it really that rewarding to be a winter athlete?

The real motivation behind going out in the cold

There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors during wintertime.

Of course, it all depends on the climate that you live in. How cold does it get? Do you have snow, ice? Or is it more of a mild winter temperature, where you get the occasional snow, but wearing heavy-duty winter gear isn’t a necessity to get your groceries?

Either way, there’s a lot you can do.

But is being outside in freezing cold weather really what our hearts desire? Or are we just trying to fit into the wishful image of a winter-loving well-rounded human being?

Most of us hate winter — it is a time reserved for the holidays, followed by a three-month hibernation. Maybe you’ll go outside once a day for a smoke, or perhaps a cup of coffee, but most of us make use of the extra dark hours of the day to binge-watch our favourite TV shows and eat lasagna.

Say you do want to go outside; what do you want to do? It all depends on access. In Montreal, it’s possible the best you can do is the Mont-Royal — not a bad spot. You see, when you live in the city, getting out to the wilderness to breathe fresh air and fall into fresh powdery snow is difficult, and a lot of the time expensive.

First, you gotta get out of town. Unless you have a car, you have to take a bus or a shuttle, but the bus may drop you off at a random gas station on the side of the highway. Nice.

Next, you need equipment. Whether you want to do alpine skiing, cross-country, or just some snowshoeing, you either need to carry it with you all the way to your destination, or you need to rent — expect to spend $40-50 per person. Finally, you need to make sure you have a suitable backpack to carry your food, extra layers, and water bottle, and don’t forget a good winter jacket on top of a breathable base layer of clothing.

Just writing all that down was exhausting.

But new sports and new ways to explore the outdoors keep popping up, and apparently, there is some real interest in winter sports.

Recently, a faction of alpine skiers is reigniting the interest in an old sport with its debut tied to medieval Norwegian traditions: alpine touring.

Now, strap on spikey “skins” to the back of your skis, and invest a couple thousand dollars on a new pair of “walking ski boots” (some claim they are comfortable, I have a hard time believing that), and climb up any mountain you desire!

Not exactly, but you get the idea.

In all honesty, I think I am just jealous of those who have the means and the time to invest themselves in outdoor sports like these. Right now, all I crave is to witness the silence of a snow-covered forest, and the void of a mountain valley.

But, you know, whatever. I’ll just keep being bitter from the comfort of my home, wasting away looking out of my window into the world, instead of living in it.


Photo by Laurie-Anne Palin


Flying off the shelves — the love for Squishmallows

One year later, let’s take a look at our plushie obsession

Last winter, it was hard to come by the squish.

I scoured the shelves of any Walmart I came across looking for a rare squish, even following stores on social media to know when they would come back in stock.

Yes, it may be a little shameful to admit that is how I spend my time, but I love the soft, squishy plushies. They come equipped with a name and a small description of what their aspirations are, and can become your fluffy best friend.

Although, now I find myself asking, where the hell am I gonna put all these damn Squishmallows? 

This all began when my partner’s mom innocently gifted me Tally the Tabby Cat, one of the original Squishmallows. Within a few months, I was obsessively placing my many squish on my bed every morning.

Maddie Laxer, a fellow squish-enthusiast, had a similar experience. After receiving a squish as a gift from her bestie, she suddenly found herself immersed in the world of round fluffy friends. “It just turned into such a fun thing, trying to find all these little animals.”

After all, the hunt is half the fun.

After finding fame on TikTok, Squishmallows became virtually impossible to find in stores. Not only were me, my cousin, and my cousin’s friend all looking for them, but a slew of resellers appeared out of the woodwork, driving up the price of our round furry friends online and in stores. All of a sudden they were not only hard to find, but they were exclusive.

That’s when things got interesting. It became a real hunt, searching for the cutest companion for the best price (the big squishies retail for $20-25, pretty reasonable in my opinion). “You never know when they’re sort of gonna pop up,” said Maddie.

Although she occasionally went out on hunts herself, Maddie’s mom was the main culprit responsible for her daughter’s Squishmallow collection. “It sort of turned into a fun little, like, activity with me and my mom,” explained Maddie.

Last year, as outings were limited to essentials only, and many of us weren’t able to go out to browse for fun anymore, Maddie’s mom would utilize her weekly trips to Winners to hunt for squish. She would send photos of neatly stacked rows of them to her daughter, asking which one would best suit her collection. “She started going out of her way every time to be at Winners trying to see which ones were there.”

Squishmallows aren’t just useful for cuddling and staying cozy, they also help to build a community, and helped some to stay connected during a long lockdown.

Much of the content posted on social media showed us how friends and family of Squishmallow enthusiasts would get in on the fun of the hunt. Often accompanied by captions such as, my grandpa found me the cutest squish today! or get yourself a boyfriend who hunts squishmallows with you.

In a time where — and I don’t have to remind you of this — the air felt tense, everyone was locked inside and forced to face the realities of a global pandemic, maybe we all needed a furry friend to rely on.

Teddy bears and plushies were a huge part of our childhood. A recent study found that four in 10 Americans still find comfort in their childhood stuffed animals. So it’s not so surprising young adults have taken an interest in this new plushie craze.

In the ‘90s it was Beanie Babies, now it’s Squishmallows.

But, I will reiterate: what the hell am I supposed to do with the mountain of stuffed animals I have in my small Montreal apartment?

I’ve shoved a substantial amount of my collection up on a shelf I can’t reach without the help of a chair. But still, a select few stay on my bed, desk chair, and couch at all times. I find it fun to switch them out depending on my mood. For example, I currently have Dawn the Fawn out, since she’s a winter-themed squish. Fitting for the recent snow, and cold weather.

But there are other solutions if you wish to get rid of them entirely. I’d recommend finding a toy drive to donate to, or even a thrift store with a large toy section. Maybe you have a relative that just had a baby.

Regardless of where the squish ends up, they will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only did they single-handedly throw me back into childhood, but they also represent my biggest financial shame… don’t tell my parents.


Photo collage by Catherine Reynolds


Where should you eat now that we’re in lockdown (again)

My guide to ordering good food in Montreal

Let me save you some time: when ordering in, the easy way out is always Dominos. When in doubt, you can always count on their thin crust pizza to be edible.

Personally, I like to be a little more adventurous when I scour UberEats and SkiptheDishes. If I’m gonna spend at least $13 on service fees, tax and delivery, I will make sure the meal is worth it. And so over the past two years (yes, it’s really almost been two years), I have discovered a few gems worth checking out.

Three different price categories will make it oh-so-easy for you to navigate this guide to ordering in  our third… or fourth? Maybe even the fifth lockdown.


PRICEPOINT — cheap-ish

For those who still eat meat (such as myself, as much as I hate to admit it), Cantine Emilia is the perfect spot to satisfy your Portuguese craving.

Their delicious roasted chicken is cooked and served in a spicy and acidic fiery red sauce — and you can pick what level of spice you can handle. Sides such as light and yummy green salad, rice, and obviously fries are available for your liking. In my experience, they tend to be generous with the portions. The spicy mayo that comes on the side (as an extra) puts A&W’s spicy mayo to shame; you can also find the sauce-slathered onto one of their chicken sandwiches.

Lastly, my favourite part, the natas. Please, do yourself a favour and heat those babies up in the oven, sprinkled with a little sea salt before eating.

Five different locations around the Island of Montreal make it so you can order from wherever you reside — no excuses.



For a slightly more expensive option, Mont Everest Masala is a great place for some delicious Indian food. The way I see it, ordering Indian food is an investment: it may be a little more expensive than what you’re ready to spend, but you will have delicious leftovers for days.

You can go the “safe route” and order butter chicken, basmati rice and naan, but why not try something different? Go for some lamb korma, palak or shahi paneer, and even some yummy mixed vegetables.

I always order extra naan and make my own rice to save cost (never enough rice in my opinion), but if you have pitas or even some frozen naan, that’ll do the trick to help u save even more!



Obviously, if you are gonna treat yourself, the meal to order is sushi. Cheap sushi is a miss, but good sushi is a MUST.

SOZO Sushi, located next to Metro Mont-Royal or in Saint-Leonard, is a delicious treat you can afford maybe once a semester. Why not surprise yourself and get an assortment of random sashimi and nigiri?

Even if that order doesn’t float your boat, then this place will be sure to have at least one roll to satisfy your belly. The portions are generous, and worth the cost (5 futomaki per order, 6 hosomaki per order, and 8 maki per order).

One thing I really appreciate from this establishment is the rice. Unlike most sushi shops, the rice at SOZO is nicely seasoned, not too wet, and served at the perfect temperature. Rice that is too gummy or falls apart at the touch is so unpleasant, but the worst is ice-cold rice. The rice should be room temperature, stuck together but still distinct individual grains.

Just remember — even if it may be unaffordable for must of us to order everynight, but it’s okay to indulge sometimes… right?

To help save on some of the delivery costs, maybe walk to the location to pick up your food rather than going through an app, or make it a point to try the restaurants within a six-block radius. Save some money and help your favourite restaurant make more money by disregarding a thirst party app.

But don’t worry, ça va bien aller. 


Graphics by @sundaeghost

My new favourite winter accessory — the balaclava

No, I don’t mean the delicious snack baklava, I mean balaclava

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve also noticed the revival of a knit ski mask-like accessory in the fashion scene. The balaclava, a fun, multi-purpose scarf/hat hybrid, has quickly made its way onto the heads of all the cool kids around Montreal, New York and Copenhagen.

If you aren’t familiar with what a Balaclava looks like, picture a ski mask, tight around the top of your head with an opening for your eyes or face that extends down around your neck like a neckwarmer. Unlike your typical ski mask, a balaclava is knit and can adopt many different styles — thicker or thinner, soft yarn or thick cotton, sometimes even mohair to give it an airy look, or the all-important devil horns and bunny ears if you want to stick out.

Balaclavas were first invented in the 1800s when soldiers fought in the Crimean war, specifically the battle of Balaklava — a port of support for the British, French and Turkish against the Russians during an indecisive battle. The tightly-knit wool hats would help keep soldiers warm and slowly made their way into popular culture and fashion. By the 1970s, fashionable balaclavas with fur trimmings and opulent details started popping up.

Today, the resurgence of the warm winter accessory is attributed to the avant-garde and high fashion community, with most of the viral balaclavas coming from designers like Miu Miu, Rick Owens or Isa Boulder — most retailing for more than $400.

Funny enough, the current resurgence of the northern hood came hand-in-hand with the uptick in knitting and crochet as hobbies. During the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns, many started to pick up needles and yarn and make all sorts of creations. We saw the rise of granny squares, hand-knit blankets, and even checkered bags all driven by our favourite guilty pleasure: social media, and TikTok in particular. I’ll admit, I too fell victim to each trend.

This is an accessory with many functions — warmth, fashion, and even anonymity. Historically, many protest groups have worn ski mask like hoods to disguise their identities from the police. However, these efforts have been criticized due to the intimidating nature of the all-black look.

One example of balaclava’s cultural impact is their specific protest aesthetic, rocked by many anti-fascist and anti-white-supremacy groups. The balaclava, combined with the head-to-toe black outwear, and military accessories like gas masks, represents activism and protesting against fascism and racist ideals. While the look can be intimidating, the safety in anonymity it gives to protesters is an important use of the balaclava.

But you don’t have to look intimidating in a cagoule — I would argue many look very endearing in them. The variety of colours and shapes we are seeing emerge in fashion create a sea of wandering specks of colour walking around in the cold, grey weather, and I’m here for it.

I have recently started knitting my own balaclavas and, as with all crochet projects I take on, I recommend everyone try and learn how to make their own — it’s so rewarding! 

When considering what kind of balaclava you should make or buy, ask yourself: what kind of feel do I want on my face? What colour scheme is my wardrobe, and what balaclava could best compliment that? And lastly, what type of shape am I looking for?

Finding the right yarn for your skin is important, because no matter the style, the balaclava will touch and brush against your face. I know that I have acne-prone skin, so wearing balaclavas can be a big risk factor in making my skin act up if I don’t pick the correct material.

When thinking of what colour balaclava to make or purchase, it’s important to consider your wardrobe: do you wear a lot of neutrals? Or more bright colours? Are you the type to only wear black, grey and white?

If you wear neutrals, maybe pick one that stands out slightly more — like burnt orange or khaki green to bring in a pop of muted colour. If you wear lots of colours, stick with a staple: yellow, blue, red, white or black. You want something that will complement any outfit without clashing.

Finally, the shape. The main consideration is how tight you want it — think of your hair and skin again. Do you have a tendency to get frizzy? Do you lose volume easily? If so, maybe a little looser.

If you want a specific cone shape or specialty ears, it’s pretty straightforward. Find someone who can do that on Etsy, or even try it out yourself! You can always knit stand-alone customizations that can be woven in and out of your balaclava.

No need to freeze for fashion — you can now stay fashionably warm all winter long. You’re welcome! 


Feature graphic by James Fay

Holiday gift ideas for a conscious shopper

The Holiday season hasn’t been about religion in a while – it’s about gifts now.

I love the holiday season as much as the next Starbucks-peppermint-mocha-loving gal — but I will admit that I feel a tinge of guilt when heading out to my local Simons, or checking out a loved one’s Amazon wishlist.

The trendiness of anti-capitalism is growing. Coupled with the swelling pressure to purchase, I’m led to find a more responsible way to give gifts to my favourite people.

Buying presents for loved ones is a pleasure that compares to inhaling your first batch of gingerbread cookies. The warmth experienced when you see that special someone genuinely smile can be achieved without selling your soul to the season’s Lucifer, Jeff Bezos.

So, here are some of my recommendations for conscious holiday presents.

The Facebook Marketplace route 

This is my personal favourite — browsing through Facebook Marketplace is the best pastime, and the most rewarding! You can set your filters, get precise with your search words, and find the most random stuff. Since most of your Marketplace finds will be in your area, you can also turn this shopping experience into an adventure, discovering new parts of your city while picking up your hidden gems.

I find that the “miscellaneous” category has some of the best finds — vintage memorabilia, posters, outdated technology or even fun coffee table books are a surprising delight.

This season, I snagged a 1980s Porsche phone for my dad — who always dreamed of owning his own supercar one day. The small red phone will be a perfect addition to his collection of strange knick-knacks.

This may seem random, but lamps are also great to look for on Marketplace. Ambient lighting can upgrade a space with the simple flick of a switch. However, a nice vintage lamp, or any ambient lighting is not something people often spend their own money on. I’ve always enjoyed giving lamps out as presents. I recently found a green glass lamp that would’ve fit great in my sister’s office, but I wasn’t quick enough to snag it.

You will have to make split-second decisions on Marketplace. Especially in the holiday season, items can disappear as quickly as you’ve pressed the “Is this still available?” message. When I get in contact with a seller and I’m sure of my decision, I try to put a deposit down to secure the item — something small like $5 to $10 depending on the final cost of my purchase.

If you see something has been listed for a while, feel free to try and offer a lower price: you may get lucky! Just make sure to secure the transaction before getting your hopes up. Time after time, people willing to pay the listed price will sneak in and get the goods at the last minute.

The handmade route

A personalized, homemade gift is a hit or miss. The key with this technique is to play to your strengths: don’t draw someone a portrait if you have the drawing skills of a 4-year-old (unless your friend has a good sense of humour).

All I want to illustrate is that you should utilize your talents. If you can knit, make some coasters or hats for your friends and family. If you can paint, maybe a nice painting of a meaningful object or landscape. If you’re a writer, maybe a funny letter mailed to them with a note to open on Dec. 25th, or even something more heartfelt for that special someone. 

Knitting or crocheting doesn’t have to be intimidating — there are simple patterns you can learn if you are a beginner. Go ahead, use winter as an excuse to pick up another grandma hobby.

I recommend thrifting your yarn since it costs a fraction of the price. There’s something so fun about thrifting materials — that feeling of saving something from a landfill and creating it into a meaningful gift for a loved one. I’ve even found most of my knitting needles in thrift stores.

If you’re an artist, maybe try looking for fun objects to use from the aisle of random bags located on the back walls of most thrift stores. I’m sure you can find some paintbrushes, crayons, pastels, or interesting fabrics.

While you’re at it, you can always pick something up from the houseware section at the thrift — a fun book, a CD or cassette (for decoration or nostalgic purposes), a funky throw, some vintage pyrex, candle holders, novelty mugs… get creative.

Now that you have the tools, go on, get! Go find the most creative and heart-warming gifts of the season. Remember: It’s not about the price tag, it’s about the thought behind the gift.


Feature graphic by James Fay

eBay: the *hardest* resale platform in town

Depop, Poshmark… been there, done that! Time for a challenge

It’s not a secret that I love to thrift. I will make it a point to tell everyone I come across that my “entire fit is thrifted.” In March 2020, when the pandemic hit and thrift stores closed (hold for dramatic pause), I, like everyone else, went online and tried to fill the void in my heart with second-hand clothes.

First was thredUp — I spent the first lockdown scrolling through endless pages of some housewife’s old clothes. Then, like everyone, I turned to Depop. Hot take: I hate Depop. It is, in my opinion, a platform that seems filled with posers and people who overcharge every time a certain item becomes a “hot trend.”

Now that thrift stores are open, shopping online seems like an expensive alternative to my neighbourhood thrift. But the pandemic also exacerbated the amount of people looking for vintage, thifted, unique pieces which will fit their aesthetic. Sometimes, that means thrifting in stores is a little harder, since you can’t “filter” like online, or maybe don’t have five hours to go through all the racks of your local Value Village.

Well I have a solution for you — if you’re brave enough to try! As a commerce platform, eBay has always overwhelmed me. The bidding, making offers, receiving offers, not to mention the expensive shipping costs. However, the advantage with eBay is the abundance of vintage stock, which will often end up cheaper than if you bought it in a consignment store.

So here are my tips for navigating eBay. They may seem standard to some, but I’m going to assume everyone is as intimidated by the outdated website as I was when I first ventured into that dusty corner of the internet.

Know what you want

This isn’t the place to browse for clothes — there needs to be a specific brand or item you are looking for. I recommend looking through Pinterest and finding vintage brands you like, or even looking in your closet to see what brands you gravitate to when thrifting. I asked my mom where she shopped in the ‘90s to help narrow down some options.

You can look through the standard eBay categories for jewelry or home decor, but clothes need to be found manually.

In terms of items, sometimes you can start broad — “vintage womens pants” is a good start. If I find a pair of pants I like, but they are too expensive or not the right size, I add a specific keyword from that description, and add it to my search bar.

In time, you will have 14 tabs open with different searches — in sizing, colour, style, fit, or even decade. After all, there’s no one way to categorize a listing on eBay, so it’s important to adapt with the platform. It’s not an exact science; there’s no one keyword or brand that unlocks all the great treasures.

The watchlist

Unlike other online retailers, eBay adopts a “watchlist” versus the overdone “wishlist.” Here, you can watch items that interest you, but the best part about the tool is that sellers can offer you discounts based on the items in your watchlist. Typically, you’ll get 48 hours to respond to an offer.

For example, I had my eye on a vintage white ‘90s crewneck cute baby lions sweater that was way out of my price range — by which I mean the shipping was way too expensive (which is probably the platform’s only downfall). Out of nowhere, a notification appeared up at the top right corner of my screen — suddenly, the sweater was affordable!

You bet your booty I’ve been wearing it every day since it arrived.

It’s important to check your emails or the notifications on your eBay account to keep track of offers, but this is easy once you get addicted to going down the eBay rabbit hole.

Now you have the tools to navigate the treacherous eBay landscape… let the bidding battles begin!


Feature graphic by James Fay and Catherine Reynolds

My take on the best bakes — sweet treats that will melt away your worries, and time

Sorry to my gluten-free friends, this one might not be for you.

So… Who else has been obsessed with the Great Canadian Baking Show (GCBS)? Just me?

As an amateur chef myself, I like to watch cooking and baking competitions while picturing myself as one of the contestants. I ask myself what I would do for a certain challenge — and I make sure to tell whoever is watching with me.

But realistically, I do NOT have that kind of skill.

I’m in no way good enough to be a contestant on GCBS, but I like to think that I’ve mastered a few basics that are great gateway recipes to a baking addiction. These tips and cooking guides have allowed me to feel as if I was following along with the contestants. All three “bakes” I am mentioning are done in the show, so now you can follow along too.

These aren’t Linzer cookies like those featured on episode three of this past season, but any cookie is a crowd-pleaser. 

Molasses cookies are my unusual favourite — the bitter and rich sweetness from molasses cookies, combined with my favourite seasonal spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger create the deepest fall-flavoured cookie you will ever eat. I will say these tend to be an acquired taste, but I adore them, and encourage you to try them!

To reiterate: I am not talented enough not to use recipes. However, I have gotten good enough to know what I want, and apply my own tricks to the recipes I use. For example, I recommend killing two birds with one stone and turning your baking into a workout routine as well. Simply mix your butter and sugars together by hand, and incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet batter with a spatula, using a “folding” motion instead of an electric stand mixer.

“Folding” motion = folding your batter over into itself and gradually adding in dry ingredients. This slow-motion will stop your dough from becoming too tough — or as the pros would say it — “overworked.” Pour in your dry ingredients in three batches and FOLD to give your cookies a much more ooey-gooey chewy texture.

My favourite recipe to follow is Alison Roman’s rendition on Bon Appétit.

One of my personal favourites to impress your guests — Focaccia bread was featured in episode three of season four.

I find if you dedicate the time and effort (and maybe an entire jumbo bag of flour) to baking focaccia a couple of times, you can perfect it and make a delicious, crispy-but-soft bread that wears more than one hat.

Whenever I make focaccia, I use it for everything. It makes delicious sandwiches — think roasted eggplant, zucchini and roasted garlic hummus smooshed between the two slices of bread — or even toast. To create slices of bread, cut it in half to expose the beautiful air-bubble bread guts — or even that classic student meal of cheese with add-a-lil-jam-to-make-it-fancy and bread.

For this, it’s important to have good yeast. No yeast means our focaccia won’t rise, and you will be left very disappointed… and hungry. To test your yeast, it’s important to bring it to life by putting the required quantity of warm water, sugar and yeast in a bowl, and letting it rise for five minutes.

Maybe this is a baking faux-pas — and to be honest, I don’t care — yet no matter the type of sugar a recipe calls for, I will use honey. Not that plastic bear that has been in your pantry since you moved in; invest in a jar of some delicious, fresh honey. Just a weird bit of knowledge but honey literally does not go bad! Honey has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs! #Honeyfactoftheday.

Some of my favourite recipes to refer to are Gimme Some Oven’s version of focaccia, but if you’re looking for a more advanced recipe try Claire Saffitz’s recipe from the book Dessert Person, or watch this YouTube video.

I will not be attempting a two-tone garden dumpling dough from scratch like the ones featured in the GCBS’s episode five of season four — I won’t even be making the filling. 

I could try, and one day I am determined to, but as a contestant Sheldon Lynn said during the garden dumpling technical challenge, “Why make dumpling wrappers when you can buy them?” I like to go a step further, and just get them frozen.

Frozen dumplings are elite freezer food, but you have to know which ones to get. I will never stop recommending that you take yourself down to Chinatown to the G&D supermarket and browse their many options, but if like me you are sometimes too lazy, there are some places to find great frozen dumplings in the Plateau.

My favourite brand of dumplings to look for is O’Tasty. It’s packaging depicts a picture-perfect plate of pan-fried pot-stickers. My all-time favourite is the pork and black mushroom, followed by the chicken and vegetables.

To cook these, I normally get a non-stick pan and a little bit (two tbsp) of sesame oil, or another neutral oil. Next, once I’ve allowed my oil to get hot enough that it moves easily in the pan, I add a dozen dumplings with their seams facing up. I let them get slightly golden brown on the bottom (five-seven minutes), and now comes the fun part: cornstarch slurry! Mix one-quarter cup of water with two tbsp of cornstarch to create a thick liquid, and pour into your hot pan, getting it in between the dumplings.

Cover and lower your heat to medium-low, and let simmer until the top of your dumplings seem cooked (i.e. your dough is soft and shiny). Take off the lid and let the rest of your liquid evaporate — you should be able to tell once your cornstarch slurry turns into a giant crispy chip connecting each dumpling. Flip onto a plate, top with chili oil and scallions and serve.

We all know you can’t eat dumplings without sauce, so try Pickled Plum’s dipping sauce recipe to elevate your dumpling experience.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt

Off the grid — an interpretation of my life that could’ve been

A life sans capitalism

All around, people are giving in to the Pit: the notion that working and participating in capitalist society will bring you joy and fulfillment. An endless downward cycle that leads human creatures into meaningless lives where their psyche will serve as tasteless grub for said Pit — or capitalistic societal structure — whatever you want to call it.

But I’m better than all those other people. I saw through the Pit, and said HELLLLLL no! I was going to live my dream life, even if it meant cutting myself off from society, since there is no way to function in it without giving in to the Pit. So I left and began my better life.

No need for an undergraduate degree, no more overpriced productivity-inducing coffee, no more jobs, no more expectations to shower every day or to wear pants all the time… In this oasis away from the Pit you call society, I can live out my days without the tight shackles of today’s normal.

You know what I mean, right? Life is just time you have on Earth, and for some reason, we all think it needs to be filled with what we perceive as ‘meaningful careers that will be ‘impactful’ in some way’. Why can’t we just forget about government, money, material goods, and why can’t we just live?

I know it’s more complicated than that, but hear me out.

My entire life I’ve seen my parents accomplish great things, and now I live with my — amazing — but very put-together sister, who at 22 has a full time job and an in-home office. I’ve felt the need to do something big with my life, or comparable at least. But the truth is I discovered my real passion, the true love of my life, one sunny day when I was eight years old.

I was running through a field in Kathmandu, Nepal, when all of a sudden we stumbled upon some baby goats. These tiny little baby goats would run around my sister and I, jumping into our arms… That was the best day of my life. But now, I sit sulking in my apartment thinking of the good ol’ days.

Why can’t I live in a small, run-down home with a couple of goats for my cheese addiction, a cow and some chickens, and a beautiful garden? Why aren’t these the skills I am teaching myself if these are my aspirations? Maybe because my mind has been skewed by what we are all expected to become — workers that feed the PIT!

Better yet, why can’t I camp? I’ll live off the land! I don’t care that it’s -30 C  for seven months out of the year in Quebec, I can do it! I just have to learn how to build a shelter and make a fire out of nothing, maybe make some clothes out of raw materials… easy-peasy! And of course, you can always go warm up in a gas station… it counts, right?

Maybe I’m just a crazy burnout who wants to drop out of life and responsibilities — that is a very likely possibility.

Or maybe we all feed into a meaningless Pit of lies — one that makes us believe that if we just work hard, make money, and save money, our lives will work out. We will buy homes one day, and settle down with our soulmates. But in reality, these things are rare. Most people — despite having done everything right — still don’t have the luxury to settle down for a happy, fulfilling life.

Most people face a lifetime of capitalism-centric society without reaping any of the so-called benefits — working to climb the ladder until you reach your deathbed, on the off chance you may leave some cash for your descendants. Maybe they will have an easier go at it… or maybe not.

Obviously, not everyone has the ability to drop everything or the luxury of not having to think about the affordability of living off the grid. But sometimes, I find it eerily comforting to think about how meaningless it all is — money, power, government, purpose… makes me feel like it’s okay that I don’t know what to do with my life.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

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