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Concordia University Press hosts the best of the best in Book, Jacket, and Journal design show

The Concordia University Press wins three spots in the AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what the AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show is all about. 

With three books winning a spot in this year’s show, Concordia was eager to host the final stop in this year’s show. All 83 of the best designed book and journal jackets and covers from university presses around the world were on display at Concordia’s 4th Space on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Alongside all selected winners on display, the Concordia University Press was also excited to host a panel with award-winning designers, Sébastien Aubin and David Leblanc, designers in cover design and typography respectively.

“It was terrific that we could host the show at the same time that we had three mentions in the same year,” said Ryan Van Huijstee, the acquisitions editor at the Concordia University Press. Van Huijstee has dreamt of hosting the show for more than a decade now. Having worked in scholarly publishing for 17 years, he really wanted to show off the great work that the industry does. As a traveling show, the AUPresses design show makes stops at various member institutions all around the world, this year Concordia was lucky enough to host.

As a relatively new press, launched in 2016, it meant a lot to Van Huijstee that the Concordia University Press had three mentions in this year’s best book jackets and covers out of 83 of the almost 14,600 published works annually. 

With the new press “still trying to find [their] place within the larger industry,” Van Huijstee explained what they will focus on going forward: playing to the strengths of the institution it resides in, with a strong commitment to visual arts and social sciences.“I think that was very clear from the beginning when it was founded by Jeffery Little and our colleague Meredith Carruthers. They were very keen to ensure that the press had a distinct visual style” said Van Huijstee. 

One book from the press that ties in both elements of the press’ ethos is Canada’s Place Names & How to Change Them by Lauren Beck. Beck’s book won the best cover design award with Sébastian Aubin and his studio, OTAMI-ᐅᑕᒥ’s, interpretation of two 17th century maps that are referenced in the book. 

Original map of Wendake drawn by Jesuits in 1631, which inspired Aubin’s interpretation for Beck’s book cover. Archive from Library of Congress

In this interpretation Aubin and his team flipped the map of Wendake drawn by Jesuits in 1631, Description du pais des Hurons, originally detailed by Jean de Brébeuf and altered the colors with the purple representing wampum beads. Its simplicity and electric use of color were noted by the jurors. 

Along with the Concordia University Press’s commitment to visual arts, they also were founded on the commitment to being open access. Most other corporate or university presses are built around making as much profit as possible. However, Concordia University Press is “making an important contribution to our own history where it wouldn’t be necessarily served by a larger publisher,” according to Van Huijstee. As Concordia’s press is the second university press founded on open access following Athabasca University in Alberta, they are setting an example for others to follow.

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Concordia Student Union News

A night of glitz and glamour

Concordia’s inaugural drag night brings sparkles, queens and excitement to Reggie’s Bar.

Colourful lighting, cheers of anticipation, and not a single empty seat created the atmosphere of the first-ever Drag Night at Concordia. 

On Friday, Jan. 26, queens and queers took over Concordia’s on-campus bar, Reggie’s, for Queer Concordia’s first event of 2024. The night was a collaboration between the LGBTQ+ student group and the Concordia Student Union (CSU). 

Tickets could be purchased online for $20-25, depending on the tier. All tickets included a free food or drink item.

The show featured five queens who demonstrated the diversity and excitement of drag performance. The numbers were packed with costume changes, stunts and crowd interaction. Each queen brought something different to the stage, and they all received outstanding praise from the audience. 

Concordia alum, Kiara, both hosted and performed at the show. Kiara was featured on the first season of Canada’s Drag Race in 2020. Now, she has returned to campus as a performer rather than a fine arts student.

“I’m finally coming back to Concordia for the good reasons,” read Kiara’s text message to Christian Taboada, Internal Affairs Coordinator for the CSU. Taboada assisted Queer Concordia’s event coordinator, Joyce Osagie, with organizing the event and booking the queens. 

Kiara hosts the event and chats with the crowd. Photo by Hannah Bell / The Concordian

Alongside Kiara were artists Lulu Shade and Giselle Crown. Lulu—a staple of Montreal’s Village, previously known as the Gay Village—combined humour, beauty, and outrageousness in her performance. Reigning from Sherbrooke, Giselle Crown brought looks and stunts galore to the stage.

The show also featured more alternative performances (if you consider a Crazy Frog lip-sync in a spandex frog suit alternative). Queef Latina is a non-binary Chilean performer who moved to Montreal a few years ago and brought their unique drag style with them. 

Lastly, there was Miss Dupré Latour—trans queen, CEO of DupréLatour Cosmetics and podcast host. She graced the stage with a presence and smile that could illuminate the entire room, no spotlights required. 

After the show, the CSU’s Taboada spoke with the performers, who told him they had “a blast performing because the people were very engaging and respectful.” 

Around 150 tickets were sold, according to Queer Concordia’s marketing coordinator Alicia Kla. She also gave a shout out to Reggie’s staff for being extremely kind and helpful throughout the night.

“We try to diversify our events so that every type of student or person can come,” Kla explained. She highlighted that many attendees at Queer Concordia events are international students who might not have a queer community like this in their home country.  

Queer Concordia is a student group that provides resources and hosts events for Concordia’s student body. Taboada explained that Queer Concordia is funded through student fees. They receive two cents per credit per student per semester. He pointed out that the group’s levy fees are not tied to inflation, so as costs continue to rise, it could become difficult for Queer Concordia to keep up financially.

Taboada said he wanted to collaborate with Queer Concordia and lend a hand because “they are an important community that is very often under-represented.”

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News

Finding Urban Nature exhibit showcases unique green spaces in Montreal

The exhibition co-hosted by Concordia, McGill, and urbaNature celebrates the biodiversity and community spaces found in areas around the city.

On Tuesday, Jan. 16, groups and individuals came together to celebrate the urban nature spaces in Montreal. The one-day exhibition focused on four urban nature spaces and dived into their histories, uses, and biodiversity. 

The event was coordinated by Ashley Spanier-Levasseur, a Concordia student in the Loyola College of Sustainability and Diversity, in conjunction with McGill and urbaNature Education. 

This exhibition drew attention to the uniqueness of spaces like Champ des Possibles, which is an abandoned-rail-house-turned-communal-green-space in Rosemont. Other spaces acknowledged in the exhibition included Falaise St-Jacques (a stretch of forested cliff located south of NDG), Parc-Nature MHM (a large site made up of wetlands, meadows, and woodlands in Hochelaga), and Technoparc Montreal (a high-tech industrial park near the Montreal-Trudeau airport).

“They are not parks. They are not these manicured, perfectly maintained spaces where you can have baseball diamonds—they are nature,” said Morgan.

Concordia political science professor Amy Poteete had conducted research studying the use of these spaces and their environmental and ecological impacts. Maps charting the community use of green spaces, graphs comparing the daily temperatures inside and outside of them, and infographics about the uses and histories of the spaces were displayed.

The artistic contributions to the exhibit were made from various communities and independent artists. The contributions included; wish flags from a summer camp in NDG, photography from community members, and videographic ‘portraits’ of the urban nature spaces from photographer KWP Morgan.

Interactive elements like audio recordings of birdsong and bat calls were set up around the exhibition for attendees to listen to with headphones, and 360 degree video portraits of the four spaces were projected on a screen in the centre of the room. Video navigation was controlled by a mouse on a podium in the middle of the room, and those involved with the creation of the exhibit encouraged attendees to use the mouse to “look around” the spaces. 

One hope of the exhibit was to bring awareness regarding these spaces to those who may not know they exist. 

“Surprisingly not everyone knows that these places exist,” said Morgan. “To a degree [our hope for this] was that we want people to know these spaces exist, and also we want people to know that these spaces are important.”

Another hope was to bring together a mix of organizations and individuals who worked in similar contexts around urban nature. 

“We wanted to not leave out the community partners who have been working, protecting these spaces and advocating for the continued community uses of these spaces for many years before Concordia got involved,” said Spanier-Levasseur about the importance of collaboration with and between the different organizations and individuals who contributed to the exhibit.

Poteete added, “We know that the community groups are also producing knowledge. They know their sites better than anybody else does and they have a lot of knowledge about the history of their spaces.”

The exhibition ran from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., with a Q&A panel held at 4:00 p.m. A turnout of over 100 people was reported, as a steady stream of attendees had been exploring the exhibit.

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News Photo Essay

Picketers lead ‘shame convoy’ with Legault mannequin

Photos from Thursday: ‘Shame Convoy’

Photos from Wednesday: Classroom picketing

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News

The Hive takes action following Provigo scandal

The Hive’s most recent steps to reduce the gap between affordable food and accessibility on campus.

On Jan. 13, Provigo announced they’ll no longer be offering 50 percent off for soon-to-expire foods, but rather 30 percent, causing public outrage across the country. Then, on Friday Jan. 19, the big food chain reversed their decision. 

Following these two confusing and controversial weeks at Provigo, The Hive is offering all students access to food without any financial barriers through their bi-annual grocery program, which is an expansion of the Hive’s Free Lunch and Breakfast program.

Alanna Silver, the Hive’s Free Lunch program coordinator, is frustrated that big food chains aren’t taking concrete action to better manage their food prices. 

“[Big grocers] are making this huge amount of profit while everyone else is really struggling and it shouldn’t be like that in a country that’s as developed as we are,” Silver said.

Sliver started the Hive’s bi-annual grocery program in December 2021 for students who cannot afford groceries at other food chains. The grocery program uses donations from food banks, their community fridge and ‘Enough,’ a waste sorting education company that also tries to reduce food waste. These donations provide canned goods, gluten-free options, fresh produce, halal, kosher and vegan options. This year, Silver expanded the grocery program by providing menstrual products, toothbrushes and toothpaste. 

Any student who picks up groceries from the program does not have to pay for what they buy, which is something Silver advocated for when she started the program.

“[Students] should never have to choose between paying tuition, paying for your textbooks, and paying for your meals—that should never have to be a choice,” Silver said. 

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, heard rumors about the announcement in December. He contacted Loblaws two weeks ago to confirm the rumor and later published the news on social media. Loblaws’ reason to reduce their discount was to match their competitors. “It was really the earmark of a really major PR crisis for Loblaws. Because you dealt with food affordability, food waste,” Charlebois said. 

According to the 2023 Canada Food Price report, the food prices forecast predicted that costs would rise by five to seven per cent. Charlebois confirmed that the housing crisis plays a big role in affordability. He believes that the big grocer wanted to limit how they were using their discounts. 

“People are forced to spend more to make sure they keep a roof over their heads, so they have less money to spend at the grocery store,” Charlebois said. “My guess is that Loblaws saw a lot of their demand shift towards these discounted products and they wanted to stop that. They wanted to protect margins as much as possible.”

Sylvain hopes that other large food markets such as Metro, IGA and Sobeys will see Loblaw’s discount charge as an opportunity to revisit their own discount numbers for their consumers. 

Matteo Di Giovanni, a second-year film production student, not only noticed the change in prices, but also the quantity of food in the packaging. As someone who’s celiac, Di Giovanni deals with expensive prices already with gluten-free products—now he’s facing the reduction of the quantity he’s getting.

“I’m not surprised,” Di Giovanni said. “It just sucks that I’m paying the same price for less food and I’m already paying a lot for gluten-free, so it’s a bit disappointing.”

Even though his parents do most of the groceries, he still worries about food affordability in the future. 

“When I start being more financially independent, it’s going to have a bigger toll on my spending and it’s kind of sucky, everything on top of just regular inflation,” Di Giovanni said.

Di Giovanni recently changed his diet over the break; he started going to the grocery store with his parents to pick out which products will be accessible and better for his diet. As worried as he is about his future with groceries, he’s already asking himself the right questions while he’s at the store. 

While big grocery stores are causing anxiety amongst students and other consumers, The Hive is one of the many organizations at Concordia that are providing relief in the university community.

The Hive believes in providing nutritional, healthy, and diverse meals for everyone to perform better in their studies and not worry about their next grocery bill. “Feeding people is our love language,” Silver said. 

Silver plans to continue the bi-annual grocery program for many years to come and encourage food education towards students.

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Concordia’s climate-smart approach to education

How experts at Concordia evaluate the university’s response to the climate crisis and its sufficiency.

At a time when the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly evident, educational institutions such as Concordia University are at the forefront of integrating climate action into their academic and operational frameworks. The need to adapt and respond to these environmental challenges is reshaping the landscape of education, prompting a reevaluation of traditional practices, and spurring innovative approaches to sustainability.

At Concordia, this shift is evident in the efforts to incorporate climate change understanding and adaptation into the curriculum. Dr. Alexandra Lesnikowski, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment, leads this charge. “My expertise is around the notion of climate change adaptation. Essentially, I study how governments and other types of actors are responding to the unavoidable impacts of a changing climate,” she explained. Her work underscores the importance of equipping students with the knowledge and tools to navigate a world increasingly shaped by climate-induced changes.

Lesnikowski, who also leads a team of researchers at the Concordia Climate Change Adaptation Lab, emphasized the evolving nature of educational responses to climate change. “We [researchers] essentially look at how we deal with things like extreme heats, floods and wildfires, and some of the changing environmental risks that we’re seeing evolve around us now,” she said. This approach is not just about understanding the phenomena, but about developing practical solutions at the community and policy levels, such as creating resilient infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events, formulating policies for sustainable urban planning, and implementing community-based environmental education programs.

However, Dr. Mitchell McLarnon, a faculty member of Concordia’s education department, offers a contrasting viewpoint. He expresses concern about the university’s “hyperactive optimism” approach to climate action. McLarnon stresses the importance of recognizing the environmental cost of modern practices, such as the digitalization of data. “How many people are deleting their emails? Things aren’t in the cloud—they live in a data farm that requires a lot of cooling,” he pointed out. 

In response to such concerns, Lesnikowski acknowledged the ongoing discussions within the university about the environmental impact of academic practices. “Yes, I think we’re seeing increasingly that universities and research disciplines more broadly are having this conversation about what the environmental implications are of our sort of business-as-usual practices concerning travel, certainly, but also material resource intensity for things like research programs,” she stated.

As Concordia navigates these challenging waters, the perspectives of experts like Lesnikowski and McLarnon are crucial. While Lesnikowski focuses on educating and empowering students to be agents of change in a climate-impacted world, McLarnon calls for immediate, tangible actions. 

Their insights reflect a broader dialogue in the educational sector about the role and responsibility of institutions in combating climate change. The steps taken by Concordia today will not only determine its sustainability, but also shape the environmental code of conduct of its students, the future guardians of our planet.

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Groundhog’s day tradition lives on in Fred Jr.

Will Fred Jr. predict an early spring?

Last year, in the small town of Val d’Espoir near Gaspé, brought the unfortunate tragedy of the loss of Fred la Marmotte on Groundhog’s Day. With this year’s celebration on the horizon, two organizers of the event, Roberto Blondin and Renée Laurendeau, look forward to continuing the tradition with Fred’s successor, Fred Jr. 

Both Blondin and Laurendeau have been the organizers behind the event for the last 15 years. In an interview with The Concordian, Blondin explained how he broke the news to the public last year about the passing of Fred la Marmotte. “I came to a point and asked to myself, ‘What do I tell everyone?’ AlI the journalists were approaching me  before doing the official predication and were asking how Fred was doing. I had to lie to them and say Fred was doing great,” Blondin recounted.

During the period of October to February, Blondin explained that he did not see Fred at all. He made sure that he had enough food and water during hibernation, as well as monitoring the temperature of Fred’s enclosure. “Groundhogs, in general, prepare hibernation in the autumn. It’s almost like the concept of photosynthesis—the leaves on trees start to yellow because of the colder temperatures of the season,” Blondin explained. “The groundhog thinks the same; as soon as it sees that the days become shorter, it’ll start its hibernation process.”  

It is not possible to say exactly when Fred passed, but he lived a truly long life. According to Blondin, Fred passed away at the age of nine—most groundhogs live at most three to four years! “You know the old saying, ‘Long live the king?’ So when the groundhog dies, the symbol is always there,” Blondin explained. “It’s just like Santa Claus,” Laurendeau chimed in with a smile.

Keeping the tradition of Groundhog’s Day alive is very important to Blondin and Laurendeau. Both agreed that the quaint town of Val D’Espoir is the perfect location for the occasion—a place where early in the morning, one could see the sun rise over the chain of mountains and feel the breeze coming from the ocean. “I find myself going into my corner depanneur and feeling surprised that people still talk about Fred’s prediction. The saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a kid,’ well, in our case it takes a village to raise a groundhog,” Blondin said.

In terms of planning the event every year, Laurendeau gets into the Groundhog’s Day spirit even before the holidays come around. “I start thinking about Groundhog’s Day generally right around the month of November. I’ll start by verifying my list of journalists that I need to contact for the event.”

Blondin expressed that he loves being Fred’s handler. Participating in the tradition each year, he sees it being passed down through generations—and how the kids that attended the event when it first began continue to show interest as teenagers. The sense of community brings pride to Blondin, who initially started the event as a way to raise money for the school board in Val D’Espoir.  

“It’s really a special thing, if you think about it, because we show a groundhog that we claim can predict the weather, and he has a 50 percent chance of being wrong. I truly believe that we are better than Phil in the US, Sam in Nova Scotia, and Willie in Ontario, in terms of getting the prediction right,” Blondin said.

Groundhog’s Day is not only a day all about Fred, but also a way to promote Gaspé. Everyone can tune in on Feb. 2 through the livestream, or better yet, in person. 

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Debt mountain: Concordia’s mounting money troubles

An in-depth analysis of Concordia University’s financial situation

Concordia University has a big issue brewing. This isn’t about exams or assignments, but about money—lots of it. The university’s financial statement for 2022-2023, along with their budget planning for 2023-2024, shows that it is deep in debt, which could cause serious challenges going forward.

Here is the deal: Concordia owes a ton of money, with payments due from now until 2059. This debt comes from government loans and a financial instrument called Senior Unsecured Debentures, which are big loans taken by the company or organization without offering any of their assets. 

Think of Senior Unsecured Debentures as an I-owe-you or a big promise to pay back money. The “unsecured” part means that if Concordia cannot pay, they have not promised to give anything specific in return, such as a building or equipment. This means Concordia is juggling a lot of financial promises for a long time.

To address concerns about the university’s ability to manage this debt, Concordia’s CFO, Denis Cossette, explains that debt is normal for educational institutions. For comparison, Concordia has a debt of $274 million against annual revenues of about $613 million. McGill University, with total liabilities of $4.211 billion, reports annual revenues of approximately $1.661 billion. 

This demonstrates a substantial financial structure to manage their liabilities. The University of Toronto, in contrast, has $895 million in debt against a much higher annual revenue of $4.3 billion. These numbers highlight that while debt is common in universities, the amount of debt relative to their income varies.

Adding to this, the university ended the 2022-2023 fiscal year with a $38.8 M deficit and has a net long-term debt of $274 M. They are also managing a hefty $162 M in lines of credit carrying past operating losses, emphasizing the gravity of their financial situation.

While Concordia offers a lively hub for its students, it also promises to take care of its staff, even after they retire, by providing plans for pensions and retirement benefits. However, these promises are like a big jar that Concordia must keep filling with money, which can be tough when there are many other expenses.

Balancing debt and keeping the university running smoothly is a tricky act, but Concordia has a plan for managing and paying for its big-ticket items such as buildings and tech equipment. For this situation, they have set up something called “sinking funds.” This is a fancy way of saying that the university is attempting to put money aside regularly to make sure they can manage these major expenses.

For the 2023-2024 fiscal year, Concordia is facing an uphill battle with projected total revenues of $613 M against expenses of $653.7 M. This means they are expecting yet again to spend more than they earn, furthering their financial strains.

Another significant concern is the potential drop in student numbers in light of the changes to tuition costs, as international and out-of-province student fees are increasing significantly. This could reduce the university’s revenue, adding to their financial woes. 

Cossette mentioned the creation of the Canada Scholar Awards Out-of-Province Awards, aiming to maintain accessibility for out-of-province students in response to these tuition hikes.

Due to these various issues, the university faces various kinds of financial risks. There’s credit risk, the danger that someone Concordia lent money to might not pay it back; market risk, when changes in interest rates or currency values can disturb Concordia’s finances; and liquidity risk, the risk that Concordia might not have enough cash when it needs it.

Investments and endowments are another significant aspect of Concordia’s money management. Endowments are large monetary gifts given to the university by individuals, but often have rules about how they should be used. Managing this money wisely is crucial for maintaining Concordia’s overall financial health. 

Concordia also makes money through other services such as retail stores, student residences and parking. But even with those extra sources of income, the big debt problem is not going away anytime soon.

To tackle these issues, Concordia has implemented measures such as freezing the salaries of top executives, continuing a hiring freeze for non-academic staff, and using reserve funds to reduce the current-year deficit. They also plan to strategically reduce expenses, such as payments to the pension deficit and managing non-critical activities, to create structural financial capacity. 

This could involve a more judicious approach to discretionary spending, optimizing administrative processes to reduce overheads, and postponing non-essential infrastructure upgrades or expansions. 

The university also relies heavily on grants and contributions, especially from the government. This can be compared to an allowance or financial support from family in that changes in support can really disturb the university.

Additionally, Cossette states, “We don’t anticipate issuing new long-term debt in the near future.” This approach is a part of Concordia’s strategy to minimize further financial strain and manage its existing obligations more effectively.

Concordia also has some ongoing legal issues and other commitments that come at financial cost.

What does all this mean for Concordia? It means that the university is at a crossroads where it needs to make some smart decisions about its money. The way it handles its debts and plans for the future will affect everyone at the university—students, faculty, and staff.

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“Queers against the CAQ” protest held in Old Port

Several queer organizations in Montreal came together to protest against anti-trans actions by the current Quebec government.

At 4 p.m. on Jan. 15, about 50 people gathered in front of Montreal’s Palais de justice in the Old Port. Co-organized by Mubaadarat, Com (CUMSLUTS) UQÀM, Première Ligne, P!nk Bloc and Queer McGill, this protest comes as a response to recent decisions made by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ). 

On Dec. 5, Quebec’s Minister of Families, Suzanne Roy, announced the creation of a “comité des sages” or “committee of wise people” to guide the province in legislation concerning trans people. Though one of the three goals of this committee was to “ease social tensions,” many trans and queer people have expressed concern about the implementation of the committee.



“[Their] job is essentially to debate ‘the trans question’ in a way that really is debating whether or not we are allowed to exist and how they presume how to let us integrate into society,” said protest coordinator Ki’ra, who preferred not to share their last name. “Conservative governments are generally not very queer-friendly, but this [government] particularly has taken several steps to alienate queer people in an attempt to garner more support.”

Much of these criticisms come from the absence of trans people or allies within the committee.

Celeste Trianon, one of the protest’s co-organizers, chimed in: “It’s a committee that’s going to make so many decisions about the future of queer and trans rights in Quebec, yet does not contain any trans people, concerned people such as parents of trans people, nor experts.”


Speeches began shortly after the crowd gathered, with various organizers speaking in English and French about the CAQ’s policies, why they were harmful, and what they hoped would be done moving forward. “This committee is François Legault’s response to [the anti-trans protest on] Sept. 20,” Ki’ra said. “If [the committee members] cared about trans people, they would resign from the committee and call for its dissolution.”

The implementation of the committee was not the only criticism made about the CAQ at the protest. “F*** the CAQ, everyone has a good reason to hate the CAQ,” said Ki’ra. “It’s been months that we’ve seen rotating strikes going on in the public sector. They don’t have any solutions for that, they don’t have any solutions for housing, they’ve recently put through a law that would allow landlords to refuse lease transfers without any reason.”

After the speeches concluded around 4:45 p.m, the group of protesters, now closer to 100, began marching north towards the Palais des congrès and Place D’Armes metro station. They continued chants such as “Tout le monde déteste François Legault” [Everyone hates François Legault], “When trans rights are under attack what do we do? Stand up fight back,” and “Contre Legault et la CAQ, queers bash back” [“against Legault and the CAQ, queers bash back”].

“I want to be part of the protest, to be part of the change,” said protestor Coralie Chouqette. “What’s happening everywhere in the world is unacceptable, but we have to start somewhere.”

Protesters then arrived at the Palais des congrès, marching through the doors near the Place D’Armes metro station. Chanting “on avance, on avance, on recule pas” [“we move forward, we move forward, we don’t move back”], protesters marched through the convention center.

Though mall security tried to stop the protestors and redirect them through the first exit toward the parking lot, the protesters persisted. Refusing to divert from their planned course, there was a brief stand-off between some mall security officers and those at the front of the protest. The protesters continued down the center, chanting “hey hey, ho ho, François Legault has got to go.” The protesters then left the complex, marching down René-Lévesque Blvd. Chanting continued, with “dans la rue avec nous” [on the road with us]. 

After marching down René-Lévesque Blvd, police positioned their bikes in a diagonal line in an attempt to redirect protesters toward the other half of the road. The protesters persisted, chanting “get a real job” as they pushed through their attempted diversion, forcing police to further reroute traffic.

Throughout their march, organizers and coordinators offered informational flyers about why the queer community was marching against the CAQ to those they passed.

The group continued marching towards Place Victoria, arriving at the square around 5:30 p.m.. Shortly after, final remarks were made and the group of protestors disbanded.

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News

Concordia’s greenhouse announces temporary closure

The greenhouse organized a photography event for students to capture the final moments of the space.

The Concordia Greenhouse announced on Jan. 9 that the beloved space will be closed temporarily from February 2024 until early next year. The decision to temporarily close the space  was made to allow the removal of “decommissioned equipment and asbestos from mechanical rooms in the Henry F. Hall (H) building,” according to their website

While the downtown location is being renovated, alternative places for the greenhouse will be installed temporarily in the Terrebonne (TA/TB) building and the People’s Potato community garden at Loyola. The team is also hoping for temporary offices to be installed in the downtown campus, although no location has been secured yet.

The university approached the greenhouse team at the end of November to announce that the greenhouse would need to temporarily close, giving them only three months to clear the space before renovations begin. 

To celebrate and honour the space before it closes, the greenhouse held a “Capture the Moment: Concordia Greenhouse Farewell Photography” event where students were invited to show off their photography and video skills and document the space’s beauty.

Dominique Smith, the greenhouse engagement coordinator who has worked with the space for a year, decided to hold this event to showcase the diversity of the space’s use and keep its memory alive while it’s being renovated.

“[The event] shows how versatile the space is,” said Smith. “You want to promote this to the university so they can treat it more as an academic space rather than just the extra space,” said Smith.

After the administration met with the greenhouse, Smith gave them a tour of the greenhouse in an attempt to present the importance of the space. While he does not fault the university for closing down the greenhouse, it was important for him that the university understand both its significance and the proper measures needed to protect it.

“I felt like it was very important to have them up here to experience what students experience, so they know what they’re temporarily closing down or how to properly find us a new home,” said Smith.

Yoditte Woder, a first-year art education student, heard about the greenhouse closure from a friend in the geography department. They said that they felt a strong connection to the greenhouse immediately, even if they had only discovered it recently.

“‘I come [to the greenhouse], especially during the winter, to lift my spirits, get connected with nature in any way that I can. I just find this place to be really comforting and the place where I can focus and get my work done,” said Woder. “So, knowing that it’s not going to be here for the next year is kind of upsetting.” 

As sad as Woder felt when they heard the space was closing for a while, they knew it was going to be for the best since the greenhouse is set to return in better shape than before. 

The space is known to be more than just a place to grow and care for plants, it’s a wellness space where students can reconnect with themselves, study in peace, and relieve their stress.

“I think that there is that option to socialize and interact with others around you, but it also feels like you’re very much immersed in your own [world],” said Woder. “I also just love the sounds of the water running and just feeling the life around the space.”

The greenhouse plans to do a liquidation sale on their plants to give as many as they can to good homes before relocating the rest to their new temporary locations. The team is currently in contact with specialized moving services to help relocate their larger plants. No official date has been set yet.

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Support for Palestine maintained in new year

Vigil and weekly pro-Palestine protests held in Montreal.

At 6 p.m. on Jan. 11, around 100 people attended a vigil for Palestinian journalists in the Old Port. Organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, the vigil was a break from the protests the organization has focused on in the past few months.

A volunteer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that the event was “an opportunity for the community to come together and mourn after the deaths of several journalists since October in Gaza.” 

“The majority of our events since October have been protests. This is really intended for us as a community, to give ourselves a chance to honor people in between continuing to march and continuing to fight,” they said. 

They also mentioned the importance of maintaining support for Palestine in the new year.

“As time goes on, people might feel hopeless, people might feel like what we’re doing is not working. Our political leaders are banking on us getting tired and are banking on us eventually just giving up, and three months in we have proven to them that this is not the case,” they said.


Similar sentiments were echoed by attendees. Sarah Graham, a Montrealer and vigil attendee, said that it was important to show solidarity and support. “We’re all implicated in this. Our government officials are actively or passively supporting Israel, and I think we all have a collective responsibility. I don’t want to tell my grandkids that I didn’t do anything.”

Organizers set up a projection of video footage that included a list of 112 journalists killed, photos of the journalists accompanied by their quotes, and graphics calling for the liberation of Palestine.

At 6:30 p.m., a loudspeaker was set up and one of the vigil’s organizers welcomed the first of many speakers to address the crowd. A Mohawk activist drew parallels between Indigenous struggles in Canada and the genocide in Palestine before calling on attendees to join her for a moment of silence for the journalists killed.

After the moment of silence, the names of journalists killed echoed through the crowd. Speakers from Independent Jewish Voices, Students for Palestinian Human Rights, the Journalism Department of the University of Montreal, the Montreal chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement, and the McGill Daily spoke to the importance of journalism and the bravery and sacrifice of Palestinian journalists.

Sarah Shamy, an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, expressed, “It is really important to recognize that the aggression is getting worse and spilling over into the region. Tonight, we had news that Yemen has been targeted by the US with airstrikes for standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Shamy said.

Another attendee expressed, “What we are fighting for right now is not just a ceasefire. A ceasefire is just the absolute bare minimum that we can accomplish.”

This vigil comes in between the weekly pro-Palestine protests that have continued since October 2023. At their latest protest on the afternoon of Jan. 4, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Israeli consulate before marching downtown.

The Palestinian Youth Movement’s next protest is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Jan. 14 at 730 rue Cathcart. It will mark 100 days since the “Zionist-American aggression and genocidal campaign,” according to the group’s Instagram page. 

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Echoes of silence: teachings from the pandemic

Students who began their university years online due to COVID-19 revisit the early days of virtual learning.

The rhythmic tapping of keyboards and murmurs of conversation usually fill Concordia’s CJ building newsroom, a place where stories are chased and the news never sleeps. But on a Friday afternoon, just one week before the semester’s start, the room was an island of solitude on an equally empty campus. The only exception was Elisabeth Ndeffo, a fourth-year journalism student, who sat alone, immersed in the quiet that was once a rarity here.

This stillness was a stark contrast to the typical atmosphere, but it was a familiar one for Ndeffo. It mirrored the quiet that had descended upon the space during the pandemic semesters when the vibrant exchange of ideas was replaced by the silence of remote learning. The newsroom became a reflection of the isolation that students like Ndeffo experienced during the height of COVID-19.

Concordia beckoned, but the virus’ shadow loomed. “I knew that it was going to follow me in university,” she recounted, her voice carrying the weight of a premonition come true. The shift to university life in fall 2020 was supposed to be a fresh chapter. Instead, it posed the question: how long is this going to last? 

“It honestly sucked,” Ndeffo admitted. The rites of passage for first-year students—frosh, activities, the social rites of university life—were absent when she started university. “We couldn’t do frosh, activities, or anything that you’d normally do.”

“I didn’t want to do something reduced,” she said. Yet the circumstances demanded compromise and innovation. “We had to craft it out,” she explained. “You had to interview your family. I remember I did an assignment on how to hard-boil an egg. It was a Martha Stewart recipe.”

AJ Cordeiro, media instructor at Concordia, reflected on what came with the shift to online classes. “It got way lonelier,” he said, explaining his expanded role during the pandemic. Troubleshooting shifted to platforms like Zoom.

The delay in accessing professional equipment was also a frustration for Ndeffo, who was keen on gaining practical skills. “I only got to use a lot of the video equipment in third year, a bit in second year,” she said. “I knew about cameras, but there was a lot of hands-on training that we missed out on.”

When in-person classes cautiously resumed, a different kind of connection emerged. “It was exciting. I had met some of my peers, even though we were online. We would see each other on video,” Ndeffo recalled, finding solace in the digital faces of her classmates. Even with the return to campus, the mask mandates created a new barrier, contrasting the openness of virtual interactions with the masked, in-person ones.

Amidst the pandemic’s challenges, Cordeiro observed a significant shift at Concordia’s journalism school, leading to unexpected benefits. “It was an opportunity to reevaluate and explore new solutions,” he said, highlighting the adoption of cross-platform solutions and the use of more accessible technology such as smartphones. This transition, according to Cordeiro, fostered a more adaptable and flexible approach to education.

Despite a rocky start and the uneven playing field that the pandemic exacerbated, Ndeffo is forging ahead with a prestigious internship at CBC News. Her journey, like many others, reflects the resilience and adaptability fostered in the face of unprecedented times.

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