Chatcordia : The Student Diet

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, Chatcordia, was produced by Cedric Gallant and Dalia Nardolillo, The Concordian’s Community Editor. Tune in for future episodes of Chatcordia, where we interview students about all things from serious to silly!

In this episode:

Cedric Gallant covers this week’s headlines and interviews Concordians at the Climate march last weekend.

For our Chatcordia segment this week, Community Editor Dalia Nardolillo asked Concordia students what they’re eating as we head into the busy (and often without lunch) days of the Fall semester.

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

Workism: my new religion

How do you separate your identity from your work when you’ve become a workaholic?

Last spring, I wrote an article about the hustle culture affecting my mental health and leading to burnout. A year later, I still struggle to find a healthy balance between work and my personal life.

My problem last year was that I felt a social pressure to overwork myself. I kept comparing myself with other people’s achievements and felt insecure about my work in journalism. At that time, I was even questioning my career choice.

Today, I have a similar problem — but now the pressure is coming from within. Though I finally love what I’m doing and take pleasure in writing articles, I’ve let my work define me and have left no space for other hobbies.

“Who am I apart from being a journalist?” I asked myself a few weeks ago, on the train back home after being out working for 12 hours.

I kept holding back my tears for the entire hour-long train ride. I was exhausted, but refused to be upset about it.

That Saturday was the most emotionally and physically challenging day. I woke up at 7 a.m.,  attended a meeting online for another job, went to a café to work on an article, attended a protest, then headed to the library to write another article on the demonstration.

“You love your work and everything you’re doing. You shouldn’t complain,” I kept whispering to myself as I sat on the train with my eyes half-closed.

This has been my routine and mantra for the past month.

Since February, I’ve been working three jobs. I work my nine-to-five internship during the week, then spend my weekends writing for The Concordian and supervising Concordia’s Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) winter 2022 elections. My mind is constantly occupied with work.

This may sound exhausting to some, but I love it. I absolutely adore what I’m doing because it makes me feel so fulfilled. I get an adrenaline rush attending protests and knowing that the articles I write matter.

I feel as if I have a purpose. Though only one of the three jobs pays me well, I decided to take on as many jobs to fill my CV and feel accomplished. Yet, I can’t help but think I’ve become chained to my work.

The religion of workism has taken over my life.

“Workism” was defined by Derek Thompson a few years ago in The Atlantic as, “the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.”

Working three remote jobs made it easier for me to let work define my worth and who I am. With my phone glued to my hand, it’s been challenging to disassociate myself from work. If I’m not working for my internship, I’m constantly looking for story ideas or responding to emails.

I no longer have time for leisure activities like reading, journaling, running… I tried squeezing in a day to ski every Sunday during the winter months. Even then, on the slopes, I was working! I kept checking my phone and worked on the chairlift between the runs.

On top of that, the few times I go out and socialize with my friends, I find myself checking my phone.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to get to know someone at a social event, and my phone kept buzzing. Work messages buzzed in my pockets every few minutes as I profusely apologized for the rudeness.

The worst thing was I didn’t even feel that bad because at that moment, if I’m being honest, I would have rather checked my phone than continued the conversation. I couldn’t enjoy my night until I was sure the work was done and settled.

I have yet to set boundaries to keep a healthy balance between work and my personal life but I can say that I’ve acknowledged that if I don’t change my work-life, I will have another burnout.


Graphic by Wendesday Laplante

Opinions Student Life

Is it really that rewarding to be a winter athlete?

The real motivation behind going out in the cold

There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors during wintertime.

Of course, it all depends on the climate that you live in. How cold does it get? Do you have snow, ice? Or is it more of a mild winter temperature, where you get the occasional snow, but wearing heavy-duty winter gear isn’t a necessity to get your groceries?

Either way, there’s a lot you can do.

But is being outside in freezing cold weather really what our hearts desire? Or are we just trying to fit into the wishful image of a winter-loving well-rounded human being?

Most of us hate winter — it is a time reserved for the holidays, followed by a three-month hibernation. Maybe you’ll go outside once a day for a smoke, or perhaps a cup of coffee, but most of us make use of the extra dark hours of the day to binge-watch our favourite TV shows and eat lasagna.

Say you do want to go outside; what do you want to do? It all depends on access. In Montreal, it’s possible the best you can do is the Mont-Royal — not a bad spot. You see, when you live in the city, getting out to the wilderness to breathe fresh air and fall into fresh powdery snow is difficult, and a lot of the time expensive.

First, you gotta get out of town. Unless you have a car, you have to take a bus or a shuttle, but the bus may drop you off at a random gas station on the side of the highway. Nice.

Next, you need equipment. Whether you want to do alpine skiing, cross-country, or just some snowshoeing, you either need to carry it with you all the way to your destination, or you need to rent — expect to spend $40-50 per person. Finally, you need to make sure you have a suitable backpack to carry your food, extra layers, and water bottle, and don’t forget a good winter jacket on top of a breathable base layer of clothing.

Just writing all that down was exhausting.

But new sports and new ways to explore the outdoors keep popping up, and apparently, there is some real interest in winter sports.

Recently, a faction of alpine skiers is reigniting the interest in an old sport with its debut tied to medieval Norwegian traditions: alpine touring.

Now, strap on spikey “skins” to the back of your skis, and invest a couple thousand dollars on a new pair of “walking ski boots” (some claim they are comfortable, I have a hard time believing that), and climb up any mountain you desire!

Not exactly, but you get the idea.

In all honesty, I think I am just jealous of those who have the means and the time to invest themselves in outdoor sports like these. Right now, all I crave is to witness the silence of a snow-covered forest, and the void of a mountain valley.

But, you know, whatever. I’ll just keep being bitter from the comfort of my home, wasting away looking out of my window into the world, instead of living in it.


Photo by Laurie-Anne Palin


The sudden popularity of roundnet

We’ve all seen people playing this game at parks across Montreal, and now with its sudden popularity organizers want it to be recognized as a legitimate sport

Charles Henri was in California when he first saw people playing roundnet. Curious, the Quebec native asked them what game they were playing. Soon after, he bought a spikeball set and returned to Quebec. Every time he would play, people would stop and ask what the game was called. 

“I started playing and everyone would stop by and try it. They all wanted a spikeball set,” Henri said.

A mix of his love for the game and with clear interest from onlookers prompted Henri to become a global ambassador, partnering with the Spikeball Roundnet Association (SRA), a position he has now held for over six years. 

Roundnet is a sport that consists of two teams of two players. Like doubles in volleyball, the main objective is to send the ball into the other team’s zone. The only difference is that the ball is smaller, and instead of a net, a mini trampoline is positioned in the center of the playing surface.

Also a roundnet competitor, Henri jumped on the opportunity to grow the sport in Quebec by creating the Fédération québécoise de roundnet. In the summer of 2017, a provincial tour Henri hosted consisted of roughly 300 team registrations, which jumped to over 700 before the pandemic in 2019.

As a flopped product originally introduced in the 1980s, spikeball was a product re-released for consumers in 2008. Attempting to turn the game into a legitimate sport, the SRA was introduced as the governing league in the United States. Known to many as spikeball, the association had to change the sport’s name in order to keep their trademark, thus changing the name to roundnet.

Nora White, senior sport development manager at the SRA, mentioned that though spikeball hosted occasional tournaments in 2012-13, 2016 saw the SRA introduce four regional tournaments and one national tournament, propelling the league and the sport’s popularity.

“Our first nationals had around 75 teams. To put it into perspective, the Ohio State Roundnet Club alone just hosted a 70-team tournament just a few weeks ago,” White said.

White described the rise in popularity and competition over the past year amid the pandemic as pure insanity, as they just held their biggest national event to date.

“Our national championship that happened a couple of weeks ago had 400 teams. […] To grow from 30-40 teams for one event to now over 400 is insane.”

Current organizations that once needed assistance from the SRA like Utah Roundnet and Texas Roundnet have now become so popular in their respective regions that they now host their own events without the association’s involvement. The SRA has been offering ambassadorship programs to grow the sport at an amateur level but is now set to present it professionally.

Over the past year, the International Roundnet Federation was formed to oversee international play. Like FIFA for soccer, this international committee would govern other international governing federations to uphold the same rules in order to legitimize the sport. According to White, the next big step is to get recognized internationally. With a world tournament already planned in Belgium in 2022, over 30 countries will be represented, attempting to legitimize roundnet as a serious sport in the eyes of governing competition committees.

Unlike the SRA’s original role of being the international governing body, the league wants to take a step back and become the official competitive pro league for the sport, as well as offering sponsorships to pro-tour players. 

“In the beginning, our word was the Bible, we don’t want that position,” White said. “We have helped and supported other organizations to grow like the International Roundnet Federation who will decide their own rules for international play.”

The sport’s growth has been on such a positive incline that the SRA also provides televised tournaments for the world’s leading sports broadcaster, ESPN. 

“We’ve done three broadcasts per year for a couple of years, and we have three to four on the docket for 2022,” White said.

Henri is extremely optimistic about the future of the sport. He has personally seen such growth, and has decided to cut ties as chairman of the Fédération québécoise de roundnet to host independent tournaments in Quebec in order to advertise his own roundnet set. “I think it’s very bright, the 360 degrees of the sport make it so unique, and I think its uniqueness will bring it very far.”

The goal for the SRA is to spread the sport to an international audience. The ultimate goal is representing the sport internationally in the Olympics; however, it’s still too soon to know when — or if — that will be.


Photograph by Robert Austin


Life of L’Ange

From a man who once lived on the streets to one who now gives back to his community in any way he can, Gaëtan Ouellet’s life inspires him to support those in need

Trigger Warning: The following includes mentions of suicide, addiction, and mental illness.

A life of ups and downs best describes a man who, through the toughest of hardships, continues to keep his head above water. Someone who strives to be a positive influence to those around him who are struggling, as he once was. From being someone who got offered a helping hand when he needed it most to now being that person who lends a hand, Gaëtan Ouellet remains a man of perseverance and humility.

Ouellet is well known in the Old Port of Montreal, and more specifically known by the name “Ange.” His nickname grew out of his previous acts of generosity in parking lots. Beginning in the mid ‘90s — back when parking meters could be filled at individual machines set up for each spot —  Ouellet would take pleasure in filling them out for people before parking security showed up to issue them a ticket. When car owners noticed Ouellet saving them from a ticket, they would ask for his name.

“I’m just a guardian angel looking out for people. They call me Gaë-tange,” he would reply.

Those who discovered who their parking meter angel was often thanked him by offering small gestures, such as meals, money, or cigarettes.

People’s small offerings were not the motivators behind his actions. Although people’s kindness meant the world to him, all he expected was a simple “thank you.” Simply put, Ouellet enjoys helping others, and that’s that.

Growing up in Gaspésie on the east coast of Quebec, Ouellet had a rural upbringing. At the age of six, his father moved their family to Montreal after having trouble finding work in their area and he has been here ever since.

Ouellet’s early adult life began to take off when he took a welding course. He had an interest in the technique behind the craft and had studied it at a trade school in Saint-Henri. He ended up earning a steady income for five years as a welder and then moved on, working at Québecor binding magazines for 23 years. Things were looking up for Ouellet, until everything suddenly came crumbling down.

Looking back, the year 1994 marks a difficult time in Ouellet’s life. In the span of one week, he had lost his job due to layoffs and came home to find his roommate’s body —who was also a childhood friend of 32 years — hanging in their apartment. This line of horrific events led Ouellet into a dark cycle of drinking and heavy drug consumption of heroin and cocaine. Four months after being taken in by his family and friends as a temporary solution, Ouellet found himself alone, homeless, and on the streets of the Old Port of Montreal.

“Living on the street, you need a vice to forget you’re living on the street,” said Ouellet.

The homeless community of Montreal was never a stranger to Ouellet. Growing up, he would spend most of his free time around the Old Port. Ironically, years before finding himself homeless, Ouellet came to know an elderly homeless man whose health was in poor condition. He recalls the man being concerned about what would happen to his physical spot on the street once he was gone. Ouellet remembers the man sharing that if ever Ouellet was to be in tough times, his spot would become available soon as the man knew he wouldn’t be here much longer.

The elderly man’s spot soon became Ouellet’s first home on the streets of Montreal.

“It’s funny how life works,” said Ouellet. “It makes you realize we are not that different from one another.”

No one is prepared for the moment when they realize that bartering for their next meal is one of their only options for food. They don’t expect to find themselves desperately picking through ashtrays on the city sidewalk in hopes of finding a cigarette that isn’t fully smoked. Living on the streets, Ouellet was faced with this hard-hitting reality. For nine years, he was begging strangers to get by.

It’s often easier to think of the hardships that we face in life as temporary situations. Ones that won’t last long. For Ouellet, along with many others who find themselves in a similar situation, finding their next meal or having to endure weather of all kinds, lasted longer than he would have liked.

His days under the influence of heavy drugs and alcohol were spent begging for change at traffic lights and slurring words at passersby. The reaction on people’s faces was telling. They were not willing to help someone in an intoxicated state. Instead, he realized that they would be more willing to give to someone who was looking to help themselves. He knew his behaviour was not an effective way to appeal to people’s sympathy and generosity.

Ouellet takes out the garbage for a Vieux Montreal business, Montreal, Quebec, October 4, 2021. In exchange for services such as this one, “l’Ange du Vieux Montreal” is fed. CHRISTINE BEAUDOIN/The Concordian

Over the years, Ouellet learned that if this was to be his lifestyle for the time being, he had to make some changes in order to survive. Once he was clean and no longer being consumed by his vices, Ouellet decided to offer his free time to performing small tasks which became a new way to meet his needs of meals and clothing.

Gaëtan Ouellet, also known as “l’Ange du Vieux Montreal”, cleans up dust and spider webs from a restaurant’s window, Montreal, Quebec, October 4, 2021. CHRISTINE BEAUDOIN/The Concordian

On an average day, Ouellet can be found spending the better part of his time lending people a helping hand on Saint-Paul St. in Montreal’s Old Port. From brooming store fronts, washing windows, to shoveling walkways during the winter months, Ouellet’s acts of generosity are done with nothing asked in return.

From 2007 onwards, Ouellet began performing odd jobs for local businesses. Every now and then, he brings in garbage bins and occasionally fills in for dishwasher duty. While Ouellet may not be employed by anyone in particular, the 12 clients that he helps out from time to time provide him with food and clothing in exchange for his services.

Ouellet, Old Montreal’s “Angel”, takes out recycling bags from an Old Montreal alleyway, October 4, 2021. Some mornings, Gaetan wakes up early to do his rounds of trash removal in the area. CHRISTINE BEAUDOIN/The Concordian

Living as a homeless person, he came into contact with several influential people, including celebrities such as Carlos Santana, by chance, through mutual friends. Judges, lawyers and restaurant owners like Chuck Hughes are also acquaintances Ouellet has formed bonds with. Ouellet’s down-to-earth and friendly personality even got him invited out to lunch by judges who were looking for company during their lunch break. He noticed his presence on the street made a difference. On the odd day when he didn’t follow his usual routine, familiar faces would ask him why they had missed him and where he had been.

Notably, 2021 marks 19 years since Ouellet got sober. He attributes his success in getting clean to a good friend, now a lawyer, who he met while living on the streets. When he could no longer stand to see him in this state, Ouellet’s newfound friend called an ambulance so he could get admitted to the hospital for help; the first step taken on the road to recovery.

This lawyer friend paid for Ouellet’s four month stay at the Louis-H. Lafontaine psychiatric hospital, which got Ouellet clean and provided medication for his health issues.

It is also thanks to this lawyer friend that he now has a government-subsidized apartment to come home to, as well as a place to offer others to stay if they need a roof over their head and a good night’s rest.

Despite no longer living on the streets, Ouellet still gets up everyday to support those within his community, whether they be homeless, business owners, or just people passing by.

The sun rises over Old Montreal, the place Ouellet, “Angel”, calls home, October 4, 2021. CHRISTINE BEAUDOIN/The Concordian

In the fall of 2020, Ouellet began devoting his free time to residents of the Notre-Dame Street camping site because of the large volume of people who continued to struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the help of volunteers, he aided in distributing donated goods, such as clothes and food. Eventually, they managed to find long-term homes for 16 people at the campsite, providing them with an affordable rented space when sharing the cost amongst groups of two.

Ouellet recently got contacted on Sept. 19 by the Old Brewery Mission who provide services to the homeless in Montreal. He was asked to help them out given how he’s familiar with the community in need and could make them feel more comfortable in accepting the help. He went out to the corner of Berri and Sainte-Catherine St. to help homeless citizens in the area. The team focused on preparations for upcoming weather changes, so heavier jackets and boots were distributed in addition to access to a barber and foot care services for those in need.

As someone who once lived that reality, Ouellet knows first hand the needs of people living on the street. Access to foot care and acceptable personal hygiene resources are as necessary as warm clothes and appropriate footwear. It’s this type of knowledge that Ouellet feels thankful to have when lending a helping hand to those in need.

Ouellet places a mat in front of Tommy’s cafe for people to sit on in Old Montreal, Quebec, October 4, 2021. CHRISTINE BEAUDOIN/The Concordian

Ouellet is the proud father of three daughters. While they have been in and out of his life during his time on the streets, his bond with them has grown now that he is clean. He enjoys the time with his six grandchildren who brighten up his days. He feels fortunate to have gotten sober. He says that he now feels like he can fully appreciate and enjoy the years ahead with his family. What does the future have in store for his retirement years? Ouellet doesn’t have a set plan just yet.

Ouellet says that he is happy where he is now and is grateful for the opportunity to help others. Lending a helping hand to those he sees sleeping on park benches for nights at a time fulfills him with a sense of gratitude.

Life has its ups and downs for every individual in any community. Some people’s challenges may be more visible than others. Kindness is universal and can go a long way in impacting how someone’s story plays out. In rising above hardships, we have the ability to look beyond those less than perfect times in our lives with compassion. It is that compassion that allows us to put ourselves in others’ shoes. Ouellet reminds us that everyone has a story and, more importantly, that everyone is human.

“Are we really that different? I look at the human side of every person that I meet whether they be officials such as police officers, judges or just humans that need support. They are all the same in my eyes, I help everyone in good faith,” said Ouellet.


Visuals by Christine Beaudoin


Who is body positivity for?

The body positivity movement has seen a lot of change over the years. The question remains as to who are its rightful stakeholders

On March 21, 2015, celebrity event planner turned author and influencer Rachel Hollis made waves in the mom-blogosphere when she posted a photo of herself on a Cancun beach sporting her post-pregnancy stomach. In the photo, Hollis smiles, leaning forward, as her stomach forms small wrinkles on her otherwise small frame. In her caption, she writes, “My belly button is saggy… (which is something I didn’t even know was possible before!!) and I wear a bikini. I wear a bikini because I’m proud of this body and every mark on it. […] Flaunt that body with pride!”

Four rows down on her profile, in March of 2015, Hollis posted a photo of a cake celebrating her accomplishment of competing in the Los Angeles Marathon, writing “Thank goodness calories don’t count on marathon day!!”

So, you should flaunt your post-pregnancy body because you deserve to, but calories from cake should be a concern? Something’s not adding up.

This is not an attempt to single out Rachel Hollis (though she has had her fair share of controversies in the past). Her co-opting of body positivity in the service of a less-than-ideal relationship with food is part of a much larger trend.

Recently, there has been some high-profile backlash against the body positivity movement, with celebrities such as Lizzo suggesting that it has lost its focus on liberation. As the singer explains in an impassioned TikTok video, “Now that body positivity has been co-opted by all bodies, and people are finally celebrating medium and small girls and people who occasionally get rolls, fat people are still getting the short end of this movement.”

Indeed, what we now call “body positivity” grew out of the Fat Liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. In those days, the aims of the movement were primarily to fight for the civil rights of fat individuals in healthcare and the workplace, as well as confronting the diet industry. This work continued through the decades and, as fat acceptance activist Stephanie Yeboah explained to Refinery29, in the late 2000s, the work moved online, as primarily fat, Black women shared their experiences with anti-fat bias and weight discrimination across social media groups and blogs. Around 2012, however, the movement exploded as people of all body types, including thinner creators, started claiming “body positivity.”

Now, on the one hand, this is a great thing. Arguably, any movement that helps normalize different body types and gets people talking candidly about their tumultuous relationships with their body image is a net positive for turning the tides of weight stigma.

As Dr. Sarah Nutter, Assistant Professor of counselling psychology and researcher of weight-related issues at the University of Victoria points out, weight stigma relies on what is called “healthy weight discourse.” This is the common conception that weight and health are inextricably linked, where a lower weight means a healthier body, and one can always achieve this through modifying their diet and/or lifestyle.

Dr. Nutter explained, “Inherent in ‘healthy weight discourse’ is this idea that weight is an individual and moral responsibility, and I think it’s that emotional aspect of morality that is really implicated in weight stigma and the way that people can respond to the body positivity movement.”

This notion is seen most strikingly in healthcare. Aubrey Gorden, a writer and podcaster who used to publish under the pseudonym “Your Fat Friend” until last year, discusses her experiences with medical weight stigma for Health Magazine. She explains that due to her size alone she does not receive the same quality of healthcare given to her skinnier friends. In the article, she describes the common occurrence of doctors not ordering necessary diagnostic tests, instead prescribing weight loss for any ailment under the sun (including, astonishingly, an ear infection).

Gorden writes, “I wondered how thin I would need to become in order to earn the kind of health care my thin friends got — a privilege that increasingly seemed reserved for those already perceived as healthy.”

Gorden believes, however, that despite good intentions, body positivity cannot solve this fundamental inequality deeply rooted in the healthcare system. She writes, “No matter how much we love our bodies, those of us living on the margins can’t love our way to good health.”

Though body positivity alone is never going to tear down the preconceptions keeping fat people ostracized, there is a real need for a movement that makes people in marginalized bodies (whether fat, queer, disabled, or otherwise) feel good about themselves in a world that wants them to be ashamed.

“To be able to curate a life […] that isn’t weight stigmatizing is really difficult,” explained Dr. Nutter. “For the health of everybody across the weight spectrum, getting rid of weight stigma is a really great idea.”

Zachary Fortier, a first year journalism and political science student, explained that while he finds a lot of issues with the current commodification of the body positive movement, there is still a necessity to promote fat acceptance.

“As a non-binary person assigned male at birth, my relationship with my body has been complicated,” explained Fortier. “Fatness and the celebration of bodies we’ve been told are ugly beyond repair is what fat acceptance is all about. Your body cannot be ‘beyond repair,’ what needs repairing is the jumble of harmful constructs that make up beauty.”

So, how can body positivity move to help uplift fat individuals, and not reproduce society’s focus on thinner bodies?

All sources point back to making sure body positivity retains its origins in fat liberation. While all people can feel bad in their bodies, it is important to acknowledge which bodies in society are the most marginalized, and fight the structures that keep them that way.

As Dr. Nutter explained, “Body positivity should be about accepting all bodies regardless of weight, size, or what bodies look like, and that all bodies have inherent worth and all bodies are beautiful. If that is truly the message, then that should be reflected in the [social media and publicized] imagery and whose voice is heard.”


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

“That Girl”: capitalism’s new cheerleader

The nefarious new inspiration porn

“That Girl” wakes up at 6 a.m. for her morning exercise of choice, often yoga, jogging, or weight lifting. Then when she’s done, she showers, performs an elaborate skincare routine, makes her white bed, meditates, drinks a yummy homemade smoothie, puts on some bike shorts and a crop top, and, if she has some time, writes in her gratitude journal.

That Girl” is the latest internet lifestyle trend popularized on TikTok. Aimed at young women, this trend is supposed to encourage girls to be their healthiest, most productive, and #empowered selves — to become “That Girl” who is cool, skinny, and successful. The trend, like most things that live on the internet, has faced some criticism. So let’s unpack why “That Girl” is sort of problematic.

For starters, “That Girl” isn’t anything new. She’s the evolution of girls of the past like the #girlboss (popularized by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso). The #girlboss was simply a confident successful woman, particularly if she was an entrepreneur or her own boss. #Girlboss feminism was synonymous with pithy hashtags and sayings that you could slap onto a t-shirt, like #freethenipple and #girlssupportgirls. She has to operate in a “man’s world,” and so she’s encouraged to take charge, be unapologetic, and hustle. This brand of feminism was particularly championed by millennial women, has been accused of being superficial, promoting patriarchal capitalist attitudes and structures, and focusing on skinny, white, conventionally attractive cis-het women.

This leads us to one of the biggest pitfalls of both the #girlboss and “That Girl.” They’re not inclusive. Like at all. If you look up “That Girl” on TikTok or YouTube, you’ll see the same kind of girl participating.

  1. She has disposable income. Those fancy salads, candles, journals, and gym memberships aren’t cheap!
  2. She’s usually thin, white, and cis-het. And if she’s not all of those things, don’t worry. She’s still conventionally attractive!

On the surface, this isn’t so nefarious. Sometimes certain trends and lifestyles just happen to appeal to a certain demographic, right? But this lack of diversity becomes more troubling when you consider that “That Girl” carries connotations of moral virtue.

Throughout history and across cultures, religions, and philosophies, self-control has been valued. You see it in the writings of influential thinkers, including Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Confucius, and the Buddha. Asceticism is the practice of denying your desires in order to achieve a certain goal and traces of it can be seen in most major religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Buddism. Denial of food, sex, comfort, luxury, or even sleep are all seen as admirable sacrifices to achieve moral and spiritual purity, common ascetic practices include celibacy, fasting, and meditation. Ascetics, or those who successfully complete an ascetic practice are more moral than everyone else because they have overcome “temptation.”

Capitalism has a bit of asceticism in its DNA, maybe because of its links to Christianity. Though capitalism loves excess it’s quite strict. Give up sleep, give up a social life, give up being treated like a person… whatever it takes to be successful. Don’t get distracted by your desires and weaknesses, just focus. Anyone can be successful through hard work. If you’re poor, it’s your own fault. You should suck it up and hustle, to the point of exhaustion or even injury if necessary. Sacrifice and discipline is just what it takes to be a “good” and “successful” person in our society. This mentality doesn’t only apply to one’s career and finances, it also applies to health and fitness. Overweight people are shamed for supposedly being indulgent, lazy, stupid. There is no consideration for genetics, lack of resources, or other health problems. Culturally, thinness has long been associated with virtue, and fatness has been associated with decadence and failure.

Ascetics, thin people, the traditionally successful, and “That Girl” have all denied human desires in order to be superior.

“That Girl” is just a new form of the centuries long human desire to feel in control through self-discipline and strict routines. You can’t control the plague, earthquakes, famines, oppressive leaders, or the family you’re born into, but you can control what you eat, when you wake up, if you exercise or meditate, etc. But it’s a cycle of shame, guilt, and self-hatred when you “fail.” The trend serves capitalism, both with the luxurious lifestyle it worships and the attitude it embodies.

In all fairness, I do see value in these attempts to “romanticize your life,” enjoy the little things, touch grass, and be mindful. The trend also professes the importance of mental health, albeit in the most superficial, aesthetic, and pleasant way possible. “That Girl” does not go to therapy or need medication, she takes a bubble bath, puts on a face mask, watches only one episode of Friends, bakes… This self-care trend encourages you to spend money on certain products and is incredibly individualistic. If you are burnt out and depressed it’s your fault, not any system’s. Haven’t you been practicing self-care?

I urge you to aspire for something, anything more fulfilling and genuine than “That Girl.” Trust me, she’s not all that.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt


The health benefits of spring

Spring offers people fresh ways to stay healthy after a long and cold winter

Winter will always hold a special place in Canadians’ hearts, especially because of traditional northern activities like skiing and skating, but the season’s harsh weather and shorter days can mentally and physically drain even the best of us.

With spring officially underway on March 20, people can finally wave goodbye to a long winter unlike any other. As the last remnants of snow and ice melt away in the coming weeks, a fresh open-air canvas will once more be at everyone’s disposal.

Amidst troubling times, it’s important for people to take advantage of the rejuvenating weather that is upon us and reap its rewards on our overall health.

The beginning of spring means the return of outdoor workouts

Fitness enthusiasts, who have been largely confined to home workouts for months, finally found something to look forward to when the Quebec government announced gyms would be permitted to reopen on March 26.

For those who are not so eager to resume regular indoor training in public spaces, spring will allow for several outdoor activities to start anew.

Running and biking will continue to serve as accessible and effective workouts that can be performed anywhere, anytime. Alternatively, golf and tennis, both of which saw an uptick in popularity last year as relatively COVID-safe sports, will again serve as viable fitness options for those who want to best shield themselves from the virus.

Finally, calisthenic workouts and yoga routines that require minimal equipment can now be performed outside, providing some much-needed variety to these exercises that often get tedious from home.

Spring can also have a lasting effect on one’s mental health

The “winter blues” is a common issue that affects people’s mood and energy levels that stems from the short and cold winter days, which can lead people to spend unhealthy amounts of time indoors. Over the course of a few months, the negative effect on people’s overall health can be drastic.

Mixed with the limited in-person interactions with family and friends in recent times, the strenuosity of this year’s winter on people’s mental health has been amplified. Fortunately, the warm weather, sunny days, and fresh air can help dispel some of these common problems.

Spring gives people new opportunities to alleviate mental stress by socializing with their loved ones. People who are less fond of working out can still reap the health benefits by simply basking in the sun with others and absorbing vitamin D, which can go a long way when climbing out of an extended wintertime rut.

More daylight means more time when we need it

Having to set the time forward may leave you waking up exhausted the following day, but the long-term benefits of an extra hour of sunlight easily make up for the minor drawback.

Humans are unconsciously inclined to rest when it’s dark and be productive when it’s light. As the spring steadily dissipates into the summer, the amount of time we get to spend in the daylight will only increase.

Being able to shed layers of clothes lets us feel the sun directly on our skin, which can have a long-lasting, constructive effect on our overall health.


Photos by Christine Beaudoin

Collage by Kit Mergaert

Sorry to burst your bubble — the “COVID talk”

These are some points to hit when you have the COVID talk

As the Quebec government extends the province-wide curfew to curtail the COVID-19 transmission rates, it’s become increasingly important that we start engaging in the difficult conversations with ourselves and our loved ones.

“Are you being safe?” and “Did you see anyone?” isn’t enough. We need to have frank, honest and clear communication as a matter of public health and common sense.

Certain people experience a higher risk of exposure to the virus simply from their job, their household, or their context. It’s important to turn up the compassion, turn up the curiosity, and turn down the judgment. It’s your business to know the facts so you can assess what risk you’re comfortable exposing yourself to, but that’s not a free pass to look down on other people’s risk assessment.

To get a sense of safe contact, let’s talk geometry. In terms of COVID contact, the safest shape is a circle, not a line. I’ll explain.

A “COVID bubble” is a closed circle. Meaning, if you are in a bubble of three with you and your two roommates, you see each other exclusively. Otherwise, it would no longer be a closed circle, but instead a chain.

It’s also important to communicate clearly and honestly when choosing a person to bubble with. That way everyone can make an informed decision.

For example, if I live alone, and plan to see my “one person” who also lives alone, before going to see them, we need to have a conversation about exposure to make sure we’re both on the same page.

To start the discussion, try and lead with setting your goals and intentions for having this hard conversation. Something like, “I know it’s awkward, but I appreciate that we can have these hard talks. I’m hoping to get clarity about our contact levels recently so that we can make sure that it’s safe and responsible to see each other. I completely respect your decisions, and I hope you respect mine, even if it means we can’t see each other at this time. ”

Then ask questions. Keep it short and simple. Be honest.

Asking if someone is “low risk” or “being safe” is perception-based, and relies on assumptions and personal opinions. This leaves room for miscommunication as folks may define “risk” or “safety” differently.

Replace “Are you being careful?” with “Who have you seen in the last two weeks?”, “Were you wearing masks the whole time?”, “Were you 2 metres apart?”, and “Were you outside?”

Replace “Do you trust the person you saw?” with “Did you have a conversation with the person you saw?”, “What questions did you ask?”, and “What was their reply?”

Replace “Are you taking risks?” with “What is your job?”, “Do you see children who go to school?”, and “Do you see people who have children in school?”

It’s about eliminating mystery and assumption from the conversation, and normalizing the conversation. This isn’t personal, it’s practical.

This is the kind of situation that forces change, and ultimately growth. Bestselling author and therapist Lori Gottlieb says, “Change and loss travel together. We can’t have change without loss, which is why so often people say they want change but nonetheless stay exactly the same.”

In this time, we are acquiring the skills to advocate for our own health and safety and that of others as well. We’re learning how we best receive feedback and how best to deliver it. We’re deepening our relationships with loved ones, and forging new ones as we endure this strange and complex hardship together.

This situation is forcing loss on everyone. It’s also forcing change. It’s uncomfortable, it’s scary, and it hurts. But we can choose to change for the better.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

Dissociation for Class President 2020!

You may wonder: what is Dissociation and why should I vote for it as Class President?

Vote for Dissociation 2020! Big D is a potentially helpful, potentially harmful way to experience major trauma like a global pandemic. Dissociation has a wide network of friends of all ages who use it to cope with the stress in their lives, and it wants to introduce itself to you! Don’t be shy. Dissociation is just looking to say hi, talk a bit about itself, and help you learn to identify its characteristics so that you can stay in good health throughout this stressful time!

Hi, I’m Dissociation, and I’m a defense mechanism that human beings exhibit as a response to trauma. I have three main branches, but this election campaign will highlight and examine just one of my sides: the depersonalization-derealization disorder (DDD for short).

DDD is a trauma response that presents as a “sense of detachment or being outside yourself,” according to the Mayo Clinic. If you find yourself removed from experiencing your thoughts, feelings, and actions firsthand, and are instead watching them occur like in a movie, you may be experiencing DDD.

“I generally think dissociation is understood as on a spectrum from daydreaming, reveries, getting very lost in a task, which can be super healthy,” says social worker and psychotherapist, Jeremy Wexler, of the Montreal Therapy Centre. “It’s highly adaptive,” Wexler continues, “except when it becomes too much or is over functioning or is preventing people from using other ways of coping.”

Considering my positive traits, as above described, I implore that you consider voting for me. I do my best to help people in hard times.

In a time of great stress and agitation, like in a global pandemic, it is normal that people will work out new ways to cope, but it’s important that those coping strategies are good for your health, and reinforce your sense of wellbeing.

When the brain forms a habit, such as a repeated response to a stimulus, it forges and strengthens that connection in the brain. Then, the brain will continue reinforcing that neural pathway by repeating the connection.

For example, if you bite your nails in a moment of stress to calm or distract yourself, you’re creating a connection in the brain between calming agitation and biting your nails. Next time you’re feeling agitated, and you bite your nails, you will fortify the habit. Then, in the future, if you are in a stressful situation, you are more likely to bite your nails then too.

“Dissociation may be part of a fight, flight or freeze response that people have,” says Wexler. “[People who experience dissociation] may become more prone to it and experience it as adaptive. So it becomes a reflex that is reinforced over time. It might be useful to think of it as a reflex.”

Evidently, I am very adaptable, and am always ready to come help during times of stress. Consider me, Dissociation, to lead you through 2020, in brief moments of daydreaming here or there, as you navigate a global health crisis.

I, your humble candidate, am the body’s attempt to help people cope with stress and trauma. Good intentions aside, I can also exacerbate harm instead of muting it, which I want to be transparent about.

With that said, there are some instances when I can be a helpful resource too, so long as you experience me on the milder end of my spectrum. If you experience my more severe symptoms, please reach out to loved ones for help. You are not alone.

I’m a complicated mechanism that can potentially lead to dysfunctional behaviours. Some associated disorders include an increased risk of other mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep and eating disorders, personality disorders, substance use disorder, and self-harm.

Symptoms can last “only a few moments or come and go over many years,” according to the Mayo Clinic. While I promise consistency, I can be a persistent — even pervasive —  experience that proves hard to manage without treatment. Treatment can include talk therapy and/or medication.

If you vote for me, I will do my best to make you proud, so long as you take care of your health, reach out to loved ones consistently, and are proactive if my symptoms intensify.

Vote for Dissociation 2020 if you want to get through the COVID-19 pandemic with a little more daydreaming, and a little less nail biting!

If you think you’re experiencing severe symptoms of Dissociation, please consider reaching out to a health practitioner, like your doctor or a psychologist. To find a psychologist, visit the Ordre des Psychologues du Quebec website. Additionally, you can always access free listening services from designated organizations.


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam


Breaking down the coronavirus

The spread of a human coronavirus, which started in China, has prompted universal fear in the span of weeks.

While there is still a lot of uncertainty about the virus, it was declared a global health emergency on Jan. 30 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Panic has settled in as the death toll continues to climb, with 300 so far and more than 14,000 confirmed cases in primarily Asian countries, according to the New York Times.

The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, which is one of China’s main transportation hubs. It is home to over 11 million people, making it a difficult place to contain an outbreak. Amid the circumstances, many international airlines such as KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Air Canada suspended their flights to China, prolonging the process for nationals seeking a way home.

Given that this is a respiratory virus, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis experts advise those who are in the vicinity of the virus to practice flu-prevention methods, such as washing your hands frequently and staying home from school or work if you’re sick.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the coronavirus include runny nose, headache, cough, fever, and a sore throat. Human coronaviruses can also trigger respiratory illness causing pneumonia for those infected. For this reason, people are being warned to be wary of flu-like symptoms, much like the common cold.

People have demonstrated a great deal of concern given that the virus is highly contagious. According to an early SSRN study, an infected person could transmit the disease from 2.0 to 3.1 people, if the necessary preventative measures aren’t taken seriously.

The virus has been compared to SARS, another form of coronavirus that killed 774 people in China back in 2003. The coronavirus can travel through the air, increasing the risk of contamination when a sick person breathes, coughs, sneezes or talks. Although the statistics of the virus raise concern for people worldwide, there are ways to reduce transmission numbers. This is done by using effective public health measures such as keeping those who are sick isolated while monitoring people who might have been in contact with them.

As of Jan. 31, there are four confirmed cases in Canada as reported by Global News: two in Toronto, one in London, Ontario and one in Vancouver. In Ottawa, fears surrounding the spread of the virus happened to coincide with the Chinese Lunar New Year. This led to the cancellation of several Lunar New Year events, despite the fact that there are no confirmed cases in Ottawa.

With the virus having made its way to Canada, the National Post reports that the Chinese-Canadian community is facing discrimination in light of these events. The article also recalls the role media played in propagating misinformation and hurtful stigma against the Chinese Canadian community. On Feb. 1, at a Lunar New Year celebration in Scarborough, Ontario, Justin Trudeau called for all Canadians to stay united against discrimination.

The outbreak has sparked a shared sense of fear in various countries where the coronavirus is present. This became evident when a cruise ship in Italy containing 6,000 tourists was placed in total lockdown, according to The BBC. The two passengers suspected of being contaminated remained in isolation units until deemed safe.

As for the Concordia community, Concordia International has stated that they currently do not have any students abroad in China. University spokesperson Vannina Maestracci explains the University’s approach to keeping the situation under control for students who are worried about the outbreak.

“The University is taking its guidance from public health agencies at the local, provincial and federal levels, who are closely monitoring the outbreak, and providing public health and infection control guidance,” said Maestracci. “Canadian public health authorities advise that the overall risk to Canadians remains low.”

She confirmed that the University has communicated with “students, staff and faculty on the risk, symptoms and best behaviours for flu-like symptoms such as handwashing.”

Maestracci also made a comment pertaining to discrimination on campus geared at Chinese students, saying “our Code of Rights and Responsibilities, which governs the entire Concordia community has, as its grounding principles, the values of civility, equity, respect, non-discrimination and an appreciation of diversity as manifested within Concordia University and within society.”


Graphic by @sundaeghost


What about the amputees?

On the east end of my not-so-prosperous neighbourhood, and, on occasion the green line, I notice an increasing number of amputees — usually with one or both legs removed at or below the knee.

Curious as to why they all were wheelchair-bound, I did some research and discovered that they probably can’t afford anything better.

In some Canadian provinces, Ontario being one of them, about 70 per cent of healthcare funding comes from our taxes and the remaining 30 percent is paid for by you and I directly — or through private medical insurance. If there’s no free lunch there’s no free healthcare, either. The 30 per cent that we passy for ourselves includes most dental, hearing and vision care, prescription medication, certain vaccinations, or a ride in an ambulance. While these holes in the system are known to most Canadians, they’d probably assume that a prosthetic limb required after an amputation would be covered. Sadly, they’d assume wrongly. Fact is, the Canada Health Act doesn’t cover prosthetic limbs.

Provincial programs to fund prosthetic limbs are complex to navigate and may even be deceptive. According to CBC, Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program (ADP) claims to cover 75 per cent of the cost of artificial limbs but the coverage is capped. ADP’s approved prices were last reviewed in 2012; advocacy groups claim that even back then, prices were severely out of date.

Nineteen-year-old Emilio Dutra-Lidington lost his right leg to the propeller of a boat on Lac Pemichangan two hours north of Ottawa. Following multiple surgeries, the time came for a prosthetic leg – the quoted price was $91,577. Emilio’s family learned that the leg had to be replaced every three to five years for common technology and every six to seven for higher technology. The life-time cost of the prosthetic leg might run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. How much would Ontario contribute? A sum of $6,792. Help for Emilio came from a crowd-funding campaign launched by his parents in June 2019; within four months it amassed $130,000.

Ontarian Patty De Guia lost her leg to cancer a few years ago. Global News reported that while in hospital, her chemotherapy meds were covered; but once home, her lower-dose chemo pens ($4,000 each) were only partially covered by her private insurance. With her finances already depleted by out of pocket expenses for at home chemo, she couldn’t afford the $50,000 prosthetic leg her doctor recommended. She opted for a $10,000 “loaner,” $2,500 up front and a promise to return the leg once she got something better. After nine years, De Guia’s neighbours set up a GoFundMe page to help her buy a suitable prosthetic which cost almost $90,000.

In Quebec, the Régime d’Assurance Maladie du Québec (RAMQ) decided that Hugues Leblanc’s two hand prostheses, a complete bio-mechanical hand valued at about $35,000 and a forceps worth about $25,000, would be 100 per cent covered – a  wonderful outcome that might not have happened if the Journal de Montreal hadn’t covered Leblanc’s tragic story and if his deputy, Pascal Berubé, and heavy hitter Danielle McCann, Minister of Health, hadn’t intervened.

A study published in 2017, based on 2012-16 data shows that 6,000 Canadians underwent lower limb amputations each year. In addition, there were perhaps 1,500 upper limb amputations in the same period. Unfortunately, some of these amputees might stumble into a Kafkaesque perfect storm that begins with an illness or accident followed by amputation, then expensive prescription meds – not covered – and a hugely expensive prosthetic limb – not covered – loss of earnings, perhaps even loss of one’s employment during months of rehabilitation. The amputee may end up bankrupt or deeply in debt and perhaps severely depressed with limited access and horrendous wait times to psychological services.

Surely in Canada we can do better? I mean, how can Canada make amputee Terry Fox a national hero while nickel-and-diming its everyday amputees? It just seems so un-Canadian, hypocritical even. What to do? Canada could revise its Health Care Act to include prosthetic limbs and other assistive devices, and provinces could cap costs rather than coverage. The provinces could get together to create a national purchasing agency for prosthetics, or prescription meds like the one in the UK, to bulk buy and drive down costs. A “Canadians with Disabilities Act” similar to the United States’ “Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA) might help.

Learning more about this risk that might come knocking at your door is important. We all need to know and make some noise about it, which is what I’m trying to do. 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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