School strikes are back to protest against the Bay du Nord oil project

For the past two Fridays, climate activists gathered to demand the federal government to refuse the project

Since Friday, Feb. 18, the Pour le futur student-run organization of climate activists have been skipping school to march every Friday afternoon to protest against the Bay du Nord (BdN) oil project. The organization took to the streets of Montreal again on Feb. 18 to demand the federal government to refuse the project, claiming it was incompatible with Canada’s climate targets. 

The decision to go on strike for three weeks was meant to catch the attention of Steven Guilbault, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, before his deadline to approve the project on March 6. 

“We really want to put pressure on Guilbault […] to make the right decision for this project,” said Leticia Gonzalez, an organizer for Pour le futur. 

The BdN project will be developed in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, if approved. Three oil resources locations were found in the area.

The project aims to extract 300 million to 1 billion barrels of oil over 30 years from 2028 when the project is supposed to begin operation. 

Pour le futur’s goal is to create urgent action towards the current climate crisis, and they believe the BdN oil project is incompatible with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) suggestions. The IPPC’s report clarifies limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and the BdN project contributes to fossil fuel emissions. 

Canada has pledged to reduce emissions by 40-45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Another of Canada’s targets is to be carbon neutral by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. 

“One of the first things we have to do is stop investing and stop allowing new oil exploitation projects,” said Shirley Barnea, spokesperson for the Pour le futur. 

“That means in 2058, we’re still going to be producing oil. The entire world is supposed to be carbon neutral by 2050, and [the project] is completely against all of that,” she added. 

Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology Andrew Parsons described a few weeks ago the BdN project as “critical” for Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy. 

A report from Statista shows that mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction accounted for 40.45 per cent of the gross domestic product (GPD) of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2020. 

Due to the pandemic affecting the demand and supply chain, production decreased at every oilfield in Newfoundland in 2021 with total oil production down 9.5 per cent. Moreover, the corresponding value of production increased by 43.4 per cent. These prices compensate for the production decline.

 “The one benefit [of this project] it’s that it’s going to help the economy. […] We think the way forward is for the government to invest in a just transition so that we can help the workers that are working in oil right now transition into something else because it doesn’t make sense to keep investing in something that’s killing the planet,” said Barnea. 

According to Equinor’s website, the project will generate about $3.5 billion in revenue for the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

“Right now, we’re focusing on BdN because it’s just such a polluting project that we really can’t afford to be building right now, but after hopefully if that’s rejected, we really want to push the government […] to deliver on a just transition that was promised in the 2019 elections,” said Barnea. 

The last demonstration against the BdN will be on March 4 at the Montreal City Hall at 1:30 pm. 

“The idea [is] to put as much as much pressure as we can on the government,” Barnea added.

Photo by Gabriel Pelland


“I’m here because of our future”: Climate change activists march together in a global strike for climate justice

The annual Global Protest for Climate Justice, part of the Fridays for Future movement (FFF) launched by Greta Thunberg, is back for the third year in a row.

On Sept. 24 thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Monument to march against climate injustice, calling for radical change.

In August 2018, activist Greta Thunberg began a school strike for the climate that became an annual global event among high school and university students.

In 2019, as many as 500,000 people were reported to have attended the first Fridays for Future movement (FFF)  climate protest. 

Last year, Montreal was declared an orange zone, effectively restricting large gatherings shortly before the strike. But, protestors gathered anyway, proving that many consider the climate crisis just as important as the current health crisis.

A year later, the Coalition étudiante pour un virage environnemental et social (CEVES), The Racial Justice Collective and the Solidarity Across Borders led the crowd once again.

Rosalie Thibault, a student organizer, opened her speech by addressing it to the politicians at the march. “A politician’s place is at their desk, writing policies about climate change, and not here in a march against themselves.”

Jérôme Leclerc, a spokesperson and nurse for the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal followed, saying that “the climate crisis is also a public health crisis.” 

Leclerc also voiced his concerns about the current climate situation.

“When I look at how our health care network has been KO’d by COVID-19, I wonder how we’re going to deal with this endless succession of disasters.”

He ended his speech with a hopeful note and said, “I hope for our families — I hope they can breathe healthy air. I hope they will make plans and emancipate themselves… I hope they can see the beauty of the world, but I dare believe we have the strength.”

Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers, another spokesperson and doctor for the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, shared in her speech that the climate crisis is not receiving enough attention.

“As a Quebecer, I wonder,” she began. “I wonder, how can we invest billions of dollars in the construction of highways […] rather than investing in the fight and adaptation of climate change.”

She asked why the government continues to transform natural sites into harmful industrial projects, like the condo project located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district.

Pétrin-Desrosiers ended her speech by saying, “There is a clear plan: to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 C.”

Student Sofia McVetty explained why she attended the strike.

“Climate change is going to devastate our planet if we don’t act now. We are already past the point of no return. At this point, education does not matter much. In the future, if the earth is a ball of fire, it won’t matter if you have a BA or a DEC,” she added.

As the crowd shouted “Political actions for climate justice,” protest participant Daryn Chitsaz  said that stronger regulations targeting companies are also needed.

“We need a more unified government. They really need to take the lead on this, and a lot of that would be done by taxing or putting tariffs on polluters,” Chitsaz suggested.

Another solution recommended by Eve Chabot-Veilleux, a Concordia student and member of the CEVES, is to create a CEVES group at Concordia.

“We really want Concordia to be involved in the climate crisis,” she said. “Climate justice is the fight of our generation, and Concordia should be a part of that.”


Photo by Lou Neveux-Pardijon


Sustainable Sound: ecology and the urban soundscape

CESSA’s upcoming series of workshops will explore the relationship between sound, music, and the environment

“How we live, what we consume, and how we interact with our environment has a direct impact on the world of future generations,” said Malte Leander, president of the Concordia Electroacoustic Studies Student Association (CESSA) and head of the club’s board association.

CESSA will be hosting Sustainable Sound, a series of workshops and lectures centred around the relationship between sound, music, and the environment.

CESSA represents students within Concordia’s Music Department, however those in other departments or areas of study are encouraged to apply. They aim to facilitate collaborations with other departments and student associations through initiatives that will benefit students in the program.

The presentations, which will explore acoustic ecology, sustainability, noise, and the interstices of the aforementioned, will take place throughout  April and May and will feature speakers from around the globe.

The positive thing about virtual events is the possibility for people to join in from anywhere,” said Leander, adding that the guest speakers are from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; each bringing their own perspective on the notion of place.

In Jordan Lacey’s lecture, Sonic Rupture: theory and practice in the urban soundscape, the artist and researcher will be discussing the relationship between urbanity and nature via sonic encounters. Lacey is a Melbourne-based sound researcher, curator, and musician. His work explores urban design and sound art.

In Acts of Air: Reshaping the urban sonic, Lisa Hall will be hosting a workshop where viewers will be invited to enact and embody sound-works within the urban environment. After her lecture, participants will be asked to perform one of the discussed artworks within their environment and subsequently share their experience with the group.

Hall is a London-based sound-artist who uses audio and performance to explore urban environments. She does this by using audio and performance to intervene and interrupt, in an effort to raise questions and explore possibilities within a space.

In Pamela Z’s lecture and presentation, the composer and performer will be discussing her work in the artist space. Z works primarily with sampled sound and electronic processing.

Though the artists all work in different capacities, they all aim to uncover the relationship between sound, our environment, and the place we hold in relation to the two.

“An area not nearly spoken enough about is how our sonic environments affect us; our health, concentration levels, and sleep patterns,” said Leander. “In the case for most of us, that sonic environment is the roar that is the urban soundscape of Montreal.”

With environmentalism becoming increasingly popular throughout many aspects of everyday life, Leander notes that there is equally a “green” movement within the topics of acoustic ecology and ecoacoustics, which have been around for quite some time.

The urgency of change for a more sustainable future calls for a bigger integration of reflection upon sustainability and a call for change; both through what means, and in what way that audio is produced and composed, but also how the topics are approached,” said Leander.

Leander added that purposefully producing reflective art around environmentalism can yield deeper reflections within the public and the listener. In turn, potentially contributing to acts of change within other aspects of life.

“We are wanting to raise awareness about these things in an attempt to make more people more conscious of our surroundings, also in the domain of sound,” said Leander. “The sounds around you affect you more than you think.”

For more information about the Concordia Electroacoustic Studies Student Association, follow them on Instagram or visit their Bandcamp. To register for Sustainable Sound, visit their Facebook page.


Feature graphic courtesy of Allie Brown.

Action over anxiety: Tippi Thole’s journey to a tiny trash lifestyle

How one Montrealer is rethinking her footprint

Like a lot of people, Tippi Thole starts her day with a cup of coffee. She uses an espresso machine, since it doesn’t require paper filters or plastic pods that will end up in the trash later. The only waste generated by Thole’s daily java fix are coffee grounds, which she tosses into the compost bin.

After coffee, Thole prepares breakfast with her 11-year-old son. In order to cut out wasteful packaging, many of the ingredients she cooks with are packaged in compostable material, like cardboard, or purchased in bulk and transported home inside glass jars. If an item isn’t available in sustainable packaging — like tortillas, for example, which are usually sold in sealed plastic bags — she makes it from scratch instead.

Waste is something Thole spends a lot of time thinking about. On her website,, she documents her efforts to lead a “low-waste” lifestyle; by scaling back her consumer habits, giving items a second life, and avoiding wasteful materials like plastic, Thole aims to minimize the amount of trash she creates as much as possible. Aptly titled, the website encourages visitors to “reconfigure” their waste sorting system so that the largest bins are dedicated to recycling and compost, and the smallest bin is dedicated to trash.

I feel like all of us can reduce [our] trash,” said Thole. “It’s something that all of us can do, it’s very attainable.”

Currently based in Montreal, Thole grew up in Missouri in the United States. When she’s not working on, she splits her time between her job as a graphic designer and her recently-acquired role as a teacher to her son, who is homeschooled as a result of the pandemic. Thole’s son is an enthusiastic participant in low-waste living, scribbling math equations on scrap pieces of paper and drawing with coloured pencils instead of plastic-encased markers.

The Concordian sat down for an interview with Thole back in February. Having been featured in publications like The Washington Post, Business Insider, and the CBC, she’s no stranger to media attention. Throughout the interview, she’s relaxed and upbeat, pausing only to take sips of her coffee, courtesy of her aforementioned espresso machine. Although the subject of climate change can certainly be a harrowing one, she maintains a positive mindset when speaking about it. She says her experience with low-waste living has been empowering and uplifting.

What I really like about trash is we can see the impact of our habit changes. We can see that we’re making a difference,” she said. “It creates this positive feedback loop, where the more you do, the more you want to do.”

Thole was inspired to make the change to a low-waste lifestyle after attending a 2017 TEDx talk by activist and researcher Carole Devine called “Cleaning Up Our Plastic Mess.”

“I didn’t really understand the enormity of the problem, and how it wasn’t just a problem in the ocean, it was a problem in the land and air and soil, and all these other places too,” said Thole. “I like to say that action feels better than anxiety, and when I learned about plastic trash, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I want to do something.’”

In Canada, an alarming 91 per cent of plastics produced each year aren’t recycled, and the numbers are about the same in the United States. This means that the plastic take-out containers, shampoo bottles, and yogurt cups crowding your recycling bin will most likely end up in a landfill, or even the ocean, where they can take hundreds of years to biodegrade. To many of us, images of marine life swimming through layers of tangled plastic have become increasingly familiar, and the consequences of this reality can be extremely dangerous, threatening ecosystems and poisoning the food chain.

Although the problem is overwhelming, Thole decided to do her part by reevaluating the items she brings into her home and where they end up. She set a goal to fill her recycling bin as slowly as possible, so that she only needed to roll it to the curb once a season. Last year, she doubled up on this goal, filling her recycling bin a grand total of two times. That same year, she only took her trash can out once.

I think it’s fun to have goals … because then you start to see those tangible benefits, and it feels so good,” said Thole.

One criticism that the low-waste movement has faced is that it shifts responsibility from large, environmentally-damaging corporations and governmental bodies to individual consumers.

While Thole recognizes the importance of legislation and corporate action when it comes to tackling the climate crisis, she believes that the power of individual citizens should not be underestimated. For one, the more that individuals adopt sustainable habits, such as the use of reusable water bottles, the more those habits spread — and they can spread quickly.

“Governments and businesses, they move at such a slow rate. Whereas, as individuals, we can make this change today,” said Thole. “We don’t have to wait. And I think right now the crisis is at that point where we don’t have time to wait.”

Thole says her son plays a big role behind her quest to make sustainable choices. She says his love for animals and nature has been a great source of inspiration. As the weather warms up, the pair will soon embark upon what they call “litter walks,” when they venture outdoors to pick up trash that was formerly trapped beneath the snow. It’s an activity Thole and her son look forward to doing together.

“[He’s] a huge motivating factor for me, him and really all future generations,” said Thole.

Thole says she feels a moral responsibility to leave the earth “better than [she] found it,” for the sake of our planet’s future.


Feature photo by Christine Beaudoin


What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which consists entirely of plastic debris and waste, spans approximately 1.6 million square kilometres, that’s roughly twice the size of Texas.

Somewhere between Hawaii and California, in the temperate waters of the Pacific Ocean, lies an island that has scarcely been visited by humans. It is one of the few man-made locations on the globe that has yet to be colonized.

Contrary to other secluded must-visit islands in the Pacific ocean, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not a luxurious get-away spot.

Spanning approximately 1.6 million square kilometres, or twice the size of Texas, the Great Pacific Garbage patch is a build up of plastics and other debris. It is the largest of the five off-shore plastic accumulation zones in the world, according to The Ocean Cleanup, a Netherlands-based non-profit organization that is developing advanced technologies in an effort to rid the oceans of plastic.

While organizations such as The Ocean Cleanup are building technologies to help clean the waters, individuals are also adding to the cause like the French-American man Benoît Lecomte, who swam the length of the garbage patch to collect data and raise awareness.

In 2019, Lecomte set out to swim 300 nautical miles, or just under two kilometres, alongside a crew boat. The accompanying scientists collected data to track the movement of the plastics and marine life. He began his journey in Japan on June 5, with the intent to swim up to eight hours per day for three months.

Lecomte, who in 1998 swam across the Atlantic Ocean in just 73 days in support of cancer research, said he wanted to do something to bring attention to the increasing amount of plastic in our oceans, in an interview with Austin 360.

“We saw a lot of items we use on land, like plastic cups, straws, forks and spoons and oil containers,” Lecomte told Austin 360. “It was depressing because you see amazing sea life, then you see the plastic that we infect the oceans with, and it’s not supposed to be there.”

Accompanied by scientists from NASA and the University of Hawaii, Lecomte ended his journey on Nov. 11, 2019, though he did not complete it. Despite the thought of not finishing the expedition being among his greatest fears before setting out on his journey, he said that all he can do going forward is to turn people’s attention towards plastic pollution.

“I think that’s the problem — we don’t think it’s that big of a problem, but it’s all due to what we do on land,” Lecomte told Austin 360.

In fact, 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers, according to a study by Laurent Lebreton, an oceanographer and the head of research at The Ocean Cleanup. 

According to Lebreton’s study, because of plastic’s “durability, low-recycling rates, poor waste management and maritime use, a significant portion of the plastics produced worldwide enters and persists in marine ecosystems.”

The density of these plastics is less than that of the water, allowing them to rise to the surface and be transported from smaller bodies of water, such as rivers and streams, to the ocean.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is bound by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, which is what draws the plastic and other waste together. A gyre is a large system of rotating ocean currents, as defined by the National Ocean Service. In other words, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is part of a giant vortex of debris. The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre consists of four of these “vortices” rotating in a clockwise direction.

The centre of these four currents forms the most dense area of the garbage patch. However, as per a 2018 study conducted by Lebreton on the rapid rate at which the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is accumulating plastic, it is estimated that if the less dense outer region of the garbage patch were considered when estimating the mass of the patch, the total would weigh approximately 100,000 tonnes.

In the same 2018 study, Lebreton and his team estimated that 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic and waste were floating in the patch. According to Lebreton, this would be 250 pieces of garbage for every individual on the planet.

At an estimate of around 40,000 pieces, the majority of the waste consists of plastic ropes and fishing lines, followed by hard plastic items. While it may seem as though these items are easy to remove, it is, in fact, the opposite. As large hard plastics break down within the garbage patch, sun exposure, waves, and other environmental factors cause them to deteriorate into microplastics, which are virtually invisible to the human eye.

According to the National Ocean Service, these microplastics are often mistaken for food by marine life, putting them in danger. A 2018 study in the journal Environmental Pollution found that “half of the fecal samples and one-third of the mackerels contained microplastics.”

For the time being, microplastics remain a problem that is unresolvable, but that hasn’t stopped The Ocean Cleanup from developing new missions to clean up The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

System 002, which is part of their second clean-up mission, is planned to be a system that is able to “endure and retain the collected plastic for long periods of time.” It is set to be ready for 2021 in an effort to fulfill their goal of reducing the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans by at least 90 per cent by 2040.

Visit The Ocean Cleanup’s website for more information.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


Extinction Rebellion’s smear campaign against RBC

 Extinction Rebellion Quebec’s #QuitRBC campaign launched on Wednesday

On Wednesday, a handful of protestors stood outside  the Royal Bank of Canada on Mont-Royal Ave.asking the public to remove their money from the bank. Meanwhile, other protestors threw fake petroleum at an RBC branch on Sherbrooke St.

“Mess up our ca$h, we’ll mess with you,” states the Facebook post by Extinction Rebellion Quebec (XRQC), showcasing photos of their actions.

The environmental activism organization,notorious for its civil disobedience actions, famously scaled the Jacques Cartier bridge in October 2019 to pressure the government into enacting climate policies. This time around, the group is trying to pressure banks into divesting from fossil fuels.

Divestment as an active tool

Universities have often been the centre of fossil fuel divestment debates, but XRQC is inviting the public to scrutinize banks’ investments as well. According to Gregory Mikkelson, who resigned from teaching at McGill after the university repeatedly refused to divest from fossil fuels in spite of its pupils’ demands, banks are similar to those educational institutions in the symbolic value of their investments. However, banks ‟have a much more immediate and practical effect on whether fossil fuel production is being expanded or not,’’ said Mikkelson.

Mikkelson cited a paper from the Rainforest Action Network to support XRQC’s statement that RBC is the greatest investor in fossil fuels among Canadian banks, hence being the primary target of the protest.

Concordia has committed to divesting from coal, oil and gas by 2025.

Relaxed demonstration, invested demonstrators

Outside of the Mont-Royal Ave. branch, a protester used a megaphone to list the reasons why RBC is Canada’s most “disgusting” bank. They said, for example, that “[RBC is] the first bank in the world to finance tar sands.”

Some passersby expressed disapproval of the protest, while others stopped to learn more about the cause. A man on a bike stopped to shout his approval of the demonstration, saying, “I’m sick of [banks] exploiting the planet!” He was the most aggressive presence on the premises, as both police and protesters stood quietly in place while RBC customers shyly slipped through the protest line to enter the arch-windowed building.

When asked about their presence at the protest, one individual, who asked to stay anonymous, confessed that “[they are] against investment in fossil fuels, and banks invest in fossil fuels, so that is why [they] are here.”

“The future is not petroleum,” they added.

Beyond RBC

While the Royal Bank of Canada justifies their investments in fossil fuels as a means to achieve a green economy, both protestors and Mikkelson argue that there are better ways to invest our money.

“There’s a whole local economy that is developing without fossil fuels … It exists, we can do it,” explained a protestor. Mikkelson expressed a similar idea, saying, “not only are RBC’s fossil fuel investments killing the planet, they are also killing jobs.”

While XRQC encourages patrons to move their money from RBC to better institutions, they will not provide financial advice. However, they offer information on their newly launched website so the public can make informed decisions on the matter.

Upon being asked about the #QuitRBC campaign and learning about its message, some RBC customers are reconsidering their business with the banking giant. Zachari Réhel, a University of Montreal cognitive neuroscience student, responded that if he had to make a decision now, he would switch banks. However, Réhel specifies that since doing so is a long process, he would conduct research on other banks to avoid settling for the “lesser evil.” Alexandre Binette, a resident of Montreal, admits to receiving “excellent service” from RBC, although having done research on XRQC’s actions and demands, he feels compelled to question himself on ‟what [he] does with his money and where it goes.”

The Royal Bank of Canada declined to comment.


Photos by Christine Beaudoin

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


2010’s biggest news events, and some memorable moments

A new decade is here, bringing with it new events. But before we look forward, here are the 10 defining news events that have set the stage for the 2020s, in no particular order.

Arab Spring

Beginning in December 2010, anti-government protests shook Tunisia and, in 2011, quickly turned into a region-wide uprising referred to as the Arab Spring. This pro-democratic wave of protest that spread across Arabic-speaking countries in Northern Africa and Middle East overthrew the governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. This then led to civil war in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

Release of information

The 2010s were filled with whistleblowers and leaks. Notably, Edward Snowden worked for the National Security Agency and leaked documents about monitoring American citizens. Then U.S. army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning––then Bradley Manning––leaked thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, a website intended to collect and share confidential information, created by Julian Assange.

The Black Lives Matter Movement

On Feb. 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old boy was shot by George Zimmerman, who ended up being acquitted for murdering Martin. This acquittal prompted the creation of the Black Lives Matter Movement, an international activist movement against violence and systemic racism towards Black people.

The #Metoo Movement

In October 2017, #Metoo went viral, making international news, encouraging women to share their stories of sexual violence and harrassment. The #Metoo movement brought to light sexual predators like Bill O’Reilly and Harvey Weinstein.

Donald Trump

In 2017, Donald Trump was elected and became the third American president to be impeached. The Trump administration is known for separating migrant families at the border and shutting down the American government for 35 days—the longest in American history—in an attempt to try to force the Democratic party to agree to a deal to build a wall along the Mexican-U.S border.


England held a referendum and voted to exit the European Union in 2016. This created a riff in the country’s political parties, who are unable, to this day, to agree on what may

be one of the biggest decisions in English history in decades.

Climate Crisis

Rising temperatures throughout the past decade have caused an increase in natural disasters around the world. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global temperature will increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 10-years, which will cause devastating damage to the planet. In 2015, 195 nations signed the Paris Agreement, agreeing to keep the global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. The inaction of various government have caused people like Greta Thunberg to mobilize millions across the globe in a climate strike.

America’s School Shooting

There have been approximately 180 school shootings in America from 2009-18, and 114 people have been killed. According to an article by CNN, school shootings have increased since the start of the 2010s.

Russia invades Ukraine

Russian forces occupied Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in an attempt to stop Ukraine from trading with America. Over 10,000 people were killed in the long-lasting conflict between the two countries from 2014-18.

ISIS and the rise of terrorism

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was born of an offshoot of Al Qaeda in 2013. The group was involved in multiple terrorist attacks across the world, notably the bombing of a Russian airplane, killing 224 people, and a series of attacks in Paris on the night of Nov.13, 2015, killing 130 people.

Memorable moments

Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar 

The only important event of the 2010’s is that DiCaprio won best actor in 2016 for his role in The Revenant. He had been nominated six times prior to his first win.

Said goodbye to Harry Potter

The last Harry Potter movie came out in 2011, ending the 14-year saga of the Wizarding World. The movie series brought in over $7 billion, and the book series sold over 450 million copies with a similar estimated revenue.

Discovery of the Higgs boson 

The Higgs field is theorized to be what gives matter mass and is made up of a particle called the Higgs boson. This particle has been theorized since the 1960s, but was only detected in 2012. This helps add to the understanding of the Standard Model, a theory that explains t hree of the four fundamental forces in physics.

Ice Bucket Challenge

The viral phenomenon of people dumping buckets of ice water over themselves to raise awareness for ALS and fundraise for the ALS Foundation took place in 2014. Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. participated in the challenge. The campaign raised over $10 million in 30 days, and funded a number of projects. One of these was Project MinE who, in 2016, were able to identify a gene associated with ALS which could possibly lead to a treatment.

First photo of a black hole

We got to see the first ever photo of a black hole, located more than 50 million lightyears away in the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy. The photo was created by the Event Horizon Telescope project, a global collaboration of more than 200 scientists using observatories around the world, ranging from the South Pole to Hawaii. It took more than two years to assemble all the photos gathered from all observatories to create an actual image of the black hole.

Discovering new species

Biologists discovered new species at an incredible rate, averaging approximately 18,000 per year. Some of these include the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey and the Vangunu giant rat. New categories for animals were made to describe newfound fish with “hands” and frogs smaller than a dime. Yet, in 2019, scientists warned that a quarter of plant and animal populations are at risk of extinction.


I’m a journalist and an activist. Deal with it

In September, the Global Climate Strike took the world by storm with approximately 7.6 million people marching for climate action.

According to its organizers, this was the biggest climate mobilization in history. People sent a clear message to their governments: they expect climate action, and they expect it now. With approximately 500,000 people striking in Montreal, this was the largest strike in the city’s history, said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

I was part of the march both as a journalist and an engaged citizen. I wonder if my objectivity could be discredited, since I personally share values with some climate activists and align myself with certain environmental movements.

Many journalists think it’s important to keep a distance from groups and movements, at the risk of losing credibility and thus the trust of readers. I’m aware that I have my own perspectives that impact the filter through which I view and describe events; and inevitably shades the, so to say, “truth.” However, I truly believe that being aware of these biases can only encourage me to be more objective and motivated to deliver the “truth.”

Objectivity is thought of as an absolute – journalists are either 100 per cent objective, or not at all. But in fact, journalists, like other human beings, are all subjective. They too, have their own interests, values, opinions and ideologies. I believe that, consciously or not, these values shape who they are, what they think and how they act as citizens as well as journalists. My personal interests are based on environmental and social issues and I believe in climate change and the need to act now. The planet is the number one subject I want to report on and I believe my interests and experiences in this field can add value to my journalism.

There is also this fantasy that journalists are independent and serve only the public. In theory, journalism is meant to deliver the truth and help the readers make their own opinion about the world, beyond the influence of any source of power, such as the government or private companies. I believe that in reality, even the most conscientious and cautious journalist can be influenced either by powerful sources or by various situations. For example, influences may come from the political views of the news organization the journalist works for.

Moreover, in my opinion, there are always two – if not more – sides to a story. The concept of “balance” can give you the impression that both sides should always be covered equally. But should they really? Journalists can sometimes give equal voice to people of unequal knowledge. For example, when covering stories linked to the constant debate on the existence of a climate urgency, journalists tend to grant equal importance to both scientists and global warming sceptics. Fearful of being seen as biased or discriminating certain opinions, they sometimes don’t help but confuse and mislead the public opinion.

Also, depending on deliberate choices concerning the materials used to depict an event or news, such as the composition of the pictures taken during a protest or the words used to describe the event, journalists can convey different sides of a story. They may do it unconsciously as they are sometimes just following news conventions, like publishing a picture showing the one violent demonstrator in a peaceful protest. It makes a more compelling photo than showing peaceful marchers, but I don’t think this depicts the actual event as it happened. I believe it is part of the journalists’ job to break barriers between people of different opinions and not only share what people do, but why they do it.

As part of my studies as well as my personal interests, I decided to join an environmental movement last July, to better understand activism and its link to journalism. Born in France, known for its revolutionary people, I had never joined any protest or any march before and had always thought protesters were very different from me. But the more I started attending protests, the more I realized how alike we were. This made me realize that there is a very powerful stereotype among the public opinion concerning activism. More and more, I could see that activism was often portrayed as violent, and activists as harmful troublemakers.

On the other hand, when I went to protests myself, I could see how peaceful they actually were and how cautious they had to be to fight against this misinterpretation commonly held in the public opinion that they’re the ones messing with the system. I believe journalists matter in this, since they have a certain influence on the public opinion.

Journalists decide what is news. Journalists are the ones to attach relative importance to news events. Readers interpret those events through the language that journalists choose to constitute their coverage. 

It’s obviously very difficult to leave my personal interests out of my work life, and I think that it’s a journalist’s responsibility to have integrity in their work. There will always be an inherent link between the authenticity of my work and my values, and it would be hypocritical to hide it. I strongly believe that if I acknowledge my personal interests, am conscious that I may have biased first reactions but am willing to try my best to deliver factual reports, I should not be considered any differently than other reporters, and I believe my knowledge of the ecological crisis can make me even better equipped to talk about such issues.


Photo by Britanny Clarke


Climate Stories: An Inuk Perspective

Jason Sikoak hosted a workshop at 4th Space on Nov. 20 about Indigenous art and climate justice.

An Inuk Perspective, with Jason Sikoak is an event part of the five-year project led by Elizabeth Fast, an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia.

The project is called Land as our teacher, and, according to Fast, it occurs “to create land-based programming by and for Indigenous youth to understand the impact [of land-based teachings].” Her initiative has a lot of collaborators, as well as an Indigenous youth advisory council, as she explained.

Land as our teacher is not about raising awareness to non-Indigenous people, but forming a safe space to promote exchanges between communities and connection with nature.

Uniting nations through their roots is a great way to heal Indigenous difficulties, according to Fast. She agreed that Indigenous perspectives have a wholesome and sustainable approach in relation to the environment and community, to name a few.

She also explained how meaningful the project is, especially for Indigenous youth who grew up disconnected from their culture and land for reasons related to colonization.

Fast is driven by offering Indigenous youth land connectedness she did not experience growing up in Manitoba. Understanding the interaction with nature shaped an essential part of Indigenous peoples’ language, culture and identity.

“Some land-based teachings have been lost,” Fast said.

This initiative is purposefully addressing problems within Indigenous communities such as lateral violence, Fast said. It is the result of various assimilation and discrimination policies from the Federal and Provincial governments. According to Indigenous Services Canada, about 30 Indigenous communities across the country still don’t have access to clean water to this date.

Fast acknowledges the lack of education regarding Indigenous knowledge and culture and encourages a focus on Indigenous perspectives. She reiterates her support of The Indigenous Directions Action Plan, a Concordia based initiative, which promotes decolonization and Indigenization of the University with concrete steps.

This workshop was also meant to acknowledge art as a vehicle for social and environmental progress. Its facilitator, Jason Sikoak, who is from Nunatsiavut, an Inuit territory in Newfoundland and Labrador, taught attendees on how to make painted designs on fabric bags. He stressed the importance of making sustainable art with reusable and recycled material.

Sikoak’s perspective on climate change is based on territorial exploration with his father who witnessed the deterioration of the land over the course of his life. The artist started to address environmental issues with his art after his brother got arrested during the Muskrat Falls protest in Manitoba over the Lower Churchill project.

The ongoing hydroelectric project, next to Muskrat Falls in Labrador, requires the flooding of a 41-square-kilometre reservoir for the dam. This reservoir is home to soil and plants which contain mercury, and flooding can release carbon that fuels a process called methylation. According to an article published by the CBC, this phenomenon generates the formation of methylmercury, a neurotoxin linked to health problems. It can poison food supplies, especially fish, which is essential for Inuit survival.

Hydroelectricity is seen as a great green alternative, but it actually devastates Indigenous lands, explained Sikoak. Flooding thousands of hectares of forest destroys the fauna and flora as well as impacting the population who depends upon it.

Sikoak insisted on the importance of everyday behaviour regarding a sustainable lifestyle such as avoiding single-use items, buying local, and using reusable bags.

In addition to individual behaviours, collective initiatives such as environmental art proposed by Greenpeace and climate strikes are creating more exposure. A significant example is the climate march on Sept. 27, with approximately half a million protesters in the streets of Montreal demanding for the government to make environmental changes.

Regardless of an individual’s understanding of the state of the environment, the workshop demonstrated that we are directly affected by climate change and it is only by uniting that we can redefine governance and the way large corporations operate.

“We can’t eat money,” Sikoak said.


Photos by Cecilia Piga


Why we have all fallen victim to greenwashing

Have you ever noticed that your favourite shampoo is now mysteriously in a green bottle, with shaded trees and reminding you that plastic can be recycled?

Or maybe you feel like the paper towel you usually buy to wipe your dirty counter is helping you change the world because it has a leaf on it? Did that kombucha bottle come up from the roots of the earth, or is that just the new design?

If any of these scenarios resonate with you, you might be a victim of a marketing tool called greenwashing. This term was coined by an environmentalist named Jay Westerveld in the 1980s, “to describe companies which grossly overstate the environmental or ethical benefits of their products and services.”

That’s right, 1980. We have been manipulated by falsely sustainable products for almost 40 years and the trend is only growing. This marketing tool could not be more valuable in our modern economy, as everyday we collectively panic about the climate crisis.

Many of us are doing what we think is right by buying what we think are sustainable products. Capitalism has a funny way of turning a disastrous crisis into an economic opportunity, with big companies exploiting and manipulating the market for their personal gain.

One of the main issues with greenwashing is that defining sustainability is not as straightforward as it is marketed to be. We tend to respond well to simplified categories and digestible explanations, but sustainability is a very complex issue. It is often defined as maintaining ecological balance or being environmentally conscious, but these terms are vague, and companies are using this to their advantage.

Let’s take a look at a textbook greenwashing example: Fiji water bottles. Fiji as a company has done a very effective job at perpetuating a message that they will help you connect with nature. One of their slogans was “a gift from nature to us.” Not to mention, they got a cute little girl to say it, which creeped me out, but seemed to work for others. The creepy little girl also says, “bottled at the source, untouched by man.” I mean, it’s beyond me how they created mass amounts of bottled water without touching anything. Also, where is that girl’s mother? Anyway, the irony here is obvious. Fiji promotes connection to nature, while feeding into the destruction of it.

According Our Changing Planet, 47 per cent of Fijians do not have access to clean, safe water. This company is sending a message that they are saving forests and creating sustainable change, but it’s propaganda. The unnerving thing is, even though, New York Times Magazine came out with an article criticizing Fiji’s integrity in 2008, the company is still a massive capitalist giant. Although we can rationalize the clear intent of the company, they are professional manipulators. We have to push back against our instincts to get lost in a little girl’s cute voice and a pretty forest background.

My consumer conscience relaxes when I clean my toilet bowl with a green bottle. I fall for buzzwords like “all natural,” “eco-friendly,” and “sustainable” all the time. A lot of people do — that’s why companies continue to do it. This being said, we have more control than we think. There are good companies out there — but greenwashing is loud and invasive, and often drown them out.

Try your best to buy local products and try to avoid chains when possible. I know that sometimes this can be more expensive, but often choosing the more environmental choice just takes a bit more time and research. When you are buying products keep in mind where they are coming from, how much packaging they use and what ingredients they consist of, although this is just the tip of the melting iceberg.

Like Our Changing Planet states, “One of the greenest things you can do is to buy fewer things. No matter how great the product is, it’s probably still kind of deceptive to market it as green.”

So remember, mass consumption of sustainable goods is a harmful paradox, and for goodness sake, get a reusable water bottle. 



Photo by Britanny Clarke



Student Life

Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac citizens try getting their lives back on track six months after floods

At around 11:30 p.m. on April 27, an officer knocked on the front door of my home in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac. They informed my family and I that we were under mandatory evacuation. The water levels had been steadily rising since the dike broke a few hours prior, at around 7 p.m., and we knew it would eventually reach our house. 

We spent a lot of the evening walking around the neighbourhood, trying to speak to as many people as possible to better understand and assess the situation we were in. The other part was spent packing and preparing for the worst.

Vehicles lined up along the street, officials urging citizens to evacuate the flooded area. Photo by Victoria Blair.

It wasn’t until 8 a.m. the next morning that we got a call from one of our neighbours, who told us the water was now a few inches below our front door. My mom was devastated;  she spent the past 20 years making that house our home and the thought of losing it made all of us heartbroken.


Later that day, when we were finally able to get to our house, after having walked through waist-high water, we saw the extent of the damage to our town. Debris was floating around, windows of houses were broken and people were rushing around, trying to save as much as possible.

We were incredibly lucky. We had the time to prepare ourselves and our house, and for a few hours, we were even allowed to return after the water came, but others weren’t so lucky.

“I had to leave within nine minutes,” said Bridgette Pruneau, one of the affected citizens. “In nine minutes, I had to leave my whole life behind.” She was one among hundreds of others who had only moments to grab their most prized possessions and leave the rest behind.

To avoid mold forming in their homes, citizens had to strip the interiors of many of the houses on 34e Ave. on May 2. Photo by Victoria Blair.

“The government put the dikes in place to avoid having a situation like this happen,” said Kim Doucet, another one of the evacuees. “But because of negligence, it happened, and it’s so much worse. We weren’t able to prepare ourselves properly because we thought the dike would hold.”

The last major flood in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac was in 1976, which is also when the government decided to build the dike. According to a study led by l’École Polytechnique de Montréal, the provincial government wanted to map out the flood zones and establish preventive measures to reduce damages caused by floods. The dike had held up for over 40 years, making the area a no-flood-risk zone.

The citizens of Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac suffered a great loss that day: our homes, our memories and much more – but we didn’t expect the effects of this loss to last so long. It’s been six months since the floods, and most citizens still haven’t returned to a normal way of life. Some may never be able to.

The majority of people affected by the flood are frustrated with the government. The process of getting information or funding to repair the damages is incredibly complicated and time consuming.

“I’m now out on the street with four animals to take care of and no home to return to,” said Pruneau. “The government isn’t helping us, nor sharing information with us, information that could help us with our next step.”

Water came up just below the door of this truck, approximately thigh deep for the people walking through it.

One of my neighbours, Jean-Guy Leprohon, spent approximately $20,000 to fix the damages to his house caused by the flood. The city sent an inspector to verify if it was deemed safe to live in. If deemed unsafe, the municipal government offered three options: move, repair the house, or to demolish and rebuild. Last week, he was informed that his home would have to be demolished.


He’s happy that he and his family will soon have a safe home to live in, but the fact that it took so long for someone to come and properly inspect the house is very disappointing. Had he known that his house would be demolished, he never would have invested so much into the repairs. The Ministry of Public Security (MSP) sent an inspector in May to act as the eyes of the government and report on the damages. The report that the inspector sent to the MSP is quite different from the report that was made by the city one.

“When the inspector came to assess the damage at my home, he was not dressed to assess such a situation,” said Doucet. “He didn’t bother going downstairs, he just took pictures of the pictures that I took. That’s it.”

In a Facebook group created by the flood victims, many people have come forward with similar claims. Among them, many have also shared that they are still waiting for money from the provincial government. They have shown concern over the fact that winter is coming, but the money promised from the government isn’t.

“I feel like a prisoner in my own home,” said Doucet. “I can’t afford to leave, nor can I afford to fix things.”


Photos by Victoria Blair

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