Market Marvels

As the end of November approaches us, the holiday season is in the air. Christmas music is being played in the grocery store, coffee cups have seasonal doodles splattered across them (although some of them areGASP just red), storefronts are decorated with beautiful gold, silver and red themes and every so often I get the overwhelming urge to decorate a Christmas tree.

The onset of holiday season in the city comes with so many festive and wonderful events happening throughout Toronto. So…

Put down your heavy textbook! Forget about your seven page essay!  Postpone the study groups and get out there and get your early holiday season party animal on, cause people, it’s

C  H  R  I  S  T  M  A  S     M  A  R  K  E  T     S  E  A  S  O  N     <  3   ! ! !

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U of T’s Eric Arthur Gallery: 125th Anniversary Exhibition

As an Arts & Science student, I find myself restricted to the areas on campus reserved for classes and events specific to my faculty. I’ve made it a point to try and branch out by exploring the things other faculties have to offer. This includes visiting the Eric Arthur Gallery within what I’ve always assumed to be this totally nondescript building along College Street. (Branching out also includes teaching myself the ukulele in hopes that the Faculty of Music will acknowledge my hidden musical talent and accept me as their own.) 

The UofT building sign for the Daniels Faculty.

The Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design is located at 230 College Street, on the edge of Huron. (Photo courtesy of Michael Mousa, subject including yours truly)

Turns out that this building on College that I’ve passed by so many times the past three years is the John H. Daniels building for the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Inside is the Eric Arthur Gallery, currently celebrating the 125th anniversary of the architecture program at U of T. The exhibit provides a retrospective look at the history of architecture and the evolution of its teaching tools within the scope of our university.

A large open space inside the Faculty of Architecture. The wall on the right provides a textual description of the exhibition. To the left is the start of the historical timeline, beginning in 1890.

Inside the Eric Arthur Gallery during the 125th Anniversary exhibition.

I was surprised that I’d never heard of this gallery before. While UTAC and the Justina M. Barnicke galleries are two (free) art galleries on campus (see Amie’s post from the archives about the UTAC!), the Eric Arthur is geared towards architectural exhibitions, which may be why I’d never heard of it until now. I loved the layout of the exhibition the second I walked in, just because anything that is organized cleanly makes me feel very satisfied.

The gallery overlooks College Street. Here we see a plaster replica of Michelangelo's Moses, created by past architecture students. Along the wall are negatives of glass slides used by architects from the school.

The gallery overlooks College Street. Here we see a plaster replica of Michelangelo’s Moses, created by past architecture students. Along the wall are negatives of glass slides used by architects from the school.

This exhibit celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Faculty of Architecture is primarily displayed as a timeline, starting from the inception of the program in 1890 and going up by five-year intervals to present day. The timeline is cleverly and meticulously organized; each interval showcases photographs of student life at the time, followed by administrative and professional developments within the faculty, course syllabi and assignments, newspaper clippings and photographs depicting important events in Canadian, architectural and world history respectively.

One part of the timeline along the wall divided into 5 shelves. The first shelf contains 3D letters that denote the year as 1935. Within the same shelf is a piece of paper from a course assignment during that time period. The next shelf underneath contains newspaper clippings. The shelf below that contains photos and captions denoting important events in Canadian history. Below that, pictures of important international architectural events. Below that, world events.

Some of the events related to architectural design and education occurring during 1935.

Piece of paper from a 1935 UofT Architecture Exam. The paper describes detailed instructions. Students must draw and design a room with the appropriate proportions and requirements demanded for in the instructions.

A close-up of a question on an architecture exam circa 1935. Always nice to see that the pain of writing a university exam is something that transcends temporal boundaries!!

There are also other features of the exhibition like old artifacts used by architecture students in particular time periods.

A table lined with geometry sets, rulers, compasses, and colour swatches used by past students.

Equipment used in the past by students in the Faculty, photo taken at a terrifying bad angle.

A table in the gallery with three really old, really large computers that contained graphics software that was used by design students.

Some of the first archaic forms of computer technology used by students in the Daniels Faculty studying design. These were used in the ’80s!

If you’re interested in architecture and/or the history of our school, this exhibit is a fantastic look at U of T’s legacy. There is so much information dropped on you at once that I was very content to spend a long amount of time wandering around the gallery during my break between classes. The gallery is free and this exhibit runs until October 2. I’d love to come back to see what other exhibits they plan on holding next!

A selfie I took with the plaster replica of Michelangelo's Moses statue with the caption "#art". I added sparkles to the photo to make it fabulous

Does art really exist if no one is there to appreciate it/take a selfie with it??

The St. George campus is so big that sometimes we glaze over buildings that turn out to be super interesting. What places have you discovered on campus that have surprised you? Let me know in the comments or Instagram a photo of it and tag us at @lifeatuoft!

Upcoming summer events in the Toronto music scene

For me, summer means music festival season. While I’m lamenting the fact that I cannot attend Osheaga in Montreal this year, there’s no need to even leave the city to see some awesome shows. Toronto has sparked a lot of interest worldwide (shout out to Drake for repping the 6 as fiercely as he does) and offers a broad range of events for every genre.

Whether you’re already in the city and want to explore what we have to offer or planning on moving here for school, these are some upcoming events that may be of interest. And by interest, I mean free or cheap. That, friends, is the true essence of #StudentLife!

Drake stands on stage with his back to us, greeting thousands of his adoring fans, myself included.

Drake’s success has drawn major attention to his hometown. Source: Instagram @champagnepapi

While the Pan Am games have ended, there are still going to be free concerts during the Parapan Am games in August at venues like Nathan Phillips Square. They will star some big names like The Roots and Chromeo, along with spotlights on Latin American musicians such as Onda Vaga. Fellow blogger Taryn mentioned to me that Hart House will also be hosting a free Pan Am program titled Music from the Americas: The Map Room Sessions, 1-2 p.m. from July 15 – August 27.

The large, multi-coloured sign saying TORONTO in capitals, lit up at night over the water at Nathan Phillips Square.

Pan Am sign turned tourist attraction marks a popular venue for upcoming free outdoor concerts – Nathan Phillips Square. Source:

A screenshot of Councillor Kelly's tweet saying: "Yo @kanyewest! FYI for when you're here: #WeTheNorth is the slogan for our Raptors and not some sort of praise for your daughter."

Toronto Councilman Norm Kelly and his wildly amusing Twitter account. Source: Twitter @norm

U of T Faculty of Music
The Faculty of Music always holds concerts, both free and paid. Keep checking back on their website for events – they begin regularly once school starts. The U of T Jazz students perform every Monday night at The Rex during the school year. Last year, U of T Music students took part in #MusicMondays at the MaRS Discovery District, providing lovely, free musical performances in the MaRSDD atrium. This event will start up again in September, according to the @MaRSDD Twitter account.

A sign in the MaRS Discovery District advertising Music Mondays.

Music Mondays featuring the U of T Faculty of Music students will start up again in September in the MaRSDD atrium, from 12:30-1:30. Source: Twitter: @MaRSDD

Toronto Caribbean Carnival
Toronto Caribbean Carnival is a summer staple in Toronto. The grand parade is taking place at the Exhibition this year and is guaranteed to feature live music and gorgeous costumes that apparently defy the laws of physics. Happening tomorrow, the parade will feature a host of Mas bands that can be found here.

Logo for the 2015 Caribana Festival

Toronto Bicycle Music Festival
For avid bikeriders/music aficionados, this is a series of free shows where one bikes with the rest of the audience from venue to venue. The speakers for each concert are even pedal-powered by the concert-goers! It’s happening this year on September 13 – bring your bike, have a picnic, and enjoy this super cool traveling festival.

A picture from last year's Bike Music Festival. A musician sings, guitar in hand while balancing on a moving stage. An audience bikes along behind him.

The modern day traveling minstrel. Source:

Music Festivals
A more expensive splurge, large music festivals are still a cool experience. It’s a great way to see many different artists you like in one place – and most of the time, tickets to a concert for just one big artist are already a good portion of the price for one festival pass so I guess you can justify buying one as being economically efficient???

Picture taken at Osheaga Music Festival at the two main stages.

Veld, TURF, RiotfestMad Decent, and TWiMFeST are just to name a few coming up – our city is a hotspot for epic super-concerts. Here’s hoping the weather will be warm for outdoor venues but not as obnoxious as it is this week! (I am forever a winter person)

Know any hidden gems for concerts around the city? Leave a comment or let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram

UC Charity Drag Show

Coming into university I knew that there was going to be a mile long list of ‘firsts’:

My first time doing my own laundry, first 500 person lecture, first time spending over 12 hours in a library. 

However I don’t think I could have prepared myself for what came along with last year’s University College Charity Drag Show: my first time watching a friend get dressed up in drag and perform on stage to Beyoncé

My best friend Chim dancing to Beyonce at last year's drag show

My best friend Chim dancing to Beyonce at last year’s drag show

So when I got invited to this year’s 2nd Annual University College Drag show – I knew I couldn’t turn it down! With a killer line up of performers and all the proceeds going to Toronto’s LBGT Youthline it was sure to be a great night. 

Since my first day at University College, the attitude towards diversity and acceptance has overwhelmed me.  Encouraging everyone to love themselves no matter what they looked like, where they came from, or who they loved, has always been one of the things I’ve admired most about my college.

My crazy group of friends supporting Chim after his amazing performance!

My crazy group of friends supporting Chim after his amazing performance!

Events like the drag show are what really inspired me to get involved with my college, and was even one of the events that pushed me to apply for my Life@UofT job.  I wanted to experience more of these amazing events, and help other people experience them too. 

As for the event itself, let me start by saying that these Queens outdid any makeup or hair I could ever do. (I’m also now a firm believer that men wearing skirts and heels should be a daily occurrence, as I have never seen legs look so good in my life)  The Kings were equally impressive, rocking everything from the Beiber flow to baggy pants.

However, the real jaw-dropping happened when they took the stage.  Dancing to everything from 80s fem-rock classics, to today’s top 40, these men and women gave Rue Paul’s Drag Race a run for their money. 

To compliment these amazing performances, the UClit throws quite the party.  The JCR was dimly lit with oversized couches and an enormous amount of food. The performances were broken up with raffles and hilarious commentary by the MCs. 

One of the art instillations created by the AVSSU, that acted as the stage backdrop

One of the art instillations created by the AVSSU, that acted as the stage backdrop

This year the JCR was also covered in art instillations. The Architecture and Visual Studies Student Union created five different stunning art instillations that added another layer of interest and entertainment to the event. 

However the best part of the night wasn’t the beautiful art, the delicious food or amazing performances.  It was the palpable energy that ran through the air.  There was an undeniable sense of carefreeness.  These men and women were up there, dancing and having a good time, without an ounce of worry that someone was going to judge them or laugh at them.  They were supporting an amazing cause while getting one of the most memorable experiences of their life.  But most of all, they were just having fun. 

Living in a big city and going to such a diverse school, it can be easy to forget the rest of the world.  That hundreds of boys and girls live every day hiding who they are out of fear of being punished or ridiculed.  Thats why unique events such as this are so important.  They help make this school and, in a small way the rest of the world, a better place.

Finding a Passion… For Fashion

Last week I attended the annual UFashion Spring Fashion show, held in co-ordination with the UClit and U of T Students for Wishes. 

The event is put on every year by the student-run organization UFashion It showcases different Toronto-based designers and stores, aiming to appeal to a variety of different styles and student budgets. 

This year’s event was held at Fiction nightclub, and proceeds benefitted the Make a Wish Foundation. Tickets to the fashion show were $10 a piece, and included entrance to Fiction after the show was over. 

two university aged girls sitting on a large leather couch in a club-like setting

Ainsley and Ashley getting ready for the show to start

Before attending the show I had never actually heard of UFashion before, so I didn’t know entirely what to expect. Creating fashionable looks that are not only locally accessible, but student-budget friendly, is difficult to say the least. Although I was excited for the experience of the show as a whole, I wasn’t holding out high hopes of seeing anything that I would “just have to have.” 

I couldn’t have been more wrong. 


The looks were edgy, fashionable, and well put together. There wasn’t a linear catwalk, but instead models walked a path that wound throughout the entire club. The audience was sat on the large velvet couches, and the layout gave everyone a front row view. 

The stores showcased included Toronto locals such as Over The Rainbow, Feroce, Parloque, Sauvage, and Original Penguin It also however, featured an online store created by two University of Toronto students. Haakem Bajwa and Parham Chinikar created their clothing line Cabaret Vesture in the attempts to create pieces that they would wear on a daily basis.  Instead of striving to achieve a certain aesthetic or style, they let their creativity guide them into making whatever pieces are inspiring them at the time. 


I left the fashion show having had a wonderful night, but also fuelled by a new interest in this aspect of UofT life I didn’t know existed before.  Almost at the end of my second year here, I still feel like I haven’t found something that I’m truly passionate about.  With hundreds of clubs I never expected it would be this difficult. 

However attending the UFashion event opened my eyes up to the world of UofT fashion, beauty, and style. It introduced me to an entire network of other students who share my passion for style, but who share many of the same student-related constraints. 

image via.

image via.

If UFashion sounds like something you want to get involved with too, check out their blog, or like them on Facebook here.  I’d love to get any suggestions of other beauty/fashion related clubs in the comments below, or hear your story of how you found your passion at U of T! Until next time, keep up to date with me on the other events I’m attending by following me on twitter at @Rachael_UofT.

My Reading Week #Staycation

Happy Reading Week U of T! If you’re reading this article right now, chances are you’re one of the many students who didn’t go away for reading week. (However if you are – and you’re reading this on a beach in the warmth somewhere, I probably hate you.) 

American television shows and Tripadvisor commercials have all turned reading week into this glamorized week of freedom, where it’s mandatory to go somewhere warm, wear a slinky bikini, and drink a pina colada. 

However for most university students, this isn’t the reality – in fact, it’s not even an option. Not only are vacations expensive, but they also require an entire week of no school work; which always sounds like a good idea in theory, but ends up making your first week back a nightmare. 

The reality it, most U of T students this year will spend reading week at home. Whether you choose to pick up some extra shifts at work, take advantage of the quiet on campus, or sleep in until 2pm every day – it doesn’t make your reading week any less valid. 

That’s why this reading week, I have a full-on “Stay-cation” planned. 

Living close to campus I find it really easy to get into the slump of “home, campus, repeat.” I forget that I live in such an amazing city. During first year, Toronto itself was what made my year so enjoyable. In fact, in my Life@UofT interview, I explicitly mentioned how having a campus in the middle of the city was what I loved most about U of T. 

Somewhere between grocery shopping, laundromats, TTC rides, and paying rent, I seem to have forgotten what I loved the most about U of T – the city that it’s in!

Well forget no more, this reading week for me is all about re-kindling my long lost love for Toronto. It’s about getting out and exploring the little nooks and crannies I don’t have time to see between classes. 

For me, it’s going to look a little something like this; 


Brunch at School in Liberty Village. Classes may be out – but brunch is always in. 

Picture of brunch food sitting out on a school-esque table. Food includes pancakes, waffles, and eggs.

(Image Via. )


Free admission to the ROM! Tuesdays are my busiest days, so I never get to take advantage of this during the semester. 

image of inside the rom in the dinosaur room where there are dinosaur skeletons up!

(image via. )


Free admission to the AGO! Ditto on the Tuesday comment. 

(Image via. )

(Image via. )


Book Time! Not the boring Robarts-esque books however. I plan to explore as many of these book stores as humanly possible in one day. 

Clean, crisp, modern bookstore

( Image via. )


People watching in Kensington market. Now that I’m not one of the crazy Torontonians running around like a chicken with their head cut off – it’s nice to sit back and watch everyone else do it. Kensington is the perfect place for this. 

Two people walking through Kensington market , passing by a brightly painted building)

( Image via. )

So U of T, that’s my #Staycation plans. Who needs a vacation when you have one of the most diverse and cultured cities in the world at your door step! So U of T, whether you’re hitting the streets like me, or lounging by the pool, have a good reading week – and I’ll see you all back on campus next week. 

Winter break may be Over, but that doesn’t mean a cold slog until Spring.

It is week four of term and I am already missing the chocolate-consuming, snuggled in comfy clothing, social function-filled days of the winter break. Not to mention that I am frozen to my core. Yes I know, it was way worse last year, but a late start to the winter lulled me into a false sense of security and now I am finding my warm bed and cranked heat more attractive than ever.

There is so much to look forward to and do over the next few days and weeks though, and I’d love to impart it all to you so we can enjoy the fun and frivolity and embrace the winter chill together. Winterfest and Frost Week might be over, but that doesn’t put fun to an end.

Get Warm with Exercise

Did you know that the Varsity Center has free skating and pick-up hockey scheduled all term? You can even rent skates! If you’re into outdoor skating, try Nathan Phillips’s Square, where you can also rent skates and a helmet for $10 for two-hour use.

For indoor exercise, don’t forget the drop-In classes at Hart House or the Athletic Center (AC). Registered classes at Hart House and the AC began this week, but I think you can still sign up for them if you’re looking for things like dancing (of all sorts), Pilates, various martial arts, swimming, , or archery (though you might want to leave the Mockingjay pin at home).

Relaxation and Rejuvenation for your Mind and Body

After all that exercise, you might want a massage, and Hart House delivers free mini Shiatsu massages every Monday in the chapel from 12:00 to 3:00 PM.

There are also regular mindfulness opportunities throughout the week to help you get centered and re-energized.

Get Creative

For those of you who appreciate self-expression through the written word, try Write Now!, a weekly drop-in session run by peer mentors. It’s offered three times weekly: at The Multi-Faith Centre on Tuesdays, on Thursdays at Hart House (room locations change so check the link above for specifics), and the Koffler Student Services Centre on Fridays.

Get Crafty! at Hart House returns this term. You’ll have the opportunity to make everything from lip balms to buttons to aromatherapy sprays (among other cool things), so don’t miss it.

Hart House also hosts tons of creative classes, where you can learn everything from clowning to film-making. Why not learn a new skill this term?

Theatre, Art and Music

There are so many great shows this term! Free weekly jazz nights at Hart House, Jesus Christ Superstar and other great plays at Hart House Theatre, and free concerts galore from student groups – you can review the listing of all Hart House musical groups and their respective concert dates above. There are also a ton of events listed at UofTtix.

Feeling your inner performer needs to be unleashed? Hart House’s got you covered with monthly open mic nights.

Last but certainly not least, for those into visual art, there are several exhibitions open at the UofT Art Centre and the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery.

But wait, there’s [probably] more

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should be enough to get you started towards beating the winter blahs. Have any other events to look forward to that you think everyone should know about? Let me know in the comments!

A Night at the (UofT) Theatre

I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve walked by a poster advertising a new play on campus, and said “oh, I’m going to go to that!”  If you’ve followed my blog posts for a while now, this won’t come as much of a surprise to you; I am the queen of  wanting to get involved in something, and then never actually doing it. 

So this week when my friend invited me to come and see her in the Trinity College Dramatic Society’s performance of the Twelve Angry Jurors – I knew I had to stick to my promise. 

I decided to take this as an excuse to have a night out, a “night at the theatre” so to say.  It’s only three weeks into the semester and I already feel as if I’m clocking more hours at Robarts than in my own bedroom.  I figured this was the perfect excuse to take a well deserved break. 

A picture of me at a table at Gabbie's bar with a plate of delicious food in front of me

We started our night up on Bloor at Gabby’s Bar & Girl to grab a quick bite before the performance, which started at 8pm.  Pulled pork and fries may not be the classiest of pre-theatre meals, but hey – I’m on a student budget here (and it was delicious).

a picture of my delicious food - a pulled pork sandwich and fries

We got to the theatre early to purchase tickets from the door and get our seats in the George Ignatieff Theatre. The stage itself was small, but the theatre filled up quickly with family members and friends of the performers, and a couple campus reporters as well. 

a picture of my theatre program and ticket. The program reads "TCDS presents the twelve angry jurors, with a picture of a screaming head in which the eyes are covered by the numbers 1-12

When the play began I was immediately captivated. I hadn’t done much research about the play before hand, but the general synopsis involves a group of Jurors arguing over the innocence of a man accused of killing his father. 

The entire play takes place on the same set, with no more than 13 characters on stage at one time.  It was intense and dramatic, with the perfect amount of comic relief.  The characters delve into topics such as immigration, racism, prejudice, and the idea of “reasonable doubt”.  Although you never see the accused man, or any characters other than the jurors and a security guard, through the discussion you feel as if you have an clear picture of the entire trial. 

a picture of the performance happening on stage. The 12 characters are sitting in chairs around a large table - on character is standing up addressing the group.

The actors themselves portrayed their characters skillfully, shedding tears at some points and genuine smiles at others. Although the play itself was only an hour, when it was over I felt as if I had known these characters all my life. 

the actors in the play lined up for the final curtain call

When the play was over we waited in the lobby to see our friend, then walked home discussing everything we had just seen.  The best part of seeing a play, movie, or any theatre production, is the ability it has to take you away.  For a given amount of time it transports you into another storyline where the problems of your world don’t seem to matter anymore. 

So I’ve ticked something off my campus bucket list, and managed to find a new favourite past-time in the process.  I would love to hear your experiences with campus productions, including any plays that I have to see. Leave them in the comments below, or send them to me on twitter at @Rachael_UofT. 

If you’ve never seen a play on campus, I would highly recommend it! With numerous on-campus productions happening every year, there’s sure to be a play that interests everyone, and a ticket price to match your budget.  

Closer to the Art

Art is great. I don’t always understand it, but it’s still great. Being able to convey feelings or stories in many ways is a treasure. Even if you’re like me and the best image you can draw is a stick-figure, visual art forms can be fascinating.

The most amazing bagel with tomato sauce, pizza pepperoni, and molten mozzarella cheese you've ever seen (with a bite taken out already by an overzealous Zach)

First Nations House Lunch on Friday Nov. 28: Simple, delicious, a work of art! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

For me, guitar can convey feelings when words just won’t do. But visuals really help me learn best.

String-level view looking down the fretboard of my electric guitar (did I mention the guitar is bright green!)

One piece of my rock n’ roll arsenal (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario with my Mom (which I mentioned in last week’s blog) to see the Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes special exhibit. It’s incredibly powerful stuff. There were many stories, some ancient and some about present-day life. And there was me wandering around in deep thought. People probably thought I was just lost and that I didn’t know I was in an art gallery.

The top half of my head, wearing an awesome bright red Calgary Flames toque

The Flames toque I’ve needed to wear all over the place because of the November cold also makes people look at me funny, especially at the AGO (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Music can be just as moving. For instance, my Mom brought me a CD called True Blue, by a pow-wow drum group called Northern Cree. It’s awesome. Those guys can really sing. Such music reminds me how much I enjoyed starting to learn the “N” dialect of the Cree language over the summer at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

A picture of the CD case for the album True Blue by Northern Cree

Awesome Album (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I always enjoy the artwork in First Nations House. The more I look around, the more I find. The paintings on the walls are a nice change from most U of T buildings and I think the birch bark canoe is grand. There’s a Great Lakes Canoe project run through Mizwe Biik, in which they built that canoe and paddled it out onto one of the Great Lakes. It’s a different style of art and I recommend you check out their next project if you’re looking for a really cool opportunity.

A wall mural of a river, forest, and Toronto skyline, with a bear and it's cub, in Indigenous woodland style

Just one of the huge murals that adorns First Nations House’s walls (Photo by Zachary Biech)

At the Native Canadian Centre, you can also do a lot of fun volunteering projects. Over the summer, I helped do the judging for the Young Native Artists 2015 Calendar contest, where kids from reserves all over Ontario from kindergarten to grade 12 submitted artworks (about a thousand in total) for us to choose from. We had a blast. We picked a winning piece for each month, plus one for the cover and one for a small motif which is on all the pages.

The inside cover of the 2015 Young Native Artist's Calendar, with all the names and communities of the winning artists and other contributors

The amazing artists for this year’s calendar! Note my name under the committee member list in the bottom left-hand corner (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Those kids are amazing, they are all winners. Two kindergarten students got into the calendar, they blew me away. Their art is all very beautiful and skillful, and some of the pieces are so witty, we just had to choose them!

The calendars are available at NCCT for 5$ each. They are a perfect gift for the holidays. NCCT is also having their big craft sale on November 29th. I’ll be volunteering there as well, and maybe next week I’ll post pictures of the action!

One last note: First Nations House, The Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, the NSA, SAGE, IEN, and the Office of Indigenous Medical Education are all working together to host this year’s Indigenous Winter Social at OISE on Friday December 5th from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Come check it out!

A great whale wall mural in western Indigenous art style

More of First Nations House’s beautiful imagery (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Gearing Up

Brace yourselves: exams are coming. Don’t forget about essays and assignments due soon. I know how daunting these tasks can be, especially in first year. But we’re all in this together!

Street-level view, looking up into a snowy night sky amidst the glowing lights of towers and old Victorian houses

In this crazy huge community, we have to stick together to make it through the hard winters (Photo by Zachary Biech)

It’s all in the way you think about working. When I feel overwhelmed, I tell myself to breathe, not to worry and that there are many hours between me and the tests or due dates. When you see how many hours you have, your subconscious can adjust to the overwhelming to-do list and plan how to use that time. The power of the mind is limitless!

I also try to look forward to the holidays. For my holiday, it means flying home to snowy, frigid Alberta for some serious chillaxation. Winter is a great time. It’s a time of rest, peace, and reflection. We just have to get through the fall semester, our peak mentally focused time, reel in those marks and get those jobs done. Then we’re home-free.

Family support is key. I know too many students who don’t have strong enough family connectivity and it’s heart-breaking. Everybody needs a hand sometimes and everybody (including young people like us working hard on our studies) deserves a hand.

I’m a lucky, lucky guy. My parents and I are best pals and our little family stays connected no matter what. My Dad stayed with me last summer and my Mom came to visit me right at the time that I started this blog post! She and I always have a great time together in Toronto and perhaps we can share some of that fun with you too!

A snowy afternoon sky, surrounded by the massive bright signs on all the buildings at Yonge-Dundas Square, with a large silvery ornamental evergreen tree right in the middle

My Mom and I thought the holiday display at Yonge-Dundas Square was pretty cool (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Once she was settled in my apartment after the long flight, my Mom gave me some amazing gifts from the Tsuu T’ina peoples who live just west of Calgary to liven up my place. We also reorganized and redecorated my bachelor-pad. I can’t take all the credit for my home layout; I’ve had an excellent interior designer helping me.

A large dream-catcher with three bundles of feathers, hanging above the bar in my kitchen

A new Tsuu T’ina dream-catcher, chosen special for me by my parents! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Four coasters, hand-woven beige cloth with rich dark blue, turquoise, and orange  imagery

My Mom also gave me these beautiful Tsuu T’ina coasters, among many other little items (Photo by Zachary Biech)

You don’t need family to do this, and if you’re lonely, a change is as good as a rest. Even the little things can make a world of difference. Little things, like moving some furniture, sorting, and redecorating, can have a big impact.

Fancy blue and red decorative boxes placed in a row, with a Métis sash draped over one, on top of my TV stand next to hilarious little Lego sets

Some new interior design mastery atop my TV stand (Photo by Zachary Biech)

One of the shelves in the middle of my apartment, no longer in line with it's larger neighbour, thus freeing up much more space

Shifting this shelf 90 degrees may seem like no big deal, but for a guy who’s used to it the other way, this is life-changing (Photo by Zachary Biech)

There’s a lot of wintertime fun downtown. While we were window shopping on Bloor Street in the Yorkville ritzy area (my Mom loves the awesome window displays; you can’t get those back home!) we even caught a glimpse of a big holiday parade.

A giant metal reindeer standing in a hall in Eaton Centre, with the big skylight as the backdrop

Eaton Centre has these giant holiday reindeer to terrify us into shopping faster (Photo by Zachary Biech)

But there’s even more to this winter wonderland. We toured all over snowy downtown. We even made it to the Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes special exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was massive! Each piece of artwork had a powerful story attached to it and each was more moving than the last. I can’t describe the beauty. You have to see them yourself.

The wavy exterior design of the Art Gallery of Ontario, totally draped in snow

Snowy day at the AGO (photo by Zachary Biech)

The ultra-modern, wavy wooden rafters in behind the AGO's crazy glass exterior

Now we know what that crazy glass part of the AGO looks like from the inside (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Giant printing on the gift shop wall which says "This is the mos important place in the museum"

This giant sign is on the wall in…you guessed it…the gift shop (Photo by Zachary Biech)

We’re entering a time of celebration. Even if you’re on your own, remember: celebrate your home, celebrate what you’re working towards.