Our beloved groundhog has passed away before making his prediction

What does that mean for spring?

When Feb. 2 rolls around, we all come together to celebrate Groundhog Day. Whether you partake in making a prediction or not, it’s always fun to hear what the predictions might be. 

Some of you might find yourselves asking, why do we have Groundhog Day? 

Well to begin, Groundhog Day falls right in between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In many different cultures, Feb. 2 brought many events of various significance, the most popular being the event celebrated in Christianity. 

Christians celebrated Candlemas, which was a feast that commemorated the presentation of Jesus at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. If the weather around Candlemas was sunny, Christians believed that there would be 40 more days of snow.

According to the History channel website, the first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on Feb. 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The celebration was the ingenious idea of the local town’s newspaper editor Clymer Freas.

Freas at the time sold a group of groundhog hunters and businessmen, known as the  Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, on the idea. 

At first, the annual Groundhog Day festivities took place at a site called Gobbler’s Knob. Nowadays thousands of people flock to this site in Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day. 

But unfortunately in our neck of the woods here in Quebec, tragedy has struck this Groundhog Day. Fred la Marmotte passed away on Feb. 1, the night before he was supposed to give his prediction.

According to Global News, when the organizer of the event at Val d’Espoir, Roberto Blondin, went to wake Fred up during the night, he wasn’t showing any signs of life. 

Blondin explained to the crowd at Val d’Espoir that Fred most likely passed away during hibernation. 

The celebration of Groundhog Day still went forward despite the tragic turn of events. A group of volunteer children came in and made the prediction in front of the crowd at Val d’Espoir in Quebec. They predicted six more weeks of winter.

Close to Quebec in Ontario, Wiarton Willie predicted an early spring from a plexiglass box on stage in front of a big crowd.

In Nova Scotia, Shubenacadie Sam also predicted six more weeks of winter. She ventured out of her enclosure at the Wildlife Park and saw her shadow.

Next year, the tradition of Groundhog Day will continue with Fred la Marmotte’s successor, Fred Junior.


Art event roundup: February

By Véronique Morin and Ashley Fish-Robertson

Shake off those winter blues with some exciting new art events this month

With midterm season looming in the (very) near future, you might be tempted to make the most of any last-minute free time you have before hitting the books. Here are some noteworthy events that will give you a hearty dose of inspiration needed to ace your assignments. 

In-person exhibitions

  • House of Skin: Artists Sabrina Ratté and Roger Tellier-Craig present an exhibition inspired by David Cronenberg’s films at La Cinémathèque québécoise. Located at  335 De Maisonneuve Blvd. E until March 20.
  • Jouer avec le temps: Photography exhibit featuring circus artists presented at TOHU. Located at 2345 Jarry St. E until March 13. 
  • An Exhibition by Marven Clerveau: Visions Hip-Hop QC: Exhibition of works by painter Marven Clerveau which gives an overview of Quebec’s main hip hop figures at the Phi Centre. Located at 315 Saint-Paul St. W until March 26.
  • Lashing Skies : Audio experience presenting five original stories related to events in New York City on 9/11. Located at the Phi Centre from Feb. 17 to May 15.
  • The Disintegration Loops: Living Sound presents this immersive installation featuring works from composer William Basinski. Located at the Phi Centre from Feb. 17 to May 15.
  • JJ Levine – Queer Photographs : Artist JJ Levine presents his photography work at the McCord Museum this month. The museum will also host an online opening of the show on Feb. 16. Located at 690 Sherbrooke St. W from Feb. 18 to Sept. 18.


  • NFB Film Festival: Several special events are underway courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada to celebrate Black History Month, including screenings and Q&A sessions. This year’s theme is centred around Black Health and Wellness. 
  • Silver Screen Sundays: Cinéma du Musée and The Film Society will return with their biweekly screenings of classic films. They will be showing the cult classic Casablanca on Feb. 20.


  • 18 P_R_A_C_T_I_C_E_S: Artist and performer Andrew Turner presents a 60-minute show that offers a hearty dose of humour, moments of absurdity, and a sharp tone. Presented at La Chappelle Scènes Contemporaines, located at 3700 St-Dominique St. from Feb. 16 to 19.
  • Marie-Pascale Bélanger + Jordan Brown: This double program features the work of Bélanger, inspired by tales she was told as a child, and Brown’s choreography, structured around wool and knitting. Presented by Tangente Danse at Edifice Wilder – Espace danse, located at 1435 De Bleury St. from Feb. 19 to 22.


Visual courtesy Galerie Robertson Arès


Art Event Roundup: February

By Véronique Morin and Ashley Fish-Robertson

Make the most of this dreary month by treating yourself to some well-deserved art outings. Feeling a bit lazy? No problem, we’ve also got some virtual events to feed your creative soul!

In-person exhibitions:

  • House of Skin: Artists Sabrina Ratté and Roger Tellier-Craig present an exhibition inspired by David Cronenberg’s films at La Cinémathèque québécoise. Located at  335 De Maisonneuve Blvd. E until March 20.
  • The Sum of Our Shared Selves: Concordia’s FOFA gallery presents its annual undergraduate student exhibition which showcases the work of 27 total artists. Located at 1515 Ste-Catherine St. W. EV 1-715 until Feb. 25.
  • Techno//Mysticism: Exhibition featuring works that explore reflections on new technologies, and is art gallery Eastern Bloc’s first show in their new space. Located at 53 Louvain St. W. until Feb. 26. 
  • Jouer avec le temps: Photography exhibit featuring circus artists presented at TOHU. Located at 2345 Jarry St. E. until March 13. 
  • les liens: Exhibition organized by dance artist Thierry Huard on the theme of power in relationships. The event, presented at the MAI (Montréal Arts Interculturels), is part of the Queer Performance Camp. Located at 3680 Jeanne-Mance St. until Feb. 26.
  • Just Semantics: Group exhibition featuring work that highlights everyday objects that have been stripped of their banality. Located at 1490 Sherbrooke W. until Feb. 11.
  • An Exhibition by Marven Clerveau: Visions Hip-Hop QC: Exhibition of works by painter Marven Clerveau which gives an overview of Quebec’s main hip hop figures at Phi Centre. Located at 315 Saint-Paul Street W. from Feb. 11 to March 26.


  • NFB Film Festival: Several special events are underway courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada to celebrate Black History Month, including screenings and Q&A sessions. This year’s theme is centered around Black Health and Wellness. 
  • Massimadi: The renowned Afroqueer arts and film festival returns for its 14th edition. Free online events will take place from Feb. 11 to March 11. 


  • 18 P_R_A_C_T_I_C_E_S: Artist and performer Andrew Turner presents a 60-minute show that offers a hearty dose of humour, moments of absurdity, and a sharp tone. Presented at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, located at 3700 Saint-Dominique St. from Feb. 16 to 19.


Visual courtesy of Netflix (press)



Black Canadians who made history in sports

Celebrating the contribution made by Black athletes in Canada’s history

Black History Month is about honouring Black Canadians, both past and present, who have made enormous contributions in all sectors of society. Though it has been celebrated since 1978, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada in December 1995.

To this day, Black athletes continue to captivate the nation across every sport while breaking down cultural barriers in society. As those of the past had to overcome adversity and racial discrimination transparently, today’s Black competitors remind us of the ongoing battle against racism that continues to plague the world.

Here are the stories of eight Black Canadian athletes who made history by reaching the pinnacle in sports with the odds entirely stacked against them.

George Dixon 

George Dixon was the first Canadian-born boxing champion, winning the bantamweight title in 1890. Born in Africville, Nova Scotia, Dixon would also claim the world featherweight title in 1891, after defeating Cal McCarthy in 22 rounds.

Dixon is widely credited for developing shadowboxing, a training exercise commonly used by combat sports athletes in which one throws punches at an imaginative opponent. Today, it is a staple in martial arts, acting as an effective routine to loosen and warm up the body.

John Howard 

John Armstrong “Army” Howard was a Canadian track and field athlete. At the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Howard became the first Black Olympian to represent Canada. He was born in the United States and moved to Winnipeg in 1907 with his father.

According to major Canadian media prior to the event, Howard was Canada’s best hope for gold. However, the top-ranked sprinter’s performance was hindered by a stomach ailment that saw him fail to advance to the finals in the 100m and 200m events. Howard’s impact on Canadian sports is felt through two of his grandchildren, who became Olympians themselves, Harry and Valerie Jerome.

Phil Edwards

Phil Edwards was another Canadian track and field athlete who competed in middle-distance events. He earned the nickname “Man of Bronze” for winning five Olympic bronze medals but none of other denominations. He would be Canada’s most decorated Olympic athlete until 2002.

Edwards became the first-ever winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1936, an award that is bestowed annually to Canada’s top athlete. The same year, he became the first Black person to graduate from McGill University’s medical school. He would compete in the 1936 Summer Olympic Games shortly after his graduation.

Barbara Howard 

At 17 years old, Barbara Howard was one of the fastest female sprinters in the British Empire. She qualified for the 1938 British Empire Games (now named the Commonwealth Games, since 1974) after running 100 yards in 11.2 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the British Empire Games record.

Howard is believed to be the first Black woman to represent Canada in international sports competition; however, she never got the chance to participate in the Olympic Games because of its cancellation due to World War II.

Her athletic accomplishments were recently recognized with her induction to the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Willie O’Ree 

On Jan. 18, 1958, Willie O’Ree made history at the Montreal Forum when suiting up for the Boston Bruins, becoming the first Black player in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Today, the Bruins’ trailblazer is the director of the NHL’s diversity program, a movement that aims to ensure hockey is taught and promoted to children from all cultural backgrounds in North America. O’Ree’s number will be retired by the Bruins next season.

Angela James 

Angela James is a former Canadian ice hockey player who played senior hockey between 1980 and 2000. James played in the first women’s world championship in 1987. She would lead Team Canada to four gold medals at the IIHF World Women’s Hockey Championships in 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1997.

During her senior career, James was a six-time most valuable player and eight-time scoring champion. She is hailed as a major pioneer who enabled the women’s game to enter mainstream Canadian culture and is seen as the first superstar in modern women’s hockey.

Donovan Bailey 

Donovan Bailey became a Canadian sports icon when he set the 100m world record at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, running a time of 9.84 seconds. Bailey also anchored the 4x100m Canadian relay team to another gold metal that year. In becoming the world’s fastest man, Bailey was named “Athlete of the Decade” by Track & Field News.

The Jamaican-born athlete was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 as an individual athlete and in 2008 as a member of the 1996 Canadian champion relay team.

Jarome Iginla 

In 2002, Jarome Iginla became the first Black male athlete to win a Winter Olympic gold medal. Iginla was an alternate captain for Team Canada, where he helped lead the nation to its first Olympic hockey championship in 50 years. He notched two goals in the team’s 5-2 victory over Team USA in the finals.

Iginla played over 1,500 games in the NHL in a career that spanned from 1996-2017. In 2020, he became the fourth Black player to be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame after Grant Fuhr, James, and O’Ree.


Collage by Kit Mergaert


The 30th Black History Month in Montreal

Montreal’s Black History Month is fully virtual for the first time

February marks the 30th Black History Month in Montreal. This year’s theme is 30 years of success and highlighting individuals who have over 30 years of achievements in areas such as art, media, business, and community.

Black History Month is an annual event, yet with the pandemic, the entirety of Black History Month is virtual, with events being held on Zoom. The launch event was streamed on Facebook on Feb. 1, with over 250 people attending.

One of the twelve laureates selected by Montreal’s Round Table on Black History Month, Kemba Mitchell. They are chosen from numerous candidates, which are nominated by the broader Montreal community for their outstanding achievements.

“Usually there is a huge event of celebration,” said Kemba Mitchell, a social community activist, Chairperson of the West Island Black Community Association, and Concordia alumni. “We are getting our awards in the mail, there is a disconnect.”

Mitchell believes that while there are cons, Black History Month being online created an opportunity that would allow more people to view the events as well as reach people that had no idea about Black History Month in Montreal.

Mitchell is one of 12 laureates who are representatives and spokespersons of Black History Month, nominated by the Round Table in coordination with each year’s theme for their involvement in the community.

“I was taken away,” said Mitchell, explaining how she felt about being nominated. “Sometimes you are in the grind, you are going and going, and don’t have time to reflect on your work. I was humbled by what the acknowledgment meant.”

I celebrate being Black all year round, it doesn’t start in February,” she said. “But I think it is important we have a moment to shine a light on Black history.”

Mitchell explained that conversations about Black history should not be limited to slavery and that Black History Month is to honour the contributions of Black people that are omitted from the education curriculum.

Round Table’s President Michael Farkas was also chosen as this year’s official English spokesperson for Montreal Black History Month, for his decades-long dedication into organizing this event and community work in the city.

“In history books, the beginning of Black people always starts with slavery, that is not where we come from, that is not our origin,” she said. “Black History Month is a way to shine a spotlight on our accomplishments through history.”

Mitchell stated that there was no reason for people not to go to an event this month, learn about the accomplishments of the community, and join in on the celebration.

There are a large range of events happening throughout Black History Month, varying from workshops for children, poetry jams, discussions on Bob Marley, a virtual book launch, and many more.

The president of the Round Table, Michael Farkas, said the major message of Black History Month is to learn about things such as Black inventors — contributions that the Black community made to society that have been swept under the rug.

Quebec can not hide that they were racist, that they come from a society that saw Natives and Blacks as commodities. As slaves, as savages,” said Farkas. “And that’s the foundation until Quebec chooses to change it.”

“The history of Black People is not about slavery, there was a time before, there’s a time during, and there’s a time after,” he said.

Farkas said a good way for people to involve themselves in the community is to simply go there and learn the history, to see the landmarks of Black history throughout Montreal.

Farkas recommended taking a tour with Rito Joseph, who does Montreal Black History walks. It states on Airbnb that he provides a way to deepen people’s knowledge of the Afro-descendant community in Montreal and learn more about its members’ ancestors.


Photographs of Kemba Mitchell and Michael Farkas are courtesy of Kétiana Bello. Montreal Black History Montreal logo courtesy of the Round Table on Black History Month.


The Box rocks for the young and old

Photo: Andrew McNeill

An impromptu snowstorm certainly didn’t scare The Box junkies away from Montréal en Lumière’s downtown festival site Friday night.
At long last, a festival experience where cigarette toting twenty somethings are outnumbered by miniature humans dressed in technicolor Ewok snowsuits.
Quebecois baby boomers wrapped up their wee ones, lugged them up on their shoulders, and marched through clumping snowflakes to Place des Arts to rock out to the ‘80s New Wave band that once topped the charts and dominated the airwaves.
The Box assembled in 1981 at the hands of Jean-Marc Pisapia, one of the first members of Men Without Hats. The band hit mainstream success in 1987 with their album Closer Together, disbanded in 1992, but reassembled in 2002 to spin out a few new tunes and reunion concerts.
The Box is mom and dad pop-rock in its most uncomplicated format. Its sound is stereotypically New Wave, and dependant on upbeat yet playful male-female vocal harmonies and catchy choruses. Despite its harmless and agreeable disposition, The Box’s sound didn’t survive the turn of the ‘90s, as listeners looked for something darker—and found it in grunge.
But while The Box’s denim cut offs, hairspray, and Jheri curl days are over, they still know how to get the crowd shaking. Friday’s show was for older fans and their obligatory offspring.
The Box knows they won’t be reigning any new converts, but their live show keeps all the energy of late-’80s Canadian New Wave intact. Dragging toddlers out in the snow past bed time isn’t easy, but this was clearly a show families didn’t want to miss.

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