A Must-See Art Exhibit

Another month, another must-see art exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. This time, it’s Inuk artist Shuvinai Ashoona’s Mapping Worlds, opening on February 22. Her drawings are celebrated for giving a nod to traditional Inuit imagery and combining it with other cultural references, such as horror films, comic books and television. Ashoona’s work is created with ink and coloured pencils, making for a display that enchantingly blends reality and fantasy.

A Cozy Blanket

Merging the coziness of your favourite comforter with the warmth and durability of a sleeping bag, Rumpl’s blankets are made for the outdoors, indoors and everywhere in between. With a variety of prints and a handy pouch for storage and travel, they work whether you’re on a hike or binge-watching The Crown. And for the eco-conscious among us (so, everyone, hopefully), the brand has even redesigned two of its bestselling styles using 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials. (From $130, rumpl.com)

A Pleasurable Read

When was the last time you did something purely for pleasure? If you have to think about your answer for more than a minute, it’s been way too long. That was the realization Canadian writer and talk-show host Cynthia Loyst came to a few years ago, which eventually led to her new book, Find Your Pleasure. The lifestyle tome is a deep dive into every possible way you can add more well-deserved indulgence into your everyday, from celebrating your friends to setting aside time for a bath and a glass of red.

Indigenous Art

Head to the National Gallery of Canada this spring to experience Àbadakone, the second exhibition in the institution’s series of presentations of contemporary international Indigenous art. Performance art, video work and installations enliven various parts of the gallery and are complemented by a program of workshops and film screenings. With works by more than 70 artists identifying with almost 40 Indigenous nations, ethnicities and tribal affiliations from 16 countries, it’s worth more than one visit. Àbadakone|Continuous Fire|Feu continuel runs until April 5, 2020.

A Production of Moulin Rouge

We’d be tangoing into our seats for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of
Moulin Rouge – if only we knew how. Originally choreographed by former principal dancer Jorden Morris for the company’s 70th anniversary in 2009, the vibrant show returns to the stage this month, from February 26 to March 1, telling the story of two lovers seeking destiny at the infamous cabaret.

A Canadian Series 

Are your commute podcasts just not cutting it anymore? Let CBC Gem’s new original comedy series Hey Lady! distract you from the rush-hour-packed train instead. Directed by homegrown talents (including Sarah Polley), it stars Canadian screen veteran Jayne Eastwood (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Lady, a 75-year-old mean-spirited woman/potential icon-in- the-making who refuses to age gracefully—whatever that means. All eight mini-episodes (each is under 10 minutes long) debut on the streaming service on February 14.

PartyNextDoor’s Third Album

Since becoming the first artist signed to Drake’s record label, OVO Sound, in 2013, Canadian rapper and producer Jahron Brathwaite, a.k.a. PartyNextDoor, has firmly established himself as one to watch in hip hop and R&B. After earning two Grammy nominations and co-writing Rihanna’s earworm “Work,” he returns with his third album this winter. The lead single, “Loyal,” even features the boss man himself.

Quick-Dry Nail Polish

Got a minute? Essie is launching the brand’s first-ever quick-dry polish with its Expressie line. Apply a coat using the new angled brush and wait 60 seconds for the fastest polish application you’ll ever experience. Choose from a range of 30 shades for a mani that’s perfectly you. ($10 each, essie.com)

Vegan Shoes

Are your shoes keeping nearly 300,000 plastic bottles out of landfills or helping to clean more than a million litres of lake water? Those are just a couple of the goals of Call It Spring’s debut vegan collection. It’s made using materials like algae and vegan leather, which requires fewer chemicals and emits less carbon dioxide in the manufacturing process. From strappy party-ready heels to cozy shearling-lined boots, there’s a pair to help you take the first step toward a more sustainable closet. (From $40, callitspring.com)

A Must-Read Novel

What happens when a septuagenarian matriarch wins a cruise and gathers up her estranged adult children to spend 10 days traversing the Mediterranean? Well, in Amanda Eyre Ward’s The Jetsetters, years-old family secrets are revealed and old wounds are reopened – so, all the key elements of a good family drama that we’d hate to actually live through ourselves.

Hamilton‘s Canadian Debut

We want to be in the room where…the Canadian premiere of Hamilton happens. The critically acclaimed, Tony Award-winning rap and R&B musical, which follows the life of Alexander Hamilton from his early days as an immigrant from the West Indies to becoming a founding father of the United States, is finally making its way north of the border. We can’t promise an appearance by scribe/OG star Lin- Manuel Miranda when it premieres at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre on February 11 for its three-month run, but we’ll do anything to see the Schuyler sisters in action.

The Perfect Swimwear

It’s never too early to start planning your summer vacay. Known for its line of luxe, refined swimwear, Quebec-based Shan is launching its first clothing collection. The versatile capsule of easy-to-wear pieces is inspired by Japanese modernism—think sleek silhouettes in technical fabrics. It’s your airport, beach and resort outfit all in one. (From $195, shan.ca)

A Joyful Collection

Put the winter layers away for a weekend and lounge by the fire with Christopher Kane’s More Joy collection. Referencing the ever-relevant 1972 manual The Joy of Sex, the Scottish designer has emblazoned everyday objects (think blankets and pyjamas) with mantras and words like “More Joy,” “Sex” and “Special.” It’s a simple but essential reminder that the road to bliss can always be found by staying in. (From $25, christopherkane.com)

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Movie

You can now check “Valentine’s Day plans” off your to-do list thanks to Canadian writer-director Stella Meghie. Her new romantic drama, The Photograph, is a sweeping love story about forgiveness and aptly hits theatres on February 14. Issa Rae stars as a woman looking into the past of her late mother, a renowned photographer, alongside a journalist (Lakeith Stanfield) who is working on a story about her mom. They then fall in love, because, obviously.

A Women-Centric Showcase 

Don’t have plans between February 20th-23rd? We know where we’ll be. Artist Project showcases work from women artists who advocate for women’s issues like representation, politics, and equal rights. Head to Toronto’s Better Living Center to see these powerful pieces first hand.

A Powerful Memoir

In Resilience is Futile, activist Julie Lalonde gives us a candid look at her own experience with domestic violence and takes an in-depth look at the ways women are failed, even when they ask for help. Lalonde’s memoir features real letters from her ex and explains the ways in which we need to take action to take us from survival to safety.

Liz Levine, Canadian film and TV producer, is no stranger to grief.  Reflecting on the heart-breaking deaths of her younger sister and best friend, Levine exposes some unexpected truths about life and death in a honest, funny and raw way. No One Talks About Anything But The End sheds light on mourning and loss while revealing the importance of celebrating life while we can.

This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of ELLE Canada. Subscribe here.