Arts and Culture Community Student Life

Plants, paint and friendly faces at Concordia’s greenhouse

FASA and CUPA teamed up to host an art therapy event for students to unwind during midterms season.

There were almost as many people as there were plants in Concordia’s greenhouse on Thursday, Oct. 19. Starting at around 5:30 p.m. in the evening, the event saw students  coming to the 13th floor of the Hall building to paint, eat snacks, socialize, and relax—a much needed break during midterm season. There were many more participants than expected, and the organizers had to run to the dollar store after half an hour to buy more art supplies!

Among the greenery, students were sitting alone or in groups, painting quietly or chatting with friends, listening to music or to their own thoughts. Though the place was packed, the ambiance was relaxing and voices were quiet. The lights from the city at night were shining through the greenhouse’s glass—the location was ideal to inspire students and help them unwind. 

The event was  a collaboration between Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA), Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association (CUPA), and inARTE Journal. The inARTE Journal,  an initiative of Concordia’s arts education students, had organized a student mixer and art-making event in the greenhouse in November 2022. This year, Adey Singer, FASA’s finance coordinator, brought a reiteration of it, with the goal of  bringing  together fine arts and psychology students. 

Singer was inspired by her friends in the psychology program who love arts, but don’t have many opportunities to participate in artistic events on campus. She wanted this to be an occasion for students of all departments to express their creativity and meet people from other programs. “It’s a social event where people can gather, meet each other, make social connections, make art together, and relax,” explained Singer. 

Emily Chodat, president of CUPA, also attended and helped organize the event. “We believe that psychology and creative arts are super interconnected,” she said. “Being able to express artistically how you’re feeling can be really relieving on your mind.” 

Aimée Lebeau from inARTE Journal was there as well to “offer guidance and mediate the event,” as was stated on FASA’s Instagram page. 

Singer, Chodat and Lebeau were pleased with the turnout and called the evening “a great success.” The event might be a tradition in the making—considering how popular this year’s edition was, it is possible that those who  didn’t get the chance to drop by on Oct. 19 will get another chance next year.


Concordia’s plight against HIV

This past week, students and staff were able to get tested for HIV at the Concordia Student Union (CSU) office on the seventh floor of the Hall building. A rapid HIV testing clinic was set up with the help of the CSU, the Concordia University Psychology Association (CUPA), Queer Concordia and Concordia Health Services. This is the second testing session put together by these organizations.

For this test, a certified nurse takes a prick of blood from your finger and, using a special kit, can tell you whether or not you are HIV positive or negative. The whole process, which takes around 20 minutes, includes going over your risks and sexual history, and the nurses can give you advice on how to improve or continue your safe sex practices. If the result comes back positive, the nurses would be able to put you in contact with various HIV-related resources in the city of Montreal as well as provide psychological support.

While we understand that many students might have been wary about getting tested at school, we think this issue is critical, and we applaud all four organizations that facilitated this testing clinic.

Let’s face it, students are sexually active while they’re in university and many are not properly educated when it comes to having safe sex and HIV prevention. In Canada, one in five people with HIV are unaware they’re HIV positive, according to Community AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE). Over one-quarter of all new HIV diagnoses in 2015 were in youth, according to the same source.

The Globe and Mail reported in 2014 that a person is infected with HIV every three hours in this country. In Saskatchewan the rate is nearly three times higher the national average, with 71.4 per cent of cases happening because of intravenous drug use. These figures are absolutely startling to say the least, and reveal the challenges our society has in addressing the epidemic.

One key role these rapid testing sessions fulfill is to help fight against the taboo of HIV. HIV and those who are HIV-positive face a lot of stigma, even criminalization, for having this virus. According to Sarah Schulman’s book, Conflict is Not Abuse, Canada was the country in the world to charge someone with murder for transmitting the disease. This country’s harsh criminal pursuit of HIV-positive individuals actually creates a fear around being tested. By making the testing process public and providing students accurate information about HIV, this project at Concordia helps dispel misinformation and allows the community to better understand and face HIV head-on.

Although we’ve come a long way in terms of scientific research and awareness, we need to press further and forge a discussion. We applaud the CSU, CUPA, Queer Concordia and Concordia Health Services for being progressive and open-minded about this issue and we encourage the school to hold more rapid clinics. We also encourage the student body to get tested for HIV and to properly educate themselves on safer sex practices and harm-reduction strategies like needle exchanges, which help reduce new cases of HIV. If we’re to eliminate HIV/AIDS in the near future, it’s time we start tackling this issue head on and minimize the risk of this virus being transmitted.

Contact Concordia Health Services to get tested for HIV or to speak with a medical specialist.

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CUPA walks for mental health

Psychology Association wants to see mental illness accepted

The sixth edition of “Montreal walks for mental health” took place this Sunday, Oct. 5, and for the second time the Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association (CUPA) decided to take part.

A dozen Concordia students — four of which were CUPA executives — joined a total of 2,000 or so people who came under the banner of the Montreal walks for mental health foundation’s mission to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. The walk allows the foundation to raise awareness and collect funds, giving them the opportunity to support various initiatives that offer services to people dealing with mental illness. The walk progressed for several kilometers and began downtown at Phillips Square.

In preparation, CUPA organized a two-day bake sale last week, with all money raised donated towards the event.

A number of students came to express their enthusiasm and support towards the initiative. “It was really amazing to witness the extent of people that came out to support mental illnesses. We are extremely proud of the amount of donations we were able to raise, and all the positive energy and words of encouragement we received,” said Elizabeth Duong, CUPA president.

“Today, awareness and education should be our priority. Our biggest challenge is to support families who live with mental illnesses through support groups. They also need assistance to help them use the right resources in the medical system,” said Annie Young, former president of Action on Mental Illness Quebec.

According to the organizers, one out of five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetimes. Their objective is to eliminate the prejudices and stigma surrounding mental health problems and allow people to feel comfortable talking about them and seeking help when they need it without the fear of discrimination.

Grievances with the current state of things were shared at the march. Participants complained the health care budgets for mental health aren’t adequate to meet the needs. In the crowd, a Concordia counsellor mentioned how students tend to feel ashamed, and she stated that seeking mental illness treatments shouldn’t be more stigmatized than, for instance, seeking cancer treatment.

“As psychology students, the lack of awareness about mental health and the stigma associated with it is something that we gear our education and careers towards. The walk was an excellent chance for our students to meet and network with numerous individuals that felt the same way,” said Duong.

“The walk proved there is hope for victims and that they are not alone. This is the second year that CUPA participated in the walk, and will certainly not be the last.”

Before next year’s walk, make sure to pass by the Mental Health Awareness fair of Concordia, which will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the EV building.


Concordia Psychology students walk for mental health

The Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association (CUPA) took part in Montreal’s Walks for Mental Illness for the first time on Sunday Oct. 20.

Over 1,000 people were present at the 5 KM-long walk, including two executives of CUPA. Both CUPA President Janice La Giorgia and CUPA Vice President of Internal Stacy Pollack took part in the walk. Before the walk, many people spoke to the crowd of their past history of mental illness, including Montreal Alouettes player Shea Emry and actress Veronique Bannon. The walk began at around 11 a.m. in Philips Square.

According to La Giorgia, the walk was a success. “I am very happy with how the walk turned out,” she said. “This year was the 5th year [of the walk], and there’s increasingly more people aware of it, and who join.”

According to the Montreal Walks for Mental Health website, the aim of the walk is to increase public awareness of mental health, and to stop both stigma and discrimination towards those who are living with mental illness, and those who support them

“… I knew that it would be terrific for CUPA to walk to represent Concordia Psychology students, a new generation of psychology majors who don’t believe in stigma and want to lift the taboos. In general, CUPA attended the Walk to promote awareness, and raise funds,” La Giorgia said. “It’s the first year we take part in the Walk and I sincerely hope that this will continue in the future. I will make sure next year’s executive will have all my contacts to be able to participate. I can see this event evolving from year to year, and becoming bigger.”

For more information on the Montreal Walk for Mental Health, visit For more information on CUPA, visit them on the CUPA Concordia Facebook page

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