Future barbers? Montreal high school students learn how to cut hair

It may be the last place you think of high school students doing an extracurricular activity.

After school, twice a week, a group of Montreal teenagers are learning the clips of the trade at Quality Cuts West Island.

Austin Russo picked up a pair of shears for the first time a few months ago. He is only 13 years old.

“I cut my dad’s hair. He is like, ‘Do you want to cut my hair?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ And then after that day, I just fell in love with it.”

He says he loves how cutting hair can transform a person. As of next week, the Grade 8 student will be a certified barber.

He is among a small group of students at his high school who are completing a 10-week program, learning everything from basic techniques like parting and sectioning hair, to what it’s like to run a barber shop.

“A lot of people think you can only start doing things for your future when you’re older, but I can start at 15, you know? Why not start young?” said Grade 10 student Kevin Patel.

“You get to talk to people, hear everyone’s stories, it’s not for everyone but personally I enjoy what I’m doing,” he said.

Patel said he told his friends he’s going to cut their hair and start charging them to make a little money on the side.

“I’ve had a part-time job during the summer, but I feel like this is better than a part-time job because it’s something I actually enjoy doing,” he said.

The course is done on the students’ own time, with costs covered by the Lester B. Pearson School Board.

Their teachers want them to see that success doesn’t just come in the form of a university degree.

“This is, first off, a great way for kids to see what they might be interested in. We also know there are great vocational programs that pay just as much,” said Roberto Esperance, John Rennie High School French teacher and extracurricular activities co-ordinator.

“Students aren’t going to remember the French grammar I taught them, but they’ll definitely take this experience with them further in life.”

Russo hopes to start taking clients at home in his garage.

“He better be giving me a discount, I don’t know yet,” his father, Anthony Russo, said with a laugh, to which Austin promised he would.

It’s perhaps the start of a career, a part-time job or maybe a hobby empowering the next generation to be a cut above.

Life expectancy for Canadians fell in 2022 for third year in a row, says StatCan


Life expectancy for Canadians decreased for the third straight year in 2022, and more people died of COVID-19 than in any other year since the pandemic began, according to a report released Monday.

Statistics Canada’s analysis of deaths last year shows the average Canadian’s life expectancy dropped to 81.3 years in 2022, a full year lower than the 82.3 years recorded in 2019.

“Life expectancy declines when there are more deaths, when deaths occur at younger ages, or a combination of both,” the report said.

COVID-19 became the third-leading cause of death for Canadians last year, overtaking accidents and unintentional injuries for the first time since the disease emerged in 2020.

“This increase may in part be due to the exposure to new highly transmissible COVID-19 variants and the gradual return to normalcy,” the report said, pointing to reduced restrictions and the elimination of masking requirements.

Cancer and heart disease were the first and second most common causes of mortality, accounting for 41.8 per cent of all deaths in 2022.

New Brunswick saw the biggest decline in life expectancy among provinces, dropping more than a year to 79.8 years from 80.9 in 2021, the report said. Saskatchewan’s life expectancy has fallen the most over the past three years combined, dropping a full two years to 78.5 in 2022 from 80.5 in 2019. Prince Edward Island was not included in the yearly data breakdowns by province.

An increase in deaths among younger people last year was attributable in part to deaths under investigation by a coroner or medical examiner, which typically include suicides, homicides and drug toxicity deaths.

More than 19,700 Canadians died of COVID-19 last year, Statistics Canada said. Seniors bore the brunt of the increase, with those aged 80 and older seeing a 78-per-cent jump in COVID deaths last year compared to the year before.

People aged 65 and older accounted for 91.4 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in 2022, the report said.

In Atlantic Canada, the rate of COVID-19 deaths in Atlantic Canada was more than seven times higher last year compared with the year before – the highest jump in any region of the country, the statistics agency said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2023.

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 Deciding on Your Focal Point
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Repetition for Rhythm
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Perfect Proportion and Suitable Scaling
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What is the focal point in your room?  What is your best tip to find harmony and balance through your home?