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New Black Generation initiative offers a helping hand

Discover the new all-black female youth group supporting black students.

Imagine Jamaican dancehall music playing through loudspeakers. A semi-circle of people cheering on two dancers, dressed in matching red shirts and black pants. Bright blue lights shine off the brown skin of attendees and decorate the walls as they clap and dance along. On the outskirts of the crowd of last year’s event, co-founder Anaïssa Dauphin watched the success of New Black Generation’s first talent show. 

Formed in 2023, New Black Generation is a newly formed organization made for Black youth in Montreal. Run by four Black women, the group is made of a collection of students from Vanier College and Concordia University. 

New Black Generation teaches and hosts events like last year’s talent show “to educate, uplift, and inspire” Black youth, as described in their mission statement.  

“It’s basically like a community that we’re trying to build for […] young Black people who have big dreams and ambitions but kind of lack the support,” Dauphin explained. “Whether it be through school or family, […] we try to provide a platform and support system for them.”

While Dauphin is a first-year journalism student at Concordia, she’s already invested in many Black-centered communities at Concordia. As an ambassador of the Haitian Student Association of Concordia (HSAC) and the African Student Association of Concordia (ASAC), Dauphin wanted to give more to the community, leading her to form New Black Generation.

“I grew up in a family that’s really involved in the community. So, I’ve always [seen] my mom, my grandma, doing stuff for the community and it kind of became second nature to me,” Dauphin said. “I felt like I owed that to the community as well and it’s always been something I’m passionate about, and just as a young Black woman in the community, I see the needs. I see stuff that I wish that I had as well, and I think that it’s kind of the same thing with my friends.”

Dauphin’s mother and grandmother used to work in an association called La Maison d’Haïti for people of Haitian origin, including young mothers and teen girls. Dauphin said seeing this in her youth and participating in it inspired her to create New Black Generation. 

Even though Dauphin was already involved with other associations with the Black community, she formed New Black Generation with her friends to work towards the goal of providing service to the local Black community in a unique way. As youths themselves, it gives them a different opportunity to interact with the youths of the Black community. 

 “[Sometimes], most of the associations for Black youth are run by adults and people who are older […] and we just want people who are in our age groups, people who are our peers to just share things with and to be led by,” Dauphin said.

New Black Generation is a youth group made outside of Concordia. This means the youth group has more reach, being open to the larger community beyond schooling. “[It] opens doors for environments where people in two […] different worlds could meet,” Dauphin says. “It just merges gaps […] and that’s important to me.”

New Black Generation also works to offer solutions to some challenges. Dauphin explained that the Black community faces a “lack of support” and understanding from the older generation in the struggles Black youth face in current times. 

“I feel like there is such a large gap between us and [our] parents or grandparents, where they don’t have the same reality as us,” Dauphin said. 

Dauphin believes the New Black Generation can help address this issue. “[This] is why we named the association New Black Generation, to let people know that people who are your age understand your struggle, we understand what you are going through,” Dauphin said.

Through events hosted by New Black Generation, like the talent show, Dauphin made some observations on the Black Concordia community: “I’ve seen that we really have a lot of talent, and determination to reach our goals, which is where the idea came from in the first place.”

With this common ground, Dauphin hopes to foster that talent and determination she sees in the community.

“I’ve seen that with the right support and the right motivation, we can achieve so much,” she said.

The other members attest to her efforts. Josephine Vilna, a graduating Architectural Technology student at Vanier and one of the founding members of New Black Generation, said Dauphin has greatly impacted the community with her work and her “great ideas,” adding that she is a “great motivator” for change.

Vilna said New Black Generation is “providing a safe space for the Black youth to grow and develop.” With Dauphin’s guidance, New Black Generation is on track to steadily achieve their goals. 

“We are here to educate and positively impact people who have the same problem that a person with our color has,” said Sabrina Buteau, another co-founder of the organization. “We are creating a safe place for them to express themselves and feel safe.”

Dauphin also spoke on her plans for future outreach. “We’re still very new but we have a lot in store for this year, and we really hope to be able to reach more than just younger people like teenagers,” Dauphin said. “We want to reach people at Concordia and other universities and colleges as well.”

Currently, they are only operating through their Instagram page, @new.black.generation. However, they hope to expand their team soon.

“Everyone is allowed to be in the team,” Buteau said. “We need every kind of talent here. The more we are, the better it will be.”

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Features News

A space for cultural nomads

The Concordia Canadian Asian Society is a home in-between cultures.

Concordia University counts a little over 35,000 undergraduate students, a number that can make even the most sociable feel lost. The Concordia Canadian Asian Society (CCAS) immerses students in a multicultural hub through various Asian traditions that bring comfort and remind many students of home.

The club comprises over 30 executives and has over 3000 members on their Facebook group. They host around five events a semester, but hold daily office hours, and meet up regularly. The club enlivens students’ semesters with different events, like the Lunar New Year, bake sales, Halloween gatherings, and opens their event to anyone interested.  “We had a lot of people who come out to support who are not necessarily Asian and are just interested in learning,” said Anthony Lum, the club’s senior advisor.

The club values any form of cultural exchange and encourages non-Asian people to appreciate and learn about aspects of Asian culture. However, on recent occasions, members felt an urgent need to reinforce the safe environment they promised their members.   

While this engagement from open-minded students is an excellent support system for the CCAS, it has also been a source of concern for the members. Lum refers to instances when individuals attending club events made people uncomfortable. He recalled a Halloween event hosted by the club, where certain attendees behaved inappropriately. “It turns more into appropriation versus appreciation,” Lum said. 

Discomfort arose when unwanted romantic advances were persistently made toward club members. “People were trying to talk to and get girls’ numbers, to the point that it made many of our members express discomfort. They are not trying to talk to everyone; they are specifically aiming for Asians,” Lum said.

Lum explained how they’ve encountered instances involving “creepier, older, non-Asian individuals who aren’t necessarily students, trying to attend our events.”

These negative interactions have pushed the CCAS to take safety precautions in organizing events that are open to the public by increasing security, designating safe rooms and monitoring their events attentively. 

Worried, the society is adamant about protecting their space, as it provides a crucial space for those feeling lost between cultures to express themselves and find community. The club remains committed to safeguarding a place many call home.

The yearning for a place to call home is more complex than the nostalgia of a location, as most CCAS members were raised in the province and have never left their place of birth. “Many of us feel the sentiment that if you’re born here and you are the visible minority, we feel like we don’t fully belong here,” Lum said.

Lum himself feels like he stands out. “Around the West Island, I was the only Asian in the area. And then I go to Asia and visit where my family is from. I still don’t belong because I’m Canadian. I don’t speak the language; I’m not from there,” Lum said. 

Lum encounters challenges in fully understanding both cultures and recognizing the existence of a middle ground where individuals like him can develop a sense of belonging. This feeling has influenced his involvement with CCAS, as the club strives to reconcile the feeling of cultural disconnect.

“A significant number of our members are from international locations outside of Canada or Quebec,” said William Tan, CCAS co-president. Many have expressed how the club creates a space where they can forge connections with anyone who shares their interests, regardless of nationality.

This feeling is shared by member Yanh Lee, the CCAS’s photographer and videographer. 

“I grew up here in Montreal. I never really learned Vietnamese; I had to self-learn it. People that are native to my own origins tend to make fun of how I speak in my own dialect,” Lee said. 

Lee explained that the CCAS goes beyond language barriers and allows him to feel comfortable with the shared experiences of the group. The connection he shares with fellow members goes beyond shared cultural backgrounds; he feels seen as an individual, allowing for deeper conversations and relationships. 

“CCAS embraces me and understands who I am as a person,” he said. He has found that the connection the society offers has given him a place to be truly creative.

Often understood as a homogeneous entity, the diversity of Asian traditions, languages, and customs creates many opportunities for cultural exchange among the society’s members. CCAS embodies the common value of sharing collective experiences brought by each unique culture within the Asian diaspora. 

The CCAS embodies an exploration of the ways differences in Asian cultures contribute to feelings of comfort among members. “The way you make dumplings across Asian cultures is slightly different, but also slightly the same,” Lum noted during a recent dumpling-making event. The event was a series of exchanges that compared techniques and preferences when making dumplings, revealing the differences in each culture. 

“It’s really cool to see the differences through the things that we have in common,” he said, capturing the essence of CCAS’s fundamental goal to facilitate exchanges within the diversity of Asian cultures in a safe and united environment.

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Quashing isolation through the third place

These spaces encourage casual social connection and are essential for community building. 

It’s crazy how easy it is to feel isolated when there are so many people all around us. University and other school settings are the environments in which we’re surrounded by the most opportunities for social connection and community-building, yet so many students still suffer from the feeling of loneliness. 

People I know have reported feeling as though they aren’t connected to their universities, that they go to school for class and then come home, living in a state of separation from the places they inhabit. “University doesn’t feel like an experience,” my friend confessed the other day. 

On this topic, I highly recommend the video essay “third places, stanley cup mania, and the epidemic of loneliness” by YouTuber Mina Le. She delves into this phenomenon, namely in the context of young people having difficulty forming strong social connections in an age where so much of our connection happens online. The cure? Third places. 

Third places are spaces whose primary function is social connection. While the first place is the home and the second place is work, the third place is somewhere that’s accessible to the public with little or no monetary restriction, and provides the opportunity to just casually hang out. In a third place, you might run into people without planning to or meet people you might not have met under normal circumstances. Think community centers, public parks, lounges, and cafés.

One reason third places are so special is that there is little effort required to have these social connections. It’s increasingly difficult these days to make plans, with conflicting schedules and the stress of university. Third places are low-pressure and low-commitment, and provide the thrill of spontaneity as well as the comfort of familiarity. 

In The Atlantic, journalist Allie Conti wrote about the “forgotten art of hanging out” and the decline of third places as leisure becomes more privatized. With rising prices and growing mistrust among individuals, third places have become less accessible. I would argue that as we grow older, third places also become more and more difficult to find. As kids, we had mandated third places in the form of recess, and it seems like most of high school was spent hanging out in random stairwells and hallways rather than learning. 

Once we graduate school entirely, third places become nearly non-existent, especially for people who work from home or simply work too much. In university, we’re at a unique point where third places are everywhere, but nobody is forcing us into them. It’s therefore up to the individual to seek them out, and I think everybody should do so. 

I’m a huge fan of third places, and have always been at my happiest when there’s been a good third place to engage in. My entire CEGEP experience was one big third place, because I lived, went to school, and worked in the same building. This sort of community enhances life so much and is essential for well-being. Third places at and around Concordia include student lounges, the library (if, like me, you spend 95 per cent of your time there mindlessly chattering), and Frigo Vert, the quintessential third place.

Of course, third places do still require effort from the individual—they aren’t an instant cure for a lack of connection. The key is that they provide practice and opportunities. It’s too easy to come into school everyday and never truly engage. But if you’ve been craving a better sense of community, go to the third places. 

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Arts and Culture Community Culture

The art of teaching yourself a new language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opinions

Are we all just living the same life in different fonts?

Don’t be fooled—social media capitalizes on relatability and social isolation.

Do you ever see a meme or video on social media that is oddly specific and relatable to you? I always find it so unsettling how well my algorithm knows me, from my taste in music and books, right down to personal experiences that I thought were unique.

I’ve stumbled upon videos lately that really made me sit back, set my phone aside and stare at the wall. Seeing memes related to our secret little quirks or even our very specific and seemingly unique past trauma can be ruled out as coincidence; however, it seems every single piece of content I come across lately is eerily accurate.

Yes, I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix when it came out—it still haunts me. I also read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. That’s how I learned that the algorithm compiles data from likes, comments, shares, and other interactions, and that some social media even record the amount of time you spend on a specific post and where your gaze catches on the screen. I’m always painfully aware that social media preys on my attention and time, which the algorithm then uses to throw me into a vicious cycle of doom scrolling.

However, I also realize that users capitalize on relatability. We all (subconsciously or not) know the golden rule to success on social media: if people don’t relate to you, they simply won’t care. My own experience in business communications taught me how hard content creators work to get on the “For You” page. They have to work with the system, but they also feed it more tools to reel us all in.

So what if my algorithm notices that I am a Swiftie eagerly anticipating the announcement of  Reputation (Taylor’s Version), that I have a “golden retriever” boyfriend, that I secretly dream of owning a book and plant shop joined to a cat café (apparently it’s a “feminine urge”), that my Roman Empire is being a woman in a man’s world, and that I am afraid of the dark? Is it really so bad that my social media feed is so meticulously tailored?

The answer to that question will depend on how you answer this one: Is social media a means for entertainment, or to gain information? Part of me wants to say it’s just entertainment and it doesn’t really matter. But another part of me is screaming that my algorithm is putting me into niche boxes and shuttering me from the bigger picture of the world. I find myself consuming mindless content instead of learning about the war and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, for example. I have to go out of my way to learn about that.

It always gets me when I see someone comment: “Are we all just living the same life in different fonts?” Your social media feed is giving you that impression, showing you oddly specific videos you’d send your best friend in a heartbeat. Your algorithm knows that if you are entertained and you feel seen in a world where human connection is blurred by screens, it will keep your attention just a bit longer.

Am I really a die-hard Swiftie, or am I just being overexposed to that content? Is that video really “so me!” or does it just touch on something I can somewhat relate to? Are these memes truly relatable, or am I just yearning for a vague sense of community and belonging in a socially-isolated generation?

Did you find this article relatable? If so, I’ve succeeded in the golden rule. Welcome to the Social Media Existential Crisis Club, where we question this warped sense of belonging and combat the negative effects of the algorithm on important information sharing.

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Arts and Culture Community Culture Student Life

Resisting the threat of cultural dissolution: Associazione Casacalendese di Montréal.

Many of Montreal’s Italian associations are disbanding due to a decline in communal participation, yet one in particular thrives amidst adversity.

On Nov. 11, 2023, sounds of laughter, clinking glasses, and gleeful reminiscing danced across the walls at Roma Receptions as a room of nostalgic  countrymen honoured their cultural heritage and celebrated l’Associazione Casacalendese di Montréal’s 99th anniversary. 

During a speech, Jon Carlo Santangelo, the group’s president, highlighted the strength of membership and attendance within the association, praising the community and wholly attributing their successes to the people’s efforts. “We are 100 percent self-financed… we’re not open to the public, and we are restrictive in membership, and there is a stigma that these associations are your grandparent’s associations. But in the last two years, we have been building ourselves up, and people are joining and coming back around after Covid. Last year was our first banquet post-Covid, and we had 120 people. We had 175 this year,” he said.   

While members of this Montreal-based Italian association celebrate their collective prosperity with food, wine, music, and good company, members of many other associations within the city have been adapting to a life devoid of such celebrations. 

Most associations in Montreal representing a specific Italian town/area were founded between the 1940s and the 1980s to financially support Italian immigrants with no ties to this city, allowing them to bond with people from their hometown. Not only do the members of Italian associations share regional ties, but many are genetically linked and discover deeper genealogical roots through the exchange of cultural insight and anecdote. 

Today, Montreal’s Italian community is in a transitional period as the older generations that have defined the community and held such an essential role in its survival are passing away. With their passing comes the passing of traditions and practices that the younger generations are not actively preserving. As a result, membership rates across Montreal have drastically decreased in the last 10 years, with eight associations from the Southern Italian region of Molise alone shutting down in a period of five years. 

While Santangelo’s association celebrated in November, Angela D’Orazio, a former member of the Grupo Recreativo Montenerodomo from the province of Chieti, Abruzzo, is still processing the demise, after 51 years, of her association that once hosted its own gathering in the basement of the Mount-Carmel Church. “We threw a last party [a few months ago] and the turnout was amazing; it was one of our biggest turnouts. You know, we used to go to halls, get dressed up, buy new outfits, gun blazing, and here we were, in the basement of a church. Everyone knew it was the last meeting, but all the old members came—they came in wheelchairs—and I was in tears,” D’Orazio said.. 

Mimma Scarola, a former member of l’Associazione Maria Santissima di Merllitto from the region of Grumo, Appula in Bari, echoed D’Orazio’s sentiments. Her association shut down 10 years ago, after participation had been in steep decline during the last five years of its existence. “My family was so involved, so our younger generations loved to go—we enjoyed it. My kids still ask me about it now, but it wasn’t like that for everyone. There were a lot of people from the association who didn’t participate as much, and you couldn’t even get them to come to the parties. When they [older members] started dying out, their kids didn’t come,” Scarola said.  

Francesca Sacerdoti, assistant director at the Congrès National des Italo-Canadiens (région Québec), has seen a substantial increase in interest regarding the Italian culture in Montreal, but not necessarily from Italians themselves. Being an organizer of the annual Italfest, a two-week celebration of Montreal’s Italian heritage in the heart of the city, Sacerdoti noted that the festival is growing in attendance every year. However, she acknowledged that members of the Italian community are generally less active than they used to be. 

Sacerdoti’s  colleague, Terry Lorito, believes the cause for declining participation is that the younger Italian generations are “too integrated into our society.”  “They’re Canadians, they’re Quebecers, and their Italian comes third,” Lorito said.

Despite the dwelling concerns, President  Santangelo has high hopes for the future of l’Associazione Casacalendese di Montréal. “As long as the Italian identity is alive, people will want to flock to it, but we need a rebirth, and I think that’s what we’re successful in with the association.” The association brings  in youthful participation through their scholarship program. They also encourage families to attend events by blending the music at parties for the young and old, marketing their celebrations across social media, and tailoring their  efforts towards the future. “I think if we can keep it real but pivot just a little bit, then I think we should be okay,” he concluded. 

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Opinions

The (back)stage of gaming community moderation

The gaming industry has done so much more than you think to keep the game community a better and safer place to be.

While the pandemic had a negative impact on various industries, the gaming industry was not only resilient but also consolidated itself in a growing profit loop. Even throughout the lockdowns, it stood out with revenues exceeding USD $174 billion, according to Newzoo.

As the gaming industry thrived, it created new job opportunities to meet the demands of a growing online audience. To understand the magnitude of this growth, Steam recorded an all-time high of 23.6 million average users in April 2020. Today, the gaming platform reported 33 million peak concurrent players. In 2022, at the tail end of the pandemic, streaming platform Twitch’s audience watched approximately 1.3 trillion minutes of video content, which is double the amount of time spent in 2019. With such rapid growth, commercial community moderators are essential to ensure safety and enjoyment in the virtual universe.

Monitoring progress, maintaining stability and ensuring the safety of those who publish and consume content on a digital gaming platform is a social and mental challenge. These people work to guarantee a healthy space for those who turn on their consoles and PCs to distract themselves. 

During the pandemic, commercial community moderators who were previously incognito on social media were called to the stage and the world learned about their valiant activities. In the post-pandemic era, the discussion surrounding the future of commercial community moderation has shifted with the arrival of the new act: the impact of artificial intelligence. As AI becomes a significant player in various sectors, including gaming community moderation, a careful and strategic approach is needed to balance the unique contributions of human moderators with the growing role of AI.

The tool seems to emerge more as a support rather than a replacement. The ability to understand contexts, judge critically, and discern terms, dialects, and distinct uses of language is better left to the human mind, but this does not erase the countless skills and contributions that AI can bring. The best match would be combining AI with human activity in game moderation, as AI could be used to lessen the burden placed on gaming moderators and optimize their work. Montreal is one of the hubs of gaming community moderation, and the companies based here have a unique perspective on the valuable activity of the moderators. Thinking about sharing the stage with AI could make their show even greater knowing that the tools can improve their activity and ensure a better place to be and play. 

In the evolving landscape of the gaming industry, the symbiotic relationship between human moderators and AI emerges as the key to maintaining an enjoyable virtual universe. As the sector continues to flourish, it’s clear that while AI is a valuable ally, it’s the harmonious fusion of human expertise and the tool capabilities that will shape the future of commercial community moderation in gaming.

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Arts Arts and Culture Student Life

Celebrating queer joy at FASA’s cabaret

Students gathered at Sala Rossa for a night of performances, tarot readings and dancing in support of Concordia University’s Centre for Gender Advocacy.

In the face of the finely-veiled bigotry that is festering in and beyond Canada, the LGBTQ2S+ community continues to exhibit unwavering resilience toward discrimination. Mere days after the “1 Million March 4 Children”—a euphemistic name for what was, unquestionably, an outright demonstration of anti-trans hatred—Concordia’s Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) held their final orientation event: their Queer Cabaret.   

The event was held at La Sala Rossa on Montréal’s bustling St. Laurent Boulevard. The venue was full of celebratory energy with flashy, colorful lights drenching the space in reds and blues as the attendees let loose. The performers unleashed their uninhibited joy through spectacles of self-determination—dance, vogue, drag and acrobatics. The audience, full of awe and pride, cheered them on.  

Students compete on stage for best performance at Sala Rossa. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

As burlesque dancers took to the stage and competed for best performance, tarot readers told fortunes in a mysterious booth off to the side of the dance floor. After the performances, DJ Mcherry’s set filled the room with a club-like atmosphere, welcoming the audience to take to the stage and dance the night away. 

The Cabaret was the second completely sold-out event held by FASA this month. The overwhelming turn-out demonstrated the student body’s ardent support of LGBTQ2S+ members and their willingness to show up in support. This echoed the same hopeful numbers that came out to counter-protest the 1 Million March.

“I think this shows the amazing community that we have in Montréal,” said a FASA organiser to the crowd. “The best way to move forward and keep each other strong is through community organising, showing solidarity and taking care of everyone around you, especially trans and nonbinary people and everyone who felt affected by the 1 Million March.”

Students gather at Sala Rossa for FASA’s queer cabaret night. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

What emerged from the evening was a reinforced belief in the power of collective energy and joy as revolutionary forces. As we continue to battle injustice, we must continue to prioritise our physical and mental health.

The event hosted a fundraiser for Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy, whose mission is to provide a safe haven for the university’s queer community. The organisation participated in the event with a pop-up table full of resources for students, ranging from free condoms and pamphlets on safe sex practices to guides on how to access gender-affirming care at Concordia. 

“We will continue to do everything in our power as a small organisation to provide services, programming and advocacy that helps as many people as we can live safely and boldly in their agency,” stated Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy in a recent announcement on instagram. 

Learn more about the centre on instagram @centreforgenderadvocacy or at their website.

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Arts and Culture Community

Concordia’s second annual Pow Wow: a photo essay

Building a safe space that recognizes Indigenous culture

Hundreds of students, faculty members and staff gathered at Concordia’s Loyola campus to celebrate the second edition of the university’s Pow Wow celebrations on Friday, Sept. 15th.

Dancer Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo performing the Crow Hop. Photo By Camila Lewandowski
Visitors had the chance to see multiple dances by different North American Indigenous and Inuit communities. Photo By Camila Lewandowski
Multidisciplinary artist Jennifer Léveillé Mcfarlane reconnected to her Indigenous heritage through acrylic painting. She uses elements from nature, such as tree leaves, to adorn her pieces. Photo By Camila Lewandowski
Jolene Robichaud’s grandmother had promised to teach her how to bead. However, life had other plans, and Robichaud learned how to bead by herself in honour of her late grandmother.
Photo By Camila Lewandowski
Ken and Lenore have been selling their regalia together for the past 35 years. Although their traveling years are behind them (they once travelled from Halifax all the way down to California), the two friends now participate in the local Pow Wows. Photo by Camila Lewandowski
Friends Virginie Ribiero, Laura Cardoso and Megan Blais share their passion for handcrafting by joining weekly beading meetings. Photo By Camila Lewandowski
Kaylah Mentour works for the Kahnawake Tourism Welcome Center, which promotes Indigenous culture amongst tourists and locals. Photo by Camila Lewandowski
JC Bear disseminates Indigenous humour through her graphic design and bead work. Photo by Camila Lewandowski.
The Indigenous Futures Research Centre empowers and promotes Indigenous culture through various workshops and conferences. From right to left: Margaret Lapp, Caeleaigh Lightning, Hamss Lujam, and Joëlle Dubé. Photo by Camila Lewandowski.
A dancer performs Métis jigging, a characteristic dance from the Red River. The jig combines First Nations dancing with Scottish and French-Canadian step-dancing. Photos by Camila Lewandowski.
Diabo greets students from a Kahnawake grade school after her first performance. Photos by Camila Lewandowski.
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Arts and Culture Student Life

Get to know AHGSA!

Concordia’s Art History Graduate Student Association hosted their first meet-and-greet of the academic year.

Concordia University’s Art History Graduate Student Association (AHGSA) kicked off the school year with a casual meet-and-greet for incoming and returning graduate students in the art history program. 

The Concordian spoke to AHGSA’s PhD representative Timmy Chandler about the executive team’s goals for this year. He emphasized their focus on fostering collegial relationships through activating social spaces and providing access for students to networking and career-building opportunities. “AHGSA acts as a liaison between art history graduate students and each other, the department/faculty/other art history student groups. There is a large scope of what projects and activities the team can propose and make happen,” said representative Margaret Lapp.  

Building a sense of community on campus in a post-lockdown world has been an enduring challenge for many student associations. AHGSA’s purpose in the past has been to organize and facilitate their annual symposium for graduate students to present their academic work and gain professional experience. 

Their latest symposium, Thrivance | Le Fleurissement, was held in April 2022. Current MA students have mixed feelings about the symposium’s hiatus during the 2022–2023 academic year due to several unfulfilled leadership positions, but this was also a reflection of AHGSA’s shifting priorities.

Chandler pointed out that this past year, the association’s funding was allocated toward smaller and more frequent social events like workshops and pop-ups, rather than one large, intimidating conference. This was an effort to make the association more accessible and approachable in order to encourage students to be more regularly involved and thus feel more connected to their peers. 

This year, the team hopes to strike a balance and continue to host small, engaging social events while also bringing back the symposium. So far, it has been a successful endeavour for the association. The meet-and-greet bustled with anecdotal stories of long-term friendships and connections being born at AHGSA’s events, such as their BYOB Park Frolic picnic, their maxed out Frigo Vert Grad Mixer, and their interdepartmental networking event hosted in collaboration with MFASASA (the Master of Fine Arts Studio Arts Association). 

AHGSA is always seeking new members and students can stay up to date with their programming by following their instagram page @ahgsaconcordia. Their profile also shares flyers for upcoming events around Montreal’s art scene within and beyond Concordia, making it a great resource for new and returning students to get involved. Be sure to check them out and stay tuned for the results of Monday’s general assembly and fall election!

Categories
Community

Community Food Centre’s “numbers have skyrocketed” post-pandemic

Team members discuss new innovations at the NDG Depot since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the past 30 years, the Depot Community Food Centre has worked day and night to provide food for low-income families. Originally founded as a temporary emergency food measure in 1986, the Depot has now grown into a crucial resource to ensure food security in NDG and the surrounding areas. 

While its primary purpose is a food bank, their Marché Depot also acts as a grocery store. Volunteers help cook food, serve participants, and stock pantries. Additionally, the centre is solely donation-based. Most of the money comes from grants from the federal and municipal government, individual donations, or charitable foundations. 

A volunteer scoops apple butter from the pot and separates sliced apples with spices. Photo by Jacqueline Lisbona/THE CONCORDIAN

Karima Dajani is the communications coordinator for the Depot. She explained that customers are given a certain amount of “depot dollars” once a month to purchase food depending on how many people are in their household. 

“The depot dollars are split, they have a budget between fresh produce and dry ingredients, and they come for their appointment once a month and shop,” Dajani said.

However, after the pandemic, the Depot Community Food Centre adapted and improved their safety measures and distribution system. According to Randa Abu Hakima, a volunteer of six years, one of the changes is that the depot no longer accepts food donations from the public.

“It’s a much better image to present to people in the community. It is food that we would eat rather than outdated cans of food or stuff people rejected from their homes,” Hakima explained. 

Dajani said the demand for their food has increased since the pandemic.

“Our numbers have skyrocketed. Not just because of COVID, but also because we’re seeing a lot more immigrants. December was by far our busiest month ever. We provided emergency food for around 2,770 individuals,” Dajani recalled. 

Dajani also explained that a new “award-winning healthy food policy” has been implemented since the pandemic. “We only serve meat at the restaurant once a week, and everything is as clean and healthy as possible, she said.” 

Okra is chopped to add to the vegan curry. Photo by Jacqueline Lisbona/THE CONCORDIAN

The COVID-19 outbreak also gave the community food centre the opportunity to reflect on their food distribution system.

“During COVID we were delivering to people, so we had to change the way we operated. We had to shift super quickly,” Dajani said, explaining that they had to stop their delivery services post-pandemic.

Despite the changes, Hakima still feels at home when she volunteers.

“I feel part of a community, a very special community and it relates to food. I love my food so I want everyone to enjoy their food and to have food so it’s a very happy and rewarding place to be.”

Categories
Community

The art of veggies and social empowerment

How rooftop farms contribute to community resilience and food security.

On a rooftop nestled in the Plateau Mont-Royal, volunteers are hard at work, like bees buzzing around a garden. The rooftop is lush with greenery, growing fresh produce for the local community. Or at least it will be in a few weeks’ time.

Santropol Roulant is a non-profit organization that grows food on their building’s roof for the local community. They cook it in their kitchen, deliver the meals to those who need them most, and compost part of the scraps thanks to The Compost Collective’s worm farm in the basement. 

“Initially, it was really like a kitchen and delivery program that focused a lot on youth volunteering,” said Adrienne Richards, the gardens and accessible agriculture coordinator at Santropol Roulant. 

The Roulant was started by the team at Café Santropol on St-Urbain Street. They realized there was a need for a meals-on-wheels service that catered to isolated people, elderly people, people with accessibility issues, and others who don’t have access to sufficient quality food to meet their needs.

According to Richards, about half of their rooftop farm’s produce goes to their meals-on-wheels service, and they currently deliver about 100 to 120 meals per day to clients, referred to them by health and social workers.

The company MicroHabitat was co-founded in 2016 by Alexandre Ferrari-Roy and Orlane Panet in Montreal to promote ecological farming in urban areas. Their role is to help their clients green their buildings, whether they be industrial, commercial, or residential. While philanthropy came first at Santropol Roulant, gardening was the starting line for MicroHabitat.

The initial goal for MicroHabitat was simply to build ecological urban farms, but their focus shifted to food security when clients started donating their produce to local organizations.

“I was actually very happy and thrilled,” Ferrari-Roy said. MicroHabitat decided to facilitate the process for their clients by creating the Urban Solidarity Farms program. “It’s the bridge between them and the food banks,” he added.

The Urban Solidarity Farms help their clients donate their harvest to organizations like Accueil Bonneau, Dans La Rue, Le Chaînon, and others. Roughly half of their projects are aimed toward giving access to healthy and fresh herbs and vegetables to local food banks. MicroHabitat also donates part of their profit to the Breakfast Club of Canada and No Kids Hungry in the United States.

Ferrari-Roy explained that food banks often don’t receive fresh produce and normally only have access to lower-quality food or non-perishables. “We see the impact of our work when we’re donating,” he says. “It can definitely make someone’s life better to eat something fresh and tasty.”

While these rooftop farms give locals access to fresh and healthy produce, volunteers also benefit from the experience. “People are committed and willing to give so much of their time and energy because we’ve created a meaningful system,” Richards said. 

Meanwhile, at Concordia University, the mind.heart.mouth initiative started by researcher Andrea Tremblay looks at gardening as a vessel to build community resilience. Tremblay quickly noticed positive impacts on volunteers through her doctoral research around the buzzing network of people tending to the garden.

Tremblay recalled a volunteer who was in cancer remission a few years ago who had never grown food before. When Tremblay saw a ripe cucumber on its vine, she decided to save it for her. “She told me she’d never seen a cucumber grow,” Tremblay said. “When I showed it to her, she just burst into tears and said that was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.”

The woman had been very shy until that moment, but everyone at the garden came to hug her. “It really sealed the small community of the garden,” Tremblay said, adding that people look forward to coming and look out for each other.

mind.heart.mouth collaborated with Concordia’s PERFORM Centre so physical therapy patients could participate in gardening to help their physical and mental health. 

“Being in the garden and working towards growing food for food banks and community organizations is giving everybody in this garden a real sense of empowerment by contributing to the community,” Tremblay said.

Through her research, Tremblay learned that gardens are a great tool to create social opportunities and learn together in a safe and inclusive space while also contributing to food security. 

“A garden is conducive to creating community,” Tremblay said. “You’re both just there to look for bugs and conversation is made easy.”

ALL PHOTOS OF THE CONCORDIA GREENHOUSE ARE TAKEN BY THOMAS VALLIANCOURT/THE CONCORDIAN

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