An ode to all Sagittarius babies out there

I won’t forget about you this crazy holiday season

My birthday is 10 days before Christmas, and like all of my fellow Sagittarians, I get to celebrate my birthday at the most inconvenient time of the year.

Even though I might’ve been a Christmas miracle to my parents, the birthdays that have followed since 1996 would never get as much hype as the Christian holiday.

It sucks that the festivities tend to overshadow our special day. As everyone around us also has a reason to celebrate, my turning of age seems like “just another party” for them.

Sagittarians might be prone to selfishness, but it’s because we’re misunderstood. We never get to be selfish on our birthday because sometimes we don’t even get to celebrate it.

At every point in my life, there will always be some inconvenience around my birthday. When I was a kid, all of my friends were out of school, either on vacation or just spending time with their families. When I got to higher education, it’s exam season. And when I finally reach my adult life, office christmas parties are in the way.

And don’t even get me started on the weather. As a Sagittarius baby, especially in Montreal, you have to pray that a snow storm won’t ruin your plans because it’s not like you can reschedule anyway.

The planning of my birthday is now a month-long process that needs to start around Halloween, in order to make sure I get the proper reservations. And with most businesses being at their busiest around this time of year, if I want to order a cake, decorations, or a special birthday outfit, this also needs to be done right after Halloween to make sure I get everything on time.

With that kind of preparation process, it’s easy to understand why I’m always the one in charge of organizing my own birthday parties and ordering my own cake.

With everyone’s busy schedule around this time, I know I’ll never get a surprise birthday party. But it’s okay, I’ve come to terms with it.

December babies just want you to understand that we want to be a bit selfish for that one day. We just want you to show up and not mention the C-word. After all, it’s not like we can forget about what time of year it is anyway; the music and decorations will always be there to remind us. Not to mention every other table in the restaurant is usually celebrating the holiday too.

After 25 birthdays, I’ve tried it all — from celebrating at home (but the damn decorated tree is constantly just there) to celebrating my half-birthday in June, but then it just doesn’t feel right.

I might not have the ultimate solution for the sagittarius to have their time to shine, but I know we need the other signs to understand the need to make it a little bit more about us on our birthday.


DDO Holiday Market Returns

 The Dollard-des-Ormeaux Holiday Market returns to bring holiday cheer after a two-year hiatus

Nov. 12-13 marked the return of DDO’s annual Fine Arts & Craft Holiday Market. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, local businesses and artisans returned to the DDO Civic Centre’s new Community Centre Building to sell their goods and ring in some holiday spirit. 

The event had live music, countless vendor stalls and the “Craft Café” to take a break from shopping and enjoy some freshly baked goods. The place was packed with families looking to get a head start on holiday shopping and support their community. 

There was a wide range of vendors, selling anything from knitwear to handcrafted jewelry to pottery. There was surely something for everyone, including a Lego building station for kids. No matter your age, there was something to pique your interest and tempt your wallet.

Going from vendor to vendor, there was no lack of smiling faces, as everyone was thrilled to welcome back the annual community event. Here’s to many more years of the DDO Holiday Market!

Light up your night with Illumi

Illumi’s third installation has returned back to Laval

The third installation of Illumi is back and better than ever. Being a Laval native, I have visited Illumi for the past three years, ever since it began back in 2019.  Illumi is the biggest village of lights in all of North America, according to a blog published by Narcity. This year, I was truly impressed with all the new light installations and upgrades. With the COVID-19 restrictions easing up here in Quebec, they came back bigger and stronger.

Back when Illumi started in 2019, I visited with my family and we did the walking tour of the exhibit which felt as if I walked into a fairytale land. The twinkling lights were magical and got me into the Christmas spirit. However, in the back of my mind it reminded me of Jardin botanique’s Jardins de Lumière, which I also try to attend yearly. Overall, I felt that the first year of Illumi was a nice way to start the holiday season.

When I visited in 2020, I felt like I was ripped off, to be blunt. I paid close to $60 for my sister and I to see Illumi from the car. The whole drive didn’t even last the entire hour and I felt they had reused a lot of the installations and lights that I saw in the first year.

However, Illumi had promoted themselves pretty ferociously around Laval and Montreal, so I was very much enticed to return for the third consecutive year, which was now a walking edition. I hoped that the disappointment from last year wouldn’t happen again given that more than 80 percent of the light structure is new, according to Illumi’s website.

This year’s edition of Illumi allowed visitors to either do the exhibit from the car or on-foot experience. I truly felt that was a great option, even with the COVID-19 restrictions easing up, as there are still people that feel uneasy around others.

Additionally, if you would like to enter Illumi by foot this year, you will have to show proof of vaccination in order to enter. While going out to movie theaters and concerts is a no-go for people that are not vaccinated, Illumi serves as an option as something to go out, as a vaccination passport is not required for the car version of Illumi.

The first light installment that you are greeted with when you first enter is the new land of the vegetables, featuring a bunch of fruits and vegetables with cute faces on them. I thought this first part of the exhibit was cute, but it didn’t necessarily take my breath away.

I feel that the highlight of the exhibit and also a new addition to Illumi is definitely the land of the dinosaurs. I highly suggest taking your kids here if they’re fans of Jurassic World, as a walk through the park will give them a taste of what it’s really like to be walking among the giants. All the dinosaurs and other animals move, and there’s a massive mammoth which reminded me of Manny from the Ice Age movies. While looking around at this exhibit, I was able to talk to a visitor named Anthony Matano. He gave me his first hand experience, saying, “Having gone in blind, I was pleasantly surprised by the unique and original light installations that wouldn’t typically be expected at a Christmas-themed light exhibit. My favourite section was the dinosaur world simply due to its originality, it made me feel like I was in a real life Jurassic Park.”

Another thing I wanted to add was that, while I was walking through the exhibit I saw the cars passing on the other side of the exhibit. There were even stop signs and crossing guards for people to cross the different paths at Illumi.

Without spoiling too much, I strongly urge everyone to come to Laval and visit Illumi. This year’s edition will definitely be worth the drive and the smiles on your loved one’s faces.


Photos by Dalia Nardolillo

Looking for winter activities to get the holidays started? I’ve got you!

Our list of things to do in Montreal this holiday season may help make up for the dreadful winter weather around the corner.

It’s getting darker, colder and, and let’s be honest, kind of gross. Our days are getting shorter, while night dominates most of the hours in a day. The light in the sky escapes our eyes at 4 p.m. and, once again, we find ourselves taking our “afternoon” walks in the dead of night. I’m being a tad dramatic, I know. I can hear my mother’s voice making its way through my ears, telling me to “Look at the positive side, bun.”

While it may be easy to dump a cloud of doom and gloom over the Montreal winter, why not embrace the fact that the holidays are just around the corner?

Glistening lights and holiday drinks have entered the chat folks, so pay attention. In the spirit of the season, I’ve put together a few fun and festive things to fill your winter days.

Get skatin’

It’s time to dig your skates out of that bag in your closet, wear your thickest socks, and hit the ice. Let’s be honest, nothing quite says “Montreal holiday season” like skating outdoors. While rinks remain open throughout the winter, there’s something special about strapping on a pair of blades during the holidays.

If you’re thinking of locations, the Old Port is definitely the place to be. The twinkling lights of the city paired with the sound of music and the mystic St. Lawrence River right by the rink makes for an enchanting outing.

If your feet start to hurt (and, let’s face it, they always end up doing so), you can always take a step back from the rink and grab a hot cocoa… or a beer. Did I mention how perfect this activity makes for a fun and flirty date? You couldn’t have picked it better.

If this activity doesn’t seem perfectly storybook enough, I don’t know what is.

Markets, markets, markets! 

Tis’ the season to venture out to holiday markets! This has to be one of my favorite holiday traditions, no matter what city I’m in. The best news is that there’s no shortage of them in Montreal. What better way to join in on the holiday-spirited fun than by embracing the magical sights and sounds of each unique holiday market?

Whether you’re hitting the Village de Noël de Montréal at Atwater Market, the Marché de Noël de Jean Talon or Les Jardins d’Hiver at the Esplanade de la Place des Arts, you have options. Of course, several measures have been implemented at these different venues to ensure the safety of all visitors and employees, including the government-mandated vaccine passports.

Regardless of which location you decide to visit, you’ll find food, drinks, and fun little knick-knacks you can pick up for your loved ones as kitschy holiday gifts. Nothing says “holiday season in Montreal” quite like warm and welcoming holiday markets, right?

Let there be light (and sparkles) 

As the days get shorter and the nights grow longer, Montreal has several different activities that will light up your winter days — literally. Time to fill up your thermos with a hot drink of your choice (I don’t judge), bundle up, and enjoy some light installations around the city.

First stop: the Luminothérapie playground at the Quartier des Spectacles. Getting your hands on the funky mixture of interactive art and light pieces will make you feel like a kid again. After you’ve had your fun there, take a stroll downtown. Allow yourself to be amazed by the holiday decor and lighting installations, all of which are guaranteed to distract you from the icky winter streets.You can also enjoy some pop-up shows and holiday activities offered from XP_MTL.

Your last stop? You don’t want to miss the stunning multimedia show Aura at the Notre-Dame Basilica. The universally-acclaimed show features stunning visuals and incredible music. The luminous experience will truly take your breath away, making it an unforgettable, magical evening.

Get your tickets for holiday music and shows! 

Holiday music and theatre shows are back and better than ever. From Dec. 9 to 28, you can catch The Nutcracker, presented by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, at Place des Arts. After years of watching the Barbie Nutcracker version (which will never get old), I can say that this activity is definitely at the top of my wish list.

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is contributing to the festive joy with several different concerts. Included in the line-up are La Poste du Paradis, Handel’s Messiah, Hervé Niquet and Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), and many more. You can also make your way to the Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to enjoy their holiday concerts, including A Very Merry Christmas by the Montréal Guitare Trio and A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Taurey Butler Trio.

Take a break from that essay, lab, or project, grab your winter gear, and go enjoy some festive fun! Let’s embrace Montreal’s holiday sparkle while we still can.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt

Holiday gift ideas for a conscious shopper

The Holiday season hasn’t been about religion in a while – it’s about gifts now.

I love the holiday season as much as the next Starbucks-peppermint-mocha-loving gal — but I will admit that I feel a tinge of guilt when heading out to my local Simons, or checking out a loved one’s Amazon wishlist.

The trendiness of anti-capitalism is growing. Coupled with the swelling pressure to purchase, I’m led to find a more responsible way to give gifts to my favourite people.

Buying presents for loved ones is a pleasure that compares to inhaling your first batch of gingerbread cookies. The warmth experienced when you see that special someone genuinely smile can be achieved without selling your soul to the season’s Lucifer, Jeff Bezos.

So, here are some of my recommendations for conscious holiday presents.

The Facebook Marketplace route 

This is my personal favourite — browsing through Facebook Marketplace is the best pastime, and the most rewarding! You can set your filters, get precise with your search words, and find the most random stuff. Since most of your Marketplace finds will be in your area, you can also turn this shopping experience into an adventure, discovering new parts of your city while picking up your hidden gems.

I find that the “miscellaneous” category has some of the best finds — vintage memorabilia, posters, outdated technology or even fun coffee table books are a surprising delight.

This season, I snagged a 1980s Porsche phone for my dad — who always dreamed of owning his own supercar one day. The small red phone will be a perfect addition to his collection of strange knick-knacks.

This may seem random, but lamps are also great to look for on Marketplace. Ambient lighting can upgrade a space with the simple flick of a switch. However, a nice vintage lamp, or any ambient lighting is not something people often spend their own money on. I’ve always enjoyed giving lamps out as presents. I recently found a green glass lamp that would’ve fit great in my sister’s office, but I wasn’t quick enough to snag it.

You will have to make split-second decisions on Marketplace. Especially in the holiday season, items can disappear as quickly as you’ve pressed the “Is this still available?” message. When I get in contact with a seller and I’m sure of my decision, I try to put a deposit down to secure the item — something small like $5 to $10 depending on the final cost of my purchase.

If you see something has been listed for a while, feel free to try and offer a lower price: you may get lucky! Just make sure to secure the transaction before getting your hopes up. Time after time, people willing to pay the listed price will sneak in and get the goods at the last minute.

The handmade route

A personalized, homemade gift is a hit or miss. The key with this technique is to play to your strengths: don’t draw someone a portrait if you have the drawing skills of a 4-year-old (unless your friend has a good sense of humour).

All I want to illustrate is that you should utilize your talents. If you can knit, make some coasters or hats for your friends and family. If you can paint, maybe a nice painting of a meaningful object or landscape. If you’re a writer, maybe a funny letter mailed to them with a note to open on Dec. 25th, or even something more heartfelt for that special someone. 

Knitting or crocheting doesn’t have to be intimidating — there are simple patterns you can learn if you are a beginner. Go ahead, use winter as an excuse to pick up another grandma hobby.

I recommend thrifting your yarn since it costs a fraction of the price. There’s something so fun about thrifting materials — that feeling of saving something from a landfill and creating it into a meaningful gift for a loved one. I’ve even found most of my knitting needles in thrift stores.

If you’re an artist, maybe try looking for fun objects to use from the aisle of random bags located on the back walls of most thrift stores. I’m sure you can find some paintbrushes, crayons, pastels, or interesting fabrics.

While you’re at it, you can always pick something up from the houseware section at the thrift — a fun book, a CD or cassette (for decoration or nostalgic purposes), a funky throw, some vintage pyrex, candle holders, novelty mugs… get creative.

Now that you have the tools, go on, get! Go find the most creative and heart-warming gifts of the season. Remember: It’s not about the price tag, it’s about the thought behind the gift.


Feature graphic by James Fay


Sept. 30 is now a federal holiday

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a one to remember and honour the children and survivors of residential schools

Every year on Sept. 30, people across Canada participate in Orange Shirt Day to honour residential school survivors and spread awareness of the tragedy. However, this year will be the first time Sept. 30 is a federal holiday, despite the fact that many provinces are choosing not to recognize it as a statutory holiday.

The new statutory holiday is called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation — the outcome of legislation passed by the Canadian government in June, and is the result of one of the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process,” states the commission.

“I don’t think we should be calling them residential schools anymore,” said Catherine Kinewesquao Richardson, who is Métis with Cree, Dene, and Gwich’in ancestry. She is the director of First Peoples studies at Concordia.

“Residential school is a euphemism, they want it to sound better,” she said. “It makes them feel a bit more protected if you call it a school rather than a prison camp. But if we are going to use the truth part in truth and reconciliation, then I think it’s time to call residential schools what they are, which is a prison camp.”

For Richardson, the Sept. 30 holiday, while a product of the 94 calls to action, was a direct result of the recent discovery of hundreds of bodies at residential schools across Canada.

In May, the remains of 215 children were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in BC. As of August, according to The Guardian, over 1,300 unmarked graves have been identified at five residential schools across Canada, but it’s estimated to rise to over 3,200. With 139 residential schools recognized by the federal government, and many more privately funded, that number is expected to increase by the thousands.

Many Indigenous people on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok have posted that, including the bodies found at American residential schools, the number of children’s bodies is over 6,500. However, that number is not considered official.

“While I’ve heard some reports about the child’s graves, it’s kind of sporadic every time something new happens,” said Richardson, who explained she doesn’t see the media reporting on the issue enough.

The holiday on Sept. 30 is not being recognized by many provinces, including Quebec. According to CTV news, Premier François Legault stated at a press conference that Quebec isn’t interested in having more statutory holidays, no matter the reason.

Concordia follows provincial statutory holidays, not federal ones, stated Vannina Maestracci, a spokesperson for Concordia.

“However, we have been marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for some years through events organized and led by Concordia’s Indigenous staff and faculty,” said Maestracci.

She stated that since Sept. 30 is designed to promote awareness, Concordia, as it does every year, encourages students to wear an orange shirt in honour of the Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools.

Sept. 30 is commonly referred to as Orange Shirt Day, where people wear orange shirts to create a dialogue about residential schools, and to honour the survivors. The reason why people wear the colour orange is because of survivor Phyllis Webstad. When she went to her first day at a residential school wearing an orange shirt bought by her grandmother, it was taken away from Webstad, who was six at the time.

Maestracci also explained that this year the Indigenous Directions Office is holding a round table discussion on residential schools, and a story will be published by Manon Tremblay — who is nêhiyaw-iskwêw (Plains Cree) from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the senior director of Indigenous Directions — about her grandmother, who was forcibly sent to residential school.

“I would tell you to take the time to reflect and take the time to educate oneself on that part of Canadian history,” said Tremblay when asked if she had advice for what people could do to show support on Sept. 30. “Reflect on or educate oneself on the intergenerational trauma that still persists today.”

For Tremblay, it is important to remember that while there are Indigenous people who didn’t go to residential school, their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did, and that trauma is carried through the generations.

“That continues to influence who they are today because of the way that they were brought up, and some of the apprehensions that their parents and grandparents communicated to them,” said Tremblay. “And this is the sort of thing that we are still experiencing today.”

Tremblay explained that Concordia is doing a Indigenous Directions Action Plan in response to the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The action plan was created in 2019, and aims to decolonize and Indigenize Concordia so that it can move forward based on responsibility, reciprocity, relevance and respect.

She also stated that the fact that Concordia is staying open for Sept. 30 is an opportunity to bring awareness to people on campus. If they were sent home, they would not think about the day and what it means. But if students are on campus, they have a chance to engage with the Indigenous community and have an honest discussion.


Juliet Mackie is a Métis (Cree/Gwich’in/English) Graduate Student, painter, and beadwork artist with maternal roots in Red River, MB and Fort Chipewyan, AB. Juliet’s great-grandmother Evelyn Wylie attended an Anglican day school as a child in Fort Chipewyan. Evelyn married a Swedish trapper, Alvar Oak, and raised their three daughters seasonally on a trapline at Hill Island Lake, NWT. Alvar established a small trappers school for his daughters and the children of the other trappers to protect them from being taken by the Indian Agent. In 1944, Evelyn moved with her daughters from Lake Athabasca to Edmonton where they attended a local school. They faced discrimination in Edmonton and were often referred to “halfbreeds.” Like many Métis families, they hid their identity to protect themselves from violence and racism. In her art practice, Juliet uses portraiture and beadwork to reclaim her Métis identity and celebrate Indigeneity. Her painting famii/family depicts Juliet and her brother as children. 


Painting by Juliet Mackie

A very COVID Rosh Hashanah

Jewish holidays are fundamentally communal activities, but with COVID, they’ve become a time to reflect on what traditions are most important to us

As the summer started to wane and the pandemic didn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon, I started to wonder how Jewish people around the world would celebrate the High Holidays.

The High Holidays are the most important weeks of the Jewish calendar. Starting with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it’s a time to welcome a new year by reflecting on the past year’s transgressions and asking for forgiveness from those in your life and then, ultimately, from God.

Growing up, Rosh Hashanah meant taking the day off of school, getting dressed up, and attending synagogue with my parents. The services were long and mostly felt pretty boring at the time, minus the sprinkling of cantorial songs that would make the synagogue swell with harmonizing voices. After three long hours, the congregation would be dismissed and all the families would wish each other a “שָׁנָה טוֹבָה” (shana tova, i.e. happy new year) as they slowly made their way out of the sanctuary.

To me, the High Holidays were a fundamentally communal experience. Growing up in a small southern synagogue, it was the time for the Jewish community to connect through Torah study, Tashlich and Yom Kippur break-fast potlucks that served to, well, break our fasts. But, for obvious reasons, these traditions are more difficult this year. Even if I wasn’t separated from my childhood synagogue by over 1,000 kilometres, Rosh Hashanah would still be a fairly isolated activity — but I knew I wanted to celebrate the new year in some way.

The idea of not being able to celebrate the holidays due to COVID left me feeling helpless. Sure, there would be Zoom services, but watching Torah readings on the holiest days of the year through a laptop screen just felt a tad dystopian. Plus, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that old Jewish people and technology don’t go together well.

So the question became: how can I celebrate Rosh Hashanah in a way that is COVID-safe and fulfills my needs for spirituality and community? I thought about this for a while until one night when I had dinner with my roommate, who was discussing making her mother’s empanadas recipe for Chilean Independence Day. I loved her idea of taking a traditional food in her family and sharing it with us, her Montreal family. That’s when I decided to repay the favour, and make a Rosh Hashanah meal for our friends.

Sharing food is a big deal in Jewish culture. Between the many laws governing food preparation (Kashrut), the commandment to feed the hungry and the several holidays and festivals that rotate around a meal, Jews are very concerned with what and how we eat. Rosh Hashanah is no exception to this rule. While it isn’t as food centric as Passover and Tu BiShvat, there are still specific foods that you’re commanded to eat, such as apples and honey to ring in a “sweet” new year.

All around, I wanted to use Rosh Hashanah as a way to connect not just to my spiritual Judaism, but to my cultural Judaism as well. So, I decided to go all out with the greatest hits of Ashkenazi cuisine. Propelled by what I can only attribute to some sort of generational feminine spirit, in the span of one day I prepared matzo ball soup, potato kugel, tzimmes, a challah and honey cake. Your bubbe could never.

A few wine-toting friends arrived around 7 p.m. Surprisingly, all my dishes turned out even better than planned (which never happens to me). I recited the prayers over the candles and challah, then we sat around my small apartment table and ate, drank and talked for hours. Even though only one of my friends came from a Jewish background, that didn’t matter. To me, ringing in the new year is more about connecting with your Judaism, whatever that may look like, and surrounding yourself with those who can help you be your best self for the upcoming year.

Sharing my culture with those I care about outside of my family like I did this year wasn’t something I would have even thought to do before COVID. Yet, as annoying as so   cial distancing has been, I’m grateful that it forced me to look inward for my Judaism and take my religious practice into my own hands.

Hopefully, next year social distancing won’t factor so heavily into all of our actions, but at this point, there’s no way to know. What I do know now is that it’s okay if my traditions change. Change doesn’t necessarily have to mean a downgrade, just a rethinking of what is most important to me.


Photo by Aviva Majerczyk


Let the love and holiday cheer be represented all year

Basic kindness and respect aren’t reserved for December

Once again, we find ourselves at the holiday season.

A time when we get together with people for a drink promised back in June, seasonal songs are played in radios and in malls until we are sick of them, and we take a moment to pause and reflect upon the trajectory of our lives.

Something special happens during this time of year. People seem to take a little bit more time for each other. Whether this is catching up with friends, spending time with family, or even saying hello to a random stranger, there is something about going into the new year that makes us all a little nicer. Food, clothing, and toy drives become a common sight. Individuals give of themselves, not for any personal gain, but to help someone else in need.

All of these acts of warmth are due to the fact that, for a month, what is important is not what divides us but what unites us—a shared humanity.

“The holiday season has been a time for understanding and giving for centuries—but this does not extend to the rest of the year. Photo by Don O’Brien on Flickr.”

This year, we’ve dealt with a wide array of issues, yet many have one thing in common: they were about the alienated and oppressed. Some were focused on groups typically thought of as minorities, such as the LGBTQ, the disabled, and the homeless. Others were members of larger groups, such as various political or religious communities, within and outside of Concordia. On a larger scale, almost everyone is a member of a minority, whether as one of the groups already mentioned or as an Anglophone/Allophone/Francophone involved with an English university in Quebec. In short, much of the news that ran this year has focused on issues which divide us.

What would happen if the goodwill shown during the holiday season were to happen throughout the entire year? What if, when opposing sides of an issue were to talk, they began doing so with their shared humanity in mind? What effect would it have on us as a community, or a society?

By shifting our focus from our differences to the things we have in common, many things can happen. First, it would allow us to see each other as whole persons. Often when speaking with members of minority groups, the issue comes up that society reduces them just to their minority label instead of the person they are in totality. Seeing someone’s humanity first would make the difference, as opposed to only a facet of the individual.

Second, differences lose their power to provoke. Generally, when presented with something we have no understanding of, or that goes against what we believe firmly, the natural response is to be hesitant, fearful, or angry.  If people were no longer be reduced a difference, there is ultimately more to agree with than to be in conflict with.

Third, this would allow for real communication to happen. Too often, debates consist of both sides yelling at each other without actually listening. Debates can be summarized as both sides yelling at each other about how they are correct and the other side has no idea what they were talking about. When appealing to each other’s humanity, one is responsible to listen and try to understand where the other is coming from. Such a stance would lead to discourse, instead of yelling.

Finally, this may bleed over into genuine care. When you are able to talk with someone different from yourself and listen, in shared humanity and recognition that both of you are members of different groups, struggles become communal. It is no longer “someone else’s problem,” but rather your own. When care is fully expressed, social changes occur because no one wants something bad to happen to a friend or loved one if they can help prevent it.

Here’s to hoping the holiday season begins to last all year.

Student Life

Is peer pressure making you spend more this holiday season?

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

According to a new consumer trends survey called “Every Dollar Counts,” Quebecers’ spending habits are greatly influenced by those around them, and it’s wreaking havoc for their personal financial goals.

When Simon Préfontaine, a financial advisor at Lafond Financial Services, first started looking to improve his own finances, he said he had to start paying off his debts by spending less than he made and living more within his means.

“You have to make tough choices,” said Préfontaine. “Sometimes that means finding a new crowd to hang out with and friends who will tell you the truth.”

Préfontaine is quick to point out that peer pressure is not a new thing. Ultimately, you must face yourself.

“Financial success,” he said, “is 80 per cent behaviour and 20 per cent knowledge.”

Préfontaine occasionally volunteers his time and expertise to offer personal finance courses that are designed around peer support.

“Your accountability partner should not be your advisor. He or she is paid to help you,” he said. “You can’t call them up on a Saturday and have them listen to your struggles.”

Rafael Sorili, a liberal arts student, is also tackling his personal finances. He recently attended a workshop called “Budgeting to Your Values” given by Judy Lashley, a financial advisor at Concordia University. It was part of a series offered by Student Services during Concordia’s first ever Financial Literacy Week this past November. Sorili works part-time to supplement his loans and bursaries, and plans to go on to graduate school.

“I got tired of being a hostage to my finances,” said Sorili. “I’m looking to empower myself financially.”

What appealed to him about the workshop was how it focused on building a budget that reflects his own values and reality as opposed to some idealistic plan.

“Once you know your values,” said Lashley, “it’s a lot easier to make decisions.”

Sorili has already booked a follow-up appointment, and is now saving all his receipts for a month. With the advisor’s help, together they will go through his receipts to determine where he spends his money. Sorili’s goal is to break free from student poverty. He says he refuses to be a victim. “Being a student does not have to mean being poor,” he said.

Lisa Hanash also believes that values should dictate her budget, and not the other way around. Hanash, who is graduating this semester in marketing at the John Molson School of Business, said that generosity is an important value to her regardless of her financial situation. She’s learned to manage her money well by observing her family’s habits and values.

“My mother is resourceful. She’s always learned to do things herself, so was my grandmother,” said Hanash. “And both my dad and brother fix things, so we didn’t spend money when we didn’t have it. I’ve learned the value of a dollar.”

Hanash continues to buy second-hand clothing for herself like her mother did when she was growing up. She says she never learned to hoard because her mother taught her the principle of “buy one thing, give one thing.” She buys food on sale and in bulk.

“I don’t spend a lot on food. I eat a lot at home and I pack my own lunches,” said Hanash. She also anticipates the unexpected by putting aside an emergency fund.

As a marketing student, Hanash says she is more aware of how stores mark up their prices and use certain tactics to sell their stuff. She hopes to use her marketing knowledge and skills to raise the profile of non-profit organizations and fundraise for worthy causes.

For help with your finances visit to view the services Concordia’s Financial Aid&Awards Office has to offer.



Second annual Santa Supply Chain

On Thursday Nov. 21st, Concordia’s Decision Science Student Association (DSSA) will host the Santa Supply Chain, the proceeds of which will go to help benefit the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Society of Montreal and Montreal Community Cares.

Made up of 13 members, the organization prides itself on bringing together students from various fields to create opportunities to use the practical and theoretical aspects from their disciplines. Press Photo

For the second year in a row, John Molson School of Business (JMSB) students from the faculties of Business Technology Management and Business Operations Management will be getting together to collect donations for the less fortunate.

The DSSA will be holding the event in the lobby of the MB building at the Sir George Williams Campus. Accepting donations of toys, canned goods and personal hygiene products, the donated items will be packaged by Concordia students into boxes and decorated for the holiday season. Last year, the students were able to collect 318 boxes. This year they hope to increase their total to 500 boxes.

At the event, 15 students will be volunteering to collect donations and wrap boxes. The students will also be providing information about the event, selling raffle tickets and making cards. Each box will contain roughly five items for the holidays. A typical box might include, a key chain, puzzle, stuffed animal, a toothbrush and some canned food. There will also be members of the Montreal Alouettes and the Concordia Stingers helping to wrap boxes.
The DSSA is one of the youngest associations at Concordia’s JMSB. DSSA’s Director of Corporate Relations, Alexandra English, told The Concordian “It’s about inspiring future young leaders by emphasizing the importance and integrative nature of Business Technology Management and Supply Chain Operations Management.”

One of the supporters and benefactors of this event is Professor Brent Pearce whose foundation, the Brent Pearce Foundation, makes it their mission to help put a smile on the faces of less fortunate children on Christmas. The foundation’s proceeds, some of which will come from the Santa Supply Chain, go to  the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Society of Montreal. The foundation hopes to help underprivileged families in the Verdun and Pointe Saint-Charles area. Many of the proceeds will be going to single parent households who otherwise would not be able to put gifts under their trees.

Professor Pearce has been teaching at Concordia’s JMSB for close to 35 years. During his tenure he has taught many courses, including Product Innovation and Strategy as well as Direct Response Marketing. Throughout his career he has been a maverick in the healthcare and consumer goods industry.

If you or anyone you know would like to help, stop by the MB lobby on Nov. 21 between 10:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and bring a toy, canned good or personal hygiene product for the Christmas boxes. For further questions feel free to contact the DSSA at

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