Arts and Culture Community

Ô Petit Paris wins the long-awaited Public’s Choice Award for the Best Baguette and Best Table Presentation.

Uncovering the intense competition for Montreal’s best baguette 2024.

Since they were kids, brothers Maxime and Bastien Mottier, owners of French bakery Ô Petit Paris in the Plateau Montreal, have always gone to their local bakery in France and bought freshly baked baguettes for family gatherings. By using the same French flour that was used by that beloved bakery, they now aim to share those cherished moments and memories through each batch of baguettes they bake in Montreal.

Having won the best baguette of Montreal prize for the best baguette in 2022 and 2023, the Mottier brothers intend to use the same recipe and flour for this year’s contest. They have made it their mission to represent their home country through this flour, bringing their French touch to Montreal to satisfy their current and future clientele as best they can. 

Baguettes on display at Ô Petit Paris. Photo by Agathe Soldat.

With the help of media outlet Maudits Français and l’Union Française de Montréal, the organizers of the annual best baguette competition selected 11 bakeries to compete in the grand finale that took place on March 14. The results were given the night of, based on the preferences of the jury members and spectators.

Among this year’s finalists, the French bakery Ô Petit Paris sought out both the prize for best baguette, judged by a selected jury, and the Public’s Choice award, which they had never won before. The jury consisted of seven gastronomy professionals: Ronan Ulliac, Geneviève O’Gleman de Savourer, Tommy Dion, Alexis Boulianne, Sophie Ginoux, Arsène Tchesnov and Julien Catala.

On the night of the event, spectators and jury members tasted different breads, baguettes and other creations by the contestants. Spectators voted for their favourite baguette for the Public’s Choice Award. Jury members awarded a selection of prestigious prizes, including the Grand Prix of the Best Baguette in Montreal. 

Louna Fouquet, a French expatriate, said the event is quite important for the French community in Montreal. 

“I think that this kind of event helps the perpetuation of French culture in Montreal because it allows Montrealers to discover our culture,” Fouquet said. “It even allows a lot of French people from Montreal and elsewhere to meet and form a kind of network and create connections between one another.”

Serving as a meeting point for all baked goods lovers, the contest showcased the skill and creativity of Montreal’s bakers and provided a platform for the community to come together and celebrate their shared love for artisanal bread.

With the hope of connecting with their clientele and eventually winning the Public’s Choice Award for their proposed baguettes and other products, Ô Petit Paris gave their best.

“As of today, there is no competition in the rest of the country so, for us, it is still the biggest reward on the market, so it’s a bit like our own World Championships,” Maxime said.

Ô Petit Paris, Best Baguette winner of the 2022 edition, won four prizes this year. The prizes awarded by the public included that of Best Table Presentation and the long-awaited Best Baguette award. As for the ones awarded by jury members, they included Best Special Bread and the second prize for the Best Baguette Grand Prix.

Arts and Culture Exhibit

Wandering eyes behind the mask

Shary Boyle is a Toronto-based artist whose imaginative approach cultivates her unique world-building abilities. The fantasy worlds that Boyle fashions through painting and sculpture are unsettling and sophisticated, surreal and theatrical. Boyle provokes the curious minds of the visitors through her multimedia and multi-dimensional works. She invites us all to discover our inner imaginative self. Her exhibition Vesselling is now on view at the Patel Brown Gallery.

Curator and writer Anaïs Castro’s accompanying exhibition text explains that Vesselling, at its core, refers to “the act of holding space for a vulnerable community, a safe and contained environment to share and reflect on complex or difficult realities.” Boyle conjures this notion through her unique craftsmanship, complexity and world-making to guide the audience’s experience. The works within the exhibition creates a space that invites the viewers to take a journey to a mystical reality, in which the materiality, their nature and their relation to reality is being challenged.  

Upon entering the gallery space, a long podium displays several sculptures that are shaped and entangled in twisted forms. The podium provides the viewers with the ability to walk around the sculptures to explore each angle of their disproportionate bodies. 

A two-coloured sculpture is placed in the center of the podium, displaying two pot-shaped bodies entwined in a close and intimate embrace. The larger, dark figure spreads its legs, inviting the smaller, white figure to fill the space between them. The figures constitute an abstract, continuous shape—their relationship is dynamic and romantic. 

“Dysfunctional ceramic vessels serve as metaphors for human connection and receptacles for human values—contained forms that embody the complex processes of personal, and societal, relationships,” Castro explained. 

The series of paintings that hang around the periphery of the gallery space is entitled Grafters. The collection seems to represent As a collective, it seems as if all the paintings are frozen moments of a mystical puppet show or a ritualistic ceremony that can be compared to  theater plays, television shows or everyday chores that we witness in our surroundings. Traditional painting canvases display figures with ceramic masks covering their faces. Some paintings incorporate everyday objects such as ribbon, hair, jewelry, buttons and so forth.

These paintings play with reality and imagination, bringing up curious, mystical,  dreamy and metamorphic narrative within different visual frames. The ceramic masks, on one hand, function to prevent the viewers from seeing who is underneath. This may prompt the viewers to curiously look closer to see the set of eyes behind the mask. On the other hand, the masks give the paintings a sense of liveliness as if they are emerging out of the painting to confront the viewers with their tangible presence in our world. In Castro’s words, paintings in Grafters series “function within the logic of a double-performance.”  

In one of the paintings, titled The florist, Boyle depicts a mysterious space with the main figure in the center holding two flowers—Anthurium and pink Gladiolus. Even though the ceramic mask covering the florist’s face emphasizes the ambiguity of the work, the irises penetrate through the mask and follow you, establishing the figure’s presence in the moment. The flowers, along with the smooth painting technique and the decoration of the upper part of the painting, offers a soft and feminine setting. In contrast to the softness of the work, there is a hidden violence that is projected via the appearance of a knife.

Vesselling will be on view at Patel Brown from Feb. 29 to April 20.


The eternal drive toward Montreal

I always joke that half my personality is that I grew up in the Laurentians. I never shut up about the commute to school—it’s nearly four hours out of my day. Some might say I’m basically a superhero for it (nobody says that). I most definitely am not. People literally live in this city and spend the same amount of time crossing it as I do fleeing it.

My mother sometimes says it would have made my life easier if we hadn’t moved so far from the city. My dad often spends his days on the road for work. But they came here to find peace: the comfort of the fields that hug sinuous roads, stars we can actually see, silence. I’ve never been a city girl and I can now confirm that I never will be. Montreal is too fast-paced for my little heart.

I would be closer to school and my future dream job if I moved to Montreal. But I don’t want to narrow my world down to a single island, however great it may be. I would rather spend hours of my life in traffic or in the train if it means I get to escape the endless buzz of the city in my downtime.

If you live within a 50 km radius of a major city, you probably have already felt the pressure to escape your small town for bigger things. Maybe that stems from the American Dream concept. To me, Montreal has always felt like the ultimate goal, the ultimate success—get a fancy university degree, get a “good job,” get a house that costs much more than it’s worth. Some people might dream of Montreal like others dream of New York City.

That’s how I ended up attending university in Montreal, which made me very anxious very fast. My therapist suggested taking with me some of the things that make me feel safe. He might’ve meant something physical, but I took memories: listening to a wailing loon with my dad from our tent, befriending ducks on the lake with my mom, nodding to the stars that listen, watching the silver maples dance when it’s going to rain.

I went to Gaspésie last summer for the first time. Out by those mountains and shores, I was so far from the usual breakneck Greater Montreal ecosystem that Montreal felt like a hazy concept. For a second there, I envied the simplicity of being far, far away from the pressures of city life.

I’m just starting to adapt to the rhythm of Montreal and Concordia, but now I’m graduating. I’m standing at the edge of a cliff, windswept and awed as I stare out at the ever-changing landscape of my future. I don’t know what life is without school. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. But my time here has taught me to better identify the people, the places and the things that make me feel happy and like myself; and my therapist has taught me to keep those close to my heart wherever I go, like a portable safe space.

The Laurentians are half of my personality probably because they’re a collection of memories and people who have shaped me into who I am. While university has fiercely chipped at me like a diamond, the Laurentians have polished me with love and kind intentions. No matter where I go, I know I will always circle back here even if it seems counter-intuitive toward my “success.” 

But really, what is success without bliss? There’s something admirable about respecting your boundaries and keeping sight of what makes you happy, even if it doesn’t make sense on paper. My parents moving out to the Laurentians might have complicated a few things, but it was also the greatest gift they could’ve offered me.

I’m happy for those who found a home, a dream or a haven of anonymity in Montreal. Meanwhile, I might as well spend my whole life with one foot in the city, looking for success and creative opportunities, and the other foot in the Laurentians, looking for peace—just like my dad did, and he turned out just fine.


R&B 200’s success story

Apt. 200’s R&B nights are drawing hundreds of people to the club—on a Wednesday.

There is an element of unpredictability that comes with getting people to go out on a Wednesday night. With its latest series of R&B nights titled “R&B 200,” Apt. 200 Montreal has accomplished exactly that, offering a unique setting that draws hundreds to the club in the middle of the week. 

Lou Celestino, a local artist and bartender at the club, first came up with the idea as a solution to existing problems: “Wednesdays were very inconsistent, without branding. People were simply trying to mosh and we’d get noise complaints.” He noted the overall lack of a strict R&B focus in other clubs on St. Laurent Boulevard, which made way for R&B 200’s differentiation. Starting from simply hosting and bartending, he now manages the event.

The format has essentially turned Apt. 200’s usual hip-hop banger formula on its head. It opts instead for a relaxed, lounge-like environment that focuses on mellow, emotional cuts and classic 2000’s R&B. With a DJ roster composed of Miggy, Nino, Arsy, and Spinelli, clubbers are treated to a seamless mix of modern R&B, vintage classics, and incorporations of adjacent styles like late ‘90s-2000s pop and hip-hop.

The event is powered by Diff Minds, a local content-creation trio. Diff Minds includes two Concordia alumni, Kyle “Dolla” Martel and Karim “Dream” Fall. Celestino called upon them personally, given his genuine friendship with Dream and positive experiences with having the duo host at Apt. 200. Through their video recaps, Diff Minds showcase a different side to clubbing, one that is atypical to the scene’s usual portrayal. Their visual style is simultaneously professional, stunning, and intimate, between Dolla’s warm, vivid photography and Dream’s crystal-clear videography. The inclusion of retro technology (polaroids and camcorder) gives their clips a homey feel, one that perfectly suits R&B 200’s throwback essence.

Above all, the intent behind R&B 200 is to bring people together, be it the team or the crowd. “We want to bring a vibe to the club that allows people to have fun, enjoy themselves, and be safe while doing it. We encourage creatives, entrepreneurs, artists, and more to come together and network while vibing to some good, nostalgic music,” Dolla explained.  

“It allows people to have a conversation. Most importantly, the vibes are immaculate; barely any fights or trouble, that’s what separates us from other places,” Celestino added.

This is exactly what you get from a Wednesday at Apt. 200: the bar fully lined up with people talking, a crowded dance floor before midnight, dance circles, attendees singing along to ballads in unison while waving their flashlights; be it a social gathering or a collective celebration of music, the heartwarming feeling of community truly fills the room and defines each Wednesday night. DJ Spinelli notes that it has become a sanctum for creative expression. “We’ve transformed R&B Wednesdays into a space where everybody can express themselves fully, through outlets like fashion & dance. Everyone is there to support each other and have a ball! It gives you the confidence to fully lean into your passion,” she explains.

Celestino prides himself on gathering a team built upon diversity. “When you look at the lineup of hosts and DJs it’s multicultural; I am absolutely proud of representation,” he said. “One thing that motivates me is opening doors for the next wave of talent. With every name on the flyer, I see the qualities that are important for hospitality and that make people feel welcomed. I’m proud that I got a group of hosts to become friends.”

R&B 200 continues to see increasing popularity and a steady turnout, both of which are impressive given the unlikely circumstances. Fall is glad to bear witness to this success and remains surprised by it. “I’m a very observant guy. I catch myself looking around the club and being like, ‘Wow, why are so many people showing up on a Wednesday?’ It’s a hard sell. Overall, I see the same familiar faces coming through and making the appointment to come every Wednesday.”

The success of R&B 200 is now driven by the name it has made for itself. “People know that Wednesdays are for R&B nights at Apartment,” Dolla said. “It’s something you have to see for yourself.”

Hockey News Sports

The three-peat is complete: Stingers women’s hockey wins RSEQ championship

Stingers beat Université de Montréal Carabins in winner-take-all game three.

Following a series win against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team shifted their focus to their next and final opponent in the RSEQ final— the Université de Montréal Carabins.

Though both Montréal and Concordia had clinched their tickets to the U SPORTS National Championship tournament by becoming provincial finalists, there was plenty at stake coming into this series. For the Stingers, a series win would make it their third straight RSEQ championship, a feat that has not been accomplished by Concordia since 2002. On the Montréal side, a first RSEQ title since 2019 was up for grabs, as well as revenge from last year’s heartbreaking final that saw them lose to the Stingers in three games.

The first game of the 2024 RSEQ final took place at the Ed Meagher Arena on Thursday, Feb. 29. Defense on both sides was the story of the first period. Concordia was held to 10 shots while Montréal only managed to total five, meaning quality scoring opportunities were minimal. The first period would come to a close as a scoreless draw.

Thirteen minutes into the second frame, Stingers forward and assistant captain Rosalie Bégin-Cyr broke the deadlock. Forward Jessymaude Drapeau patiently held onto the puck before finding her linemate who buried a shot past Carabins goaltender Aube Racine.

It did not take long before the Carabins evened up the game. A deflected shot from the point found its way past Stingers goaltender Jordyn Verbeek, tying the game 1-1 late in the second period.

As the third period got underway, Montréal took its first lead of the series, scoring one minute into the frame. The Stingers began to show desperation as they fired everything they had at Racine. With five minutes remaining in regulation, a golden opportunity emerged as the Stingers earned a late power play.

On the ensuing advantage, the Stingers tied it. Forward Émilie Lavoie scored on a seeing-eye wrister from the blue line, tying the game 2-2. Unfortunately, the momentum of the Stingers was short-lived.

With less than one minute on the clock, a deflected shot from the Carabins found its way into the Stingers’ cage, sealing game one for the Carabins. Stingers head coach Julie Chu offered some insight on what the message would be going into game two.

“I said to the team [today] the same as I did against Ottawa— ‘we have to reset, we have to get going and make sure that this loss is just a loss for today. So process it as you need to and don’t let it hit your heart,’” Chu shared after the loss. The message sent was received for the Stingers in game two.

As the first period got underway at CEPSUM Arena at the Université de Montréal on Saturday, March 2, the pace of play was the epitome of playoff hockey—fast-paced, physical and scoring opportunities at both ends. The Carabins came out of the gate firing, knowing the RSEQ title was in their hands with a win; but the Stingers knew if they lacked effort, their RSEQ season would end. Despite the quality chances, the first period ended 0-0.

Five minutes into the second period, the Stingers broke the tie. Forward Megan Bureau-Gagnon parked in front of the Montréal net and capitalized on a perfect deflection off a shot from forward Émilie Lussier. Bureau-Gagnon spoke on what it meant to score the opening goal.

“It felt good. The couple of shifts before the goal, we were buzzing around them so it was just a question of timing—and to put that [goal] in, it gave us a little room and we started to play freely which was great.” Once going up 1-0, the Stingers did not look back.

A goal by Drapeau in the second period and a goal by Lavoie in the third gave the Stingers the insurance they needed to close out game two. The Carabins got a goal of their own to narrow the deficit to two, but the Stingers would add an empty netter and win the game by a score of 4-1. Coach Chu spoke about returning home for the winner-take-all game three.

“We love playing at home. For us, we’re going to enjoy [the win] today but we’re going to turn the page really quick because [game three] tomorrow is going to come fast.”

The Ed Meagher Arena saw a packed crowd for the rubber match of the provincial final on Sunday, March 3. As fans supporting both sides piled in, the puck dropped to begin action. In what became a theme in the series, the first period resulted in both goalies making key saves to keep the game scoreless. This would change drastically in period two.

Three minutes into the middle frame, Montréal opened the scoring on a rebound that was put home by forward Marie Terriault. The lead for the Carabins, however, would not last long.

For a second game in a row, Bureau-Gagnon netted a huge goal for the Stingers, this time tying the game 1-1. This ignited the Stingers to take over the play overwhelmingly, resulting in an onslaught of goals.

Four goals by the Stingers over the next 12 minutes put them in command up 5-2, heading into the final period with the championship in their sight. For the players, the three goal lead, although nice, was not satisfying enough.

Following two goals by Drapeau and one from Lussier, defender Camille Richard and forward Emmy Fecteau, Concordia put the game to rest. The Stingers defeated the Carabins soundly by a score of 10-4, clinching their third straight RSEQ title. Coach Chu closed out the RSEQ season by sharing what this win means to the team heading into the National Championship.

“Anytime you win, it builds momentum. If anything, it helps us feel confident that we can go through a game where we are down a goal, where we are going through ups and downs of emotions, where the fans are incredible and the energy is great.”

The U SPORTS National Championship will be the next stop for the Stingers women’s hockey team. The team will head out to the University of Saskatchewan for March 14 where they will face the best university hockey teams from around Canada. The matchups and game times are still to be determined.

Arts and Culture Community

A farewell to Momesso’s: Contemplating the void left in its wake

After 46 years serving , Paolo Momesso is retiring on top and closing shop on his own terms, a privilege that few restaurant owners are privy to in today’s financial climate.

“We would like to thank you all for your support all these years. Sadly, as of today, we will officially close our doors. Thank you!” Those were the words posted to Facebook on Jan. 22 by the official Momesso’s restaurant account. Just like that, a single post tore a hole in the fabric of the city’s culinary tapestry as one of Montreal’s iconic inns heralded its closure a week ahead of schedule. 

The owner of NDG’s renowned Italian eatery, Paolo Momesso, had publicly announced the restaurant’s impending closure two weeks prior, planning to serve their last subs on the weekend of Jan. 26-27. At that announcement, hundreds of hungry and nostalgic Montrealers came in droves to take one final bite of the diner’s legacy, emptying their final stock prematurely and shutting it down a week earlier than expected. 

It was at 5562 Upper Lachine Rd back in 1978 that Momesso’s Café served the first of their now culturally renowned subs under founding father, Alessandro Momesso. Forty-six years later, Paolo Momesso, the restaurant’s owner and older brother to Montrealer and Canadiens legend Sergio Momesso, attributed his age to the closure of their iconic café. The 68-year-old Momesso took over the family business after the passing of his father in 2006, upholding the family values that characterized the restaurant as a staple of NDG and its immigrant culture. 

Speaking on Momesso’s cultural presence within the area, NDG city councilor Peter McQueen said, “It’s really too bad that the family decided they did not want to continue operating it [the restaurant]. It’s just a huge loss. The Momessos are a huge part of the St-Raymond community.” 

As a prominent cultural beacon, Momesso stated that to preserve the restaurant’s legacy and memory within the city, he shut the place down rather than sell the business and brand to an outsider. 

Though Paolo Momesso closed shop on his own accord, the closure of such a symbolic institution of city culture is always cause for concern, even more so amidst the current state of the city’s economy, which has drastically affected Montreal’s culinary diaspora for over a decade, accentuated by the effects of the pandemic. 

According to the Association Restauration du Québec’s (ARQ) latest polls, the province has seen a decrease of over 3,000 restaurant permit holders since 2019, strongly affecting the city’s cultural and economic identity.

Restaurants are community anchors. For one, they are social hubs. After all, the point of wining and dining revolves around the communal element. Restaurants also allow for cultural blending as the culinary industry fractures barriers to immigrants who value cuisine and lack social connections in the city.

Despite the province heralding 22.4 per cent of the country’s culinary real estate, 66 per cent of total restaurant bankruptcies in the country occurred in Quebec in 2022. 

Additionally, the province is tied with British Columbia for having the highest chain-to-independent restaurant rates, with independent restaurants only-narrowly maintaining half of the market. 

The director of public and government affairs at the ARQ, Dominique Tremblay, believes that owning a restaurant is more difficult than it used to be due to inflation and that business owners are now facing twice the hurdles. She spoke to the current state of the culinary industry saying: “They’re feeling the effects of the increase in service and food prices, and on the other hand, they’re feeling the consumer’s reaction to inflation, as people have less money in their pockets to spend.” 

Amidst the challenges, city mayor Valérie Plante’s Projet Montréal is investing in the culinary industry to ease the stress plaguing the city’s restaurant and small business owners. Despite the city’s efforts, however, owners are still feeling the pressures of the fractured state of the industry. 

“We’re trying to keep businesses alive and well right here in Montreal so people can shop in their local neighborhood, walk to the businesses, and walk to eat out,” McQueen explained. Through the PME initiative (Petite et Moyenne Entreprise) the city has forwarded $37 M to help support local businesses on local arteries in Montreal. 

Victor Santopietro, part-owner of St-Leonard Italian eatery and culinary hub Milano’s Café, appreciates the city’s efforts yet remains skeptical of the efficacy of such initiatives. “Listen, if you don’t help yourself, the city doesn’t do much,” Santopietro said, stifling a laugh. “Do they help us? You know, you have to help yourself, that’s the best advice I can give.” 

According to him, the major hurdles that restaurants currently face are staff turnover and increased food prices, especially when trying to buy locally. 

Santopietro emphasizes the importance of not only buying local, but also the impact that restaurants have on their subsequent communities. “It’s not an easy business,” he said. “We have to understand that no one is invincible, there’s a beginning and an end to everything”. Milano’s Café is a staple of the St-Leonard community as it s a meeting ground for not only the older generations of Italians in the city who make their daily track for an espresso and a sub, but for the younger generations of Montrealers as well, who immerse themselves in the cultural wealth of the community through food. 

Eateries like Milano’s around the city have been adapting by cutting their schedule and simplifying their menu to save on labor and food costs. However, the responsibility of financial responsibility to preserve culturally significant restaurants lies on the shoulders of the consumer as much as it does the owners. 

“Is it their obligation [to help]? No. But it is nice if you support your local businesses,” Santopietro said. “We try to buy a lot of local products so we can make the economy roll instead of buying overseas, but at a certain point you try to do what’s best for yourself.”

There are countless long-standing culinary gems offering delicious goods and spreads at every street corner. Though times might be bleak, Montrealers play a key role in preserving the city’s culinary identity. As Santopietro said, “Just pass by for a coffee sometimes. Once a month, instead of going to a big chain restaurant, help out the regular Joe.”

News Photo Essay

Picketers lead ‘shame convoy’ with Legault mannequin

Photos from Thursday: ‘Shame Convoy’

Photos from Wednesday: Classroom picketing


Gaelic football: From Ireland to Quebec, it’s just a kick away!

This older variation of football is played by a Concordia club.

Football dates back many centuries and has since grown in different directions, developing different codes and rules. The commonality: using the foot to kick the ball into a goal to score points. The variation: the method of carrying said ball, regardless of its shape.

The two more popular codes among North Americans are association football (soccer) and American football, but there are many more variations across the world. For instance, rugby originated at Rugby College in the United Kingdom and branches out into two rule sets: rugby union and rugby league. Australian rules for football exist as well. However, the lesser-known Gaelic football, also known as Irish football, is less common, but certainly no less interesting. 

Gaelic football dates back to 19th century County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland. It was part of a collection of Sunday field sports played after church, which were called “caid,”directly translating into English as “stuffed ball.” The Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) was formed in 1884 and included camogie, hurling, Gaelic handball and rounders.

At first glance, the sport seems like a hybrid of rugby and soccer, as players can carry the ball with their hands and kick the ball through two upright posts. However, these posts are an extension of a net in front of which a goalkeeper is positioned. The pace of play is noticeably quicker.

To play the ball, a player is allowed to carry it, but not for more than four steps or for the time it takes to move four steps. At that point, they have three options: dribble the ball once (like in basketball) before taking another four steps and then dribbling with their feet (like in soccer), dribble right away with their feet, kick the ball up to themselves (imagine doing soccer kick-ups while running). To pass the ball to a teammate, a player must either punch the ball or kick it. Throwing is illegal, except for the goalkeeper, as in soccer, unless they exit their parallelogram (equivalent to the 18-yard box). 

A goal is scored by kicking the ball into the net. This counts for three points. One point is scored when the ball passes over the crossbar and through the uprights.

The game is certainly accessible. Montreal has a Gaelic Athletics Club (GAC), the Shamrocks, which breaks up into an internal super league in the winter and plays in the Stinger Dome every Saturday evening. 

The Montreal Shamrocks participate in national tournaments in the spring and summertime, including the Eastern Canadian Championships, where over 200 players participate in GAA sports, as well as the Montreal May tournament, where the Shamrocks host teams from Canada and upstate New York over the Victoria Day weekend.

For Gaelic football played in Ireland, the pitch is almost twice the size of a soccer field with 15 players on each side. The Shamrocks, however, play nine-a-side on a regulation soccer pitch in the summertime, and seven-a-side in the Stinger Dome for their winter internal super league.

“It’s tough to get used to a much faster play,” said Conor McAuley, who moved to Montreal from Belfast only two weeks prior to speaking with The Concordian. “[The seven-a-side] is a lot of running back and forth, as opposed to full pitch, which is a bit of a slower play.” The newcomer is looking forward to playing for the Shamrocks in the summer.

Our university is represented by the Concordia Warriors in both men’s and women’s. The super league consists of four men’s teams and an ever-expanding women’s division, which has just added a fifth team at the beginning of this winter season. Two years ago, there were only three women’s teams.

“The Super League was a way to get everybody playing regular games,” women’s Shamrocks coach Paddy Mahon said. “It’s a useful development tool as well. It helps people develop their skills. It’s not non competitive, but it’s not as competitive as playing for the Shamrocks.”

Most importantly, the game is easy to pick up. For anyone experienced in playing ball sports, all it takes is the desire to play. “There are a lot of ex-rugby players, a lot of soccer players that have joined,” Shamrocks treasurer and JMSB graduate Corey Crawford said. “It’s great to see and especially on the women’s side, it’s a lot more locals that are taking up the sport.” According to coach Mahon, there aren’t any players from Ireland on his team. 

Gaelic football’s popularity is growing in leaps and bounds, as nearly one hundred people attended the season’s opening day to try it out. It’s refreshing to see such a large crowd hold such enthusiasm for their sport, and even more so within Concordia.

Hockey Sports

No surprises for the Canadiens through 49 games

The Montreal Canadiens are where they should be in the standings after the season’s unofficial first half.

The all-star break has arrived, and the Canadiens currently sit in seventh in the Atlantic division and 26th in the NHL with a 20-21-8 record through 49 games. The Habs held a 20-25-4 record through 49 games in 2022-23. Injuries have been feasting on the team, as has been the case for the past several seasons.

Promising centre Kirby Dach tore his ACL in the second game of the season and is expected to miss the entire season. Centre Alex Newhook sustained a high ankle sprain in December and was slated to miss 10-12 weeks. Centre Christian Dvorak and defenceman Chris Wideman have also missed significant time.

Nevertheless, the Canadiens have persevered and look rather similar to the 2022-23 team in several categories. The team’s 2.78 goal-per-game pace through 49 games in 2023-24 mirrors its 2.83 goals per game clip from last season.

According to NaturalStatTrick’s expected goals model—how many goals a goaltender should allow based on the quality of shots that they face—Habs goaltender Samuel Montembeault is having another solid season. He has saved 7.76 goals above expected over the course of the season according to the model, meaning the average goalie would allow roughly eight more goals than Montembeault has this season. He is already approaching his 2022-23 performance, where he finished with 8.3 goals saved above expected in 40 games.

As they did in 2022-23, young players continue to lead the team. Captain Nick Suzuki (24) is the team’s leading scorer with 42 points in 49 games. He notched a career-high 66 points last season and is currently on a slightly better pace at 70 points over 82 games.

Winger Cole Caufield (23) is the team’s leading goal scorer with 17. It’s a step down from his 26 goals in 46 games last season, where his unfortunate injury likely prevented him from becoming the franchise’s first 40-goal scorer in 31 years. However, he has touched twine more often as of late, scoring six goals in his past eight games.

One reason for the 2023-24 Canadiens to be cautious is the 2022-23 team’s second-half collapse, going 11-18-2 record in their final 31 games following the all-star break. But this iteration of the Habs could look much different soon with the Mar. 8 trade deadline rapidly approaching. Centre Sean Monahan, defenseman Mike Matheson, and goaltender Jake Allen have all been heavily involved in trade rumours. With the team well outside of playoff contention, general manager Kent Hughes and his colleagues could be looking to get valuable returns for those players.

Right now the Habs would hold the seventh overall pick in the 2024 NHL draft. Barring any major turnaround, they should not shift more than one or two places in the overall standings down the home stretch.


Confessions of a parking ticket fugitive

How I was thwarted again by Montreal parking!

My car was stolen. 

I stood in the spot where my car had been, wondering how I would get to the West Island in time for brunch (behold, the most insufferable phrase I’ve ever written).  But wait—what was that just down the street? My car gleamed on the horizon, parked on Saint-Laurent as if it had been dropped down by a spaceship that got bored of the abduction mission. So it had been towed! And charged $186 for the honour—happy Thursday to me.

But why? The signs said I could be in my spot until Friday—or so I thought. New rules had changed the game overnight in the form of bright orange signs that had seemingly spawned out of nowhere and announced, “Gotcha!” Just the latest addition to a saga of suffering. Anyone who has ever tried to park, let alone drive in the city, will tell you that it verges on impossible. And who is to blame for all these problems? My arch nemesis: the Montreal parking police. 

The case of me versus the MPP (an acronym that I just made up) has been an ongoing battle, defined by endless tactics of evasion followed by endless consequences. Many a brain cell has withered away as I have attempted to decipher parking signs in my search for salvation. Can you blame me for always parking where I shouldn’t? The signs are written in an extraterrestrial dialect and resemble a cruel Terms & Conditions Agreement. You may occupy this spot, Earthling, but only on the full moon that lands on a Tuesday, and only if you drive a red Honda. 

I would cruise around for up to an hour sometimes, searching for a spot like a hawk preying on mice. I felt like a fugitive of the law on these mornings spent outrunning the parking police, my Tracy Chapman CD as the soundtrack to my smooth escapades. If you ask me, there’s a certain romantic tension between me and the MPP. An enemies-to-lovers trope, some might say. 

It’s all fun and games until reality bites though. I have been informed by numerous parties that you actually have to pay parking tickets. What do you mean I can’t just use them as lightly-humorous wall decor? My parking ticket art installation is only just getting started. This is almost as shocking as the time my friend hit me with a stern “you know, Emma, you actually do need to pay your taxes.” Just like my days of tax-evading were brought to a bitter end, the law will catch up to me again. 

But let’s have a moment of seriousness—who’s actually in the right? This time I can argue that they did me dirty (my roommate later told me she had seen them putting up the new orange signs at dawn, those sneaks), but all the other times…I’ll admit where I’m wrong. Montreal parking is a royal pain, but maybe parking shouldn’t be easy—that will incentivize fewer people to drive cars. (I really am anti-car, I swear. Up until last year I swore that I would bike everywhere for the rest of my life. Well, I folded. When your family lives in freaking Ste-Agathe, you do what you gotta do.) 

I suppose I really could just ditch the car, though, or learn the language of parking signs. But where’s the fun in that? Maybe I like the thrill of the chase. 

Arts and Culture Community Culture Student Life

Resisting the threat of cultural dissolution: Associazione Casacalendese di Montréal.

Many of Montreal’s Italian associations are disbanding due to a decline in communal participation, yet one in particular thrives amidst adversity.

On Nov. 11, 2023, sounds of laughter, clinking glasses, and gleeful reminiscing danced across the walls at Roma Receptions as a room of nostalgic  countrymen honoured their cultural heritage and celebrated l’Associazione Casacalendese di Montréal’s 99th anniversary. 

During a speech, Jon Carlo Santangelo, the group’s president, highlighted the strength of membership and attendance within the association, praising the community and wholly attributing their successes to the people’s efforts. “We are 100 percent self-financed… we’re not open to the public, and we are restrictive in membership, and there is a stigma that these associations are your grandparent’s associations. But in the last two years, we have been building ourselves up, and people are joining and coming back around after Covid. Last year was our first banquet post-Covid, and we had 120 people. We had 175 this year,” he said.   

While members of this Montreal-based Italian association celebrate their collective prosperity with food, wine, music, and good company, members of many other associations within the city have been adapting to a life devoid of such celebrations. 

Most associations in Montreal representing a specific Italian town/area were founded between the 1940s and the 1980s to financially support Italian immigrants with no ties to this city, allowing them to bond with people from their hometown. Not only do the members of Italian associations share regional ties, but many are genetically linked and discover deeper genealogical roots through the exchange of cultural insight and anecdote. 

Today, Montreal’s Italian community is in a transitional period as the older generations that have defined the community and held such an essential role in its survival are passing away. With their passing comes the passing of traditions and practices that the younger generations are not actively preserving. As a result, membership rates across Montreal have drastically decreased in the last 10 years, with eight associations from the Southern Italian region of Molise alone shutting down in a period of five years. 

While Santangelo’s association celebrated in November, Angela D’Orazio, a former member of the Grupo Recreativo Montenerodomo from the province of Chieti, Abruzzo, is still processing the demise, after 51 years, of her association that once hosted its own gathering in the basement of the Mount-Carmel Church. “We threw a last party [a few months ago] and the turnout was amazing; it was one of our biggest turnouts. You know, we used to go to halls, get dressed up, buy new outfits, gun blazing, and here we were, in the basement of a church. Everyone knew it was the last meeting, but all the old members came—they came in wheelchairs—and I was in tears,” D’Orazio said.. 

Mimma Scarola, a former member of l’Associazione Maria Santissima di Merllitto from the region of Grumo, Appula in Bari, echoed D’Orazio’s sentiments. Her association shut down 10 years ago, after participation had been in steep decline during the last five years of its existence. “My family was so involved, so our younger generations loved to go—we enjoyed it. My kids still ask me about it now, but it wasn’t like that for everyone. There were a lot of people from the association who didn’t participate as much, and you couldn’t even get them to come to the parties. When they [older members] started dying out, their kids didn’t come,” Scarola said.  

Francesca Sacerdoti, assistant director at the Congrès National des Italo-Canadiens (région Québec), has seen a substantial increase in interest regarding the Italian culture in Montreal, but not necessarily from Italians themselves. Being an organizer of the annual Italfest, a two-week celebration of Montreal’s Italian heritage in the heart of the city, Sacerdoti noted that the festival is growing in attendance every year. However, she acknowledged that members of the Italian community are generally less active than they used to be. 

Sacerdoti’s  colleague, Terry Lorito, believes the cause for declining participation is that the younger Italian generations are “too integrated into our society.”  “They’re Canadians, they’re Quebecers, and their Italian comes third,” Lorito said.

Despite the dwelling concerns, President  Santangelo has high hopes for the future of l’Associazione Casacalendese di Montréal. “As long as the Italian identity is alive, people will want to flock to it, but we need a rebirth, and I think that’s what we’re successful in with the association.” The association brings  in youthful participation through their scholarship program. They also encourage families to attend events by blending the music at parties for the young and old, marketing their celebrations across social media, and tailoring their  efforts towards the future. “I think if we can keep it real but pivot just a little bit, then I think we should be okay,” he concluded. 


We need to address the real causes of homelessness in Montreal

Thousands of unhoused people are victims of a broken system and especially vulnerable as winter arrives, yet little thought or empathy is given to the issue. 

As the streets get colder, it becomes even more urgent to address the homelessness crisis in Montreal. Temperature drops are life-threatening to this vulnerable population and exacerbate their already harsh living conditions. It’s time to talk more in depth about homelessness and its causes.  

According to the CBC, the population of unhoused people* in Quebec doubled between 2018 and 2022—totalling nearly 10,000, half of whom are in Montreal. I’ve noticed that casual discourse around homelessness is often damaging and fails to address deeper issues. I have heard the topic be approached with disgust or contempt toward unhoused people, sometimes accompanied with demeaning jokes and comments. This contempt should instead be directed toward the systems that cause homelessness and the governments that do little to address the issue. 

The lack of affordable housing and subsequent housing crisis is just one cause of homelessness. Traumatic events, extreme poverty, domestic abuse and discrimination can all play a role. Those who struggle with sickness and mental illness are more susceptible to homelessness. Systemic and personal issues create dire situations, especially for marginalized groups.

In Montreal, Indigenous people are 27 times more likely to suffer from homelessness than other demographic groups, according to a recent count. The Inuit community is particularly affected, making up 25 per cent of unhoused Indigenous people. This is the result of systemic racism, inter-generational trauma, and lack of services for those who need them most—but most of all, it is a direct example of the ongoing effects of settler colonialism.  

It is essential to view homelessness through this lens and realize that unhoused people are victims of an oppressive system. We must be particularly mindful of this fact and put pressure on governments to establish better solutions. 

The city’s relationship with homelessness is a complicated one. On numerous occasions, Mayor Valérie Plante has called on the provincial government to provide more funding and work with the city to make a long-term plan. “[W]hat I’m looking for is a bigger conversation with the entire ecosystem,” Plante said to The Montreal Gazette in June, “…and that includes the provincial government and the Ministry of Health and Social Services, because they are in charge of homelessness, mental health and drug use, because often these things are connected.” 

In early November, Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant announced that the Quebec government will grant nearly $10 million toward increasing space in shelters and establishing emergency services as the cold approaches. While this is a positive and essential step, it is not enough.

Broad reform is needed. Alberta advocates for a “Housing First” approach, which aims to break the cycle by setting up unhoused Albertans in permanent housing and providing them with ongoing support. This support would aim to address mental health, employment, and addiction. Montreal should take a similar approach with a decolonial focus, and move away from emergency solutions.

If you want to help, it’s impactful to volunteer and donate when possible. But first of all, we must flip the narrative around homelessness. Mocking and pejorative comments are dehumanizing, and it’s essential to consider the systemic issues at play. The simplest way to help is by speaking mindfully about unhoused people and considering the causes and effects of homelessness. 

*A note on vocabulary: the term “unhoused” is growing in usage due to the sometimes derogatory connotations of the word “homeless,” and to emphasize that unhoused people may have outdoor or community spaces they call home. In this article, I switch between the two terms, but use “unhoused” when referring to the people themselves for this reason.

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