Which coast is the best coast?

A local’s perspective on how to eat and explore your way through two of Canada’s biggest cities in 24 hours.

One of my friends told me that I’m going to keep moving east until I end up right back in Vancouver, and that isn’t too far-fetched. I have been constantly migrating east ever since the end of high school— first Toronto, and now Montréal.

As a proud Vancouverite, I know the city like the back of my hand. Seriously, you could plop me down in the middle of Sapperton and I’d know how to get home. The same goes for Toronto. 

Any local of any city has their go-to places and I am proud to have culminated my own lists for both Vancouver and Toronto. I’ve got a lot of food and to-do recommendations; so in honour of summer plans being made, here are my *local’s* recommendations in the two cities.

Up first is my home base, Vancouver—prefacing this with the fact that I grew up in Kitsilano, which is ten minutes away from the University of British Columbia, so these recommendations are in and around that area.

Start the day off on a sweet note at Grounds for Coffee for the best cinnamon buns in the world. My mum and I have been frequenting Grounds since I was a toddler, so that should speak volumes. Alternatively, head up to Blue Chip at UBC for a bite (make sure to grab one of their iconic cookies), and explore the UBC campus. It is genuinely the most beautiful Canadian campus in my opinion and always has something new to check out. 

From there, hop on the 99 B-Line bus and get some sushi from Masa Sushi on Broadway—their Secret Garden Roll is definitely a must. If you aren’t in the mood for sushi, go to Sing Sing on Main Street and order an assortment of appetizers to nosh on. Dodge into a couple thrift stores or any of the hole-in-the-wall antique shops for some unique finds. 

For dinner, head over to Marcello Ristorante on Commercial Drive. Dubbed as Vancouver’s “Little Italy,” this area offers some pretty stellar Italian food, as well as some more thrift stores and parks. Wind down with some ice cream from Earnest Ice Cream on Quebec Street and East 2nd. They’ve always got the most unique flavours—such as whiskey hazelnut and London fog. 

That’s a pretty decent day spent in the main areas of Vancouver (excluding downtown, which is an entirely different world in and of itself ). 

Moving east to Toronto: home to big buildings and the best soup dumplings ever. These recommendations are mainly in and around the downtown neighbourhoods, with the exception of Roncesvalles. Start off your morning at Fran’s for some Toronto staple diner-style brekkie—I am partial to their College Street location. 

For lunch, head to Juicy Dumpling in Chinatown for the cheapest and best soup dumplings ever – I am forever grateful to my friend for introducing me to my now go-to. Explore the Chinatown area for some cool thrift stores and unique memorabilia finds. Or, go to Grillies on Dundas for an amazing pulled pork sandwich. 

Madras Kaapi on College is a haven for some South Indian style coffee; you can also check out the little stores in and around the area for some unique collectibles. My friend and I have spent hours there trying out the various pastries and food. Reunion Coffee Roasters in Roncesvalles is also great to grab a coffee and explore the picturesque little neighbourhood. I love poking around the main strip and wandering in the inside roads—I could easily spend all day there, especially since it’s the first place my Opa lived when he immigrated to Canada in ‘58.

Finally for dinner, check out Vivoli for some killer Italian food! After the surprise birthday party that my friends organized there for my 20th, it is forever a kindred spot for me. 

And there you have it! How to spend 24 hours in two of Canada’s biggest (and polar opposite) cities. 

Hopefully this awakened the tourist within!


Where halal meets fast food franchising

Chadi Sreis and his franchise B12 Burger are making an impact in the Montreal food industry


Danial Farshchi and his friends enter a small burger shop in Laval. Inside they are graced by one room with a few tables and a counter to order food. From the back, they can see freshly cooked burger patties being flipped in the kitchen. When asked what to order, the group scours the menu available — the selection contains a wide array of halal angus burgers, subway sandwiches, fried chicken, and hotdogs. The young man decides to try the special B12 burger trio served with fries and chips. When he gets his order, he opens the box and is faced with a juicy halal burger. The enormous patty, practically the size of his own head, is covered in a huge load of cheese sauce, and stuffed with onion rings, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes.

B12 Burger was once a small mom-and-pop shop in Laval. It is one of the few local fast food restaurants that provided an option for halal burgers for Muslim Quebecers like Danial Farshchi.

“There are not many trusted fast food chains that are 100 per cent halal. A lot of places will say they’re legit, but there’s no proof, there’s no nothing,” he said.

One of the main competitors to the B12 franchise is Bergham, which serves halal subway sandwiches. Customers like Danial Farshchi believe their food is good, but the quality of service does not meet the same level as B12.

In 2018, the business caught the eye of entrepreneur Chadi Sreis. He is one of the owners of the Lebanese fast food franchise Boustan. Sreis is a respected businessman  who deals with an intense time schedule — our brief conversation was held on the phone while he was in his car. He was excited to discuss B12 and its origins while also bouncing in and out of other work situations that came up during our conversation over the phone.

“I tried out the burgers there and really liked it,” he said. “Initially we [Sreis and his business partners] were looking at all kinds of brands and this is one that we really liked. We believed in it and took it to the next level.” Three restaurants are now open in Laval, Kirkland, and Acadie Boulevard. “After acquiring the first shop, we had to go to the banks to loan us the money to set up our own burger restaurants.”

The growing franchise remains successful despite the pandemic.

“Our revenues went up because the big strip malls were closing, so all these small, quick service restaurants did fairly better in the pandemic,” he said. “The rent is lower, the space is lower, and the bills are generally lower.”

B12 made a yearly volume upwards of $1 million in 2020 according to Sreis. The store set up in Kirkland continues to have around 75 to 150 customers daily with an average customer spending around $18 to $20 on an order. “During the pandemic, the sit down [area] was closed, so our menu was strictly available to people who wanted to pick up and go, or delivery through third parties.” Expenses for the company increased with delivery services such as Uber Eats and DoorDash charging over 30 per cent on orders. Mr. Sreis asserted that the volume of sales during the pandemic balanced out the extra expense of third party partners without debt accumulation. “It wasn’t really that bad. Don’t forget we didn’t really need people to serve in the restaurant, and stuff like that. All you needed is people to cook.”

Going forward, Chadi Sreis has big plans for the B12 franchise. “Right now, our main focus is to expand the business. Montreal is still a virgin market for us, and we only have three stores.” The goal is to have 20 to 25 more locations on the island of Montreal in the next two to three years.

“There is a big demand on the product because it’s part of a niche market,” he added.

There are some things Danial thinks the franchise could improve upon. The locations are small and do not make for comfortable dine-in experiences. “When I go there with my friends… I can’t tell you how many times we sat on the curb outside the parking lot just because there’s no space in the seating inside!” he said. Another issue he has with the business is the food packaging. Often when he orders from them through Uber Eats, the food is delivered soggy and cold. He also wishes that the burger could be served better while also keeping its humongous size. “For the love of God, why can’t they cut the burger in half? When I pick it up it’s so messy and I have to make sure the burger doesn’t drop out of the buns.”

Graphics Courtesy of James Fay


Student Life

Going the extra mile in the field of green restaurants

Nestled into the vibrant borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, La Cale pub marks the first of its kind in the new wave of zero-waste restaurants in Montreal. Behind this innovative project stands a group of friends who let us peek behind the scenes of managing such a place. 

Josh Gendron shared how everything came to be after a long discussion with his co-owners Gabriel Monzerol, Lann Dery and Luca Langelier.

“We go way back and, after a while, we ended up working all at the same place,” said Gendron. “We wanted to open up a pub and be our own bosses.” Thus, the idea of overseeing a place of their own was conceived.

They did not want to conform to the status quo as, across Montreal, you can easily find an everyday pub. The four partners forced themselves to think of a way that would make them stand out, and that was when Monzerol suggested opening a pub with an ecological concept.

“Since we have been open, in our style of operation, we have not accumulated a full [amount] of trash yet,” said Gendron. Inspired by Béa Johnson’s book, Zero Waste Home, and her “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, compost” model, what originated as being eco-friendly quickly transitioned to the zero-waste formula. Hence, even the minimal accumulated trash, which is essentially compost, is properly taken care of by a private company.

At this point, Gendron said that many considered their business idea as quite ambitious in regards to questioning how it would be sustained. However, with enough restaurant experience under their belts, they knew which practices to incorporate and how they were going to handle the pub.

Various approaches were taken into account in preparation for the opening. From interior design to day-to-day operations, La Cale follows its zero-waste philosophy in creating a business from scratch that is green at every step. The process began with how each piece of furniture was brought into use.

“Instead of buying new furniture, most of what you see inside is all recycled, second-hand or [materials] that were in the trash,” said Gendron. “Some [pieces] we built ourselves, like the bar countertops that came from pallets and the wood beams from the floor.”

The chairs and the tables again reaffirm the zero-waste motto of reusing, as they were taken from different restaurants that went out of business. Customers can also except sprinkler pipes as table legs, two-by-two pieces of wood from pallets used for lamp holders, trash lamps. Despite being rather nontraditional and not straight out of an IKEA catalogue, each of these little details helps create La Cale’s distinctive ambience.

Behind the bar, there is also a great deal of self-production in regard to the preparation of drinks. Instead of relying on mainstream plastic bags, which get thrown away after use, tonics and syrups are homemade. They are stored in glass bottles, which not only preserves the freshness of the taste but also spares the owners the need of a supplier. The pub does not stop there; it has even gone the extra mile of revolutionizing the beer culture.

Because the caps on beer bottles cannot be recycled, the solution La Cale provides is simply getting rid of serving this option.

“The only substitute is canned beer,” said Gendron. “Everything else is on tap because it’s the most efficient and eco-friendly alternative. Pretty much all of the alcohol is local, from local Quebec breweries, which also helps reduce the carbon footprint.”

Usually, local products translate to a boost in prices in comparison to outside imports. However, despite the dominating presence of local brands, La Cale puts the effort into balancing out the green concept to bill ratio. Unlike many places that serve beer, La Cale offers a pint for $7.50, which can be considered rare for Montreal.

Indeed, the project aims to change the way we think of pubs but, at the same time, it manages to remain competitive. Gendron claims that what makes the real difference are the small details in relation to execution. He doesn’t deny the hardship in taking up such a risky endeavour but knows that this is just the beginning.

“Financially, when opening a pub, there is a small margin of profit,” said Gendron. Right now, we are fresh, we are new, and we hope people will be interested.”

For him, La Cale can also be an inspiration for other businesses to follow the zero-waste model.

In the future, the owners are seeking to host more live performances. The pub has already hosted a couple of gigs featuring local bands and musicians. The show area, as Gendron refers to it, is also open for comedians to perform their bids while customers enjoy their eco-friendly drinks and good food.

The chef has currently cooked up a seasonal vegetarian menu that will leave anyone longing for a portion of the restaurant’s sweet fries. Carnivores should not lose hope in this place, as meat options will soon be introduced.

The interior aesthetics will also undergo more decoration with the addition of plants and mural paintings by emerging artists.

“What we really want is to influence other people, but without forcing our idea down their throats,” said Gendron. “Just to show that it is doable.”

Photos by Cecilia Piga

Shining a neon light on the history of ink

At Tattoo Box Traditional, you’ll learn about more than just tattoo aftercare

Decked out in blown up portraits of World War I veterans and acetates dating back to the early 1900s, the walls of recently opened Tattoo Box Traditional tell a story. Artist Kate Middleton, living in France and working out of Montreal, began construction at Tattoo Box Traditional in August of last year. Originally meant to combat construction planned on Pine Ave. W., where her primary shop is located, she’s now hoping for the new location to double as a tattoo museum.

Artist Liam Lavoie tattoos his colleague on a quiet day at Tattoo Box Traditional. Photo by Victoria Lewin.

Collecting historical acetates and framed prints from artists she’s worked with over her career, Middleton has adorned the shop with bits and pieces of tattoo history. While the location only opened this summer, Owen Jensen, Sailor Jerry, Walter Torun, Zeke Owens and Jack Rudy are just a few noteworthy mentions who’s artwork can already be seen at Tattoo Box Traditional. Middleton said she’s only just getting started, “I have so much memorabilia that I have yet to get in there.”

Middleton holds up the sketchbook of renowned artist Zeke Owens, who tattooed service men and women during and pre-war. Photo by Victoria Lewin.

While residing in Avignon, France, Middleton also runs Livre and Let Die Books and Art Supplies on Pine Ave. E., as well as a small media studio out of California, her hometown. Ensuring the shop promotes a safe and open space for staff and clientele is one of Middleton’s top priorities. Being a female and lesbian tattoo artist, she said “misogyny is the biggest hurdle I’ve ever had to overcome, in myself and facing it from others. That needs to be ended before anyone or any gay woman can progress in their life.” Though the essence of Middleton’s vision is to showcase tattoo history, artwork that is traditionally misogynistic, racist, and otherwise offensive won’t make the cut in this tattoo museum.

An acetate from the early 1900s by famous American tattoo artist Paul Rogers. Photo by Victoria Lewin.

As a lesbian woman, Middleton works hard to ensure the shop maintains an open, safe space for all LGBTQ+ individuals. Photo by Victoria Lewin.

Artists work on various projects during the snowstorm in Montreal on Feb. 13. Photo by Victoria Lewin.

The shop offers free breast cancer ribbon and semicolon tattoos, symbolizing depression. Photo by Victoria Lewin.

Shop decor includes walls of art from various artists Middleton has met and worked with over the years. Photo by Victoria Lewin.


Tattoo Box Traditional is located at 1757 Amherst St. More information can be found on their website:

Photos by Victoria Lewin.

Spotlight on Noah Baret

Noah Baret

Honeybee Series (2018)

My name is Noah Baret. I’m a first year photography student. My formal work is mostly rooted in portrait—this can be seen in my most recent series. The aim of Honeybee was to depict masculine beauty without the use of traditionally masculine framing.

I was inspired by the recent popularity of discourse on the relation between masculinity and beauty. I aspired to frame the models in a way that embraces both masculinity and beauty, proving that these two qualities can coalesce in a harmonious way. Honeybee celebrates men’s beauty without depicting it as feminine or masculine, but rather simply depicting it as an intrinsically human characteristic.

I also took inspiration from the work of Anthony Goicolea and modern high-fashion editorials. Like Goicolea, I wanted to keep my subjects in neutral colours and uniform-esque outfits. This technique directs the focus to body position and facial expression rather than branding. I framed the boys as models in high-fashion editorials are framed because I believe that the camera work used in high-fashion amplifies models and creates an image that is both intimidating and empowering. These inspirations helped me create striking images with a predominant focus on male beauty.

Instagram: @noahbaret


Photos courtesy of the artist

Spotlight on Rachelle Alexandra Fleury

Rachelle Alexandra Fleury

My name is Rachelle Alexandra Fleury and I am a multimedia artist from New York, currently based in Montreal. I am heading into my final year at Concordia with a double major in studio arts and art history, as well as a minor in psychology.

Throughout my childhood I trained and performed as a classical ballet dancer, which sparked my interest in performance arts and fashion design. I then took a more formal approach and combined these interests through costume and set design. In recent years, I have developed my paintings, drawings and material practices by exploring the space between craft and fine art. The role of women in domestic environments further inspired my work, and this “reuse” of female experience has influenced my interest in reusing materials and crafting techniques.



Photos courtesy of the artist


From Bell Centre to Phi Centre

Sara Diamond is more than an opening act

Montreal’s 23-year-old Sara Diamond is used to singing in front of a crowd of more than 20,000, but on Nov. 29, all 300 eyes at the Phi Centre were there to see the R&B artist shine her own light.

Diamond is most known throughout the city as one of the Montreal Canadiens’ national anthem singers. She began performing the American national anthem throughout the 2013-14 Habs playoff season and has since been asked back regularly, having become a fan favourite. However, Diamond’s lengthy and complex career with music began years before she made her way to the Bell Centre.

“My mom started a label when she was pregnant. When I was 5 or 6, she started recording stuff and writing, and she was like ‘my daughter can sing! Produce her.’” said Diamond.

At 10 years old, Diamond began working with a vocal coach who helped her apply for a FACTOR (Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings) grant, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to Canadian musicians. After getting accepted, a representative on the board of FACTOR told her that she was talented and that they wanted to manage her.

From a young age, Diamond had a lot of support from the people around her when it came to her future in music. Her manager then brought her to audition in Los Angeles for a girls group that was being formed by Interscope Records. Just four days after arriving in L.A., Diamond was signed and would go on to spend the next year and a half living in California with her mother. While the Clique Girlz group only lasted three months due to management and parental disputes, Diamond stuck around to see what the city had to offer her as a solo artist. However, her shyness, loneliness and lack of organization as a teenager prevented her from growing as an artist so she decided to leave L.A.

“I kept telling myself, ‘I wish I were home. I don’t want to be here,’” Diamond said. “It wasn’t the right time. By the end of it I was like ‘if I’m in L.A., I want to be famous. I don’t want be here. I’m homesick. I’m sad.’”

When Diamond returned to Montreal, she felt like her experience in L.A. had ruined singing for her, at least for the time being. She instead spent her teen years experiencing everything she had missed out on years before. “When I got home, I got to experience everything I wanted to do. The heartache, the love, the high school drama and all that stuff to write about,” Diamond said.

When she turned 19, Diamond was thrust back into music when offered the chance to audition to sing the national anthem for the Montreal Canadiens. At the age of 12, Diamond had sung for the Alouettes and always wanted to sing for the Habs. After auditioning and getting the gig, the singer performed the National Anthem during the playoff season. Once the season was over, Diamond was unsure whether she would be asked back.

“I guess because I wasn’t really doing anything music-wise, feeling that passion again from the Habs stuff kind of brought that back to me and I found that love again,” Diamond said. “I started working on music again. Just recording, and writing.”
Diamond began working with friends who also hoped to help her thrive in the Montreal music scene. However, she was initially rejected after applying for a FACTOR grant. Behind-the-scenes complications, along with more heartbreak, resulted in her aspirations falling apart.

Diamond described her journey with music as a lot of “almosts.” She once had a handshake deal with Universal Canada that almost went through, but management restructuring weeks later stopped them from taking on any new signees. It was not until Diamond recorded a song with Rebel House Records and the Montreal Children’s Hospital for P.K. Subban’s event that the pieces started coming back together again.

“Everything’s kind of happened super organically,” Diamond said. “Ever since I came back from L.A., there’s been this struggle between ‘I don’t want to do music, but something pulls me back towards it.’ It’s cool cause I’m really just riding the wave.”

And riding the wave seems to be what Diamond does best. After being accepted for a FACTOR grant last December, Sara Diamond released her first seven-track EP entitled Foreword. On Thursday night, the artist performed her biggest solo show in front of family, friends, and fans at the Phi Centre. It was clear the crowd had been waiting a long time to see Diamond in the spotlight after years of build-up in anticipation of the musician’s local debut.

Sara Diamond wows spectators at Phi Centre during Foreword’s Montreal debut. Photo by Jacob Carey.

After opening act Toito performed, Diamond hit the stage and sang all seven songs from Foreword. The artist also paid homage to her inspirations by performing covers of “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys and “Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean. Diamond finished the night by singing “Ride,” a track that has yet to be released. The crowd was visibly wowed by her natural stage presence and her radiant smile that she frequently shone to fans.

Sara Diamond may have had a busy 2018, and 2019 shows no signs of slowing down. Her single with Montreal electronic duo Adventure Club, “Follow Me,” was released last week. She just debuted her music video for “Know My Name” on Billboard, and Diamond just finished opening for Tyler Shaw in Montreal and Quebec City. Next week, she’ll be premiering new music. And, she promises more to come in the New Year.

“I think it’s just the beginning, I hope,” Diamond said. “It’s like part two—the next chapter.”

Feature photo by Jacob Carey.


Work of passion gains momentum

A young Cree artist speaks about her budding business and aspirations for the future

While​ ​homemade​ ​jewelry​ ​and​ ​ink-based​ ​artworks​ might​ ​not​ ​be​ ​an​ ​unheard​ ​of​ ​​business​ ​idea, not​ ​many​ ​can​ ​say​ ​their​ ​orders​ ​are​ ​flown​ ​out​ ​of​ ​Quebec’s​ ​​northernmost​ ​Cree​ ​community.

Saige​ ​Mukash,​ ​a​ ​20-year-old​ ​Cree​ ​woman,​ ​calls​ ​her​ ​business​ ​Nalakwsis​—the middle name her​ ​Abenaki grandmother gave ​her​ ​in​ ​her​ ​native​ ​language. Nalakwsis​​​ ​products include ink​ ​drawings,​ ​digital​ ​artwork,​ ​beaded​ ​jewelry​ ​and embroidered​ ​works, all​ ​hand-made​ ​by​ ​Mukash​ ​herself. While​ ​she is​ ​a​ ​creative​ ​woman​ ​by​ ​nature and ​always​ ​enjoyed​ ​making​ ​pieces​ ​with​ ​her hands,​ ​Mukash​ ​only​ ​recently​ ​chose​ ​a​ ​more​ ​organized,​ ​business-oriented​ ​path.

“I​ ​chose​ ​‘Nalakwsis’​ ​as​ ​my​ ​official​ ​business​ ​title​ ​about​ ​a​ ​year​ ​ago, but​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​serious​ ​in​ ​my​ ​work​ ​for​ ​the​ ​past​ ​two​ ​years​ ​now,”​ ​Mukash​ ​explained. Though,​ ​what​ ​is​ ​now​ ​a​ ​profitable​ ​business​ ​first​ ​started​ ​out​ ​as​ ​a​ ​passionate​ ​hobby.

Mukash​ ​attended​ ​F.A.C.E. School ​in​ ​the​ ​heart​ ​of​ downtown ​Montreal​, ​where​ ​she​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to exercise​ ​her​ ​artistic​ ​abilities​ ​and​ ​express​ ​herself​ ​through​ ​various​ ​mediums ​in​ ​an​ ​organized​ classroom setting.​ ​However,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​returning​​ ​to​ ​her​ ​Cree​ ​community​ ​up​ ​north that​ ​had​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​effect​ ​on​ ​her.​ ​“My​ ​art​ ​really​ ​blossomed​ ​when​ ​I​ ​came​ ​to​ ​Whapmagoostui​ ​to reconnect​ ​with​ ​my​ ​Cree​ ​culture,”​ ​she​ ​said.

Mukash titled this piece, For the missing and murdered.

Not​ ​long​ ​after,​ ​Mukash​ ​created​ ​a​ ​Facebook​ ​page where​ ​she​ ​could​ post photos and descriptions of​ ​her art​ ​pieces;​ ​a​ ​sort​ ​of​ ​headquarters​ ​for​ ​all​ ​​her​​ ​works. As​ ​people began to show​ ​interest​ in buying ​her​ ​pieces​,​ ​Mukash​ ​realized​​ ​she would have to take further steps to establish her business​.​ ​She​ ​created ​two​ ​online​ ​shops ​where​ ​anyone​ ​in Canada​ ​with​ ​access​ ​to​ ​a​ ​credit​ ​card​ ​could​ ​purchase​​ ​her​ ​artworks.

It​ ​was​ ​then​ ​that Mukash​ ​knew​ ​she​ ​was​ ​in​ ​business. While​ ​she​ ​still​ ​lives​ ​​with​ ​her​ ​parents​ ​and​ ​two​ ​siblings in their home in northern Quebec,​​​ ​Mukash​ ​found​ ​a​ ​way​ ​to create​ ​her​ ​own ​workspace ​in​ ​her​ ​spatially​ ​limited​ ​environment. She​ ​has​ ​a​ ​small​ ​studio​ ​space​ ​in​ ​her​ ​home​ ​where​ ​she​ ​crafts​ ​all​ ​her​ pieces, packages and ships them​.

In​ ​the​ ​past​ ​month​ ​alone,​ ​Mukash​ ​has​ ​made​ ​over​ ​$1,000​ ​in​ ​sales,​ ​and​ ​spends​ ​an​ ​average​ ​of​ ​$200​ ​on​ ​supplies per​ ​month.

However,​ ​living​ ​three hours​ ​away​ ​from​ ​Montreal by plane is​ becoming​ ​more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​of​ ​a​ ​problem. Due to​ ​her​ ​isolated​ ​location,​ ​Mukash​ ​must​ ​order​ ​all​ ​of​ ​her​ ​supplies​ ​online.​ ​“It’s​ ​getting​ ​very hard​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​buy​ ​supplies​ ​online.​ ​Shipping​ ​is​ ​getting​ ​very​ ​expensive​ ​for​ ​my​ ​community, which​ ​is​ ​a​ ​fly-in​ ​only​ ​community,”​ ​she​ ​said.

Not​ ​only​ ​are​ ​all​ ​of​ ​Mukash’s​ ​supplies​ ​located​ ​hours​ ​away,​ ​so​ ​are​ ​the​ ​majority​ ​of​ ​her customers.​ ​Shipping​ ​fees​ ​are​ ​added​ ​onto​ ​every​ ​sale​​ ​she​ ​makes. Yet, while​ ​these​ ​obstacles​ ​are​ ​present​ ​in​ ​the​ ​young​ ​artist’s​ ​day-to-day​ ​plans,​ ​she​ ​is​ ​not​ ​letting​ ​them slow​ ​her​ ​down.

“I​ ​think​ ​my​ ​first​ ​long​-term​ ​goal​ ​for​ ​my​ ​business​ ​is​ ​owning​ ​a​ ​studio​ ​here​ ​in​ ​my​ ​home​town,” Mukash​ ​said.​ ​“It’s​ ​a​ ​struggle​ ​for​ ​anyone​ ​here​ ​to​ ​own​ ​their​ ​own​ ​business​ ​because everything​ ​is​ ​under​ ​the​ ​Band​ ​Office. You​ ​can’t​ ​just​ ​go​ ​and​ ​sign​ ​a​ ​lease​ ​for​ ​an​ ​apartment.”

“My​ ​own​ ​studio​ ​space​ ​is​ ​what​ ​I’m​ ​saving​ ​up​ ​for,” she said. “​That’s​ ​what​ ​I’m​ ​aiming​ ​for.”​

For more information about Saige​ ​Mukash, visit her Facebook page or website.

Photos courtesy of Saige Mukash


Local band on the stand: Mercure

Young Montreal band steps onto the music scene with genre-fusing jams

The Montreal music scene is known to never disappoint and the band Mercure is the perfect example of that.

I have rarely witnessed a group of boys so passionate about the music they create.  Emmanuel Harvey-Langlois, Clément Fournier-Drouin, Vithou Thurber-Promtep, Jérome Bazin, Ismaël Koné and Olivier Couture make up Mercure, a francophone, jazz/rock band that recently released their first EP, Sous Nos Pas.

The band started when the guys were in high school and all good friends.  Harvey-Langlois had the guitar, Thurber-Promtep had the piano, Koné the saxophone, Couture the bass, Bazin the drums and Fournier-Drouin the voice.  Together, they jammed and realized they had something. They started writing in 2012 and playing in small venues that same year.

Music is a big part of their lives; not only is it their passion, but also part of their education.  Most of the members of the group actually study their instruments at CEGEP de Saint-Laurent, and most plan on continuing their musical studies at the university level.

“I’ve played piano since the age of five and quickly took interest in jazz piano. It just gives you a certain freedom when you play and write that a classical training wouldn’t have given me,” said Thurber-Promtep.

The band’s music is hard to put into a specific genre. Their sound is indie-rock, intertwined with a strong jazz presence. The group also plays with computerized and street sounds to give their songs more dimension. It all just works. Due to the musical background of the band, half the pleasure comes from listening to the original musical fusions they create. The saxophone beautifully complements the sound they are trying to achieve and they even squeeze in some trumpet when they can. The musicality is on point and the lyrics are well written.

I got to know the boys through mutual friends in 2013 and have gotten to know their musical preferences. Their inspirations really come through in their songs: Radiohead, Flying Lotus, Harmonium and Snarky Puppy are only a few of the group’s favourites.

The band has experienced a recent boom in popularity with the release of their EP and creation of their Facebook page, where they keep everyone up to date with upcoming shows and performances.

On Sunday, Jan. 25, the band performed at the trendy Verre Bouteille bar on Mont-Royal.  Attracting over 130 people, the vibe in the bar, which was filled to capacity, was great. The place was dark, everyone chatting excitedly. The show opened with the Jeanne Côté band. She sang beautiful nostalgic tunes with her strong and enchanting voice, while her bassist and drummer supported her with insane coolness. Côté and her group’s sound perfectly complemented the main act.

Mercure played all their original songs during the show, which panned out very nicely.  They started off with a slower pace, and really built momentum and confidence by the third song.  “The more I play, the calmer I feel,” said Couture. “I kind of just get over the initial nerves and just groove.”

The best thing about the band, is how much fun they have on stage.  They all have such different personalities that really come through when they perform.  “What I love about performing is the interaction between the audience and us. It’s an incredible feeling to share what we do with friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers. It’s kind of like a dialogue. Their response to what we do is what gives us that rush,” said Harvey-Langlois.

All in all, Mercure is a band to look out for. They work hard, think big, and experiment with sound and musical genre.

Mercure has an upcoming show on March 14 at O Patro Vys. They are currently planning future shows and writing new songs.  Be sure to like their Facebook page, and check out their EP at


City in brief

Students block access to Ministry of Education offices
About a 100 students blocked the entrance to the Montreal offices of the Ministry of Education last Friday, in protest against tuition hikes. Students said they were blocking the entrance just like the government wants to block access to higher education. “We’ll be blocking the outside of the building to demonstrate to the government of Jean Charest that for as long as he plans to be blocking access to higher education, we’ll be blocking things in Quebec,” a student spokesperson told the CBC.
New Year’s revolution for social activism
The Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia launched the “New Year’s Revolution 2012” campaign last week, kicking off the new year with a series of events promoting awareness on social and environmental justice and community-based social justice research. The events went from “Day of Winter Survival Skillshare workshop” to “Solidarity not Charity: Activism in Montreal workshop.” QPIRG Concordia is a student-funded non-profit organization that seeks to create campus-community links and inspire social change on campus through engaging approaches. Visit

Shafia trial comes to an end
Three members of the Shafia family of Montreal were found guilty of first-degree murder on Sunday afternoon. The Afghan-Canadians face an automatic penalty of life imprisonment with no chance of parole for at least 25 years for the murder of the family’s three daughters and the first wife of the Shafias’ patriarch. Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their son Hamed, who pleaded not guilty, all professed their innocence once again after the verdict was read. Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said honour killings were a barbaric practice that was unacceptable in Canada.

Smells like gas
Environment Quebec rushed to the Montreal Heart Institute last Tuesday to try to pump 16,000 litres of diesel fuel out of the sewers, after a truck accidentally replenished the wrong tank. Environment Quebec was alerted by nearby residents of the Rosemont area, worried about a strong smell of gas coming from underground. It took the Montreal fire department four days to determine the source of the smell, according to The Gazette. Hospital officials said there was no safety risk for the patients.

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