StFX Education professor Dr. Chris Gilham receives $25,000 Standing Together grant to evaluate school-based programming that could help disrupt cycles of domestic violence
StFX education professor Dr. Chris Gilham has received $25,000 in funding from the Nova Scotia government through its Standing Together To Prevent Domestic Violence Connect Grants. The Connect Grants provide one-year funding to support already funded, ongoing projects that help community groups and organizations develop and test new ways to prevent domestic violence, support victims and their families, and share the story of what they are learning about how to address this complex issue. The current grant brings people together to share results, build stronger networks and future plans.
The government will use the learning and evidence gathered from these projects to inform plans for ending the cycle of domestic violence in Nova Scotia.
Dr. Gilham has received this funding for a project entitled, Guys’ Work 7/8: Gendered Healthy Living Classes Nova Scotia, a partnership with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Education, Bridges Counselling, Family Services of Northeastern Nova Scotia, and five Regional Centres of Education. Dr. Gilham is working closely with Moe Green, who has been facilitating and training facilitators for high school guys groups across the province for many years now.
Schools across the province will be implementing Healthy Living classes and groups for male identified youth in Grades 7 and 8. Once that project is complete, the Connect grant will allow for the next phase of the project, which will involve sharing the results with guys group facilitators and community organizations, to discuss lessons learned, facilitator experiences, and how the work can continue to move forward effectively.
“Moe has so much experience, wisdom and thoughtfulness for this work. It’s been an absolute privilege to work with and learn alongside him,” Dr. Gilham says. “We’ve already trained more than 50 school-based guys groups facilitators across the province and the feedback on that training has been overwhelmingly positive. This is mainly because of Moe’s exemplary facilitation skills. COVID-19 has put a pause on the project but we do hope to get back to this work in the fall,” he said.
“Having already received funding last year to evaluate the effectiveness of the guys’ groups, this additional funding will really help us collectively envision and enact a plan to sustain the guys’ groups longer-term, if not expand them significantly” he says.
“The commitment and support of the province, via the Status of Women has been tremendous. This work allows us to do important upstream work with young guys, to help rewrite traditional scripts that say they can’t seek help for themselves or their friends, and especially those messages young guys receive about what it means to be men, and what it means to be in healthy relationships with others.”
StFX X-Women basketball head coach Lee Anna Osei hasn’t let the pandemic slow her down. In fact, she established and founded the Black Canadian Coaches Association (BCCA), a newly formed not-for-profit organization committed to providing a platform for Black Canadians in sport.
“I wanted some way of filling the voids for People of Colour in our sport community at the grassroots, collegiate, and high-performance levels,” comments Osei, who recently completely her second full season as head coach of the X-Women.
“It is also difficult to support and communicate with one another, and with the tragic events of racial violence that took place earlier this year, I think it really became clear to many people across our country, and in our sports community, that there is a lot of work to be done.”
Creating a tangible platform - a website to disrupt the negative narratives and instead celebrate the stories and accomplishments of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour [BIPOC] in the sports industry was the first step. “It is about coming together, along with our allies, as one broader sport community to identify, understand, and make a commitment to eradicate systemic and institutional oppression,” Osei noted.
It is also about celebration. Osei looks to the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA) Harry Jerome Awards, an annual gala established in memory of Harry Jerome, an outstanding African Canadian Olympic athlete, scholar and social advocate, as the gold standard for celebrating Black excellence.
She notes, “Harry Jerome’s role in Canadian sport gave him that platform, but I think we have fallen short in celebrating people of colour in the many facets of our sport industry - like our Olympians, our small business owners, our up-and-coming prospective and current athletes - who are all forging new and historic paths for People of Colour to aspire towards.”
“Looking at this past decade there has been some monumental Black role models in sport, including Olympian performances by athletes like Andre De Grasse, the appointment of Rowan Barrett as general manager of Basketball Canada, and the establishment of the Michael Pinball Clemons Foundation to support marginalized communities through educational and recreational programming,” continues Osei. “Visibility is important, and it further promotes sport as a tool for social, cultural, educational and physical advancements, especially amongst racialized communities and our youth.”
It is these individuals who inspire her and others to move forward with this initiative and to find ways for People of Colour and allies to come together not just in times of tragedy, but to work together towards a more inclusive and equitable society.
Osei stresses that the BCCA is not just for BIPOC stakeholders, it is for everyone who supports the goal of attaining racial equity in our Canadian sport community. The three objectives of the Black Canadian Coaches Association are celebration, advocacy though allyship, and networking.
In meetings with her fellow coaching colleagues across the country, it became clear that although these conversations are important and necessary, the focus should also be on addressing how to identify systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism within Canadian post-secondary athletic institutions and other high-performance streams, and to implement structural changes.
Osei links the structural changes needed to collecting evidence-based research, something that has never been done on a large scale for BIPOC members in Canadian sports. “Working alongside our sport governance and member institutions can bring about historic, positive change,” she says.
The group has launched an initiative called ‘The Charter for Racial Equity in Canadian Post-Secondary Athletic Institutions.’ The Racial Equity Project involves the enlistment of a top Canadian diversity and inclusion firm, leading academic researchers specializing in race and sport, and the creation of an ad-hoc task force to distribute questionnaires to former and current Black and Indigenous student-athletes, coaches and executives in 2020-21. From the project the group will create a list of recommendations that address how to ensure the ongoing safety, support, and empowerment of BIPOC members within Canadian intercollegiate sports.
Osei has reached out to members at both U SPORTS and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) with the goal of working together to help reshape policies and practices both at the national and conference level. She says the call to action was well received, and now the challenge is fundraising to get the project officially started.
Within their the call to action the BCCA recommends that every institution have a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) committee, professionally mandated training for sport coaches and executives, as well as a reshaping of policies such as hiring processes and ensuring candidates of racialized backgrounds are at the very least interviewed.
Another consideration for change would be to look at athletic financial award (AFA) policies, which currently have minimum grade standards for both entering and returning student-athletes in order to receive financial assistance. Osei comments that, “The AFA policy is a perfect example of systemic anti-Black racism at play, where a policy that was meant to assist student-athletes, actually marginalizes those who are most vulnerable. It is only compounded by low socio-economic status, a lack of structural support policies, and learning disabilities.”
StFX’s Faculty of Education is honoured to welcome Jane Meader as their Elder-in-Residence for the Master of Education and Master of Adult Education summer programs, which run from July 6 to July 30.
Ms. Meader originates from the traditional lands of Una’maki, now commonly known as Cape Breton, and resides in Membertou, a Mi’kmaw community. She holds many leadership roles within her community of Mi’kma’ki and the larger Indigenous community throughout Canada. She has a long career as a teacher of Mi’kmaw language and culture and is widely sought for her deep teachings on her culture, protocol, and ceremony.
She is a well-respected Knowledge Keeper and her expertise is helping to guide Treaty Education in Nova Scotia. She is also on the national Board of Elders of the Turtle Lodge Center of Excellence in Indigenous Education and Wellness, a place for reconnecting to the earth and sharing Indigenous ancestral knowledge.
She also has many connections to StFX. She is a graduate of both the BEd and MEd programs. Since 2015, she has been teaching on a part-time basis with MEd cohorts specializing in Indigenous Education and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. She teaches face-to-face classes during the summer program and also teaches online courses. Ms. Meader says she feels privileged and honoured to be in a position to be able to share her knowledge with others.
Eight StFX students—recipients of the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership’s inaugural Xaverian Leaders Micro-Grants—are spending their summer working on initiatives designed to bring the Xaverian community together during a particularly isolating time.
In all, the McKenna Centre awarded eight grants of $2,500 each to returning StFX students for projects that will help bring the community together and will help build a more compassionate student body in a time of physical distancing brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The projects, part of the newly formed “The Xaverian Leaders Media Network,” range from a wellness initiative designed to counteract adverse effects that the COVID-19 pandemic life can have on mental health and physical wellbeing to an online podcast sharing stories and community.
Grant recipients include Preet Banga; Abby Fraser; Hannah MacDonell, Lauren Sobot, and Grace Moffat; Gabriel Richards; Sophie Hadley; and Kennedy Nangle.
“With the introduction of the Micro-Grants, the McKenna Centre wishes to contribute to ongoing efforts to help our community deal with the significant challenges that the COVID-19 crisis poses for all members of the StFX community,” the McKenna Centre team says.
“The Xaverian Leaders Micro-Grants find innovative ways to maintain the Xaverian community in a time of crisis, to develop ways to be there for each other, to take care of each other, and to allow us to think and feel together despite the fact that we are physically distant from each other.”
StFX Student Services will also collaborate with the grant recipients and is excited by the potential to connect the work of the students, says Elizabeth Yeo, Vice President Students.
“We are building community with new students through the summer and will be guiding our new students to engage with and learn about their new community through the different McKenna Center projects,” says Ms. Yeo.
“This fall, we see great opportunity to connect the work with new approaches to programming for students that we will be offering such as new stress reduction/wellness programming, arts/creative programming, and supporting students to engage with the community through online connections which the projects will do so well.”
Ms. Yeo says being able to combine efforts and bring students into the community through these projects will help to make sure that students will be well taken care of and that they’ll have a great experience supported with the opportunities offered by the micro-grant students’ projects.
“We are very grateful to these students for bringing their unique talents and understanding of StFX to build community and serve their fellow students.”
More information on the grant recipients and their projects follow:
Preet Banga Headshot.jpg
Recipient: Preet Banga. Preet Banga of India is taking a psychology degree at StFX. In her first year, she worked as a writing tutor at the Student Success Centre and volunteered with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. This fall, she will join the Xaverian Weekly as the news section editor.
Project: Stories of Hope. “Welcome to the "Stories of Hope," where we share experiences and thoughts around the pandemic, the psychological and emotional stress many of us faced, and how we converted it into hope and opportunity for ourselves and those close to us,” she says. “We highlight the challenges that manifest across different social contexts and the solutions created by local communities to enhance social solidarity. These narratives are motivating and inspirational and show the way to live the new normal. For those still trying to navigate the tough times, this is also a platform to seek advice and connect with the community.” All are invited to share their experiences. “Come, join the ‘Stories of Hope’ to take your message to the world.”
Abby Fraser Headshot.jpg Recipient: Abby Fraser. Abby Fraser, of Cape Breton Island, is entering her second year at StFX, where she is taking a psychology degree. During her first year, she became a part of several campus groups, including the Relay for Life executive committee, Burke House Council, and Theatre Antigonish, while also serving as president of the Nova Scotia Secondary Schools Students’ Association (NSSSA).
Project: StFX Art ConneXions. “These unique circumstances have presented us with an urgent need to find new, innovative, and engaging ways to connect with each other when we cannot do so physically. StFX Art ConneXions is a platform where Xaverians can connect with each other using the arts. StFX Art ConneXions will be collecting submissions of any kind of art from StFX students, staff, or alumni.” Expertise is not a requirement. “Use your art to show how you are dealing with the pandemic and to communicate your thoughts and feelings with other Xaverians who may be feeling isolated. This website will be also be a place where you can view art created by Xaverians all over the world. We are all in this together, and this platform will give us a space to think, feel, and share together as a community. This archive of artistic content created by everyday people during a time of crisis will also serve as a form of documentation of this moment in history.”
Lauren Sobot Headshot.jpg
Grace Moffatt Headshot.jpg
Recipients: Hannah MacDonell, Lauren Sobot, and Grace Moffat. Hannah MacDonell is from Ottawa, Ontario and is in her final year at StFX pursuing a bachelor’s degree with a double major in computer science and the climate and environment program. This summer, she is working as a researcher at Carleton University developing a climate modelling software. Lauren Sobot is a fourth year student pursuing a joint honours degree in biology and psychology. She has been a campus tour guide since first year, and this summer she is working in a microbiology lab at Dalhousie University. Grace Moffatt is a fourth year student pursuing a major in biomedical health sciences and a minor in social determinants of health. She is the president of Enactus StFX and is director of communications and marketing for the Xavierian Leaders at large.
Project: The Xaverian Files. “Are you feeling homesick for StFX? You're not alone. Join your hosts Hannah, Lauren and Grace, who have teamed up to produce The Xaverian Files, a podcast that aims to get you through the ‘StFX withdrawal’ you may be experiencing as a result of COVID-19,” they say. “The podcast will tell stories of melancholy memories, embarrassing recounts, some heartbreak, and lots of laughter. The StFX community is at the centre of the podcast and each episode, we will choose a new theme ranging from meal hall crushes to campus myths and conspiracy theories.” The trio are inviting all to join them every second Tuesday as they embrace the new normal.
Recipient: Gabriel Richards. Gabriel Richards just finished her second year at StFX, studying political science and history. She is currently looking towards investigative journalism as a career path while working for her second year as the features editor for the Xaverian Weekly and the social media coordinator for the Environmental Society At X. While she was looking forward to going on exchange for the 2020-21 academic year, she is now excited to help bring together a Xaverian version of The Quarantine Diaries.
Project: Xaverians in Quarantine. “Here, in this diary, we will showcase how members of the Xaverian community are tackling their lives within the confines of the new realities,” she says. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many obstacles such as isolation, loss of income, and loss of opportunities. It has also brought about growth, triumph, and fight to make change. Many people are trying new things, like cooking or sewing. Others are learning about new problems, or problems that they were previously unaware of and how to deal with them, such as the massive outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ movements. And others still are learning about themselves and how to be the people they want to be. Each week, Xaverians in Quarantine will showcase the diary of a community member that shows how they are managing, growing, or thriving in these circumstances. “In a storybook fashion, we will explore the ups and downs and twists and turns of their current life. It will allow us to stay connected and involved in each other's lives, while also staying up-to-date on how the community as a whole is dealing with these new circumstances.” Each week, they will also present recommendations from the Xaverian community about books to read, movies to watch, podcasts to listen to, etc.
Recipient: Sophie Hadley. Sophie Hadley grew up in Guysborough, NS, and is now in her fourth year at StFX pursuing a history degree with a minor in religious studies. She has been active in the campus community, including currently serving as co-president of the History Society, and participating in the Immersion Service Learning trip to Germany and Poland for Holocaust education.
Project: Narratives of the Nish. “Being away from the things that we know and things that feel so familiar to us as Xaverians feels very salient. During trying times, connecting with others and feeling a sense of community is important,” she says. “Narratives of the ‘Nish” will focus on the people. “Small businesses at this time have been struggling particularly badly with the strains that COVID-19 has put on the economy. Now more than ever, it is important for the public to understand how we can best support the businesses we enjoy during this difficult time. I will be interviewing the many small business owners surrounding StFX and seeing what has changed for them since the pandemic has started.” She will feature stories on how businesses have changed due to COVID-19 as well as fun stories about how the businesses got started. “On “Narratives of the ‘Nish,” you will also find stories from fellow Xaverians, and alumni about their time at StFX. My goal is to house as many unique stories and perspectives regarding the town and X as possible, in hopes of creating an archive of this unprecedented time.”
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Recipient: Kennedy Nangle. Originally from Ottawa, ON, Kennedy Nangle is a fourth year StFX student pursuing an honours degree in biology with a concentration in health sciences. A third generation StFX student, she has been active on campus and in the community, including volunteering at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital.
Project: X-Moves: Community Wellness Resource. “As a result of the current pandemic, everyone has experienced immense change, rattling the foundation on which their everyday stands,” she says. “From daily interactions to changes in routine, the old day-to-day is no more. These drastic changes can mean many things, including the unfortunate adverse effects that quarantine life and physical distancing may bring about, like mental health challenges. This is where we come in! X-Moves strives to connect, unite, and inspire members of the Xaverian community to get outside, get active, and counteract these adverse effects that pandemic life can have on one’s mental health and physical well-being.” X-Moves, she says, is an online activity resource providing information through multimedia content such as blog posts, and videos that encourage and inspire physical activity during COVID-19. This community-oriented platform will serve as a resource and encourage community members to give their own multimedia input and experience with all types of physical activity, ranging from gardening to running. X-Moves serves as a community-focused platform for anything activity-based and as a hub for positivity, encouragement, and inspiration, in hopes of combatting the negative effects of pandemic life as we move together, apart, she says.
A unique collection of art works created behind the barbed wire of a German Nazi concentration camp and extermination centre has received support from a group of StFX students.
Earlier this year, 12 StFX students, accompanied by faculty leader and psychology professor Dr. Margo Watt, participated in an Immersion Service Learning experience to Germany and Poland, where among other places, they visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Auschwitz Museum possesses among its holdings a unique collection of works created behind the barbed wire of a German Nazi concentration camp, where art took on extraordinary significance.
The students, who had fundraised in advance of the trip, decided they wanted to donate the money to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, specifically the art exhibit and workshop they attended.
“In February, as a part of an Immersion Service Learning trip, we had the chance to travel to Germany and Poland and visit important historic sites relating to WW2 and Nazi concentration camps,” says Tolmie Belyea, one of the students along with Emma Munroe, Gracie Grieve, Sarah Hopper, Sophie Hadley, Cole Curnew, Alice Bruce, Gregg Anderson, Katie MacIntosh, Madison MacInnis, Marissa MacInnis and Emily Henry.
“Following our trip, we decided as a group that the money we had fundraised earlier in the year should be donated rather than used to cover our expenses. After careful consideration, we chose to donate the funds to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum located in Oświęcim, Poland, specifically we requested that our donation be directed to supporting the art exhibit in which we had the opportunity to participate in a workshop.”
Ms. Belyea says the exhibit featured works made secretly and illegally; works made on orders from the SS to exploit prisoners’ talents; works made by prisoner artists for the Lagermuseum that the Germans set up; and works made after the war by former prisoners.
“The workshop was particularly impactful to our group as it demonstrated the reality about life in the camps, illustrated the need for emotional and aesthetic experiences and portrayed the emotions and internal feels of the victims. We felt these works of art truly represented the emotions that accompanied the prisoners every day and are an important document in history.”
Ms. Belyea says learning about World War Two and the Holocaust from reading a textbook, watching videos, or listening to lectures does not compare to learning while walking through various concentration camps. “Seeing the camps right in front of me added a whole new perspective and set of emotions to my understanding of the horrific events. Personally, this experience made the horrors of the Holocaust real and made me question: What possessed ordinary people to commit such evil acts? What would I have done? How can I be more like those who helped?”
Fellow participant Sophie Hadley, who is entering her senior year of a history degree at StFX, says The Centre for Dialogue and Prayer were amazing hosts during their time at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“They really help you unpack what you have witnessed and make an effort to ensure that your stay is as comfortable as it can be given the proximity to the camp. I think the camp was impactful in a lot of ways. Some parts are in ruins and others have been preserved so as to help people understand what happened there. The Art Workshop we attended seemed like an interesting new way to understand history that I had previously not encountered before. Many of the paintings – some done by people while they were in the camp, and others when they survived the camp – were very informative about the time. Some of the interned people at the camps commissioned by the Nazi officials to create paintings, which I had not known before the workshop.
“I think this way of helping people understand history was different and I would hope more people get to experience a workshop like that, hence our contribution to the workshop.”
Ms. Hadley says they had all paid for the trip in full and as nice as it would have been to get even a small portion of that back through their fundraising efforts (something they initially considered), they discovered throughout their time in Germany and Poland that many of the museums accepted donations to keep up the exhibits and curate new ones. “We felt that as a slightly more unconventional service learning trip, where a bigger part of our trip was learning rather than service, this would be the best way to incorporate the service aspect.”
Ms. Hadley says the experience had a huge impact on her.
“My focus in history is now on European studies and moving forward I would like to continue my research in Holocaust Education and WW2. I feel like the trip not only provided me with a lot of opportunities to grow academically, but also as a person. I made a lot of new friends, and the connections made with even just our tour guides was so amazing.
“My minor is in religion as well so I am fascinated by culture – you can guarantee I will be back to explore the two countries even more.”
Agnieszka Sieradzka, an art historian and curator at The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, wrote Dr. Watt to thank the StFX students for their donation. “We are very grateful for making a donation when the museum is going through a financial crisis caused by the coronavirus. We will use these funds directly to protect original objects and improve storage and presentations of works of art from our collection.”
The Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership at StFX is pleased to introduce an annual funding opportunity for Black and Indigenous students, The Racial Justice Leadership Grants, which are designed to provide students with funding and institutional resources to support projects that include research, organizing and outreach work, or advocacy in activism in the area of racial justice.
The McKenna Centre will annually offer up to six Racial Justice Leadership Grants of $4,500.
“With the introduction of these grants, the McKenna Centre wishes to contribute to wider efforts in our community and at StFX to take much-needed, decisive action in order to combat the continued presence of racism and the ongoing systemic exclusion and disenfranchisement of Black and Indigenous students in Canadian society and in higher education,” says the McKenna Centre team.
In addition to funding specific projects, the grants offer students opportunities to participate in the effort to shape the future of StFX, and provide students with opportunities for disseminating their work and ideas and with platforms for their voices.
This includes providing students with a web-presence for their projects, offering them the opportunity to present their work at events such as the Xaverian Leaders Symposia, the Friel X-Talks, and the annual StFX Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Summit.
The grants will be matched through the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship Fund at StFX, with strong potential to become a multi-year project. The Deveau Fund is designed to make it easier for Mi’kmaq/Wolastoqiyik and African Nova Scotians to access a university education. Ms. Deveau ’44 gifted $8 million to StFX, and the fund has the potential to grow to $13 million as it is tied to a matching initiative from other sources.
“When presented to (Deveau Fund administrator) Bill Gunn, he was encouraged by the potential outcomes of this project and the impacts it could have on decolonizing some of the policies within the education system,” says StFX Director of Development Wendy Langley.
McKenna Centre officials say the grants will offer students the opportunity to connect and collaborate with a range of projects and organizations at StFX working on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
“By supporting individual projects and by integrating student leaders in university planning efforts and initiatives, the grants aim to provide students with the opportunity to positively shape our university and to assist us in improving it for future generations of Black and Indigenous students.”
The centre welcomes applications by students from all fields and disciplinary backgrounds (undergraduate, graduate, professional, and part-time), and international students.
Grants can be used to fund brand new projects, but they can also be used to further cultivate projects associated with a particular course or program of study, to continue ongoing projects first developed through a different funding opportunity, such as summer research mentorships, to further support honours and advanced major projects.
The centre invites proposals that range from traditional academic research to projects that blend academic work with social engagement in the form of activism, advocacy, or community outreach.
Applicants are encouraged to explore the topic of racial justice broadly by leveraging their disciplinary and academic background as well as the knowledge connected to their own sociocultural background and the complexity and diversity of Black and Indigenous lived experience.
From studying racial bias in medicine and scientific research to examining the effects of the under-representation of Black and Indigenous scholars in the education system, the McKenna Centre team say they are excited to see applicants explore the widest possible range of projects that deploy academic research in unison with social engagement to indicate necessary paths toward racial justice.
Interested students are asked to apply by August 15, by submitting an application package that includes a resume, 1,000-word project description, a one-page time budget that outlines a rough plan for how they will spend the hours the grant funds and two letters of support that speak to the quality of the applicant’s proposal and abilities.
Applications are to be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The McKenna Advisory Board will adjudicate applications immediately following the deadline and inform the six grant recipients, who can begin their work in September.
When my wife Linda and I came to Antigonish in late February, we had no way of knowing what challenges the next few months would bring and that our move across Canada would take place under such unprecedented circumstances. We had planned to visit our families in the UK in March, but fortunately we decided to cancel our plans just as the progression of COVID-19 across North America and Europe began to accelerate. Times of great uncertainty have a way of demonstrating what people -- and institutions -- are made of, and I have been so impressed with the resilience and innovation shown by the StFX community in response to the personal, academic, and institutional challenges posed by meeting the challenges of the pandemic.
As I step into the role of President and Vice-Chancellor, I want to offer my personal thanks to members of the university executive team who invited me to be part of the careful planning work over the past few months. As I begin my tenure, I am grateful to be surrounded by this strong group of committed and caring leaders who work incredibly hard to ensure our university’s success. I also want to thank and congratulate Dr. Kevin Wamsley and Dr. Tim Hynes for the outstanding work as Interim President and Acting Academic Vice-President and Provost. These are challenging roles under any circumstances and you have executed them with great skill and care in the midst of significant upheaval. It is because of your leadership that I feel confident we are on the right, carefully considered, path forward, both in the near- and longer-term.
I also want to thank the broader campus community for your hard work and dedication during these trying times. Having been part of the executive team these past few months, I have seen first-hand your commitment to our students and to one another. The collegiality, professionalism, speed, and most of all, collaboration in response to issues raised by COVID-19 has been, in one word, outstanding. Your efforts have been a critical part of moving the university forward and will continue to be needed in the months ahead. Welcoming employees and then students back to campus is a big task, however I am certain our community is committed to making this happen.
To our students, I can’t wait to see you in September. I am honoured to be joining you as part of the Xaverian family. I have been an educator for many years which gives me the experience to say that StFX is a both a unique and strong institution. It’s a special place, steeped in history with its focus on the future needs of our society. The academic and life experiences you will encounter at StFX cannot be found at other universities. StFX community members are proud to be the stewards of the academic voyages of discovery that lie ahead of you.
Overall, I am incredibly excited to officially join you as the 19th President and Vice-Chancellor and Linda and I are greatly looking forward to settling into life in Antigonish. We are currently completing our 14-day self-isolation and I, like many of you, am currently working from home. We are the test subjects for the new “green bracelet” protocol being implemented this fall to identify students who have completed their self-isolation! We need to keep our community safe and protected.
Again, I want to thank you for the warm welcome and encouragement you’ve provided to Linda and I since my appointment as president was announced in February. I look forward to meeting you again, to getting to know you, and to listening to your many perspectives regarding the wonderful institution that is StFX University.
Hail and Health,
Dr. Andy Hakin
President and Vice-Chancellor
St. Francis Xavier University
Today, St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady Institute is excited to announce the launch of the Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership with a goal of raising $1m to support Coady’s Institute’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership and the Centre’s Indigenous programming. The creation of the fund comes as Canada’s National Indigenous History Month concludes.
Movie stars, entrepreneurs, and activists Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Green Lantern) and Blake Lively (Green Lantern, A Simple Favor) are kicking off the campaign, with a gift of $200,000 and are encouraging others to support Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership.
“We’re so happy to support the incredible work of the Coady Institute’s program with Indigenous Women,” Ryan and Blake say. “We’re blown away by the conversations we’ve had and the work they do and look forward to joining them on this journey.”
Coady has 60 years of experience in accompanying leaders who are creating economic and social change and for the past 10 years has developed and held its award winning Indigenous Women in Community Leadership (IWCL) program.
Coady Indigenous Program Lead and graduate Karri-Lynn Paul says an initial group of mentors and graduates from the past ten years is beginning to examine ways to journey forward together with the Coady and its partners. They have prepared a statement that accompanies this announcement.
“These Indigenous leaders are inspiring renewed energy on how to move forward with our work,” Karri-Lynn says. “Their insights and grounding of our work in the realities of grassroots Indigenous Women lives is an important piece in our journey. They also talked about how we are enough, and how we need to prioritize programs that are created by Indigenous women for Indigenous women. This funding offers the opportunity to make that happen.”
This funding will help Coady learn from its work over the last 10 years with Indigenous women leaders and pivot in a direction that reflects current realities and recent history.
“What was most heartening from our conversation is that we are holding similar visions that include holding one another up, being inclusive, and grounding our work in indigeneity. And a recognition that many of us are cycle breakers and have been trailblazers in the healing process.”
Ryan’s and Blake’s donation and additional monies raised for the fund will support:
Expanding Coady’s offerings of Indigenous women’s leadership programs across the country, for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women leaders, both in their community as well as on-campus at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia;
Connecting and creating exchanges for Indigenous women globally;
Support the incubation of a new Indigenous-led and Indigenous-run women’s initiative.
Eileen Alma, Director of Coady’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership, says Ryan’s and Blake’s commitment to learning more about Indigenous issues has been energizing to the Coady and StFX team.
“They have added a tremendous boost to our effort to amplify Indigenous women’s voices locally and globally.”
Dr. Marie Delorme, Advisor to Coady Institute and CEO of the Imagination Group of Companies says, “this is the start of a new decade of collaboration with amazing Indigenous women across the country and worldwide. I am delighted to be part of this incredible work.”
To read a joint statement from the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program, click here: https://coady.stfx.ca/iwcl-joint-statement/
On July 1, 2020, StFX officially welcomes Dr. Andrew Hakin as the university’s 19th President and Vice-Chancellor, and already Dr. Hakin—who is looking forward to building on StFX’s exceptional tradition of academic excellence, spirit of service and community—has quietly been an integral part of developing StFX’s plans for the future.
Dr. Hakin comes to StFX from the University of Lethbridge where he led as Provost and Vice President (Academic) for the past 13 years, and where he served for 31 years as a faculty member, first joining the Chemistry Department of the university in 1989. While he doesn’t officially begin his tenure until July 1, he’s had an early start at StFX in terms of work with the senior administration team.
With the reality and challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic, he’s been very much part of the planning process, participating in regular meetings with StFX colleagues over the past several months.
“I’m developing a good operational understanding and an appreciation of the uniqueness of StFX University. I think this will serve me well in the months ahead,” Dr. Hakin says.
“StFX is a fantastic institution and I want to continue to help to move it forward, especially during this time of unprecedented challenge. We will be committed to building and delivering the best possible experience for our students,” he says, acknowledging this work will continue despite the current uncertainties and confines presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed realities around the world.
Dr. Hakin says one thing that has stood out during this early immersion into the institution is the continuation of the friendliness, engagement and connection he noted in his first visits to the StFX campus, along with presence of an impressive resilience and strength that is coupled with a desire to move forward.
“I see an institution that, like everywhere else, will be challenged by this pandemic. But I see a community that is both strong and resilient and I feel that because of this, we’re likely better prepared than most to take on, and successfully navigate the challenges that are ahead. I’m impressed by the strength and togetherness of the university. I’ve also observed wonderful leadership…Dr. Wamsley and the leadership team have done such a tremendous job in stewarding the response to the pandemic and I am confident that I am joining an exceptionally strong team. I know that I’m entering into an institution that knows who it is and what it wants; an institution that is built on a solid platform of high quality and experience and, ultimately, that is ready to explore some new directions. To be a part of such a vibrant community is extremely exciting.
“Having said that, my first priority is to help manage and navigate the university through these unique and challenging times” said Dr. Hakin.
Understanding StFX’s unique needs will be key, he says. For instance, approximately 50 per cent of students live on campus—what will this mean in the current environment in which social distancing is a key strategy to move through the pandemic? Beyond this, continuing to build strong, healthy, and diverse residential student living communities will be a priority to further differentiate StFX from other post-secondary environments.
Also important is recognizing the challenges of the incoming freshman class. This group of students most likely completed their final few months of high school online without the usual levels of face to face support and social interaction that they had become used to. Entering a new learning and social environment as they arrive at university is likely to come with some heightened anxiety. “In these unusual times we must find ways to better support our entering students with their transition to university life. I know that we are working on strategies designed to enhance and support student success and resilience – the success and wellbeing of our students will be a top priority,” he says.
He recognizes that the first weeks on campus, after a period of self-isolation following his arrival from Alberta, will also be focused on getting to know the institution more intimately. Dr. Hakin says he wants to take the time to learn more about the university community.
“I want to get to know our people, what they aspire to, and what drives them. StFX has excellent faculty and excellent staff, who together, are clearly very invested in their university. I look forward to listening very carefully to what they have to say and learning from those who live and breathe the StFX culture. Working with the community to reach a desired future will require a detailed understanding of where we currently are, our strengths and also our challenges” said Dr. Hakin.
“Ongoing, it’s ensuring that StFX University and its reputation remains strong, that the university is viewed as progressive and vital without comprising the Xaverian experience to better attract for future generations of students who are destined to be the future leaders of our country and beyond.”
“I feel incredibly proud to be part of this great university,” he said.
Below is the announcement shared with students from Interim President, Dr. Kevin Wamsley, and Incoming President, Dr. Andy Hakin:
Dear StFX Students,
We are pleased to announce that, earlier today, StFX’s Board of Governors approved a recommendation to welcome students back to the StFX campus for the fall semester. Beginning Monday, September 14th, we will offer a Senate-endorsed approach of mixed-method course delivery, with most classes taking place in-person and some being offered online.
This is a decision that comes after much careful planning and deliberation. The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff, and faculty, as well as the members of our Town and County of Antigonish, is our top priority and will remain so as we welcome our community back to campus.
Over the past few months, we have been working with the Province of Nova Scotia, the Public Health Authority, and community stakeholders to fully understand health and safety protocols, and analyze whether or not we can confidently create conditions that meet these thresholds that limit the spread of COVID-19. Plans regarding our faculty, students, and staff returning to campus in September were developed and presented to the Province and Public Health for review. These plans included protocols related to our physical spaces, logistics, and movement on campus to ensure social distancing can be maintained, to practices relating to new cleaning and disinfecting standards consistent with the guidelines issued by Public Health. For certain, it will take the effort of the entire community to ensure our collective health and safety. Therefore, new behavioural standards and expectations of our community have been developed and will be shared in the days and weeks ahead.
As per Public Health guidelines in place on June 19th, all domestic students (i.e. living on or off-campus) who are coming from outside of Nova Scotia will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. This requirement may be altered in the coming weeks but remains the standard of practice today.
Students planning to live in residence and travelling from out-of-province will be contacted in July by University Housing to schedule their arrival time on August 30th or 31st, two weeks before the official beginning of the fall term. Students planning to live in residence and not requiring self-isolation, will be contacted in July to schedule their arrival date between September 10th and 13th.
Off-campus students travelling from outside the province must make arrangements to arrive in Antigonish so that their self-isolation period will end by the start of classes on Monday, September 14th. All off-campus students will be required to submit a health and travel declaration form to Student Life prior to arriving to Antigonish and will be required to check in at a designated, central location. Please be prepared should it be necessary for StFX to schedule your arrival and move-in dates in advance.
Reflecting the seriousness of maintaining a healthy and safe community environment, only those students who adhere to the health and safety protocols will be allowed access to the campus. All students, whether living on or off-campus, will be required to adhere to the health and safety guidelines throughout the academic year. Failure to do so will be a serious violation of the Community Code and may even result in expulsion from the university.
STAY INFORMED: TOWN HALL INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS AND PARENTS
We recognize that there is much more information to communicate to our students and their families. It is with that in mind that we have scheduled online Town Halls for students and parents, beginning with three sessions next week. These interactive meetings will introduce the new procedures being implemented in preparation for the September term.
All times are Atlantic Daylight Time:
To participate, click (or copy and paste this URL) to join: https://zoom.us/j/95809763171
You can also Join by telephone (long distance charges may apply): +1 438 809 7799; Enter webinar ID: 958 0976 3171
The situation regarding COVID-19 remains fluid. We will keep you informed and up-to-date over the summer as new information becomes available.
In the meantime, we look forward to warmly welcoming you home to StFX.
Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD Andy Hakin, PhD
President & Vice-Chancellor Incoming President & Vice-Chancellor
StFX University (July 1, 2020)
StFX political science student Christopher Yurris has won a $5,000 POLAR Northern Resident Award, and is one of 11 recipients of the 2020-2021 Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) Awards and Scholarships program.
The outstanding achievements and commitment of the recipients to Canada’s northern communities cover a vast landscape of interests from natural science to political science, health, culture, and education, says a release from ACUNS. Presenting this year’s winners comes at an unsettling time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With travel bans and research plans cancelled for the summer, award recipients face unprecedented challenges. The $95,000 granted through the ACUNS Awards and Scholarships program offers some hope and security during this time of uncertainty, the release says.
“ACUNS recognizes the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has made on students. For northern studies scholars, whose research projects involve on-the-ground collaboration within Canada’s Arctic and sub-Arctic communities, summer is the critical time to get work done. The season may be lost this year, but academic ambitions should not be abandoned. We hope our scholarships will provide the means of support to help our recipients reach their goals,” ACUNS president Gary N. Wilson said in the announcement.
“Polar Knowledge Canada congratulates the recipients of the POLAR Scholarship, the Northern Resident Scholarships, and the Northern Resident Awards. It is both a responsibility and an honour for POLAR to help support the next generation of northern researchers, and especially during these unprecedented times. We wish these outstanding students continued achievement and fulfilment as they develop their skills and help increase knowledge and understanding of Canada’s North in all its dimensions,” says Dr. David J. Scott, president and CEO of Polar Knowledge Canada.
The Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies is a national, non-profit academic association. The ACUNS Awards and Scholarships program offers up to 18 prizes each year to Canadian post-secondary students in support of northern research in all disciplines. Award recipients must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and a commitment to northern communities.
Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) is a federal agency responsible for advancing Canada’s knowledge of the Arctic, strengthening Canadian leadership in polar science and technology, and promoting the development and distribution of knowledge of other circumpolar regions, including the Antarctic.
Shae Nickerson, of Hazel Hill, Guysborough County, NS, has capped off her student career at StFX winning a national medal for outstanding work on her thesis.
Ms. Nickerson, who graduated from StFX in May with an honours BSc in geoscience, was awarded the Léopold Gélinas Medal for her BSc thesis from the Geological Association of Canada Volcanology and Igneous Petrology Division. The award annually recognizes the most outstanding undergraduate thesis written by a Canadian student or an international student studying at a Canadian university that comprises material related to volcanology (the study of volcanoes and volcanic rocks such as basalt) and/or igneous petrology (the study of the processes responsible for the origin of igneous rocks such as granite).
Nominated theses are evaluated based on originality, validity of concepts, organization and presentation of data, understanding of volcanology and petrology, and depth of research.
“Shae’s thesis entitled,“The mineralogy and petrogenesis of rare-element granitic pegmatites in northeastern Nova Scotia,” was rated very highly by the award adjudicators and it is an honour for her to receive this national medal,” says StFX earth sciences professor Dr. Donnelly Archibald, Ms. Nickerson’s supervisor.
“Her work investigated the origin of uncommon rocks known as granite pegmatites, rocks that can host very high concentrations of rare elements such as tin, lithium, tantalum and beryllium. Shae mastered several analytical techniques while completing her thesis, a challenging task for an undergraduate student. She used her data to demonstrate the degree of rare-element enrichment and determined the geological processes that formed these rare rocks in addition to incorporating her data into the regional geological framework. Shae’s thesis is very well written and she was a pleasure to have as a student.”
Ms. Nickerson says she was surprised and a little shocked when she received the email from Dr. Archibald to let her know she had won. “I had no idea I was nominated! I felt extremely proud and honoured to receive the award after it sank in, I worked very hard on my thesis.”
In her thesis, Ms. Nickerson investigated the Lower Caledonia pegmatite, located approximately 60 km south of Antigonish. “Using several geological techniques and state-of-the-art technologies, I characterized the rocks, determined how they formed, and compared them to similar pegmatites in Nova Scotia. My thesis would not have been possible without the guidance and patience of my supervisor Dr. Donnelly Archibald, and additional advice from Dr. Alan Anderson (StFX) and Dr. Sandra Barr (Acadia),” she says.
Ms. Nickerson says she became interested in pegmatites after learning about them in a second year earth sciences class and from Dr. Anderson who is very knowledgeable of pegmatites. Dr. Archibald had asked her about doing a thesis and had a few topics in mind. After seeing a sample of the Lower Caledonia pegmatite, she says she knew she wanted to write her thesis on it.
Ms. Nickerson, recipient also of the 2020 Professor Donald J. MacNeil Memorial Award for Earth Sciences and the 2020 Mining Society of Nova Scotia Centennial Scholarship Medal, says her first year at StFX was intimidating after coming from a very small high school. In second year, she says when she took more earth sciences classes, these classes were small, and much more personable making it more enjoyable for her. She got to know “remarkable professors, like Brendan Murphy, Mike Melchin, and James Braid just to name a few.” Most of the earth sciences courses provided hands-on learning, especially Geological Field Methods and Advanced Geological Field methods. “These courses taught me the fundamental skills for geological mapping. The first course took place just outside Antigonish and then to Spain for the advanced course!” Throughout her time at StFX, she also participated in two Atlantic Universities Geoscience Conferences (AUGC). She helped organize the 2019 AUGC hosted at StFX and gave an oral presentation on her thesis that year.
“From these experiences at X I have grown as a person. I’ve gained more confidence, improved my social skills, learned to pursue my goals, and made great memories.”
Ms. Nickerson will begin a masters in geology at Acadia University this fall under the supervision of Dr. Barr. Following her masters, she plans to pursue a career in geology, preferably within Nova Scotia, though she says after travelling to Spain for a geology course she’s caught the travel bug and hopes to continue to travel internationally and explore.
How does one design safe communities in a COVID-19 world?
That was the topic of a webinar, hosted by StFX’s Coady International Institute, that brought together experts and drew hundreds of attendees from around the globe.
Dr. Corrine Cash, Senior Program Staff at the Coady, and facilitator of StFX’s Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate and Environment, hosted the June 5th webinar, Imagining Public Spaces: How to Design Safe Communities in a Covid-19 World, and was joined by panelists, Dr. Jill Grant, Dr. Jeffrey Squire, Dr. Jason Gilliland, Dr. Ute Lehrer and Mr. John Fleming.
“The issues of how to create healthy and integrated spaces is a very pertinent issue right now. People want to learn how to do things differently. This was a way of bringing ideas together, wherever they reside in the world,” says Dr. Cash, who noted the Coady Institute has been conducting various webinars since COVID-19 began.
“All of the discussions about cities and towns opening up, as well as thinking about what the campus may look like if it opens up, gave me the idea to bring experts together—those whose work focuses on designing public spaces—to discuss factors that those responsible for planning space in a COVID-19 world should keep in mind.”
How space is designed directly influences people’s health, she says, whether it is by creating proper social distancing in places where people gather or through designing streets for people to cycle, and how well people of all races and socio-economic status integrate.
“Right now, we need to practice social distancing, so people are rethinking how space is designed. Parking lots are being turned into spaces where people can gather, streets are being closed for people to ride their bikes and walk. We are also seeing how streets and public spaces are areas where democracy occurs through the massive protests around Black Lives Matters. This webinar was designed so that people could consider exactly how we can collectively create spaces that are healthy, environmentally sustainable while also promoting equality and integration of all people, regardless of race or class.”
With other 300 registrants, Dr. Cash says she was pleased with the response. The webinar was also recorded. Those who couldn’t attend the live session, can view it at https://youtu.be/s3ib_6EjpLA.
Attendees came from across Canada, including many mayors, those who work for municipalities, and emergency services, as well as from countries throughout Africa and Asia. “One of the panelists, Dr. Jeffrey Squire, spoke about his work in Ghana and Rwanda. We made sure that we discussed specific challenges of those who work in informal settlements in the Global South because the challenges there are profoundly different than the challenges that we face in most of Canada.”
Dr. Cash says the feedback she’s received is positive. “I think that there is a need to have more of these discussions. I think it would be interesting to have a webinar discussing these issues but focusing on First Nation communities in Canada,” she says.
As for what’s next, she says she would like to connect attendees who have similar challenges so they can brainstorm together. “I have sent the details of the panelists out to all who attended. I think that there are many opportunities to conduct more of these virtual events as it is a method of bringing valuable expertise to corners of the world that may not otherwise have access to this knowledge.”
Six StFX students will have the invaluable opportunity to work on projects this summer that will help provide innovative solutions to needs in their communities as recipients of the 2020 Wallace Family Internship.
Thanks to the generous support of the Wallace Family Entrepreneurship Fund, StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre has awarded the 2020 Wallace Family Internships to two individual students, Anamika Saxena and Kerilyn Kennedy, and to two teams of students, Maxwell Gauthier and Adam Starr, and to Amy Graham and Patti-Anne Tracey.
The internships are worth up to $6,000 each or $10,000 for a team to support full-time employment for 12 weeks and are for StFX students enrolled in full-time study.
The interns will work on projects that include developing a platform to better inform international students on the university, improving accessibility on the StFX campus, creating a sustainable recycling program at StFX, and creating a sexual violence prevention training program for sport organizations across Canada. Each will receive coaching from StFX staff and faculty mentors and engage in learning activities that help them explore and develop an enterprise venture.
The interns and their projects include:
Maxwell Gauthier and Adam Starr
Project: Drastic, Scholastic, Thermoplastic (DST)
Anamika plans to create an online community for international students to share experiences and learn about the university and university life through an online platform that has multiple modes of interaction. The platform will have the capacity to post short videos, podcasts, and blogs created by current students to inspire and motivate other students. It will also encourage mentorship between students and between students and professors via a social platform where students can ask questions about the university and have their questions answered by others who have more experience. Most importantly, the platform will supplement, in an innovative way, the university’s effort to communicate with newly arrived students and offer the potential to address the needs and questions students have. “Students are able to learn and explore new ideas through other students’ experiences,” she says. “If the platform is successful, it will lead to higher international students retention rates for the university.” Donald Rasmussen, International Student Advisor at StFX’s Office of Internationalization, is helping Anamika develop her platform. “Experiential opportunities, like those available through the StFX Innovation & Enterprise Centre, are one of the most significant benefits available to international students who choose to study at a smaller institution such as StFX,” he says. “Motivated and engaged students like Anamika are able to gain extremely valuable experience through programs such as the Wallace Family Internship, which in combination with their academic studies can provide a significant leg up when pursuing employment or entrepreneurship ventures following completion of their degrees at StFX.”
Project: International Student Retention
As an inclusion activist, Kerilyn is looking to consult with organizations, businesses, and municipalities in a consultant roll to improve accessibility. Her pilot project will focus on StFX campus. Accessibility on StFX campus is an ongoing problem as it can be a challenge for people with and without physical disabilities to get around. Kerilyn wants to create solutions to these barriers people face on the campus as a result of being differently abled. In 2017, the government created the Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act, also known as Bill 59. This legislation aims to make Nova Scotia more inclusive and barrier free by 2030. In particular, the legislation states that all education centers must become fully accessible to all by 2030. This means that StFX has 10 years to make these improvements. Ms. Kennedy is mentored by Dr. Emeka Oguejiofor, a faculty member in StFX's Engineering Department.
Project: Improving Accessibility
Dear Members of the Campus Community,
Throughout the world, people are protesting for the end of current and historic racial injustice and brutality, most recently seen in the murder of George Floyd in the US and, indeed, people are demonstrating in Canada over the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto, a case which is still under investigation.
Nova Scotia has 48 historic Black communities spread across the province. These communities have experienced over 400 years of discrimination, racism, and oppression and, yet, continue to be resilient and resist colonial violence. It is our responsibility to recognize how we contribute to the continued oppression of these communities and to eliminate these practices.
At StFX, we aspire to provide an environment of inclusivity for all of its members. Our work begins in the classroom and in our communities to understand the forces that have led us to this point. We must also engage our community to challenge those who view Black existence as a threat. It is our collective and individual responsibility to stand up to racism, to identify it, to speak out against it - to have zero tolerance.
The StFX community stands with our Black colleagues, students, and community members fighting for racial equality.
Black lives matter. Black communities matter.
We acknowledge that we must work harder to dismantle systems of discrimination in our own institution and are committed to engaging in the lifetime practice of self-awareness, continuing education, relationship-building, and anti-racist practice.
Diversity Engagement Staff are available to support Xaverians during these challenging times:
Coordinator, African Descent Student Affairs
Coordinator, Aboriginal Student Affairs
Location: Bloomfield 313D
To report an incident of racism or a Human Rights complaint contact:
Human Rights & Equity Advisor
Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD
President & Vice-Chancellor
Dear Incoming and Returning Students,
Yesterday, was an important and celebratory day for our university community as we conferred our StFX degrees and diplomas on the Class of 2020. On behalf of the StFX community, I extend my sincere congratulations to all graduates, their family members and friends, as well as the faculty and staff who helped guide and support them along the way.
A StFX education is unique. Our students are expected to achieve academically as well as to make meaningful contributions to our communities. To the StFX Class of 2020, I know that you will continue to make us proud. You have achieved academically. Now, it’s time, as a Xaverian, to go forward to serve your communities. It’s time to mobilize what you have learned and make a positive difference in the world.
I appreciate that being unable to gather with family, friends, and loved ones is not the way any of us envisioned a Convocation or high school graduation celebration. This year, COVID-19 has stripped us of the ability to celebrate in traditional ways. It is disappointing and hard to accept at times. Still, it is important to mark your tremendous achievement. I also encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the support you receive from those around you, including the StFX community. Whether you are a new member of our alumni, or about to begin your first class in September, never forget that you are a member of the Xaverian family -- the strongest network in the country – and that this community will forever be among your biggest supporters.
Academic Delivery: In-person or Online?
I realize that this is the most pressing question from our students, faculty, and staff. We have been very deliberate in considering this decision. We must make a responsible, informed decision about our approach to educational delivery and the opening of our campus to students. The health and safety of the entire community comes first.
As the provincial economy slowly reopens under strict guidelines, we see parallels with our campus activities and have begun preparing plans regarding the reopening of the StFX campus. Once ready, we will present these plans to the Ministry of Labour and Advanced Education’s Division of Occupational Health and Safety and to Nova Scotia’s Public Health Authority for review. It is only with plan approval that we would make the decision to welcome students, faculty, and staff safely back to campus in September. This includes being prepared for the potential of future cases of COVID-19 within our community.
We will make the decision about in-person or online delivery by mid-June. This provides us with the time necessary to continue our conversations with the province while still permitting the campus community ample time to continue preparations for the September term once the decision is announced. In the meantime, I thank you for your patience and your understanding.
Registration Dates for Incoming and Returning Students
With the efforts noted above in mind, we have made the decision to reschedule our registration dates to ensure students are fully informed and are able to plan and prepare for classes to begin in September. As we get closer to Registration opening, we will send reminders to students; however, I encourage you to take note of these dates.
Registration start times for returning students: will be released on Thursday, July 9th
The Course Timetable: will be posted Thursday, July 9th
Registration opens for returning students: Monday, July 13th
Registration opens for MEd, DNURS, MASc and PBD students: Wednesday, July 22nd
The Course Timetable: will be posted Thursday, July 9th
Registration times for new students: will be available on Friday, July 24th (and posted within Self-Serve Banner).
Registration opens for new students: Tuesday, July 28th
We will be prepared – expect the highest quality of academic experience
It is our responsibility to be prepared for different scenarios of course delivery and day-to-day life on campus. Should students be allowed on campus, the StFX experience will be delivered under very specific and strict conditions following health and safety protocols. In the event we are unable to invite students back to campus in the fall, please know our Online Preparedness Task Force has invested much time and energy in the support of faculty so we will be able to deliver our courses in a form that replicates, to the extent possible, the traditional StFX classroom experience. There is also ongoing work related to transposing the ‘outside the classroom’ experience that happens here. Whether in-person or online, we will be ready to deliver a high-quality StFX experience.
I look forward to providing you with updates in the days ahead.
Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD
President & Vice-Chancellor
On May 15th, StFX student Moira MacMullin—known as Moira Bren—released the second single off her upcoming debut EP '6 Is Green,' which is due out late summer.
And in doing so, she wanted to support her local community.
Fifty per cent of the proceeds from the single, ‘Afraid of Your Heart’ will be donated to The Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, an organization that provides services and programs for women in need.
‘Afraid of Your Heart' is a musical dichotomy, says Ms. MacMullin, who is going into her fourth year at StFX taking a BA in psychology with a minor in music. Last school year she was music director at the campus radio station, CFXU 93.3 The Fox, and she will be music coordinator this coming year. While the song sounds happy and upbeat with airy harmonies and bright ukulele, she says the lyrics are quite the opposite as they describe an individual’s intense fear of someone in their life.
"Since I wrote this song from the perspective of someone in an abusive relationship, I decided that I should donate half of the proceeds made from the song to The Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, an organization that provides services and programs for women in need,” she says. “I am fortunate enough to have never been in a situation like this, but I know many women have and are experiencing situations like this right now. Rates of domestic violence against women are rising during this lockdown and they need our support."
Ms. MacMullin, whose song ‘Wish,’ her first release as a solo artist, reached #1 on the EastCoast Countdown in Dec. 2018 and garnered over 350k Spotify streams, says ‘Afraid of Your Heart’ is one of the quickest songs she has ever written.
“The melody came to me super-fast and the lyrics came right along with them.”
Response to the single has been good. “… well it sounds delightful – ukulele playing, wonderful harmonies, an upbeat kinda bouncy song – on the surface. But if you lean in and listen to the lyrics there’s a story of fear coming from Moira Bren,” says Bill Roach, CBC East Coast Music Hour. “Very catchy.”
Already since its release, the song has had over 10,000 Spotify streams.
To listen to the single:
When it comes to student satisfaction, the StFX Office of Internationalization has had a glowing report, ranking #1 in Canada, and #6 globally.
The results come from a student satisfaction survey called the International Student Barometer, which was conducted this past fall by I-graduate, an organization that collects comprehensive survey data from institutions globally. In all, students responded from 216 universities in 19 countries.
StFX topped the "International Office" category in Canada and ranked #6 globally. And that wasn’t the only good news. Other highlights for StFX from the survey included:
• Number one in student satisfaction for the process of application to admission.
• Number two in the world for learning support.
• Strong results for engagement with faculty and the quality of education.
• Strong satisfaction with the support students receive arriving at StFX.
StFX had 49 per cent of its international students participate in the survey.
“I was so pleased that almost half of the international students at StFX participated in the survey and that they are having such a positive experience at StFX. Being voted the number one international office in Canada was very special as it shows the work we are doing is truly supporting international students,” says Larissa Strong, StFX Director of Internationalization.
“StFX focuses on academic excellence and the student experience. By prioritizing students and providing them with the individual attention that a small university can offer, students have a great experience here. This is all supported by remarkable faculty, staff, and alumni.”
Ms. Strong says a majority of Atlantic Canadian universities participated in the survey thanks to the generous financial support received from the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
It was a very successful week for StFX’s Advancement Department, which picked up six national medals out of 10 categories entered at the recent Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) 2020 Prix d'Excellence Awards.
StFX is a member of the CCAE, along with over 130 other Canadian post-secondary institutions.
“The CCAE recognizes best practices in the realm of fundraising, alumni relations, and communications at advancement departments across the country. Annually, the CCAE awards “Prix d’Excellence” through a peer-led evaluation process. We were thrilled to recently learn that StFX won six of these awards, second only to McGill in the number of awards an institution had received,” says Murray Kyte, VP Advancement.
“It is a huge honour to receive one award, let alone six of them! To me, it highlights the quality of our people within Advancement and also across the university as much of the work involves various units working together.”
StFX Advancement was recognized with awards in the following categories:
• GOLD—Best Alumni Initiative - Celebrating 50 years of Women Athletics, St. Francis Xavier University
• GOLD--Best Donor Relations Initiative - Mulroney Liaison Officers, St. Francis Xavier University
• GOLD—Best Indigenous Relations Initiative – Indigenous Women in Community Leadership Alumni Gathering, St. Francis Xavier University
• SILVER–Best Media Relations Initiative - Mulroney Institute and Mulroney Hall Grand Opening, St. Francis Xavier University
• BRONZE–Best Alumni Initiative – Homecoming 2019, St. Francis Xavier University
• BRONZE–Best Print Magazine – 2018-19 Donor Impact Report, St. Francis Xavier University
Summer research work conducted at StFX on an app that combines music and computer science to help assist musicians practicing their instrument—the app listens to the user play and matches the key—has proved so successful for undergraduate student Travis MacDonald of Greenhill, NS, that he will present his work at a prestigious international conference.
Mr. MacDonald conducted the research last summer in the StFX Computer Science Department under the supervision of Dr. James Hughes.
Mr. MacDonald wrote a scientific article from the work, which was accepted for publication in a top international venue, New Interfaces in Musical Expression (NIME), and he was invited to present a poster at a conference that was scheduled to take place at the Royal Birmingham Conservatory, Birmingham, UK. He was also awarded funds through StFX’s James Chair student travel program to attend. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the conference has since transitioned online. Mr. MacDonald will participate virtually.
“It feels pretty cool to be part of a conference of this level,” Mr. MacDonald says. “Music and computer science is a niche field, so to have all these experts condensed into the same place is pretty special.”
NIME, he says, encompasses all kinds of areas in which computers can forge new ways to explore musical ideas.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what people are doing, as I’m sure there are specific areas that I’m unaware of. I’m hoping to walk away with some new ideas to think about.”
The conference takes place July 21-25th and will be modeled after an in-person conference, consisting of paper and poster presentations. The paper presentations will be pre-recorded and streamed at specific times, followed by Q&A’s. The poster presentations will be linked from their website during the conference. “We are encouraged to be creative, considering the circumstances, so we are thinking of making a poster with embedded videos to make it a bit more interactive.”
“The work Travis did last summer really is something remarkable,” Dr. Hughes says. “Not only do his achievements speak to the quality of the work, but the project was entirely done by him. I provided very little guidance and Travis independently worked out the problem and implemented the software. To me, this really highlights his abilities and speaks to the maturity level of our CS students here at StFX. Further, it’s really great to see what happens when talented students are given the opportunity and resources to work on what they find interesting; this is the type of work that doesn’t get done without these unique research opportunities.”
Mr. MacDonald says once the project to create a tool that provides interactive musical accompaniment started to get off the ground last year, Dr. Hughes found some conferences that seemed liked a good fit. “Of those, NIME sounded the most relevant, so we aimed for that one first. We submitted the paper in January, and just recently found out it was accepted as a poster presentation.”
Mr. MacDonald says he got into music at a young age and was fortunate to have some great teachers along the way. “However, computer science is brand new to me. Fortunately, the intersection of those fields aligned with some of James’ ideas and it pretty much started from there. I’m beginning to understand how computers can work with music, especially with the rise of machine learning, and potentially come up with new solutions to current problems in the field,” he says.
“The work from last summer is just one step in that direction. I’m looking forward to continuing that research.”
Mr. MacDonald, who would like to get into the software industry after StFX, says the computer science program at the university offers a wide range of courses, so students get exposed to many different areas.
With his research last summer, he focused on a single area the entire time. “You really get a chance to go deep into a topic this way,” he says. “In my case, I got some real hands-on experience in conducting research and writing software. Although my project was small and simple, I got a sense of the research process, and I’m looking forward to doing it again this summer.”
Mr. MacDonald was again awarded summer research funding, this year in the form of the Alley Heaps Undergraduate Research Internship Award. The focus of this work is on machine learning and music—seeing if they can get artificial intelligence to generate some satisfactory sounding music, and then studying exactly how it did this. “Hopefully, this leads to some discovery about underlying rules and relationships between different types of music,” he says.