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Meal hall program going well for isolating StFX residence students

Wed, 2021-01-13 16:32
Morrison Hall

Anyone passing by StFX around meal time over the past week or so may have noticed a line of six-feet apart, mask-wearing, students lining up around Morrison Hall. It’s all part of a new process to help support students who are completing their mandatory 14-day self-isolation in residence.  

Each day of their quarantine, volunteer supervisors take the students from their residence house over to the meal hall, make sure they’re social distancing while in line, and that they go directly back to their rooms. 

“Overall, I’d call it a success. Everyone is doing a great job,” says Bob Hale, Director of Ancillary Services. “They’re keeping six feet apart, they’re wearing masks, and the staff are protected. Sodexo staff are pleased. The students are courteous and obliging.”

Unlike the fall semester when StFX delivered meals to the students isolating in residence, this term the university set up the supervised program so that students can walk over to Morrison Hall from their residence and pick up three meals a day, with breakfast provided from 8-9 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and supper from 4-7 p.m. During supper, students are also able to take treat bags with them with snack items for later.

Once the meals are picked up, the students are escorted back to their rooms. 

Meal times are staggered so that members of each residence come at set times, with the exception of breakfast  when, due to low numbers of interested students, everyone goes over at once. 

StFX staff members Carla Gillis and Randy Peters have volunteered as supervisors, and they say it’s been going well. 

“My experience has been that the students are respecting the time schedule for leaving and getting to meal hall. They are respecting the request to go back to their dorm room directly. They have been prompt in being ready to leave and have been following the requirements for masks and social distancing. They are following the same requirement for keeping their masks on and social distancing while in the dining hall,” Ms. Gillis says.   

Mr. Peters echoes these comments. “The students have been exceptional with mask compliance. The staggered meal times have reduced the time students have had to line up outside and all have been very responsible with social distancing,” he says. 

“The food has been good and students seem reasonably pleased considering they are self isolating.” 

Mr. Hale says the new process was set up to give the students a better food experience. 

“This way, they’re getting more choice, they’re picking up the meals when they’re hot, and if they don’t want the meal (some students live in self-contained apartments and don’t always choose to go for every meal), they don’t have to come, so we’re able to have less food waste.”

The walk also gives the isolating students some outdoor time. 

In all, about 375 students are participating on a regular basis. 

The students provide a swipe from their meal card when they enter meal hall, but the university isn’t charging for the meals. The information is instead used for tracing purposes, and the meals go back on their cards.

The meal program will run until the self-isolation period ends on Jan. 19. Those students from New Brunswick, who started their isolation later, will have their meals delivered directly to them after the 19th until they complete their isolation. 

MUST READ: important info for all returning students

Fri, 2021-01-08 15:50

Dear Students, 

This afternoon, the Nova Scotia government announced the introduction of a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all persons entering the province from New Brunswick, effective 8:00 AM tomorrow morning (Saturday, January 9, 2021). This requirement will impact a number of StFX students who intend to return from New Brunswick. We recognize that this announcement is sudden and, for safety’s sake, encourage our students from New Brunswick not to rush their return to Antigonish in an effort to avoid the implementation of this new rule. 

With that in mind we ask everyone, especially New Brunswick students and their families, to pay close attention to the information within this email. 


1. In-Person Classes to begin Monday, January 25th 

2. NB students are to return to Antigonish by Sunday, January 10th 

3. NS, PE and NL students are asked not to return until Sunday, January 24th 

4. Mandatory travel-related information from the Province of NS 


1. IN-PERSON CLASSES WILL BEGIN Monday January 25th 

The start of in-person classes at StFX has been delayed to Monday, January 25th in response to the impact of this new quarantine requirement to allow students from New Brunswick to complete the isolation requirement. As communicated in the fall all classes will begin in an online format as of January 13, and now will continue online until our in-person format resumes on January 25th. Classes scheduled to be online for the entire term, will remain online. 




All residence students from New Brunswick are required to return to StFX no later than 8:00 pm, Sunday, January 10th. This will allow enough time to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine before in-person classes resume on the 25th.  Please be aware that all students arriving from New Brunswick as of this afternoon and returning to residence will be required to isolate.

• When New Brunswick students arrive on campus, they should proceed to the Keating Centre where they will be checked in and issued a red wristband to show they are isolating. Do not proceed to your residence room until you have come to the Keating Centre. The Keating Centre hours of operation are:

Saturday, January 9 12pm – 8 pm

Sunday, January 10 12pm – 8pm

• Students in quarantine will be supported with three meals a day as per our existing quarantine protocols. We strongly encourage you to read our Quarantine Protocols for Residence Students document to stay informed with how quarantine is managed on campus and your responsibilities as a student. 

If you have questions, concerns, or need more information, we strongly encourage you to contact us as soon as possible via


All off-campus students from New Brunswick should also make plans to return to their accommodations within Antigonish NO LATER THAN Sunday, January 10th.  Again, this will allow enough time to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine before in-person classes resume on January 25th. Please note no student will be able to return to campus and resume in-person classes until after their 14-day quarantine is complete. 

• Students returning from NB following the holidays and isolating in off campus accommodations should follow these guidelines shared by Public Health;

o have your own separate room in the home (like a bedroom, basement or attic) 

o wash your hands before leaving the separate room 

o wear a non-medical mask when outside your separate room 

o avoid contact with people you live with 

o use a separate bathroom or use the following cleaning protocol for a shared bathroom - clean high touch surfaces (like doorknobs, taps, toilet handle and sink) after each use 

o have food and beverages prepared by others and delivered in a non-contact manner 

o don't share dishes, drinking glasses and cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding and other items with others in the home 

o keep your personal items (like toothbrush, cups, cell phones, tablets and laptops) separate from others in the home 

o don't share food or drinks with others in the home 

If you expect to have difficulties following these guidelines, then everyone in your household must quarantine. 

• We strongly encourage you to read our Quarantine Protocols for Off-Campus Students document to stay informed with how quarantine is managed off-campus and your responsibilities as a student.

• Off-campus students in quarantine will be supported via our Neighbours Helping Neighbours program, which provides deliveries of groceries and other essential items. The student is responsible to cover the cost of items purchased. To register for this program, visit

• If you have questions, concerns, or need more information, we strongly encourage you to contact us as soon as possible via possible via



With the start date of in-person classes moved to Monday, January 25th, all students from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland are asked not to return to Antigonish until Sunday, January 24th. This timing will allow students from these provinces to return to campus for the start of in-person classes while limiting their exposure within the community.



Effective January 9th at 8 a.m., any traveller from New Brunswick must now complete a 14-day self-isolation period upon arrival in Nova Scotia. 

Students who started their travel in Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador and who are travelling through New Brunswick with minimal or no stops will not be subject to the 14-day self-isolation period. Try not to make any stops in New Brunswick. If a brief stop is necessary, please ensure you practice public health protocols such as keeping a physical distance of two metres away from other people, wear a non-medical mask, and wash or sanitize your hands often.

As a summary of the current requirements, students arriving in Nova Scotia from anywhere except Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador need to: 

1) Complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form before arriving:

2) Self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in the province

3) Complete a digital check-in daily during self-isolation

Students are also encouraged to get a COVID-19 test on day 6, 7, or 8 of self-isolation. Schedule your test using the COVID-19 self-assessment tool: 

While the border restriction with New Brunswick is not retroactive, students who arrived from New Brunswick or had visitors from that province in the past 14 days are encouraged to get tested immediately and consider a second test five to seven days later. They are encouraged to self-isolate while waiting for the first test result.

International students must also use the federal government’s ArriveCAN app to provide their information to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Students can download the ArriveCAN app or call 1-833-641-0343 for assistance. International students have particular self-isolation requirements. Learn more.

Questions? Visit the Coronavirus website: or email

Anyone in Nova Scotia who thinks they have symptoms of COVID-19 should do the COVID-19 self-assessment. You can call 811 if you cannot complete the self-assessment online.


In closing, we recognize this announcement by the provincial government is sudden and may create challenges for New Brunswick students and their families.  Still, since the beginning of COVID-19, we have all needed to adjust to rapidly evolving circumstances and this latest development is no different. With that in mind, we greatly appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we all work together to keep the StFX and wider Antigonish communities safe and healthy.


Elizabeth Yeo

Vice-President, Students

St. Francis Xavier University 


Eight StFX researchers receive almost $1.5 million in NSERC Discovery Grant competition (2020)

Thu, 2021-01-07 11:16
Eight StFX researchers have together received $1,485,000 in federal funding over five years from NSERC, through its Discovery Grants research program. Central Nova MP Sean Fraser and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin recognized the researchers during a virtual ceremony. Pictured are a few of the participants in the ceremony.

Eight StFX researchers have together received $1,485,000 in federal funding over five years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), through its Discovery Grants research program. 

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin recognized the researchers during a virtual ceremony held Jan. 7 to celebrate the news, initially announced in June 2020. 

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced at that time over $492 million in funding by NSERC through its Discovery Grants research program. The funding goes to 2,400 researchers across the country as they pursue research in natural sciences and engineering disciplines, including biology, mathematics and statistics, computer science and artificial intelligence, chemistry, and chemical engineering. It also includes support for more than 500 early-career researchers.

“The value I see in research is extraordinary,” Mr. Fraser said during the event. 

“Supporting researchers in Canada is important to maintaining a strong foundation for continued innovation and job growth, which is why I am excited to be able to recognize and celebrate the work of talented NSERC Discovery Grant recipients in my own backyard at StFX.”

In his remarks, Mr. Fraser also spoke about the importance of supporting diverse research across the country and of encouraging more people earlier in their research careers.  

Dr. Hakin congratulated all the successful StFX NSERC Discovery Grant recipients on their success in the 2020 competition. “It’s a wonderful achievement,” he said as he noted that as a former NSERC Discovery Grant holder all the years of his research career, he knows firsthand how important it is to receive this funding.

“We had two new faculty members receive their very first NSERC Discovery Grants and the six other awardees saw significant increases in the funding of their research grants, which demonstrates the high quality and impact of their research. NSERC’s Discovery Grant funding is critical for small universities like StFX and provides significant support for our students to become engaged in research,” he said.

Dr. Hakin said another important aspect of this funding is how it enables researchers to involve undergraduate and graduate students in their research, training the next generation. 

Also speaking at the event was earth sciences professor and department chair Dr. Lisa Kellman, a Canada Research Chair holder for 10 years, a University Research Award recipient, and an exceptional researcher who saw her NSERC Discovery Grant double in this latest round. 

“Research is a really important part of our academic job,” Dr. Kellman said as she offered congratulations to her colleagues on receiving these highly competitive awards. 

These awards bring many benefits, she said, which are not always visible in the short term, but over the longer term benefit our broader society as well as help support and educate undergraduate, master’s and PhD students. 

A number of researchers who spoke at the event thanked NSERC and noted the importance of both supporting curiosity-driven research and of training the next generation, of helping facilitate the inquiry of curious students and of attracting exceptionally bright students to StFX.  

The successful StFX researchers include:

Dr. Erwan Bertin, Department of Chemistry, $24,000 per year over five years plus a one-time $12,500 early career researcher supplement, Exploring Pulsed Laser Ablation in Liquids as a New Synthetic Path Toward Electrocatalysts.

Dr. Stephen Finbow, Department Mathematics and Statistics, $24,000 per year over five years, Colouring, Domination and Discrete Dynamic Graph Processes.

Dr. David Garbary, Department of Biology, $28,000 per year over five years, Cell walls and symbioses of the economically important brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum.

Dr. James Hughes, Department of Computer Science, $24,000 per year over five years plus a one-time $12,500 early career researcher supplement, Evolutionary Algorithm Development for Applications in Brain Connectomics and Other Complex Systems.

Dr. Lisa Kellman, Department of Earth Sciences, $43,000 per year over five years, Examining the protection of organic carbon in mineral soils of managed landscapes.

Dr. Brendan Murphy, Department of Earth Sciences, $51,000 per year over five years, The Assembly Of Pannotia: Implications for the Origin of Supercontinents.

Dr. Dave Risk, Department of Earth Sciences, $51,000 per year over five years, Measuring the methane footprint of Canadian oil and gas operations.

Dr. Russell Wyeth, Department of Biology, $47,000 per year over five years, Neuroethology of odour-based navigation in aquatic gastropods.


Positive COVID-19 test result on campus

Tue, 2021-01-05 19:42

To the StFX community:

I am writing to advise that earlier today Nova Scotia Public Health shared with us the news of a positive COVID-19 test result on campus. According to our information, the student arrived to campus on January 3rd and has been isolating in residence and following the prescribed safety protocols. During isolation, the student opted to go for testing which produced a positive result. The student continues to safely isolate on campus, with the appropriate academic and operational supports in place as per our pandemic plans.

On behalf of the university community, I wish to acknowledge and thank this individual for closely monitoring their health and for adhering to the health and safety protocols related to testing. By looking after ourselves, we look after our community.

Any contact tracing required is being managed by Public Health, and those considered to be close contacts are being approached directly by them. From a communications perspective, the university will follow the direction of Public Health when it comes to notification of potential exposure. The university will reinforce and promote Public Health notices in the interest of ensuring our community is well informed.

The university has developed comprehensive protocols and procedures related to testing and confirmed cases of COVID-19. These plans have been developed in accordance with, and supported by, Nova Scotia Public Health to ensure the safety of the community. You may find a copy of our plans by clicking on this link or by visiting our website at 

Students arriving from outside of Atlantic Canada, please help protect your household and our community by getting tested.


  • Students should get one COVID-19 test on day 6, 7 or 8 of your self-isolation. Please book your appointment up to 3 days in advance by completing the COVID-19 self-assessment.
  • If you need help with transportation to/from your testing appointment, please call 1-844-996-0694.


Anyone in Nova Scotia who thinks they have symptoms of COVID-19 should do the COVID-19 self-assessment. You can call 811 if you cannot complete the self-assessment online. Students who experience symptoms and referred for testing are required to notify so that we can provide you with supports and take steps to protect the safety of the community.

I want to take this opportunity to remind the community of the importance of self-monitoring for symptoms, as well as ensuring diligence with the basics of remaining safe – wear your mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.


Andy W. Hakin PhD

President and Vice-Chancellor

St Francis Xavier University 

StFX English professor Kailin Wright’s work listed among the 100 Best Books in 2020 by The Hill Times

Mon, 2021-01-04 16:40
Dr. Kailin Wright

It was an exciting end to the year for StFX English professor Dr. Kailin Wright who saw her new monograph Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre (McGill-Queens UP, 2020) listed on The Hill Times’ List of 100 Best Books in 2020, an annual feature The Hill Times compiles on the best non-fiction books of the year. 

“It is very exciting to see Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre recognized in this list and among other important works on Canadian politics, art, and culture,” says Dr. Wright, a Jules Léger Research Scholar at StFX, on her latest work, which examines plays that retell popular stories with a political message. 

Dr. Wright says it is especially important to understand political adaptation right now because cultural appropriation is often political adaptation gone wrong.

“I started writing this book after looking through Canadian theatre archives that dated back to the early seventeenth century and realizing that so much of our theatre is adaptation, such as the adaptation of Shakespeare, Greek mythology, the Bible, and political figures’ lives,” she says. 

“This history of performed adaptation continues today in theatres across Canada, but often with an announced political purpose, which is why my book sets out to define “political adaptation” or the retelling of a story with an announced political message. This includes, for instance, Margaret Atwood’s feminist adaptation The Penelopiad: the Play that retells Homer’s Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective. Atwood’s theatre adaptation inspired Penelope’s Circle, a group that supports young female artists. Djanet Sears’s Governor General Award winning play Harlem Duet is a prequel to Shakespeare’s Othello that imagines Othello leaving his first Black wife for the porcelain (Desde)Mona. With its emphasis on the significance of race in Othello, Sears’s political adaptation has been credited with changing the way Shakespeare’s play is now performed in Canada. 

“In this way, political adaptations are transforming the way we think about identities and diversity. Playwrights use political adaptation as a way for (previously) marginalized perspectives to survive and even thrive within a tradition of inherited canonical narratives. Political adaptation changes who “we” are as a collective nation of nations. Ultimately, this book explores how art creates positive real-world change.” 

With outcry over cultural appropriation, understanding how political adaptation works has never been more important, Dr. Wright says. 

“Appropriation can occur when a political adaptation is not executed with respect for and with the involvement of the marginalized or diverse peoples it represents.”

Barry Freeman, associate professor at University of Toronto Scarborough, says on the book: “One comes away from Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre with a renewed appreciation not just of the politics of adapting cultural texts, but of the plays discussed as truly impressive works of Canadian theatre. In a series of intellectually thorough and ethically careful analyses, Kailin Wright walks her reader through some of the ways that Canada is facing up to its past - and its future.”

McGill Queen’s University Press wrote: “In Canada, adaptation is a national mode of survival, but it is also a way to create radical change. Throughout history, Canadians have been inheritors and adaptors: of political systems, stories, and customs from the old world and the new. More than updating popular narratives, adaptation informs understandings of culture, race, gender, and sexuality, as well as individual experiences. In Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre, Kailin Wright investigates adaptations that retell popular stories with a political purpose and examines how they acknowledge diverse realities and transform our past.

Political Adaptation Book cover (002).jpg

“An exciting intervention in adaptation studies, Political Adaptation in Canadian Theatre unsettles the dynamics of popular and political theatre and rethinks the ways performance can contribute to how one country defines itself.”

Education changes the world: StFX WUSC students receive X-Rings

Thu, 2020-12-17 09:26
L-r, front: Farhiyo Salah (nursing) and Priscilla Panchol (BA international development) and back: Amy Graham (WUSC president) and Kristen Stephens (WUSC vice-president), all received their X-Rings this year. This is a special celebration for all who worked tirelessly to help with this achievement.

StFX celebrated a milestone this year when two students, Priscilla Panchol and Farhiyo Salah, who came to StFX through the World University Service of Canada (WUSC)  received their X-Rings.

This is the first time two students from WUSC—a Canadian non-profit working to create a better world for all young people, including through the Student Refugee Program, a resettlement program that supports students registered by the United Nations as refugees who wish to pursue post-secondary studies in Canada and receive permanent residency—have received their X-Ring in the same year. 

“X-Ring was a big thing for me because it symbolizes all the struggle I went through. I never thought I would make it this far but with the help of this amazing (StFX WUSC) society, I kept pushing through as I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel and X-Ring was definitely that light (bittersweet). It will forever remind me of this journey,” says Ms. Panchol, who came to StFX from the Kakuma refugee camp.

“X-Ring means a lot to me,” says Ms. Salah, who came from Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. “It’s a constant reminder for a beautiful journey, hard work and determination. It’s a dream that came true, and this wouldn’t never be possible without the constant help and support from WUSC-StFX society.”

WUSC society president Amy Graham, who also received her X-Ring, says at StFX a small portion of every student’s tuition goes to support one student refugee joining the Xaverian family. With the support of the WUSC committee, these students secure an opportunity to be educated at a post-secondary institution. 

“Given the COVID-19 pandemic, many WUSC university chapters across Canada have been unable to welcome students to their campuses. Given the strength of the Antigonish community and the current state of our town, we are pleased and grateful to be able to announce that, in January, we will be welcoming two new refugee students to the Xaverian community,” says Ms. Graham. 

“Without the outstanding efforts of the StFX WUSC chapter, this wonderful accomplishment would not have been possible.”

Dr. Maria Paz-Mackay, faculty advisor to the StFX WUSC society, says, “This was a very special day for us. WUSC program’s success is largely thanks to its unique youth-to-youth sponsorship model, which empowers young Canadian students to play an active role in the sponsorship of refugee students. We are lucky to have such a wonderful group of students on our committee who truly embrace the Xavierian spirit! The StFX WUSC group tackled the challenge presented by WUSC Ottawa to receive an additional student this year. The group worked tirelessly during the summer to apply for external funding to make this possible. We were lucky to receive external financial support from WUSC Ottawa and StFX AUT. Also, we are thankful to continually have the kind financial support our university provides to this wonderful student refugee program.”

WUSC brings together students, volunteers, schools, governments, and businesses, who together foster youth-centered solutions to enhance education and economic opportunities, while empowering individuals to overcome inequality and exclusion in over 15 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Americas. 

StFX welcomes new position aimed at supporting students’ mental health

Wed, 2020-12-16 17:09
L-r, Health and Counselling director Margie McKinnon and RN Shauna Grant-Smith, who will lead a number of new community-based wellness initiatives at StFX

StFX is adding to its mental health support for students. 

The StFX Health and Counselling Centre has recently hired Shauna Grant-Smith, an RN who has spent the bulk of her nursing career in community and mental health nursing, to lead a number of new community-based wellness initiatives. 

The position will add to the mental health resources already offered at StFX. 

Ms. Grant-Smith says her role will be to be out and about in “the community of StFX,” supporting the mental health of students. 

“Following all public health protocols and policies, I’m able to meet students where they are in various campus locations, such as residences and the new ‘Bloomfield Hub,’ which we’re very excited to pilot in January. ‘Bloomfield Hub’ (which will receive its official new name from students when we return in January) will be located in the Bloomfield Cafe, and will be a space for students to gather informally in the evenings with their friends,” Ms. Grant-Smith says.

“It’ll also be a chance for students to connect with new people and check out a range of wellness activities that are being planned. As a nurse, I’m especially interested in supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing from a prevention and health promotion perspective, and in helping them develop habits and skills that promote resilience. We want to help students connect the dots between their mental health and the ways they manage the everyday things in their lives, such as study habits, time management, sleep routines, eating habits and social life. Often, small but intentional changes can have a big impact on students’ overall wellbeing and on their ability to manage stress in healthy ways. Developing positive coping skills can help people thrive, even during uncertain and challenging times, such as during a pandemic,” she says.

During the two week isolation period for students after the Christmas holidays, she will have the opportunity to virtually host students daily for a mental health check-in, ‘Check up from the neck up.’

“We want all students to have a positive experience during their years at X,” Ms. Grant-Smith says. “Nurturing their mental health is important for every student. It helps the student cope with life’s stressors, reach their goals and get the most out of what life has to offer.”  

Ms. Grant-Smith says she hopes to make an impact in students’ overall experience at StFX.

“I hope to help them build confidence in themselves, to use health strategies to deal with the curve balls life can throw at them. I hope to foster resilience in our students as they move forward in their university journey. In my role I hope to promote the various ways in which students can feel supported and well balanced in their emotional and physical health while in their own backyard of StFX.”

Students already have a variety of ways to have their mental health supported during their time at StFX. 

“The Health and Counselling Centre has three clinical therapists available for individual counselling. With the pandemic, we have modified the way in which we support students individually and have moved to a virtual system. Students need to be registered with Health My Self and can make an appointment with the intake nurse who can book with one of our therapists,” Ms. Grant-Smith says. 

There are also a variety of group programs offered throughout the academic year that help support students in taking care of their mental wellness. 

“We want students to have their healthiest and happiest years possible while they are here with us at X. We want them to feel supported and to learn how to support themselves, how to be resilient as they navigate their way through their experience at StFX.” 

Ms. Grant-Smith graduated from StFX in 1998 with her nursing degree and has worked in Calgary AB, Halifax, NS, and in Antigonish since 2006. She and her husband Bryan have two daughters, Emma, a first year StFX science student, and Megan, a Grade 11 student. Their family operates Oliver’s OllieBot project, a project designed by her son Oliver who died in June 2019 after a 2.5 year battle with a rare bone cancer, Ewings Sarcoma

Circle of Abundance: Artist Tracey Metallic Connects with Message of Empowerment

Mon, 2020-12-14 16:07
“Keepers” by Tracey Metallic

In November, St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady Institute celebrated a significant milestone for its Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership initiative. In a virtual event, Indigenous Program Lead Karri-Lynn Paul announced that the campaign surpassed its $1 million fundraising goal.

During the event, attendees heard from program graduates, staff, and supporters. Paul also unveiled artwork by Mi’gmaq artist Tracey Metallic titled Keepers, which she says will serve as the visual representation of the initiative’s work and goals.

Metallic says when she first heard about the Circle of Abundance it reminded her of an earlier painting that depicts her own journey toward empowerment.

“I had Sun Catcher in mind because she’s all about that – holding each other up, helping each other out,” Metallic explains.

Tracey Metallic (003).jpg

Tracey Metallic

Metallic began painting “on and off” in 2014 after she decided to take leave from work to focus on her own healing.

“I was a social worker. I was practicing social work and I was also living with depression.”

Metallic’s brother passed away in 2003. Six months later her sister died. Then she lost her mother.

“I just kept getting one blow after another,” she explains.

“In 2015, I worked for an employment and training program. I was the in-house social worker and I taught classes on healing. Being depressed, it wasn’t a tough decision to decide I have to practice what I preach. I needed to take time off, so I did that.”

It was during this time that Metallic began focusing on her painting. At first, she painted cartoon characters for her grandchildren. After receiving praise for her work on social media, she developed the confidence to pursue her own designs.

“In my time off, my painting was an outlet for my stress and my depression. It was just phenomenal what it did for me and that’s why I’m still doing it today. It helped me channel what I was going through in life and how I was healing onto a canvas.”

Metallic says she does not always accept commissions because she likes to take her time and paint from a personal place.

“Over the past two years I’ve been making it into more of a business, but making sure that I’m really true to why I paint to being with. I don’t force my paintings, they just come to me,” she explains.

However, when she heard about the Circle of Abundance, she thought it was a perfect fit.

“When [Paul] explained to me about women lifting each other up, that’s what I do. That’s exactly what I do and what I had done in my previous employment. I’m a social worker. That’s why I went into social work. And I’ve been there. I was down right to the bottom. I know how it feels when there’s no other way but up – and that journey is beautiful.”

Pulling inspiration from both her own journey and what she learned about the Circle of Abundance, Metallic began to design Keepers.

“I had an idea with this circle. It’s like a ball of energy. That’s empowerment,” she explains.

“You can see how the dress is kind of a mountain, and the sunrise coming up, and then you see water; it’s like we’re coming from the earth – natural. Women are nurturers. We’re natural nurturers.”

The Circle of Abundance initiative launched earlier this year with an opening gift from Hollywood’s Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. Metallic says she was surprised to learn that Reynolds shared her work on social media, and she is now reaching a larger audience than before.

“I was just overwhelmed. It still hasn’t stopped. I’m still getting orders right now,” she says. “My head’s still spinning. But it’s a good spin.”

To learn more about the Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership, visit:

To learn more about Tracey Metallic, visit:

Students learn about safer socializing, respectful communities in completing modules 

Wed, 2020-12-09 09:17
L-r, VP Students Elizabeth Yeo, prize winners Elizabeth Fenwick and Kaitlen Lockhart and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin

Learning about safer socializing during a pandemic and what’s expected in a safe, equitable and respective community were two of the outcomes experienced by StFX students who completed the Safer Socializing and Respectful Communities modules. 

StFX students were asked to complete one, or both, of the modules to have their names entered to win one of two grand prizes of $1,500 towards their choice of tuition, StFX Store, or X-Ring. The prize winners are Elizabeth Fenwick and Kaitlen Lockhart, both third year human kinetic students. 

Organizers say response to the modules, which remain open as resources, was terrific. And that means good news. 

“Now, with the competition closed, we are confident that most close social circles here at StFX have at least two people who are fully trained safer socializers and can provide leadership to their friend groups,” says Elizabeth Yeo, VP Students.

StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin also offered thanks to all who students who completed the modules. 

“By doing so, you’ve shown your Xaverian spirit and helped to keep our campus and community safe in unprecedented times. So thank you! And for everyone that has not yet had the opportunity to do the modules, the competition is closed, but the modules will remain open throughout the year and we encourage students to go online and complete them,” he said. 

“There is a lot of fantastic information on how to be a good host and guest, how to keep our community respectful for all students, and how to stay safe over the holidays.”

Students, in their feedback, said the modules were helpful learning tools. 

“Through the Safer Socializing module, I have learned that it is possible to still have a fun and social time while living in a pandemic. The module also helped me further my knowledge on appropriate ways to be a good host and guest of a party,” one student wrote in feedback. 

Another student said: “I have always thought about being a good neighbour while being a student, but reading through the Safer Socializing Module helped me understand other ways that I can contribute to the community and truly be a good neighbour.”

On the Respectful Communities module, one student said it gave them a stronger knowledge of the universities expectations of their students and helped them realize how many useful resources there are both on and off campus.

Another said their biggest takeaway from the module is that the university is making tremendous strides in reducing Sexual Violence and creating safe and respectful communities. “I think it is important to highlight that Sexual Violence is a pervasive issue and we must commit and dedicate ourselves to training and education.”


Safer Socializing During COVID-19 is a 30-minute, self-directed Moodle resource intended to help the StFX community redefine what it means to "party" in a pandemic; explore the idea of community, community-mindedness, and one's individual responsibility for community well-being in a pandemic; develop skills for safely hosting and planning a social gathering during a pandemic; identify behaviors of being a positive guest at a social gathering; and to use techniques for moderation and harm reduction when drinking or using substances.

The Safer Socializing resource is part of the education pillar of the StFX-Antigonish Good Neighbors Strategy. Created under the leadership of the VP Students Office, the resource is a collaborative effort of a working group including the Students’ Union, Residence Life, Student Life, Communications, Leigh Gillis (subject matter expert), and Ashley Sheppard (project manager).  

Respectful Communities is a 60-minute, self-directed Moodle resource intended to introduce the ways students contribute to a safe, equitable, and respectful environment; identify how to practice respect and safety in our interactions with others; introduces the issue of sexualized violence, coercion and consent in sexual relationships; and explains where to go for more information, supports, and services on and off campus.

Developed by a provincial working group under the leadership of the Office of the VP Students, this module reflects the diversity of students studying on campuses across the province and uses a combination of text, video and audio scenarios to reinforce the core concepts.

StFX celebrates 240 graduates, honours Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie during Fall Convocation 2020

Sat, 2020-12-05 18:47
Tiffany Gould '20 addressed convocation on behalf of the graduates

StFX celebrated achievement on Dec. 5, 2020 as the university graduated 240 students—conferring undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas, and certificates from across StFX’s four faculties—and honoured renowned judge, lawyer, volunteer and social activist Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie with the degree Doctor of Laws honoris causa

It was a day of double celebration as StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin was formally installed as StFX’s 19th President and Vice-Chancellor in a ceremony immediately preceding Convocation. Both ceremonies were celebrated virtually with a small, in-person stage party present in the MacKay Room, Bloomfield Centre. 

“I’m grateful to you, our graduates, and your families, for your patience,” Dr. Hakin said as he offered sincere congratulations, “and to our staff who worked so hard (on the virtual ceremony) for what is a very special occasion.

“I wish you the best in all you choose to do. We are here for you,” he said. 

While this year is not the way anyone envisioned it, Dr. Hakin said while we cannot control the world, we can work to change it and StFX graduates are well equipped to make their mark on the world. 

“It’s truly an honour to receive an honorary degree from this university, which I cherish,” said Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie, who has made significant contributions to the legal and Indigenous communities, and has been an active social advocate, in Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, and beyond. 

Fall Convo 2020 Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie .jpg

Fall Convo 2020 Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie.jpg

Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie (centre) pictured with StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin (left) and Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley

At StFX, she says, “you gain much more than an education. You gain the value of the human spirit.”

Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie urged graduates to remember to take time for themselves in a busy world, to make sure their own self needs are met, and to be cognizant and remember that everyone has story, and we may only be privy to one small part of that story. 

During the ceremony, several significant university awards were presented. 

Fall Convo 2020 Lisa Lunney Borden .jpg

Education faculty Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden receives the university Outreach Award

StFX education professor Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden was honoured with the university’s Outreach Award. Adam Baden-Clay, manager-youth programs at the Coady Institute, received the Outstanding Staff Teaching Award.

As well, Venceremos Development Consult, which has worked with StFX Service Learning since 2015 providing learning experiences in Ghana, was presented with the Community Partner Recognition Award.

Fall convo 2020 .jpg

StFX Chancellor John Peacock virtually opened convocation, and officially admitted graduates to the degrees and diplomas to which they have qualified. 

Tiffany Gould addressed convocation on behalf of the graduates, offering her address in both Mi’kmaw and English. 

Jarrod Bowles ’08 brought greetings on behalf of the StFX Alumni Association, encouraging graduates to seek out their local alumni chapter and connect with them. “We’ll be there.” 

The Vicar of the Founder, Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick, offered both words of support and the closing benediction.

Anyone wishing to extend well-wishes to the graduating class, is encouraged to post a message on their virtual convocation “wall” at

Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie 

Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie has made significant contributions to the justice system and to communities and has been a tireless advocate for social justice in Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, and beyond. She is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University – with a BA (1984) in political science, and a BEd (1985) – and of the University of New Brunswick (LLB, 1989). She was called to the bar in 1990 and, after serving several years as a crown attorney, was appointed to the bench in 2003. Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie has been instrumental in setting up the Wellness Court in Port Hawkesbury, NS, and the Aboriginal Wellness and Gladue Court in Wagmatcook First Nation, and she currently presides over the courts in both locations. Wellness Courts seek to identify and address the root causes of the behaviour of offenders, and use a team approach to develop a recovery support plan. Gladue courts emerged in the aftermath of the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision that highlighted concerns about the discrimination against, and over-representation of, Indigenous people in the justice system. Gladue courts take into account broader issues facing Indigenous peoples, such as the intergenerational trauma of residential schools and colonialism. Through the work of many members of the local communities, in which Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie had a central role, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to open a superior court on a reserve that incorporates Indigenous restorative justice traditions and customs. Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie has also made important contributions to educating others on restorative justice and law, locally and nationally. She has presented talks to the National Judicial Institute, the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges, Schulich School of Law, Nova Scotia Correctional Services, and the Nova Scotia Provincial Court Judges Association. She has also served as an Executive Board Member, Aboriginal Justice Chair, and President of the Nova Scotia Provincial Judges' Association and as a Member and a Director of the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges. In addition to her contributions to the legal and Indigenous communities, she has been an active volunteer in her home community of Port Hawkesbury, serving as a board member and chair of Leeside Transition House, as a member of the School Advisory Committee for the Port Hawkesbury Family of Schools, as president of Canadian Parents for French (Port Hawkesbury Chapter), as a board member and president of the Port Hawkesbury Highland Dance Association, as a National Championship Organizing Committee Member for ScotDance Canada, and as a board member, coach/manager, vice-president, and president for the Strait Area Soccer Club. Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie is a prominent professional in the community and has contributed moral and just action for the betterment of society.

Transforming lives through education: StFX officially installs Dr. Andy Hakin as its 19th President and Vice-Chancellor 

Sat, 2020-12-05 18:40
Dr. Andy Hakin

As Dr. Andy Hakin officially became StFX’s 19th President & Vice-Chancellor during a formal ceremony held Dec. 5, 2020, he spoke about the power of education to transform lives—and he committed to leading StFX as an institution ‘for the people,’ an institution dedicated to shaping the future leaders of society. 

“The unlocking of human potential is one of the most valuable gifts any person can give to another,” Dr. Hakin said in an inspiring installation address in which he reflected both on his own educational journey and guiding principles, and looked ahead to his vision for StFX’s future, including enhancing the university’s academic plan and its mission to the student experience.  

The Presidential Installation Ceremony was broadcast live from the MacKay Room, Bloomfield Centre, where, due to COVID-19 restrictions, there was a small in-person audience. A small, socially-distanced stage party conducted the formal installation. Locally and across the country and beyond, well-wishers joined in virtually via live-stream. 

Dr. Hakin has already provided tremendous leadership to StFX, starting his tenure at the university on July 1, 2020, guiding the university through an unprecedented time in world history. 

“I feel extremely privileged to serve this university,” Dr. Hakin said as he expressed his deep appreciation for the confidence placed in him by the StFX Board of the Governors, and the entire community. 

“I feel by joining StFX, I’ve finally reached my destination.”  

In outlining his own academic journey, which started as an undergraduate student at the University of Leicester in the U.K. in 1981, Dr. Hakin said the past 39 years has been somewhat uncharted but offered valuable learning along the way.  

He spoke of how he was the first person in his family to attend university. “I had no idea how it would change my life.” 

This lesson led him to a desire to see as many people as possible benefit from post-secondary education. 

At StFX, this means we have to put in the work to identify and remove barriers that exist. As a university we must work hard to produce the right things to help put students on a path for life, he said.   

James D. Cameron’s outstanding history of StFX, For The People, “serves as a rallying cry for what we strive to achieve. I pledge I will not lose sight of why we are here.”  

During the ceremony, Dr. Hakin thanked many people, first and foremost, his wife Linda, his constant companion in his journey, without whose love and support he wouldn’t be here, he said. “It’s absolutely appropriate we share this day together.” 

He recognized his daughter Abbey, and her fiancé, watching virtually from Calgary, his son Callum, who completed two weeks isolation to be in attendance, and family watching from the U.K.  

Dr. Hakin also offered sincere thanks and gratitude to the many mentors, friends and colleagues who he has benefitted from over the years. 

Recognizing the importance of all those who helped him, he said whenever possible through his life he’s made it a guiding principle to make the time to help others on their journey.  

Dr. Hakin also recognized the outstanding administrative team he joined at StFX and thanked the talented and dedicated faculty and staff and the community for all they do.  

Coming to StFX feels right in so many ways, he says, including how well his personal drive of making a difference aligns with the well-established tradition of this university.  

StFX Chancellor John Peacock opened the installation virtually.

Installation 2020 stage .jpg

Installation 2020 .jpg

“I was very much looking forward to congratulating you in person, Dr. Hakin,” Chancellor Peacock said. “I’m happy we’re living in an age when digital connection is so simple. It allows me to join you virtually. 

“StFX has been near and dear to my heart since Adrienne and I graduated in 1963 and I’m excited about this next chapter in our leadership,” he said. “I wish you nothing but success, and I have every confidence that you will lead with pride, honour and joy. Welcome to the Xaverian family. You are one of us now.”  

StFX Board of Governors member Tom Langley and the Vicar of the Founder, Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick were present to install Dr. Hakin in the oath of office. 

In taking the oath, Dr. Hakin pledged to provide students with a post-secondary education that is intellectually stimulating and personally enriching within an atmosphere of inclusiveness for all students, faculty, and staff; to promote academic excellence, service to society, and innovation in teaching and research; to provide opportunities to enrich the cultural, spiritual, social, and recreational life of students; and to respect the Catholic heritage and character that have formed a vital part of StFX’s history.

Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Academic Vice President and Provost, and former interim president, invested Dr. Hakin with the robe of office and presented him with a symbol of the transfer of authority. 

Installation 2020 Kerry Prosper .jpg

Elder Kerry Prosper and Dr. Andy Hakin

In a moving part of the ceremony Elder Kerry Prosper, StFX Knowledge Keeper and a respected member of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Community offered a Mi’kmaw greeting. Elder Prosper and Dr. Hakin then exchanged ceremonial gifts, with Elder Prosper presenting Dr. and Mrs. Hakin with a star blanket and Dr. Hakin reciprocating, presenting Elder Prosper with a black walnut and maple table made by a StFX alumnus.  

Students’ Union Vice President Residence Affairs Jack Irvin read from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians. 

“The way that we do things in 2020 has changed to say the least, and this installation has been no different,” said master of ceremonies, education professor Dr. Joanne Tompkins. “The idea of what installation would look like back when we welcomed Dr. and Mrs. Hakin to campus back in February has changed. Typically, the room would be filled with family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers from across the country,” Dr. Tompkins said before introducing video greetings from representatives from numerous groups, including faculty, students, the alumni association, Canadian universities, religious and political leaders, and Dr. Hakin’s daughter, Abbey.

Immediately following the installation ceremony, StFX celebrated Fall Convocation 2020, another milestone and important event on the academic calendar, also celebrated virtually. 

Those wishing to extend a congratulatory message for President Hakin can do so on his virtual “wall” at

Dr. Andy Hakin

Dr. Hakin, a native of the north of England, traveled south for his undergraduate degree, to the University of Leicester in the East Midlands. He stayed at Leicester to complete his doctoral studies in physical chemistry in 1987 – and left with both his terminal degree and his partner, Linda (also a Leicester graduate.)

Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta, the Hakins moved to the University of Lethbridge in 1989. Dr. Hakin’s academic trajectory reveals a life spent in service to academic and intellectual inquiry, as well as a desire to contribute to the underpinning systems of academia. After five years as an assistant professor of chemistry, he was promoted to associate professor in 1994, and then to full professor in 2003. He was the winner of the U of L distinguished teaching awards. 

As a researcher, Dr. Hakin spent years investigating the thermodynamics of aqueous protein systems – particularly, the effect of temperature and pressure on those systems. He’s conducted work in biotechnology, bioremediation, and enzymes and proteins. Dr. Hakin received Lethbridge’s Distinguished Teacher Award in 2000, the Stig Sunner Memorial Award for research achievement from the International Calorimetry Conference and is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

He became the President of the Faculty Association of the University of Lethbridge in 2001, and after earning the rank of Full Professor, shifted towards the administrative branch of the university. He served as the Provost and Academic Vice-President at Lethbridge from 2007 until 2020 and became known as a champion of diversity and inclusion. His work was recognized by the Blackfoot people in a special naming ceremony at Homecoming in 2017; he was dubbed Linniowmoowakima, which means “Herding the Buffalo.” 

As an administrator, Dr. Hakin led the charge in Lethbridge to become a “destination university;” he worked to create a strong undergraduate and graduate academic experience, boosted academic programming, and increased domestic and international enrolment. 

Beyond the university, Dr. Hakin has devoted significant time to several organizations, particularly the Sinneave Family Foundation, which is dedicated to building successful futures for adolescents and adults living with Autism Spectrum Disorders. 


Food Security Fund from '21: StFX Class of 2021 establishes class gift to support students experiencing hunger, hardship

Fri, 2020-12-04 09:23
L-r, Sean De van der schueren, Thea Hart, and Allison Hancock

Student hunger can often be an invisible problem. At StFX, the senior class wants to do something to help. On StFX Day, December 3rd, members of the Class of 2021 announced the establishment of their senior class gift, the ‘Food Security Fund from ’21.’

Senior class co-presidents Allison Hancock and Sean De van der schueren and class development officer Thea Hart say the fund is intended to support students experiencing hunger and other hardships who require emergency resources to meet their immediate needs.   

Students this year are in an increasingly vulnerable position due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they say. Many employment opportunities, both in the summer and during the school year have diminished and have left students scrambling to afford tuition, books, and rent. In some instances, students are left struggling to afford necessities such as food. While this fund was created during the COVID-19 pandemic where the emergency needs of students are high, the Class of 2021 recognizes there will always be a need to help students who are struggling in future years.  

Ms. Hancock, a fourth year student from Toronto, ON completing a joint honours degree in math and economics, says StFX’s Financial Aid Office approached the Development Office with stories of students coming forward because they are having trouble financing many things, including where to find their next meal. “As the pandemic is very prevalent in our year, affecting many jobs this summer (and there’s still ongoing impacts), we wanted to create a project that could help in response to these hardships,” she says. 

“However, we also wanted to create something that would live past the pandemic. Student hunger is a problem that is much more common than we think, and the pandemic merely highlighted this.”

Ms. Hancock says at their Senior Class Poutine Bar in early November they asked senior students about ideas for this project. 

While they received a variety of responses, there was a commonality of food scarcity. This feedback prompted them to proceed with the direction of the class gift.


Ms. Hart, a fourth year development studies and women's and gender studies student from Bedford, NS, says after hearing about the experiences of students struggling with hunger, they recognized the way they supported them would have to address all possible barriers that prevent students from fully benefitting from the program. 

“We recognized that for a student who hasn't eaten for several days, grocery shopping would be a huge task. Therefore, we decided that it was important that we give students who reached out for help a meal hall ticket to address that immediate need for food.”

Ms. Hart says StFX Financial Aid Officer Mary Fisher-MacDonnell had mentioned to them that a meal hall ticket also gives students a chance to feel connected to their peers in a way that they would normally not be able to afford by being able to participate in meal hall. 

“The second part that we decided was that the financial aid given would be in the form of a grocery store gift card,” she says. “By using a gift card, it removes the barriers that come with applying to bursaries and that comes with managing funds. When a student needs the help, it would be on hand. Additionally, we wanted to consider issues of transportation by including taxi chits from the grocery store so that students wouldn't have to worry about time constraints, as well as help to alleviate any physical barriers to accessing a grocery store as we expect that a far walk and hauling groceries would be especially difficult if you haven't eaten. 

“The last component of the project that we wanted to recognize is that not all students reach out to the Financial Aid office when they're in a crisis. In saying that, we decided that it was important for there to be several points of access where these resources would be in the hands of the people who students may alternatively reach out to, may it be the folks working in the Diversity Engagement Centre, or the Peer Support Office, we hope that we can make this program as accessible as possible,” Ms. Hart says. 

She says all these things are important because they want this program to make as significant of impact as possible on current and future Xaverians. “We hope that it will help students be able to continue their studies, to take care of themselves, and be able to feel more a part of the StFX community as we have learned while working on this project that student hunger is an invisible issue that can exclude those who it effects.” 

Ms. Hancock says they hope the senior class gift will help enhance existing services on campus while offering more immediate and emergency needs. “We hope it will provide students more support in their time at X, and amidst all the other worries of being students that we already carry, help to take something off their plates. Being confident in the source of one’s next meal should not be a luxury, and we hope this project will help further confirm this at X.” 

The Senior Class Gift has already received a lead contribution of $4,500 from the J&W Murphy Foundation, located outside of Halifax, NS. “We have been supporting universities across the province since before the pandemic began. Now that we’ve all settled into this new reality, it was not a hard decision to say yes to the partnership of universities request to turn our attention to student hunger," the foundation says.   

Additionally, proceeds from X-Ring sales from the StFX Store will be donated to the fund and StFX Chancellor John Peacock has pledged to match every dollar donated by students to a maximum of $5,000. 

Anyone wanting to support the fund, can do so at


There’s poetry behind something that unites us all: Class of 2021 celebrates a different, yet magical X-Ring ceremony

Thu, 2020-12-03 16:34
Although different this year due to COVID-19, the X-Ring ceremony still provided much magic

On December 3rd, StFX Day, a day touched by magic, senior class co-president Ally Hancock tried to sum up how members of the Class of 2021 are feeling, to finally receive their much-coveted X-Rings. 

“There’s poetry behind something that unites us all and carries so much responsibility…We feel so much affinity to this place… that is why we wear this ring,” Ms. Hancock said as she and fellow senior class president Sean De van der Schueren served as emcees for this year’s ceremony, on a day where 870 students received their X-Rings. Most donned black robes and individually received their rings in several rooms across campus earlier in the day. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ceremony went virtual—but it held the personal touch that is StFX’s hallmark. 

“Thanks Mom and Dad!” “I love you!” were just two of the signs flashed for the cameras in the morning as senior students picked up their X-Rings in one of four rooms set up in Mulroney Hall, Barrick Auditorium, Keating Centre Conference Rooms, and Bloomfield Council Chambers.

Gown-wearing students, following safety protocols, proceeded individually into each room where they picked up their X-Ring from a table where a gold cloth over a black one formed an X-Ring. A StFX staff member was on hand for a personal greeting and many students turned to the cameras to wave, flash a thumbs-up, and speak to the camera as proud family and friends watched. Viewers were also able to join live in a chat feature. 


“The ring itself carries so much meaning,” Ms. Hancock said as a small, socially distanced stage party of students, faculty and staff gathered in the MacKay Room, Bloomfield Centre for an in-person ceremony, joined online by fellow Class of 2021 members as well as family and friends tuning in from Cape Breton to Columbia, from England to Ecuador. 

X-Ring 2002 Ally Hancock .jpg

Senior class co-presidents Ally Hancock (pictured here) and Sean De van der Schueren were master of ceremonies. 

“The fact we’re still able to achieve this moment is worth noting,” Ms. Hancock said as she spoke about the special community at StFX that made this possible. 

“I can’t express how much this means to me,” Mr. De van der Schueren said as he noted he is the first in his family to attend StFX, the first to wear the X-Ring. 

StFX, he says, felt like home since the first day he stepped on campus. 

“We have only one semester left here, and we don’t know what it will look like. Cherish every last moment we have here. Take it in,” he said. 

“We will be forever bonded by this ring.”

X-Ring 2020 Dr. Andy Hakin .jpg

StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin

StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin, who became university president in July, noted how he too had anticipated attending his first X-Ring ceremony, and the immense disappointment of all when the ceremony had to transition from face-to-face to virtual. 

“Never forget the journey and the experiences,” he told the senior students. 

The X-Ring is not a graduation ring, he said. “It’s a proud remembrance of a transformational experience that’s unique to StFX.”

It connects its wearers not only to their peers, but to a generation of graduates and a tradition of leadership and social justice. 

By going virtual of this special day, you have protected this community, he told students, noting that is a true Xaverian response. 

Guest speaker, the Hon. Frank McKenna ’70, Deputy Chair of TD Securities and former New Brunswick premier and former ambassador to the U.S., spoke to the graduating class via Zoom. “This is my 50th anniversary since graduation and I can still remember my first day on campus. I fell in love with StFX that day and I can say my passion for StFX has never waned. I’ve worn this ring for 50 years.” 

Mr. McKenna spoke about the significance of the ring and his own family connection (he met his wife Julie at StFX, all three of their children attended StFX, all meeting their spouses on campus, and grandson Jay received his X-Ring during the ceremony). He spoke too that even in these dark and chaotic times, there is reason for optimism and hope. 

Alexia Tedesco ’09 brought greetings on behalf of the StFX Alumni Association, reminding the students they have an entire community behind them, all here to support and encourage them. 

The X-Ring, she said, is so much more than you can fathom at the moment. It represents your achievements and symbolizes to the rest of the world what a Xaverian is. “It’s all the memories and joys you’ll remember,” she said. “You are part of something much bigger.”


This year’s honorary X-Ring, always a much-guarded secret, was awarded to education professor Dr. Joanne Tompkins who for over two decades has cared deeply about StFX students. Dr. Tompkins was described as a transformative leader and professor, as profoundly kind, and fiercely committed to social justice, working tirelessly to bring about equity, inclusion and diversity.   

During the ceremony, Travis Grace gave an explanation of the StFX motto and Katelyn Libbus read from the writings of Dr. Moses Coady. Thirteen students proceeded to light 13 candles in the shape of an ‘X’ as Miranda March provided music. Candle bearers included Manuel Suarez Delgado, Kielan Pilgrim, Nikita Savoury, Rachell Alcivar, Chelsea Knuth, Alyzandra Torreon, Kyra Tessier, Jack Irvin, Winter Muise, Quinn Correll, Eriq Proctor, Madison Burke, and Dylan Meraw.

Senior student Sanjidha Ganeshan introduced the guest speaker, while classmate Marc Sgro provided the response, thanking Mr. McKenna for his address. Patti-Anne Tracey offered words of welcome, and Sarah Elliott, President of the Students’ Union, led all in the Xaverian Commitment. 

X-Ring 2020 2 .jpg

University Chaplain Laurel McIntyre ’11 gave the invocation, while graduating student Jay McKenna, faculty representative Dr. Joanne Tompkins and staff representative Janice Landry participated in the ceremonial presentation of X-Rings.

On the ceremony, on the moment, Ms. Hancock summed up: “The magic I feel right now surpasses what I envisioned.” 

Fall Convocation Grad List

Wed, 2020-12-02 16:42

The 2020 Fall Convocation Grad list is out! CLick on the list below to access.


Congratulations to all students graduating this weekend!


Fall-2020-WEB Grad List.pdf Fall-2020-WEB Grad List.pdf


For more information on Fall Convocation, visit the 2020 Fall Convocation page.




StFX history professor shows another, less readily seen side of St. Francis of Assisi in new book

Wed, 2020-12-02 15:50
Dr. Donna Trembinski

StFX medieval history professor Dr. Donna Trembinski has turned a new lens to a familiar subject, showing readers another, less readily seen side of the famous saint, Francis of Assisi, in her new book, Illness and Authority: Disability in the Life and Lives of Francis of Assisi, published by the University of Toronto press.

Illness and Authority examines the lived experience and early stories about St. Francis of Assisi through the lens of disability studies. This new approach re-centres Francis’s illnesses and infirmities and highlights how they became barriers to wielding traditional modes of masculine authority within both the Franciscan Order he founded and the church hierarchy, Dr. Trembinski says. 

“When I told fellow medievalists I was writing a book about the 13th-century saint, Francis of Assisi, most groaned and said a variation of ‘we don’t need another book about Francis,’” the author writes in a blog post discussing her book.  

“On the surface, this seems to be true. Francis is one of the most popular and beloved medieval saints. He is also one of the most studied. The University of Toronto library catalogue lists some 745 books and more than 9,500 articles in their catalogue alone. Surely my book isn’t necessary? I like to think, however, that it IS necessary because it brings new insights to an old topic and an older saint.” 

Dr. Trembinski says she demonstrates with concrete examples in the book how engaging with disability as a category of analysis can further nuance our understandings of the past.

She says although Francis founded three religious orders, all of which still exist today, he is most famous for his personal and affective piety. 

Dr. Trembinski says she’s been interested in the topic for a long time. “For my thesis, I read a lot of medieval saints’ lives including Francis’. His life just didn’t fit the mould in so many ways that I started to wonder why. Later on, as I read more, I came to understand that the story of his life had been massaged into a more acceptable shape by his later biographers. I wondered why that process happened and went looking. When I found that some lives of the saint literally disappeared doctors who accompanied and cared for Francis in his later years, I thought to myself, yeah, there is something here. Ten years later, there’s a book.”

She says many academic works have been written discussing Francis’ new brand of piety, his influences and how he, in turn, influenced piety and devotion in the Catholic Church after his death. “Few, however, reckon with the reality that Francis’ health was almost certainly compromised from his early adulthood and continued to worsen throughout his life, until, on the eve of his death, he was so infirm he could not walk, was suffering from unspecified illnesses of the spleen, liver, and stomach, and had a significant visual impairment,” she writes. 

In Illness and Authority, she argues that it does matter that Francis was sick and infirm. “Because once we centre Francis’ illnesses and impairments, we start to see the ways they impacted how Francis lived and his ability to lead his order. This also brings into focus just how closely Francis’ early hagiographers managed the saint’s image by minimizing the reality and impacts of Francis’ illnesses in later lives in order to ensure that Francis accorded more with the expectations his audience had for a founder-saint.”

She says Francis’s resignation and his willingness to seek out treatments after being ordered to do so, when discussed at all, are most often couched in his desire for humility and to be bound to the will of God and his representatives in the Church. This reading occurs in both medieval and modern sources. “Yet, if we start to read the earliest sources for Francis’ life closely, this time attuned to the lessons the social model of disability teaches us – that societies and peoples can put barriers in place that prohibit people with infirmities from fully participating in society – we can begin to see that there might be an alternate explanation for Francis’ action,” she says. 

“This, then, is the value of engaging with disability as a category of analysis. It allows us to see other possibilities in the past, and is a useful tool in deconstructing traditional and long-held narratives. Such a reading has the power to reorient historical perceptions of the saint. It is not a corrective, but it is a perspective that adds depth to our understanding of past figures like Francis.”

Graydon and Beth Nicholas establish Hatchette Nicholas Bursary Endowment at StFX to aid Indigenous Canadian students

Tue, 2020-12-01 11:47
Beth '71 and Graydon '68 HON '94 Nicholas

Helping Indigenous Canadian students on their educational journey is the purpose of a new bursary generously established at St. Francis Xavier University by Graydon ’68, HON ’94 and Beth ’71 Nicholas. 

The Fredericton, NB couple, both StFX alumni, have donated $210,000 to establish the Hatchette Nicholas Bursary Endowment at StFX to provide emergency funding for Indigenous Canadian students in need of immediate financial assistance. The bursary honours the memory of the late Richard (Rick) Hatchette ’75, brother of Beth Nicholas. 

The donation is matched by the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Foundation, doubling the endowment fund to $420,000.   

“My brother was a strong advocate for Indigenous rights. Rick was an adjudicator with the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat. I think he would certainly approve of this bursary fund,” says Beth Nicholas, a retired lawyer. She says that Rick, also a lawyer and legal advisor for the St. John River Valley Tribal Council, who would have celebrated his 45th reunion from StFX this year, passed away from cancer in 2016. Mrs. Nicholas was one of his caregivers.

“We received an inheritance from Rick and we wanted to ensure that his legacy lives on at StFX,” she says. He treasured his years at X and his lifetime friends from the class of ’75.  Rick’s BSc from StFX provided him with a solid foundation to pursue a Masters in Biology at UNB and then an LLB from UNB Law School, where he excelled and found his life’s passion in the law.  

“It’s a good way to remember Rick, and also promote higher education,” something she says that he appreciated and valued. 


Mr. Nicholas, former Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, retired lawyer and judge, who currently holds the Endowed Chair in Native Studies at St. Thomas University, says they wanted to help Indigenous students in their moment of need.

He says being Indigenous himself, he knows what it’s like to go to university as an Indigenous student. Finances may be limited, and the students may be the first in their family to attend university. Students may find themselves in need of resources throughout the year to continue their academic journey. Additionally, some students are single mothers who have extra costs associated with childcare and travel. 

“This bursary will help them,” he says. “We’re hoping it will make university life a little easier for them.”  

“This is a way to assist Indigenous students who are in need during the academic year so they can stay in school,” Mrs. Nicholas says. 

Both say their hope is that these students will eventually go on to help their communities. “When they graduate, I hope they’ll think someone reached out to me as a student, so maybe I can do that for someone else,” Mr. Nicholas says. 

The couple, who met at StFX, say they are happy to be able to establish this bursary for their alma mater. 

They have fond memories of their time at StFX. Many family members, including Mr. Nicholas’s brothers and nieces, as well as several Hatchette cousins from Nova Scotia, attended the university. When he was Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, they hosted alumni gatherings on the Feast Day of St. Francis Xavier.  

“StFX was special for us. We have tried to live out the university motto, Quaecumque Sunt Vera (whatsoever things are true),” says Mrs. Nicholas.

 They’ve long been involved in outreach. Mrs. Nicholas is a member and a Past President of the Catholic Women’s League and is active in outreach ministry at St. Mary Magdalene Parish. Mr. Nicholas is a member of the Knights of Columbus having served as a Supreme Director and Supreme Warden. They both served as National Presidents of Christian Life Community Canada, which is based on Ignatian Spirituality, the spirituality of St. Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits. They have always tried to help others, especially the most vulnerable of society. Through the years they have been strong supporters of StFX and the Coady International Institute. 

“It comes naturally to want to help those in need, if we can lend a hand. That’s what we believe and practise: love God and love your neighbour and everyone is our neighbour,” Mrs. Nicholas says.

Mr. Nicholas, who grew up as one of 10 children, says his parents, Andrew Nicholas, Senior and Pauline Nicholas, whose own educational journey ended early, always stressed the importance of education to their children, and the importance of helping yourself and helping others. The Hatchette Nicholas Bursary is also in their memory and in memory of Beth and Rick’s parents, Dick and Rose Hatchette, who instilled in them the value of life-long learning.

Mrs. Nicholas grew up in Saint John, NB in an environment of Catholic social action and social justice and says she developed her social conscience even more at StFX.

Says Mr. Nicholas on the bursary: “We’re grateful we had the opportunity to establish this bursary. Hopefully it serves a good purpose. We are even more grateful for the generosity of the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Foundation in matching our donation. Jeannine Deveau is truly an outstanding StFX alumna and a great Canadian who exemplifies the Xaverian spirit.”  


2020 StFX grads receive $25,000 Spark Nova Scotia funding for waste management company

Thu, 2020-11-26 14:31
Maxwell Gauthier and Adam Starr

Two 2020 StFX graduates who as students launched a waste management company that re-manufactures plastic waste into consumer and industrial products via semi-industrial shredder and injection machines are among 11 entrepreneurs awarded Spark Nova Scotia funding, aimed at developing startups in the province outside of metro Halifax. 

Maxwell Gauthier of Freeport, Bahamas, who graduated with a BBA with an advanced major in management and leadership, and Adam Starr, of Toronto, ON, a BBA graduate with a major in marketing and minor in philosophy, received $25,000 from the Spark Nova Scotia competition in support of their business, Drastic Scholastic Thermoplastic (DST). 

They’re working on devising a better way to recycle plastics through community-based recycling. They will begin the initiate at StFX, and want to expand to other institutions. 

“DST differs from traditional recycling methods in that we keep plastic waste local. In other words, we collect, sort, clean, and remanufacture plastic waste in the community it is consumed in,” they say.

Mr. Gauthier and Mr. Starr say they worked diligently on the Spark Nova Scotia application but weren’t expecting to get far. 

“In fact, after we delivered our pitch, we said that if we didn’t win, the networking alone was worth it all. We felt fortunate just to be a part of such a fantastic group of ambitious people. Once we got the victory phone call, we were absolutely starstruck. It served as validation of our hard work and we were absolutely ecstatic. 

“We firmly believe that Spark has given us the opportunity to propel our efforts to make a difference in the waste management industry.” 

Their current plan is to use the Spark funding to develop a decontamination technology, system, or process that cleans and disinfects plastic waste. “This is a priority for us as our machines only process clean plastic and having clean plastic guarantees that plastic is repurposed into high-quality end products rather than being placed into a landfill. In fact, 91 per cent of Canadian plastic is not recycled and therefore ends up in landfills or oceans, according to the Environment and Climate Change Report, 2019,” they say. “Fundamentally, this is due to high levels of contamination.” 

Starting at StFX, their aim is to divert plastic waste from landfills and oceans by creating a value-recovery system that empowers StFX to manage their own plastic waste. “This community-based solution to recycling does not yet exist in Canada and we hope to implement this solution to other academic institutions,” they say. 

The duo say the business idea had its origin in summer 2019, when they travelled to Ghana, West Africa through StFX Service Learning. The trip was a two-month social justice internship, where they studied global change and economic development within a Ghanaian context. 

“In Ghana, we worked with a local NGO that focused solely on rural economic development and this allowed us to see the plastic crisis firsthand,” they say. “In fact, the NGO we interned with was creating programs for reducing plastic waste and educating others on the dangers of plastic pollution. We were humbled by this experience and are inspired to implement community-based recycling in Canada starting at the university that gave us this fantastic opportunity: St. Francis Xavier University.” 

Together, they were awarded a Wallace Internship, administered through StFX Innovation and Enterprise Centre, which granted them funding and resources to kick-start the business. This internship lasted for 12 weeks and allowed them to explore the venture in detail while receiving coaching and mentorship help. They worked closely alongside Paula Brophy, the program coordinator, and four other interns as they met weekly to develop the idea and solidify the business model. They say while it was handled virtually this year, it was an inclusive environment and helped them develop their strengths and weaknesses. 

“We both agree that the Wallace Internship was one of the most engaging and useful experiences of our undergraduate degree. For this reason, we encourage any StFX student with a venture idea to apply,” they say. 

“In our opinion, there is nothing better than working on something you are passionate about and getting paid for it. Throughout the Wallace Internship, we experienced the challenge of starting a business from the bottom-up in a pandemic and were extremely lucky to have learned so much through trial and error. Many of our key business learnings would not have manifested without the Wallace Family support.”

Both say that to them, entrepreneurship requires unconventional thinking and testing new strategies with existing problems. “Entrepreneurship interests us because it involves the creation and/or development of something novel that directly addresses a problem. We love learning how to find new avenues that deliver value to new customers through innovative problem-solving.

“Entrepreneurship is a constant yet rewarding challenge and every day presents us with new hurdles to overcome - making the overall process very exciting. We are passionate about climate change, waste management, and empowering individuals and communities.” 

They say their business will be operating at StFX in the new year. “At StFX, we hope to collaborate with students, faculty members, and staff to create a formal system of collecting, sorting, cleaning, and processing plastic waste. We recognize that we can’t accomplish this by ourselves, so making university members aware of the plastic crisis present on our campus is a must. 

“With a decentralized recycling system developed and prototyped, we hope to expand to other academic institutions throughout Nova Scotia and Canada. Plastic is an extremely valuable resource that is currently being wasted and we hope to change that at every academic institution.”

StFX faculty elected to international board serving the worldwide community of digital humanists

Wed, 2020-11-25 14:49
Dr. Laura Estill and Dr. Ken Penner

StFX will be well represented on an international body that is a mainstay of the digital humanities. 

Two faculty members, religious studies professor Dr. Ken Penner and English professor and Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities Dr. Laura Estill, were recently elected to international positions for The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), a consortium that collectively develops and maintains a standard for the representation of texts in digital form. 

Dr. Penner has been elected to the TEI board, the governing body for the consortium, which works on the organization’s overall vision and strategy.

Dr. Estill has been elected to the TAPAS advisory board, which is the TEI Archiving, Publishing, and Access Service (hosted by Northeastern University Library's Digital Scholarship Group). TAPAS focuses on making digital editions easy and supporting teachers who want to use TEI with their classes. 

“Being elected to the Text Encoding Initiative’s Board of Directors means being part of strategic planning for the TEI,” Dr. Penner says. “We aim to serve the worldwide community of digital humanists who produce and process transcribed texts mainly by establishing standards that enable the computer data and tools to work with each other. I’m honoured to become part of the decisions that will make digital work on texts that much more efficient, and to represent StFX together with Dr. Estill in an initiative of such global scope.”

Dr. Estill says she is honoured to be on the TAPAS board and looks forward to working with a fantastic team. “I have had the pleasure of teaching TEI before in multiple contexts and I am certain this will also help me improve as a teacher.”

She says this is a real honour for StFX to have both faculty members elected. 

TEI is an international standard for creating digital text projects, Dr. Estill says. 

The TEI is an active scholarly community, with a journal (jTEI), annual conference, and many training sessions around the world. Many digital humanities projects use TEI to share and represent information. This includes TextTHREAD (Toolkit for Humanities Research & Editing Ancient Documents) by Dr. Penner and StFX computer sciences professor Dr. James Hughes and Dr. Estill’s DEx: A Database of Dramatic Extracts, co-edited with Dr. Beatrice Montedoro, University of Zurich. 

To read Dr. Penner and Dr. Estill’s candidate statements, please visit:


X-Ring Ceremony will be virtual

Tue, 2020-11-24 18:58

To the recipients of the 2021 StFX X-Ring and the campus community,

Earlier today, the decision was made to transition our December 3rd X-Ring Ceremony to a virtual format. With the rate of COVID-19 infection increasing and the public health situation rapidly evolving in Nova Scotia, we will take no chances by hosting a large gathering.

As a member of the University senior executive team charged with overseeing the ceremony, I can report that this decision is not taken lightly and was one where we sought extensive input from stakeholders, including student leaders. At the beginning of the pandemic we, as an academic community, committed that the health and safety of the StFX and local Antigonish communities would be our top priority, and we hold that commitment to heart. It’s with this in mind that we have made this decision.

The StFX X-Ring is a symbol of achievements, both academic and personal. It will forever remind you of new experiences inside and outside of the classroom, friendships made, the challenges you’ve faced and the triumphs during your time as a StFX student. It will affirm your commitment to the Xaverian values of justice, equality and service to community on a daily basis. Regardless of how you receive your X-Ring, these feelings and values remain true. COVID-19 cannot and will not take this away from us. In fact, as a Xaverian from the Class of ’87 who proudly wears his father’s X-Ring from the Class of ‘47, I can say with confidence that transitioning to a virtual ceremony this year to ensure the safety of our community exemplifies what it means to wear the X-Ring. 

We look forward to celebrating with you in a virtual format on December 3rd and pledge to make the ceremony special and meaningful for all X-Ring recipients. More about the virtual ceremony, including how rings will be picked up (or delivered for those who cannot pick up their rings in person), will be shared in the days ahead; please be sure to be watching your email for details.

Although not the celebration we had envisioned, rest assured that the entire Xaverian community will be very proud and cheering for you.

Murray Kyte ‘87
Vice President, Advancement








StFX Marine Ecology Lab publishes multiannual study unraveling spatiotemporal patterns in intertidal temperature along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast  

Tue, 2020-11-24 11:09
One of the surveyed locations along Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast

StFX’s Marine Ecology Lab, led by Dr. Ricardo Scrosati, has just published a large multiannual study that for the first time documents the latitudinal and temporal changes in air and sea temperature in intertidal habitats along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia.  

Dr. Scrosati, together with postdoctoral fellow Julius Ellrich and Master of Science student Matthew Freeman, has co-authored the article, “Half-hourly changes in intertidal temperature at nine wave-exposed locations along the Atlantic Canadian coast: a 5.5-year study” that appears in the high-impact journal, Earth System Science Data.

“This is a particularly relevant study because it applied an unprecedented level of sampling effort, since we measured temperature every half hour at nine intertidal locations spanning more than 400 km of coastline for a period of 5.5 years (2014-2019),” Dr. Scrosati says. 

“All in all, the temperature loggers that we deployed along the coast generated more than 800,000 data points during the study.”

There are multiple potential uses of this data set, Dr. Scrosati says. For example, they have already established links between the thermal conditions of coastal waters and patterns of invertebrate recruitment and predator abundance along the coast. 

In addition, they have shown how El Niño-related changes in coastal winds relate to the intensity of upwelling, a coastal phenomenon that cools down the ocean surface and increases productivity. 

“Our study also reveals alongshore differences in upwelling that consistently occur every year, a previously unknown occurrence. Ultimately, this is the first baseline data set on intertidal temperature for this coast.

“Due to its detailed spatiotemporal coverage, I expect that it will be useful over the years for various researchers to address a diversity of questions on coastal marine ecology, oceanography, and climatology in our region.”

Their research was funded by a Discovery Grant from NSERC and a Leaders Opportunity Grant from CFI awarded to Dr. Scrosati.