Breakthrough research offers solution for environmental dilemma

As part of her award-winning research, Dr. Soodeh Abedini designed a system she believes holds the key to solving two big environmental challenges.

Concordia University PhD researcher Soodeh Abedini’s system not only reduces the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, but it also converts them into a usable source of methanol. Abedini was able to test this conversion in a lab using greenhouse gas collected from a Quebec wastewater treatment plant.

In 2016, research by Zulfirdaus Zakaria and Siti Kartom Kamarudin highlighted that “methanol is a clean and renewable fuel source that contains a large amount of useful energy and is in great demand as an intermediate source of green energy.”  

Zakaria and Kamrudins research describes a device known as a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell which theoretically “directly converts fuels such as methanol into electrical energy via zero-emission fuel combustion.” Abedini hopes to include a similar fuel cell that has comparably low emissions as an addition to her system.

As part of her PhD research, Abedini began engineering the system which, according to her, could be integrated in a variety of industries.

“We don’t need to change any operation system, there is no difference between a system that’s adjusted in the wastewater treatment or the cattle farms,” she explained.

While the collection method of the greenhouse gases may vary from industry to industry, the operating system remains consistent, Abedini says. For instance, farms would need a ventilation system to collect the biogases released by the livestock.

Greenhouse gases are one of the primary concerns in dealing with climate change. The presence of these gases traps heat from the sun in the earth’s atmosphere, leading to increasing global warming.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the amount of “carbon dioxide [is] now more than 50 per cent higher than pre-industrial levels.” Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas, as it is released as a byproduct in many different industries. According to the NOAA however, it’s most commonly released with the burning of fossil fuels such as oil or coal as a source of energy. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more greenhouse gases can lead to “more severe heat waves, floods, and droughts,” as well as rising sea levels. Carbon dioxide and methane are the most common and therefore most damaging greenhouse gases followed by nitrous oxide.

Abedini’s research focuses on converting both carbon dioxide and methane into usable methanol. This not only targets and captures emissions, but also decreases the reliance on burning fossil fuels as methanol can be used as a greener energy source. She even believes that methanol can be used to prevent certain bacteria in water treatment plants from releasing nitrous oxide. 

Now, she is working on bringing her design to the market and has signed up for the Quebec Climate Solutions Festival for the second time. She hopes to win again this year by submitting her pilot. While confident in her design, she acknowledges the problems ahead.

“A lot of industries hide their production of the greenhouse gas because if they report the real production, they have to pay more money for carbon credits,” Abedini said. 

Once her system hits the market, Abedini hopes to expand her product into other industries such as refineries, landfills, and the cement industry. 

“Another thing that I hope will be possible in the next year is, proposing this system to another province of Canada, for example, Calgary, because in that province, we have a lot of petroleum industry and refineries,” she said.

If systems such as Abedini’s become mainstream, she hopes they could play a significant role in reducing Canadian emissions and global warming.


Climate activists and students unite: Rage Climatique week culminates in protests across Quebec

Furious youths, students and activists joined forces to protest against climate injustice. The week-long events invited militants to engage in direct actions.

Over a thousand protesters voiced their anger against climate injustice in the streets of Montreal on Sept. 29. Eighteen student unions from colleges and universities in Sherbrooke, Rimouski and Quebec striked and protested the same day. 

This demonstration happened two weeks after similar marches in New York and Vancouver which echoed one of Quebec’s largest marches in 2019, during which Greta Thunberg inspired approximately half a million Montrealers to fight against global warming.

But with 1,500 protesters according to the SPVM, many participants weren’t satisfied with this mobilization. Sexagenarian Monica Schweizer admired the loud crowd, holding her “Act Now!” sign. “I wish there were more people,” she said. “I wish there were more of our generation.”

Next to her, her friend Raman Kashylp agreed: “Grand-parents should be out here. This is the legacy that we’re leaving behind. And that will be remembered only by the destruction that it caused.”

The fury of Rage Climatique’s anti-capitalist organizers captivated the crowd. “We need to take over the streets, we need to take over the sidewalks, we need to take over the city and destroy those who are destroying us!” Covered by a mask, the speaker accused the government of continuing to invest in luxury companies like Bombardier private jets, while asking the public to recycle and compost. A single private jet emits five to 14 times more CO² than an airliner.

One day before the march, Prime Minister Trudeau and Quebec Premier Legault announced the construction of a $7 billion electric vehicle battery factory by Northvolt, co-founded by former Tesla directors. The government’s investments in green technology and innovation clashes with Rage Climatique’s call to shut down the capitalist system in order to preserve life on Earth.

The marches and protests across Quebec were the culmination of the Rage Climatique week.

“People are looking for ways to get organized, to get into this eco-anger to have a better capacity to act,” said organizer Olivier, who uses a pseudonym to protect his identity.

Rage Climatique held a week-long series of workshops, lectures, discussions and documentary screenings to engage individuals in the climate cause beyond a day’s march.

Some anonymous non-violent actions claimed by Rage Climatique have been reported during the week, such as green paint sprayed on the HEC Montreal building, accusing the business school of greenwashing. 

Protests also targeted the Royal Bank of Canada highlighting its leading role in fossil fuel investment. Some activists deflated SUV tires, leaving messages on the windshield similar to report of offense forms, mentioning “the driving of a vehicle emitting excess CO2 endangering human, animal and plant life.”

To prepare for the protest, over eighty young adults gathered at Parc La Fontaine on Wednesday, Sept. 26. The Rage Climatique group and attendees openly exchanged safety and legal tips. “There is strength in numbers,” Rage Climatique speaker Mims said. 

The anti-capitalist group stressed the importance of direct action with strong symbolism, while giving advice on protection from arrests and repression. “I don’t want to scare you,” said Mims while explaining the SPVM’s repression tools. “But I want you to be well informed.”

Marielle Loson-Poitier, experienced climate activist, voiced her concern about extreme actions that could discourage participation. “If we say from the start that there’s a chance of arrests, I’m sorry, but the vast majority will say ‘I don’t want to be arrested,’” she said. “We’d like it to remain a peaceful demonstration so that people feel safe wanting to take part.”

With firm kindness, Rage Climatique replied: “There are different types of protests with different levels of risk, so that everyone, with what they’re prepared to do or not, can choose the protest that suits them.”

The Queer anti-capitalist collective P!nk Bloc held a workshop exploring the links between LGTBQ communities, feminism, the exploitation of nature and minorities. Seated in a circle on the grass, the attendees discussed capitalist, scientific and religious ideologies, and their roles in current social norms.

P!nk Bloc led the march along with Rage Climatique, which peacefully ended on Saint-Laurent boulevard at the corner of Boulevard René Levesque with music and dance. Protestors sat down blocking the two streets, hoping that the government would respond to their week-long efforts.


Summer of infernos

Amidst the intensifying impact of climate change, Canadians endured nightmarish journeys, unforeseen expenses and heartwarming acts of kindness.

Renowned for its vibrant summer festivals, Montreal bore witness to a disturbing transformation this scorching season. Azure skies became the canvas for relentless infernos, shrouding the city in smog and smoke, a poignant reminder of fires sweeping not just across Canada, but the world.

Among those affected were Concordia University students, enduring a nightmarish ordeal that left a trail of devastation. 

For Joshua Iserhoff, a human relations student, this summer became a harrowing nightmare. His family embarked on a frantic odyssey from one threatened community to another, pursued by the flames.

The journey from Montreal to their home in Nemiscau along the Billy Diamond Highway was fraught with tension. Despite some reassuring forecasts, the unpredictable nature of wildfires always loomed. 

“Rabbits [were] running on the highway because they’re running as well,” Iserhoff recalls. “And that’s the safe place that they could find.”

Due to the fires, their endeavour involved additional hours on the road and in hotels, incurring unexpected expenses, a heavy burden, especially for a student. Their families rallied to provide support, easing the financial strain.

Their escape began on July 11 after attending a wedding in Ottawa, heading northward. At the Matagami Gate, a crucial checkpoint on the private Billy Diamond Highway, they received the all-clear from the toll attendant, oblivious to the impending danger.

Iserhoff had been driving his sister’s car when in mere seconds, the winds intensified, carrying a blinding wall of smoke and flames, plunging them into darkness, cars threatening to lift off the ground. Panic set in as he glanced at his own family in the other vehicle. 

Unable to communicate through open windows due to his daughter’s asthma, Iserhoff’s wife used soaked towels as makeshift respirators for their children, a life-saving suggestion by Iserhoff’s mother. Fortunately, an elderly stranger saw them struggling and offered N95 masks, providing a glimmer of hope.

Survival instincts took over. “I have to drive,” Iserhoff told his wife after switching cars to join his family. “She covered [the kids] with a blanket, and opened the iPad. We were singing in the cars.”

Despite putting on a brave face for his children, it was a traumatic experience. “It does something to your humanity,” Iserhoff said.

Out west, creative writing student Jess Thodas confronted an advancing wildfire that jumped across the lake that separates East and West Kelowna. “We went out with my dogs to the lake”, Thodas recounts. “We started noticing the sky was turning red.”

Reliant on sporadic emergency alerts and Twitter updates, she relied mainly on messages from within the community to stay safe.

All flights were grounded, runways reserved for water bombers. More than a week of cancellations later, Thodas finally boarded a flight back to Montreal, leaving her concerned for her family.

Thodas embarked on a challenging 20-hour journey, which involved a night sleeping at the airport with her dog. Unable to relax until reaching her apartment, Thodas just collapsed on her bed once she’d made it.

Photo courtesy of Jess Thodas
Photo courtesy of Jess Thodas

In the midst of this crisis, Dr. Rebecca Tittler, a forest ecologist who teaches at the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and in the Departments of Biology and of Geography, Planning and Environment and coordinates the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre at Concordia, provides insight into the situation.

She points out that while wildfires are a natural part of forest ecosystems, this year’s early and severe onset can likely be attributed to the hot and dry conditions caused by climate change. “We must remember that trees naturally burn, releasing what they’ve stored, unlike the greenhouse gases emitted by humans altering the climate,” she explained. 

Dr. Tittler emphasizes the pressing need to address climate change and safeguard communities in isolated forested areas and enhance evacuation measures, underlining that firefighting efforts prioritize protecting human lives due to the vastness of Canadian forests.

Despite these stories of resilience in the face of nature’s fury, each new blaze serves as a stark reminder of our shared vulnerability and the urgent imperative to confront the growing impact of climate change.

Cree Nation of Wemindji – Photo courtesy of Bradley Georgekish
HERstory Lesson Opinions

HERstory Lesson: Julia Butterfly Hill

From saving forests one tree at a time, to redirecting taxes

Julia Lorraine Hill is an American activist and environmentalist, known for living in a tree for over two years as a protest against deforestation.

Hill adopted the nickname “Butterfly” from the age of 7, when a butterfly landed on her finger during a hike and stayed there for the duration of the walk.

At age 22, she survived a major car crash involving a drunk driver who hit her car from behind, which resulted in the steering wheel penetrating her skull. Her injuries required to re-learn how to walk and talk.

“As I recovered, I realized that my whole life had been out of balance… I had graduated high school at 16, and had been working nonstop since then, first as a waitress, then as a restaurant manager. I had been obsessed by my career, success, and material things. The crash woke me up to the importance of the moment, and doing whatever I could to make a positive impact on the future,” she said in a biography.

This is what made Hill embark on a spiritual journey that made her more aware of the environmental crisis, specifically the deforestation of redwood forests in Stafford, California. 

She told the Washington Post in 2004 that “the steering wheel in my head, both figuratively and literally, steered me in a new direction in my life.”

Shortly after recovering from her accident, Hill attended a fundraiser in Humboldt County, California to save the forests.

At the time, the Pacific Lumber Company was clear-cutting the redwood forest, a forestry practice which results in most (if not all) trees in a forest to be cut down. On New Year’s Eve 1996, their practices left the community of Stafford buried in mud and tree debris after it had fallen down due to a landslide.

This is when the community demanded action and asked for a volunteer to tree-sit for a week in protest of the clear-cutting. According to Hill, she was the only one willing to do so.

She ascended the 200-foot tall and 1,000-year- old tree, later nicknamed Luna, on December 10, 1997. The week-long protest turned into a 738-day one, where Hill lived on a small platform. A support crew would often come to provide her with food, medicine and necessary survival gear.

During her time in the air, she endured the harsh weather conditions with only a sleeping bag to keep her warm and was harassed and intimidated by the Pacific Lumber Company.

Hill and the Pacific Lumber Company came to an agreement in 1999 for them to not cut down Luna and preserve all other trees within a 200-meter radius, in exchange for Hill to evacuate the tree. As part of the agreement, the $50,000 that was collected by the environmental groups supporting Hill’s tree-sit were also donated to Humboldt State University to support research into sustainable forestry.

Luna is now protected under the non-profit Sanctuary Forest and a team of experts is constantly looking after her.

Hill’s history of civil disobedience does not stop there. In 2003, she started redirecting her taxes to places she believed “our tax money should be going.”

Tax redirection is a form of direct action that takes place through refusal to pay taxes, and in Hill’s case, redirecting that money to different causes. She gave $150,000 to different environmental and social programs that work to provide solutions such as alternatives to incarceration.

After years of dedication to various social causes, Hill seems to have retired her activism career, as her website reads she is “no longer available for anything at all relating to me being Julia Butterfly Hill.” She still leaves behind a legacy of important and concrete actions.

As our world is in an ever-growing climate crisis and younger generations seem more discouraged than ever, Hill’s story is a perfect example of the overworked environmental activist burnout.
“People forgot there was only one of me and tens upon tens of thousands of everyone wanting, needing, asking, hoping, and demanding,” she said.


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.


Concordia For Dummies: The Provincial Elections

Welcome to The Podcast. Cedric Gallant will produce and host this podcast alongside our Section Editors every week. The shows will rotate weekly to cover topics from each section of our newspaper!

This week’s show, Concordia for Dummies, was produced by Cedric Gallant, Gabriel Guindi, alongside our News Editors, Hannah Tiongson, Lucas Marsh, and Staff Writer Mareike Glorieux-Stryckman. Tune in for future episodes of Concordia for Dummies, where we explore topics on students minds throughout the school year.

In this episode:

Cedric Gallant covers this week’s headlines and shares interviews with First Nations leaders around Montreal reflecting on Truth and Reconciliation Day (Sept. 30).

For our Concordia for Dummies segment this week, we decided to host a discussion between a few members of our staff, all of whom came to Concordia with different backgrounds, cultures, nationhood, and native languages. Listen in for a roundtable discussion on the various Quebec party platforms as we head into our Provincial Election Day tomorrow, Oct. 2.

Thanks for listening and make sure to tune in next week!

Student Life

A new way of recycling coffee bean packaging

A recycling project by Ethical Beans and TerraCycle mends the gap in the recycling industry one step at a time

Coffee is not just a drink, it’s a culture, a community, a lifestyle.

And like any lifestyle, you can buy swag. Certain key items you can acquire to help prove to others you aren’t a poser.

The entry-level includes single-use take-out coffee cups, a small drip coffee machine, a French press or a stovetop Italian espresso maker. You can upgrade to a reusable cup, a nice espresso machine at home, and the barista at your local coffee place knowing your name and/or order. And finally, you can call yourself a full-on coffee snob if you buy your own beans.

The highest level of coffee swag — walking home with an aesthetically pleasing bag of coffee beans that cost you between $20 to $30.

In Montreal, there are many different coffee beans you can buy, from Cantook to Café Rico, with distinct flavour profiles. But no matter where you get your beans from, the bags go into the trash and onto the landfill. NO MORE! There is now another solution to help make your morning routine more green.

Ethical Bean, a coffee company established in Vancouver, has partnered with TerraCycle, a global recycling solution conglomerate, to create a new recycling project key to helping the coffee consumer grow greener.

If you haven’t heard of TerraCycle yet, let me have the honour of introducing you. The company’s mission statement is to “eliminate the idea of waste.” It recycles materials in products and reshapes them for reuse. For example, melting down a bunch of plastic single-use packaging to make a new park bench.

Together, they have created a new recycling program that allows consumers of a hot cup a’ joe to participate. All you have to do is sign up for free, fill up any cardboard box lying around with coffee bean bags (perhaps a past Amazon order?), print the free shipping label and off the pretty coffee packaging goes to become something new!

In a city like Montreal, where one in every five people you see is a coffee snob, how will the community engage with this type of program? Will the endless array of coffee shops start recycling their packaging too?

Léa Normandin, an employee at Café Le Loup Bleu, one of Montreal’s “third-wave” coffee locals, is a self-appointed coffee snob. Her qualifications include spending over $20 on coffee beans.

She describes a coffee snob as someone who enjoys their coffee, for whom it isn’t just a drink you have in the morning, it’s the best part of your morning. She said, “Overall, someone who considers coffee as more than just their morning pick-me-up… like myself.”

Normandin sees first hand the kind of waste coffee shops and coffee consumers can create, like “coffee packaging, single-use plastic or cardboard cups when you go out to get coffee, […] not to mention all the waste we create when choosing what goes into our coffee, such as sugar packets, cream [containers], straws, etc.”

Excited at the prospect of new recycling possibilities, Normandin will eagerly take part in the new recycling initiative. The only thing left to do is get the city on board!


Graphics by James Fay


Partnering with 18-30-year-olds for climate change: Here’s how it can happen

Student Energy launches a report that shows what young people want for the environment

During this week’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow and streamed online, Student Energy launched their outlook report. The report brought attention to a global commonality of how most governments lack engagement with their young people in battling climate change.

The Global Youth Energy Outlook report is a global initiative created by Student Energy, a Canadian-based youth-led organization that empowers young people to have a voice and get involved in research and conferences about sustainable energy and climate. They wanted to fill in the data gap that exists about what changes 18-30 year-olds wanted to see in the future to protect their environment, climate, and energy systems.

“Young people have identified government willpower as being both the biggest barrier and the biggest opportunity to change and transform our energy system,” said Helen Watts, Student Energy’s Toronto-based senior director of global partnerships, while introducing the report at the conference.

According to Watts, the data represents “the way to bridge the communications gap that exists right now between young people calling for more, and leaders who don’t seem to really be hearing what they are asking for.”

In the report, almost 70 per cent of young North Americans are incredibly concerned about the current type of energy systems in place, and the pollution they are causing. However, they are not given the space to engage in the dialogue around climate change.

“The majority of the global population are young people, yet there is a minority of young people feeling like their voices are being heard,” said Linette Knudsen, Student Energy’s regional coordinator for Europe. “Create representation,” she added while discussing the importance of creating councils for young people to feel heard in policy spaces.

In Montreal, young adults take on many initiatives to voice their opinions on climate change. For example, the Coalition étudiante pour un virage environnemental et social (CEVES), who helped organize the climate marches in 2019, have created a space for young voices to be heard, and put pressure on the government to listen to them. Blane Harvey, an associate member of the McGill School of Environment, thinks that young people should have practical, authentic experiences that give them a voice starting in school.

“We know that young people are going to bear some of the biggest brunt of the impact of climate change,” said Harvey. “We talk about future victims of climate change, but what about them as agents for designing what the future, under changing climate, will look like?”

Student Energy discussed how disconnected from decision-making young people are. Harvey explained that there are perceptions about young people being dismissive of politics and policy, but in his experience, that has not been the case. “There are some really good examples of youth being really powerful agents of change.” For instance, Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist, challenges world leaders to take the appropriate action to better our environment and has become known worldwide for her advocacy.

Canada’s minister of natural resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, addressed young people at the launch about the overall lack of engagement when battling environmental issues. “There’s two sides to that, one that’s on us as elective leaders, and one that’s on you,” he said.

Wilkinson explained that elected leaders need to create forums for younger people to be part of the conversation and that they want to hear about different changes, perspectives and views on these critical issues. However, he said that young people need to reach out.

Wilkinson was appointed as minister of natural resources in October after a few years of being the environmental minister. During the intergenerational dialogue, he explained that the conference has provided insight for him as he starts this new position and how he can include the voices of young people to better the fight against climate change. Wilkinson explained that he wants to keep the conversation going, to engage both the government and young people.

According to Watts, we can see a change in the engagement of youth in the conversation around climate change and over the last two years “millions of young people around the world [are] really advocating for more concrete actions from decision makers and people in power.”


Graphic by Wednesday LaPlante


Protests across Canada against RBC and Coastal GasLink

On Friday Oct 29, people across the country protested against the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in response to its investments in the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which is being built on Wet’suwet’en Land.

Over 60 Montrealers gathered in front of RBCs main office in the downtown area, where black paint representing oil was thrown at the steps of the building.

Coastal GasLink is a gas pipeline in northern B.C. In 2020 the pipeline gained international awareness and protests across Canada as the Hereditary Chiefs of Wet’suwet’en stated that no pipeline will be built on their land.

The pipeline runs from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, directly through Wet’suwet’en territory. The point of conflict between Wet’suwet’en members and police is along a service road, which is the only way for construction workers to reach working on the pipeline.

A report called Banking on Climate Chaos placed RBC as the worst bank in Canada for sustainable investments, with over $160 billion invested in fossil fuels since 2016. RBC, alongside other Canadian and international banks have invested over $6.8 billion in the Coastal GasLink, according to the Understory, a climate action and forest preservation blog.

Emily Hardie, a member of Divest McGill and a speaker at the protest, said that she believes if RBC didn’t invest in Coastal GasLink, the company wouldn’t have the funds to build a pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory.

The Wet’suwet’en territory is made up of 13 hereditary house groups. In 2020 several hereditary chiefs spoke up against the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which spiked international awareness and discussion on Indigenous sovereignty.

Yet the construction of the pipeline continues. According to a CBC News article, 140 km of the pipeline has been laid, marking one-third of the project being finished.

The pipeline, “will incentivise fossil fuel companies to extract more from the land,” said Hardie, who explained that the area the pipeline is being built through Wet’suwet’en territory has potential fossil fuel deposits.

“If you choose to invest money in a project that is commiting genocide on Indigenous people, you will lose,” said Sleydo’ Molly Wickham in a video posted by the Gidimt’en Clan checkpoint.

Wickham is one of the supporting hereditary chiefs of the Cas Yikh in the Gidimt’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation.

RBC’s media relations refused to comment on why they invest in the Coast GasLink pipeline, instead of investing in sustainable projects.

“They’re the worst,” said Jacob Pirro, a Mcgill student who has been a member of Extinction Rebellion for two years. “What’s not profitable? Do you know what isn’t profitable: dying. I want to have children, and I want my children to have children. Most children born today will live through the worst of the climate crisis.”

Pirro said that the best way to make an impact is for people who use RBC to go to a different bank, and while most banks invest in un-sustainable projects, there are lesser evils.

The website Quit RBC, created by Extinction Rebellion, states that “RBC will finance climate destruction for as long as it can make money doing so.” Quit RBC has a step-by-step explanation on how to leave RBC and ways to pick a more sustainable bank.

“I don’t think it’s something people think about,” said Pirro, who explained that he believes most people pick a bank when they are young and never change it. “If you are with RBC, you should care, and you should switch.”

Hardie said that while it is important for people to do their part in individual changes, it is also important to remember the importance of systemic change.

The Guardian reported that 100 companies are responsible for 71 per cent of all global fossil fuel emission. Canadian Natural Resources Limited, one of the largest independent crude oil and natural gas producers in the world, ranks 67 on the list.

In a 2016 article by the Financial Post, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd is one of RBCs top energy stocks, giving investors “the best of all worlds.”


Photos by Lou Neveux-Pardijon


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leclerc also voiced his concerns about the current climate situation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student Sofia McVetty explained why she attended the strike.

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

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

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

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

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


Photo by Lou Neveux-Pardijon


Groundwater explores the bond between memories, home, and natural elements

Groundwater, an exhibition stemming from the imaginative minds of four Concordia grads, took place from Sep. 15 to 19. Alexey Lazarev, Manuel Poitras, Loïc Chauvin, and Constantinos Giannoussis each presented their own unique installation, while also collectively adhering to a specific idea. Lazarev explained that “though the projects are all different, in one way or the other, we deal with processes that are hard to be seen. We came up with the name ‘Groundwater’ as something present, important, but hard to see.” The exhibition also places importance on exploring the permeability of borders. Whether these borders are geopolitical, conceptual, or physical, they vary for each artist.

The first installation is Lazarev’s Memory Fabric III. This work features images from his family archives in St. Petersburg, as well as photos he acquired from the St-Michel Flea Market. These photos are presented as an installation of woodblock prints that have been meticulously pressed onto several rolls of 60-foot paper. It is evident that Memory Fabric III was an intricate project for Lazarev to take on. He explains that some rolls of paper took approximately eight hours to produce. Observing these prints, the viewer is overcome with a certain nostalgia. While these memories do not belong to the viewer, there is something hauntingly familiar about the faces that stare back. When it comes to creating art, Lazarev is inspired by the themes of finding oneself, finding one’s place in the environment, feeling out of place, and dealing with different types of anxieties.

The next installation in the exhibition is titled DIY Flood: the reading room from Poitras. This work features several pieces of furniture and décor that are upended, dangling over a carpet. On the carpet rests a small table that showcases several books, all of which share a common theme: capitalism. Although the sound of running water is soothing to many, this certainly isn’t what the artist was going for when he crafted this piece.

“The installation is relaxing, but also discomforting, because of the water’s contact with these objects, which we usually assume to be safe,” explained Poitras. The artist also notes that his work tends to explore the natural world and environmental processes, especially regarding climate change. Fraught with anxiety, this piece confronts the often turbulent relationship that humans share with the natural world.

This work evokes an unsettling feeling: water tubes weave through the furniture and decor, serving as a stark reminder that our own materials and lives could very well be reclaimed by natural elements. It’s difficult for the viewer to not reflect on their own relationship with their environment, while also reflecting on how much they rely on the materials around them.

Next in the exhibition is Chauvin’s Ellipse. Chauvin’s work seeks to explore the connection between creation and destruction in both the natural and cultural world. This installation may look unsuspecting at first glance, but with careful examination, viewers can discern a subtle image amidst the grain of the laser engraved wood panel that the artist uses. The scene depicts a clear-cut forest. Next to this work is Produit Dérivé. In this work, Chauvin presents a small piece of wood that has been, as he explained, “put back into circulation in nature as plastic simulacra of the original object.” The piece of wood is accentuated by a light grey background that is reminiscent of a serene body of water.

Finally, there is Giannoussis’ 740 Avenue 80 Laval. This installation introduces a garden, recreated from Giannoussis’ memory of his grandfather’s. There are plum pits scattered in a patch of dirt, which are juxtaposed with wooden boxes arranged in a square and feature delicate paintings of ripe plums. There is a feeling of loss that arises when observing the discarded pits among the dirt. In Giannoussis’ artistic statement, the artist explains that despite his grandfather’s recent move to a new location, he still exhibited “an awkward but benevolent devotion to this now-lost space.” This work exhibits the deep ties that both the artist and his grandfather share when it comes to their idea of home. The vibrant purple of the painted plums offers a sense of vitality to the piece, and is a tender attempt at keeping the artist’s important memories alive.

Groundwater offers an intimate glance into these four artists’ notions of home, culture, and the natural world, as they encourage viewers to reflect on the environments they now inhabit, or may have in the past.


Photographs by Ashley Fish-Robertson

How to make paper in a world that refuses to go paperless

We need to stop cutting down trees

There is a specific satisfaction you get from holding a good, solid book in your hands, or flipping through your freshly-printed 10 page essay. A feeling that is not satisfied by holding a Kindle, e-reader, or scrolling through a word doc.

We all know that paper is made from trees, and trees are becoming more scarce. This sad reality can be traced back to the paper product industry, since it accounts for 42 per cent of deforestation worldwide. Paper products such as packaging, cardboard, newspapers, magazines, contracts, and more are responsible for one third of Canada’s waste, and only a quarter of this number ends up being recycled.

It would be dumb to try and deny the importance of forests in the world, especially large old-growth forests that have immense ecosystems of their own. These provide us with oxygen, medicinal plants, and are often home to Indigenous communities, some of which have never had contact with the “modern” world.

Going paperless could be considered in a very “plugged in” setting, but not everyone has access to computers, or even a stable internet connection. Ideally, we could recycle all of our paper, and create a cycle of continuous use without the need for virgin material. But sadly, humans often make the mistake of putting paper in the wrong bin or recycling paper contaminated with food — rendering the paper no longer recyclable and contaminating the rest of the bin it was thrown into — which puts a damper on our plans.

There is a process in which paper is cut up into tiny little pieces, which you can picture like blended paper confetti. Then, it is thrown in water with a solvent, and a mesh frame filters the paper chunks into a unified sheet. The paper is then laid out, dried with sponges, and left out in the open until fully solid.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the most satisfying paper feel is that of a rugged, thick sheet that has rough edges. The recycled paper confetti comes together to form a beautiful speckled cream colour. It’s a calming and beautiful process that could help the paper industry navigate toward reusing instead of chopping.

There are however downsides to recycled paper; it takes an abundant amount of energy to make. But let’s see what the outcome is when we weigh the pros from the cons, according to this BBC Science article:


  • Making recycled paper uses fossil fuels for energy instead of burning wood products like regular paper mills do.
  • The cost of recycling and transporting paper waste materials is an issue, including the energy cost of transporting scraps


  • Generally speaking, recycling paper is better than making it from scratch since it uses less raw materials, and is able to reuse the resources already used to make the initial product
  • Making recycled paper creates 35 per cent less water pollution than starting from scratch
  • Making recycled paper our only paper would theoretically decrease paper production air pollution by 74 per cent
  • The cost of machinery to start a recycled paper business ranges from thirty to sixty thousand dollars, which stays relatively affordable in comparison to any other general production startup costs.

I don’t know about you, but I’m reading more pros than cons.

Basically, there’s a huge untapped market that we could dig into, to reduce the amount of trees cut down for paper products, as well as reuse secondary raw materials in a way that would reduce the overall size of landfills. Obviously it’s not that black-and-white, but maybe this is a small way to make a real difference?


Photo by Lou Neveux-Pardijon

Exit mobile version