Students and alumni from StFX and its Maple League of Universities partners have a unique opportunity to learn about the Holocaust and the relevance of Holocaust education today through a new Maple League immersion spring session course, The Holocaust & Now.
The course, delivered through distance education and immersive, in-person learning in Europe, brings history, psychology, sociology, education, art, and more fields together with experiential learning, to examine human behaviour and experience during and after the Holocaust with a focus on the relevance of Holocaust education today. Students will be able to tailor course content to their specific program while also participating in a general curriculum focused on understanding the human context of the Holocaust.
Along with readings, class discussions and assignments, the course includes a 16 day immersion portion travelling to Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic with faculty leaders Dr. Karen Blair and Dr. Rhea Hoskin. The group will visit sites relevant to the Holocaust and will participate in unique immersive learning experiences. Students from all disciplines and years are welcome to apply before the Oct. 15, 2019 deadline.
“Holocaust education is at a turning point where we are currently educating the very last generation who will ever have the chance to meet and hear from a Holocaust survivor firsthand,” says Dr. Blair, a StFX psychology professor.
“Consequently, the future of Holocaust education now rests in their hands - how will they use that information? How will they continue to share survivors’ stories with the world? Being able to say to their children, grandchildren ‘I visited these sites, I heard from survivors with my own ears.’ will be incredibly powerful once there are no longer any survivors with us,”
In 2016, Dr. Blair began teaching a fourth year psychology seminar course on the Social Psychology of the Holocaust, which later led to designing StFX’s annual Germany/Poland Service Learning trip that takes students to Germany and Poland over reading week to learn about the Holocaust.
She says the idea for the Maple League course came about so that students could have enough prior knowledge of the Holocaust to add proper context to what they’re seeing to get the most out of the experience.
Holocaust knowledge has been slowly decreasing over time, she says, yet, there are a number of universal lessons that can be applied from the Holocaust to current day events, and indeed to future events yet to happen.
“Demystifying the humans who were involved, critically examining the behaviour of perpetrators, bystanders, and rescuers, as well as intimately seeking to understand the experiences of victims are all important for understanding humanity and human behaviour in any context,” she says.
“Students who have taken similar courses or participated in the StFX Holocaust Service learning trip speak of the experience as life-changing. For many, participating in this course will be a once in a lifetime experience that they carry with them for the rest of their lives and that will shape the way that they interact with others on a day-to-day basis.”
Dr. Blair says one of the unique features of the Holocaust & Now course is that it isn’t just about learning about the Holocaust, it’s also a critical examination of Holocaust education and will encourage students to think deeply about what the future of Holocaust education will look like and what role they will play.
She says the idea to open the course to the Maple League of Universities made sense.
“The Maple League of Universities focuses on providing transformative learning experiences with immersive elements. The Maple League also allows us to harness the power of four smaller universities to tackle ambitious projects like this one. It may be difficult to find 12 students from one campus alone who would have the means and interest in participating in such a course, but across four campuses, and across the alumni of all four campuses, we have no doubt that we’ll find enough interested participants.
“There’s also something special added to the experience by travelling with peers from other institutions. At the end of the day, much of what happened to allow the Holocaust to occur can be boiled down to viewing the world through the lens of ‘us vs. them.’ Bringing students together who perhaps sometimes take an ‘us vs. them’ perspective on each other can further contribute to building a transformative learning environment.”
The course is interdisciplinary and is aimed to appeal to students across any area of study. In fact, the final assignment will be tailored to each students’ interests and academic needs.
The course is designed as a 300 level course, but it is open to students from first year onward. Any student can apply. Additionally, because the course is offered through Continuing Education studies, it is also open to alumni and friends of the Maple League universities, meaning that applicants do not need to be current university students to apply.
Dr. Blair brings to the course her expertise teaching the fourth year seminar on the Social Psychology of the Holocaust, developing StFX’s annual Holocaust Service Learning Trip and her experience in studying human behaviour: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Her research interests dovetail with this perspective on human behaviour, as she studies Holocaust education, prejudice, hate-crimes, and mass-shootings, but also studies relationships, social support, resiliency and health.
Dr. Hoskin’s background is in gender studies, feminist sociology and social psychology. Her research focuses on gender roles and their association with violence. In the context of the Holocaust, she studies how masculinity and femininity, as well as views of both of these constructs, influenced perpetrator behaviour and were used to shape the dehumanizing victims. Dr. Hoskin co-led the first Holocaust Service Learning trip in 2018.
StFX Athletics inducted the 23rd class into the StFX Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 3, 2019, to kick off Homecoming weekend. Included in the 2019 class are three athletes: Andrew Culligan (hockey), Dave Liem (soccer) and Dr. Beth McCharles (soccer, hockey), along with two builders: Dr. Cecil MacLean and Dr. David Cudmore.
Andrew (Andy) Culligan (Hockey, Class of 1974)
Andy Culligan enjoyed five successful seasons with the X-Men hockey team. A prolific goal scorer, the left-winger led the team in scoring for three of those years. Honoured on three occasions as an Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association (AIAA) all-star, he was second overall in league scoring for two seasons skating with the blue and white. The 1971 StFX rookie of the year, he earned recognition as the team's most valuable player in 1972. His 194 career points remains the third best in X-Men all-time career leading scoring as he has left his mark in the record books.
Dave Liem (Soccer, Class of 1987)
Dave Liem was a standout goal scorer with the X-Men soccer team for four seasons. Leading the team scoring race for three of those campaigns, he was honoured as an Atlantic University Athletic Association (AUAA) all-star for three consecutive years. He received national recognition as a second team all-Canadian in 1983, the first X-Men soccer athlete to receive such status. Upon graduation, his 27 career goals garnered him the third position in the conference record books and tops in the StFX career scoring list. The X-Men team most valuable player in 1984, to this date, he remains fourth overall in the StFX record book for career goals.
Dr. Beth McCharles (Soccer/Hockey, Class of 2001)
A successful dual-sport athlete, Beth McCharles was a national-caliber goalkeeper with the X-Women soccer team for four seasons, in addition to skating with the X-Women hockey team. For her extraordinary play on the soccer pitch, she was honoured as the 1998 AUS most valuable player, and became the second ever X-Women soccer athlete to garner first team all-Canadian status. She again received all-Canadian recognition on the second team in 2000, as well as being named an AUS first team all-star. A leader and captain with the soccer squad, she won three AUS championships on the ice with the hockey team, enjoying a remarkable StFX varsity athletics career.
Dr. Cecil MacLean (Builder, Class of 1931)
Dr. Cecil MacLean enters the StFX Sports Hall of Fame posthumously in the builder category, having made significant contributions to the StFX athletic department for the better part of 50 years in varying capacities. From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Dr. MacLean was a volunteer broadcaster, covering the play-by-play commentary on the road for countless StFX hockey and rugby games for the local CJFX radio station. For 46 years he hosted a radio sports program reporting on intercollegiate team events and providing on-air interviews of StFX varsity athletes. He lent his writing talents to a weekly sports editorial column for the Antigonish Casket newspaper for 30 years, detailing the many achievements of StFX teams and athletes. Aside from his journalistic contributions, Dr. Mac Lean coached the X-Men hockey team for three seasons, leading them to a N.S. and Maritime Intercollegiate championship in 1941. He was responsible for the revitalization of intercollegiate baseball at StFX in the mid 1940s and coached the team for a decade. He was readily counted upon to be the master of ceremonies for numerous athletic banquets, as well as guest speaking at countless StFX alumni events. He was the founding member of the StFX Varsity Club that established the StFX Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1976, and he remained an integral member of the induction committee for many years, researching and writing citations for numerous inductees.
Dr. David Cudmore (Builder)
Dr. David Cudmore enters the Hall of Fame as a builder, having dedicated his time and medical expertise to StFX Athletics for the last 30 years. The medical leader of the sports medicine team for StFX Athletics, he is a genuine and devoted supporter of X-Men and X-Women varsity athletes. A notable sports medicine expert certified by the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Dr. Cudmore has been an invaluable resource to the athletic therapy staff, coaches and athletes as a selfless individual who makes himself readily accessible for countless treatments. He has covered hundreds of home and away games in all StFX sports over the years as a consulting physician, often travelling to AUS and U SPORTS championships to be on the sidelines should a medical need arise. Well respected in the regional and national sports medicine community, Dr. Cudmore serves on the U SPORTS medical committee and has become a leader in the treatment of concussions over the past decade. His local Antigonish concussion clinic has gained province-wide recognition and he himself received the 2015 Special Recognition Award for outstanding support to advance the causes of brain injuries in Canada. Honoured with the 2005 Alumni Award of Excellence as a Friend of StFX, four years later he was the deserving recipient of the X-ceptional award for going above and beyond to contribute in a positive manner to StFX Athletics. For three decades Dr. Cudmore has served as a formidable mentor to countless student-athletes over the past three decades while generously giving his time and medical expertise to the StFX Athletics department.
To understand the warmth that the Sisters of St. Martha have shared with the campus community for a quarter of a century through Wellspring Centre—celebrating its 25th anniversary this year—is as simple as stepping into Wellspring’s space on the second floor of Morrison Hall, filled with plants, soft lights, tables and seating, and members of the campus community quietly reading, making toast or a cup of tea.
For 25 years now, Wellspring has been an oasis in the middle of campus, where students, staff and faculty can stop in for a cookie, some fresh fruit and a bit of peace.
On Oct. 4, the Marthas celebrated the anniversary during StFX Homecoming weekend with an afternoon open house and cake cutting.
As well, to mark the milestone, 16 stories from students now hang in the University Chapel, sharing the importance of the gift of the Marthas in creating Wellspring. Several Marthas also provided stories, sharing the history of Wellspring.
Sr. Catherine Arsenault and Sr. Ivy Maccan are the Marthas who currently staff the centre, located in the former St. Martha’s Convent.
Wellspring opened in September 1994 as a means for the Marthas, a congregation founded in Antigonish in 1900, to maintain a StFX presence when the convent closed in August of that year. Students, staff and faculty have since enjoyed a warm spacious gathering room; kitchenette facilities including complimentary tea and coffee; a seminar room where up to 10 can gather, a comfortable quiet room for reflection, prayer and meditation, and friendly, helpful staff.
“We’re not about programming. We’re really about presence,” the Sisters have said over the years.
“Our main goal is to serve the university community.”
Wellspring, they say, really found its niche on campus as a place of welcome, with many people calling it a sacred space. “Students come here to study because of the peace it offers. There’s something really special about the place. I think it’s about hospitality, and what that can do for people, being welcomed.”
Wellspring’s mission has been to offer a welcoming Martha presence on the StFX campus, one that is conducive to the development of persons and one that enhances the life of the university community. The centre is a comfortable, peaceful place for all members of the university community to spend time in the midst of a bustling, hectic campus. The facilities provide a place for quiet reflection, for study, or to relax with friends over a cup of tea. As one student remarked “everyone benefits in their own way.”
Climate justice was the topic of conversation as nearly 300 StFX students—taking courses in development studies, women’s and gender studies and sociology—gathered together Sept. 27 to take part in the Women's and Gender Studies Educational Forum, Seeking Justice & Equity Amidst The Climate Crisis, held at the Keating Centre.
This educational forum, co-sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Development Studies Program, and the Department of Sociology, and co-organized by faculty members Sutapa Chattopadhyay (development studies), Dr. Riley Chisholm (sociology) and Dr. Nancy Forestell (history and women’s and gender studies), explored the connection between gender and climate justice.
Each of the participating students had to read an article to prepare for the event, while an introductory short panel, led by Prof. Chattopadhyay, Dr. Chisholm, and Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre executive director Wyanne Sandler, kicked off more extensive conversation throughout the afternoon. After round table discussion, the students were asked to report back with ideas and action items from their conversations.
“The broad focus we had was to connect environmental destruction/harm/crimes/violence with feminism as a political struggle, a movement and its basic tenants, to show how social inequalities and injustices are interlayered and enmeshed with climate destruction, but also ask broader questions as how climate change is an intersectional matter and how is it tied with history, politics and power,” the presenters said.
They said students were asked to construct and develop their own perspectives through discussions forwarded by the speakers and through their own everyday challenges linking climate crisis/change with feminism.
Students were also asked to discuss, debate and propose changes to halt or slow down global climate construction, and to think about the roles they’ve played or can play.
The forum, they say, is designed to offer students a broad understanding of or a way forward to the future while showing the entanglements across race, ethnicity, class, and gender with climate destruction.
StFX psychology professor Dr. Karen Blair has won an award recognizing her outstanding research. She is the recipient of the 2018 Hugo G. Beigel Award for the best paper published in the Journal of Sex Research (JSR) in 2018. The award, named for the first editor of JSR, promotes and rewards research excellence in sexual science, and is granted annually.
The award is adjudicated by the journal’s editor and six associate editors, who each read every article published throughout the year and vote on the winner.
“Many of the awards we receive in academia are awards that we apply for ourselves. What really makes this award quite an honour is that no one applies for it; it is adjudicated by a small group of dedicated associate editors at JSR who take the time to read and evaluate every single paper published in the journal each year and then they select a winner. JSR is one of the top journals in my field of research and many of the associate editors are scholars whom I have looked up to for years, which makes receiving this award quite a privilege,” Dr. Blair says.
Dr. Blair’s article, entitled “Not all orgasms were created equal: Differences in frequency and satisfaction of orgasm experiences by sexual activity in same-sex versus mixed-sex relationships,” was published in issue 6, vol 55 of the Journal of Sex Research. The article explores the popularly referred to concept of the ‘orgasm gap,’ in which researchers have long reported that men appear to experience more frequent and consistent orgasms than women. However, in Dr. Blair’s article, she and her co-authors, Dr. Jaclyn Cappell and Dr. Caroline Pukall, found that the gap ceases to exist when considering solitary sexual activities or same-sex relationships. Further, the study was one of the first to explore variations in satisfaction associated with different sexual activities. In her role as the director of the StFX Knowledge Translation Centre, Dr. Blair and StFX students produced a video abstract for the paper last year, which can be viewed here.
The award will be presented at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality’s 2019 Annual Meeting (SSSS). The award consists of a cash grant of $500 US, one registration fee waiver for this year’s meeting, and a Certificate of Research Excellence from The Society. This year the annual meeting will be held November 7-10, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.
Picking up sticks in the Nova Scotia woods on a sunny Saturday is not what first-year students in the Social Justice Colloquium (SJC) and the Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health (BASc in Health) program thought they would be doing on their third weekend at StFX. But there they were—about 60 of them, working with their instructors and several Coady Global Change Leaders to check and clear steep trails littered with leaves and branches blown down by Hurricane Dorian.
The students were participating in a cross-course Service Learning activity designed by their instructors, Dr. Clare Fawcett (Anthropology-SJC) and Dr. Christina Holmes (BASc in Health). They were supported by Arlynne McGrath (Service Learning Program community coordinator), Paul Basilie (Keppoch general manager), Eric Smith (Positive Action for the Keppoch Society (PAK) Board of Directors member and Coady International Institute), as well as Dr. Chris Frazer (History-SJC), and Dr. Nancy Forestell and Dr. Rachel Hurst, both from the Women’s and Gender Studies program and SJC.
The site of the Service Learning experience, the Keppoch, is a multi-season, multi-sport recreational facility in Antigonish County about a 15-minute drive, or 40-minute cycle from the StFX campus. Developed, maintained and managed by PAK, it is an extensive network of mountain-bike, hiking, Nordic-ski and snow-shoe trails on the site of a former ski hill, and also includes the Keppoch Lodge.
As the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney returned to StFX, his alma mater, on September 18, 2019 to celebrate the grand opening of The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall, speaker after speaker spoke about how transformative the $52-million state-of-the-art building and its academic programs, including a unique institution for government and leadership, is for the students of today and tomorrow.
“We are extremely grateful to Prime Minister Mulroney and his family for making this vision a reality. It’s a project that entrenches StFX as a national and international destination for leadership, receiving widespread support both at home in Canada and from around the world,” StFX Interim President Dr. Kevin Wamsley said during the opening ceremony.
“The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall provide new opportunities for the StFX community, a platform from which we can deliver our academic mission in new and exciting ways.
“This project is an investment in people,” he said, and an investment in scholarship, research and innovation. Already, the four-storey, 93,000 square foot glass-walled building, which took two years to construct, and the academic contributions from the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government have taken StFX to the next level, Dr. Wamsley said.
Dr. Kevin Wamsley
In an emotional and inspiring speech, Mr. Mulroney told the crowd it is a special moment in his life to participate in this ceremony “marking the opening not only of splendid new buildings at StFX, a place I love, but, more importantly, the beginning of grand new opportunities for young Canadians and others from around the globe to learn, lead and help build a better world for us all.”
Mr. Mulroney personally raised $100 million to create the cornerstone of StFX’s Xaverian Commons Project, and he expressed sincere thanks and gratitude to the generosity of donors who made this day possible.
He also noted a highly impressive and generous new scholarship and bursary program, some $16 million, will help many young students acquire the education StFX founders dreamed of. Over 200 scholarships are available annually, including awards specifically designed for marginalized populations such as Aboriginal and African Nova Scotian communities.
StFX Board of Governors Chair Mike Boyd, one of a number of people to speak during the opening, remembered as a student meeting Mr. Mulroney, back on campus for his 25th Homecoming only weeks after being named Canada’s 18th prime minister.
“Then as now, he demonstrated his focus on students,” Mr. Boyd recalled.
“For us, it certainly was inspiring to see someone from a small school, someone from our school, could achieve such success.”
In her remarks, the Hon. Caroline Mulroney, MPP, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs, Government of Ontario, noted how StFX really opened the world for her father.
LEARN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
“In many ways, StFX is where it all started for my dad,” she said, as she too offered thanks to all who helped make this day possible and subsequently for their role in helping shape the leaders of tomorrow.
“It’s here where my dad learned how to make a difference.”
She said it came to no one’s surprise that StFX was to be the home for her father’s Prime Ministerial Library. But she said the family believed her dad’s legacy required something more, something that would honour the Brian Mulroneys of the future, providing young people with the skills and tools they need, providing scholarships and bursaries, insightful faculty and real world opportunity.
“When you have the tools you need, you can make a mark on the world in a way you never thought possible.
“This is our hope for the Mulroney Institute,” she said as she noted how proud and inspired her family is and how they can’t wait to see students roll up their sleeves and get to work just a like a boy from a small town on the north shore of the St. Lawrence did so many years ago.Mulroney-03-MtStFX.jpg
Mila and the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney
FOUNDATION TO BUILD ON
“How blessed are we that Mr. Mulroney chose Nova Scotia, StFX, and Antigonish, to be home to this magnificent building and learning institution,” Nova Scotia Premier Stephen MacNeil said in his remarks as he noted the gift Mr. Mulroney has given to a province, and a country, a learning foundation that all can build on.
“This magnificent institution could have been placed anywhere in this country. You chose to put it here. We are deeply grateful. We will never forget,” the Hon. Frank McKenna, fellow StFX graduate, former New Brunswick premier, and an instrumental part of the fundraising campaign, reiterated in his remarks.
Make no mistake, he said, that it is here today thanks to the massive reservoir of respect for Brian Mulroney around the world.
Both he and Mr. MacNeil spoke of Mr. Mulroney’s accomplishments and contributions to the country.
Mr. Mulroney was accompanied to the opening by his wife Mila Mulroney and their family. About 300 invited guests were in attendance.
Mulroney Hall is a focal point within StFX, connecting the lower and upper campuses; the Joyce Family Atrium, the centrepiece of the building, will be a gathering place for faculty and students; the facility’s classrooms are fitted with the latest technology and a 300-seat auditorium provides a venue for music, theatre and debate. In addition, Mulroney Hall features a replica of Mr. Mulroney’s Parliament Hill office from his nine-year tenure as Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, including his papers, speeches and letters from world leaders.
StFX University is teaming with the broader community, including the town and county of Antigonish and Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, to create a plan for a sustainable future when it comes to climate change.
From Nov. 14-21, StFX will host Climate and Democracy Week, a week-long series of events, open to all, that will feature local and international renowned climate leaders who will host talks, workshops and facilitate activities.
A major highlight is planned for the Nov. 14th opening ceremony when StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Chief PJ Prosper of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher, and Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron launch the Climate Strategy Working Group, formally establishing a strategic plan on how to become climate ready in the region.
“This is a big deal. It’s going to be momentous,” says StFX sociology professor Dr. Riley Chisholm, who with Dr. Corrine Cash, Coady Institute senior program staff and facilitator of StFX’s Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate and Environment Program, is co-organizing the event.
PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER
Dr. Chisholm says StFX reached out to its partners to initiate the event in the belief that together the capacity for addressing this crisis increases markedly. Good work is already happening, she says, but sometimes it’s in parallel, rather than complementary.
“This is people coming together, taking down those walls. The academy is reaching out. It’s about how we can learn from each other, how can we explore and develop solutions together.”
“We can’t not work together on this issue,” says Dr. Cash.
“Hopefully this is the beginning of bringing people together on this issue in an attempt to create cooperation and collaboration and to build on that and to try to do good things.”
Dr. Cash says a lot of people are passionate about climate, but they don’t necessarily understand it or understand what can be done or how it can be done.
The week is offering people the opportunity to become engaged.
“What excites me is the extraordinary enthusiasm we’re getting from all sectors. There’s a real want for engagement,” Dr. Chisholm says.
She says she’s particularly excited about the diversity of participants, who range from international students to local farmers, young children to Catholic nuns to health practitioners.
“It weaves all those voices together.”
HOTTER, WETTER WILDER
Following the launch of the working group, Dr. Blair Feltmate, Chair of the Government of Canada Climate Adaptation Plan, will deliver the opening keynote address on Nov. 14, entitled, “Hotter, Wetter, Wilder: Is Canada moving fast enough to keep up with a changing climate?” The talk takes place at 7 p.m. in Mulroney Hall Auditorium.
On Friday, Nov. 15, a climate week panel, A People’s School on Climate Change takes place in Dennis Hall at the Coady from 6-8 p.m.
Panelists include Kerry Prosper, Paqtnkek Elder and Knowledge Keeper; Dr. Romeo Bertoloni, Deputy Director of Country Engagement for the National Determined Contributions Partnership Support Unit, World Resources Institute; Dr. Cash; Jolene Andrews, Gitxsan-Witsuwiten Nation Indigenous Community Developer Private Consultant and artist; and Dr. Simon Addison, Principal Researcher for Climate Change, Public Policy and Resiliency, International Institute for Environment and Development.
Local community groups will also be set up in Dennis Hall that evening giving people opportunity to discuss initiatives happening in Nova Scotia as well as the kind of actions they can take.
The next day, Saturday, Nov. 16th, a Weekend People’s School takes place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the People’s Place Library on Main Street. A number of concurrent sessions will take place with topics running the gamut from ecology and faith to a children’s art house, from climate and public health, to soil carbon sequestration in Nova Scotia, to the experience of international students from the Bahamas on being climate refugees.
Everyone can take part, and Dr. Cash says it’s exciting to see the revival of the People’s School movement—started by her granduncle Tom Boyle, and others, including Moses Coady—and that it’s once again helping bridge the gap between the community and the university, bringing knowledge to the people, and knowledge back to the university from people who live in the community.
Other highlights from the week will include the second screening in Canada of The Biggest Little Farm on Nov. 20 from 5-7 p.m. at Cineplex Theatre. The film is receiving rave reviews, and is offered free of charge.
Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo of the Labrador Institute at Memorial University will present the closing talk on Thursday, Nov. 21, entitled “Mourning Nature.”
A compelling, and almost forgotten part of Nova Scotia history, the story of Lillian Burke, who was instrumental in the development of the Chéticamp hooked-rug cottage industry in the late 1920s and early 1930s, has been brought to life in a new book by Dr. Edward Langille, a professor of French language and literature at StFX.
The Story of Lillian Burke, published by Boularderie Island Press, and released in June 2019, has been consistently listed on the 100-bestseller list in Atlantic Canada all summer.
“It’s part of Nova Scotia history that people know very little about,” says Dr. Langille, who first became intrigued by the American artisan’s life story after a chance discovery in a New Glasgow antiques store, where he happened upon some of Ms. Burke’s original hooked rug designs and started researching her life and the events that helped establish the industry in Chéticamp in 1927.
His research led to several published academic articles as well as public lectures on Ms. Burke, of Washington, DC, a friend of the Alexander Graham Bell family, whose multi-faceted career spanned five decades.
Ms. Burke came to Cape Breton after she started tutoring Bell’s grandchildren in drawing and watercolours, Dr. Langille says. She became a family friend and started spending summer holidays at the Bell estate in Baddeck. Supported by Bell’s daughters, Marian Fairchild and Elsie Grosvenor, she revived the defunct Cape Breton Home Industries founded 50 years earlier by Bell’s wife, Mabel Hubbard Bell, to generate economic development.
She visited the Acadian village of Chéticamp looking for women interested in producing hooked rugs for commissioned orders. She found not only an established rug hooking tradition, but women eager to learn new techniques. She taught them these new techniques and insisted on using only pale and soft colours and high quality wool. She designed and marketed the distinctive Chéticamp hooked rugs in New York City.
Over the years of her career, she also became a pioneer in the field of occupational therapy, having worked overseas as a ‘reconstruction aide’ during WWI and in later years as a therapist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Dr. Langille, a well-respected editor, translator and literary historian, specializing in the works of Voltaire, and whose scholarship has been honoured by the French government, which awarded him the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre’ des Palmes académiques, says the idea for the book, his first with a commercial publisher, grew over a long period of time as he pieced her life together.
He says the story he found was inspiring and important, and he wanted to make it as accessible as possible.
“I want people to enjoy the story, to become wrapped up in the story of her life,” says Dr. Langille.
BOOK LAUNCHES PLANNED
Book launches for The Story of Lillian Burke will be held in Cape Breton on September 19th in Chéticamp at the Trois Pignons Museum and on September 20th in Baddeck at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. A third launch is planned for the StFX campus on September 27th in the McKenna Centre at 3 p.m. All are welcome to attend.
Martin Grosvenor Myers, MD, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, and great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, wrote the forward for the book and will be a guest speaker at all three launches.
“It was a great project. It never seemed like one minute of work,” says Dr. Langille.
“I got interested because it was about Acadian culture more or less and I’m always interested in that.”
He also noticed some people had been very judgemental and had accused Ms. Burke of making money on the backs of the Acadian people. “This intrigued me,” he said, prompting him to investigate further. He said his research proved this wasn’t the case. She wasn’t rich, he said, and she died still working. He says it seems that some academic historians had tarnished her reputation unfairly.
Dr. Langille says through his research he discovered a wonderful person—she wasn’t perfect, he notes—but he came to the understanding from meeting several people who knew her as well as poring through a range of sources including news clippings, her WWI personnel file, education employment reports and a number of letters, that she was a generous and kind-hearted woman.
“I thought it was an incredible story and I wanted to do justice to her.”
The Story of Lillian Burke is available at the Antigonish Five to A Dollar and on amazon.ca.
St. Francis Xavier University is introducing a new two-year diploma program, the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Artificial Intelligence (AI), that will provide students with the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills in the highly sought-after field of AI.
The program starts in January 2020, and is intended for students from any field who already have an undergraduate degree, which is not in computer science. The program is concentrated and rigorous, with at least half of the courses at the upper-year levels. Students will take courses in a variety of topics related to artificial intelligence, learn how AI is currently used, and develop the technical skills necessary to work in this cutting-edge field.
“Artificial intelligence is rapidly growing and is being used more and more to solve a wide variety of problems in both industry and academia. We are very excited that students at StFX will have the opportunity to participate in this timely, emerging field,” say StFX computer science faculty Dr. Iker Gondra and Dr. Man Lin.
“What’s really exciting is computer science and AI in general have so much potential applications outside computer science. There’s a big disconnect between people who have those skills and people who need them. This program can really bridge that gap,” says StFX computer science professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics Dr. Jacob Levman. “We can train people for this next generation of skills needed in these wide variety of disciplines.”
This program, they say, is ideal for students with undergraduate degrees in a wide range of different fields of study, including both the sciences and the humanities, who are seeking to complement their undergraduate education for the purposes of applying artificial intelligence to solve practical problems in their own fields, for advancing their own fields, or the AI field more generally.
From Siri to self-driving cars, technological advances that rely on artificial intelligence systems include applications such as medical diagnosis, computer-assisted translation tools, speech recognition, biometrics, entertainment, and a variety of classification and predictive technologies.
Dr. Mike Melchin, then StFX Dean of Science, says one of the things that excites him about the new program is that it could draw students from a wide range of backgrounds, including international students. “This will add a lot of breadth to the classroom experience. All the students will benefit, with the intermixing of students who come into the program from other degrees,” he says.
The new Post-Baccalaureate Diploma is well suited for StFX, he says, where the Department of Computer Science already has a high level of knowledge and expertise in this field. Several faculty members are specialists, and AI is a significant focus in the department. Another benefit to students is StFX’s smaller class sizes and the opportunity to become involved in research.
“We have this enormous amount of expertise in engaging undergraduates in research here,” Dr. Melchin says.
The faculty say artificial intelligence is an area that is in high demand, and graduates of this program will be prepared for entry into the workplace or into applied graduate programs, such as StFX’s new Master of Applied Science in Computer Science.
Statistics show an inadequate supply of, and strong demand for computer science graduates. In Canada, the Information and Communications Technology Council, an independent and neutral policy advisor to business and governments across Canada, released a report indicating Canada will need to fill about 216,000 technology-related positions by 2021, up from 2015 predictions of 182,000 by 2019.
The report says this demand stems from a steadily growing Canadian digital economy, which experienced a 2.38 per cent growth rate between 2011 and 2016, compared to the 1.17 per cent growth seen in the rest of the economy. The report also finds that over half of tech professionals in the digital economy work in non-tech industries, indicating an increased prevalence of the use of advanced technology across all sectors of the economy.
The diploma is comprised of 48 credits taken usually over four semesters and has the fundamental computer science courses required of the advanced major in computer science while also focusing on AI related courses.
Those interested in more information, or to apply are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for applications for the program starting in January 2020 are Oct. 10, 2019 for international students and Nov. 15, 2019 for domestic students.
StFX students interested in accounting and accounting organizations looking to connect with StFX students had a terrific opportunity to network on Sept. 11, 2019 when the StFX Student Career Services and Co-op Education Offices hosted its first annual Accounting Career Day in the McKenna Centre.
StFX hosted 10 accounting organizations representing major recruiting firms from across the country during the event, which was open to first to fourth year students interested in accounting recruitment, especially the CPA designation.
StFX Student Career Services and Co-op Education Offices manager Jane MacDonald said each year the offices receive requests from organizations looking to recruit summer, co-op and new graduate students in accounting/CPA related roles.
“We would have up to 10 or 12 organizations book individual information session/meet-greets for students. Recruitment for accounting students typically starts the first full week of school with offers of employment sent to students by the end of September,” she says.
“In order to streamline the accounting student recruitment, Career Services and Co-op Education decided to have one day where all of our organizations that recruit accounting students would be able to network with students. This new setup will allow students the opportunity to meet with 10-12 organizations in a shorter time frame than attending each individual organization’s information session/meet-greet. It also assists the organizations to reach more students as some students wouldn’t attend all accounting organization information session/meet-greets.”
Ms. MacDonald says their offices had strong support from the Gerald Schwartz School of Business, especially the accounting faculty, when promoting this event to students.
CPA Atlantic School of Business generously sponsored this event and Ms. MacDonald expressed much thanks to CPA Atlantic School of Business for their support.
Anne Simpson, acclaimed author and StFX adjunct English professor, has launched a new book of poetry, Strange Attractor.
The new collection focuses on the idea of self and the many selves we are within our lifetimes.
“This one is really about the question of self—what it is, how it changes. I was curious about the fluidity of this idea of the self. Who are we when we’re children? Who are we as we age? Who are we when we have an illness? For instance, I have a series of poems about dementia, with questions from the Mini-Mental State Exam, which doctors often used, and in some cases still use, when diagnosing the illness. I thought about what it would be like to be asked these questions, and I created a character who can’t answer them. And yet the richness of her imagination is obvious to the reader. This is one strand of this book, one way of looking at the notion of self,” says Ms. Simpson, the author of four previous books of poetry: Light Falls Through You, winner of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the Atlantic Poetry Prize; Loop, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize; Quick, winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award; and, most recently, Is.
She is also the author of two novels, Canterbury Beach and Falling, longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and winner of the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction. Her book of essays, The Marram Grass: Poetry & Otherness, was published in 2009.
She says one thing that inspired her with this book was the ancient story of Gilgamesh, the first recorded work of literature that has come down to us. “It’s really about the friendship between Gilgamesh, the king, and Enkidu, the wild man. The poems I wrote are a way to have a conversation with another work of literature. I wrote poems from Enkidu’s point of view, poems from Gilgamesh’s point of view. It was wonderful to dig deep with each of them,” she says.
“That’s one thing that inspired me. But I have to say that I’m equally interested in the place where I live, and the ordinary stories of people, often those I’ve never met. No one would be able to see themselves in what I write, I hope, but I’m often compelled by stories. And I’m compelled by this place—northeastern Nova Scotia. It comes up so often in my writing. Could I write poems if I didn’t live here? Maybe I could, but this place haunts my work.”
Ms. Simpson says it feels wonderful to have the book published. “To have a book published is a gift these days, but to have a book of poetry published feels a lot like winning the lottery.” Poetry, she says, is not something we pay much attention to, most of the time, and yet if someone gets married, or if someone dies, we often turn to it. It contains the things we all wish we could say at those times when it is most necessary to say it.
McClelland & Stewart, now part of PenguinRandomHouse, is the publisher. Strange Attractor is available at the StFX Campus Store, the Bookmark in Halifax and Charlottetown, and on Amazon.ca.
A book launch will take place at the Red Sky Gallery at 320 Main St., Antigonish, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19th and all welcome to attend.
HURRICANE DORIAN UPDATE
Due to the expected severe weather related to Hurricane Dorian, please be aware that the StFX campus will be closed and buildings will be locked down as of 5:00 pm today, with the exception of Morrison Hall, which will remain open until 6:00 pm this evening. Essential services will remain open and operational (e.g. Security, Residences, Facilities Management).
The campus will reopen tomorrow, Sunday September 8, at 11:30 am.
We advise members of the campus community to stay indoors for the duration of the storm. If you must be outside, please take appropriate precautions to ensure your safety.
In the case of an emergency, please call 911. In the event that StFX Student Services are needed (including off-campus students), please call StFX Safety and Security – 902.867.4444.
We will continue to monitor the storm’s progress and commit to keeping the campus updated as new and relevant information arises. Please continue to monitor StFX Alerts, the StFX website, emails and social media for further updates. To sign up for StFX Alerts, visit www.alerts.stfx.ca.
SEVERE WEATHER WARNING
To the campus community –
The weather forecasts point to a stormy weekend as Hurricane Dorian passes over our region on Saturday night, bringing heavy rain and potentially damaging winds that could cause extended power outages. According to recent reports, this storm presents a strong and serious threat to our entire community. A message sent by the Town of Antigonish Is posted below for your reference.
The safety of our students and employees is our top priority. StFX staff are monitoring the storm closely, and are preparing to implement emergency response procedures should the need arise. In the meanwhile, please take note of the following information:
• We encourage the community to be prepared to stay indoors for the duration of the storm. Click here for basic tips to assist you in preparing.
• All students and employees are strongly encouraged to sign up for StFX Alerts, our emergency alert notification system. In the event of any campus closure, StFX Alerts can send a message via text, phone call, or message to a personal e-mail account. Alert messages will also be sent to all students and employees via @stfx.ca email addresses.
To sign up, visit www.alerts.stfx.ca (please note: If you have already signed up, you do not need to sign up again.)
• Employees and students living in residence should ensure windows and doors are closed, and that all large electronics such as computers are turned off during the storm. Lab instructors and researchers should prepare their time-sensitive lab research in the event of a power outage.
• Essential services will remain operational throughout the storm, including Residential Services, Safety and Security and dining services in Morrison Hall. In the event of a power outage, these services will operate via generator.
For our off-campus students, an Emergency Relief Centre will be opened if the need arises.
• A number of events scheduled for this weekend have been cancelled or rescheduled, including StFX athletics games, Welcome Week activities, and the Mulroney Hall event planned for Sunday, among other events. If you are planning to attend an activity or event this weekend, please doublecheck to ensure the activity has not been cancelled. If you must attend an event, please plan ahead to do so as safely as possible.
Finally, in the event of an emergency during the storm, the campus community is reminded to call 911. In the event that StFX student services are needed (including off-campus students), please call StFX Safety and Security – 902.867.4444.
We commit to keeping you updated as new and relevant information arises.
Message from the Town of Antigonish:
The Town of Antigonish wishes to advise residents to prepare for the severe storm that is approaching Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia is currently under a Tropical Cyclone Warning from Hurricane Dorian and as a result, current weather predictions are showing that Antigonish will be impacted by significant rainfall and high winds from Saturday evening at 6 p.m. into early Sunday morning. Rainfall expected ranges from 50-150mm and will accumulate quickly and wind is expected reach up to 150 km/hr.
To prepare, residents should secure outdoor furniture, flower pots and garbage bins, as well as ensure windows are closed and basements and backdoors are properly secured.
In the event of an emergency related to power outages, residents are expected to be prepared to cope on your own for at least the first 72 hours. For more information on how to be properly prepared, please visit:https://www.townofantigonish.ca/protective-services.html.
For storm related issues that require immediate attention on Saturday or Sunday, please contact 902-863-2956.
The Town is expecting a high volume a high volume of calls during this weather event and we will be dealing with issues based on severity and we ask for your patience during this time.
For less severe issues or concerns, please fill out the following form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeiUaDtNI2bJlaDhWzlJxos21xFImvS...
The Town will post any updates in relation to storm warnings, power outages or flooding notices to our website at www.townofantiognish.ca and social media pages, as well as shared with local radio.
The Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series at StFX will hold its fourth annual lecture on Wednesday, September 25, 7 p.m. in Schwartz 205. The annual lecture is an initiative of the Hive for Feminist Research, an interdisciplinary research group formed in 2013 to increase the visibility and understanding of feminist research at StFX in all its diversities. A reception will follow the lecture, and all are welcome.
This year’s presenter is Dr. Rachel Hurst of the Women and Gender Studies Program, whose talk is entitled: “Settler Fantasies and Colonial ‘Before and After’ Photography.” Drawing on her experience in her previous work on cosmetic surgery and other idealized representations of women, Dr. Hurst will discuss the connections between visual culture, embodiment, and power within the vast photographic archive of Indigenous peoples from the later nineteenth and early twentieth-century North America. These photographs were taken by colonial settlers and those of European descent rather than Indigenous peoples themselves. They therefore represent the fantasies that European settlers had about Indigenous peoples, yet they were presented as objective evidence of Indigenous life and peoples, Dr. Hurst says. She argues that this archive systematically imposed European norms of gender and sexuality on Indigenous peoples. She suggests: “While there are scholars who situate gender and sexuality as central to their analyses of photographs in specific places and times, what is missing is a broad understanding of how these photographs are connected to one another across time and place – and into the present – through gender and sexuality as they are framed within a settler ‘before and after’ logic of Indigenous transformation.”
Dr. Hurst is an associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at StFX. She founded the Hive for Feminist Research in summer 2013 to offer a space for StFX researchers to share and discuss work. The Hive defines feminist research broadly as a type of inquiry concerned with understanding relations of power, particularly those based on gender as it intersects with race, sexuality, class, and ability.
Dr. Christina Holmes, member of the lecture committee commented, “Dr. Hurst was chosen to give this year’s lecture both to honour her contributions to feminist research at St. Francis Xavier University, as well as the importance of her current topic of research to Canadian society and how we understand reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”
The Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series serves as a connection between all four faculties, the Coady, and the library. The lecture series runs on a three-year cycle, with a speaker from the Arts/Science/Library in year one, a speaker from Business/Education in year two, and from the Coady International Institute in year three.
Members of the Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series committee include Christina Holmes (Arts), Ann Fox (Science), Laura Lee Kearns (Education), Lori McKee (Education) and Shelley Price (Business). Gratitude extended to Meghan Landry (Library) and Naima Chowdhury (Coady) who have supported the committee in the preparations of the lecture series.
To the StFX community –
This week, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas, bringing with it catastrophic flooding and destruction. The images of the storm and its aftermath are devastating, and our hearts go out to all who have been affected by this tragedy – especially our Bahamian students and alumni, many of whom have family and friends living in the most affected areas.
StFX’s Office of Internationalization and the Diversity Engagement Centre have organized a drop-in gathering for all students tomorrow evening, Thursday, September 5, at 5 p.m. in the Diversity Engagement Centre (Bloomfield Centre – 4th floor.) This gathering is an opportunity to talk, seek support, or simply be with other people who are also affected by this tragedy. Representatives from StFX’s Health and Counselling Centre, as well as the StFX Chaplaincy team, will attend. There will also be a discussion about how the StFX community can raise funds to respond to this disaster.
As a reminder, students needing support can contact the Health and Counselling Centre at any time by calling (902) 867-2263, or by visiting their office in 305 Bloomfield Centre. If you or someone you know has been affected by Hurricane Dorian and you need support, I strongly encourage you to reach out.
Dr. Kevin Wamsley
StFX President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)
The smiles, and energy, were absolutely contagious as new students and their families stepped onto the StFX campus on Saturday, Aug. 31 for Welcome Day 2019. Music pumped, members of the student Orientation Crew—O-Crew for short—cheered and sang, and staff and faculty were out in full force to welcome the Class of 2023 to campus—including StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, who personally greeted everyone who arrived onto campus.
The message? Welcome to the Xaverian community—it’s going to be a great year ahead!
“It’s so welcoming, it’s been great,” says Patricia O’Callaghan of Scarborough, ON, who was helping her daughter, first year student Clara O’Callaghan, register and get settled.
“It’s very good, very organized and very relaxing,” said Clara, a humanities colloquium student who decided to attend StFX because of its academic program and the vibrant community. “I liked how small it is and that you can get to know your professors. I think that will really improve my studies. I also really liked the humanities colloquium,” she says.
Pàdruig MacDonald of Miramichi, NB, a fluent Gaelic speaker who is starting in the computer science program, said he is very excited as he has always wanted to go to StFX. Both his parents, Ellen (Doyle) MacDonald and Goiridh Dòmhnullach, are alumni, and both had great things to say about their own experiences.
The values of the university also lined up with his own, including the camaraderie inherent in the community and the focus on helping one another.
Another first year student, Yuhao He Erwin of China, who will take sociology, says he had heard about StFX in high school and was drawn by the X community, and the coastline. He says his experience so far has been great. “Everybody’s been very kind. They’ve told me the must-dos at StFX and invited me to join the international society.”
“The people are so helpful, they’re so energetic,” agrees Yagmur Var, a first year engineering student from Turkey who spent the past year of high school in Nova Scotia on exchange. She says she decided to apply to StFX after coming for a campus visit. “I really liked the campus and the engineering program.”
New students and their families met StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, who personally greeted each and everyone as they made their way into the Keating Centre, into a showcase designed to introduce first year students to StFX, make them feel welcome in their new home, and provide the information they need for their time at university.
Several ‘Family and Friends Information Sessions’ were held throughout the day at the Keating Centre, while the Auxiliary Arena served as a StFX Services Showcase with information booths on over 30 student services and activities with faculty and staff on hand to chat and answer questions.
Stationed all around campus, from forming a welcome tunnel at the Keating Centre to greeting outside residences, members of the O-Crew cheered as people drove into StFX, played ice breaker games with students waiting in line, answered questions, and helped people move in. The upper year students provide much support to first year students, who often arrive a bit nervous, not sure where they’re going, and perhaps a little scared. Seeing how comfortable and how much fun these students are having helps ease the transition.
Sodexo provided amazing food throughout the day, including Chef Mike Pollock’s famed seafood chowder, as students moved into residence, picked up their student IDs, and took part in a formal President’s Welcome.
COMMUNITY LIKE NO OTHER
“The day’s finally here. You’ve arrived. It’s a great pleasure to welcome you to StFX,” Dr. Wamsley told students during the President’s Welcome.
“We are so happy you chose StFX over all the other universities in the world,” he said.
“You chose us for our outstanding professors, our outstanding staff, our unique community residential atmosphere, our small class size because professors and staff will know your name, because you will have incredible leadership and service opportunities, because we will give you the tools to make a difference in this world – StFX is community like no other.”
Just as StFX is committing to helping each of its students, Dr. Wamsley also reminded the incoming class that part of the responsibility lies with them—to get involved in the community, to look out for each and to respect each other.
“We must care for each other,” he said to long applause.
He also told the students to not be afraid to speak out to their academic advisors, their professors and university staff if they need help. “That’s part of the deal…because we are here to help.
“We are thrilled that you are here.”
“We will be there to help you as you embark on this adventure. We have the same goal as you. We are committed to your academic success and providing the best undergraduate experience,” StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Tim Hynes said as he added his warm welcome to all.
“We understand and take very seriously the onus of responsibility that we as faculty and staff have. You can be assured we are up for the task of providing you with that transformational opportunity, that transformation experience that we often describe as the StFX experience.”
“You should have no doubt about one thing: each and everyone of you has the ability to succeed at StFX,” Dr. Hynes said as he told students not to worry if they have butterflies in their stomach about starting a new experience. That’s normal.
“You have already proven you are the type of student we’re looking for at StFX,” he said.
Success, however, is not a given. It comes as a result of effort, sacrifice and commitment. It will be a challenge but very much doable, Dr. Hynes said.
Students’ Union president Cecil VanBuskirk also welcomed the incoming class to the “start of some of the best years of your life.”
He reiterated the Students’ Union and all StFX are here to make your StFX experience valuable and life changing. “We want your StFX experience to be as incredible for you as it is for us,” he said.
Like previous speakers, he also encouraged the freshmen class to contribute their opinions, their ideas, their whole self to their StFX experience. Together, we thrive, he said.
Emma Kuzmyk, StFX Students’ Union vice president academic, served as emcee.
A recent two-day gathering on the StFX campus explored questions of disability, access, equity and education from diverse perspectives in the interest of creating and sustaining welcoming and equitable communities.
On Aug. 26th and 27th over 100 people from universities, community, government and the general public gathered at StFX’s Keating Centre for a community-university bridging event, "Disability, Access, Equity and Education: Creating Welcoming Communities."
The aim of the event was connection—coming together to learn about what is happening, and not happening, explore shared assets and resources, nourish a sense of curiosity and collectively imagine the possibilities for collaboration across sectors within rural Atlantic Canada.
The event was co-hosted by the Spatializing Care: Intersectional Disability Studies Lab at StFX in partnership with the Centre for Employment Innovation, StFX Extension Department, and StFX Faculty Development Committee, with support from a Jules Leger Award for development in pedagogical and administrative leadership.
“This is a very important time in Nova Scotia,” says Dr. Katie Aubrecht, Canada Research Chair Health Equity & Social Justice at StFX and director of the Spatializing Care Lab.
“Nova Scotia is embarking on new accessibility legislation. There is evidence to suggest progress where such provincial legislation has been enacted, but there are also lessons learned about challenges. We are in the privileged position to reflect on those lessons and have them inform action. Provincial changes are happening in relation with the Accessible Canada Act and at the same time as there is increasing attention to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). There are also changes happening within institutions. In Canadian universities, the Dimensions Program and Charter is mobilizing culture change in research and knowledge production through new equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. All of this movement suggests a window may be open and an opportunity presented to participate in and shape discussions and directions, and define the issues.”
Dulcie McCallum, Special Advisor on the Official Canadian Delegation for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CROD), speaks at the gathering.
Event organizers noted exciting work is happening here in our communities, but it’s not always easy to find out what is happening. They say there are not well-known cross-community, cross-institutional and cross-sectoral platforms to share knowledge and engage accessibility issues.
The two days of the event were active and saw attendees engaged in conversations, presentations, workshops and panel discussions focused on disability, access, equity and inclusion.
Jess Popp of the Centre for Employment Innovation at StFX said highlights for her included the engaging discourse that happened over the two days. “People were leaning in to uncomfortable topics and questions, challenging their own practices and beliefs, and doing so with the utmost respect and passion. All aimed at exploring how we might create and sustain more equitable and accessible spaces across our communities,” she said.
“The gathering was an important reminder that we live in a complex world, and that intersections of identity preclude a single path forward but rather inspire many avenues of possibility. Unique approaches to supporting individuals is key through meaningful engagement, relationships and reciprocity.”
She says as system partners, the Centre for Employment Innovation has been collectively exploring questions similar to those that were proposed over the past two days, “in order to understand how best to support our communities amidst a changing world of work. This opportunity to come together to learn, discuss our successes and our challenges, and create deeper relationships will be of immense value as we work collectively and collaboratively across sectors towards Moses Coady’s vision of ‘a full and abundant life for all.’”
Organizers say discussions highlighted the need to include culture in conversations about accessibility, and to include changes in thinking, relationships and attitudes alongside of the need for changes to the built environment and technology. Graphic recording and facilitation was provided by Mo Drescher from BraveSpace, who captured conversations on a giant mural. Arts was also featured by local artist Anne Camozzi.
During the event, participants shared a meal prepared by the Canadian Association of Community Living (CACL) Antigonish, watched a performance of the Park Bench Players and heard from local accessibility champions Jeff Teasdale, Jim Mulcahy and Verna MacDonald.
Participants also heard about community-led and driven initiatives from representatives from Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!), Culture Alive Antigonish, Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, X-Project, Delmore Buddy Day Learning Institute, African Descent Student Affairs at StFX., L’Arche, and Mawita’mk, We’koqma’q First Nation.
In the closing plenary, County Councillor Gary Mattie shared his personal journey and discussed the importance of understanding accessibility as an opportunity to support people and communities in growing and thriving. Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher shared actions and directions by the town. Special Advisor to Canada’s Delegation to the United Nations CRPD Dulcie McCallum talked about the importance of thinking about accessibility as a human rights issue. Senator Mary Coyle described the Accessible Canada Act and the value of a culture of inclusion where all people can enjoy the full rights of citizenship. Steve Estey, chair of the International Committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and a StFX graduate described the need to think about how accessibility looks different outside of city centres.
While the event was considered a success, organizers noted there are areas for improvement, saying even when we think things are accessible and inclusive, they may not be and we need to be ready and willing to recognize when something is not right and make necessary changes. It’s hoped this will be the first gathering among many to come, they say.
A full house filled the Keating Centre on the morning of Aug. 28 as StFX employees gathered in fellowship and community to start the 2019-20 academic year off right with the annual Employee Breakfast.
StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley welcomed all new and current employees to the event, where he provided a number of campus updates and spoke about priorities for the year ahead, including welcoming students back to StFX for classes starting on Tuesday.b3.jpg
Dr. Kevin Wamsley
“You are valued employees. That’s why we are here today,” Dr. Wamsley said.
“Thank you for all that you do. I hope we all have a fantastic year ahead.”
Several senior members of the leadership team shared their thoughts on the coming year in a video message, including mentioning several celebratory events planned around the opening of Mulroney Hall in September and the milestones and anniversaries that will be marked during Homecoming 2019.
Students’ Union president Cecil VanBuskirk spoke about the initiatives council is pursuing this year, including their work to create value for students, including creating an extensive marketing strategy, a peer support program, and the Get Out The Vote campaign.b2.jpg
StFX political science professor Dr. Glenn Graham and Kim MacDonald, assistant manager of procurement services, served as the morning’s co-hosts.
StFX welcomed a major investment in health on Aug. 26 as the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser were on campus to announce more than $7.7 million over eight years for the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), hosted on the StFX campus.
This renewed funding is to support research and evidence-based knowledge exchange to improve health equity for Canadians, and will enable Canada's public health community to take action on the social determinants of health, helping to close the gap between those who are most and least healthy, they said.
"The work of the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health is essential in helping tackle challenges, which not long ago were not thought of as health issues. The stable funding announced today will help find new ways to improve our health care systems and to address disparities in access to health services across the country," the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor said.
While all Canadians should enjoy the benefits of good health, she said persistent health inequalities exist for many, including those with lower socioeconomic status, Indigenous peoples, sexual and racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, and people living with physical or mental impairments, she said during a ceremony held in the foyer of StFX’s Physical Sciences building.
Investing in the NCCDH, recognized for its work on improving public health sector knowledge, skills, policy, structures and decision-making, will help advance health equity, reducing harm from social circumstances that diminish health in Canada.
Minister Petitpas Taylor said that when we talk about the social determinants of health, it’s about income, it’s about education, it’s about jobs. It’s about so, so much more.
“That’s exactly the focus being done here at StFX, at the National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health.
“As Minister of Health, I see the role that the determinants of health play in people’s lives each and every day.”
As example, she said, we’ve always known that poverty is an issue, but we didn’t know how much it effected people’s health, how a number of inequalities that exist in society have a direct connection to the health of community members, from someone who can’t afford to take a day off work to visit a doctor when needed to those who must choose between buying fresh fruits and vegetables or paying rent.
The ongoing work at the NCCDH helps makes those links.
“We’ve done a lot, but there is so much more work that needs to be done so that are fewer either/or choices.”
Mr. Fraser says the work happening at the NCCDH has made a real, tangible difference in the lives of Canadians. “There’s great work that’s come out of here and it’s essential that this work continue.”
This investment, he says, will help establish some of the best practices and best research available.announcement 2019 2.jpg announcement 2019 3.jpg
Mr. Fraser also took time to thank NCCDH scientific director Dr. Claire Betker and scientific director emeritus Connie Clement for all the work they have done.
“We are so proud to host the National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health at StFX,” said StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley as he noted the university’s own deep history of social justice and social responsibility.
"This important funding supports the critical research that plays a role in improving the health of all Canadians"
Nova Scotia Minister of Health, the Honourable Randy Delorey was also in attendance at the ceremony.
The current work of the NCCDH includes inter-sectoral partnerships on building health equity organizational capacity, interventions to integrate equity targets, opioid surveillance, housing, Indigenous reconciliation, anti-racism initiatives, healthy built environment, mental health, food security, community interventions, and early child development.