Cupcake Love

  • Photos Christian Elliot

Concordia transfer student Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers loves baking, but when she started a cupcake club at McGill University less than a year ago, she had no idea the impact her cupcakes could make.

Starting this fall with a new name and a budget from the Student Society of McGill University, Peace Treats sells cupcakes to clubs at 25 cents per cake for fundraising. All proceeds are then donated to Little Footprints, Big Steps, an organization in Haiti that Des Rosiers worked with in a volunteer trip over the summer.

“I just really love [baking and] helping people and I thought it would be a good way to do both,” said Des Rosiers. Little Footprints, Big Steps focuses on aiding abused children in Haiti. One of their main projects is to build a safe house for these children.

Having worked directly with the children last time she was in Haiti, the decision to donate the Peace Treats proceeds was an easy one. “I’m going back this summer,” she said. “I’m going to see those kids again and I’m going to try and make cupcakes with them.”

But before doing that, she has a whole lot of baking to do.

Last week, Peace Treats threw 600 cupcakes in the oven, selling them to six clubs.

One club, Change for Change, was raising money for Le Refuge des jeunes, which aids homeless youth in Montreal. When clubs donate to a worthy cause, Peace Treats is often able to charge less per cupcake to raise more money, and sometimes they even donate the cakes.

They also donated cupcakes to Somalia Training Aid and Relief, who are holding a 30-hour famine from Sept. 29 to 30 to raise awareness about the ongoing famine in Somalia that has already killed tens of thousands of people.

Besides baking, Peace Treats is also up for some awards. One of them, run by the Aviva Community Fund, will give away a total of $1 million to innovative Canadians who are trying to improve their communities. Another contest, run by Campus Perks, approached Des Rosiers and gave Peace Treats a chance at a $10,000 prize when they compete against other clubs at the end of October.

Peace Treats also has a strong environmental focus, and almost all of the cupcakes they bake are vegan. This is due in part to their use of McGill’s Midnight Kitchen, a vegan soup kitchen similar to the People’s Potato at Concordia.

“I love that our cupcakes are vegan,” Des Rosiers said. A devout vegetarian, as well as an environment and international development student, Des Rosiers is happy to once again combine her passions.

For those who think that there is no way a vegan cupcake can be as delicious as one that uses milk and eggs, try one of Peace Treats’ tasty morsels. Besides the classic chocolate and vanilla, red velvet is another one of their specialties, and last week they experimented, producing a batch of green tea cupcakes. With a slight green tint, a spongy texture and a subtle green tea flavour, this probably will not be the last time they incorporate tea into the mix.

When making orders, which can range anywhere from 20 to 500 cupcakes, Peace Treats is extremely accommodating: they’re happy to include options for people who have allergies or eat gluten-free. “Anything is possible,” Des Rosiers said. “I ask them if they have any requests and if not, I just have fun.”

For Des Rosiers, the real goal of Peace Treats is to spread joy. “Cupcake club is just like a circle of happiness, basically.”

She noted that, besides the pleasure she feels as she bakes all those cupcakes, she is able to make a wide variety of clubs and organizations happy, too. But her main focus will always be on the kids in Haiti. “If they can have a better life, that would make me so happy.”

As Peace Treats continues to develop at McGill, Des Rosiers wants to continue expanding and would like to start a chapter at Concordia in the winter. Beyond that, she sees a potential business opportunity, a social entrepreneurship where she would sell the cupcakes, but still donate money to Haiti.

“There’s another way to do business, and it’s not just NGOs that can do good things,” she said.

Visit facebook.com/peacetreats, follow Peace Treats on Twitter PeaceTreats , or email peacetreatsmcgill@gmail.com if you are interested in getting involved.

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