From March 17-19, the McGill Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) hosted Meals for Milton-Parc Week in collaboration with Meals for Milton-Parc, a community-based project that aims to support unhoused individuals in the Milton-Parc neighbourhood, and Jam for Justice, a McGill based non-profit student organization that facilitates social-development and well-being through music.
The week featured several events, including a peyote stitch beading workshop and a coffee house. Organizers held a pay-what-you-can raffle for three prizes, one of which included a donation to Meals for Milton-Parc in the winner’s name. All proceeds from the week went directly to fund the continuation of Meals for Milton-Parc’s initiatives.
Thursday’s beading workshop was led by Maïlys Flamand, a member of the Ilnu and Atikamekw First Nations. Flamand works for Native Montreal, an organization that provides cultural services, healthcare, and employment aid to Indigenous communities within Greater Montreal. As a cultural animator for Native Montreal, Flamand oversees the organization’s craft workshops that allow participants to learn about different Indigenous artistic techniques. All of the materials for Thursday’s beading workshop were sourced from Beaded Dreams, an Indigenous-owned arts and craft store in Ottawa.
In an email to The McGill Tribune, Sophie Hart, U3 Arts and founder of Meals for Milton-Parc, spoke about the importance of highlighting Indigenous art through the beading event.
“We decided to do an event and include [Flamand] to raise awareness and cultural appreciation for Indigenous artworks as many of our unhoused neighbours [in Montreal] are Indigenous,” Hart said. “This way, an Indigenous artist gets to share their knowledge while being paid and students get to learn their expertise and about their culture through an appreciative lens.”
Friday’s coffee house event featured local artists who performed pre-recorded sets. While most artists performed acoustic-style in front of their camera, some opted to showcase visuals with their performances. Notably, Bozobaby, a multi-instrumental singer and songwriter, played a produced music video during their set, which featured them with friends wandering through the city’s streets.
ASUS was in the process of planning a similar charity coffee house event last spring, but called off the event with the onset of the pandemic. Mendell was pleased to see the event come to fruition this year.
“It went from just a coffee house event to […] two and a half events, [and] it grew from there,” Mendell said.
Mendell explained that once organizers decided they wanted to host a coffee house event, Jam for Justice seemed the obvious organization to partner with. Sadie Bryant, U0 Arts and first year representative for Jam for Justice, enjoyed collaborating with ASUS.
“For this event, it was amazing to get to work with ASUS,” Bryant wrote to the //Tribune//. “They put a lot of work into organizing the event and provided the funding for raffle prizes.”
Artists who performed with Jam for Justice were compensated by the ASUS. According to Hart, the collaboration between Meals for Milton-Parc, Jam for Justice, and ASUS showcased the organizing and fundraising potential held by student-led organizations.
“The […] event with Jam for Justice is a community-building event and a time for people who will be coming to learn about […] our organizations and the work we do,” Hart said. “I think this week of events is a great way to show the possibilities of clubs and organizations coming together.”