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Opinions

An ode to all Sagittarius babies out there

I won’t forget about you this crazy holiday season

My birthday is 10 days before Christmas, and like all of my fellow Sagittarians, I get to celebrate my birthday at the most inconvenient time of the year.

Even though I might’ve been a Christmas miracle to my parents, the birthdays that have followed since 1996 would never get as much hype as the Christian holiday.

It sucks that the festivities tend to overshadow our special day. As everyone around us also has a reason to celebrate, my turning of age seems like “just another party” for them.

Sagittarians might be prone to selfishness, but it’s because we’re misunderstood. We never get to be selfish on our birthday because sometimes we don’t even get to celebrate it.

At every point in my life, there will always be some inconvenience around my birthday. When I was a kid, all of my friends were out of school, either on vacation or just spending time with their families. When I got to higher education, it’s exam season. And when I finally reach my adult life, office christmas parties are in the way.

And don’t even get me started on the weather. As a Sagittarius baby, especially in Montreal, you have to pray that a snow storm won’t ruin your plans because it’s not like you can reschedule anyway.

The planning of my birthday is now a month-long process that needs to start around Halloween, in order to make sure I get the proper reservations. And with most businesses being at their busiest around this time of year, if I want to order a cake, decorations, or a special birthday outfit, this also needs to be done right after Halloween to make sure I get everything on time.

With that kind of preparation process, it’s easy to understand why I’m always the one in charge of organizing my own birthday parties and ordering my own cake.

With everyone’s busy schedule around this time, I know I’ll never get a surprise birthday party. But it’s okay, I’ve come to terms with it.

December babies just want you to understand that we want to be a bit selfish for that one day. We just want you to show up and not mention the C-word. After all, it’s not like we can forget about what time of year it is anyway; the music and decorations will always be there to remind us. Not to mention every other table in the restaurant is usually celebrating the holiday too.

After 25 birthdays, I’ve tried it all — from celebrating at home (but the damn decorated tree is constantly just there) to celebrating my half-birthday in June, but then it just doesn’t feel right.

I might not have the ultimate solution for the sagittarius to have their time to shine, but I know we need the other signs to understand the need to make it a little bit more about us on our birthday.

Categories
Community

Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train stopped in Montreal on Nov. 27

Montrealers welcomed the holiday season with the CP Holiday Train.

After a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train made its stop in Montreal-West. Hundreds of people were in attendance waiting for its arrival.

The train started its tour on Nov. 23 in Maine. The Holiday Train will bring holiday cheer to six Canadian provinces and eight states around the United States.

Did you know that the purpose of the Holiday Train is to raise awareness about food insecurity across Canada and the United States? The train also raises the importance of being involved in your local community.

On Sunday, when the Holiday Train was scheduled to arrive in the city, it was a dark and rainy night. However, no one in attendance seemed to care as people were happy to wait to get dazzled by the lights of the Holiday Train.

The train was scheduled to arrive at 6:45 p.m. but ended up making an appearance shortly after 7 in Montreal-West. As soon as the train arrived, a Christmas concert played out of one of the train cars.

The rain didn’t stop the crowd from taking pictures in front of the train, from a safe distance of course.

Each train car was adorned with a different decorative festive design, which included traditional decorations of snowmen and Santa Claus. However, what was truly interesting was that one of the train cars had a hockey theme. As the lights flickered, the message “She shoots, she scores!” appeared. 

After the free Christmas concert ended, the train made its way to its second stop in Beaconsfield.

According to CP’s website, this year will mark CP’s 24th year of collecting food for different food banks all across Canada and the United States. CP began its initiative back in 1999 and since then has raised more than $21 million and donated more than five million pounds of food. 

Onlookers were welcome to bring non-perishable food to donate while the train was stopped in the area. Various Quebec organizations were involved with the event, one of them being Moisson Montreal. They have been involved with the event for the past 20 years.

The train will also make stops in Calgary on Dec. 11, and a final show in Port Coquitlam, B.C., on Dec. 18.

If you happen to attend one of the CP Holiday Train events, please remember to bring along a food donation. In this holiday season, we need to help one another and come together as a community.

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE CP HOLIDAY TRAIN. BY DALIA NARDOLILLO/THE CONCORDIAN

Categories
Arts

Drop By And Drop Dollars at the CSU’s and FASA’s Holiday Market

Concordia’s Student Union and Fine Arts Student Association have teamed up for the Holiday Market this Dec. 7 at the CSU lounge, on the 7th floor of the Hall building

The idea of the Holiday Market came from the success of the BIPOC market hosted at the chapel on the Loyola campus on Nov. 8, organised by the CSU’s Loyola coordinator Sabrina Morena. Many tables were set up and decorated, with snacks included, and Concordia’s radio station CJLO made an appearance with their very own DJ. 

“It was relatively simple to organise in many ways which is why we thought short notice would do something similar,” said CSU Student Life Coordinator Harley Martin. 

The goal of this market is to expose artists downtown and at a more festive time of the semester. “We thought, ‘why not do something similar, closer to vacation time at the CSU lounge’ given there are so many people there at lunch,” added the Student Life Coordinator.

At this event, you’ll find beautiful tangible products such as ceramics, paintings, drawings and jewelry that you can buy for yourself and others. “We talked to FASA, and they said ‘let’s do it,’” said Martin

The Holiday Market was created with one two-sided goal: the first is to provide publicity for Concordia students in the fine arts, and with a great place in mind to do it. The 7th floor of the Hall building is always busy. “There are always people there,” said Martin. “It’s a great place to allow people to see some of the art and artists produced at Concordia.” 

The second aspect is the market’s capability of providing exposure for the artists, letting people know that fellow students create art, even though they’re not necessarily enrolled in a fine arts program. “They could do art on their own time in other departments or fine arts, but it shows other students that people are making beautiful and interesting things at Concordia, so [it’s] kind of exposure for both parties,” said Martin.

The CSU has collaborated with FASA many times in the past in order to stimulate and inspire unfamiliar students who are interested in getting involved with the fine arts. “The idea is that we try to get students involved in things that they are interested in, and FASA is one of the various groups that contribute to the school experience,” concluded Martin. 

Make sure to bring your friends, your eye for gift-buying, and your holiday spirit to the CSU lounge on the last day of classes!

Categories
Opinions

A holiday dinner table divided

Do religion and politics have a place at the holiday dinner table?

Growing up, I was always told there are two things you never discuss with family or friends: religion and politics. I took that as, for lack of a better word, gospel, and I never engaged in those types of conversations. I was always told that these were bad conversations and that in order to keep the peace, these topics were off-limits.

Now, when I was younger that all made sense. Why wouldn’t I want to keep the peace? After all, family is the cornerstone of who we are, so why go out of my way to upset them? 

Fast forward to now, many years later, I started to think about this adage again. Has our stance toward this taboo topic changed?

Generally, from my experience, this is still one of the number one rules set up for holiday gatherings. Especially given how religiously and politically divided our society seems to be in our current reality. 

I asked myself last week, should politics and religion be off the table this year for the holidays? And for the first time in a while, I thought, no, these two topics should be welcomed at the table with family.

Last Christmas Eve the topic of the political motivation for mask mandates and vaccines came up. Typically, I would avoid the subject altogether, and I think that some of my family was trying to change the subject. I decided to take the conversation head-on. 

I firmly believe that in order to be a well-rounded person you need to engage in conversations that might make you uncomfortable. I think that sometimes our relationships with family members are treated as these precious pieces of glass that we just can’t shatter. However, I think to have a healthy family group, controversial topics must be brought up. 

Talking for the millionth time about how much the Christmas decorations cost gets boring, and there is some fun to be had with tough conversations. Also, why not know where the people closest to you stand on political issues and religious ideas? The foundation of boundaries and understanding where you stand within the family is incredibly important and religion and politics is where someone, myself included, can really find their voice. 

Now, I understand the fear behind it, because I have been scared for a long time. I know that some might feel it is not worth risking whatever arguments or tensions may arise. I can see the argument that the holidays are supposed to be a peaceful time, and a time to enjoy being with family. I can see the fear of being shunned from the family, or feeling attacked if your views differ from those around you. However, when we hide behind difficult conversations we are not doing anyone any favours. 

When I chose to not hide behind a difficult conversation, it ultimately ended in an argument. Other people around us perhaps felt uncomfortable, but it still felt really good to not shy away from such a topic. 

Now, would I recommend going about the conversation in the way I did? No. However, I still stand by the idea that politics and religion absolutely have a place at the holiday table.

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Community

Your presence is requested at The Montreal Christmas Village at the Atwater Market

 A look behind the scenes at what brings you the Christmas magic.

Nov. 24 marks the opening of the sixth edition of The Montreal Christmas Village at the Atwater Market. Open until Dec. 18, this year’s edition of the market will surely not disappoint.

The Concordian had the opportunity to speak with Carole Balas, one of the organizers who helps make the Montreal Christmas Village at Atwater Market.

Balas is the coordinator of volunteers for both the Montreal Christmas Village as well as The Great Christmas Market at Places-des-Arts. Launched on Nov. 19, The Great Christmas Market is already in full swing. 

“Along with being responsible for the volunteers at the market, I am a part of the communication team and I am also responsible for the photography and the videography team,” Balas explained.

In terms of recruiting volunteers for this year’s edition of the market, Balas was unsure if they recruited enough volunteers. She explained that every week on their social media, they have been posting advertisements to get volunteers. 

“I do meetings with them [the volunteers] and I explain to them what the non-profit is. I would say most of them are really excited to get started,” Balas said.

The Jean-Talon Christmas Market will not be getting volunteers this year because it is at a much smaller scale and won’t need as many helping hands. As The Montreal Christmas Village continues to grow, it was all hands on deck in order to get ready for the opening on Nov. 24.

“The volunteers will mainly sell food and drinks at the food chalet. They will also help with putting up some Christmas lights but we don’t make them focus on that as much. The merchants rent their own chalets at the Montreal Christmas Village and they are pretty much responsible for themselves,” Balas explained.

A worker at the food chalet at the Christmas Village in the Atwater Market. Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

This is Balas’ third year on the team. She got involved with the team back in 2019, as a volunteer. 

“When I first started off as a volunteer, I was there almost every weekend. I was one of the people that was there the most and I loved it,” Balas recalled. “I spoke to my boss and I told her that I do videos, that’s my job. Then the next year, I actually did the official video for the market.”

Looking at the other side of her responsibilities, Balas is tasked with taking photographs and videos alongside the media team.

“So this year, in terms of marketing the markets, we are much more organized than years before. In the years before, I was the only one shooting videos for promotion of the market. Now we have a whole team of photographers and videographers,” Balas said.

Balas went on to explain that this year she has put together a short list of specific themes that the photographers and videographers should abide by. 

“Some of the themes include food, decorations, volunteers, merchants, and animals. Animals are important to capture because we get the question all the time if animals are allowed at the markets,” she said.

Even with a full plate managing both the volunteers and the media team, Balas is still looking forward to all the magic the market has to offer. 

“I think the decorations are what I am looking forward to seeing the most at the market. We have two yurts, one of them is going to be filled with beautiful decorations of elves and huts. The other yurt is a bar, we had it back in 2019, but this year it’s back,” Balas explained.


With the return of Atwater Christmas fan-favorite decorations and artists, this year’s edition of the Christmas Village will be the spot to visit for the holidays.  If Balas hasn’t peaked your curiosity enough about the magic of this year’s Christmas Village event, visit the market’s website.

The food chalet at the Christmas Village in the Atwater market. Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

Categories
Community

15 things to do in December

End the year off with one (or more!) of these fun events.

Luminothérapie 

What: The thirteenth edition of an interactive installation designed to get you moving and enjoying the fresh air through its use of lights and sound.  

When: Dec. 1 – March 5

Where: Quartier des Spectacles 

Montreal Brazilian Film Festival 

What: A film festival showcasing some of the best work from Brazil. The event features movies of all genres. 

When: Dec 2 – 8 

Where: Cinema du Parc

Noël dans le parc 

What: A festival that features up-and-coming artists from all art forms. They also offer a chance to buy cultivated Christmas trees and wreaths.

When: Dec. 3 – 31

Where: Various places around downtown Montreal 

Place Émilie-Gamelin 1500 Rue Berri, Montreal, Quebec

Parc des Compagnons-de-Saint-Laurent, 1W5, 4365-4375 R. Cartier, Montreal, Quebec

Parc Lahaie, Montreal,Quebec H2T 1R7

The world’s smallest comedy night 

What: Head on down to Hurley’s Irish Pub for an open mic stand-up comedy show, featuring new and established comedians. 

When: Dec. 5 

Where: 1225 Crescent St, Montreal, H3G 2B1

Indigenous Holiday Market 

What: A chance to pick up some early Holiday presents and support Indigenous communities. 

When: Dec. 6

Where: Hall building, Concordia  

Riverside Bar 

What: Riverside bar gets turned into an igloo for the holiday season, with themed drinks and a chilly vibe. 

When: Wednesday – Sunday, starting Dec. 8

Where: 5020 rue St-Ambroise, Montréal, QC H4C 2G1 

COVEN Drag Show 

What: A bilingual show hosted by some of Montreal’s prominent drag figures.

When: Dec. 16 

Where: The Diving Bell Social Club / Club Social Le Scaphandre, 3956 St Laurent Blvd Étage 3, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1Y3

Dupatta & Voile 

What: An immersive dance show that takes a look at Bollywood and different aspects of Indian culture.

When: Dec. 17

Where: Hindu Mandir, 50 Kesmark St, Dollard-Des Ormeaux, Quebec H9B 3K4 

New Years Eve party – Aurora Halal + softcoresoft + Maara

What: With the help of DJ’s, bring your partying spirit under a 360-degree dome of visuals. 

When: Dec. 31

Where: Société des arts technologiques [SAT], 1201, Boul. Saint-Laurent Montreal, QC, Canada H2X 2S6

Montreal Christmas Markets 

What: Multiple markets situated in prime locations around the city. Activities range from food tastings to shopping to arts and crafts. There’s something for everyone! 

When: All of December 

Where: Atwater Market, Jean Talon, and Quartier des Spectacles.

Ogilvy’s window displays 

What: Oglivy’s has displayed magical winter scenes through their storefronts for over the past 70 years. Though recently coming to an end, the window displays were donated to the McCord Stewart museum where they will continue presenting the spirit of the holidays!

When: All of December 

Where: The McCord Stewart Museum, 690 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1E9

Soundbox by Hennessy 

What: A pop-up cocktail bar that explores the connection between Hennessy and hip hop. A small group can enjoy the themed room while listening to a record of some classic hip-hop. 

When: Running until March 31

Where: W Montreal, 901 Rue du Square-Victoria, Montréal, QC H2Z 1R1

Visit Mount Royal 

What: Get some fresh air and partake in one of Mount Royal’s many outdoor activities, from skating on beaver lake to cross-country skiing and sledding

When: Any day

Where: Mont Royal Park 

Museum of Jewish Montreal virtual exhibit

What: The Museum of Jewish Montreal offers lots of exhibits you can see from your own home. 

When: Any day 

Where: On their website ( see title) 

Drink and draw 

What: Pack up your art supplies and head over for a live drawing session

When: Every Wednesday 

Where: Bar le Cocktail, 1669 St Catherine St E, Montreal, Quebec H2L 2J5

Categories
Arts

DDO Holiday Market Returns

 The Dollard-des-Ormeaux Holiday Market returns to bring holiday cheer after a two-year hiatus


Nov. 12-13 marked the return of DDO’s annual Fine Arts & Craft Holiday Market. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, local businesses and artisans returned to the DDO Civic Centre’s new Community Centre Building to sell their goods and ring in some holiday spirit. 

The event had live music, countless vendor stalls and the “Craft Café” to take a break from shopping and enjoy some freshly baked goods. The place was packed with families looking to get a head start on holiday shopping and support their community. 

There was a wide range of vendors, selling anything from knitwear to handcrafted jewelry to pottery. There was surely something for everyone, including a Lego building station for kids. No matter your age, there was something to pique your interest and tempt your wallet.

Going from vendor to vendor, there was no lack of smiling faces, as everyone was thrilled to welcome back the annual community event. Here’s to many more years of the DDO Holiday Market!

Holiday gift ideas for a conscious shopper

The Holiday season hasn’t been about religion in a while – it’s about gifts now.

I love the holiday season as much as the next Starbucks-peppermint-mocha-loving gal — but I will admit that I feel a tinge of guilt when heading out to my local Simons, or checking out a loved one’s Amazon wishlist.

The trendiness of anti-capitalism is growing. Coupled with the swelling pressure to purchase, I’m led to find a more responsible way to give gifts to my favourite people.

Buying presents for loved ones is a pleasure that compares to inhaling your first batch of gingerbread cookies. The warmth experienced when you see that special someone genuinely smile can be achieved without selling your soul to the season’s Lucifer, Jeff Bezos.

So, here are some of my recommendations for conscious holiday presents.

The Facebook Marketplace route 

This is my personal favourite — browsing through Facebook Marketplace is the best pastime, and the most rewarding! You can set your filters, get precise with your search words, and find the most random stuff. Since most of your Marketplace finds will be in your area, you can also turn this shopping experience into an adventure, discovering new parts of your city while picking up your hidden gems.

I find that the “miscellaneous” category has some of the best finds — vintage memorabilia, posters, outdated technology or even fun coffee table books are a surprising delight.

This season, I snagged a 1980s Porsche phone for my dad — who always dreamed of owning his own supercar one day. The small red phone will be a perfect addition to his collection of strange knick-knacks.

This may seem random, but lamps are also great to look for on Marketplace. Ambient lighting can upgrade a space with the simple flick of a switch. However, a nice vintage lamp, or any ambient lighting is not something people often spend their own money on. I’ve always enjoyed giving lamps out as presents. I recently found a green glass lamp that would’ve fit great in my sister’s office, but I wasn’t quick enough to snag it.

You will have to make split-second decisions on Marketplace. Especially in the holiday season, items can disappear as quickly as you’ve pressed the “Is this still available?” message. When I get in contact with a seller and I’m sure of my decision, I try to put a deposit down to secure the item — something small like $5 to $10 depending on the final cost of my purchase.

If you see something has been listed for a while, feel free to try and offer a lower price: you may get lucky! Just make sure to secure the transaction before getting your hopes up. Time after time, people willing to pay the listed price will sneak in and get the goods at the last minute.

The handmade route

A personalized, homemade gift is a hit or miss. The key with this technique is to play to your strengths: don’t draw someone a portrait if you have the drawing skills of a 4-year-old (unless your friend has a good sense of humour).

All I want to illustrate is that you should utilize your talents. If you can knit, make some coasters or hats for your friends and family. If you can paint, maybe a nice painting of a meaningful object or landscape. If you’re a writer, maybe a funny letter mailed to them with a note to open on Dec. 25th, or even something more heartfelt for that special someone. 

Knitting or crocheting doesn’t have to be intimidating — there are simple patterns you can learn if you are a beginner. Go ahead, use winter as an excuse to pick up another grandma hobby.

I recommend thrifting your yarn since it costs a fraction of the price. There’s something so fun about thrifting materials — that feeling of saving something from a landfill and creating it into a meaningful gift for a loved one. I’ve even found most of my knitting needles in thrift stores.

If you’re an artist, maybe try looking for fun objects to use from the aisle of random bags located on the back walls of most thrift stores. I’m sure you can find some paintbrushes, crayons, pastels, or interesting fabrics.

While you’re at it, you can always pick something up from the houseware section at the thrift — a fun book, a CD or cassette (for decoration or nostalgic purposes), a funky throw, some vintage pyrex, candle holders, novelty mugs… get creative.

Now that you have the tools, go on, get! Go find the most creative and heart-warming gifts of the season. Remember: It’s not about the price tag, it’s about the thought behind the gift.

 

Feature graphic by James Fay

Categories
News

Ritz-Carlton’s viral holiday social media post was not what they said it was

The luxury hotel chain backtracked on it’s promise that every share would equal one gift for a sick child

 

Update:

Ritz-Carlton Montreal spokesperson Katia Piccolino said that the intention behind the campaign was never to deceive the public. Rather, the purpose was to raise awareness and get people to donate to the Tree of Lights campaign for Sainte-Justine, which many people did, she said.

It all came down to the wording of the post itself, she said. “If we would have put a cap on the number of toys we were going to donate, then this problem wouldn’t have occurred.” Piccolino apologizes for and admits to this error.

Finally, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal decided to extend their donation to the Montreal Children’s Hospital as well as Sainte-Justine. Children from both Hospitals are expected to receive toys in time for the holidays.

 

Ritz-Carlton Montréal’s viral Instagram post was suddenly taken down on Monday morning, Dec. 7, after having been up for less than a day.

The video post featured essential workers in a hospital during the late hours of night, as well as sick children who were unable to be in proximity of their families due to the global pandemic. An inspirational piano tune played the background of the video as the closing caption read “far from our eyes, close to our hearts.”

The heart-warming video was paired with a caption that stated the Ritz-Carlton would be collaborating with Decarie Motors et Vo-Dignard Provost Groupe to deliver toys to the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.

The post stated that every Instagram story share would result in one toy donated to a sick child in need.

Due to a high number of shares, the post blew up overnight. Within nine hours, it reached 150,000 views, according to MTL Blog. Representative for the Ritz-Carlton Montréal, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Concordian, “it created a buzz that was so unexpected we had to take it down.”

The representative further explained that the post had reached its goal of 500 shares, a number that would guarantee a toy for every child at Sainte-Justine. The original post made no mention of this 500 share limit.

People who shared the video were not happy about the secrecy that went in taking the post down. The video was put back up after the backlash. Angry social-media users took to the Ritz-Carlton’s latest Instagram post to express their disdain for the alleged questionable campaign.

Accusations that the luxury hotel used sick children as a publicity stunt to better their image were many people’s concerns. One Instagram user said, “got more shares than y’all thought and didn’t want to start having this be a non-profitable venture.” Some threatened to boycott the hotel all together if they didn’t release a statement saying that they would donate all the toys.

A statement was released to the hotel’s Instagram, claiming that the objective was to raise awareness for the children of Sainte Justine hospital. The statement issued an amended goal of donating toys according to the hospital’s needs rather than for every share to Instagram as originally promised.

The controversial video still received  2.1 million views. Over the time of this two-day campaign, the Ritz-Carlton’s Instagram account saw an increase of nearly two-thousand followers, yet the hospital’s Instagram account following remained constant.

The Ritz-Carlton Montréal representative is disappointed that people would assume that the hotel company would not honor their word. But when asked why there wasn’t more transparency behind the campaign and the deleting of their post, he refused to comment.

The representative says the Ritz-Carlton is an annual supporter of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation. The luxury hotel chain has previously thrown Breakfast with Santa Claus events and have done similar campaigns in the past. They promise to deliver 500 toys on December 20th.

The CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation did not reply to multiple requests for comment.

 

Screenshot of Instagram post.

Put your money where your heart is

The case against The Salvation Army — and who should replace it

I think I speak for everyone when I say this year has been rough. On top of the COVID-19 crisis, the political vicissitudes we’ve witnessed have raised awareness about supporting nonprofits and charities who share our principles.

Notwithstanding the many holidays in the upcoming weeks, the end of the year as a whole has been associated with giving back. So if you are able to contribute to a charity, I have one request to make: don’t donate to The Salvation Army, and don’t shop at their stores.

Over the years, The Salvation Army has been at the centre of every possible kind of accusation. Their conservative mission has caused many to call them out on their abusive and discriminatory practices.

Most notoriously, they have vocally been against gay and trans issues. They have refused or forfeited housing to homeless LGBTQ people and maintained their religious stance against same-sex relationships and have a history of refusing to comply with anti-discrimination policies. They even held campaigns encouraging gay people to seek out conversion therapy.

The list of this organization’s wrongdoings goes on and on. Their workfare programs in the United Kingdom, a form of welfare in which people have to work in order to continue receiving benefits, have been heavily criticized for forcing people with disabilities — or anyone, really — to work in order not to lose their means of survival.

A homeless woman who stayed at a Salvation Army shelter has described the insalubrious conditions she lived in and the horrific behaviour of employees, calling out an environment that fosters abuse of power from the part of the organization’s workers.

All this under the pretext of the benevolence of Christianity.

This being said, if you would like to contribute to important causes, here are some other charities, both local and international, that you should consider helping out:


Resilience Montreal and Native Women’s Shelter

This charity is a good alternative to The Salvation Army if you want to fund a homeless shelter. They provide mental support, food, and medical resources to the community, and if you’re unable to give money, they sometimes collect donations of clothing and food. Native Women’s shelter is a branch of Resilience that specifically gives support to vulnerable Indigenous women.


Chez Doris

This is another women’s shelter with a similar mission to Resilience. They also offer legal services and advice to those who may not have access to a lawyer.


Afrique au féminin

This centre provides support and encourages the emancipation of immigrant and racialized women in Montreal. They hold classes, workshops, communal activities, and even daycare services to help women integrate into their community and regain their independence.


Mona Relief Yemen

The Yemeni crisis has left millions in urgent need of shelter, food, and even clean water. Mona Relief works directly with communities to respond to their needs, and ensures the least amount of resources are wasted on administration and intermediaries. They’ll also periodically send email updates and pictures from their projects, so you can really follow who your money helps.


3 Angels Nepal 

Through preventive measures, 3 Angels works to fight human trafficking in Nepal, where mostly women and children are smuggled across the border to India. Their projects ensure the safety of victims, and provide resources like microcredit and education to help victims reintegrate into society independently.


These are my personal picks, but I hope they help you look for organizations that speak more to your personal values, and encourage you to support important causes.

 

 Graphic by @the.beta.lab

Categories
Opinions

All I want for Christmas is sanity

I fall head first into the consumerism trap of the holiday season every year.

My heart jumps at the first sight of twinkly lights, snowflake decorations and Christmas specials. Poking my head around a decorated Indigo, I pretend I can afford a $67 light up travel mug while browsing Gwyneth Paltrow’s new collection on how to solve all of life’s problems through drinking a green smoothie. My heart quickens. The snow hits my face and I truly feel like I’m in wonderland. As I finish exams and head to Ottawa to see my lovely family, there’s one thing I always forget — I hate the holidays.

They are stressful and that’s coming from a Jew. Afterall, Hanukkah was just branded to compete with the hype of Christmas, but that could be a whole other article — let’s try to stay on track here. For me, the holidays consist of socializing every night, draining me of my emotional and physical energy. I am squeezing people into my schedule and unintentionally leaving people out — without a moment to relax. Why doesn’t Micheal Bublé or Mariah Carey remind me about this feeling?

Personally, as somewhat of an adult living in a different city from my parents, I feel like I exist as a 20-something-year-old experimenting with her independence most of the year. That being said, the moment my foot touches my parents’ carpet, I magically transform into a bratty 16-year-old in a Disney channel movie. Clearly this page of writing is not going to fix my immature behaviour or even help me with my much needed introspection, but I do hope that if you feel even an ounce similar during the holidays, then perhaps I can help you feel less alone.

Spoiler alert — Santa isn’t real and neither is Christmas magic, a concept I have clung on to for quite a while.

I’ve come to realize that the only way I can enjoy the holiday season is by accepting it’s not going to be perfect. My mental health fluctuates from good to not so good depending on the day.

I always forget that just because it’s snowy and bells are ringing, it doesn’t mean my day has to be filled with joy. My best advice (and I’m speaking mostly to myself here) is that just like any other day, try to do things that make you feel calm and make time for yourself in the holiday madness. If you need to miss an event, or even just take a walk to avoid a loud dinner guest, do what you need to do. Your time is still your time, even during the holidays.

So, finish your candy canes, stuff yourself with leftover chocolate and let’s take on the new year, where assignments are starting and no one is telling you be a good cheer. It’s January and there will be no more rhyming.

Oh, also, if you’re a member of my family reading this (mom), remember this is about me, not you. I love you all and I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season.

 

Graphic @sundaeghost

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News

“Don’t Buy That” gives used items a second life

With the average Quebecer spending approximately $458 over the holidays, as shown through a survey reported by Global News, you can count on people’s wallets being stressed.

Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR) and the Art Hive hosted a workshop titled “Don’t buy that!” on Dec. 4. Teaming up with Sustainability Ambassadors, the workshop offered alternative gift-giving ideas by creating their own holiday presents and decorations.

Arrien Weeks, a coordinator for the CUCCR, explained that wrapping, purchasing and even making gifts can create lots of waste. “we just came together to try and change that,” Weeks said.

The event, hosted downtown at the Hive, included four different stations. Each was curated to a specific need: a card-making station, ornament crafting, knitting help, and their popular beeswax wraps workshop. It also included vegan baked goods made by Devonly Bakes, a student-run catering service.

Materials used at the workshop were all reused or recycled. “I’m hoping it can make people rethink how they approach gift making, gift-giving, and just trying to reduce people’s consumption at the end of the day,” Weeks said.

The Wednesday evening crowd consisted of a mix of Concordia students, alumni and other event-goers who had never even been to the campus before. Abigail Lalonde, an avid knitter who volunteered for the event said, “The skills that we share with each other are useful. It supports a really good state of mind, which is self-sufficiency. I hope that people can come and learn something. That they can feel included. That they can share with someone.”

Kate Evoy, a student at Concordia, brought her friend Lexi Benware along to the event. The pair was eager to try different arts and crafts. When asked about the workshops’ value, Evoy said “Obviously the sustainability is a huge part of it. Mixed with a community atmosphere, I think that’s such a good way to introduce people to sustainability and the effects of consumerism and all that.”

Events like this one help build a culture around sustainability efforts,” said Benware. “It’s not just one person doing it – people are coming together and making it more normal and natural for people to do.”

The two friends believe that presenting alternatives to the materialistic holiday we all love can educate people on the negative effects of consumerism. Evoy said instead of the typical dooms-day rhetoric she’s used to, she was warmly welcomed.

“It’s more like, come to partake in this, and it’s fun, and we’re doing good things,” she said.

Ivan Chamberland, a Concordia alumna, was inspired by the ingenuity of beeswax wraps. In today’s throw-away society, Chamberland finds herself excited to learn new ways of consuming alternatives to disposable items.

 

Photo by Laurence B.D.

 

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