Arts Theatre

Manikanetish: What it means to belong

See the play at Jean-Duceppe Theatre from March 8 to April 8

Manikanetish is based on Naomi Fontaine’s novel by the same name. An author and teacher, Fontaine has published four books and translated various others. Manikanetish is her second novel, published in 2017, and her most recent work Shuni was published in 2019. 

This play is set in Uashat, a small Inuit community in Northern Quebec close to Sept-Îles. 

Most scenes are set in a high school classroom as the protagonist, Yammie, recalls her beginnings as a teacher to her son. 

Manikanetish discusses the author’s life as a teacher, while centering the voices of the children she teaches. Themes of death, resilience and belonging dominate. 

The resilience of these children is notably highlighted by the death of several of their relatives throughout the story. 

Fontaine plays a central role in the play, though her character is taken on by another actress. She acts as a parallel to herself, an omniscient character, of what she wished she had said. 

Though originally from Uashat, coming home to her community, Yammie finds that she is not accepted. She only speaks a bit of Innu, and admits not wanting to speak it because of her accent. She struggles with having left the community to study, and upon returning notices that the community has changed: she does not know anyone and is not trusted. 

This is notable in a scene where one student is disgusted that the teacher does not know why one of the students is struggling because their parent is dying. The community is so small and close that everyone knows everything about everyone, and Yammie at first does not fit into that space. 

Along the play, the director parallels the past and the present: what Yammie’s life could have been and what it is not. She voices spending her nights alone drinking wine, with a partner back in Quebec City, not making any time for herself. 

The first part of the play is conducted by her sadness and not understanding why her dream of being a teacher in Uashat is not what she thought. The second part focuses on the students’ strength facing the various hardships thrown at them. 

As the play goes on, she slowly constructs a relationship with her class as they start to understand her intentions. 

For instance, when Yammie shouts at a student for sleeping in class, Fontaine’s character mirrors her and talks to the student in an understanding tone, offering a more sympathetic response. This serves as representation of what she wished she had said in those difficult moments. 

The audience gets to know six characters, their perils and their passions, their difficult upbringing in a remote town far from access to healthcare, and surrounded by discrimination. For instance, one student with a child brings up the injustice of their lack of access to proper medical care, while another speaks about the few future prospects they have because of the racism they suffer in school. 

The play concludes with united voices saying “our voices are heard,” both defying the public to question their existence and showing the strength of their resilience.  


Fentanyl still killing our favourite artists

Mac Miller should be remembered for his honesty and talent – not his death

Mac Miller shouldn’t be the subject of your addiction jokes. Following the arrest of Cameron James Pettit on Sept. 4, Twitter came to life as fans lauded the arrest, while others took this as a golden opportunity to mock drug addiction and its victims.

Arresting one dealer won’t actually change anything, though. While Petitt may or may not have been complicit in lacing the drugs given to Miller, the problem lies in the production and overall distribution of fentanyl-laced drugs. On Aug. 29, the largest federal fentanyl and heroin seizure in Delaware took place with authorities finding more than 14,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills. Even if Pettit never sold drugs, someone else would have taken his place and sold the laced drugs regardless.

Still, even with an obvious crisis at hand, people make light of addiction claiming that the simple solution is to ‘stop taking drugs.’ Like many things, it isn’t that easy.

YouTuber Shawn Cee wrote a lengthy series of tweets detailing how his brief stint in the hospital for lung surgery nearly killed him because of a nurse’s misuse of prescription drugs. He also explained how, upon his release, he saw numerous dealers outside the hospital looking to sell cheap counterfeit prescription drugs to patients. These patients believe the prescribed amount of medication isn’t enough for them to feel their effects, so they look for cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

Miller was transparent about his drug use, making it clear that he craved the high on songs like “Jet Fuel” off his last full-length album, Swimming. The entire project saw a depressed and struggling Miller trying to cope with his mental illness through the use of alcohol and drugs, but at no point did it ever come across as a suicidal album. He never alluded to taking his own life. Despite being a somber LP, Miller sprinkled it with hope all across its 13 tracks.

Mac Miller was afflicted with addiction, but make no mistake, it was fentanyl that killed him. The incredibly strong and potent drug only requires small amounts to take a person’s life. In the United States especially, the government has struggled to keep up with this crisis. Without proper universal healthcare and a lack of necessary tools available to test drugs, the problem is only getting worse and more widespread as Canada is also experiencing a crisis of our own.

Fentanyl is arguably the most dangerous drug available right now – and it’s often not known when it’s being consumed as a dangerous additive. In fact, the Canadian government warns that the fentanyl test strips aren’t 100 per cent conclusive and that test results should be taken with a grain of salt.

As the one year anniversary of Mac Miller’s haunting death approaches, it is more important than ever to understand that fentanyl is one of the biggest drug related issues plaguing North America. While fentanyl addiction is necessarily the culprit, addiction to drugs such as cocaine, xanax and oxycodone opens the door for many accidental overdoses to occur.

If you struggle with addiction, please visit for more info on how to get help.

Additionally, Naloxone, Fentanyl’s antidote, is available in many Quebec pharmacies for free.


Photo by J. Emilio Flores

Student Life

Discussing death in a positive way

University of the Streets Café hosts a discussion on embracing death

Attendees and speakers discussed embracing and accepting death through rituals at the University of the Streets Café event held on Nov. 4.

The conversation was held in honour of the Latin American holiday Dia de los Muertos, which translates to “day of the dead.”  The public holiday is mostly associated with Mexico, where it originated, but is also celebrated in the rest of Latin America. This holiday, which was celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2, unfolds as a festival, with lots of face painting, dancing, music and remembering.

The discussion featured speakers Kit Racette, who runs regular Death Cafés that allow people to speak openly and freely about death in a non-judgmental environment, and Lilia Luna Gonzalez, who grew up in Mexico and, as such, offered a different cultural perspective on the subject of death and insight on Mexican rituals surrounding it.

About 20 people gathered at the Ruche d’Art St-Henri, a small art studio filled with artwork and candles, to discuss death and its many different aspects. The discussion explored the cultural norms surrounding death, dealing with both grieving and accepting one’s own death, different methods of burial and other similar topics. Anyone present at the discussion was encouraged to take part in the discourse. The conversation was moderated by Genevieve Brown, a Concordia student.

Racette voiced her beliefs regarding the way modern Western societies handle death. “For me, the question of death is really important,” she said. “When was the last time you actually had a conversation about death? There’s a modern-day absence of the relationship with death, that people have had for thousands of years… There is an absence of ritual.”

She spoke about how death is often perceived negatively in modern Western culture, rather than as something that’s an unavoidable part of life. “The idea that death is a failure is deeply ingrained in our culture,” she said. She believes that embracing death is an important part of life. “When we realize that our days are limited, we give ourselves the chance to value every day, every encounter, every moment,” she said.

The Death Café project was started in 2010 by a British man named Jon Underwood. Now, people host Death Cafés in their homes and public venues in over 30 countries. Racette has hosted numerous Death Cafés, including this event, in the greater Montreal region.

Gonzalez, who grew up in Mexico, shared her experiences with death from a different cultural point of view. She went over many key differences between how death is looked at in Mexico versus how it is handled in Canada and the US.

For example, she said, “Here, we’re obsessed with control, both in how we die and what happens after.” She spoke about how, in Mexico, death is seen as much less taboo and negative. She shared anecdotes about how, throughout her childhood, the annual Dia de los Muertos celebrations were focused on remembering those who were lost in a positive way, with brightly coloured artwork and flowers in abundance. She mentioned that, in Mexico, death isn’t usually seen as something to be feared—it’s simply a part of life.

Many of the meeting’s attendees shared stories and personal experiences with death, which fit with both Racette’s goal of encouraging discourse about death and Gonzalez’s personal recollections of how Mexican culture treats it.


Living it up in Montreal’s Death Café

Participation in a lively conversations on our inevitable demise

Thirty people, old and young; some with pen and paper, others simply holding a cup of tea; the subtle background sounds of a coffee machine accompanying the whispers of scholarly exchanges; all this in what looks like half arts and crafts studio and half hippie café. This was the perfect setup for a sometimes stimulating, sometimes sad, but entirely civilized and unexpectedly humorous conversation about death.

The workshop, entitled “A Deadly Taboo” took place Monday, Jan. 26, at the café Le Milieu. It was part of the University of the Streets Café event, a Concordia community initiative organized each semester on a weekly basis and touching on numerous topics, hosted in various public spaces around the city.

The main guest of the night was Kit Racette, a supporter of the international Death Café movement (of which Montreal has a franchise), writer, and member of the Tel-Aide suicide hotline. The Death Café movement aims to provide a peaceful and calm social setting for death-based discussions, though it does not seek to be macabre, and avowedly denies itself as grief counselling. The conversation was moderated by life coach Minda Bernstein.

Kit Racette presented her own personal experiences with death to the people gathered at Le Milieu

Death was discussed by the array of people showing up for this semester’s second weekly event in various ways: sometimes very rationally, often emotionally, occasionally spiritually and politically. For a moment, the café became an unusual place where strangers shared stories, experiences and thoughts about things that you may rarely speak of even with close friends. The format was centered on this idea of sharing and discussing with others what death may be really about, either when it is our own demise or of others, and why we should try to be more comfortable with it.

As you may expect when dealing with such a delicate topic, awkwardness, sadness and strangeness sometimes crawled into the conversation. Still, this kind of sentiment is what is often lacking in our daily, mundane conversations consumed by the Habs’ last game or clever observations about the weather.

As taboo as it may be for some, death demands to be discussed because in the end, as Racette put it, “We’re all here, between birth and death.”

For more information about University of the Streets Café’s weekly talks, visit the To learn more about the Death Café movement or Kit Racette and her work, visit


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