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News

Cycling community climbs for Clément Ouimet

Montreal cyclists come together to remember young rider after tragic death

Camillien-Houde Way is one of the most popular training routes for Montreal cyclists because it provides a challenging climb up and over Mount Royal. On Oct. 6, hundreds of cyclists clipped into their pedals at the base of the trail—not to train, but to honour 18-year-old Clément Ouimet.

On Oct. 4, Ouimet was descending the mountain, just south of the Belvedere lookout, when he collided with an SUV. The driver of the SUV made an illegal U-turn in front of the cyclist. Unable to stop, Ouimet hit the vehicle and was rushed to hospital with head injuries. He died later that night.

The driver remained at the scene and did not sustain any injuries. No charges have been made, but police said the investigation is ongoing.

Ouimet’s death shocked the cycling community. Espoirs Élite Primeau, the Laval cycling club Ouimet was a part of, wrote on their Facebook page: “No words can describe all the pain and distress we are experiencing right now.”

According to CBC News, fellow cyclist Édouard Beaudoin wrote on the team’s Facebook page that he was “devastated” by the accident.

“Knowing that Clément died doing what he loves, it completely destroys me. No one should meet death practicing their favourite sport,” Beaudoin wrote.

Benoit Tessier did not know Ouimet personally, but had heard of him through the cycling community. Tessier said he felt it was important to attend the memorial ride to pay his respects. “He was a good cyclist and had good potential. He was just too young to die,” Tessier said.

After a moment of silence, members of Espoirs Élite Primeau led the silent memorial ride up the winding Camillien-Houde path. The two-kilometre climb ended at the parking lot near Beaver Lake.

Many individuals in the cycling community are demanding that the city do something to make Mount Royal safer for cyclists. Jacques Wiseman frequently rides up Mount Royal. “I do it myself, but I never descend because I always expect an accident going down,” he said. “It’s not secure enough. I think a wall [between the two lanes] or something must be installed.”

Cyclist Patrick Vanpeorgh agreed and said more protection is needed all the way up the route. He suggested the barrier separating the car lanes should be extended up the mountain, to prevent cars from making U-turns.

Wiseman said he is appalled by the amount of car traffic on the mountain, calling it a “tourist trap.”

“It’s too easy and too fast for cars to cross the mountain. It’s basically a highway on the mountain with bikes,” he said.

“It’s a big safety concern,” Wiseman added. “It must be addressed soon. It’s an easy and cheap fix in my mind.”

In a post on Twitter, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he would create a group to study the area and determine whether Camillien-Houde Way should continue to be accessible to cars crossing Mount Royal. According to Coderre, the group would consist of organizations such as Vélo Québec, Amis de la montagne, Table concertation du Mont-Royal and the Conseil du patrimoine de Montréal.

“A death is one too many. An accident is one too many, and we have to take care of that,” Coderre said.

A photo of the young, promising cyclist was hung alongside medals and race numbers on the traffic light at the bottom of the hill where the memorial ride started. Underneath, bouquets of flowers were piled on top of one another, surrounding the pole.

Photo by Kenneth Gibson

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Sports

Empowering women through sports

Concordia Stingers skills coach, Caroline Ouellette, is inspiring young hockey players

Through hockey, Les Canadiennes de Montréal forward Caroline Ouellette hopes to empower young women by teaching them the lessons she has learned throughout her time playing the game.

Ouellette has been an integral part of the Canadian women’s national hockey team since 1999. The four-time Olympian has never lost in a final, winning gold in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. According to CBC Olympics, she is third all-time in games played for the national team.

As someone with deep ties to the hockey community, Ouellette said “it’s a responsibility for Olympians to give back.”

When Ouellette is not playing for Les Canadiennes de Montréal, she coaches the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team as a skills and development coach. She is also the owner of the Caroline Ouellette High Performance hockey camps, located in Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

Her love for the game is what led her to start coaching and mentoring young women. She said she finds motivation through teaching girls to become confident and assertive—characteristics she feels will help them later in life.

“[When they] face the world, they will have the confidence to become anything they desire,” Ouellette said. “When I see young girls playing, it makes me so happy, because I’ve experienced the best moments through my sport.”

Ouellette said the lessons hockey has taught her prepared her for everything she has faced in life.

At age nine, Ouellette joined a boy’s hockey league because, at the time, it was not considered a sport for girls. “You played with the boys or you didn’t play at all,” she said.

After years of perseverance and competing against boys, she joined the women’s national team at 17.

Wanda Bedard, president of the 60 Million Girls Foundation—an organization Ouellette spoke at—said she found Ouellette’s story of gender discrimination to be an inspiring story of determination and strength.

Ouellette is currently working to close the gender gap in the sport she is so passionate about. Young boys are encouraged to play hockey, while young girls don’t get that same encouragement. According to Ouellette, one problem that arises with few all-girl teams is that teams have to travel farther in order to find opponents.

Ouellette loves to see young girls play hockey.

“If we offer more programs to try hockey, girls will know if they like it, and, if they do, then [the parents are] going to be convinced,” Ouellette said.

One of the ways Ouellette encourages young girls to try hockey is during events like the third annual Girls Hockey Celebration tournament, which is taking place between Dec. 15 and 18. The tournament is expected to host 50 to 60 all-girls teams. One of the workshops offered at the tournament allows girls to borrow full sets of of equipment for free and participate in a practice led by Ouellette and various female Olympians.

Ouellette said in collaboration with Hockey Canada and Hockey Quebec, more programs should be offered where girls can borrow equipment to test the sport out.

While Ouellette hopes to encourage more young girls to play hockey, she has another dream: a professional league where female athletes are paid to play.

A professional league “would give young girls a clear path of what they can aspire to, just like how young boys who play dream of the Stanley Cup,” Ouellette said.

While young boys can pursue their dreams of playing in the NHL, it isn’t the same case for girls. Although women’s hockey becomes prominent during the Olympic games, little attention is paid to it during the four-year gap in between, she said.

According to Ouellette, in order for women to get paid to play, there must be sponsors and media coverage to bring attention to the league and a partnership with the NHL.

Her contributions to women’s hockey have not gone unnoticed. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award. According to Hockey Canada, this award is given to an active player “whose values, leadership and personal traits are representative of all female athletes.”

When asked about what she would do if given the opportunity to play with the national team at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, she said that she would play.

“It is the greatest honour and privilege to wear that jersey and play in front of the best hockey fans in the world,” said Ouellette.

Categories
Student Life

There’s nothing quite like having a best buddy

The Best Buddies chapter at Concordia brings awareness to various disabilities

Best Buddies is a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There are currently Best Buddies chapters in every Canadian province and in over 50 additional countries. Concordia has its own Best Buddies chapter.

Graphic by Thom Bell.

Students who join Best Buddies go through an interviewing process with their chapter president, where they are matched with a buddy. Buddies are adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities. They are matched based on common interests.

Once matched, buddy pairs are expected to be in contact through phone or email once a week and meet in person twice a month. This year Concordia’s Best Buddies members have gone bowling, gone to the museum and watched a Concordia Stingers men’s hockey game.

Kristyn Wright, one of the founders of the Best Buddies chapter at Concordia, said that the purpose behind establishing the chapter was to “provide the same types of friendship experience we all enjoy to a group of people who may not have this same opportunity.”

Ashton Golding, current president of Concordia’s Best Buddies, said seeing her buddy and the smile on her face whenever they spend time together is the most rewarding feeling. She strongly encourages everyone to get involved because there is no feeling quite like being a friend.

“It’s not a responsibility, it’s about having fun and getting to know your buddy,” said Poppy Baktis, logistical and financial coordinator for the Centre of Arts in Human Development.

There is no emphasis on the distinction between students and the participants of the program as everyone is referred to as a buddy or friend. Golding said it’s great to see so many friendships being built.

“Many of the things people with developmental disabilities struggle with are the same kinds of needs or wants that every student has had some experience with,” Wright added.

Although Best Buddies Canada has come a long way since their establishment in 1993, they are still striving to achieve their long-term goal to make every school and community across Canada more inclusive and accepting of people with intellectual disabilities.

“They are people just like us and we are all equal. We all have emotions, likes, dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses,” said Golding. “Their disability does not mean that they are different from anyone else.”

For more information or to join Best Buddies, visit bestbuddies.ca.

Categories
Sports

Field hockey: hop off the ice and onto the turf

A personal take on an overlooked sport in the world of mainstream athletics

Think of ice hockey, played on synthetic turf and with much less equipment.

For as long as I can remember, field hockey was my spring sport. I recall that the main reason I joined was to wear a skirt. A traditional field hockey uniform includes a jersey, skirt, shin guards, cleats, high socks and a mouth guard. I never enjoyed the feeling of moulding firm plastic against my teeth; I still squirm at the thought of it.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

The game is simple, two teams composed of 11 players including the goalie play a game of possession, elimination and tackling for two 35-minute halves. The team that ends up with the most goals when the final whistle blows is the winner. If the game results in a tie it leads to overtime and strokes if needed. Strokes are an adapted form of a shootout.

Field hockey players use sticks made out of wood or fiberglass with a j-shaped hook at the bottom. One surface of the stick is rounded and the other is flat.

When you are first learning, it is a slow sport. The rules are tedious and the pace can be described as stop-and-go. You are not allowed any foot-to-ball contact, no swinging the stick too high in the air and no more than two people touching the ball at once. Also, the ball is extremely hard and can cause bruises, so it’s important to be aware of that as you begin to learn the game.

I am a very clumsy person and would kick the ball without even knowing it. This would cause the opposing team to gain possession. In an effort to remain calm, my coach politely recommended I become our team’s goalie.  

I know I said I joined field hockey to wear the skirt but after a few games in net I was hooked. I wore so much padding I looked like the Michelin Man. My gear included a goalie mask, leg guards, kickers, chest guard, padded shorts, hand protectors, neck guard, arm guards and of course a stick. Goalies are the only players on the field that are allowed to legally kick the ball. My coach could now take a sigh of relief.

Over a span of eight years, I played almost every position on the field.

As I look back now, the aspect I enjoyed the most was playing with my team. We motivated each other, and we developed together. In high school our team started as the worst team in the league; it was upsetting because I knew we had promise. Over the course of five years we never gave up, and worked harder each year to develop our skills. Our drive and determination is what led us to the city finals in our final year. We did not win but I could not be more proud of my team.

If you are considering playing field hockey, keep in mind it’s a long process. You have to give yourself time to learn and adjust to the sport. If I quit when I was on the worst team in the league I would have never been able to look back on our accomplishments and be as proud as I am today.

If you are interested in playing, the main club is the Montreal Ambassadors, which has a team for men, women, boys and girls. The sport is played outdoors, and is great for the summer.

Categories
Student Life

What are you celebrating this holiday season?

There are so many awesome holidays in December, don’t limit yourself to just one

There are many other holidays celebrated in the month of December that don’t receive as much attention as Christmas. Christmas has become such a large commercialised holiday in North America, with celebrations starting as early as the end of November. Other holidays, whether religious or not, are overshadowed by it, so here are a few alternative celebrations for you to explore this festive season!

Happy holidays to all, no matter what you celebrate. Photo by Cristina Sanza.

Kwanzaa
From Dec. 26 to Jan. 1

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration honouring African heritage in African-American culture.  Kwanzaa was established as a means to help African-Americans reconnect with their cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and the study of African traditions and the seven principles of African Heritage, according to the official Kwanzaa website. The seven principles include: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their house with art, colourful cloths and fruits that represent African culture.

On Dec. 26 there will be a Kwanzaa celebration at U N I A located at 2741 Notre-Dame St. West  from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Hanukkah
From Dec. 6 to Dec. 14

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BC, as stated on jewfaq.org. According to the Talmud, The Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day’s lighting. Hanukkah festivities include lighting one candle on the menorah each night, playing dreidel, eight days of gift giving and eating traditional foods such as latkes.

On Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. there will be a Community Hanukkah Celebration at the Westmount City Hall located at 4333 Sherbrooke St. West. There will be games, music, Hanukkah gelts, refreshments, raffles and more.

 

Pancha Ganapati
From Dec. 21 to Dec. 25

Pancha Ganapati is a modern five-day Hindu festival in honour of Lord Ganesha, Patron of the Arts and Guardian of Culture. It was created as a Hindu alternative to December holidays, according to Hinduism Today. During the five days, the entire family focuses on a special spiritual discipline which centers on a new beginning and mending all past mistakes. Shrines are created in living rooms and decorated in the spirit of this occasion. A statue of Lord Ganesha is placed in the center surrounded by pine boughs or banana leaves, flashing lights, and tinsel. He is dressed each morning in different colours that represent his five powers. Treats are shared, chants and songs are sung in his praise and gifts are given to the children.

 

St. Lucia’s Day
Dec. 13

St. Lucia’s Day, also known as St. Lucy’s Day, is an ancient Swedish festival in honour of Saint Lucia. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, she was one of the earliest Christian martyrs after being killed during the Diocletianic Persecution, a persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire in 304 AD. She was killed because her Christian practices differed from the traditional Roman practices. In Scandinavian countries, each town elects its own Saint Lucia to lead a procession of young girls dressed in white, wearing lighted wreaths on their heads, and boys dressed in white pyjama-like costumes singing traditional songs. The festival is meant to bring hope and light during the darkest time of the year. Traditional foods such as saffron bread and ginger biscuits are prepared by the eldest daughters in households and are served to family and guests.

Attend traditional Swedish St. Lucia’s day celebrations at the Norwegian Church in Lachine at 5065 Sherbrooke St. West on Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. Registration is required.

 

Festivus
Dec. 23

Out of a fight for a doll, a new holiday was born, “a Festivus for the rest of us.”  It was created in 1996 by Seinfeld screenwriter Dan O’Keefe to combat commercialization around Christmas, according to FestivusWeb.com. Two Seinfeld characters, George Costanza and his father, Mr. Costanza, make up the holiday during an episode of the show. Instead of a tree, an aluminum pole is set up in the house and at Festivus dinner you tell your family all the ways they have disappointed you in the past year.

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