The eternal drive toward Montreal

I always joke that half my personality is that I grew up in the Laurentians. I never shut up about the commute to school—it’s nearly four hours out of my day. Some might say I’m basically a superhero for it (nobody says that). I most definitely am not. People literally live in this city and spend the same amount of time crossing it as I do fleeing it.

My mother sometimes says it would have made my life easier if we hadn’t moved so far from the city. My dad often spends his days on the road for work. But they came here to find peace: the comfort of the fields that hug sinuous roads, stars we can actually see, silence. I’ve never been a city girl and I can now confirm that I never will be. Montreal is too fast-paced for my little heart.

I would be closer to school and my future dream job if I moved to Montreal. But I don’t want to narrow my world down to a single island, however great it may be. I would rather spend hours of my life in traffic or in the train if it means I get to escape the endless buzz of the city in my downtime.

If you live within a 50 km radius of a major city, you probably have already felt the pressure to escape your small town for bigger things. Maybe that stems from the American Dream concept. To me, Montreal has always felt like the ultimate goal, the ultimate success—get a fancy university degree, get a “good job,” get a house that costs much more than it’s worth. Some people might dream of Montreal like others dream of New York City.

That’s how I ended up attending university in Montreal, which made me very anxious very fast. My therapist suggested taking with me some of the things that make me feel safe. He might’ve meant something physical, but I took memories: listening to a wailing loon with my dad from our tent, befriending ducks on the lake with my mom, nodding to the stars that listen, watching the silver maples dance when it’s going to rain.

I went to Gaspésie last summer for the first time. Out by those mountains and shores, I was so far from the usual breakneck Greater Montreal ecosystem that Montreal felt like a hazy concept. For a second there, I envied the simplicity of being far, far away from the pressures of city life.

I’m just starting to adapt to the rhythm of Montreal and Concordia, but now I’m graduating. I’m standing at the edge of a cliff, windswept and awed as I stare out at the ever-changing landscape of my future. I don’t know what life is without school. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. But my time here has taught me to better identify the people, the places and the things that make me feel happy and like myself; and my therapist has taught me to keep those close to my heart wherever I go, like a portable safe space.

The Laurentians are half of my personality probably because they’re a collection of memories and people who have shaped me into who I am. While university has fiercely chipped at me like a diamond, the Laurentians have polished me with love and kind intentions. No matter where I go, I know I will always circle back here even if it seems counter-intuitive toward my “success.” 

But really, what is success without bliss? There’s something admirable about respecting your boundaries and keeping sight of what makes you happy, even if it doesn’t make sense on paper. My parents moving out to the Laurentians might have complicated a few things, but it was also the greatest gift they could’ve offered me.

I’m happy for those who found a home, a dream or a haven of anonymity in Montreal. Meanwhile, I might as well spend my whole life with one foot in the city, looking for success and creative opportunities, and the other foot in the Laurentians, looking for peace—just like my dad did, and he turned out just fine.


In memoriam: Wield your words carefully

How my already broken heart was shattered by a joke.

Trigger warning: suicide, loss.

“Ugh, it’s so disappointing that Concordia’s windows are suicide-proof,” declared a random Concordia student on a random afternoon at the Hall Building. A loud giggle ensued.

Gen Z is often criticized for being too touchy and sensitive—they call us the “snowflake” generation. I wrote a story on trigger warnings last year and often had people tell me: “You youngsters take everything so seriously.”

That student might’ve simply been laughing with their friends because they couldn’t open a fourth-floor window. It might have been an inside joke. I can try to understand that. But it wasn’t a random afternoon for me.

I felt numb sitting there, trying to study with the knot in my throat. I had a funeral the next day that I couldn’t attend, and it was breaking my heart all over again. Three weeks prior, I’d received a message that shattered me—someone I admire and respect beyond words had died by suicide.

It felt so unreal and unfair to lose someone who believed in me with such force that I had no other choice but to believe in myself too. This was someone whose days in my life deeply impacted who I am and where I’m going. Someone whose convictions drove them and who always encouraged me to do the same.

The student gleefully skipped back to their friend group, whispering and laughing about the “major side-eye” I’d given them. They didn’t know their joke had inadvertently reopened a wound. They didn’t know it also made me replay (too many) close calls I’d had with friends. They didn’t know, but they might not have considered it.

Did you know the suicide death rate is twice the road mortality rate? Every single day, nearly three people die by suicide in this province, according to the Centre de prévention du suicide de Québec (CPSQ). For every suicide in Quebec, there are 30 attempts, says the Suicide Prevention Centre of Montreal (SPCM). 

Odds are that you know someone who’s struggling, if it isn’t yourself.

The irony of it is that I also have no way of knowing if that student has ever gone through this, or if they’re struggling with their own mental health and joking about it is their coping mechanism. I considered the possibility though. I’m being careful with my words now. I’m asking the same kindness of you.

While it can sometimes feel like people are too sensitive, is it so hard to be a tad more considerate—especially when using dark humour in public? Someone right next to you might be grieving, might be struggling, might be right on the edge.

I’m not saying that we should all constantly censor ourselves. I believe in freedom of expression, and I am an avid user of dark humour myself. However, I am aware of my audience, especially when surrounded by strangers—I don’t know who might receive my comment as a gut punch, so I’d rather err on the side of caution.

The person I am grieving taught me this: Wielding words is wielding power. In their memory, I am reiterating that concept. Words have weight. Words hurt.

In this harsh world, kindness and consideration make a difference. Words and actions have an impact. Make yours positive.

If you or a loved one is struggling, please know there are resources available to help in English and French throughout Quebec, available 24/7.

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 9-8-8

Centre de prévention du suicide de Québec (CPSQ): 1 866 APPELLE (1 866 277-3553)

Visit for additional resources, tips and tools.

Arts and Culture

Short Story: Deadline

 Mackenzie is a fourth-year journalism student at Concordia University and copy editor at The Concordian


Tick tock. Goosebumps pepper my flesh. Heat creeps up my ears. Chills travel down my spine. I can’t help but think my body is failing this unending race against the monster. My throat constricts. I can barely breathe, barely see through my anxiety. Tick tock.

The deadline looms over me. I run, run, run my fingers over the keyboard, blindly reaching into the depths of my mind for ideas that might satiate the beast. It’s become a mechanical system: I get up, do as much work as I can, and crumble from fatigue once the deadline has been fed. It lurks in the dark corners of my room when I decide to take a day off. It whispers in my ear when I’m finally doing something for me. It drains the fun from everything I do. 

Tick tock. It’s dinner time. The deadline is starving—I can feel it staring expectantly, encircling me, smoking me out of my passion. The house creaks under its weight. My bones strain under its pressure. 

My muscles are sore from the fight, but I need to get writing before it eats me alive. I can feel it waiting for me to nod off, ready to pounce the second I lower my guard. Even my laptop is heavy-breathing in empathy. Feed the deadline—that’s all I have to do. The clock is tick, tick, tocking so loud while my fingers are tap, tap, tapping viciously.

The shadows snuff out the setting sun, my desk lamp barely holding the fort. The deadline sneaks toward me as I frantically type. I don’t have much time left. My fingers slide on the trackpad, shaking like it’s the epitome of winter. The deadline’s cold breath down my neck makes me shiver. I freeze. Squeeze my eyes shut. I can feel its anticipation.



My muscles relax all at once as the deadline slinks away, happily fed.


I flinch at Ella’s visceral reaction. Her disgust and mistrust makes me want to slink back into the shadows. The clock ticks insistently, and she winces at every passing minute. I try to get closer to help ease the tension in her shoulders, but the hair rises on the back of her neck like hostile spears aimed right at me.

I sigh. I hate what people have turned me into. I hate how they disfigured my name over time. Adaline. I miss hearing people call me that, but now they curse at the “freaking Deadline.” They write down my birthdate in their calendars and cross out the days. I used to think they were excited to meet me, but I know now that was naive—they’re dreading the day.

Ella’s fingers dance across her keyboard. They miss a beat here and there, but still give it their all. She’s such a talented writer. I can’t wait to read what she wrote. I peek over her shoulder, but she shifts in her seat and anxiously looks around. 

My heart skips a beat. She can feel me. Waves of joy crash over me, washing away the self-doubt and self-hatred. I step closer, craving her friendship. I should introduce myself. “Adaline,” I whisper in her ear. 

She shivers violently. Squeezing her eyes shut, she presses “Submit” and a cannonball is shot right to my stomach. I stumble backwards, my eyes tearing up. I watch her melt in her chair as I melt into the wall. 

Ella met her Deadline, and now she wants nothing more to do with it.


Are we all just living the same life in different fonts?

Don’t be fooled—social media capitalizes on relatability and social isolation.

Do you ever see a meme or video on social media that is oddly specific and relatable to you? I always find it so unsettling how well my algorithm knows me, from my taste in music and books, right down to personal experiences that I thought were unique.

I’ve stumbled upon videos lately that really made me sit back, set my phone aside and stare at the wall. Seeing memes related to our secret little quirks or even our very specific and seemingly unique past trauma can be ruled out as coincidence; however, it seems every single piece of content I come across lately is eerily accurate.

Yes, I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix when it came out—it still haunts me. I also read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. That’s how I learned that the algorithm compiles data from likes, comments, shares, and other interactions, and that some social media even record the amount of time you spend on a specific post and where your gaze catches on the screen. I’m always painfully aware that social media preys on my attention and time, which the algorithm then uses to throw me into a vicious cycle of doom scrolling.

However, I also realize that users capitalize on relatability. We all (subconsciously or not) know the golden rule to success on social media: if people don’t relate to you, they simply won’t care. My own experience in business communications taught me how hard content creators work to get on the “For You” page. They have to work with the system, but they also feed it more tools to reel us all in.

So what if my algorithm notices that I am a Swiftie eagerly anticipating the announcement of  Reputation (Taylor’s Version), that I have a “golden retriever” boyfriend, that I secretly dream of owning a book and plant shop joined to a cat café (apparently it’s a “feminine urge”), that my Roman Empire is being a woman in a man’s world, and that I am afraid of the dark? Is it really so bad that my social media feed is so meticulously tailored?

The answer to that question will depend on how you answer this one: Is social media a means for entertainment, or to gain information? Part of me wants to say it’s just entertainment and it doesn’t really matter. But another part of me is screaming that my algorithm is putting me into niche boxes and shuttering me from the bigger picture of the world. I find myself consuming mindless content instead of learning about the war and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, for example. I have to go out of my way to learn about that.

It always gets me when I see someone comment: “Are we all just living the same life in different fonts?” Your social media feed is giving you that impression, showing you oddly specific videos you’d send your best friend in a heartbeat. Your algorithm knows that if you are entertained and you feel seen in a world where human connection is blurred by screens, it will keep your attention just a bit longer.

Am I really a die-hard Swiftie, or am I just being overexposed to that content? Is that video really “so me!” or does it just touch on something I can somewhat relate to? Are these memes truly relatable, or am I just yearning for a vague sense of community and belonging in a socially-isolated generation?

Did you find this article relatable? If so, I’ve succeeded in the golden rule. Welcome to the Social Media Existential Crisis Club, where we question this warped sense of belonging and combat the negative effects of the algorithm on important information sharing.


Wishing you a considerate holiday season

The holidays have become the most wasteful and self-centered time of the year.

The Christmas lights went up earlier than usual at my house this year. We normally wait until the beginning of December, but the colours and warm lights felt like a hug amidst an exhausting November. While I’m a sucker for Halloween, I have to admit the holidays have a different kind of magic, a comforting one. Still, the activist in me is bothered by the extreme culture of consumerism and (ironically) individualism that the holidays inspire. 

Shades of green, red, blue and gold start replacing the purple and orange in the seasonal section of retail stores in mid-October. As people run from shop to shop for gifts and plastic decorations, I can’t help but wonder what makes the urge to participate in the commercial-Christmas culture so much stronger than the desire to be considerate of our environmental impact. 

Back in 2020, I interviewed a family friend who had been working for a few years on switching to a zero-waste lifestyle. Mélanie Major is a mother of four and is raising her children to be compassionate, kind, and aware of their impact. 

“When you decide to make the switch to zero waste, you notice the waste even more,” Major said. “You tell yourself, there just has to be a solution to all this.” 

Major shared some sustainability tips for the holidays, starting with reducing food waste. She eliminates as much meat as possible from her Christmas menu to reduce her environmental footprint. She also makes smaller quantities and turns her leftovers into new recipes to prevent waste. 

With Christmas inevitably comes panic shopping—or, as Major puts it, “buying a gift just for the sake of buying a gift.” She opts instead for more thoughtful gifts such as activity gift cards and passes, books by local authors, secondhand items, meals, and other handmade presents. 

Major didn’t switch out her old decorations for new sustainable ones—that would be counter-intuitive and wasteful. Instead, she decorates her tree with ornaments her mother attaches to their gifts every year and ornaments handmade by her kids. She also reuses old gift-wrapping materials and even wraps presents in towels, scarves and other textiles that can become part of the gift.

We should make decisions according to our values, rather than exhaust ourselves in trying to keep up with the commercial calendar. “When I first got pregnant, it just clicked,” Major said about her decision to go zero waste. “It’s nice to have a child, but what world do we want them to grow up in?” 

We share this world with nearly eight billion people and an estimated 20 quintillion (yes, it’s a word) animals. We are surrounded by beautiful and abundant life, which we pull a profit from with unjustified entitlement.

If the holidays are a time for kindness, they should also be a time to consider what we blissfully ignore and to reflect on the broader impact of our actions. 

You indirectly cast a vote with every decision you make to buy something—what do you encourage with every swipe of your credit card?

While the holiday season is a comfort to some, it can be a nightmare to others. I encourage you to be considerate not only of the environment, but also of your fellow human beings who are in need of love, kindness and support. I would even go further and urge you to not only do this for the holiday season, but to keep this mindset all year round in your breast pocket, right next to your heart.

Arts and Culture

Trick or treat yourself to spooky fall reads

Whether you’re in the mood for a comfort read or an unsettling one, we have the book recommendation for you.

Not ready to let go of the spooky season yet? After spending two months reading strictly witchy books, thrillers, historical fiction and dark academia-type stories, I’ve compiled a few recommendations for my fellow fall-loving bookworms.

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for comfort reads, so let’s start with those. When I picked up The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston, I already knew it would be fun, but I did not expect this tear-jerking, pun-ny, cozy book. When ghostwriter Florence Day returns to her hometown for her father’s funeral, she encounters a ghost, who happens to be her very confused and very dead editor. This is a story of grief and loss coloured with humour and wholesome romance.

If you’re into the soft-hearted villain, grumpy x sunshine, (soft) enemies to lovers, and doomed romance tropes, pick up A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley. Mariel is a clumsy green witch who messes up a spell and accidentally summons Ozroth the Ruthless, a demon whose mission is to collect witch souls. This spicy rom-com had a cute environmental activism side-quest and fun world-building. A story of self-confidence, this is a feel-good read—but beware of emotional somersaults.

Because I am nothing if not diverse, here are eerie and (I cannot emphasize this enough) unsettling thrillers. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is artfully done. Noemí’s cousin mysteriously asks to be rescued from the house she just moved into with her new husband. When Noemí arrives, she realises every character is creepy, but the house itself is worse—it’s a living nightmare. This isn’t for the faint of heart and addresses disturbing themes (heavy trigger warnings). It’s an uncomfortable read, but a unique experience thanks to the author’s cinematic writing style.

Sharing that energy, my experience reading K. L. Cerra’s Such Pretty Flowers was tainted with utter disbelief and shock. If you’re looking for something macabre and twisted (again, heavy trigger warnings), this one was very weird and addictive. Holly, who has little to no survival instinct, is investigating her brother’s apparent suicide. The book features sapphic romance, gore and a creepy botanic cult. I literally had to put the book down and just stare into the ether at times before diving back in.

“Gourd” book picks to stretch out the fall season // Photo by Xavier Bastien-Ducharme

Moving into historical fiction, yours truly was enchanted to find Anna Maxymiw’s book, Minique. The story follows Minique through her life in New France as she grows up an odd child, suffers numerous tragedies and becomes an isolated witch. Minique is a man-scaring feminist, bold and authentic. As a witchcraft-loving Quebecer, I loved the references to local mythology, and Maxymiw’s lyrical writing felt like a legend in itself. If you loved The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and Circe, you’d probably enjoy this one too.

Because it’s midterm season and I needed something uplifting, I am currently reading and loving The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, featuring a diverse cast and the heartwarming found-family trope. Secret witch Mika Moon receives an odd request: a family needs her help training three little witches with their magic. Charming in its colour and personality, this book is a wholesome escape with adorable characters and a side of romance.


Girl math versus my accountant boyfriend

While girl math is fun, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation.

Girl math is one of the funniest and most ridiculously relatable concepts I’ve encountered on social media recently. In case you haven’t heard of it, girl math is a mindset where women conceptualize money differently to justify their spending, however illogical these explanations may be.

Here are some examples of how it goes. Anything under $5 is basically free. If I pre-paid a membership card and use it now, it’s free. If I don’t buy something, I make money. Anything purchased with cash is free. If I use this $100 bag 20 times, it only costs $5 per wear, which is free. Basically, girl math gives us excuses to indulge in our retail therapy or buy that $8 Starbucks drink.

A revolutionary concept, I know. Now, here’s where things get complicated: I’m in a relationship with a future accountant, and he is bamboozled by girl math. 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was browsing at Indigo when I spotted their weekend sales. I’d be losing money by not getting a book, right? My boyfriend—let’s call him The Accountant—didn’t have an issue with me buying books, but he was confused by how I was rationalizing it. I decided it was time: The Accountant needed a girl math initiation.

After listening intently, he concluded that girl math essentially trivializes expenses by putting more value on how the purchase makes you feel rather than what it does to your bank account. While that can be okay in some circumstances, the issue for him is the lack of mathematical logic. It’s possible that the girlies on social media are just messing with men, playing on the age-old stereotype that women are bad at math—a bit like when they say “Why don’t we just print more money?” to provoke them. But if taken too seriously, it might become a mindset we should worry about.

While I am an avid girl math practitioner, I must admit he has a point. I am lucky (in most cases) to be in a relationship with someone who is good at math and money, because school certainly didn’t teach me any money management skills or financial literacy. Both are crucial in this cutthroat world, yet they aren’t so common. I don’t like to admit that before The Accountant stormed into my life with his spreadsheets and numbers, I didn’t grasp what a Tax Free Savings Account , First Home Savings Account or Registered Retirement Savings Plan was.

My point is that girl math is all fun and games until we realize it isn’t. We also have the responsibility to consider the environmental impact of our girl math-induced consumption, not only the financial impact. It works as long as it’s reasonably done. My boyfriend and I agree that there’s nothing wrong with indulging in the things that make us happy sometimes, whether that looks like a pumpkin spice latte for you, yet another rom-com book for me, or a golf game for him. 

It’s important that money makes you happy, but to find that balance, we need to work with it, learn about it and plan it out. Make an aesthetic little budgeting spreadsheet or better yet, find yourself an Accountant (mine is spoken for, but he has friends).


This witch is here for the vibes

Oh, you’re obsessed with fall too? Let’s be friends.

Let’s talk—what is it about fall that gets the girlies going? And by “girlies,” I mean this girly, who’s been waiting to cozy up by the fireplace with a hot chocolate in hand, reading a good book or crocheting with her mom.

To me, August and September are just lead-ups to these moments and my trusty autumn playlist, featuring lots of moody Twilight soundtracks, haunting tunes, and nostalgic guitar songs (I’m looking at you, Noah Kahan). One might say it’s been summerween in my head for weeks now. I’ve been brainstorming Halloween costumes for three months.

Now it’s October, the pivotal month of fall. I’m ready to go apple and pumpkin picking, to witness the paint-splattered mountains along my beloved Laurentian roads. But beyond that, what is it about the spooky season that makes me crave the autumn vibes so badly?

Maybe it gives me an excuse to get into character instead of truly unveiling my inner witch. Something about tarot, astrology, crystals and herbal healing seems to give people the heebie-jeebies, which might prompt me to suppress some of my witchy interests. But in fall, it can all come loose, just like those gemstone leaves fluttering about. We can let ourselves be weird and witchy and indulge in pumpkin spice and everything nice. After all, we’re just matching the vibes, right?

The witch is one of the strongest archetypes that women incarnate. It represents the urge to stop withholding pure feminine power, the urge to unleash everything ugly and beautiful. In short, the urge to be authentic. The witch trials may be a piece of the past, but the fear remains—what if I say or do the wrong thing? I think our fascination with the autumn vibes stems from wishing we could be extravagantly colourful and blissfully uninhibited, while also being kind to ourselves when change is all around us.

The girlies who are in love with autumn are in love with the peace and the silence—a self-imposed break that nature gifts itself. They’re in love with the softness with which nature transitions from one chapter to another. They’re romanticizing something simple, yet inherently powerful: we can’t stop change, but we can admire it and resiliently look forward to the space it leaves for something new. No matter the changes, fall will always be a welcome return to comfort and tradition, with a dash of magic over the mundane.

As October waltzes in, I’ll be trying to embrace the (not so) dark academia season at Concordia with a creepy thriller in hand. Autumn is my yearly reminder to slow down and taste the apples, smell the fallen leaves, and feel the comforting breeze through my knit sweater—that’s what gets this girly going. 

This girly, whose dad always encourages her to wear her costume when she gets sad that nobody loves Halloween as much as she does. This girly, whose mom watches Practical Magic every October with her, soaking up how admirable empowered women are. This girly, who’s having a hard time adulting and whose baby inner witch is just waiting to come out and play.

Come on out now. Lana Del Rey says it’s the season of the witch.


The art of veggies and social empowerment

How rooftop farms contribute to community resilience and food security.

On a rooftop nestled in the Plateau Mont-Royal, volunteers are hard at work, like bees buzzing around a garden. The rooftop is lush with greenery, growing fresh produce for the local community. Or at least it will be in a few weeks’ time.

Santropol Roulant is a non-profit organization that grows food on their building’s roof for the local community. They cook it in their kitchen, deliver the meals to those who need them most, and compost part of the scraps thanks to The Compost Collective’s worm farm in the basement. 

“Initially, it was really like a kitchen and delivery program that focused a lot on youth volunteering,” said Adrienne Richards, the gardens and accessible agriculture coordinator at Santropol Roulant. 

The Roulant was started by the team at Café Santropol on St-Urbain Street. They realized there was a need for a meals-on-wheels service that catered to isolated people, elderly people, people with accessibility issues, and others who don’t have access to sufficient quality food to meet their needs.

According to Richards, about half of their rooftop farm’s produce goes to their meals-on-wheels service, and they currently deliver about 100 to 120 meals per day to clients, referred to them by health and social workers.

The company MicroHabitat was co-founded in 2016 by Alexandre Ferrari-Roy and Orlane Panet in Montreal to promote ecological farming in urban areas. Their role is to help their clients green their buildings, whether they be industrial, commercial, or residential. While philanthropy came first at Santropol Roulant, gardening was the starting line for MicroHabitat.

The initial goal for MicroHabitat was simply to build ecological urban farms, but their focus shifted to food security when clients started donating their produce to local organizations.

“I was actually very happy and thrilled,” Ferrari-Roy said. MicroHabitat decided to facilitate the process for their clients by creating the Urban Solidarity Farms program. “It’s the bridge between them and the food banks,” he added.

The Urban Solidarity Farms help their clients donate their harvest to organizations like Accueil Bonneau, Dans La Rue, Le Chaînon, and others. Roughly half of their projects are aimed toward giving access to healthy and fresh herbs and vegetables to local food banks. MicroHabitat also donates part of their profit to the Breakfast Club of Canada and No Kids Hungry in the United States.

Ferrari-Roy explained that food banks often don’t receive fresh produce and normally only have access to lower-quality food or non-perishables. “We see the impact of our work when we’re donating,” he says. “It can definitely make someone’s life better to eat something fresh and tasty.”

While these rooftop farms give locals access to fresh and healthy produce, volunteers also benefit from the experience. “People are committed and willing to give so much of their time and energy because we’ve created a meaningful system,” Richards said. 

Meanwhile, at Concordia University, the mind.heart.mouth initiative started by researcher Andrea Tremblay looks at gardening as a vessel to build community resilience. Tremblay quickly noticed positive impacts on volunteers through her doctoral research around the buzzing network of people tending to the garden.

Tremblay recalled a volunteer who was in cancer remission a few years ago who had never grown food before. When Tremblay saw a ripe cucumber on its vine, she decided to save it for her. “She told me she’d never seen a cucumber grow,” Tremblay said. “When I showed it to her, she just burst into tears and said that was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.”

The woman had been very shy until that moment, but everyone at the garden came to hug her. “It really sealed the small community of the garden,” Tremblay said, adding that people look forward to coming and look out for each other.

mind.heart.mouth collaborated with Concordia’s PERFORM Centre so physical therapy patients could participate in gardening to help their physical and mental health. 

“Being in the garden and working towards growing food for food banks and community organizations is giving everybody in this garden a real sense of empowerment by contributing to the community,” Tremblay said.

Through her research, Tremblay learned that gardens are a great tool to create social opportunities and learn together in a safe and inclusive space while also contributing to food security. 

“A garden is conducive to creating community,” Tremblay said. “You’re both just there to look for bugs and conversation is made easy.”


Community Student Life

Gen Z, what’s happening to our desktops?!

Recent study shows nearly half of Gen Z gave up on filing their digital documents

I was stunned when Philippe Gingras, creative writing and scriptwriting student at Université de Montréal, opened his laptop in front of me. With a B&W Charlie Chaplin movie wallpaper and images like old-school typewriters to replace those boring file icons, the 25-year-old’s desktop looks like a cool vintage poster.

“I see so many people in class whose desktops are really messy, and it kind of disturbs me,” he said, adding that his own desktop reflects his passions and motivates him.

However, messy desktops are pretty common among Gen Z — those currently aged between 11 and 26. According to file encryption company Nordlocker, almost half of Gen Z respondents leave all their documents on their desktop without a home.

Concordia journalism student Alexa Toguri-Laurin said her old laptop was very messy. She recently got a new laptop and worked hard to organize it better than the last one. “It doesn’t look too messy on my screen, so it doesn’t cause me too much anxiety every time I open my computer.”

The study shows 45 per cent of Gen Z respondents simply use their search bar, or the lovely CTRL+F (or CMD+F for Apple users) to find files rather than look for them. 

While Toguri-Laurin agrees the search option on her computer comes in handy, it’s useless without a consistent labeling system for your files. For her, naming files strategically is much simpler and less chaotic. “There’s so much sensory overload with how messy my desktop was,” she said. “It was so overwhelming for me to scan through my entire desktop and fish out one particular document.”

Tips and tricks from fellow university students

The human brain requires order to focus better. According to a Harvard Business Review article,  messy spaces are mentally exhausting and affect your ability to concentrate. Sarah-Maude Dussault, school and adaptation student from Université de Sherbrooke, uses an iPad but organizes her files thoroughly in Notability. “I have attention deficit disorder (ADD), so if I don’t save it, it never existed in my head,” she laughed. 

So, how do we organize our desktops?

Language and linguistics student at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and journalist Rosie St-André shared some handy tips. She explained that she learned how to organize her computer by watching YouTube and TikTok videos. She said that watching creators like Julia K. Crist, her favourite on YouTube, organize their digital space motivated her to do the same. “It also helps you identify what kind of style you like,” she said.

After watching a few videos, St-André decided to make her own wallpaper on Canva, where she could design and colour-code her background as she pleased. She split it into three sections: school, work, and finances. She also added a motivational quote and some pretty pictures for the aesthetics.

Organization as motivation

“I feel like people get discouraged when it comes to studying because it’s so complicated to get set up for it,” said Gingras. “It isn’t hard to study, it’s just hard to sit down and do it.”

For him, having an organized desktop means sitting down and avoiding a 15-minute search for his documents. We know it – motivation comes in temporary bursts. We need to seize it while it’s there. “I love knowing that I won’t have to search for my documents every time I sit down to get some work done,” said St-André.

Although Toguri-Laurin admits her desktop isn’t your typical aesthetically pleasing desktop from Pinterest, she’s happy with her progress. “It’s an example of how much better I am at organizing my life and making things better for myself,” she said. “I’m really proud of myself for accomplishing that, because I don’t have to stress myself out like I did five years ago.”

Features Student Life

Decolonization at Concordia: What is it, and how it is going?

National Truth and Reconciliation Day is right around the corner — let’s talk

For the second time since its establishment in 2021, Canadians will celebrate National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30. This statutory holiday honours the survivors of residential schools as well as those who never returned from them. What better way to commemorate and learn from the past than to take some time to educate ourselves on Indigenous issues?

Like many students in Quebec, Kenny Gourdet, a black political science undergrad at Concordia, says she was taught the same “European explorers came to populate society” story over and over again. A prime example of colonialism is how history classes often glorify the arrival of Europeans to the Americas, where they would supposedly save Indigenous peoples by “civilizing” them.

When Gourdet started pursuing her minor in First Peoples Studies, she realized how colonialism had tainted her education. “I think through that minor, I’m starting to understand what decolonization means to me, and what I can do to actively be a part of decolonization,” she explains.

Manon Tremblay, Senior Director of Indigenous Directions at Concordia University, says, “I’ve always thought that if you get anything out of university, regardless of what you study, it is openness of mind.” 

Tremblay, who is also Plains Cree and a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, explains the Office of Indigenous Directions came up with the Indigenous Directions Action Plan in 2019. This “blueprint” as she calls it outlines 40 recommendations to tackle reconciliation, indigenization and decolonization at Concordia. These recommendations include creating institutional protocols to better engage with Indigenous knowledge, encouraging the use of Indigenous languages at Concordia, increasing opportunities for Indigenous graduates and students, decolonizing the institution and curriculum, and more.

“Decolonization is not dismantling systems that work,” says Tremblay. “It’s basically looking at systems and at those parts that don’t work for Indigenous people and may constitute barriers to success.”

As Gourdet puts it, decolonization is the undoing of colonialism. For her, it starts by unlearning the aspects of her life that have been affected by it, whether it be her education or her perception of herself.

All hands on deck

“Decolonization belongs to everyone,” says Ezgi Ozyonum, a PhD candidate in education at Concordia. She is also a researcher and events coordinator at the Decolonial Perspectives and Practices Hub (DPPH).

Her colleague Sandra Mouafo, a sociology undergrad, describes the DPPH as an incubator for initiatives, activism and empowerment. Their team aims to amplify the voices of students whose perspectives are left out of conversations that pertain to their wellbeing and future. The DPPH works to bridge the gap between academia and different ethnic communities within the student body.

“Nobody is safe from oppression,” says Mouafo. “If tomorrow it’s your neighbour, the next day it’s you. You shouldn’t wait until the fire gets to your house before you start worrying about it.”

She adds that decolonization can be discussed from many standpoints, ranging from politics to academia to interpersonal relationships. According to her, these reflections should begin by asking ourselves: “How do we look at society from a different lens than colonialism?” 

Both Ozyonum and Mouafo strongly believe decolonization is plural, meaning it requires a plethora of diverse perspectives. They say understanding multiple viewpoints will help contribute to decentering dominant models and patterns of oppression.

Ozyonum likes to use the word “decolonizing” as a verb. For her, it’s an ongoing effort to challenge colonial engagement and systemic oppression in the world.

According to Mouafo, everyone is responsible for deconstructing colonial influences and holding themselves accountable, whether they are racialized or non-racialized bodies. 

“We are all here on one earth and we are responsible for the actions or the things that happened in the past,” says Ozyonum. “We are responsible to learn from history.”

Looking back at previous education

Gourdet realizes how strong a hold colonialism had on the predominantly white private high school she attended. “I never felt like the school I went to created a safe space for me and my diversity,” she admits.

At first, Gourdet didn’t think too much of her school’s pride in its founder, Wilfrid Laurier, but then she finally learned the truth behind Laurier’s involvement with Indigenous residential schools and anti-immigration policies through her political science classes. “His name was and is still plastered all across the school,” emphasizes Gourdet.

During her time there, Gourdet says the only effort to welcome diversity was the organization of a week-long event that superficially highlighted multiculturalism, “to show white kids diversity exists.” Other than that, Gourdet thinks the school’s promotion of diversity was shallow. “I felt like the school’s view on diversity was transmitted to the whole student body,” she said. 

Although oppression affects all marginalized communities, the main targets of colonialism in Canada are Indigenous peoples, as we stand on their lands. Concordia’s efforts to indigenize aim to bring Indigenous voices to the University’s administration and academia.

So how is Concordia doing?

“Education is key,” shares Tremblay. “You can go forth in your life after university and see systems a bit differently and have a better openness of spirit and of mind.” However, as Gourdet’s experience highlights, students can absorb colonialist mindsets when they are in colonialist environments.

Concordia’s first steps into decolonization date back to 1992, when the Otsenhákta Student Centre was established, which serves as a resource for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students. Concordia’s decolonization efforts are now primarily orchestrated by the Office of Indigenous Directions.

“I think we’ve made some really good progress,” says Tremblay. “It helps that we have the unwavering commitment of higher administration. They believe in this, and they want to see it happen.”

On Friday, Sept. 16, Concordia hosted a powwow, which Tremblay deems to have been quite a success. She says they aim to organize more Indigenous-themed activities to increase visibility, but also to educate. “Not everything about Indigenous people is oppression,” she states. “We have things to celebrate too.”

Otsenhákta Student Centre Pow Wow. KAITLYNN RODNEY/The Concordian

The University has also incorporated territorial acknowledgement to its decolonial practices, stating that “the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation is recognized as the custodians of the lands and waters on which we gather today. Tiohtià:ke/Montréal is historically known as a gathering place for many First Nations. Today, it is home to a diverse population of Indigenous and other peoples.”  

“I think Concordia is good at initiating and providing spaces,” says Ozyonum. She believes the only missing piece is communication. “In this part, the Hub has a role to play,” she adds, since the DPPH works to reform systemic injustices in higher education.

Among other events, Ozyonum often organizes syllabus deconstruction workshops, where students, teachers and administration members meet to carefully deconstruct colonial patterns in their syllabi. “They talk about the power dynamics and how to reimagine the classroom with this syllabus, because a syllabus for us is a tool,” explains Ozyonum.

Both Ozyonum and Mouafo agree that the process to decolonize classrooms will take time, effort, and a lot of important conversations. Looking at the different aspects of our lives with a critical eye is the foundation for decolonizing ourselves and our environments.

“The thing with decolonization is that it’s not simple,” shrugs Mouafo. “It is a tireless commitment.”

The Office for Indigenous Directions aims to decolonize curriculums by bringing in more Indigenous experts and perspectives. This allows them to explore ways of teaching that every student finds a benefit to, according to Tremblay.

As Tremblay explains, not all cultures that fit under the “Indigenous” umbrella term agree with what needs to be done. “There’s a constant need for engagement to make sure that we’re always moving in the right direction,” she says.

Decolonizing and indigenizing need to be done continuously. “It’s work that’s long,” says Tremblay. “We’re not always going to see the results right away.” That’s why the Office of Indigenous Directions is committed to reviewing their action plan regularly. Their latest update was in June 2021.

Although education is a good place to foster conversations on decolonization, Ozyonum affirms that “Decolonization should be happening on all levels, and in different places, so it shouldn’t only be happening in school.”

A path of stepping stones

Mouafo adds that decolonization shouldn’t stem from a virtuous and heroic place, but from a humble willingness to learn and to become better people. It is an individual effort as much as it is a collective effort.

Although decolonization seems like a huge challenge, the DPPH members encourage everyone to simply try. “Even mistakes can be our learning opportunities,” smiles Ozyonum. A variety of resources, webinars and workshops are offered by Concordia’s Indigenous Directions Learning Series Pîkiskwêtân (Cree for “let’s talk”).

Self-education outside academia can happen through books, movies, series, podcasts and more. Because decolonization is an increasingly hot topic, resources are becoming more and more accessible. The CBC podcast Telling our Twisted Histories, which addresses the erasure of Indigenous perspectives in Canadian history, is one of many examples. 

“There’s no right way of being decolonial,” says Mouafo. “It’s a colonial mindset to think there is one right way,” she laughs. 

As Ozyonum says, we are responsible for building our future — a future where we look at the world in an intersectional way and live in respectful dialogue.

“Have these conversations,” implores Mouafo. “And if you’re uncomfortable, that means you’re in the right place, because this conversation is not meant to be comfortable. It’s not meant to be easy, but it’s needed.”

Photos by Kaitlynn Rodney

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