Community Student Life

Concordia’s anti-consumerism week 2023

A look inside making your own t-shirt grocery bag.

With Earth Day on the horizon, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) hosted an anti-consumerism week. This year’s event theme was Food Sovereignty, Sustainability & Solidarity. 

In late February, the CSU put on a variety of talks, workshops, and presentations so that students could get inspired to lead a more sustainable life.

Personally, I am always curious about different methods and ways to lead a more environmentally-conscious life. When I was looking into events for the week, the ‘Make Your Own Grocery Tote bag!’ workshop appealed to me.

The use of single-use plastics has slowly but surely started making its way out of our everyday lives. According to a Global News article, two-thirds of people in Quebec say they use their own bags or bins to shop. 

Whenever I go to Dollarama or Walmart, I always forget reusable bags, so I always end up paying for them when I get to check out. So this workshop was perfect for me. It happened on Feb. 21 at the Hall Building at the Downtown Campus.

As soon as I got to the workshop space, I saw the event organizers setting up sewing machines and some tables in a ‘U’ formation. The event organizers were people from the Concordia University Centre for Creative Use (CUCCR). Leading the workshop were Sustainability ambassadors, Kavi Nera and Maya Jain. 

Kavi Nera, a Concordia sustainability ambassador, and Maya Jain, the Material Depot programming and coordinator for the CUCCR lead the participants in the workshop. Kaitlynn Rodney // The Concordian

Every participant was given a step-by-step guide on how to turn an old shirt into a bag. For participants who did not have an old t-shirt, the CUCCR provided one from past events, like Frosh week.

The workshop began by determining if you had a big enough shirt to make one bag and two smaller bags from the same shirt.

If you had a small shirt, you would begin by cutting the collar and sleeves off. Afterward, Neva gave a small tutorial on how to use a sewing machine to sew the bottom of the shirt closed. 

Community editor, Dalia makes her bag at the Concordia center for creative reuse’s workshop for anti-consumerism week. Kaitlynn Rodney // The Concordian

For those that had big enough shirts to make smaller bags out of, the procedure was a little different. People had to make small incisions on the bottom of the shirt and then use a double knotting technique to close up the shirt.

Al Turgeon, a contemporary dance major at Concordia is using one of the shirts supplied by the CUCCR to make her map using the non-sewing method. Kaitlynn Rodney // The Concordian

I feel that with inflation at the back of our minds, it’s always helpful to know some tips and tricks for cutting costs and helping reduce waste on earth. I look forward to next year’s activities for anti-consumerism week.


Coextinction teaches viewers to “put the eco in economy”

The political-environmental documentary was presented on Nov. 7, for the first time at Concordia’s weekly Cinema Politica event

Coextinction, a 2021 film by environmental activists Gloria Pancrazi and Elena Jean is a beautifully shot film that primarily follows one of the few remaining pods of Southern Resident orcas on the coast of British Columbia and Washington. A group of scientists get down to the bottom as to why the orcas are sickly, famished and inevitably dying one by one. 

As the story goes on, the causes for the desperation of the orcas are unveiled. Pipelines, fish farms, cargo ships and dams alike are direct causes for the extinction of these whales. Along the way, the audience is introduced to many Indigenous activists who are equally affected by these government installations that are unjustly trespassing on their territories. 

Kwekwecnewtxw guardian Will George, a resistance leader and member of the Coast Salish Watch, was introduced in the documentary during his protest against the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project. The pipeline was installed on the coast of the Burrard Inlet, which was property of his nation. 

(K’wak’wabalas) ‘Namgis Chief Ernest Alfred played a large role in the film by protesting against fish farms on Swanson Island, Discovery Island, and the Broughton Archipelago. His village, whose lifestyle centred around eating the fish that they catch naturally, was affected by the fish farms plaguing their local wild salmon population.

After Chief Alfred’s protests on Swanson Island, the archipelago has shut down 35 fish farms and counting.

“I wouldn’t feed it to my worst enemy,”  said Alfred in the documentary. 

“I was taught as a child that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada was the enemy. They stopped counting fish when I was about six years old. So there’s no problem,” said Chief Alfred. “Consistently, for the better part of the decade, we’ve seen 200-250 salmon in the territory. Since the removal of the Broughton Archipelago fish farms this year, the first generation of fish that have been able to migrate: 11,000.”

The ‘Namgis Chief explained that the world wants to hear what they have to say because their cause makes sense, and more importantly, that the economy does not drive this planet. “As soon as we put the eco back in the economy, we’re going to figure some things out,” concluded Alfred. “Go and sit with an Indigenous person and listen to them because we’re not trying to hoard and make money, we just think several generations ahead.” 

In a similar vein, resistance leader Will George was ignored by a large corporation known for their activism. George claims that Greenpeace put a heavy task on the backs of Indigenous militants like himself. According to George, Greenpeace took pictures of the blockades and banners he made and installed at his own risk, added a watermark and used it for their own benefits, and he hasn’t heard from them for years. 

“Far too often do our spiritual ones get arrested, and our holy ones get arrested,” added George. “They’ve criminalized me for witnessing the destruction of my land.” The Kwekwecnewtxw guardian had been sentenced to 28 days in prison for his acts of protest in defence of his nation’s land. 

“We have a simple philosophy here,” said Chief Alfred. “You can’t take without just saying thanks. Say thanks and have gratitude.”
For further information, you can visit Coextinction’s website.


Nuit Blanche: Thoughts en lumiere, a rush into a green utopia

We didn’t do Nuit Blanche together, but we might as well have. Two arts writers vs Nuit Blanche. The apathy is real. We were slightly amused. And we’re still thinking too much about the colour green (and outer space?

Chloë Lalonde, Arts Editor, etc., The Concordian 

Nuit Blanche only really came onto my radar when I was in CEGEP, I guess some would consider that a late discovery. My best friend and I visited the Musee d’Art Contemporain (MAC) for one of their fantastic nocturnes. We had special drinks, I don’t remember much of the exhibition (it might have been David Altmejd) and exited the museum directly on Ste-Catherine Street. Little did we know of the wonderland that waited for us outside. Ah, a time when you didn’t have to book your slide/ferris wheel/zipline experience in advance… It was the best surprise.

Since then, Nuit Blanche has been lackluster, ridden with food anxiety, too much beer, long lines and the wrong activities (yeah, I’m talking about “wand-making” at Lockhart).

This year I decided I would spend my Saturday evening after a long day of teaching and laying out the arts and opinions sections of the paper, visiting as many galleries as I could manage with my sister. We met up quite early at the Belgo building (372 Ste-Catherine St. W.), before things were popping, and managed to pass by every gallery that was open, before stopping by the very crowded MAC, UQAM’s art gallery, a surprise performance we weren’t expecting and finishing off with Le Livart.

The Belgo is unassuming, if you didn’t already know it was home to 27 galleries, several artist studios, savvy startups and dance studios, it would be hard for you to find out. The exterior isn’t necessarily inviting, neither is the lobby and the adjacent cafe (I found a hair in my crepe and they gave me a free latte.)

It was my sister’s first time there and she had no expectations, but I didn’t want to disappoint. I did force her to cancel her unmade plans with her friends to hang out with me, after all. We rode the elevator up to the fifth floor (which is truly the sixth), and wove our way in and out of galleries uninterested until I started to notice a grand theme. Every gallery featured some kind of moon print. Drawings or lithographs, etchings, paintings––like craters on the moon––everything felt geographical, alluding to the earth and the landscape.

AMER, an artist from Montreal, paints with rust in their exhibition at Galerie Luz, using hydrogen, oxygen and carbon—what AMER considers among the essential elements for the appearance of life. Their work returns to the origin of the medium, with natural hues and industrial materials to reference ancient cave paintings and transmit modern messages over time.

Past a wall separating Galerie Luz in two, lived fibre works that felt entirely alien to AMER’s practice. White and fluffy, interrupted by copper threads and plastics, Mariela Borello’s tapestries connect to the body.

Later, at UQAM’s art gallery, the moon prints returned. Only this time they were in the forms of massive paper tapestries and sculptures disappearing into the floor. These rooms of earth and stone, on until March 21, compiled the incredibly similar practices of Michel Boulanger and Katja Davar.

Boulanger’s Girations, Rouler 1 was absolutely mesmerizing. A jeep-esque vehicle sinks and resurfaces, only to sink again, creating new landscapes with each dip. Davar’s drawings resonate on the same frequency. Each piece is like witnessing the plans for a new earth, land and soil.

The theme this year was “vert,” and events and exhibitions generally referenced the colour, sustainability and the environment throughout. Green is symbolic for many things, most notably, growth, whether natural/environmental, economic or personal, it’s said to be healing and inspire creativity.

Some works were all too literal; Le Livart had an exhibition up the whole month of February based solely on the colour green, and others were just flat out unrelated and overpopulated (collection exhibitions at the MAC).

Oh, and I can’t forget the performance we walked into on our way home, which was, arguably, my sister’s favourite part. Mourning of the Living Past, performed by Inflatable Deities, Canadian artists Jessica Mensch and Emily Pelstring, shook their futuristic “organic sparkly energy” all over UQAM’s Judith-Jasmin pavilion. It truly infected my 18-year-old sister. She danced along with them (behind the crowd) as I filmed her. She also changed her Instagram bio to “organic sparkly energy,” which I’m pretty sure is what the glittery duo chanted into their electronic amplifiers.

Sophia Arnold, Contributor for The Concordian and CUJAH Editor-in-Chief 

For the past five years, since I moved to Montreal, Nuit Blanche has been something to look forward to in the depths of your depressive episodes at the height of winter, mostly because the metro is open all night and the thought of riding public transit at 4 a.m. is overwhelming for a green-minded, uber-despising person. It gives a cosmopolitan New York vibe that Montreal aspires to everyday but can only afford to cave into twice a year (the other night being New Years Eve).

Nuit Blanche attracts all kinds of people: those who have kids and want to take them on the mini Ferris wheel at Place des Arts before retiring after “doing Nuit Blanche,” tourists who are just happy to be wherever they end up (admittedly, me the first two years…), and Montrealers who know where to be and will not give you the time of day if “you’re not from Montreal.”

My night started at Le Livart. I had been there a few times before but never on Nuit Blanche, although my partner had and was enamoured with the basement dance floor. The layout of the place reflects its roots as an old residential home, and still allows for artists-in-residence to use the upstairs rooms as studios. For Nuit Blanche, they had many artists exhibiting their works on the ground floor, and opened the upstairs, inviting you to speak with the gallery’s resident artists.

The exhibition went through all the various interpretations of this year’s theme, green, in all its facets. Livart expanded on the ideas presented in Vert, Histoire d’une couleur by Michel Pastoureau, who highlights green as a central colour in the role of art history. As you enter, Renaud Séguin’s green, ‘cabinet of curiosity’ style room welcomes you into a literal green space. Filled with found objects, from candy wrappers to paint colour samples, and some iconic references, like a picture of The Green Lady (@greenladyofbrooklyn), it’s like entering a commodity forest; our new image of green.

Other rooms in the gallery welcomed the interpretation of ‘green’ to be detourned headlights,  bricolage wreaths placed on the ground and large-scale photography. Due to the variety of mediums included, when you left Le Livart you were very aware what role the colour and ideology of green plays in contemporary art.

Next stop was Palais des Congrès, where we saw some of the works featured in this year’s Art Souterrain underground exhibitions, running until March 22. The piece we spent the most time with was the automated metro doors in sequence that opened as you walked through the hallway of them. It was an unexpected yet retrospectively predictable surprise seeing as the delapidated metro cars are the subject of many interactive installations throughout the city, highlighting the history and development of an iconic feature of Montreal daily life.

Next on the agenda; Phi Centre. I don’t really know where to begin with this one. As a self identifying ‘antenna,’ Phi Centre hosts a variety of events showcasing the latest tech developments, and this night was no exception. The show, Simulation/Acceleration, was built on the premise of human connectivity, digital capitalism and environmental degradation, exploring the topic with Virtual Reality (VR), augmented reality and a green screen interactive performance. DJ sets also took place throughout the night with visuals.

Life on the green screen was the highlight of the show. Mesmerized by the piercing gaze and dynamic movement of the performers in an array of outfits and positions, it was an ominous presence that rarely broke—apart from when viewers were invited to enter the green screen setup and the rare drunk guy did a peace sign. The screen showing the results of the green screen performance embodied the premise of the show, deconstructing the commonplace ideas of humans as apart from the environment and autonomous players in a hyperconnected world.

After a necessary food detour, we headed to Places des Arts, which was a short stop. Eying it through the crowds of people, we decided to skip it this year as it has an overdone, commercial vibe that we weren’t looking for (signified by the giant maple syrup cans).

Final stop: Eastern Bloc. The event aimed to create an urban oasis and safe space for freedom of expression and being, which it did through Allison Moore’s installation, The Enchanted Woods and various DJ sets with a dance floor in the usual exhibition space. Running until 4 a.m., it felt like a liberation from winter and greyness, taking you out of time and space to a utopic non-place—even though they ran out of drinks and you had to wait 30 minutes for the bathroom, which kind of brought you back down to earth.

All in all, it was an extensive, involved and jovial evening. But, we wish this programming was accessible at a substantial level throughout the year. In one evening, you go to four events before your corporeal limit is reached and you miss events that cannot be experienced again. In an ideal green utopia devoid of money, the metro would run 24 hours a day and every night would be an opportunity to engage with your local and international communities in such a monumental way, like the way you can on Nuit Blanche.





Graphic by @sundaeghost

Photos by Chloë Lalonde and Sophia Arnold.

Student Life

Go green in urban areas year-round

Find the resources to start a small garden and optimize your growing space

Gardening is tough manual work, especially when you are living within the cityscape of Montreal. Surrounded by concrete and limited green-space, attempting to plant vegetables can be restraining. Last Wednesday, the Concordia Greenhouse offered a compromise for those who live the city life but still crave natural produce.

On Jan. 30, the “Grow Your Own Food Year-Round” event, led by Urban Homestead Montreal, gave a presentation about public resources and areas to harvest edible greens. Sheena Swirlz, coordinator for the organization, taught various tips and tricks to approach interior and exterior food cultivation.

On the 13th floor of the Hall building, Concordia students and Montreal residents were invited to discuss various methods to start their own small-space indoor and outdoor, year-round gardens. Surrounded by hanging foliage within the glass structure, Swirlz spoke about seasonal harvesting and explained the beneficial outcomes of gardening, when done effectively.

Swirlz delved into sprouting and microgreens, hydroponics, window farming, and more. While adapting to the seasons, gardening in the city can seem daunting: “I think people think that it’s simple […] but, in the beginning, there’s a lot of set-ups, a lot of research to optimize your growing systems,” Swirlz explained.

Swirlz highlighted that a garden can be personalized. “In my garden, I almost exclusively grow things that you can’t generally find. So, I’ll grow things like cucamelons, which are these little things that look like miniature watermelons, but they taste like cucumbers. They look like little mouth-watermelons. So adorable!”

Urban Homestead Montreal hosted their event in the Concordia Greenhouse on the 13th floor of the Hall building. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

When planting in the spring, whether indoors or outdoors, Swirlz recommends Swiss chard and kale or hearty herbs like parsley, oregano, and mint, all of which regrow every year. For Swirlz, Swiss chard and kale are the go-to vegetables “because they are super easy to grow, [and] they’re not prone to pests as much as other things, they’re extremely nutrient rich.”

Swirlz mentioned that during the spring season, people can be introduced to wild harvesting by getting involved with various Montreal organizations and plant shops that will take you on foraging walks. Neumark Design, Naughty Nettles Medicinals and Myco Boutique all offer plant-identifying workshops and activities. During these walks, you can forage for edibles like fiddleheads, morel mushrooms, dandelions and stinging nettles.

According to Swirlz, gardening can bring communities together, all while offering a self-reliant lifestyle. “It’s like knitting and baking. It’s to make people feel better. It does feel good to do things with our hands,” she said. “Gardening really connects us with plants, makes us feel like we’re part of nature again, and it makes people feel better.”

During the winter, growing mushrooms or germinating your own sprouts indoors are some of the most exciting and cost-effective ways to cultivate during the cold months.

Martha Martinez, a Concordia student and event attendee, thought the topic of mushrooms was the most interesting of Swirlz’s presentation. “It’s something that we eat a lot where I live with my family. We don’t buy shiitake every week. That is an expensive kind of mushroom.”

Swirlz enjoys planting indoors during her free time and prefers this cheap alternative compared to always shopping at grocery stores. “It is a way of saying, ‘No more capitalizing on food.’ Being able to feed your family and being able to have food on your table should not be a business,” she said.

Feature photo by Alex Hutchins


The final straw in ignoring the disabled community

The straw ban might help the environment, but it completely disregards one group of people

The excessive pollution the Earth has been plagued with in the last few decades is no secret to anyone. One can simply take a stroll down any beach to realize how we have failed to maintain a certain level of purification. Discarding cigarette butts, beer bottles and plastic water bottles in the sand and the ocean, as if the world is our dumpster. Shame on us. What happened to the world being our oyster?

In spite of the blatant disregard some humans have for the planet, one cannot ignore the numerous initiatives taken against excess pollution, urging individuals to take action. Greenpeace, for example, is a world-renowned organization aiming to restore the Earth to its former clean-slate glory and minimize environmental crises as best they can.

Lately, many countries and even some corporations around the world have taken it upon themselves to reduce plastic waste by banning plastic straws, since it is one of the many sources of ocean pollution. While this may be a step in the right direction for environmental issues, there is one thing that has not been taken into consideration.

When political, social or environmental solutions are discussed among government officials, I imagine they have a list of people they wish to please. Will this benefit women in general? Do we fear negative repercussions for people of colour? Are we sure the LGBTQ+ community is not badly affected by this? I am by no means critical when using this caricatural image of governmental discussion concerning serious matters. On the contrary, I believe I am being quite utopian when I say governments actually take all these people into consideration when making decisions.

Nonetheless, throughout the years, certain decisions have been made for the benefit of the aforementioned communities. And yet, more often than not, a specific group of people are blatantly disregarded: the disabled community. Disabled individuals may have their own parking spots, but even those get stolen by disrespectful people. I have even noticed at times, public transport isn’t accomodating to individuals in wheelchairs.

And now, while the ban on plastic straws is helpful to the environment, it is detrimental to a significant portion of the disabled community. It is a wonderful step toward bettering the planet, something even the disabled community doesn’t fail to applaud cities for. However, people seem to forget that the purpose of straws is not just to make your iced coffee easier to drink; it is vital to many disabled people’s lives.

I am by no means well-equipped to say this nor do I speak on behalf of the community, as an able-bodied woman. Nonetheless, I do not fail to see that more often than not, they are being ignored.

British YouTuber and TV presenter Jessica Kellgren-Fozard explained her take on the matter in an 11-minute video, stating that as a disabled woman, the ban of plastic straws was “the last straw.” It is another instance where the disabled community has been ignored. Diagnosed at 17 with hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies, she has difficulty gripping objects due to her weak limbs. Therefore, the use of plastic straws in her everyday life is vital.

In the video, Kellgren-Fozard explained that while the ban is helpful for the environment, plastic straw pollution only accounts for 0.025 per cent of oceanic pollution. It kind of makes you wonder why there is a sudden insistence on banning straws when there are far worse things to take care of, right?

I personally believe this governmental initiative (adopted by the US, U.K., and parts of Montreal, among others) is a step in the right direction. However, it is not perfect, as members of the disabled community have highlighted. It also made me think how we are often quick to take into account gender equality, racial issues and sexuality, but disabled people are oftentimes forgotten. While taking positive steps like banning plastic in general to help the environment is good, we shouldn’t forget about certain groups of people who might be deeply affected by such a ban. I believe with constant communication and learning, we can all build towards a clean planet suitable for all.

Graphic by spooky_soda


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