Community Student Life

Fridays For Future at Concordia University

Concordia students are making a difference in the fight against climate change.

September 23 marked the latest protest for climate justice organized by Fridays For Future in Montreal. This month, Concordia University marched for climate justice, along with many other schools. 

Fridays For Future is a movement that was started by climate activist Greta Thunberg. Thunberg was 15 at the time when she helped initiate the movement back in August 2018. She, along with other activists, sat in front of the Swedish parliament for three straight weeks to protest the lact of action for our climate crisis.

Students at Concordia University actively took part in a strike on Friday, Sept. 23 to protest against climate change.

The Concordian was present at the climate march to document the protest and speak with students about their involvement with climate justice.


On the morning of the march, students assembled on the Reggies bar terrace behind the Hall Building at Concordia. 

Speeches were given by  students who work at the Hive about the purpose of the day’s march, demanding two things: 

  • Ban fossil fuels by 2030, in terms of production, processing, exports and imports. 
  • Impose a massive tax on the wealthy while  reinvesting into public services and social programs to ensure decent living conditions for all.

As the speeches concluded on the Reggies terrace, The Concordian met up with Concordia student Octavie Doherty-Haigh. Haigh gave her thoughts about why she was participating in the march.

“I came here to the climate march today, because I know that change needs to happen. I know that during the pandemic, there’s been so much of a shutdown and that’s why it’s important to be here in person,” Haigh explained.“I know that consuming meat is one of the biggest contributing factors to CO2 levels rising, so I’ve taken meat out of my diet. I also plant trees during the summertime.”


Students from Dawson College soon joined Concordia students to begin the climate march.

Concordia, Dawson, and McGill students marched together to the George-Étienne Cartier Monument situated on Mont-Royal. 

At the monument, all the participating schools and organizations assembled. 

The Concordian spoke to three other students about their involvement in combating climate change.

Anna Abbott explained how individual change can make a difference in the community. 

“I do believe in individual change, I take the public transport when I can. I’ve been vegan for six years now. Bigger movements like this are so important to engage the community,” Abbott explained. 

Many of the students at the climate march are actively switching to a plant-based or completely vegan diet in order to combat climate change. Others at the climate march simply just turned up, like Concordia student Gabriel Casola.

“I am not doing much to combat climate change in my own life. I am here at this event and I am more than happy to be involved,” Casola said.

At the monument, a speech was given by the President of the National Committee for the Rights of First Nations Normand Pilot. 

Pilot spoke about how as a community, we have to take care of Mother Earth and how future generations won’t have a chance if we don’t.

Everyone at the protest wanted to have their voices heard. Over 130,000 students were in attendance.


Fellow Concordia student and theatre major Julia Pye summarized protesters’ thoughts on the event succinctly:

“I think the most important fight in climate change is the vote. I think that the government holds all the power and if we don’t get young people out there to vote, it’s going to be a horrible thing. Even talking to people around here so many people don’t know about the Quebec elections. I think educating the youth on that is the most important and knowing who you are voting for can literally save the planet.”

See More Photos From The March:


The state of Quebec’s supply chains in the face of climate disasters

How they can be fortified and how Canada can mitigate climate disaster impacts

Climate disasters have clear impacts on the environment, but they also disrupt supply chains across Canada.

The flooding in B.C. in late 2021 was the “most costly severe weather event in the province’s history,” according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. As the flooding occurred prior to Christmas and much of Asian-made consumer goods entered Canada through the Port of Vancouver, Quebec’s supply chain for Christmas shopping was disrupted due to delays in delivery.

Dr. Satyaveer Chauhan, a Concordia professor who specializes in supply chain and business technology management, said that although the disruption is over, there is still a ripple effect on Quebec’s supply chains as they had to be readjusted.

During the floods, shipments had to be rerouted through the United States, as many roadways were shut down due to flooding and landslides.

Dr. Brian Slack, a Concordia professor in the Geography, Planning, and Environment department, mentioned how regional factors determine the local severity of the climate crisis.

“The port of Montreal is likely to be significantly less impacted than Vancouver by climate change and other factors,” said Dr. Slack. “We have no serious mountains between the port and the customers, [which] is the factor that amplifies environmental impacts for Vancouver.”

The lack of transportation options through B.C.’s mountainous regions can cause a logistical problem as the roads are susceptible to flooding and landslides.

Although the mountains are a factor in environmental disaster response, the environmental impacts ultimately stem from the climate crisis.

The frequency and severity of climate disasters have increased globally over the past 50 years, and in Canada, the average cost per disaster jumped by 1,250 per cent since 1970. Supply chain disruptions stemming from complications in sourcing, production, transport, and destination markets are a part of that cost increase.

It’s clear that Canada must be more prepared to mitigate the impacts of future climate disasters, and the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) agrees.

A new expert panel report from the CCA released early 2021, goes into detail about the consequences of climate disasters in Canada. Although the country is especially susceptible to climate disasters, the consequences of the disasters “are not inevitable — they are the result of choices that put people in harm’s way,” said Scott Vaughan, chair of the Expert Panel on Disaster Resilience in a Changing Climate.

While the report discusses different strategies to combat the climate crisis, it also mentions that the private sector can “improve their competitiveness by assessing and managing the disaster risks they face in a changing climate by building in supply chain redundancies.”

Dr. Chauhan noted a similar approach to improving Canadian supply chains.

He cited an example of how Home Depot has bulk distribution centres and holding facilities on the East coast of the United States in preparation for hurricane season, so that their supply chain is not disrupted by any hurricanes.

While fortifying Canada’s supply chains is important, the most critical factors to consider here are the mounting risks associated with climate disasters, which ultimately lead to potential disruptions.

Eric M. Meslin, president and CEO of the CCA, said that “Building disaster resilience hinges on a coordinated strategic approach involving government, businesses, and the public.”

The report outlined several strategies, including investment in disaster risk reduction, supplying decision makers with prompt access to data on climate disasters to better inform decisions, and climate-proofing buildings and infrastructure through improving building codes and engineering practices.

One of the most important proposed strategies included in the report is changing Canada’s “[continued] underreliance on Indigenous and Local Knowledge and the underutilization of disaster-related expertise developed by Indigenous organizations and in Indigenous communities.”

This devaluation of important information undermines Canada’s disaster resilience efforts, and increases the effects of supply chain disruptions in Quebec and across Canada.

Graphic by James Fay


Waste Not, Want Not’s fireside chat highlights the importance of a university curriculum based in sustainability

Some important voices at Concordia come together to discuss a sustainability curriculum and fight against the climate crisis

On Thursday, Jan. 13, Waste Not, Want Not, a compost and waste reduction initiative at Concordia, hosted a virtual fireside chat. The purpose of the conversation was to discuss the future implementation of sustainability education into the curriculum at Concordia. This curriculum would give all students at Concordia a greater understanding of sustainability and the climate crisis.

The panel discussion included both student leaders and university administrators: Chief Data Officer at Times Higher Education, Duncan Ross, Concordia University Provost and Vice-President Anne Whitelaw, Concordia Student Union (CSU) Sustainability Coordinator Faye Sun and Waste Not, Want Not founder Keroles Riad. The conversation detailed the implementation of sustainability education, touching  on the timeline, importance and effect that such a curriculum would have on students at Concordia.

The conversation followed a referendum question proposed by the CSU in 2021, which saw 89 per cent of students vote on implementing sustainability education into the curriculum. The question was proposed in a by-election which saw a 20 per cent student turnout, the highest in CSU history.

While the curriculum is not currently in development, Concordia has already begun doing more work in the field of sustainability in 2020 with the Sustainability Action Plan. One aspect of this plan is forming a committee, and one of the topics of discussion is on curriculum development. But for Riad, any step the university takes towards supporting the initiative is important, including the fireside in itself.

“I think it’s one of those situations where it feels as if the university makes progress just by showing up,” said Riad. “Having senior administrators get out of their comfort zone, outside of those scripted PR events and actually have a conversation that is real, and that discusses different perspectives — I think that’s really important.”

The goal of the initiative would be to have all students at Concordia learn about sustainability and the climate crisis. In the meantime, according to Riad, the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) and the Faculty of Fine Arts are currently working on their own sustainability initiatives. But, to create a university-wide curriculum, there is a lot more that needs to be done.

“Number one is a commitment, a goal that everybody agrees on. Number two is a mechanism that ensures that we are getting to that goal in the proper timeline, with built-in flexibility where all our departments and programs can design curriculum the best way for their own disciplines,” said Riad.

“The last thing I think [is needed] is university support, and resources that programs and professors can access so that the initiative is not broken.”

During the discussion Whitelaw mentioned the university is already working on creating some of these resources.

“We will be hiring a sustainability curriculum developer in our centre for teaching and learning that will be supporting faculty members to include sustainability content in their courses,” she said.

A curriculum based around sustainability isn’t a unique idea. A similar program was put in place by Université Laval in 2009, which took ten years to fully implement. This timeline roughly falls in line with the goal of implementing a similar initiative at Concordia by 2030.

With growing fears of the climate crisis and sustainability becoming a more and more popular topic, for Riad this new curriculum can’t come soon enough.

“There’s nothing that prevents the university from saying, ‘Well, look, we heard you were listening. Let’s move even faster, let’s be more ambitious,’” said Riad. “You’re not going to hear me or anybody at the university saying ‘Oh, please don’t move so fast. Don’t go too fast. You’re being too ambitious.’ Nobody’s gonna say that.”

Riad believes that conversations surrounding sustainability at the university level are an important step in a very long road to greater climate action.

“It’s like a marathon. I think today was a good step forward, but we have not reached the finish line. And I think we should not only keep running, but accelerate faster.”You can view the Fireside Chat here. Learn more about Waste Not ,Want Not here.


What is the future of sustainability science?

Concordia’s fourth annual sustainability conference evaluated the climate crisis on campus and beyond

Hosted by the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre, in collaboration with 4TH SPACE, Concordia’s fourth annual sustainability conference took place from March 15 to 19.

The five-day series, Sustainability and the Climate Crisis, which was hosted via Zoom, featured a variety of lectures, workshops and discussions centred around the progressing climate emergency. Topics included global warming, loss of biodiversity, renewable energy, and examined Concordia’s position in addressing the aforementioned issues.

Guest speakers included professors, undergraduate and graduate students from various disciplines, including the departments of Biology, Communication Studies, and Geography, Planning and Environment.

The week kicked off with a series of presentations centred around Current topics in sustainability science. Graduate students in the Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science course presented their research and the potential ways in which certain solutions can tackle sustainability issues. 

Among the presentations was Brian Armstrong’s research on the importance of small-scale subsistence fisheries. Armstrong’s research is done in partnership with the Cree Nation Government and the Hunters and Trappers Association and explores food security, funding for hunter-trappers, and Indigenous knowledge of food sustainability.

“I believe cataloguing and understanding these initiatives and relationships can put fisheries and food security back into the greater context of cultural wellbeing, environmental stewardship and belonging for long term, intergenerational sustainability,” said Armstrong, adding that, on a greater level, this would entail fostering partnerships, respecting Indigenous communities, and reevaluating the way settlers conceive their role in the world.

In the next discussion, Insects: Indicators and agents of global change?, panellists examined climate change from an entomological perspective. More specifically, Concordia Professor Emma Despland discussed how climate change has been disrupting insect ecosystems and causing mass outbreaks.

Despland explained how warming temperatures lead to an influx of insects to a specific region, in turn, causing damage to forests as a result of the insects’ eggs — or larvae — feeding on growing and underdeveloped bark. Thus, this disrupts not only the insect’s ecosystem, but forestry as well.

From a more economical perspective, Concordia Professor Damon Matthews’ lecture Implications of the remaining carbon budget for climate policies and emissions targets offered an overview and analysis of carbon budgets and how this data and information is applied in creating corporate policies and targets. The carbon budget is essentially the amount of carbon dioxide emissions permitted to prevent the Earth from warming above its threshold.

Whereas in Emission targets and a challenge to capitalism?, postdoctoral fellow Anders Bjørn and PhD candidate Daniel Horen Greenford discussed how applying science-based emission targets and considering alternatives to capitalism can potentially help the climate crisis. Science-based emission targets are goals developed by businesses and corporations in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For a more biological approach to the climate crisis, Climate Change and Natural Systems, and The future of biodiversity in a changing planet explored the ramifications of human impact on forestry, marine life, and its threat to ecosystems in general.

In one of the presentations, Clara Freeman-Cole delved into protected areas, such as national parks. Freeman-Cole described the concept of landscape fragmentation, a process by which habitats are broken up into smaller areas as a result of infrastructure, agriculture, and natural resource extraction, among others.

Sahar Alinezhad’s discussion on the importance of community gardens as a tool to promote social wellbeing, and Jacques Simon-Mayer’s research on remote mapping and monitoring of chlorophyll levels in the water were among the other panels that presented findings on the future of sustainability in Canada.

In PhD candidate Alexandre Pace’s lecture, he presented his research about recording the events of climate change via the observation of tree rings, whereas Clare O’Neill Sanger delved into her research about pollen records. The two presentations offered a glimpse at the ways in which the observational analysis of living systems can provide us with information about the climate crisis and state of the environment for the past, present, and future.

Later in the week, Concordia Professor Pedro Peres-Neto, whose research centres around community ecology and biodiversity from a statistical and theoretical approach, discussed the Earth’s declining biodiversity. He further discussed the difficulties and concerns where policies and models are concerned, and the ways in which these models aid in understanding these occurrences and phenomena.

Building on Peres-Neto’s discussion, Lilian Sales, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Biology, delved into her research, which uses statistical and mathematical models as a means of further understanding the distribution of various species on different scales. Species distribution models (SDM), mentioned throughout both Peres-Neto and Sales’ discussions, are models which use locational data of species in order to better understand and predict their locational distribution.

Of course, while considering the climate crisis on a global and national level is of great importance, it is equally as important to recognize the ways in which we can take action on a local level. Various discussions introduced viewers to initiatives for climate action on campus and in academia. 

Climate action at Concordia: A panel discussion aimed to educate students about Concordia’s Sustainability Action Plan, which was launched in 2020. The plan presented the university’s vision and plans to divest from greenhouse gases and reduce waste. The presentation centred primarily around a Q&A session wherein students could ask questions about the five-year plan and its implications.

For those interested in careers focusing on the environment and sustainability, Careers in Sustainability offered students a glimpse at the various paths that can be taken upon graduation. The talk featured Faisal Shennib, Concordia’s environmental specialist at the Office of Facilities Management, Katerina Fragos, manager of sustainability and climate change at multinational accounting firm PwC, and Anthony Garoufalis-Auger, climate emergency organizer at Rapid Decarbonization Group, a non-profit organization. The panel demonstrated the ways in which students can become actively involved in the climate crisis, even without a formal education in science.

To end the week off on a more interactive note, attendees were invited to join the Climate Emergency Committee for an engaging game of Climate Geopardy. The committee consists of students and professors from the department of Geography, Planning, and Environment who are aiming to raise awareness about the climate crisis throughout the province via a series of workshops, lectures, and events. 

The game, which takes a similar form to the popular American game-show, Jeopardy!, was meant to educate the public on the current climate emergency and its underlying science. By introducing scientific concepts and research in an engaging manner, players were able to educate themselves and test their knowledge, all while putting an entertaining spin on an important issue.

The series left viewers with a variety of topics to think about, both where personal and institutional changes and policies are concerned. The speakers and presenters offered a well-encompassed glance at a simultaneously distressing and hopeful possibility for our future. Regardless of one’s area of expertise, one thing is certain, the future of the climate emergency is in our hands: as citizens, students, scientists, consumers, and beyond.

The recorded lectures from Sustainability and the Climate Crisis are available for viewing on 4TH SPACE’s YouTube channel. To learn more about 4TH SPACE and for more information about upcoming events, follow them on Instagram and Facebook.




Ecologies pays homage to planet Earth

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ latest exhibition captures the complexities of global warming

I have rarely left a museum feeling emotional and so deeply invested in the curator’s cause. Walking out onto Sherbrooke Street after leaving Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet, I found myself breathtaken and with a heavy heart; both hopeful and troubled for the future that awaits us.

Curated by Iris Amizlev, curator of intercultural arts, Ecologies features over 90 works from the museum’s collection, all of which interpret the current environmental crisis in a different way. Featured artists include Shuvinai Ashoona, Olafur Eliasson, and Lorraine Gilbert.

Upon walking into the space, viewers can observe Giuseppe Penone’s Path (1983), an almost whimsical sculpture that appears to be at once a human and a flowering tree. Penone’s bronze cast figure serves as a demonstration and connection between humans and nature — a theme which Amizlev has made apparent at various instances throughout the exhibition.

Another example of the relationship between humans and the environment can be observed in Lorraine Gilbert’s Boreal Forest Floor, La Macaza, Quebec (2010). The print, which is only half of a diptych from the series “Once Upon a Forest,” features manipulated photographs of plants that are native to Quebec.

Gilbert manipulated the photographs, creating what is essentially a collage, in an attempt to give viewers a “man-made” view of an already beautiful landscape. By resizing, reorganizing, and essentially recreating the scenery, the work demonstrates society’s inclination towards controlling a natural process.

Further in the space, viewers can admire Osuitok Ipeelee’s Untitled (Walruses) (1977) and Peter Qumaluk Itukalla’s Untitled (Bear and Cub) (2003). Though the works are not directly about the climate crisis, the stone sculptures capture the beauty of the threatened Canadian wilderness.

By referencing Indigenous artists and the impacts of colonization, Amizlev makes the important connection between a longstanding history of environmental injustice and the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples, two issues which fall hand-in-hand.

Olafur Eliasson’s Untitled no. 44 (1997), from his series “Iceland,” is a print featuring a stunning depiction of an Icelandic landscape. The contrast between the grassy plain and snowy field in the distance allows viewers to appreciate the grandiosity and serenity of the vast Nordic region.

Eliasson’s works frequently incorporate science, and specifically more “elemental” materials such as water and air. The Danish-Icelandic artist primarily creates installations, and explores themes such as weather, the environment, and space.

In contrast to Eliasson’s tranquil photograph, Adrian Stimson’s Beyond Redemption (2010) is forthright and provocative. Consisting of a taxidermied bison surrounded by ten bison skins draped across black crosses, Stimson’s installation pays homage to the history and importance of the bison in Indigenous communities.

Stimson, a member of the Siksika nation, sacrificed a bison as a means of honouring the near-eradication of the species, as well as the Indigenous tribes who rely on them for sustenance. He offers a glance at the importance of the bison in Indigenous spirituality, as well as the ramifications of human actions on a group of animals that once dominated the wilderness.

Presented alongside Ecologies, viewers can view Paul Walde’s mesmerizing video installation, Requiem for a Glacier (2013). Performed by over 50 artists on the Farnham Glacier in British Columbia, Walde’s piece serves as an homage to the land.

In addition to being threatened by global warming, the government of British Columbia had announced developing a ski resort on the unceded Indigenous land of the Ktunaxa Nation, causing a series of land disputes which lasted over a decade. Walde’s performance features a choir singing the Latin translation of the press release published by the government authorities.

At once aesthetically gratifying and informational, Ecologies provides the public with a compelling narrative and ode to planet Earth. Amizlev’s selection of works so profoundly captures the intricacies and complexity of the climate crisis, offering viewers an experience that is both alarming and stunning.

Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet is on display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, at 1380 Sherbrooke St. W., until Feb. 27, 2022. The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Reservations must be made in advance. To book a ticket, visit


Photos courtesy of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.


Climate emergency themed conference to be postponed until next year

Concordia University’s fourth annual Sustainability Across Disciplines Conference, “Sustainability and Climate Crisis,” has been postponed amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Following Premier Francois Legault’s announcement on March 13, all schools, universities, and CEGEPs will be closed for the coming two weeks.

The event was to be hosted by the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre and the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability, from March 16-18.

“The conference [usually brings] together student and faculty researchers across disciplines at Concordia to discuss their work on sustainability in general and the climate crisis in particular,” said Rebecca Tittler, Ph.D., Coordinator of the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre.

The conference was to be held in Concordia’s John Molson School of Business (JMSB) for the first two days and at the Jesuit Hall & Conference Centre on Loyola Campus for the final day. The conference was to include keynote speakers, panels, a poster session, workshops, a student film festival, and even “Climate Geopardy”—an interactive presentation designed to teach players about the climate crisis in a fun and engaging way.

“I think that conferences like these are important because they allow people to share ideas and discuss possible changes,” said Mai Pradhan, a communications student at Concordia who was looking forward to the event.

Moreover, the many topics to be discussed ranged from climate change and its effect on biodiversity, individuals’ carbon footprint, careers in sustainability, and much more. “The goal is to foster conversation and collaboration across disciplines on these issues,” Tittler told The Concordian.

Although the conference has been cancelled, students can still read up on the various subjects on this website. They remain relevant, as the effects of global warming are being seen across the globe.

“It is everyone’s duty, the administration just as much as the students, to raise awareness on our climate crisis,” said Alexis Deleon, a journalism student who was planning to attend the event.

Loyola Sustainability Research Centre and the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability hope to revisit this theme at next year’s conference, in March 2021.


Graphic by Sasha Axenova

Briefs News

World in brief: Oscars 2020, Trump acquitted and extreme weather in Australia

Parasite became the first non-English film to win best picture at the 92nd Academy Awards. The social satire was the first South Korean production to win an Oscar, also taking home the awards for best director, best international film and best original screenplay. There were no big surprises among the other winners, as Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Renée Zellweger and Laura Dern all won best performances, as expected. The most memorable moment of the evening hands down goes to Eminem, unexpectedly singing “Lose Yourself,” more than 17 years after he won the award for best original song in 2003.

President Donald Trump was officially acquitted in his Senate trial on both articles of impeachment. A formal impeachment inquiry against the 45th American President was made on Sept. 24, after he was allegedly caught on a phone call seeking help from the Ukraine government to undermine Democratic candidate Joe Biden. He was later charged by the Democrats with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On Wednesday, the Senate concluded that the allegations did not necessitate the removal of power, as reported by Time Magazine. Trump became the first President seeking re-election after going through an impeachment procedure.

Record rainfall hits Australia after months of devastating bushfires across the country. More than 390mm of rain has fallen over the past four days in Sydney, bringing widespread flooding in the New South Wales region.  BBC reported that 100,000 homes were without power, due to the heavy rain, which was three times higher than the average rainfall for February. Yet, on Monday afternoon, the NSW Rural Fire Service declared on Twitter that it was “the most positive news we’ve had in some time” as the rain extinguished 30 fires. More extreme weather is to be expected in the following days.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Student Life

Green lifestyle swaps

I have changed my lifestyle because I feel like no other significant action to fight the climate crisis has been taken, and I don’t want to be held responsible when it becomes impossible for me to take my kids swimming without their skin burning off.

The angst surrounding the climate crisis makes my blood boil. There are some things you can do to reduce your waste and fight the climate crisis on an individual level: change your diet, stop buying single-use plastic, stop using chemical cleaning products.

The simple solution is to buy less. No matter how many people go vegetarian or vegan, not everyone will be convinced to do so, nor should that be the only solution to becoming more sustainable. The same goes for fully zero-waste lifestyles. Avoiding waste is nearly impossible if you are like the average person who has a billion things to do. It is unattainable.

Every morning, I leave my apartment trying to remember if I grabbed my mug—a pasta sauce jar with the sticker still on it that I lugg everywhere I go—an old margarine tupperware for food, and some cutlery I probably stole from my high school cafeteria.

Even when actively trying to avoid single-use plastic, some useless piece of packaging or junk will find its way into my hands––it doesn’t matter if it’s a plastic wrapping on the candy bar I deny I buy myself every day, or a stress ball I’ll never use from a guest lecturer; wasteful objects are everywhere. The key is recognizing them, knowing how to say no, and finding innovative ways to avoid harming the environment that work for your lifestyle.

In order to help the planet, buying new goodies that are pushed onto you through targeted advertising is not the answer. We need to be finding new and innovative ways to lower our waste, and integrating those habits into our lifestyle, one by one.

There are zero-waste/sustainability influencers like YouTubers  Sedona Christina and Sarah Hawkinson that you can look to for inspiration to be able to identify what changes you can realistically make to your lifestyle. Cooking and meal prepping are an amazing example: by making your own food, you can avoid the single-use plastic wrap of the sandwich you might normally buy.

Making your own products like face wash and cleaners can help reduce the amount of plastic in your household. I was a sucker for buying every new body product. By making my own skincare products, I was able to cut my budget from $100 every two months to the $15 it initially cost me to buy the ingredients. Green tea, aloe vera, hemp seed oil and castile soap are the only ingredients I used—and my skin has never looked better!

Think “what can I do with this?” rather than “how quickly can I get rid of this?” At the end of the day, there’s only so much that individual change can do. We must hold our government, clothing stores, and even favourite junk food suppliers accountable for their actions. And it’s with collective action that real change will prevail.

Graphic by @sundaeghost


Regards Croisés: Discussing climate crisis through Indigenous art

The House of Sustainable Development presented Regards Croisés sur la Crise Climatique et les Droits Humains to discuss the climate crisis and human rights through arts and science, alongside Équiterre and Amnesty International Canada Francophone on Nov. 28.

The event was meant to highlight the current climate crisis and its effects on basic human rights, according to Courtney Mullins, Équiterre’s senior communications officer. It focused on Indigenous communities, with the goal of exploring how to work together to cope with climate change.

Mullins explained that vulnerable populations, who are the least responsible for the climate crisis, are usually the most affected. She stressed the importance of creating links between the climate crisis and human rights, as they have the same root problem.

“We really wanted to bring forward that the climate crisis is not just from a scientific perspective but from a cultural perspective as well,” said Mullins.

The event began with a performance by Émilie Monnet, Dayna Danger and Nahka Bertrand, three members of Odaya, a music group composed of Indigenous women formed in 2007. They opened with the song “Seven Grandfathers,” which is performed using vocables, words composed of various sounds or letters without referential meaning, accompanied by traditional drums.

The song describes how many Indigenous people think seven generations ahead and three generations behind, Bertrand explained. “So we situate ourselves in the middle. It’s the thinking forward tool for future generations, to the faces that are coming and their wellbeing.”

Bertrand, who joined Odaya in 2011, talked about the importance of using science to start a dialogue, but also the value of using arts and Indigenous culture to create emotional connections to environmental issues.

The event also presented Hivunikhavut – Notre Futur, a short film by Marianne Falardeau-Côté about her work in Nunavut that bridges local and scientific knowledge in the Kitikmeot Region. The film told the story of a two-day workshop that took place in Nunavut in March of 2018. The workshop combined art, science and storytelling as a means of discussing possible future changes to the region. Participants from Kitikmeot were asked to contribute to scenario building, or creating “plausible stories about the future” on marine development, governance and climate change.

Art has actually been shown as a great way to bring together knowledge systems and bridge different ways of knowing,” said Falardeau-Côté in an interview with The Concordian. “When art is involved it gets more to the emotions and we put away our boundaries and just go into it.”

She explained that it’s important to bring art into these conversations and that, in her experience, people react more to art. “There was something about the paintings that words would never be able to describe,” she said Falardeau-Côté.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Climate activists join hands in promoting a long-awaited political action

“When an unstoppable force like Greta [Thunberg] meets an immovable clunk of politicians, my bet is on Greta. That’s why, inspired by her and by youth, I am amazingly against all odds, defiantly filled with hope.”

That’s what Stephen Lewis, Canada’s former ambassador at the United Nations, said in his speech during the Climate First Tour on Oct. 1 in Montreal.

Alongside Lewis was scientist, broadcaster, author and environmentalist, Dr. David Suzuki. Guest speaker, Ellen Gabriel, a famous Indigenous militant and feminist, also joined the event.

The event was launched a month ago as an opportunity for Suzuki and Lewis to speak directly to Canadians on the importance of climate change. Highlighting the urgency of the problem comes at an opportune time for Canadians to affect change with their votes.

“Our message tonight is that for the sake of the future of our children we must make climate change the top priority for every candidate running for office,” said Suzuki.

Over the last decades, governments and lobby groups have been ignoring and sleeping on the climate situation to advance economic growth, according to Lewis.

“The responsible perfidious government resembling political dinosaurs drunk on fossil fuel, they know exactly what’s required but there is some kind of self-inflicted paralysis,” said Lewis. “They have known for more than 30 years what’s afoot and they are criminally inert.”

Lewis also pointed at energy multinationals that have been sharing disinformation about the reality of climate change, while simultaneously investing $4.5 billion on new oil and gas exploration and development since last year.

The panelists did not cut it short for Canada’s inaction.

“How do you embrace the principles of the Paris Conference on Climate Change and then come home and buying a pipeline?” Lewis asked.

Trudeau’s acquisition of a $4.5 billion pipeline, after campaigning in 2015 on making Canada a leader in the fight against climate change, was harshly reprimanded.

All this state’s hypocrisy was a common theme in the three panelist’s speeches. Gabriel followed with the ongoing reconciliation attempts with Indigenous communities.

“Canada has broken all its promises,” said Gabriel. “Justin Trudeau did not fulfill a single promise to Indigenous people in Canada. He bought pipelines.”

Her testimony denounced a multitude of dangers intertwined with climate change – as simple as maple syrup, which needs cold weather to form, to the deterrence of the wildlife by the tar sands.

Climate change goes against and destroys all principles of the Indigenous tenets. According to these principles, everything in nature is interconnected. From the insect pollinating the root that feeds the animal hunters hunt, climate change is breaking a natural cycle.

But the issue is not only a governmental concern, Gabriel added.

“We are effing up the environment, and we are all responsible for it,” Gabriel said. “It’s up to every single individual in this room and beyond to be the solution to climate change.”

While the march for climate on Sept. 27 was highly honoured during the event, the experts stressed the importance of actively promoting and informing peers on the impact of climate change, especially with federal elections around the corner.

Lewis finished his speech by mentioning a collection of previous attempts at fostering political climate activism and the consequences it would have prevented.

“If we had taken the carbon reduction target seriously, instead of consigning it to oblivion, and had we begun the implementation of all the other interventions, this would be a different planet,” Lewis said. “We would not be discussing self-emulation. We would not have a generation of youth growing up with critical mental health symptoms of ecoanxiety.”

But hidden between reprimands, Lewis shared his hope in the youth movement that could highly influence the Canadian political arena.


Photo courtesy of Climate First Tour


Historical climate protest in Montreal: Quebec is standing up

On Sept. 27, millions of Canadians took to the streets across the country to protest inaction on climate change.

“Today, we are nearly 500,000 people gathered here in Montreal, but there are also 52 protests everywhere across Quebec,” said the spokesperson of La Planète s’invite au Parlement (LPSP), François Geoffroy.

In a historical association of 21 environmental organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation, Pour le Futur and Greenpeace, LPSP took on the responsibility of planning the massive strike. It took place at the tail end of a worldwide cry that took place between Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, during which over 150 countries protested the climate crisis.

According to Geoffroy, more than 200,000 students were given permission to strike on Friday. The growing youth movement taking over the climate crisis led school boards across Canada to cancel Friday’s classes in support of their students’ decision to demand more from the government.

“We want laws, we want specific plans which will force our government to reach the objectives set by scientists, in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees,” said the LPSP organizer, to an energetic crowd. “We want to make this transition everybody’s business. We want to build it with workers, communities that are currently struggling with their dependency on polluting industries. We want to build it with the most vulnerable; they need to be part of the solution. We need to build it with First Nations because they have a lot to teach us and for once, we should listen to them.”

Photo by Alex Hutchins

Beginning at Mont-Royal, the protest was symbolically opened by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, alongside Indigenous youth. “To the front lines for Mother Earth” was the first banner you could see them holding as they travelled through downtown Montreal, chanting and calling for action.

Prior to the march, Thunberg met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, where it was reported by various media that she told him he was not doing enough to protect the environment. Indeed, the past few weeks have seen a rise in critiques towards Trudeau’s environmental speeches and his government’s decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline.

“If people in power won’t take their responsibilities, then we will,” Thunberg said at the end of the protest. “It should not be up to us, but somebody needs to do it. They say we shouldn’t worry, that we should look forward to a bright future. But then, they forget that if they would have done their job, we wouldn’t need to worry. If they had started acting in time, then this crisis wouldn’t be this crisis, it is today. The climate and environmental crisis are beyond party politics.”

Friday’s event was beyond historical. It was not only Quebec’s most important protest yet, but also the largest climate strike during the Global Week for Future, a series of international protests asking for climate justice.

For whatever reason people decided to protest, it demonstrated the power of union. No one was in school or at work, because this is an emergency and we will not be bystanders, Thunberg said during her final speech.

“The people have spoken and they will keep on speaking until our leaders listen and act. We are the change. And change is coming.”


Feature photo by Alex Hutchins


Poli Savvy: Misogyny of climate crisis deniers

At the beginning of September, People’s Party of Canada’s leader Maxime Bernier denigrated environmental activist Greta Thunberg in a tweet, calling her “mentally unstable.” Although he later retracted and apologized for his comment, this just  illustrates yet another ugly, misogynistic face of climate change deniers.

Really, why do white men seem to have a harder time accepting the environmental crisis than others? Worse even when a woman is in a powerful position and has a strong voice in the matter?

Research published by Oxford University explored the green-feminine stereotype, where both men and women judged eco-friendly products, behaviours, and consumers as more feminine. Simply put, it showed that men believe climate action is “unmanly.”

What Bernier did by attacking the 16-year-old activist was a demonstration of white fragility. Thunberg isn’t posting photos of what she is eating seeking some kind of instant glory. Her message is not a personal cry, but one that is universal. Inevitably, she confronts us with our own actions – or, mostly, our inactions.

It seems that Conservative white men have found their arch enemy within voices like Thunberg’s, which represent everything they believe is slowing them down; women and caring for the environment.

But truly, how fragile is masculinity to believe that environmental actions are more feminine? Isn’t it ironic that men tend to be considered less sensitive than women, but when it comes to the perception of their masculinity, we are suddenly walking on eggshells?

As Thunberg will be making her way towards Montreal to attend the climate protest on Sept. 27, we can only expect to see more misogynistic comments online. Comments which, sadly, switch the focus of what’s really at stake. The environmental crisis should not be a battle of the sexes.


Graphic by Victoria Blair

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