Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train stopped in Montreal on Nov. 27

Montrealers welcomed the holiday season with the CP Holiday Train.

After a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train made its stop in Montreal-West. Hundreds of people were in attendance waiting for its arrival.

The train started its tour on Nov. 23 in Maine. The Holiday Train will bring holiday cheer to six Canadian provinces and eight states around the United States.

Did you know that the purpose of the Holiday Train is to raise awareness about food insecurity across Canada and the United States? The train also raises the importance of being involved in your local community.

On Sunday, when the Holiday Train was scheduled to arrive in the city, it was a dark and rainy night. However, no one in attendance seemed to care as people were happy to wait to get dazzled by the lights of the Holiday Train.

The train was scheduled to arrive at 6:45 p.m. but ended up making an appearance shortly after 7 in Montreal-West. As soon as the train arrived, a Christmas concert played out of one of the train cars.

The rain didn’t stop the crowd from taking pictures in front of the train, from a safe distance of course.

Each train car was adorned with a different decorative festive design, which included traditional decorations of snowmen and Santa Claus. However, what was truly interesting was that one of the train cars had a hockey theme. As the lights flickered, the message “She shoots, she scores!” appeared. 

After the free Christmas concert ended, the train made its way to its second stop in Beaconsfield.

According to CP’s website, this year will mark CP’s 24th year of collecting food for different food banks all across Canada and the United States. CP began its initiative back in 1999 and since then has raised more than $21 million and donated more than five million pounds of food. 

Onlookers were welcome to bring non-perishable food to donate while the train was stopped in the area. Various Quebec organizations were involved with the event, one of them being Moisson Montreal. They have been involved with the event for the past 20 years.

The train will also make stops in Calgary on Dec. 11, and a final show in Port Coquitlam, B.C., on Dec. 18.

If you happen to attend one of the CP Holiday Train events, please remember to bring along a food donation. In this holiday season, we need to help one another and come together as a community.



A holiday dinner table divided

Do religion and politics have a place at the holiday dinner table?

Growing up, I was always told there are two things you never discuss with family or friends: religion and politics. I took that as, for lack of a better word, gospel, and I never engaged in those types of conversations. I was always told that these were bad conversations and that in order to keep the peace, these topics were off-limits.

Now, when I was younger that all made sense. Why wouldn’t I want to keep the peace? After all, family is the cornerstone of who we are, so why go out of my way to upset them? 

Fast forward to now, many years later, I started to think about this adage again. Has our stance toward this taboo topic changed?

Generally, from my experience, this is still one of the number one rules set up for holiday gatherings. Especially given how religiously and politically divided our society seems to be in our current reality. 

I asked myself last week, should politics and religion be off the table this year for the holidays? And for the first time in a while, I thought, no, these two topics should be welcomed at the table with family.

Last Christmas Eve the topic of the political motivation for mask mandates and vaccines came up. Typically, I would avoid the subject altogether, and I think that some of my family was trying to change the subject. I decided to take the conversation head-on. 

I firmly believe that in order to be a well-rounded person you need to engage in conversations that might make you uncomfortable. I think that sometimes our relationships with family members are treated as these precious pieces of glass that we just can’t shatter. However, I think to have a healthy family group, controversial topics must be brought up. 

Talking for the millionth time about how much the Christmas decorations cost gets boring, and there is some fun to be had with tough conversations. Also, why not know where the people closest to you stand on political issues and religious ideas? The foundation of boundaries and understanding where you stand within the family is incredibly important and religion and politics is where someone, myself included, can really find their voice. 

Now, I understand the fear behind it, because I have been scared for a long time. I know that some might feel it is not worth risking whatever arguments or tensions may arise. I can see the argument that the holidays are supposed to be a peaceful time, and a time to enjoy being with family. I can see the fear of being shunned from the family, or feeling attacked if your views differ from those around you. However, when we hide behind difficult conversations we are not doing anyone any favours. 

When I chose to not hide behind a difficult conversation, it ultimately ended in an argument. Other people around us perhaps felt uncomfortable, but it still felt really good to not shy away from such a topic. 

Now, would I recommend going about the conversation in the way I did? No. However, I still stand by the idea that politics and religion absolutely have a place at the holiday table.


Your presence is requested at The Montreal Christmas Village at the Atwater Market

 A look behind the scenes at what brings you the Christmas magic.

Nov. 24 marks the opening of the sixth edition of The Montreal Christmas Village at the Atwater Market. Open until Dec. 18, this year’s edition of the market will surely not disappoint.

The Concordian had the opportunity to speak with Carole Balas, one of the organizers who helps make the Montreal Christmas Village at Atwater Market.

Balas is the coordinator of volunteers for both the Montreal Christmas Village as well as The Great Christmas Market at Places-des-Arts. Launched on Nov. 19, The Great Christmas Market is already in full swing. 

“Along with being responsible for the volunteers at the market, I am a part of the communication team and I am also responsible for the photography and the videography team,” Balas explained.

In terms of recruiting volunteers for this year’s edition of the market, Balas was unsure if they recruited enough volunteers. She explained that every week on their social media, they have been posting advertisements to get volunteers. 

“I do meetings with them [the volunteers] and I explain to them what the non-profit is. I would say most of them are really excited to get started,” Balas said.

The Jean-Talon Christmas Market will not be getting volunteers this year because it is at a much smaller scale and won’t need as many helping hands. As The Montreal Christmas Village continues to grow, it was all hands on deck in order to get ready for the opening on Nov. 24.

“The volunteers will mainly sell food and drinks at the food chalet. They will also help with putting up some Christmas lights but we don’t make them focus on that as much. The merchants rent their own chalets at the Montreal Christmas Village and they are pretty much responsible for themselves,” Balas explained.

A worker at the food chalet at the Christmas Village in the Atwater Market. Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

This is Balas’ third year on the team. She got involved with the team back in 2019, as a volunteer. 

“When I first started off as a volunteer, I was there almost every weekend. I was one of the people that was there the most and I loved it,” Balas recalled. “I spoke to my boss and I told her that I do videos, that’s my job. Then the next year, I actually did the official video for the market.”

Looking at the other side of her responsibilities, Balas is tasked with taking photographs and videos alongside the media team.

“So this year, in terms of marketing the markets, we are much more organized than years before. In the years before, I was the only one shooting videos for promotion of the market. Now we have a whole team of photographers and videographers,” Balas said.

Balas went on to explain that this year she has put together a short list of specific themes that the photographers and videographers should abide by. 

“Some of the themes include food, decorations, volunteers, merchants, and animals. Animals are important to capture because we get the question all the time if animals are allowed at the markets,” she said.

Even with a full plate managing both the volunteers and the media team, Balas is still looking forward to all the magic the market has to offer. 

“I think the decorations are what I am looking forward to seeing the most at the market. We have two yurts, one of them is going to be filled with beautiful decorations of elves and huts. The other yurt is a bar, we had it back in 2019, but this year it’s back,” Balas explained.

With the return of Atwater Christmas fan-favorite decorations and artists, this year’s edition of the Christmas Village will be the spot to visit for the holidays.  If Balas hasn’t peaked your curiosity enough about the magic of this year’s Christmas Village event, visit the market’s website.

The food chalet at the Christmas Village in the Atwater market. Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN


Holiday art events roundup

Treat yourself to a well-deserved break as you soak up some of Montreal’s most noteworthy events

What better way to spend the holiday break than to explore some of Montreal’s unique art happenings? Our Arts Editor and Assistant Arts Editor have compiled a list of current and upcoming events that are sure to appease the senses and, hopefully, get you into a festive mood.


  • Sisters with Transistors : A film about electronic music’s pioneers, presented by Cinéma Public in collaboration with Suoni Per Il Popolo. Located at 505 Jean-Talon St. E on Nov. 26 and 28, as well as Dec. 1 and 4.



  • Awards : Theater piece mixing music and text from Collectif Tôle. 1345 Lalonde Ave. from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.
  • Je suis un produit : A play from the Simoniaques Théâtre company. Located at 4559 Papineau Ave. from Nov. 23 to Dec. 18.
    • Antioche : Online theatre piece by Talisman Theatre. From Dec. 13 to 19.
  • Jonathan: A Seagull Parable: Surreal theatre piece directed by Jon Lachlan Stewart. Located at the Fred-Barry Hall of the Denise-Pelletier Theatre (4353 Saint-Catherine St. E) from Nov. 23 to Dec.11.


  • Confessions Publiques : Solo performance by Angélique Willkie for the MAYDAY dance company. Located at 3700 Saint-Dominique St., from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4.
  • What Will Come : Dance performance by Julia B. Laperrière and Sébastien Provencher. Located at 1435 De Bleury St. from Dec. 2 to 5.
  • Pomegranate: Solo performance by Heather Mah. Located at 3680 Jeanne-Mance from Dec. 2 to 4.
  • Babel 7.16 : Online multidisciplinary performance choreographed by Belgian artists Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet. From Dec. 8 to Dec. 19.


Visual courtesy of James Fay


Put your money where your heart is

The case against The Salvation Army — and who should replace it

I think I speak for everyone when I say this year has been rough. On top of the COVID-19 crisis, the political vicissitudes we’ve witnessed have raised awareness about supporting nonprofits and charities who share our principles.

Notwithstanding the many holidays in the upcoming weeks, the end of the year as a whole has been associated with giving back. So if you are able to contribute to a charity, I have one request to make: don’t donate to The Salvation Army, and don’t shop at their stores.

Over the years, The Salvation Army has been at the centre of every possible kind of accusation. Their conservative mission has caused many to call them out on their abusive and discriminatory practices.

Most notoriously, they have vocally been against gay and trans issues. They have refused or forfeited housing to homeless LGBTQ people and maintained their religious stance against same-sex relationships and have a history of refusing to comply with anti-discrimination policies. They even held campaigns encouraging gay people to seek out conversion therapy.

The list of this organization’s wrongdoings goes on and on. Their workfare programs in the United Kingdom, a form of welfare in which people have to work in order to continue receiving benefits, have been heavily criticized for forcing people with disabilities — or anyone, really — to work in order not to lose their means of survival.

A homeless woman who stayed at a Salvation Army shelter has described the insalubrious conditions she lived in and the horrific behaviour of employees, calling out an environment that fosters abuse of power from the part of the organization’s workers.

All this under the pretext of the benevolence of Christianity.

This being said, if you would like to contribute to important causes, here are some other charities, both local and international, that you should consider helping out:

Resilience Montreal and Native Women’s Shelter

This charity is a good alternative to The Salvation Army if you want to fund a homeless shelter. They provide mental support, food, and medical resources to the community, and if you’re unable to give money, they sometimes collect donations of clothing and food. Native Women’s shelter is a branch of Resilience that specifically gives support to vulnerable Indigenous women.

Chez Doris

This is another women’s shelter with a similar mission to Resilience. They also offer legal services and advice to those who may not have access to a lawyer.

Afrique au féminin

This centre provides support and encourages the emancipation of immigrant and racialized women in Montreal. They hold classes, workshops, communal activities, and even daycare services to help women integrate into their community and regain their independence.

Mona Relief Yemen

The Yemeni crisis has left millions in urgent need of shelter, food, and even clean water. Mona Relief works directly with communities to respond to their needs, and ensures the least amount of resources are wasted on administration and intermediaries. They’ll also periodically send email updates and pictures from their projects, so you can really follow who your money helps.

3 Angels Nepal 

Through preventive measures, 3 Angels works to fight human trafficking in Nepal, where mostly women and children are smuggled across the border to India. Their projects ensure the safety of victims, and provide resources like microcredit and education to help victims reintegrate into society independently.

These are my personal picks, but I hope they help you look for organizations that speak more to your personal values, and encourage you to support important causes.


 Graphic by @the.beta.lab

Student Life

My first Valentine’s Day as a single girl

It’s that time of the year again: chocolate hearts and Hershey’s kisses galore. Overwhelming pink and red confetti in that wretched drugstore aisle when all you wanted to do was buy conditioner. The looming stuffed animals that somehow lose their balance on shelves and end up falling on your head. What? I’ve seen it happen. 

You guessed it—it’s Valentine’s Day! 

I was never a big fan of the praised “V-Day.” In fact, I always avoided it like the plague. Probably because, up until I was 18, I had no one to celebrate it with. My “relationships” or whatever you can call two-week-to-30-day-long makeout sessions, always seemed to fizzle out before that day would come. 

The first time I celebrated Valentine’s Day, I have to admit, was quite sweet. Roses on my doorstep, a box of chocolates under my boyfriend’s arm and a little black dress waiting for me with a note that said “wear this tonight”—a scene straight out of a movie, I tell ya. 

However, the following years were not as special for a number of reasons. 

The “holiday” would often sneak up on me, and I would grunt at the thought of having to clear my schedule for it. Plus, when you work in a restaurant, most of the time, your weekends/nights aren’t your own—especially on holidays.

Valentine’s Day had to be either a few days earlier or later than the initial date. It started to feel like an inconvenience more than a celebration of love. Both of us would get mad if the other didn’t put in the effort. Suffice to say, Valentine’s Day wasn’t our favourite—neither of us would admit it though. 

Our last Valentine’s together was last year, and I was working on the actual day. Long story short, the relationship was no more a month later—for many reasons. 

Now it’s 2020, and your girl is single again—and I still hate the day with a passion. Walking into a Dollarama, Pharmaprix, or Jean Coutu always irks me—what was up with all the pink and red when it was only January?! They take down Halloween decorations a day after Oct. 31, while Valentine’s day seems to drag on two weeks after Feb. 14. I get that it’s a day to celebrate love—but do y’all have to be so loud and obnoxious about it? 

Yeah, yeah, I can hear everyone screaming at me to leave people alone and let them celebrate. I didn’t say otherwise, but I’ve always been averse to this holiday because—and call me a boomer or whatever—in my opinion, Valentine’s day should be every day. 

The stress that comes with it, whether you’re single or in a relationship, is just too much. If you’re single, you’re a lonely spinster who can’t do love right no matter how hard you try. If you’re in a relationship and life gets in the way of your celebrations, you’re a terrible partner! And the ones who don’t care for it are simply heartless. 

I’ve been single for almost a year, and most of the time it’s been great. During the holidays, I will admit, a little pang of loneliness did hit; Christmas time and New Year’s Eve were the worst. For some reason, most of my friends are in relationships, dating, or stuck in the in-between phase of our wonderful hookup culture. In all cases, they’ve all got something going on, while I’m watching Sex and the City reruns.

Therefore, I propose a motion: for Valentine’s Day to be cancelled, and a second Halloween to take its place! 

Photo by Britanny Clarke


All I want for Christmas is sanity

I fall head first into the consumerism trap of the holiday season every year.

My heart jumps at the first sight of twinkly lights, snowflake decorations and Christmas specials. Poking my head around a decorated Indigo, I pretend I can afford a $67 light up travel mug while browsing Gwyneth Paltrow’s new collection on how to solve all of life’s problems through drinking a green smoothie. My heart quickens. The snow hits my face and I truly feel like I’m in wonderland. As I finish exams and head to Ottawa to see my lovely family, there’s one thing I always forget — I hate the holidays.

They are stressful and that’s coming from a Jew. Afterall, Hanukkah was just branded to compete with the hype of Christmas, but that could be a whole other article — let’s try to stay on track here. For me, the holidays consist of socializing every night, draining me of my emotional and physical energy. I am squeezing people into my schedule and unintentionally leaving people out — without a moment to relax. Why doesn’t Micheal Bublé or Mariah Carey remind me about this feeling?

Personally, as somewhat of an adult living in a different city from my parents, I feel like I exist as a 20-something-year-old experimenting with her independence most of the year. That being said, the moment my foot touches my parents’ carpet, I magically transform into a bratty 16-year-old in a Disney channel movie. Clearly this page of writing is not going to fix my immature behaviour or even help me with my much needed introspection, but I do hope that if you feel even an ounce similar during the holidays, then perhaps I can help you feel less alone.

Spoiler alert — Santa isn’t real and neither is Christmas magic, a concept I have clung on to for quite a while.

I’ve come to realize that the only way I can enjoy the holiday season is by accepting it’s not going to be perfect. My mental health fluctuates from good to not so good depending on the day.

I always forget that just because it’s snowy and bells are ringing, it doesn’t mean my day has to be filled with joy. My best advice (and I’m speaking mostly to myself here) is that just like any other day, try to do things that make you feel calm and make time for yourself in the holiday madness. If you need to miss an event, or even just take a walk to avoid a loud dinner guest, do what you need to do. Your time is still your time, even during the holidays.

So, finish your candy canes, stuff yourself with leftover chocolate and let’s take on the new year, where assignments are starting and no one is telling you be a good cheer. It’s January and there will be no more rhyming.

Oh, also, if you’re a member of my family reading this (mom), remember this is about me, not you. I love you all and I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season.


Graphic @sundaeghost


While on break…From Interim Presidents to Climate Clocks to the Hall building

A five-year term for Graham Carr 

On Dec. 12, Interim President Graham Carr was officially appointed President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia. Earlier in July, Carr succeeded Alan Shepard after he stepped down from a seven-year mandate.

“Concordia is a young, forward-looking university. It’s a unique place where experimentation, innovation and creativity are truly valued,” Carr said, in a press release. “Our community of students, faculty, staff and alumni all contribute to our momentum as Canada’s next-gen university. As president, I plan to continue broadening that circle, pursuing collaborations with industry, government and community stakeholders to further demonstrate how Concordia makes a positive difference for the people and economies of Canada and the world.”

Carr emerged from an international search process as Concordia’s Board of Governors’ top choice, according to Board Chair Norman Hébert Jr, saying it was a bonus that Carr used to teach at Concordia. Carr joined the university in 1983 in the Department of History.

“He brings that knowledge and those existing ties as well as his constant drive, imagination and curiosity to the position,” Hébert said in the press release.

The five-year contract is effective starting now.

Closure of Henry F. H. Building’s sixth floor 

Renovations in the Hall building will be taking place throughout the year, and are expected to end by 2021. The university is looking to improve the environment of the Hall building’s sixth floor. The transformation is meant to provide greater collaborative workspaces and lighting, according to Concordia’s website.

One of the major transformations will be to supply the entire floor with inclusive, gender-neutral bathrooms. The facilities, which haven’t been updated since 1966, will now be equipped with floor-to-ceiling stalls.

Facilities Management, who is responsible for planning, designing and developing a safe working environment for students, consulted all those who actively use the sixth floor to ensure the needs of everyone were being respected.

Information about the relocation of student groups’ offices is available on the university’s website.

Updating the Climate Clock Project 

The Concordia real-time measurement countdown until we surpass the 1.5-degree Celsius temperature limit set by the Paris Agreement was updated for the fifth time since its creation in 2015.

The clock is meant to be a visual representation of the time left before the climate crisis becomes seriously threatening.

“We feel that the clock is able to communicate the urgency of action in a way that people understand and can relate to,” said Damon Matthews in an interview with Concordia News. Matthews is a professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment and one of the project creators, alongside musician David Usher.

While reports of the CO2 emissions for 2019 won’t be released until later this year, various scientific magazines such as Scientific American are already reporting that they will likely be higher than expected. This year, the Climate Clock Project projected that the time left was 12 years, while last year’s update predicted that we would hit the 1.5-degree mark by 2034, according to the project’s website.

You can check the Climate Clock Project updates on the university’s website.


Graphic by @sundaeghosts


Illumi, an ode to winter’s beauty and magic

The incredible outdoor light show proves that winter isn’t so bad after all

As winter progresses and the days become shorter, Illumi–A Dazzling World of Lights by Cavalia–which took place in Laval from Nov. 1 to Jan. 5, showcased winter’s beauty with millions of gorgeous lights, all while transporting visitors through different places with sight and sound.

Illumi offers much more than a dazzling, original, and seemingly endless universe of lights. The experience also includes food trucks and numerous small stores to visit, all placed at the main entrance of the course and referred to as the Christmas Market.

Illumi presents eight different worlds, beginning with The Many Colours of the Savanna, followed by Feliz Navidad, Infinite Poles, Santa’s Real Home, Dreaming of the Star, The Merry-Go-Round Square, Magic Lanterns and Frolic on the Boulevard. These different worlds are placed on a course and visitors are free to visit at their own rhythm, though the light show’s website states that it takes 90 minutes to get through them all.

When I attended with my family over the break, we spent over two hours outdoors which allowed us to disconnect from our phones and spend time together and talk. We began in the The Many Colours of the Savanna, which showcased animals composed of different coloured fairy lights; elephants, giraffes, flamingos, zebras and lions were presented beautifully. Trees were also different shades of white, purple and green. The bright adventure was accompanied by african music which seemed to melt the snow away and transport us back to summer.

Moving on to Feliz Navidad, the even brighter coloured world represented the beauty of South America, drawing inspiration from multiple hispanic cultures, from Mexico to Perù. The exhibition celebrated the multiculturalism of South America through its visuals and blend of different types of hispanic music. This world contained llamas, giant piñatas, birds, Indigenous-inspired masks, butterflies, flowers and a multitude of other tropical animals. It was a nice part of the Illumi experience as I was able to feel pride for being part of the latinx community.

Infinite Poles contained many arctic animals such as penguins, polar bears and deer, surrounded by a seemingly-endless legion of stalagmites and igloos of different sizes and colours to explore. Infinite Poles was also accompanied by a very adorable holiday world which exhibited snowmen, gifts and snowflakes among other holiday symbols.

Although Illumi is a light show throughout, a short film titled Dreaming of the Star  was presented on a large screen that was solely made up of lightbulbs–four million in total. The multimedia tale told the story of two siblings who went on a quest to find the brightest star in the sky to decorate their christmas tree.

The Merry-Go-Round Square, which had a carousel composed of white cavalia horses, gave visitors a fun place to rest. Magic Lanterns was mainly composed of Asian fauna and references to samurai and geishas, as well as pandas, fish, dragons and cherry blossom trees. Frolic on the Boulevard honoured Hollywood with a bright silhouette of Marilyn Monroe as well as a clapperboard, among other pop culture references, all accompanied by popular film scores.

Though its prices and location aren’t the most accessible, Illumi filled visitors with wonder over the holidays.


Photo by Camila Caridad Rivas

Student Life

Dreaming of a green Christmas?

It’s the holiday season, and you know what that means: snow is falling, decorations are going up, and Michael Bublé has suddenly entered society’s radar again.

Crack open your wallets, ladies and gents, ‘cause it’s time to go Christmas shopping.

Last week, I made the mistake of stepping into a Winners on a Sunday afternoon. The place was jam-packed with ravenous Christmas shoppers, their carts overflowing with clothes, toys, home decor, technology, sports equipment, you name it. Simply put, it was an absolute hellscape – the shelves nearly picked clean, it felt like the apocalypse was just around the corner.

The whole experience got me thinking about the sheer amount of waste Christmas gifts produce each year. From polyester pajamas to plastic playthings, many popular presents are non-biodegradable, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, most of these items will end up in our landfills and oceans rather than our recycling facilities. Although there’s only so much the individual consumer can do, the more we are conscious of what we buy and where it goes, the more we can reduce our impact this holiday season. So without further ado, here is a list of sustainable gift ideas to try this year:



Houseplants have become insanely popular in the last decade or so. Although I personally manage to kill everything I touch, a lot of my friends are big time plant parents and are always happy to add to their collection. Also, I hate that I just said ‘plant parents.’

If you can, try to buy your plants at a local shop rather than online or at a big box retailer. Besides being a more sustainable option (usually), I find that these smaller stores have a more unique selection, and staff tend to be very knowledgeable about what species make good gifts.

Thrifted and/or Vintage Items

Not only is thrift shopping a greener option, it’s affordable too. While gifting something that is already used might seem a bit weird at first, you can find a ton of quality, beautiful items at your average charity shop—I’ve even found clothing with the tags still on. If you don’t want to spend your afternoon sifting through items in person, websites like ThredUp and Ready to Wear Again make it easy to narrow your search by size, style or brand.

If you wanna kick your thrifting up a notch, try shopping for vintage items. While this route can be a little more expensive, shopping vintage can turn up some pretty special finds, and the extra thought and care will be much appreciated. is a great online resource for vintage clothing, and Montreal is packed with all kinds of vintage shops like the Mile End’s Citizen Vintage and Local 23.


One Christmas when I was a kid, my great-uncle sponsored a polar bear in my name with the World Wildlife Fund. It was a great gift because a) I was sad about the polar bears dying, and b) it came with a cute little polar bear stuffie. This present was both low-waste AND beneficial to an environmental cause, which is pretty cool.

If your loved one has a cause that they are passionate about and you have a bit of cash to spare, consider making a donation on their behalf. Obviously, this type of thing isn’t for everyone, but if you think it will be well-received, go for it!

Items for long-term use

It’s no secret that much of what we purchase can become unusable or obsolete over time. Oftentimes, items wear out more quickly because they’re poorly made or because something newer and shinier has entered the market. While it’s normal and completely okay to replace things that are broken or utterly outdated, an investment in higher quality items that will stand the test of time is well worth it, and much less wasteful. This type of product can range from ultra-durable coffee mugs and winter boots to timeless furnishings and clothes.

Of course, this type of gift is only sustainable if the person receiving it actually has a need for it. When it comes to buying items that are meant to last for years to come, make sure you know a thing or two about the person you’re buying it for!

One last tip before I go: as you complete your December shopping, consider switching up the way you wrap your Christmas presents. Most gift-wrap is non-recyclable because of its glossy finish, so make sure you look for wrapping paper that is recyclable and/or biodegradable. Better yet, try using some old newspapers instead—topped off with a bit of ribbon or twine, I think this actually looks pretty cute. Plus it’s free, which makes it even cuter.

Happy holidays everyone!


Graphic by Salomé Blain


“Don’t Buy That” gives used items a second life

With the average Quebecer spending approximately $458 over the holidays, as shown through a survey reported by Global News, you can count on people’s wallets being stressed.

Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR) and the Art Hive hosted a workshop titled “Don’t buy that!” on Dec. 4. Teaming up with Sustainability Ambassadors, the workshop offered alternative gift-giving ideas by creating their own holiday presents and decorations.

Arrien Weeks, a coordinator for the CUCCR, explained that wrapping, purchasing and even making gifts can create lots of waste. “we just came together to try and change that,” Weeks said.

The event, hosted downtown at the Hive, included four different stations. Each was curated to a specific need: a card-making station, ornament crafting, knitting help, and their popular beeswax wraps workshop. It also included vegan baked goods made by Devonly Bakes, a student-run catering service.

Materials used at the workshop were all reused or recycled. “I’m hoping it can make people rethink how they approach gift making, gift-giving, and just trying to reduce people’s consumption at the end of the day,” Weeks said.

The Wednesday evening crowd consisted of a mix of Concordia students, alumni and other event-goers who had never even been to the campus before. Abigail Lalonde, an avid knitter who volunteered for the event said, “The skills that we share with each other are useful. It supports a really good state of mind, which is self-sufficiency. I hope that people can come and learn something. That they can feel included. That they can share with someone.”

Kate Evoy, a student at Concordia, brought her friend Lexi Benware along to the event. The pair was eager to try different arts and crafts. When asked about the workshops’ value, Evoy said “Obviously the sustainability is a huge part of it. Mixed with a community atmosphere, I think that’s such a good way to introduce people to sustainability and the effects of consumerism and all that.”

Events like this one help build a culture around sustainability efforts,” said Benware. “It’s not just one person doing it – people are coming together and making it more normal and natural for people to do.”

The two friends believe that presenting alternatives to the materialistic holiday we all love can educate people on the negative effects of consumerism. Evoy said instead of the typical dooms-day rhetoric she’s used to, she was warmly welcomed.

“It’s more like, come to partake in this, and it’s fun, and we’re doing good things,” she said.

Ivan Chamberland, a Concordia alumna, was inspired by the ingenuity of beeswax wraps. In today’s throw-away society, Chamberland finds herself excited to learn new ways of consuming alternatives to disposable items.


Photo by Laurence B.D.



Do you really have to buy that?

With the holidays right around the corner, it is hard not to notice the insane amount of people flooding the main shopping boulevards.

Our compulsive shopping habits spike through the roof, hurting our wallets and wasting our time. We all feel pressured to have a gift for everyone, as if it is a sign that you care. But more often than not, we buy useless gifts just for the sake of giving a loved one something to unwrap and enjoy for two minutes on Christmas. Is this compulsiveness a sign of the decadence of today’s world? If we know this special holiday is about spending quality time with those we love, why do we keep making it about material objects?

Every time I sit at a cafe and people-watch, I realize how captivating vitrines really are and how successful marketing strategies are in fueling our consumerist behaviour. We are all victims of it, you know the drill: you pass by a shop, you stare at what they have and in less than 2 minutes you find yourself inside. Maybe you’ll buy something, maybe you won’t, but once you have been lured in, there’s no way back — you immediately start looking for something to satisfy an often unnecessary desire.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that fashion is one of the most profitable industries. According to Statista, the fashion sector in Canada alone made US $6.81 million in 2019 and has an annual growth expectancy rate of 8.3 per cent, so by 2023 the market volume will be approximately US $9.37 million.

Going shopping at this time of the year is not just expensive, it is absolute madness. In less than a few moments in a department store, you could find yourself fighting over an ugly pair of boots with a crazy lady that’s determined to get her hands on them. The funniest part is you don’t even need that extra pair of boots. Our consumerism really brings the worst out of us, and we are not doing anyone a favour; we are just contributing to the toxic industry that deteriorates our environment at the cost of fulfilling our material desires. The high levels of dopamine our brain releases when we shop only keep us high for a second. As reported by Elle, studies have shown that those who are more prone to develop shopping addiction (yes, that is an actual thing) are also more vulnerable to develop depression or anxiety.

Maybe this Christmas we should try to keep our compulsiveness at bay and get what we actually need. Before going shopping, make a list of what is absolutely necessary, stick to your budget, and restrain from overtreating yourself or your loved ones. Our material desires often keep us from appreciating those around us and what we already have in front of us, so why not try something different for a change? After all, we should be focusing on spending quality time and being cozy, rather than wasting our best energies out in the cold, consuming in ridiculous amounts. And hey, if you’re good at arts and crafts maybe you can save a few bucks this Christmas by showing off your skills. It is sustainable and memorable!

Graphic by @sundaeghost

Exit mobile version