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2019 Spring Convocation Graduation Lists are here!

Thu, 2019-05-02 21:32


Congratulations to all who have graduated. We look forward to making it official on Sunday! 

For all the information related to Spring Convocation, including links to the live webcast, click here.



2019 Morning Ceremony Graduate List 2019 Morning Ceremony Graduate List

Degrees: Masters of Science, Education and Adult
 Education; Bachelors of Education, Science, Nursing, Human Nutrition,
 Human Kinetics; Diplomas in Engineering and Integrated Dietetic Internship. 



2019 Afternoon Ceremony Graduate List 2019 Afternoon Ceremony Graduate List

Degrees: Masters of Arts, Bachelors of Arts, Business Administration, Music and Diplomas in Jazz Studies.


Medal Winners for both Morning and Afternoon Ceremonies: 

2019 Convocation Medal Winners 2019 Convocation Medal Winners


StFX professor receives $100,000 grant to explore how to improve community-based search and rescue in Canada’s North

Thu, 2019-05-02 14:48
Dr. Peter Kikkert

StFX’s Dr. Peter Kikkert, the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy at the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, has received a $100,000 grant to explore how to improve community-based search and rescue (SAR) and emergency response capabilities in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut.    

Dr. Kikkert, who teaches in StFX’s Public Policy and Government Program and in the History Department, received the highly competitive Early Career Faculty Grant from the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR). 

With maritime activity increasing throughout the waters of the Canadian Arctic—everything from local small craft carrying hunters and fishers, to cruise ships, vessels supporting resource development, and pleasure craft—effective community-based SAR and emergency response capabilities have never been more essential, Dr. Kikkert says. 

“A community approach is crucial in the North where the population is dispersed over vast distances and federal response capabilities are limited,” he says. “In the Kitikmeot communities of Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Cambridge Bay, and Kugluktuk, search and rescue and emergency response involves a complex web of governmental organizations, community groups and individuals.”

“The number of groups, organizations and individuals involved in community-based search and rescue and emergency response raises important questions about their abilities to coordinate efforts and leverage training, skills, abilities and equipment,” he says. 

Dr. Kikkert says he is absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity. Carrying out research in the North can be very expensive and this work would not be possible without the grant, he says.

“It’s absolutely essential to do this research, to be in the community, listening to and learning from the actual practitioners on the ground. This grant has opened that door, providing for travel, the hiring of community research associates and translators, honorarium for participants, and other workshop costs.”

The amount of funding also means Dr. Kikkert will be able to take two StFX undergraduate student research assistants with him to the North each year of the project. 

This year, third year political science student Marcus Cuomo and third year aquatic resources student Brenna Martell will accompany Dr. Kikkert to Nunavut in August for about a month to complete the community portion of the project. 

The project will begin with capacity-mapping workshops held in the communities, which will bring organizations together to determine assets and resources available to a community, identify untapped or unrecognized resources and register collective and individual capacities, ranging from who is involved in SAR and emergency response, to the existence of defined response procedures, first-aid skills, equipment, infrastructure, and completed training.

“Effective capacity-mapping takes a potential-oriented approach, highlighting a community’s strengths, and allows for future efforts to be built on those strengths.” 

This horizontal capacity-mapping will then be used to facilitate capability-based planning workshops, he says, which will determine whether a community has the assets it requires to respond to the wide array of emergencies it might face. 

To facilitate these workshops, Dr. Kikkert will work with community research associates as well as StFX undergraduates Ms. Martell and Mr. Cuomo. Academic collaborators include Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in the Study of the Canadian North at Trent University and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group; Leah Beveridge (MMM), a graduate of StFX, now a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University; and Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security at StFX. 

“Dr. Lackenbauer and I spent much of April in the communities introducing the project, meeting with the different groups involved in SAR and emergency response,” noted Dr. Kikkert. 

“It is incredible how engaged and involved many of these community members are in these efforts. We met individuals who are Canadian Rangers, in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, are part of CASARA, and members of their community search and rescue organizations. They volunteer tremendous amounts of time preparing for situations where they might have to save the lives of community members, but also tourists and scientists and other southerners travelling on the land, water, and ice. They are incredibly dedicated and skilled, and they have a strong desire to improve their individual and group capabilities, to train more, and to coordinate more effectively. We hope that this project will contribute to these efforts by assessing existing capacity, defining best practices, streamlining and improving training, resources, equipment, and identifying key areas for further capacity-building.”

Dr. Kikkert has extensive experience working in and studying the North. He not only focused his graduate studies on Arctic policy issues, he lived in the North for a couple of years, teaching at Aurora College, and has been out on the land with Elders and community members in Nunavut, Yukon, and the NWT. 

In fact, life has come full circle: Dr. Kikkert made his first trip to the North as an undergraduate research student assistant with former professor, and now collaborator, Dr. Lackenbauer. Now, Dr. Kikkert is taking undergraduate students of his own there. 

“I really hope to create an interest at StFX in the North, in Arctic studies, and in the study of community resiliency more generally,” he says. 

Ultimately, Dr. Kikkert says he and his colleagues anticipate that improvements to local capability will heighten the effectiveness and efficiency of SAR and emergency response practices in Arctic communities, and, most importantly, contribute to community resilience, improve response times, and save lives. By extension, he says improvements to SAR and emergency response capabilities will help communities mitigate the impacts of climate change and increasing human activity in the Arctic.

StFX student wins cost of X-Ring in annual satisfaction survey

Tue, 2019-04-30 11:40
L-r, Dr. Kevin Wamsley, StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost, and Hanna Bergman

Hanna Bergman of Stouffville, ON, who graduates from StFX with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in philosophy and a minor in development studies, has received some good news—she’s won the cost of her X-Ring thanks to her participation in an annual survey for senior students.

The survey, administered by the Academic Vice-President & Provost’s office and the Office of Institutional Analysis, measures student satisfaction and experience. All those who participate are eligible for a prize draw to win the cost of their X-Ring. The prize is provided by the office of Dr. Kevin Wamsley, StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost. 

The survey collects data on all aspects of the student experience from academics to extracurricular from a senior student perspective. The feedback received is important to decisions made all over campus. 

“My experience at StFX was one of immense growth,” Ms. Bergman says. “I look back at the person I was coming here and who am I now and am astounded by my own personal development.”

She says she was drawn to StFX for its reputation above all. In researching potential universities, she says StFX was the only one in which she couldn’t find anyone who said their experience was less than stellar. “In addition to the rave reviews and beautiful campus, I was also super interested in the social justice colloquium and the valuable work of the Coady,” she says. 

“I’m very thankful for my academic education here at X. I’m thankful for professors who truly care about the success of their students, for all the great faculty members who encouraged me to follow my passions, to ask hard questions, and to think critically about a lot of the unexamined parts of our culture. Every time I put the X-Ring on my finger, I’m reminded of the lessons I’ve learned here as well as the person I’ve grown to become.” 

Ms. Bergman says to her, the X-Ring is representative of the Xaverian community at large, a symbol of solidarity, and a reminder of life at X.

“I do believe I received the premier undergraduate experience here and am excited to soon be joining Canada’s strongest alumni network.” 

New milestones: StFX Spring Convocation celebrates Class of 2019; honorary degree recipients Dr. Stan Kutcher and Congrégation de Notre-Dame

Fri, 2019-04-26 15:01
Convocation (seen here in a previous year) is a day of celebration on the StFX campus. This year, over 900 students will graduate in morning and afternoon ceremonies on May 5, 2019.

It is one of the biggest celebratory days of the year at St. Francis Xavier University. After years of hard work and dedication, a new generation of leaders will leave StFX to carve out new pathways. On Sunday, May 5th, over 900 graduates will receive degrees and diplomas during morning and afternoon ceremonies at Spring Convocation 2019. 

StFX will bestow two honorary degrees during Spring Convocation. During the morning ceremony, Dr. Stan Kutcher, a leading psychiatrist and professor, will be honoured for his work in helping manage major mental illnesses in youth. In the afternoon, the Congrégation de Notre-Dame (CND) will be recognized for its work in the value of liberating education to create a more just society.

Major awards will also be presented during the two ceremonies. These will include the designation of Professor Emeritus bestowed upon StFX psychology faculty Dr. Peter Henke and Dr. John Edwards; Outstanding Teaching Awards presented to education professor Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, psychology professor Dr. Karen Blair, and education professor Dr. Chris Gilham; and the President’s Research Award to English professor Dr. Mathias Nilges.

Senior class speakers are Sarah Comandante of Calgary, AB, and Karen Nembhard of Jamaica.

The morning ceremony gets underway at 9 a.m. at the Charles V. Keating Centre. The afternoon ceremony will start at 3 p.m.  

Biographies of honorary degree and award recipients follow below. 

Dr. Stan Kutcher, Honorary Degree recipient

Convocation-Stan Kutcher-MyStFX.jpg

Dr. Stan Kutcher is a leading psychiatrist and professor who has helped young people successfully manage major mental illnesses. In December 2018, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada. Dr. Kutcher studied history and political science before earning a medical degree from McMaster University. He continued his education in Toronto and in Edinburgh, Scotland before joining the University of Toronto, where he made the first of many major contributions to Canadian health care, taking Sunnybrook Hospital’s adolescent psychiatry division and transforming it into an innovative clinical and research facility. He also pioneered research into the causes of and treatments for youth with major mental illnesses. Dr. Kutcher then became Head of the Psychiatry Department at Dalhousie University followed by appointments as Associate Dean for International Heath and the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health. He has published over 400 articles and authored, co-authored or edited numerous books, and has shared his expertise with organizations in over 20 countries. Dr. Kutcher is also involved in his community. He’s served on the boards of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Spryfield Boys and Girls Club. He led the development of a national youth mental health framework for Canada as a member of the Child and Youth Advisory Committee of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Among numerous honours, he’s received the Order of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Naomi Rae-Grant and Paul D. Steinhauer Advocacy awards, the McMaster University Distinguished Alumni Award and the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada’s John Ruedy Award for Innovation in Medical Education. Dr. Kutcher is married to Jan Sheppard Kutcher. They live in Herring Cove, NS, and have three adult children and six grandchildren.

Congrégation de Notre-Dame, Honorary Degree recipient

Convocation-CND-MyStFX (002).jpg The Congrégation de Notre-Dame (CND) has always believed in the value of liberating education. Such an education empowers students, providing them with the tools to become agents of their own transformation, to create a more just society. The CND’s long and valued association with StFX stretches back decades. The “convent school” founded in 1883 at Mount St. Bernard was affiliated with Saint Francis Xavier College as early as 1897 when arts degrees were conferred upon four women. Over the next decade, there would be 23 graduates; by 1930, over 200. The CND had a great desire to respond to the needs of women seeking post-secondary education. The vision and persistence of these women along with the support of Bishop John Cameron and his co-workers at StFX made this dream a reality. In the 1920s, courses designed specifically for women were established: pedagogy; domestic science (a program introduced by the CND); social work; advanced work in music, art and elocution; and language. The first two degrees in household arts were granted in 1932. The CND remained the only faculty for home economics until the 1970s. As more women, including sisters, gained access to higher education, their vocational/professional possibilities expanded. Sister St. Veronica (MacDonald) joined StFX as a history professor in 1937. She was the first CND and the first woman to be a StFX faculty member. By 1971, 20 sisters were full-time staff. They taught in many departments—home economics, music, art, education, theology, English, business, classics, French and Celtic studies, where Sister Margaret MacDonell became chair in 1977. Throughout, the CND contribution to StFX has been exceptional.

Dr. Peter Henke, Professor Emeritus  

Dr. Peter Henke served as a faculty member in StFX’s Psychology Department for 44 years. He came to StFX in 1972, joining a small group creating a more research focused department with an entirely new curriculum. He was an instrumental part of this process, including putting in place the department’s first formal laboratory-oriented course. His career as a researcher included over 80 publications in prestigious academic journals and in prominent books on neuroscience. Many are acknowledged as important contributions to neuroscience. For three decades, he maintained research funding, from NSERC primarily, but also from the Medical Research Council of Canada (now CIHR). As a teacher, he inspired a generation of students who went on to successful careers. Over his career, Dr. Henke served as department chair, and was a member of virtually all department and major university committees. More broadly, he served on the editorial board of Experimental and Clinical Gastroenterology, on the scientific advisory board of the International Brain-Gut Society, and on NSERC’s Scholarships and Fellowships (Life Sciences) Committee. He holds a PhD from the University of Georgia and an MA and BA from Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. John Edwards. Professor Emeritus 

Dr. John Edwards joined the StFX Psychology Department in 1977. He retired in 2015 and is currently a Senior Research Professor. Throughout his career, he served with dedication and distinction, and established himself as an outstanding and prolific scholar. In 2000, he was elected into the Royal Society of Canada, the highest honour available to scholars in Canada. Among his many other achievements, Dr. Edwards is also a fellow of both the Canadian Psychological Association and the British Psychological Society; he is a recipient of both of StFX’s awards for excellence in research, receiving the President’s Research Award in 1995 and the University Research Award in 2008; he has authored, co-authored or edited 21 books, and around 500 journal articles; he has received invitations to present his research findings and related views at conferences and universities in dozens of countries around the globe; he served for decades as the editor of The Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, as well as the editor of the series, Multilingual Matters. He holds a PhD and MA from McGill University and a BA from the University of Western Ontario. 

Dr. Mathias Nilges, 2019 President’s Research Award

Dr. Mathias Nilges, a StFX English professor since 2008, has in just over a decade, established a laudable record of achievement, positioning him as one of the pre-eminent literary and cultural critics of his generation. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he won the 2009 University of Illinois at Chicago Outstanding Dissertation Award. He has been appointed an Obama Fellow, Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany, May/June, 2019, and is a Jules Léger Scholar in the Humanities and Social Sciences at StFX. In 2018, he was named director of StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership. A frequently invited keynote speaker, he was the prestigious Rheney Lecturer at Vanderbilt University. He was also the driving force behind The Examined Life Lab, a student-led online lab at StFX. He is the author of three monographs, including one in preparation, and numerous edited collections, edited journal volumes, articles, book chapters, reviews, and translations. He has been actively involved in the StFX community, from serving as the Chair, Faculty of Arts to an Immersion Serving Learning faculty leader.  

Dr. Karen Blair, 2019 Outstanding Teaching Award

Dr. Karen Blair, assistant professor of psychology, joined the StFX faculty in 2015. Already she’s had significant impact. Dozens of student nominators praise her extensive knowledge, innovative use of technology in the classroom, approachability and teaching style. “The quality I most admire is her ever-present desire to go above and beyond what is expected, with the sincere intent to enrich her students’ educational experience,” writes one. “I am a better critical thinker, writer and person because of learning from her,” says another. Dr. Blair incorporates service learning in her classes and led an Immersion Service Learning experience to Europe to learn about the Holocaust. She’s also provided opportunities for students to present their research at national conferences. Dr. Blair completed a CIHR Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Utah, and holds a PhD in social psychology from Queen’s University, a Diploma in Instructional Design from Athabasca University, a MSc from Acadia University and a BA, University of Guelph. She’s been successful in obtaining research funding, and is chair of the Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Issues Section of the Canadian Psychological Association. 

Dr. Chris Gilham, 2019 Outstanding Teaching Award

StFX Faculty of Education associate professor Dr. Chris Gilham has worked as an educator for over 20 years. At StFX, he co-directs and teaches in the Master of Education with a focus on mental health education. He also teaches inclusion and mental health education in the Bachelor of Education program. Prior to this, he taught grades three to nine in regular and special education settings in Japan, Ontario, and Alberta, and has worked as a behaviour and mental health consultant for the Calgary Board of Education. Dr. Gilham is involved in several mental health literacy projects with as well as a project investigating girls’ developmental assets, with partners at New Brunswick Community College and the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre. He is described by his students as a professor, mentor and role model who has an ability to foster a sense of community in his class, and through focused leadership, influences and supports his students to work at their personal best.

Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, 2019 Outstanding Teaching Award

Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner is an associate professor of assessment, literacy, and qualitative research methods in StFX’s Faculty of Education. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Alberta, a MEd from StFX, a BEd from Mount Allison University, and a BA from the University of King’s College. Prior to university teaching, she taught in secondary schools in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Turkey. Her research interests include adolescent literacies, disciplinary literacies, classroom assessment, pre-service teachers and LGBTQ education, teachers as researchers, and teacher/student experiences in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. In addition, she works closely with Nova Scotian teachers as part of professional outreach initiatives. Praises one nominator: “her diverse field experiences, her masterful content knowledge, her engaging and culturally relevant courses and activities, as well as her friendly and supportive personality have taught many of us graduating this year what it means to be an effective educator.” 

StFX students enjoying success with Bank of Canada

Thu, 2019-04-25 10:18

Prior to arriving at StFX in 2010, Dr. Greg Tkacz spent eighteen years at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa. His work with the Bank studied the correlation between financial markets and the economy, and his teaching at StFX aims to increase students’ awareness of the interconnectedness of real-world events and their economic implications. Over the past decade, Dr. Tkacz has driven the growth of the Department of Economics by creating a platform from which some of StFX’s finest students have launched.  

Dr. Tkacz and his colleagues take great care to follow the careers of their graduates, and current students are often reminded that their predecessors have achieved stunning success in post-graduate programs and in professional careers – as in the case of Gabrielle Vasey, currently completing a PhD in economics at the University of Pennsylvania, or Michael Thomson, a senior analyst in California providing expert witness reports in health insurance, finance, and intellectual property disputes. There have been more than fifty honours students in Economics in the past four years, and the department keeps a close eye on their careers beyond StFX, using this information to inspire and drive current students.  

One of the most remarkable achievements of Dr. Tkacz and the faculty of the Department of Economics, though, has been the consistent placement of graduates with the Bank of Canada. Since 2014, seven StFX students have been chosen as Research Assistants with the Bank – a number that is remarkable for a small, undergraduate university in Nova Scotia. Each year, the Bank of Canada receives 600-700 applicants for 10-20 positions, and StFX has had at least one successful applicant each year. Dr. Tkacz notes that the feedback from the Bank is “outstanding”: “our students were highly-touted right off the bat, and then did outstanding work while they were there.”  

Casey Jones was the first successful applicant, in 2014. She stayed with the Bank for two years, as a Research Assistant. The Bank supported her study at Carleton University, and she is now an economist with Finance Canada. She was conscious of the importance of proving herself in a tough field: “Going to the Bank as an RA, I knew I was the first from StFX. I wanted to make a great impression not only for my career but also to show that the StFX Economics Department could produce students of equal quality to larger academic institutions.” 

Bethany Madsen and Kirsten Gallant both successfully applied to the Bank in 2018, making them the sixth and seventh Research Assistants from StFX. Remarkably, of the seven, four have been athletes on the StFX Rowing team (as were Vasey and Thomson): Jones, Megan MacDonald, Matt Cormier, and Madsen.  

Madsen sees clear parallels between rowing and an honours degree in economics: “In both cases, I went in knowing they were going to be difficult. But when you’re close with your teammates, you think, If they can do it, I can do it. It’s the same in economics. I used to have very bad math anxiety. Now I think, Give me a derivative. There’s a safety net of people that are going through the same things.”  

As she wove through the application process for the Bank of Canada position, Madsen was strongly encouraged by her former rowing teammate, Matt Cormier. He’d had the same role in 2016-2017, and went on to do an MA at Queen’s; he now works in Competition Economics at Charles River Associates in Toronto. Cormier notes: “Lochaber Lake was the most important classroom to me during my time at StFX. The lessons I learnt there about perseverance, work ethic, time management, and approaching challenges analytically and purposefully are as essential to my pursuits after leaving campus as they were to my academic work outside of rowing. Being surrounded by a group of motivated student-athletes who were working towards big goals – both in and outside of sport – made me push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of doing.”  

Dr. Katie Edwards, coach of the StFX Rowing club and assistant professor of English, is not surprised that so many of her athletes have also enjoyed academic success. “Like Greg,” she says, “I keep track of our graduates. There is a strong and direct correlation between the personality type that produces good rowers, and that which produces good students: driven, self-motivated, and possessing an enormous capacity for hard work.”  

She is proud of the achievements of her rowers, but also expresses admiration for Dr. Tkacz and his colleagues: “I think the faculty members in Economics are doing phenomenal work. They set a very high bar for their students – and then work with them until they reach it. Greg and his colleagues are among the very best faculty members at StFX.”

Celebrating legacy of leadership

Thu, 2019-04-25 10:15
Dr. Dave Risk


At the recent National Dinner EAST, in Halifax, we celebrated the legacy of leadership that StFX cultivates. We were especially delighted to share with our guests the work of Dr. Dave Risk, the Altus Group Chair in Emissions Research and a member of the faculty in the Earth Sciences department. Through the research projects in Dr. Risk’s Flux Lab, dozens of students in the last decade have gained incomparable experience working in the field in such diverse geographic landscapes as Norway, Alaska, and Saskatchewan. Dr. Risk’s emissions-detecting technology has caused considerable excitement in both the academic and private sectors, but it is his tireless work with StFX students that has cemented his reputation as one of our finest professors.  

X-Ring symbol of membership in Xaverian family—and sometimes much more

Thu, 2019-04-25 10:11

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of the Extraordinary.

The X-ring is a symbol of the bearer’s membership in the Xaverian family. Sometimes, though, the ring has much greater family significance. 

By the time Adrian MacKenzie married Alison Aucoin in the early 1950s, he’d served in the Second World War, completed his undergraduate degree at StFX, and was deep into his medical studies at Dalhousie. The young couple had little spare cash, but Alison saved diligently in order to finally purchase the coveted X-ring as a surprise for her new husband. She bought it, as she recalls, for between thirty and forty dollars, from Birks in Halifax. It had no inscription other than the year she bought it: 1950.  

When their first son, Michael, was born in 1955, Adrian was now Dr. MacKenzie, well on his way to becoming a renowned pathologist.  

As Adrian and Alison added four more sons and two daughters to their growing family, Dr. MacKenzie’s career similarly expanded: he became the head of clinical chemistry at Dalhousie in 1960, and developed world-class facilities at the Pathology Institute of the Victoria General Hospital.  

Unfortunately, Dr. MacKenzie succumbed to colon cancer in 1970, at the age of 46, leaving behind his beloved Alison and their seven children. He’d worn his X-ring until the day he died.  

The ring was given to one of Dr. MacKenzie’s brothers, who lived in Newfoundland and who had also studied at StFX. And when he passed, the ring was offered to a brother-in-law, also named Adrian – although that Adrian had no connection to StFX.  

Dr. MacKenzie’s eldest son, Michael, became a physician himself, and with his wife, Judy, raised his family in Antigonish, where he continues to practice medicine. They named their first son after Michael’s father, who’d passed when the younger Dr. MacKenzie was only fourteen.  

There was no mention of the long-forgotten X-ring until the second Adrian MacKenzie, Dr. MacKenzie’s grandson, was about to graduate from StFX. His grandmother, Alison, wondered what had become of the ring, and contacted her brother-in-law, now living in New York state, to ask him about it. The ring, at that point, had been missing from the immediate family for 31 years. 

After much digging, the ring was discovered in a box in the attic, somewhat worse for wear. The brother-in-law shipped it back to Nova Scotia, and Alison had it refurbished before presenting it to her grandson in advance of the X-ring ceremony in December of 2001. It needed to be resized, so her grandson took the opportunity to add an inscription: “Adrian MacKenzie” -- both his name and the name of the original wearer of the ring. He added his graduation year, too – 2002. 

The significance of the ring is not lost on the younger Adrian, who recently completed a PhD in community health at Memorial University (thus becoming yet another Dr. MacKenzie). “Other than my wedding ring,” he notes, “it is the only material possession that I care about.” It does not come off his finger.  

Alison, still living in Halifax, sees her grandson often, occasionally confusing him for her own Adrian, her love. And, she’ll pat his hand, telling him “that ring is where it belongs.” She would know: in addition to her husband and brother-in-law, two of her children (Paul and Audrey) studied here, and five other grandchildren (Beth ’03, Mark ’05, Catherine ’06, Alison ’11, and Angela ’15, ’18) have degrees from StFX – a perfect legacy for the first Dr. MacKenzie.

Double win: Two StFX Schwartz School of Business students each receive $25,000 Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies

Mon, 2019-03-04 10:01
L-r, Emma Logan and Liam Elbourne

It’s excellence recognized. And good news, times two.  

Emma Logan and Liam Elbourne, both StFX Gerald Schwartz School of Business students, have each been awarded $25,000 as recipients of the 2019 Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies.

They are among eight exceptional business students, studying at Atlantic Canadian universities, to receive the award this year. The award was started in 1989 to support the development of future business leaders and business programs in Atlantic Canadian universities. The award recipients were chosen by a Board of Directors, comprised of Atlantic Canadian business and academic leaders, from over 30 finalists based on entrepreneurial experience and interest, academic standing, extracurricular and community activities, and career aspirations. 

“Since 1989, the Frank H. Sobey Awards have been awarded to 181 emerging business leaders from Atlantic Canada. Every year, our Board is overwhelmed by the talent, leadership and entrepreneurialism shining through students at Atlantic Canadian Business Schools. The talent that these young business minds bring to this region is inspiring to us all.” said Paul D. Sobey, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies. 

It is the first time StFX has had two recipients of this prestigious award in the same year.  

“My faculty colleagues and I could not be more pleased to have Emma and Liam selected as 2019 Sobeys Scholars,” says Schwartz School Dean of Business Dr. Tim Hynes. 

“They are terrific ambassadors for the Schwartz School of Business; outstanding students who are socially engaged, giving back to their communities. They could not be more deserving of this recognition and we are proud to have them as students in our program.”

Both students say they are thrilled to receive the award, and credit StFX for its transformational impact. 

“I am truly honoured to join the alumni of the Frank H. Sobey Award and proud to do so as a Schwartz School of Business student,” says Ms. Logan, a fourth year business student from Halifax, NS, taking an advanced major in finance.

“The opportunities I have had at StFX have been beyond what I imagined coming here four years ago. My experience and success at StFX would not have been possible without the incredible community of students and faculty that I am surrounded with. This award opens up so many doors for me and feels like the greatest launch in to my post-grad pursuits to being successful in business.” 

Mr. Elbourne, also from Halifax, NS, is in the last year of a joint honours degree in business and economics. In November 2018, he was named as StFX’s newest Rhodes Scholar. 

"I am absolutely thrilled to have won the Frank H. Sobey Award for Excellence in Business Studies,” he says. “For starters, being recognized as one of the top business students in Atlantic Canada amongst so many other driven and talented individuals is a tremendous honour. Additionally, this award provides me with the financial freedom to get the most out of my next steps after graduating from StFX." 

Both students have excelled during their time at StFX. Bios for each follow below: 

Emma Logan 

Ms. Logan, a fourth year Schwartz School finance student from Halifax, NS, has had an impressive four years at StFX. Along with her studies, she has started an initiative that gives new purpose to old hearing aids. She launched Hearing for All and is collecting used hearing devices, having them refurbished, and donated to areas in the world that need them. Ms. Logan, who lost her own hearing while just 13 months old after contracting meningitis, wants to increase access and affordability. She has partnered with Calgary, AB-based audiology charity Gift of Hearing, and in April 2019, they will travel to Yamasá, an agricultural community in the Dominican Republic where Gift of Hearing has an audiology clinic with the aim of bringing 1,000 hearing devices. “This has been an invaluable experience for me as I am bridging my academic skills to connect with the community. As a self-initiated project, I have built relationships and created partnerships with individuals and organizations. I have learned to navigate the hearing health industry, connecting with hearing aid users, hearing health professionals, and top executives of Canada’s leading hearing aid manufacturers,” she says. Additionally, the StFX Enactus student society has selected her Hearing for All initiative as one of its student-run projects. She is the project manager and leads a team of 20 student volunteers. 

Ms. Logan has also received a prestigious Wallace Family Internship at StFX in 2018, offered through the StFX Innovation and Enterprise Centre. The internship supports students who have an enterprise idea and are interested in starting a new venture. It provides funding to support full-time employment for 12 weeks. 

She has furthered her learning, participating in a StFX international exchange to Bond University in Australia, and on campus, has used her leadership skills to help fellow students discover their ability to create and innovate early in their degrees through her work as VP Communications of the StFX Entrepreneurship Society, and co-facilitator of Sandbox Discover.

She has been actively involved with athletics as well. Ms. Logan is a member and has skipped the StFX curling team. She was part of the team that made StFX history, winning its first AUS Curling Championship and earning a spot at the USports National Championship where they placed sixth. 

Ms. Logan is an ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation, advocating for others with disabilities by promoting accessibility and inclusion in school communities. 

She is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2018 Frank Algar Scholarship, awarded by the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association to a strong advocate for the hard of hearing community. She received ‘First in Class’ honours in 2017, presented to the student who achieved the highest mark in the international business class at Bond University, Australia; and is a 2017 Alexander Graham Bell Scholarship recipient, awarded for academic achievement and leadership.

Additionally, she is a recipient of the Benedict Mulroney Scholarship, awarded by StFX for academic excellence, leadership and service to others; the 2017 recipient of the Export Development Canada’s International Business Scholarship, awarded to a student furthering their studies in international business and in excellent academic standing; and the 2017 R.W. Pugh Fair Play and Sportsmanship Award, voted by peers and awarded to a female athlete at the USports Curling Championship. She’s received the Sister Catherine MacNeil Award for the outstanding female freshman student at StFX; the Angus Macgillivray Bursary awarded by StFX’s art department to a student with outstanding studio production and promise in the visual arts; and the Young Woman of the Year, 2015, awarded by the Deaf Youth Association of Nova Scotia.

Liam Elbourne

Liam Elbourne, a Schwartz School of Business student from Halifax, NS taking joint honours in business and economics, has had an exceptional student career at StFX. In November 2018, he was named as StFX’s newest Rhodes Scholar. The scholarship is widely considered one of the world’s most prestigious awards, valued at over $100,000, and enabling recipients to study at the University of Oxford. Only 11 students from across Canada are annually selected.  

Mr. Elbourne garnered international attention for his research. In June 2018, he presented his paper “Shocks to Military Support and Subsequent Assassinations in Ancient Rome,” co-authored with former StFX economics professor Cornelius Christian, at the 52nd annual conference of the Canadian Economics Association at McGill University. He was the only active undergraduate student to present in a regular session at this conference, which featured almost 1,000 presenters.

The paper was subsequently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Economics Letters, a highly-respected outlet that has published the work of many past Nobel Prize recipients. Full-length stories about this research appeared in some of the world’s leading outlets, including The Smithsonian magazine, The Economist and The Telegraph. 

Mr. Elbourne is also captain of the X-Men soccer team, and volunteers extensively within the StFX and Antigonish communities.

He was the top ranked business student at StFX in the 2017-18 academic year with a 94.25 per cent average. He has been on the StFX Dean’s List, received annual in-house scholarships, and the StFX Athletic Director's Award for academic achievement in 2016-17. He is a four-time U SPORTS academic all-Canadian.

He has twice been a teaching assistant in the Department of Economics and has offered tutoring in courses across the business, economics, and mathematics departments. Now vice president of the StFX Economics Society, he aims to help build a mentorship program to be launched within the StFX Economics Department, connecting current students with StFX’s highly successful economics graduates.

Along with excelling in the classroom, he is an active StFX student leader. The AUS Student-Athlete Community Service Award recipient this past fall, he was also the 2018 StFX Male Community X-cellence award winner and was honoured as a Leader of Distinction with the StFX Leadership Academy.

In the StFX community, Mr. Elbourne has become an advocate for the prevention of sexualized violence. He served as the lone male panelist for the Contextualizing #MeToo panel discussion organized by the StFX Women's and Gender Studies department in November 2017. He also co-designed and co-facilitated a series of workshops in all StFX residences during the 2017-18 winter semester aimed at educating students on issues of consent and sexual assault. This past September, he was keynote speaker at the Antigonish March in Respect for Women and he was recently featured in the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre's initiative called ‘16 Days of Activism on Gender-Based Violence.’     

In addition, he has led the opening of two year-long Exhibitions of Indigenous Art at StFX. The first was created in honour of the permanent installation of the Mi'kmaq flag on the StFX campus in October 2017, and its success was such that a second exhibition was encouraged by the university. 

In his three years as president of the StFX German Society, he has been able to contribute positively to the student experience outside of the classroom. He has also been engaged with youth in his community. He has volunteered his time at the grassroots soccer level since he was a teenager, and in 2017, he was a facilitator at a youth leadership conference called Spark the Change, organized by the Healthy Relationships for Youth program in Nova Scotia. 

A midfielder on the soccer team, he has captained the X-Men for the past three seasons and was a key piece in leading StFX to consecutive second place finishes in the league standings. He is a former AUS all-star and was the 2014 AUS rookie of the year.

Sexual Violence Policy review update: Independent Review Panel on campus in March

Fri, 2019-03-01 13:22

Members of an Independent Review Panel (IRP), who are tasked with reviewing the StFX Sexual Violence Policy, will be on campus in mid-March and everyone interested in providing input is invited and encouraged to do so. 

The committee, external to StFX, is comprised of Joanna Birenbaum, a Toronto-based lawyer with extensive expertise in sexual violence issues, university processes, human rights tribunals and professional discipline bodies; Elaine Craig, an associate professor, Schulich School of Law, at Dalhousie University, who teaches and researches in the areas of sexual assault law, constitutional law, criminal law ethics, law and sexuality, feminist legal theory and queer legal theory; and Maria Dugas, who completed her master’s of law at the Schulich School of Law in 2018, and was the first African Nova Scotian to clerk for the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. They are working with the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR), which StFX has engaged to undertake this review. 

Their mandate is to review and assess StFX’s Sexual Violence Policy, consult with members of the university community as well as an expert advisory group, and make recommendations to best ensure that StFX’s sexual violence practices and procedures are responsive to those who report experiences of sexual harm, is trauma-informed, and, procedurally fair.

“Every member of the community has an opportunity to contribute to their information gathering process, which is great to see,” says Margie McKinnon, co-chair of StFX’s Sexual Violence Prevention Committee and StFX’s Director of Health, Counselling and Accessible Learning.

The IRP will be on campus between March 13-15 for consultations, which will include interviews with individuals and groups at StFX, such as representatives of student groups, staff of university departments that respond to sexual violence and discrimination under StFX’s current policies, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, and faculty associations and unions.  

Interested individuals or groups who want to speak with the panel are asked to email Margaret Elliott, the StFX Sexual Violence Prevention Project Co-ordinator, at to set up a time. Community members can also provide thoughts and comments by email at

Updates on the panel’s progress can also be found on the Visible at X website at

“I’m excited to work with the Independent Review Panel,” Ms. McKinnon says.

“We are working closely with our partners, locally and provincially, to have a strong, consistent response when sexual violence happens, in supporting survivors. This is an opportunity for us to strengthen our community response to sexual violence,” she says. 

“The expertise of the panel, I except, will help us greatly by providing guidance and direction that will help us to respond in ways that support survivors, while also respecting the legal process.”

StFX Head of Student Services Andrew Beckett says with the range of expertise the review panel brings, it’s a great opportunity to build some credibility around the policies and procedures at StFX moving forward. 

It’s also a chance to help inform the sector generally across the country. The issue of sexual violence is an area that all universities are grappling with, he says, and this is a chance for StFX to play a lead role in current best practices. 

The IRP is set up in a way that is practical and actionable, Mr. Beckett says. It’s designed that when the final draft report is received in June, the university should be able to turn around and implement a new policy. 

Mr. Beckett says there has been a lot of confidence and positive response expressed from the campus community in terms of the approach StFX is taking. “That’s been great to see.” 

In the fall of 2018, following media reports related to a sexual violence case, the university was asked by members of the campus community to broadly consider cultural and policy related factors that could help address ongoing sexual violence issues in the community.  

StFX has engaged with the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR) to conduct a review of the university’s sexualized violence policies and procedures. This review will assess the operation of StFX’s Sexual Violence Policy and other university policies and procedures with which it intersects, to ensure that StFX has effective practices and procedures that are.

The review will result in a newly drafted Sexual Violence Policy and a supplementary report highlighting further recommendations or follow-up issues. These documents will be public and the process will involve five stages, including the in-person consultations. 

Once complete, a draft version of the policy and supplementary report will be circulated to the Expert Advisory Group (EAG). This group will meet in Halifax for a one-day workshop to discuss and provide advice on these documents and to offer any suggestion. In May, the IRP will conduct one day of follow-up meetings in Antigonish and any further consultation determined necessary. The Chair of the IRP will present the draft policy and supplementary report to the university in June.

Learning Synergy: High school students prepare to hone their leadership skills at 2019 NSSSA provincial conference at StFX

Wed, 2019-02-27 15:57

Learning what it takes to become a great leader—and having fun in the process—will be on the agenda as hundreds of high school students from across Nova Scotia converge on StFX for four days from May 16-19 for the annual Nova Scotia Secondary School Students’ Association (NSSSA) 2019 provincial conference.

The NSSSA is a non-profit, student-led leadership organization, and the conference is the largest gathering of student leaders in the province. It is open to any students in Grades 9-12 in Nova Scotia high schools.   

“The theme of the conference is Synergy, and how great leadership means creating something bigger than yourself, whether it be a company or a movement or whatever you want to achieve,” says Alex LeBlanc, 2018-19 NSSSA Conference Committee Co-Chair. 

“There are so many elements that contribute to your success, and sometimes that success can only be achieved with all the parts involved. Great leadership is not necessarily doing everything yourself, but rather having a goal and knowing the steps you need to take in order to achieve it.”

Mr. LeBlanc says conference delegates can also expect to have a bunch of fun in the process.

He says there are many benefits to attending the conference—someone new to the NSSSA can expect to meet lifelong friends, make long-term connections and discover new aspects of themselves, while returning NSSSA members can also expect the best of times with old and new friends, and a new and refreshing outlook of what NSSSA can bring them. 

He says if there is one thing that organizers hope students can learn more about while attending the conference it’s what kind of leader they aspire to be, and how they can bring this piece of themselves out for the world to see.


StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald says the university is proud to be a partner with the student-led NSSSA and it is delighted to once again be the home for the provincial conference and be able to play a role in supporting these high school student leaders as they learn and build new skills and discover so much about themselves and their potential.  

“It’s great to have our partners in leadership back at StFX again this year,” Dr. MacDonald says.

Mr. LeBlanc says students can expect a classic NSSSA conference complete with old traditions and new ones. “We have so much more in store for Synergy though, and delegates should be prepared to expect the unexpected. Many guests with accomplishments like TED talks and successful social enterprises will be joining us for this amazing weekend. From captivating speakers to welcoming activities to memorable keepsakes, there’s something for everyone at our conference. 

“We plan to help delegates find themselves and their place in the world through our skill-building sessions and through opportunities presented throughout the weekend.” 

Great leadership, he says, is being able to work with each step and each person you come across. 

“Leadership is a well-oiled machine, a puzzle that fits together and makes something great. That’s the message of our conference, Synergy, which is defined as ‘the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements,’ which is what we believe leadership is all about.”

Mr. LeBlanc says students attending the conference can expect to learn about the real aspects of leadership. 

“If someone has a dream, we will show them how to make it happen through a leadership standpoint and work together with others to discover what they really want,” he says. 

“Students will interact with a unique crowd of aspiring leaders just like them, and create a brand new experience together through spending the weekend building off of each other. They will learn what a good leader can do by themselves, but also what a great leader can do with the help of others.”

For more information or to register for the 2019 provincial conference, please see Synergy 2019 


Canada is setting out to make significant cuts in greenhouse gas methane, and StFX is playing its part

Fri, 2019-02-15 13:12
L-r, Jennifer Baillie and Elizabeth O’Connell

Two major studies out of StFX’s FluxLab, led by earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk, have been published in prominent international journals, Environmental Research Communications and Elementa Science, in the span of six weeks, in their ongoing efforts focused on understanding methane gas leaks.

Methane is a colorless and odourless greenhouse gas that constituents 95 per cent of natural gas. When released into the air it acts as a powerful greenhouse gas. The Canadian government has pledged to cut natural gas waste from oil and gas operations by 45 per cent, and in 2018 released federal methane regulations. However, Dr. Risk says, one big problem is understanding how much methane is really out there and where it’s coming from. 

The FluxLab is developing new mobile technologies to measure methane faster and more conveniently. They have undertaken huge studies across different oil and gas producing regions in Canada. 

Of the two recently published articles, the first, authored by Elizabeth O’Connell, who started in the lab as a B.Sc. student, worked as a research associate and is now president of spinoff company Arolytics, documents characteristics of over 3,000 gas plumes the team tracked down in three developments across Alberta, and sourced to specific types of oil and gas infrastructure. 

The other study, written by research associate Jennifer Baillie is similar but looks across southeastern Saskatchewan to compare the environmental performance of hydraulic fracturing operations co-located nearby conventional oil operations. 

Both studies show that emission levels are often higher than official inventories suggest. These findings, Ms. Baillie says, parallel 2017 results in Emmaline Atherton’s paper, also from Dr. Risk’s group, documenting elevated emissions in British Columbia from shale gas operations.  

The news isn’t all bad, however, she says. There are examples of environmentally responsible production, which suggests industry does have the expertise required to mitigate methane. In some jurisdictions, the FluxLab found a relationship between gas composition and methane performance, where industry had already taken steps to reduce emissions in areas where odour complaints were frequent. In some of the developments that emitted more than expected conserving the gas will be more economically attractive. 

In the past several weeks, as the papers from Dr. Risk’s group were published, all three western provinces released their own methane regulations, with the intent to override the backstop federal regulations with a more regionally nuanced approach. FluxLab’s data sets can now be used to test the merits of these different approaches, and to project the resultant mitigation success using real field data rather than the estimated values.

Dr. Risk’s group continues to collaborate with industry, provincial and federal government, and non-government organizations, and works in overlapping areas of science, policy, and advocacy. All stakeholders are looking for data at the moment so as to inform their next steps, they say.

“It’s really interesting to hear perspectives from all sides, and we’re also still doing measurement tech development and working with other tech developers too," says Dr. Risk. “We have to be flexible, understand different approaches and outcomes, and most importantly we need to be effective communicators.”

Currently, he says, the research group is charged with building a national methane measurement archive, based on measurements they have made plus measurements by other research teams and government departments. This initiative is funded by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers as part of a large ongoing methane research program. The new data sets will serve the needs of industry and policymakers until industry’s own measurements start flowing in 2020 as part of the new regulated approach to replace the old practice of estimation.

The FluxLab consists of 16 individuals, comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, professional technicians and research associates. Their work is in gas measurement for renewable and fossil energy, and for arctic studies. Almost all members of the research group are involved in collaborations with outside partners. Over the past decade, the group has also launched two spinoff companies, the most recent of which is a methane analytics company called Arolytics with offices in Halifax and Calgary.


StFX to delay opening until 5PM today

Wed, 2019-02-13 05:49

Please be advised that StFX University will delay opening until 5:00 PM today, Wednesday, February 13, due to hazardous winter conditions expected to hit the region this morning.

Essential services will remain open (Morrison Hall, security, snow removal).

StFX welcomes over 200 African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq high school students to campus to learn about academic and scholarship opportunities

Tue, 2019-02-12 16:03
Over 200 high school students took part in the first annual Jeannine Deveau Future Scholars’ Day

The energy and potential found inside the Mount Saint Bernard chapel classroom on Feb. 12 was palpable as over 200 African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq high school students from across the province were welcomed to StFX for the first annual Jeannine Deveau Future Scholars’ Day.

The students, on campus to learn about academic and scholarship opportunities at StFX, came from high schools from Sydney to Halifax, and participated in a full day of activity from an open house, learning about program options and speaking with StFX faculty, to campus tours, and lunch at Morrison Hall. 

“I’m very happy about today, to see so many high school students, teachers, and principals on campus,” said Augy Jones, StFX Manager, Student Experience.

During welcoming remarks, Mr. Jones, like several other speakers, encouraged the students to take charge of their future and see what opportunities are available for them.

In particular, at StFX, the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship, first announced in October 2015, has the power to transform lives. The intent of the fund, set up by Jeannine Deveau from the StFX Class of 1944, is to make university education more equitable and easier to access for Aboriginal and African Nova Scotians.

Currently, there are 80 students at StFX who are Deveau scholarship and bursary recipients. 


“StFX is a place where you are welcome,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald told students in his remarks as he thanked everyone for visiting and highlighted the importance of the day, and learning about post-secondary options. 

Nowhere in this story is it said that it is going to be easy, Dr. MacDonald said, but at StFX you have a community where you can grow, learn to think differently, and that your life going forward is a little better because of being on this campus. 

“This is a great day,” agreed the Hon. Tony Ince, Minister of African Nova Scotia Affairs. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate the hard work and dedication shown by you, young scholars.

“I’m overwhelmed when I look out and see so many of you, many of whom look like me, exploring their future,” he said. 

“I thank you for taking the opportunity to expand your horizons, which in turn will help expand our communities.”

Mr. Ince told the students there are many supports available to them, but they are only there if they have a passion to seek out and go after what they want. “Don’t let anybody hold you back,” he said, as he encouraged the students to bring their community, their home, their strong voices, and their perspectives with them as they explore their future education. 

Deveau scholars day 2019 2.jpg

The open house provided students and faculty a chance to chat about academic opportunities

StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley told the students that StFX will change their life—there are so many opportunities at the university—but so too will the students change the university, he said. “Your generation is so important. It is asking ‘why aren’t I represented in the history books.’ You are here to change the university and you will, that is the demand your generation is making, and we are better for that.”

Fund administrator and Ms. Deveau’s nephew, Bill Gunn, gave a bit of history of the scholarship, including his aunt’s desire to try to make difference in addressing issues of equity in education, and her belief that investment in education gives the highest return. 

The students also had a chance to hear from current Jeannine Deveau bursary recipient, John Hodder, a fourth year human kinetics student, who encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities available.

He said the bursary not only helped him with financial costs, it allowed him to focus on his studies. 

“The Jeannine Deveau Bursary has helped me immensely,” he said, as he thanked all those involved in its creation and administration. 

Mindful Living: StFX religious studies professor launches books, podcast, and new courses on mindfulness

Tue, 2019-02-12 14:27
Dr. Adela Sandness

For years, StFX religious studies professor Dr. Adela Sandness has developed scholarship, skills and expertise in mindfulness: thoughts and more as seen in the ancient Indian world, as they would become part of Buddhist psychology and a whole way of understanding the world that is non-dualistic in its thinking, in that it is “both this and that,” in a world where time is round. 

Now, drawing on decades of extensive scholarship and practical experience, Dr. Sandness has published two new books, Mindfulness: How to Cope with Hard Things, and its companion book, Mindfulness: How to Cope with Hard Things: A Workbook; launched a website and weekly podcast, Just Breathe…You Are Enough; and in September 2018, started offering a series of seven classes in a “Mindful Living Stream of Study” at StFX.  

Of the seven courses, four are refreshed offerings and three are new. She says they treat relationships, gender, race and power dynamics, leadership and de-colonization, and stewardship of one’s own mind and body all in a way that takes as its basis that life itself – and all who live it – are worthy of honour, dignity and respect.

Dr. Sandness says requests from students and others prompted her to reframe her classes to provide scholarship in a way that is more applied, as well as offering formats available to a wider public. She says she wanted to offer a more in-depth look at where the mindfulness movement comes from and how the paradigm of thinking from which it arose can help find new answers to old problems.

“It’s a way of seeing the world that is very ancient, but at the same time utterly contemporary,” says Dr. Sandness, who notes that people today are still grappling with similar questions as those in the past. 

Dr. Sandness certainly brings a unique world view to her work. Educated at the École Pratique des Hautes Études of the Sorbonne in Paris with one of the world’s top scholars in the field of Vedic Studies, she holds a PhD with mention très honorable avec felicitations du jury, the highest academic distinction awarded in the French university system. She further developed the research methodologies of the Moscow-Tartu School of Semiotics taught to her by Tatyana Elizarenkova, considered the world’s greatest Rgvedic scholar of her generation. 

Additionally, Dr. Sandness developed skills through a decade of leadership roles in mindfulness practice communities—including two years of practice living in a Buddhist monastery—and a close, over decade-long relationship with an English-speaking Buddhist monastery.  


The first of her “Mindful Living Stream of Study” classes offered this fall proved popular. The course, “Mindfulness: How to Cope with Hard Things” had 45 students the first day of class, and, by word of mouth, it had 75 students the second day of class. Its companion class on the body had 46 students the first day of class and 66 students the second day of class.

Her “Mind, Self, and Society” course has been another popular option for the past number of years. Offered intentionally through StFX Continuing and Distance Education it includes three weeks of online study and a one-week immersion experience at Gampo Abbey, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery on Cape Breton Island where students are able to live the lifestyle for the week. 

Her two books, which are separate, but designed to be used together, were published in October 2018. Around the same time, she launched Just Breathe…You Are Enough™, a multi-media initiative, combining a podcast series (available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play Music), a website and associated blog. The podcast comes out on Friday mornings, and Dr. Sandness says the content is often in response to questions she receives. Among her favorites are “Connection Does Not Require a Password,” and “The Heart is a Muscle: It Expands and Contracts.”

Reviews of the work have been positive. 

“Unlike many other contemporary manuals on mindfulness, this is not a composite of neuron counts, plasticity measurements and stress charts. Adela Sandness’ work places mindfulness within the mytho-poetic world of the ancient Hindu Vedas and the inner cosmology of classical Buddhism. At the same time, it is born of her experience of working directly with the compound emotional and cognitive challenges of today’s students coping with an increasingly troubled world,” writes Richard Reoch, Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Mindfulness Initiative, United Kingdom.  

“Fundamentally, what sets these rich and intimately written books apart from much of the more secular and scientific literature is that they are rooted in a scholarly evocation of the uncompromising, lyrical — even epic — worldview of centuries-old spiritual traditions that understand humans, not as requiring therapy, but as beings whose true nature is radiant, kind and infinitely wise.”

Dr. Sandness says as a scholar of humanity, she feels she has a responsibility to contribute to her field, but also to participate in public discourse, to play some part in protecting and defending the quality of our humanity.

She says all the work is offered with philanthropic intent—a portion of the proceeds will be donated for use as student bursaries at StFX.

Renowned educator to deliver ninth annual Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture at StFX

Thu, 2019-02-07 13:59
Dr. George Sefa Dei

Renowned educator, researcher and writer Dr. George Sefa Dei, considered by many as one of Canada’s foremost scholars on critical race and anti-racism studies, will deliver the ninth annual StFX Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture on Feb. 28 in the Schwartz Auditorium starting at 7 p.m.

The lecture will also be live-streamed at

The title of Dr. Dei’s address is “Black Like Me: Reframing Blackness for Decolonial Politics.” Everyone is welcome to attend. The annual lecture is organized by StFX’s Department of Sociology in honour of the late Dr. Agnes Calliste. Dr. Calliste, a retired StFX sociology professor, left an impressive legacy at the school where she taught for nearly 30 years. She passed away in 2018.  

Dr. Calliste’s scholarship focused on the complex interrelation of work, race, ethnicity and gender in Canada. Her ground-breaking research with African-Canadian railway porters and Caribbean-Canadian nurses explored previously unexamined dimensions of our social history. Dr. Calliste studied not only the institutionalized oppression of such communities, but also their organized resistance.

“Dr. Dei’s scholarship has shaped anti-racist education theory and praxis in Canada and internationally, and has informed curriculum here at StFX,” says Dr. Katie Aubrecht, sociology professor and Canada Research Chair, Health Equity & Social Justice at StFX, and one of the event organizers. 

“By addressing the relations between race and indigeneity within diasporic and educational contexts, his lecture will offer insight on questions of equity and diversity within university settings. He will explore tools and frameworks that can be used to forge community and solidarity, resist anti-Black racism, and account for Black people’s experiences, agency and resistance.”  

Prof. Dei’s professional and academic work has led to many Canadian and international speaking invitations in the U.S., Europe and Africa. Currently, he is a professor of social justice education and Director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.  

He is the 2015, 2016 and 2018 Carnegie African Diasporan Fellow. In August 2012, he also received the honorary title of ‘Professor Extraordinarire’ from the University of South Africa. In 2017, he was elected as Fellow of Royal Society of Canada, the most prestigious award for an academic scholar in Canada. He also received the ‘2016 Whitworth Award for Educational Research’ from the Canadian Education Association awarded to the Canadian scholar whose research and scholarship have helped shaped Canadian national educational policy and practice.  

He has authored, edited and co-edited over 35 books. He also has over 75 book chapters and 70 refereed journal articles to his credit. 

Finally, in June 2007, Professor Dei was installed as a traditional chief in Ghana, where he was born, specifically, as the Gyaasehene of the town of Asokore, Koforidua in the New Juaben Traditional Area of Ghana. His stool name is Nana Adusei Sefa Tweneboah.

Dr. Dei’s address engages a [re]theorization of Blackness and Black solidarities from the vantage point as a Black/African scholar with a politics to affirm Black subjectivity and Indigeneity in a diasporic context.

StFX philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Byrne’s book on Aristotle’s physics a finalist for prestigious PROSE award

Wed, 2019-02-06 11:28
Dr. Christopher Byrne

StFX philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Byrne has been recognized internationally for the quality of his scholarship.

Dr. Bryne’s new book, Aristotle’s Science of Matter and Motion, published by the University of Toronto Press in 2018, has been named a finalist in the philosophy section of the PROSE (Professional Scholarly Excellence) awards for 2019 given out by the Association of American Publishers.

These awards honour scholarly work of extraordinary merit that make a significant contribution to a field of study in a given year.

“This is fantastic news. Being nominated for this internationally recognized publishing award is a significant academic honour and we are delighted to see Dr. Byrne receive a nomination for his book Aristotle's Science of Matter and Motion,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.

The list of nominees in the awards 49 categories is pretty much a who’s who of academic publishers, representing not just major U.S. publishers, but those from around the world. 

“I was elated,” Dr. Byrne says on the honour. “Surprised and elated. I didn’t realize it had been nominated in the first place,” he says until he received a congratulatory message from his editor. 

His book, which deals with Aristotle’s contributions to physics, was one of three named as finalists. While he didn’t win the category, it’s a win to be shortlisted. Hundreds of books on philosophy would have been published in the year. 

“It’s an honour just to get on the list,” he says. 

It’s not the first recognition the book has received.

Dr. Byrne received a grant of $8,000 for the book from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Aid to Scholarly Publications through the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences. It is a competitive process and a prestigious award.

“I was quite gratified to receive this award, as the topic of my book is not exactly on everyone’s lips. Still, I was moved to write this book because there is a curious view of Aristotle that is still quite widespread: on the one hand, he is considered one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy, indeed, in many fields, having made important contributions to biology, ethics, political philosophy, logic, metaphysics, rhetoric, and the theory of tragedy; on the other hand, he is held by many philosophers and historians of science to have failed so badly at physics that he held back its development until the seventeenth century when the Scientific Revolution finally overthrew Aristotelianism,” Dr. Byrne had said when receiving that award.

“So the puzzle that drew me to this topic was how such a great thinker could have failed so badly in his understanding of the material world.

“As it turned out, I discovered that his views on the material world are not nearly so bizarre and wrong-headed as people have claimed. On the contrary, he offers a systematic account of matter, motion, and the basic causal powers found in all physical objects due to the matter from which they are made.”

Matter is important for Aristotle because he holds that all perceptible objects are ultimately made from physical stuff of one kind or another and that this matter is responsible for many of their basic features. He also investigates the nature of change in general, independent of the specific nature of the object undergoing a change; here, he begins with locomotion, the most fundamental kind of change.

Finally, Aristotle offers an account of the basic features of matter and motion that is quantitative and non-teleological. His use of final causes in biology and elsewhere is compatible with his quantitative, non-teleological account of matter and motion, because in his view all goal-directed changes take place in physical entities more complex than the material elements.

“Indeed, Aristotle’s biology presupposes his physics because goal-directed changes presuppose non-teleological changes in matter. For Aristotle, then, matter matters a great deal,” says Dr. Byrne.

StFX philosophy student presents honours work at Atlantic philosophy conference

Tue, 2019-02-05 10:13
StFX honours philosophy student Jamie Samson (right) pictured with a visiting speaker, Dr. Eleonore Stump of St. Louis University

Jamie Samson, a StFX honours philosophy student from Louisdale, NS, has been working on the topic of organ donation as part of her honours thesis in philosophy for only six months, but the quality of her research has been so high that her paper was accepted and she presented on the topic at the recent Atlantic Region Philosophers Association meeting. The only undergraduate student to present at the conference, Ms. Samson’s paper was on the topic of ‘The Ethics of Organ Donation.’

In her paper, Ms. Samson argues that the need for donor organs for transplants is very great and, since so few are available, Canadian society ought to take greater steps to see that organs are available. Instead of the current ‘opt in’ system, where individuals have to indicate their willingness to be a donor, Ms. Samson argues that it would be ethical – and perhaps ethically obligatory, to revise the system, and have an ‘opt out’ system. This, she believes would not only make more organs available for transplant purposes, but would also address the problem of families faced with decisions about the organs of loved ones who may be dying and incapable of expressing consent.

According to Dr. William Sweet, Chair of the StFX Philosophy Department, it is rare to have undergraduate presentations at the conference, although StFX philosophy students have frequently attended the conference. He says although Ms. Samson’s participation in the conference this year was unique, last year another philosophy student, Leah Gray, who graduated in 2018, also presented at the conference on “The Ethical and Moral Implications of a Hook-up Culture.”

“Participating in the conference gave me a unique opportunity to do a presentation that required my work to be both concise and yet detailed enough for others to understand what I’d spent so much time on,” Ms. Samson says. “I was impressed that students like me were welcome, and that my presentation was as well attended as those of professional philosophers. I felt that my work was placed on equal footing with more experienced philosophers, which was beneficial for my work and for my confidence.”

Ms. Samson’s research was initially funded through an Irving Research Mentorship Award, offered through StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership with an endowment established by Irving Oil, allowed her to work on the topic under the supervision of Dr. Sweet.


Our history is your history: African Heritage Month in Antigonish launched during ceremony at StFX

Thu, 2019-01-31 16:33
Unveiling the African Heritage Month 2019 poster are Kelsey Jones, Councillor Mary Farrell, Warden Owen McCarron, Allanique Hunter, Minister Tony Ince, Marcel Desmond and Lorraine Reddick

A full house—from the Hon. Tony Ince, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, to local school children—gathered at StFX’s Bloomfield Centre on Jan. 31 to celebrate the launch of African Heritage Month 2019 in Antigonish, under a theme of “Our History is YOUR History.” 

“We gather to honour and celebrate the many achievements that African Nova Scotians have made to our society,” said co-emcee Kelsey Jones, StFX African Descent Student Affairs Coordinator, who hosted the ceremony with Lorraine Reddick, Student Support Worker with the Strait Regional Centre for Education (SRCE). 

African Heritage Month marks a time of reflection, but more importantly, a time for education, she said. 

The month gives attention to a history that’s far too often exploited by the mainstream narrative. “Our history is your history,” Ms. Jones said, repeating this year’s theme as she encouraged everyone to listen and to learn, to attend events, and to listen to voices, not just during this month, but throughout the entire year. 

In a special part of the ceremony, and an historic first, she said today marks the first time the Pan African flag will be flown on campus for the entirety of African Heritage Month. The Pan African flag was raised at both the Antigonish Town Hall and in front of the President’s Office on the StFX campus. 

Another special moment came in a tribute and a moment of silence for the late Dr. Agnes Calliste, retired StFX sociology professor, national and international celebrated academic, and community champion who tirelessly served the Xaverian and Nova Scotian communities, including as StFX’s Black Student Advisor. Dr. Calliste passed away in August 2018. 


Minister Ince said this is an important time, a time to learn something different and unique.

“African Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and share the culture, history, and achievements of African Nova Scotians,” he said.  

It’s a time to recognize the distinct story of African Nova Scotians and how this story is interwoven in our province’s past, present and future, he said. 

“This theme recognizes that when we understand the diversity that exists in Nova Scotia, we will be able to facilitate positive change for our province.” 

AHM 2019.jpg

Kelsey Jones (left) and Brenda Gateva are seen singing "Lift Every Voice" during the ceremony

AHM 2019 2.jpg

Poet Naomi Ogbogbo presents her work entitled 'Royalty'

Understanding and celebrating this diversity was a message shared by a number of speakers. 

“We’re thrilled to be hosting the ceremony at StFX, and the long overdue flying of the Pan African flag on campus,” said Andrew Beckett, StFX Vice-President Finance & Administration.

Mr. Beckett said it speaks to the importance of diversity, and the richness it adds. While he noted that StFX has much more to do, he said the university is pleased to be embracing and building on this diversity, in past efforts and in the recent opening of the Diversity Education Centre on campus, designed to help celebrate and create more of a focus. 

Both Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron and Antigonish town councilor Mary Farrell spoke of how the month celebrates the culture, legacy and achievements of African Nova Scotians, while sharing how this story is interwoven. “When we all acknowledge our shared history, we will be able to facilitate positive change,” Mr. McCarron said. 

As part of the ceremony, SRCE teacher and StFX alumnus Morgan Gero led an African Drumming performance with students from St. Andrew Junior School and Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School. Minister Ince, an accomplished drummer himself, joined in the closing performance. 

AHM 2019 3.jpg Minister Tony Ince (second left) joins in the African Drumming performance

Several classes from St. Andrew’s Consolidated School and the Antigonish Education Centre attended the event. 

Others speaking at the ceremony included Paul Landry, SRCE, and Rev. Peter Smith, who offered a prayer. Remarks were also read from the Hon. Randy Delorey, MLA, and Sean Fraser, MP, who were unable to be in attendance. Naomi Ogbogbo presented her poem entitled "Royalty." 

The event is hosted by the Town of Antigonish, Zone #7 African Cultural Awareness Association, African Nova Scotia Affairs, Support 4 Culture, the County of Antigonish, Black Educators Association of Nova Scotia, SRCE, and StFX.

StFX students awarded scholarships to study at Netherlands partner university

Wed, 2019-01-30 15:25
StFX students, l-r, Iris Magill and Brenna Wilson

Brenna Wilson and Iris Magill are looking forward to a unique new international study opportunity in the Netherlands at StFX partner exchange university, HAN University of Technology—as scholarship recipients. 

The two StFX human kinetics students have each received the HAN University of Technology Summer Program Scholarship, valued at €1,620 or $2,445 CAD, that offers StFX students the opportunity to study at the HAN Faculty of Health and Social Studies for their 2019 Summer School: Health, Social Work and Sport

This program consists of three, one-week courses, starting May 20 and ending June 7. The scholarship pays the tuition fee and covers accommodations, local transportation, and a field trip associated with each course at HAN University of Technology, located in the city of Nijmegen, in eastern Netherlands, near the German border. 

“It’s a unique opportunity and a good opportunity to take some other courses...I’m excited,” says Ms. Wilson, a third year student from Saint John, NB majoring in kinesiology in the BSc human kinetics program. 

Ms. Wilson says she is looking forward to meeting new people, to seeing how classes are taught there, and to learning from professors in courses that range from sports event management to issues in health care. 

She says she is looking forward to gaining new perspectives and new creative ways of thinking from the experience.

It’s a sentiment shared by Ms. Magill of Ottawa, ON, a second year BA in human kinetics student taking a minor in sport management.

“It’s such an interesting opportunity,” she says. “I’m so interested in the courses offered, they’re all so different, and to compare and contrast how things are done there and here. 

“I’m really looking forward to it, to meeting new people and seeing how things happen in different cultures, and how our different cultures conduct different events.” 

Ms. Magill says she’s had a travel bug lately to explore different cultures and at the same time she’s been trying to get involved in as much as she can and build her resume. 

“I thought this was perfect to mix both, the travel and to see how other people, how the Dutch culture go about marketing and organizing events, and contrast how we do things here.”

She says she is also looking forward to building connections.

Both Ms. Wilson and Ms. Magill say they’re hoping the experience will help give them further focus on what they’d like to do after finishing their undergraduate degrees at StFX. 

They both say they’re eager too to bring back different ideas and all they learn when they return to StFX. 

To be eligible for the scholarship, students had to be in either the BA or BSc human kinetics program, or the BASc Health program at StFX, be in good academic standing, have a focused professional and academic interest in human health and well-being, and have a curious, independent, open-minded and adventurous attitude.

StFX Athletics honours record-high 96 U SPORTS Academic All-Canadians

Mon, 2019-01-28 14:24

The StFX Department of Athletics honoured its 2017-18 U SPORTS Academic All-Canadians on Jan. 28, 2019 at their annual celebratory breakfast. This year, there was a record-high 96 Academic All-Canadians, those student-athletes who have achieved an 80 per cent average or above while consuming a year of eligibility competing for a varsity team. The number was an increase from the previous high of 82 Academic All-Canadians in 2016-17.

“It is important that we pause to celebrate the fantastic academic accomplishments of our student-athletes,” comments StFX Director of Athletics & Recreation Leo MacPherson. 

“These Academic All-Canadians are masters at balancing a demanding varsity sport commitment and community outreach activities, while at the same time achieving excellence in their academic endeavors. Their accomplishments are very impressive.”

Out of the possible 290 eligible student-athletes who consumed U SPORTS eligibility by participating on a varsity team at StFX during the 2017-18 season, 33 per cent achieved  Academic All-Canadian status, including 40 male and 56 female student-athletes. The X-Women soccer team had the highest percentage of any StFX team with 80 per cent of their team members earning the distinction. 

There were 52 first-time Academic All-Canadians, 22 student-athletes who received the honour for the second time in their career, and 12 who were three-time Academic All-Canadians. Ten student-athletes earned the elite distinction of being a U SPORTS Academic All-Canadians four times including: Chloe Brennan (soccer), Elise Brennan (soccer), Craig Duininck (hockey), Liam Elbourne (soccer), Kristoff Kontos (hockey), Olivia MacDonald (cross country), Cole Suart (soccer), Alex Taylor (soccer), Erin Visser (soccer) and Marco Zanchetta (soccer).   

The Athletics Director’s awards for academic achievement, presented to the top StFX male and female academic student-athletes were Amy Graham from the X-Women hockey team and recently named Rhodes Scholar Liam Elbourne from the X-Men soccer team who received the honour for the second consecutive year. 


Amy Graham, pictured in the left photo, and Liam Elbourne, in the right photo, receive their awards from Athletics Director Leo MacPherson

The 2017-18 Academic All-Canadians were honoured at a celebratory breakfast at the Bloomfield Centre where they received a certificate from U SPORTS along with a gift from the Department of Athletics. All student-athletes were encouraged to invite a faculty member to accompany them to the breakfast. The breakfast kicked off StFX Athletics annual Faculty Appreciation Week.

The complete list of 2017-18 StFX Academic All-Canadians is as follows:

Quinn Alexander, Track & Field                    Catherine Kennedy, Soccer

MacKenzie Bell, Rugby                                 Kristoff Kontos, Hockey

Melanie Belong, Soccer                                Meg Mary Krawchuk, Soccer

Dustin Benetti, Soccer                                  Adam Kuntz, Football

Merrit Blair, Rugby                                        Emma Kuzmyk, Soccer

Emma Boudreau, Track & Field                   Justin Laforest, Hockey

Chloe Brennan, Soccer                                 Beth Lawrence, Track & Field

Elise Brennan, Soccer                                  Taylor Leger, Track & Field

Sarah Bruce, Soccer                                     Emma Logan, Curling

Sarah Bujold, Hockey                                    Liz MacDonald, Cross Country

Carly Burrows, Hockey                                  Olivia MacDonald, Track & Field

Joanne Callow, Rugby                                   Claire MacDougall, Soccer

Tane Caubo, Soccer                                       Branden MacInnis-Morris, Track & Field

Santino Centorame, Hockey                          Katie MacIntosh, Basketball

Sam Charron, Soccer                                     Paul MacLellan, Cross Country

Paige Chisholm, Cross Country                     Danielle Makar, Soccer

Jillian Clarke, Soccer                                      Patrick Marlow, Cross Country

Nicole Corcoran, Hockey                               Hana Marmura, Cross Country

Marcus Cuomo, Hockey                                 Madison McClure, Hockey

Olivia Czipf, Soccer                                       Therese McCurdy, Curling

Craig Duininck, Hockey                                 Mercy Myles, Soccer

Liam Elbourne, Soccer                                   Matt Needham, Hockey

Emerson Elliott, Hockey                                Alex Neuffer, Cross Country

Hannah Ellis, Rugby                                       Daley Oddy, Hockey

Kelsey Ellis, Soccer                                        Maggie Oliver, Track & Field

Isaac Fagnan, Football                                   Devon Parris, Football

Jeremy Fagnan, Football                                Joseph Pereyras, Track & Field

Dylan Fisher, Football                                     Angus Rawling, Cross Country

Ashley Francis, Curling                                 Ashley Robson, Cross Country

Megan Frost, Soccer                                      Amy Rowe, Soccer

Claudia Fulton, Rugby                                   Paytan Ruiz, Soccer

Sam Gan, Football                                         Lydia Schurman, Hockey

Alley Goodreau, Hockey                                Holly Scott, Basketball

Alex Gosse, Soccer                                        Sam Studnicka, Hockey

Amy Graham, Hockey                                    Cole Suart, Soccer

Megan Graham, Track & Field                      Madison Suart, Rugby

Nicole Halladay, Hockey                               Alex Taylor, Soccer

Alex Hamilton, Rugby                                   Natneal Tecle, Soccer

Liam Harrigan, Soccer                                    Aaron Thibeau, Soccer

Rachel Hawkins, Soccer                                 Patti-Anne Tracey, Hockey

Jonathan Heidebrecht, Football                      Curtis Urlacher, Football

Joshua Henderson, Curling                             Erin Visser, Soccer

Jane Hergett, Cross Country                           William Warren, Soccer

Ben Herringer, Soccer                                    Larissa White, Soccer

Justin Holland, Football                                  Hayley Wilson, Track & Field

Aaron Hoyles, Hockey                                   Emma Winters, Hockey

Matt Jemmett, Football                                   Alex Yakimenko, Football

Sarah Johnson, Hockey                                  Marco Zanchetta, Soccer