Ça va bien aller: How Montrealers cope with self-isolation

Since Montrealers started to self-isolate due to COVID-19, colourful rainbows have been appearing on their homes’ windows.

The rainbows are sometimes paired with the sentence “ça va bien aller” (it’s going to be okay). Both represent hope and optimism; a way for people to remind themselves and others that social distancing is only temporary.

Samanta Robin Dupuis and her children, residents of Ville-Émard-Côte-Saint-Paul, are some of the people who have painted rainbows and placed them on their windows.

It’s to show support to families around the world, that it’s going to be okay,” said Robin Dupuis, adding that getting crafty uplifted the family’s mood.

The mother of six says her kids enjoy their daily 15-minute walks around the neighbourhood, looking for rainbows.

“We go for a walk every day and it gives kids something fun to look for,” said Jenny Ireland, another Ville Émard resident. Her family rainbowed-up to be a part of the community and the rainbow chase.

In the community, some local businesses like the coffee shop Yo&Co Espresso Bar on Laurendeau Street have also joined the rainbow movement. Yorick Caron, co-owner of the coffee shop said a client and her four-year-old daughter gave him the rainbow drawing that’s on the front window.

“We’re all stuck at home, we’re all struggling,” he said. “With the rainbow, we’re reminded to think ahead, that brighter days will come.”

On social media, the hashtags #çavabienaller and #itsgoingtobeokay paired with the rainbow imagery, are buzzing.

On March 22, Quebec City-based graphic designer Karine Perreault created a Facebook profile frame featuring a rainbow and the slogan “ça va bien aller.” Samanta Robin Dupuis, the mother of six, uses it on her social media profile.

“Rainbows appear after a storm. They always come at the right time to tell us to see life in colours,” Perreault told The Concordian.

Perreault’s frame went viral and is among Facebook’s current top ones.

“I’m happy it makes people feel good and it gives hope,” she said.

Imagery from the movement has even appeared in Quebec Premier François Legault’s recent Twitter posts.

And, on March 24, the Montreal Pierre-Elliott Trudeau International Airport announced on Twitter the imagery now fills the letter O of ‘Montreal’ on the airport’s classic signage.

The hashtag, the rainbow movement and its optimistic symbolism originate from Italy, where people in isolation have used them to support each other and share positive thoughts.


Photo by Lucie Laumonier


Egyptian striptease: mummies and museography at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A dive into the ancient Egyptians’ lives and a peek through their wrappings

Open until the end of March at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibit Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives presents the daily life of Ancient Egypt through the eyes of six individuals who lived between 900 BCE to the second century CE.

But there is more than just mummies, 3D scans of the mummies yield high-quality imagery of what is hidden underneath the strips of linen for visitors to explore.

“Exploring Ancient Lives”

The Museum of Fine Arts has put its own twist on the exhibition, originally curated by the British Museum in London, England. Each room connects to the mummy of an individual, which in turn is associated with a theme—music for a female singer, family life for a two-year-old mummified boy, religion for a priest and so forth.

Throughout each room, the public discovers the quotidian Egyptian life, from diet and religion to embalming and wigs. The exhibition showcases beautiful artifacts, mummies and their adorned sarcophaguses.

There is no shortage of historical artifacts to see at the Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition’s curators have succeeded in showing visitors what everyday life in Ancient Egyptian was like.

Room devoted to music and beauty. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley

Under the Wrappings

For nearly 40 years, researchers have scanned mummies using computer tomography (CT scan) to avoid damaging them when unwrapping their bodies. CT scanning yields 3D images of the dead and of the artifacts laying under the strips of linen.

Although non-invasive, this technique has some pitfalls when it comes to interpreting the images the computer creates. The main limitation of CT scans is that the analysis of the images only rarely enable researchers to distinguish between ante—and postmortem traumas—the latter resulting from the mummification process.

The exhibit includes a short video that shows each mummy’s digital unwrapping. Brief text boxes provide information about the discoveries made on the bodies. The six videos are very instructive, even if they’re repetitive once you have seen a couple.

This technique and its video rendering are central to the exhibition. The British Museum and the Museum of Fine Art claim that CT scanning provides a new perspective on these ancient histories. Arguably, it’s not that new.

A decade ago, the same technology was used at the Musée de la Civilisation in Québec city for another mummy exhibition. At the time, it was indeed exceptional—there was only one CT scanning rendering of a mummy, that was displayed in its own section of the exhibition.

The 3D technology is certainly informative and should reel in visitors, but it might not be the showstopper it is designed to be.

CT Scanning yields images of the body underneath the wrappings. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley

Museums in the Digital Age

Museums have embraced digital technologies and multimedia tools to raise visitors’ engagement. The Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition is a good example of the inclusion of new technologies.

Besides the CT scanning, the Museum of Fine Arts has partnered with Ubisoft. The video games company has provided a row of computers where visitors can play an educative version of Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in Ancient Egypt.

However, there are other avenues to explore and innovate in museography.

Research shows that immersive and multisensory exhibitions are one path worth exploring to engage visitors with a topic, stimulate their interest and provoke emotional responses.

The curators of Egyptian Mummies have experimented with this immersive approach through the occasional use of ambient sounds and lighting effects. But they have not fully embraced it.

More could have been done to engage the public on a multisensory level and give visitors the impression that they are, indeed, “exploring ancient lives.” Yet, the exhibition is definitely worth a visit––you will learn a lot and there are so many beautiful and informative things to see. The Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition is open until March 29.



Feature photo: A faux stonewall representing the entrance of a temple, lighting effects and Nile sounds welcome the visitors. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley 


The provincial government needs to fix the childcare system

While planning my move from Calgary to Montreal with a toddler last year, I was in a state of joy.

Not only is childcare largely subsidized in Quebec, but I had heard wonders about the CPE system. CPE stands for “centre de la petite enfance,” government-funded daycares where qualified educators follow Montessori-like pedagogical programs.

It turns out things were more complicated than I expected. 

First of all, the length of the CPEs waitlist is unfathomable.

According to the Québec Ministry of Family, as of March 2018, CPEs had a capacity of 96,000 spaces. Compare that to more than 115,000 in private daycares and some 90,000 in at-home private daycares. Most children, therefore, attend private facilities — subsidized and unsubsidized, the cost of the latter being alleviated by tax returns.

Licencing private daycares costs less than opening more CPEs, which is the avenue the past and present governments have embraced. While childcare in a CPE costs on average $60 of public funds per day per child, a day in a private daycare usually amounts to $22 in taxpayer money, say Le Soleil and L’Actualité.

Second, too many private daycares are of substandard quality.

The Observatoire des tout-petits, part of the Lucie et André Chagnon Foundation, said in a 2018 report that between 33 and 40 per cent of children placed in private daycares “are attending facilities of poor or very poor quality.” The proportion is below 3 per cent for CPEs. In a mirror effect, while 45 per cent of CPEs provide “good or excellent” care, less than 10 per cent of private facilities do.

In one private daycare I had put my child in, I found that kids aged between two and three were just put in front of the TV for several hours a day instead of taking part in the educational activities I was told they were doing. Some weeks, children did not go outside a single time, even when the weather allowed it.

Besides health and safety regulations, requirements to open a private daycare are minimal. In theory, two out of three educators should be ‘qualified,’ which is to say that they have a diploma in early childhood education. But a 2016 report of the Ministry of Family found that only 16 per cent of private daycares respect the two out of three qualified educators’ rule.

In an attempt to make childcare more affordable for families, the Legault government announced on Nov. 8 the reduction of fees in subsidized facilities, from up to $13.20 per day to $8.25 per day. And, according to La Presse, the government is working on subsidizing 3,000 spaces in private daycares.

These measures are beneficial to Quebec families. However, they do not solve one of the most pressing and worrisome issues of childcare in Quebec: the quality of care in private facilities.

Finally, Premier François Legault campaigned on the promise of developing the preschool system for kids of age four. But the educational support and equipment in preschools are poor as per the study by the Observatoire des tout-petits. Children in CPEs receive a better education than children in preschools.

Too many families struggle to find decent daycare. Low-income parents rarely have the time and money to invest in finding a good option and potentially commuting to get there. More CPEs have to be established to foster the needs of Québec children, especially in underprivileged neighbourhoods. And the bar needs to be raised with respect to the regulation of private daycares. The future of the next generation is at stake.

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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