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Arts and Culture Community

Fantasy isn’t just for geeks

Book Review: A Curse for True Love.

A Curse for True Love by Stephanie Garber is the last book of the trilogy, Once Upon a Broken Heart, rich in magic and fairytale elements that awakens your inner child. It is part of the many fantasy novels and series that have gained immense popularity recently. 

According to a recent study, 85.6 percent of participants who read gravitate toward fantasy or science fiction, which could explain why fantasy has been gaining massive popularity. Concordia master’s student Dimana Radoeva in the Individualized Program (INDI) and English professor Stephen Yeagen share their extensive fantasy knowledge and dive deep into its structure, role and impact. 

A Curse for True Love was published on Oct. 24, 2023, and concludes the trilogy. The story revolves around Evangeline Fox who is searching for her true love in the Magnificent North. She seems to have finally found it, yet she doesn’t remember much since she woke up in Prince Apollo’s arms, her supposed husband. Evangeline is trying to find out more about her missing memories but Apollo is adamant about keeping her in the dark and to ensure it stays that way, he must kill the series’ beloved character Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. 

The final book started quite slowly since Evangeline was lost trying to remember who she was and what her life had been like before. However, as she discovers the truth and recovers her memories little by little, the pace picks up. I was expecting more plot twists and more drama, and I also believe that the ending seemed too easy. However, it fits into the fairytale concept (spoiler alert!) because it all ends perfectly well; the villain gets his bad ending and the protagonist gets her happily ever after

According to Radoeva, “[fantasy] is inherently a medium that people believe is unrelatable but the core of that is untrue,” since it focuses on human experience and emotions as well as giving life to our biggest desire. Another misconception both pointed out is escapism through fantasy—the belief that reading fantasy is ignoring what is going on in the role is untrue. 

The reality, Radoeva said, is that fantasy “has helped to be more engaged in social and political,” since it draws inspiration from real social and political issues. A Curse for True Love makes you think how dangerous love can make someone and how far some will go to get what they want. Evangeline choices are taken away from her when Apollo erases her memories because he knows she is in love with Jacks. Apollo’s actions opens the door for further discuss on its ethicality which is what Yeagen believes to be fantasy’s strength; it has the effect of making people argue and discuss it time and again.

Yeagen explained that fantasy is a broad genre, so its structure and purpose are not one-size-fits-all and vary from one fantasy novel to the next. He also said that, “fantasy is the scientific technology that is being considered as history.” In other words, it is the historical version of science fiction, it bases itself on history rather than science. Most of the time, fantasy novels draw inspiration from the Middle Ages or other periods for things such as fashion, food, hairstyle and more. 

Additionally, Yeagen said the plot structure that is the most recognized and popular is the hero going on a quest with a goal in mind, such as retreating a magical object or even some sort of power which is the structure in A Curse for True Love. Though, Evangeline is searching not for any literal object but for her memories and her true love. However, Yeagan said fantasy is very a vast genre and this is only one of the many plot structures in fantasy. 

A Curse for True Love contains a common trope: the morally grey character. Yeagen said that, “Morally grey characters are good characterization,” adding that a well-written character is not black or white but is always grey somehow. In Jacks, (spoiler alert!) one of the love interest, is the perfect example of a morally grey character. His goals are to open the Valory and find his one true love and he seems to only care for what would benefit him. However, while he might seem to be cold and selfish, he does care just not in a traditional way. 

Garber kept the traditional aspect of a fairytale with a villain and a love interest, she doesn’t stick to the one-dimensional characters but instead layers them to add depth and complexity. She also confuses readers by hiding the villain in a charming suit and radiant smile.

What I found very interesting is this story’s fantasy elements, especially in world-building. The Magnificent North is a place filled with magical food, clothes, and objects, as well as curses, ballads that come true, enchantments, happily ever afters and a moral lesson. The whole place is perfectly perfect, like a Hallmark movie with snow that never melts and pastry that never perishes. 

Yeager said : “[world-building] should always further the story that you’re telling.”

Garber also wrote another series prior to Once Upon a Broken Heart called Caraval. It is set in the same world, but before the events of Once Upon a Broken Heart. In Caraval, the Prince of Hearts serves as an important side character and we get to discover more about his curse and story. 

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Arts and Culture Community

For Whom the Bells Toll

Reminiscing on simpler times, Suzanne Ohana remembers the cold snap that sifted into her boutique with every swing of the door as waves of fiancées and bridesmaids filed in, eagerly awaiting their dream dress fitting. Today, those same doors appear welded shut, of use only to the shop’s owner, the rare journalist and the even rarer client. 

Until a few years ago, spring brought the prosperity and hopes of wedding season to Plaza St-Hubert, the city’s hub for bridal services. Such hope has turned to despair and uncertainty, as Montreal business owners who once felt blessed to be part of a thriving commercial district now feel trapped within it. They are struggling to justify the ends to their means as the wedding industry is seeing a structural transition. 

For over 30 years, Ohana has owned La Mère Des Mariées Suzanne Couture, a bridal boutique at Plaza St-Hubert. As a Moroccan immigrant, she moved to Montreal 50 years ago, owning several stores throughout her time in Canada, using her business ventures to make a name for herself in a foreign land. Now in her seventies, Ohana sold all her businesses except for La Mère Des Mariées, which she is desperately trying to rid herself of despite her attachment to the place. 

“I’m going to be honest. If my merchandise was not already paid off, I would have left a long time ago. Never would I stay here,” Ohana said. With over $2 million worth of products to sell and little to no customers, the boutique owner feels stuck, saying: “Even if I cut everything down to half-price, no one would come, and I would rather burn every dress I have than sell them cheap”. 

Ohana is one of many Plaza St-Hubert tenants who are feeling the pressures related to the shift in the wedding industry. For over 50 years, Montreal’s home for bridal services has been a staple of the city’s commercial and cultural heritage. Though it now offers a wide array of entertainment and culinary attractions, bridal boutiques, shoe stores, tailors and haberdasheries litter the kilometer-long strip that is home to over 400 businesses. 

Though the street’s prosperity strongly relies on the wedding industry, across the last 20 years, St-Hubert’s Société de Développement Commercial brought the plaza’s vacancy rate down to 3 per cent from a previous 15 per cent high according to the association’s executive director Mike Parente, establishing it as one of Montreal’s premier commercial areas. 

Regardless, medium- to high-end suppliers of wedding goods and services around the city are confused, as they have seen a dramatic drop in customer interaction and sales. 

According to Statistics Quebec, the number of couples getting married in the province is similar to, if not higher than, pre-pandemic numbers. 

Thomas Fresco, a Concordia University alumni, has been planning his wedding since February and came across many unplanned setbacks. According to him and his fiancée, most services, such as bouquets, pastries, and even make-up and hair, increase in price solely due to the nature of their celebration. 

“It’s ridiculous. Everyone’s trying to make extra money because of inflation. Like for [my fiancée’s] hair, she finally found a place that was cheap for the bride; it was $300,” Fresco said. “If I tell them it’s for my birthday, it’s $70, but as soon as they hear “wedding,” they jack up the price.”

Due to such increases in service prices, couples are looking for cheaper alternatives wherever they can, turning towards Amazon and other online outlets for discounts. Within the last decade, businesses of all industries have faced the threat of e-commerce, as customers can now purchase medium-high quality goods for less, which is especially threatening to small business owners within the St-Hubert plaza as the average Canadian wedding costs $30 thousand, and consumers are chasing convenient online discounts over local markets. 

“They [customers] only come to us to get their measurements taken. Or they only come to take pictures because they want the same dress but cheaper online. Others [owners] take them because they’re dumb, but not me,” Ohana shared. 

Customers are starting to feel the owners’ frustration seep through their service. A group of teenagers from the West Island were taken aback by how rude certain owners were to potential customers upon their visit for prom dresses. They shared that some owners immediately brushed them off or rushed them out of their shops since no parent with the means to pay for the dresses accompanied them. 

George Nader, owner of the Noces Royales bridal boutique, tries not to transfer his frustrations onto his clients as he understands their predicament. He states that in this day and age, consumers will do what they must to stay afloat and carry on. He instead criticizes the city for its lack of support, as he believes it taxes small businesses disproportionately compared to conglomerates. 

“We get tax increases; that’s how the government shows their support,” he said. “$2000 in city taxes is too much for a small business.”

Mayor Valérie Plante announced this January that, through its Petite et Moyenne Entreprise Montréal initiative, the city would invest $36.7 million in small businesses and their support networks.  

To promote business within the plaza, Mayor Plante and Mike Parente hosted a press conference on April 9 announcing that between July 4 and Aug. 25, a stretch of the plaza will be pedestrian-only to make the street more accessible. 

Though the initiative is promising for the local community, business owners such as Ohana and Nader have lost faith in the city. Business owners across the strip are adapting to the shifting market on their own by selling lower-quality products, pandering to different styles of merchandise and cutting staff. 

Back when the wind blew customers through her doors in droves, Suzanne Ohana recognized the value of Plaza St-Hubert as a cultural and economic anchor and saw a future within the community. These days, she sees no advantage to settling into the plaza, as inflated taxes cut new business owners at the knee, and the wedding industry drawbacks outweigh the benefits of a communal market, regardless of the plaza’s resilience and commercial success. 

“The city does nothing at all for us; they do absolutely nothing. They just want to touch our taxes,” Ohana said. “I do not have any employees. We used to be five saleswomen and two seamstresses working all day, but now I am all alone, and business is going very badly.”

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Arts and Culture Student Life

Concordia Arts students collaborate to produce a brand-new exhibit out of a recycled one

The students of the special topics art course ARTT 399 get a hands-on learning experience about sustainability in art.

On Feb. 14, a group of 45 students brought their class to Concordia’s 4th Space to work collaboratively and display the making of their project to the public. They are making a book using materials they’ve recycled from a previous Public Art and Sustainability student exhibit at Place des Arts Aiguilleurs in Griffintown.

Straw sculptures, financed by the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM), were erected near the Griffintown REM station in an original student exhibit produced by a cohort of students from multiple universities last summer. This transformation will culminate in a book of poetry and drawings in response to the original student exhibit, commemorating nature lost to city transformation in Griffintown.

Course Teaching Assistant Sabrina Rak said this process imbues the project with transformative power.

“This is really a metaphor, taking the actual straw from the other structure, boiling it with soda ash, and blending it to make paper pulp and making the basis of a book which is paper,” Rak explained.

Sabrina Rak and two students enjoy the messy process of their art over tarp floor lining at Concordia’s downtown campus. Photo by Julia Israel // The Concordian.

Studio Arts student Ramona Hallemans registered for this course to learn practical skills to work in the art industry once they graduate. The class works in collaborating teams on book design, communications, documentation, and grant writing. Hallemans describes this project as one with community collaboration as a central value. 

Ramona Hallemans pats down straw pulp to make book paper at Concordia’s downtown campus. Julia Israel // The Concordian.

The ARTT 399: The Artist as Multi-Hyphenate class will present the exhibit in Concordia’s Visual Arts Visuels (VAV) gallery from May 5 to 11. For updates, follow the course on Instagram at @45_passersby.

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Arts and Culture Student Life

This week’s opportunities for fine arts students

Check out these upcoming opportunities for emerging artists, including callouts, job listings, networking events and more! 

Discover

From March 7 through May 2, La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse (4296 St-Laurent Blvd.) will be hosting Ghinwa Yassine’s new exhibition, When you pour something, it carries the memory of its mold. Yassine is a Lebanese-Canadian “anti-disciplinary” artist who, according to the exhibition text, “searches for a freedom that is a right to carry oneself safely in the world, as one is, in their own truth.” Learn more about the artist and her work at her website here.

Espace Maurice (916 Ontario St.) is currently showing Hypnos, curated by gallerist and Concordia alumnus Marie Ségolène C. Brault. The show features work from Liza Jo Eilers, Caroline Douville, and Maxwell Volkman, which is on view until March 16. Read the exhibition text, by Jeanne Randolph, at this link.

Galerie B-312 (372 Ste-Catherine West St., Space 403) will be showing Danielle Cormier’s latest exhibition Ephemerides. Learn more at the gallery’s website here.

Be sure to check out Centre PHI’s current augmented reality experience entitled Colored: The Unknown Life of Claudette Colvin. From Feb. 7 through April 28, witness the under-told story of Colvin, a 15-year-old Black teenager in the southern United States in 1955. Learn more at the centre’s website here.

Concordia alumnus Valmont “Ignite” Harnois will be presented by Tangente from March 28 through 31 as part of the line-up for their event La soirée dont vous êtes les héros, which will be hosted at Édifice Wilder (1435 Bleury St.). Harnois is a Montréal-based contemporary dance artist. Visit the event’s website here to learn more and buy tickets.

Open calls

The call for the Fibres Student Association annual fibres exhibition is open! This call is open to anyone in Concordia’s Fine Arts program. The deadline to apply will be April 2. Learn more on their instagram page and apply at the link in their bio!

Café chez Téta (227 Rachel St.) is looking for local artists to submit their work to be exhibited as part of their artist-of-the-month series! If you are interested in showcasing your work at this quaint Lebanese café in the Plateau, email melodie@cafechezteta.com

Montréal-based arts magazine SUKO has opened their artist call-out for their third volume! Writers, photographers, stylists, designers, activists and artists are encouraged to submit their work that speaks to the theme of “frontiers” to sukomagazine@gmail.com. The deadline for submissions will be April 1. 

Concordi’ART is looking for artists to sell their work at their upcoming student-led conference scheduled for April 2024! For Concordia students, the entrance fee to sell your work is only $10, so be sure to DM Concordi’ART on their instagram account here for more information. 

It’s not too late to submit to the FASA x ASFA x ECA Community Arts Exhibit! Apply at this link by March 12!

Opportunities at The Concordian

As always, artists who want to see their work featured in the paper are encouraged to submit to The Concordian’s Arts & Culture section! 

Our artist spotlight series provides a space for Concordia’s fine arts students to showcase their recent artwork. Send your poetry, short story, photography, digital art, film, documentation of physical works, or performance along with a brief biography (100 words) and an artist’s statement (250 words) to artsculture@theconcordian.com for a chance to be featured in print! 

Email our Arts & Culture Editor Emma Bell for more information at artsculture@theconcordian.com.

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Arts and Culture Photo Essay Student Life

Where I am Writing From

These are the desks I wrote my graduate thesis on.

​​Caro (Caroline) DeFrias is an emerging academic, artist, and curator currently based in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal. They are currently in the final stages of their graduate thesis in art history at Concordia University. Previously, they achieved a Combined Honours with Distinction from the University of King’s College in the historiography of science and technology and anthropology, with a certificate in art history and visual culture, and an unofficial minor in contemporary philosophy.

Their work, through a variety of mediums and forms, explores the embodied politics and poetics of queerness, anticolonial art histories and practices, and notions of inheritance and identity in relation to immigration and (re)settlement. As well, they maintain a critical interest in the construction of the gallery space, the politics and history of display practices, embodied and queer phenomenologies of encounter, and the ethics and pathos of the archive. 

Where I am Writing From, July 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, August 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, September 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, October 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, November 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, December 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, January 2024. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, February 2024. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
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Arts Arts and Culture Student Life

Artist Spotlight: Noah Rubel

Noah Rubel is a Vermont-raised artist attending Concordia University.

His practice started as a high school freshman, drawing digitally and on paper. Since 2018, he has explored various mediums, especially during his undergraduate career. 

Studying in Montreal, Noah works to understand the various cultures of his peers. Surrounded by a welcoming Latin and French community, Noah now takes inspiration from his fellow international students. Alternatively, he uses this time to understand his own Japanese identity and how to reclaim his family’s lineage through creation and research.

To see more of his work, check out @granoah_art on Instagram!

“Present” the Puppet. Photo by Noah Rubel

Artist Statement

“Present” the Puppet is a giant marionette made entirely of resourced wood and screw hooks. I found the wood and hooks in scrap piles and resource centres. All the pieces were sanded and rounded using woodworking tools and then assembled with screw hooks and wood glue. This piece takes inspiration from the adventures of Carlo Collodi’s wooden puppet, Pinocchio. Throughout the book, Pinnochio finds himself lost and helpless, abandoned almost by the cruelties of reality. While many consequences are a by-product of his delinquent nature, plenty of punishments he faces are undeserved. As the world abandoned Pinocchio, Montreal abandoned this scrap wood.  I wanted to reclaim the wood in this city and give it a purpose, in this case, as a marionette. I gave the puppet the name “Present” because he is a gift. He gave the wood a purpose but also gave something to me. Plenty of objects have personal value, and my piece investigates the value in everything. Living or not, what do we choose to care about? What values do we assign to things? The value I hold in “Present” is a present in itself, since, for any object, the ability to exist is beautiful. 

“Present” the Puppet. Photo by Noah Ruel
“Present” the Puppet. Photo by Noah Ruel
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Arts Arts and Culture Community Student Life

This week’s opportunities for fine arts students

Looking to start building up your CV? Check out these upcoming opportunities for emerging artists, including callouts, job listings, networking events and more!

Discover

Sex and Self Concordia  has announced their upcoming Paint Night on Feb. 9 at Le Frigo Vert (1440 rue Mackay)! The event will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. This live model painting session will be guided by art educator Zoe Dedes. Each participant will be given one canvas, once easel, one palette and access to brushes and paint. Visit the link here for tickets.

Be sure not to miss the incredible exhibits on view at Pangée (1305, avenue des Pins O.), including Concordia alumnus Trevor Baird’s Sunkissed, Concordia Fine Arts/Studio Arts Assistant Professor Delphine Hennelly’s Behind the Scenes, and Brandon Morris’s Cathedral Junkie. Read all about these shows at Pangée’s website here.

The Centre communautaire LGBTQ de Montréal (2075 rue Plessis) will be hosting a winter art market on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. The market will feature paintings, ceramics, textiles and more for sale from local queer and trans artists. Visit the event page for more information.

Artist and curator Didier Morelli, a FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Art History at Concordia University, recently curated the show Artletics, currently on view at Artexte (2, Sainte-Catherine East, room 301) from Jan. 18 through March 30. The show brings together works from a selection of artists who “examine the world of sports through a variety of approaches: by showing bodies in action, by discussing performance and competition, by sharing skills, by creating a link to the community, by revisiting memories, by moving from the collective to the individual, or by evoking the clan, group, or family.” Read the full exhibition text here.  

From Feb. 1 through Feb. 18, multimedia artist Deline Huguet will be exhibiting her show Les corps complexes at Projet Casa (4351 Esplanade Ave). According to the gallery’s announcement of the exhibition, Huguet’s soft-sculptures, works on paper and installations reveal “the discomfort conveyed by relations of domination based on gender identities in contemporary and past space-time.”

On Feb. 16, be sure to visit the Chaos Market at the Hive Cafe from 7 to 11 p.m! There will be unique items of clothing for sale as well as prints and visuals on display. You will be able to buy some drinks at a low cost and listen to some music from underground Montréal artists. For more information, check out the Chaos Market’s Instagram.

Open Calls

Concordia’s Fine Arts Reading Room (FARR) has put out a call for submissions and jurors for their Winter 2024 publication grants. These grants are meant to fund students who would like to publish artist books, zines, exhibition catalogues, creative writing, essays and more! Any kind of book-based project is encouraged. Selected applicants will receive a stipend of $250 for materials, as well as an honorarium of $750. The submission deadline is Feb. 19. For more information, visit this link.

FARR is also accepting applications for their Winter 2024 residency, entitled “Resilient Imaginings.” Undergraduate students that identify as BIPOC and are enrolled in at least one studio arts course are welcome to submit proposals that are rooted in resistance and resilience and thoughtfully engage with the community. The chosen applicant will receive a $100 project stipend, in addition to a $1000 honorarium. The deadline to apply is Feb. 19. Details are available here.

Chouette, a Montréal-based literary magazine, is open for submissions! Send in your fiction, non-fiction, poetry and artwork by March 1. Learn more at their website here

Centre PHI launched a call for project proposals as part of their monthly Espaces Incarnés series. Both established and emerging performance artists and collectives whose work involves theatre, music, sound, dance, visual and performing arts are encouraged to submit before Feb. 15 at 11:59 p.m. Follow this link for more information.

Concordia’s Art Volt is now accepting applications for their annual collection! Graduating students who have applied to graduate in the Spring of 2024 and recent alumni—those who have graduated in the last five years—are eligible to submit their work for sale and rental. The submission deadline is Feb. 11 at 11:59 p.m. Visit this link to learn more about eligibility and submission requirements.

Students in Concordia’s MFA Studio Arts and the PhD Humanities programs are encouraged to submit their project proposals for the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery’s annual exhibition, IGNITION. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 18. Learn more about the submission requirements here.

The city of Montréal is accepting applications for their subsidy program for artists in visual arts and crafts! Professional artists who are actively creating new work in a studio space are able to access financial assistance to support their practice. The deadline to apply is March 31. Learn more about the program here.

Concordia’s FOFA Gallery has put out a call for artwork for their annual Undergraduate Student Exhibition, which is scheduled to open in early 2025. Applicants are encouraged to consider the following themes: disillusion, empathy, aspiration, taking action, resources, revolution, growth, evolution, and interconnectedness. Selected artists will receive a $200 honorarium. See the submission guidelines here.

Jobs

Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy (CGA) is now hiring! They are currently looking to fill their Administrative Coordinator position, a role responsible for the general organization and smooth running of the CGA’s operations. Applicants must be fluent in both French and English in order to be eligible, have at least one year of administrative experience and ideally have lived experiences of the issues faced by the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Canada. Visit this link for more information on eligibility criteria, job responsibilities, and the application process.

Art Volt is also hiring for two positions! Recent graduates are welcome to apply for their Web & Communication Assistant and Advisor & Sales Coordinator positions before Feb. 19.

Concordia’s Art Education Graduate Student Association (ARTEGS) is seeking workshop facilitators for their May-June 2024 edition of Les ateliers ArtEDU Workshops. Current PhD and MA students in art education are encouraged to submit their ideas for workshops that are designed to inspire established and emerging art educators. This is a paid opportunity, where selected proposals will be compensated for 50 hours at TRAC rates. For more information, visit their website here

Opportunities at The Concordian

As always, artists who want to see their work featured in the paper are encouraged to submit to The Concordian’s Arts & Culture section! Our artist spotlight series provides a space for Concordia’s fine arts students to showcase their recent artwork. Send your poetry, photography, digital art, films, or documentation of physical works or performances along with a brief biography (100 words) and an artist’s statement (250 words) to artsculture@theconcordian.com for a chance to be featured in print! 

Email our Arts & Culture Editor Emma Bell for more information at artsculture@theconcordian.com.

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Arts and Culture Community Culture

The art of teaching yourself a new language

By creating their own strategies, these learners unlocked their skills in speaking a new language naturally.

What was the last thing you learned on your own? What motivated you to do it? Not everyone learns in the same way, and not all techniques work for everyone. However, that is the magic: creating your own learning methods and understanding why you want to learn something is a great way to get to know yourself and it  can greatly enrich your life, especially when it comes to learning a new language. 

Jessica Dewling has been into Korean music and K-pop for a few years, which inspired her to learn more about Korea, its language and its history. She is planning a trip to Korea in October and feels that learning Korean in advance would not only be helpful, but more respectful to the people she meets as she explores the country. “A lot of the culture is ingrained in the language so I felt like it was important to get at least a basic understanding of it,” she said. 

To learn Korean, Dewling decided to invest in her own methods, which are more inspiring and pleasurable to her. “I’m starting with the writing system, Hangul, which is notorious for being easy to grasp pretty fast and hopefully moving towards pronunciation and vocabulary,” she explained. “Right now, I’m using Duolingo as well as a workbook that was very popular on Amazon.” Jessica stressed that learning at her own pace using a variety of free resources is essential for her progress, once she is not being taught by an instructor.

Colt Sweetland is currently learning Brazilian Portuguese. For him, learning languages is the key to unlocking doors to cultural insights that you wouldn’t have access to if you weren’t able to hold conversations and make connections with people in their native language.

“My motivation came from a combination of friendly encouragement from friends I’ve made through both work and university and the fire inside to keep fulfilling an inner lifelong challenge of becoming more familiar with various cultures around the world,” he said. 

For Colt, total immersion has always been the best learning method. “What’s helpful for me is setting all personal and leisure electronic devices into the language you want to learn to begin being exposed to it right away,” he said. “It can be intimidating at first, but you may find that you’ll become acquainted with it sooner.”

Colt started by learning the conversational basics in Brazilian Portuguese, such as all forms of greetings, numbers and proper nouns. To progress further, he invested in learning the five most common Brazilian Portuguese verbs in the present tense and then hand-writing all the conjugations ten times each. “Repetition is a key component of memorization, and for me, writing by hand helps ensure new words sink in more permanently,” he said.

To practice listening, Colt will switch the audio on films he is watching to the language he wants to learn, but will keep the subtitles in English. Eventually, once he is familiar enough, he will change the subtitles to the new language as well. “I also personally prefer to seek out local content online such as Brazilian news and TV series if possible, along with finding some children’s books or comics that can make it more fun! I believe there’s so much that can be learned through one’s own means during spare time and for free if the willpower is there to keep going,” Colt said. 

The pursuit of language mastery is not just about acquiring linguistic skills; it’s a profound voyage of self-discovery, cultural connection, and the fulfillment of lifelong challenges. In the realm of language learning, the magic lies in the unique methods we craft for ourselves, fostering a deeper understanding of not just the language but also the rich tapestry of our own identities.

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Arts and Culture Community

A farewell to Momesso’s: Contemplating the void left in its wake

After 46 years serving , Paolo Momesso is retiring on top and closing shop on his own terms, a privilege that few restaurant owners are privy to in today’s financial climate.

“We would like to thank you all for your support all these years. Sadly, as of today, we will officially close our doors. Thank you!” Those were the words posted to Facebook on Jan. 22 by the official Momesso’s restaurant account. Just like that, a single post tore a hole in the fabric of the city’s culinary tapestry as one of Montreal’s iconic inns heralded its closure a week ahead of schedule. 

The owner of NDG’s renowned Italian eatery, Paolo Momesso, had publicly announced the restaurant’s impending closure two weeks prior, planning to serve their last subs on the weekend of Jan. 26-27. At that announcement, hundreds of hungry and nostalgic Montrealers came in droves to take one final bite of the diner’s legacy, emptying their final stock prematurely and shutting it down a week earlier than expected. 

It was at 5562 Upper Lachine Rd back in 1978 that Momesso’s Café served the first of their now culturally renowned subs under founding father, Alessandro Momesso. Forty-six years later, Paolo Momesso, the restaurant’s owner and older brother to Montrealer and Canadiens legend Sergio Momesso, attributed his age to the closure of their iconic café. The 68-year-old Momesso took over the family business after the passing of his father in 2006, upholding the family values that characterized the restaurant as a staple of NDG and its immigrant culture. 

Speaking on Momesso’s cultural presence within the area, NDG city councilor Peter McQueen said, “It’s really too bad that the family decided they did not want to continue operating it [the restaurant]. It’s just a huge loss. The Momessos are a huge part of the St-Raymond community.” 

As a prominent cultural beacon, Momesso stated that to preserve the restaurant’s legacy and memory within the city, he shut the place down rather than sell the business and brand to an outsider. 

Though Paolo Momesso closed shop on his own accord, the closure of such a symbolic institution of city culture is always cause for concern, even more so amidst the current state of the city’s economy, which has drastically affected Montreal’s culinary diaspora for over a decade, accentuated by the effects of the pandemic. 

According to the Association Restauration du Québec’s (ARQ) latest polls, the province has seen a decrease of over 3,000 restaurant permit holders since 2019, strongly affecting the city’s cultural and economic identity.

Restaurants are community anchors. For one, they are social hubs. After all, the point of wining and dining revolves around the communal element. Restaurants also allow for cultural blending as the culinary industry fractures barriers to immigrants who value cuisine and lack social connections in the city.

Despite the province heralding 22.4 per cent of the country’s culinary real estate, 66 per cent of total restaurant bankruptcies in the country occurred in Quebec in 2022. 

Additionally, the province is tied with British Columbia for having the highest chain-to-independent restaurant rates, with independent restaurants only-narrowly maintaining half of the market. 

The director of public and government affairs at the ARQ, Dominique Tremblay, believes that owning a restaurant is more difficult than it used to be due to inflation and that business owners are now facing twice the hurdles. She spoke to the current state of the culinary industry saying: “They’re feeling the effects of the increase in service and food prices, and on the other hand, they’re feeling the consumer’s reaction to inflation, as people have less money in their pockets to spend.” 

Amidst the challenges, city mayor Valérie Plante’s Projet Montréal is investing in the culinary industry to ease the stress plaguing the city’s restaurant and small business owners. Despite the city’s efforts, however, owners are still feeling the pressures of the fractured state of the industry. 

“We’re trying to keep businesses alive and well right here in Montreal so people can shop in their local neighborhood, walk to the businesses, and walk to eat out,” McQueen explained. Through the PME initiative (Petite et Moyenne Entreprise) the city has forwarded $37 M to help support local businesses on local arteries in Montreal. 

Victor Santopietro, part-owner of St-Leonard Italian eatery and culinary hub Milano’s Café, appreciates the city’s efforts yet remains skeptical of the efficacy of such initiatives. “Listen, if you don’t help yourself, the city doesn’t do much,” Santopietro said, stifling a laugh. “Do they help us? You know, you have to help yourself, that’s the best advice I can give.” 

According to him, the major hurdles that restaurants currently face are staff turnover and increased food prices, especially when trying to buy locally. 

Santopietro emphasizes the importance of not only buying local, but also the impact that restaurants have on their subsequent communities. “It’s not an easy business,” he said. “We have to understand that no one is invincible, there’s a beginning and an end to everything”. Milano’s Café is a staple of the St-Leonard community as it s a meeting ground for not only the older generations of Italians in the city who make their daily track for an espresso and a sub, but for the younger generations of Montrealers as well, who immerse themselves in the cultural wealth of the community through food. 

Eateries like Milano’s around the city have been adapting by cutting their schedule and simplifying their menu to save on labor and food costs. However, the responsibility of financial responsibility to preserve culturally significant restaurants lies on the shoulders of the consumer as much as it does the owners. 

“Is it their obligation [to help]? No. But it is nice if you support your local businesses,” Santopietro said. “We try to buy a lot of local products so we can make the economy roll instead of buying overseas, but at a certain point you try to do what’s best for yourself.”

There are countless long-standing culinary gems offering delicious goods and spreads at every street corner. Though times might be bleak, Montrealers play a key role in preserving the city’s culinary identity. As Santopietro said, “Just pass by for a coffee sometimes. Once a month, instead of going to a big chain restaurant, help out the regular Joe.”

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Arts Arts and Culture Student Life

Artist Spotlight: India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner, Performative Tree

India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner is a Black bi-racial artist, writer, curator and cultural worker from  Montreal. She is currently completing her BFA in Art History and Studio Arts at Concordia  University.

India-Lynn has previously had her writing published in the FOFA Gallery’s Undergraduate Student Exhibition Journal (USE) 2021. Most recently, her work has been shown at Fais-moi l’art gallery in May 2023 in a co-curated exhibition called “Tenderly Reminiscing.” India-Lynn was also a  facilitator/curator for the 2022 Art Matters Festival. She was the artistic and community alliances coordinator at La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse throughout 2022, producing La Centrale’s first digital publication, “[espace variable | placeholder]”. She is now a happy librarian and admin/finance coordinator at the Fine Arts Reading Room of Concordia University.

India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner, Performative Tree. Photo by BeNjamyn Upshaw-Ruffner

I walked around downtown Montreal with a small tree (money plant) in my backpack, and wore plant netting and gardening gloves. It is a commentary on urban planning and its lack of care for trees, reinserting them into cities for aesthetics rather than for their true purpose. I’m employing a playful take on the commodification of nature, asking what it means when I become a tree and wear nature as an accessory. 

India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner
India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner, Performative Tree. Photo by BeNjamyn Upshaw-Ruffner
India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner, Performative Tree. Photo by BeNjamyn Upshaw-Ruffner
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Arts Arts and Culture Student Life

Poetry Spotlight: Jessica Wood

Jessica Wood is a second-year in creative writing student at Concordia University. A writer her whole life, she particularly enjoys writing creative non-fiction, poetry, and autofiction.

Originally from Vancouver Island, BC, she has been in Montreal for a year and a half and has loved every minute of it. This is the first publication of her writing, and she hopes it will be the first of many.

Graphic by Maya Robitaille-Lopez

In the Dead of Winter (I Can Feel Okay Again!)

maybe 

in the dead of winter I can feel okay again. 

this week is already better! I’m tentatively hopeful, and defiantly confident that 

in the dead of winter, I can feel okay again. 

sure, my heating bill is higher than my friends, who warm their hands on a shared joint, shivering together like molecules as they puff and pass. 

and even though I don’t smoke, I’m standing out there too 

in the dead of winter. I can feel okay again! 

even though 

-my laundry freezes on the walk home (the laundromat dryers eat my quarters and spit out no hot air in return) 

-there’s salt water rings around my boots (I am using all of my towels to block off drafty windows) 

-I have to shovel the stairs if I want to get groceries (I pretend I’m a penguin, imploring myself to laugh when I slip on the sidewalk) 

I am hopeful. and I am confident. 

in the dead of winter, I can feel okay again.

Jessica Wood


Categories
Arts Arts and Culture Student Life

Poetry Spotlight: Steven Gao

Born in Jinan, China, and now living in a small town on the west tip of the Montreal island, Steven draws inspiration from his roots and his observation of the world.

He writes his poetry in English, sometimes in Chinese. Gao currently studies history at Concordia University in history. He participated in Twigs & Leaves (a poetry reading event, now defunct) and continues to be a regular participant in another poetry/arts event, Kafé Poe. In his free time, Steven enjoys learning history and doing scale models, as well as photography.

Photo by Steven Gao

Yet Another Morning… Lost?

The sky is crooked, not like if it were smudged by clouds.

But I feel something’s off.

I see the reflection of the lake, reminding me of blinking fish scales.

At what scale?

– I don’t know.

But they flicker randomly.

Should you trust me with a pinch of salt?

My measuring is off, so is the sky, yet the light is on.

Confused indeed.

Is it another day of hallucination?

Or mental condensation?

I still see ripples dancing.

I hear the morning piano go off key.

I smell the burnt coffee.

I feel the floor quaking.

Not again,

Everything goes off the charts!

Or am I trembling?

Ah! I forgot to adjust my lenses…

Photo by Steven Gao
Photo by Steven Gao
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