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Musical notes: StFX, Holland College renew articulation agreements

Fri, 2018-10-12 14:07
L-r, Music Performance student Josée Champoux, St. Francis Xavier University music student Sebastian Deveau, Holland College vice president Michael O’Grady, Kevin Brunkhorst, Music Department Chair at StFX, and Elijah Rudick, a second year student in Holland College’s Music Performance program celebrated the renewal of two articulation agreements on the stage of the Florence Simmons Performance Hall during a recent Holland College and StFX workshop. StFX and Holland College renewed two articulation agreements for graduates of the Music Performance program, one of the offerings in the college’s School of Performing Arts. The agreements give Music Performance graduates two years of credit toward the Bachelor of Arts Honours Music degree or the Bachelor of Music degree at StFX.

St. Francis Xavier University and Holland College have renewed two articulation agreements this week that open up opportunity and collaboration for music students. 

The agreements provide the opportunity for graduates of Holland College’s Music Performance program, one of the offerings in the PEI college’s School of Performing Arts to enter into the third year of the StFX Bachelor of Music with Honours degree program in the Faculty of Arts or into the third year of the Bachelor of Music degree at StFX.

Admission to the StFX Bachelor of Music Honours degree is conditional on the successful completion of a performance audition. In addition, students are required to have achieved a minimum 75 per cent average and successfully completed all courses in the music performance diploma program with no music course mark below 70 per cent. 

StFX and HC.jpg

StFX Department of Music Chair, Kevin Brunkhorst, travelled to PEI with some StFX music students for the signing of the renewal agreements, as well as to do some shows.


An annoucement from StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald

Fri, 2018-10-12 12:13


From StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald related to an incident of sexual assault that occurred last year:


Dr. MacDonald message to community.pdf Dr. MacDonald message to community.pdf

To the Campus Community,

I wish to provide you with an update on the steps we are taking to address recent concerns related to an incident of sexual violence that occurred last year on our campus. Let me begin by affirming that the safety of every member of the StFX community is an expectation and a priority of mine.

I have spent considerable time having conversations with a variety of individuals and listening to concerns raised about this case. I have engaged with colleagues and members of the StFX community, both on the campus and off. I have heard many perspectives and what is clear to me is that there is a shared belief that we must provide a learning environment that is safe and free of sexual violence.

After much reflection and advice from my senior administration colleagues, I concluded that the student in question should withdraw from the university. I announce this morning that the student has withdrawn, effective immediately.

In addition to the decision that led to the student withdrawing from StFX, I have also asked that the existing wording within our disciplinary code as it relates to appeals be reviewed. Further, I have asked for an update regarding the connection between our relatively new Sexual Violence Policy and the university’s Code of Conduct. The purpose of this update is to ensure continuity between the good work produced by our Sexualized Violence Prevention Committee and the university’s judicial process.

I know many members of our community have worked very hard to ensure an open, fair and transparent process with respect to how we address the challenges associated with sexual violence. We remain committed to believing and supporting people who disclose that they have experienced sexual violence. We recognize and honour their courage and resilience, and respect their rights to make decisions that are in their own best interest. However, we must continue to develop and improve our policies and interventions, in order to truly succeed in achieving the goal of a victim/survivor-focused approach.

I acknowledge and accept the fact that we can do better. In this particular case, there were clear gaps in communication and apparent issues relating to our appeal processes that negatively affected our university community and, in some cases, retraumatized victim/survivors. For this, I am sorry.

I was inspired by several of the recent recommendations made by our student union leaders.

To that end, I can confirm that in the coming days and weeks we will engage with our broader community to provide opportunities to inform our review process. All comments and perspectives will be welcome as they help make our processes stronger and our university safer. Please note that more details related to this consultation work will be forthcoming.

We appreciate the continued support and engagement of our community as we navigate this very complex, and long-standing societal issue. I would like to recognize the commitment and efforts of those involved in developing and implementing the current policies that govern our campus life. This is important work, and we are committed to continuing to strengthen our policies and practices as we go forward.

In conclusion, we can, and will, do better to support victim/survivors of sexual violence.


Kent D. MacDonald

President and Vice Chancellor

St. Francis Xavier University

StFX Names Kerry Prosper as Inaugural Knowledge Keeper In-Residence During Treaty Day Event

Tue, 2018-10-02 16:15
Kerry Prosper, StFX's inaugural Knowledge Keeper In-Residence accepts an eagle feather from Terena Francis, StFX Coordinator for Aboriginal Student Affairs.

St. Francis Xavier University has named Kerry Prosper, a respected Mi’kmaw elder, published author and Band Council member from Paqtnkek First Nation as its inaugural Knowledge Keeper In-Residence. The announcement was made Monday, October 1, at an event on the StFX campus to commemorate Treaty Day in Nova Scotia.

Terena Francis, Co-ordinator for Aboriginal Student Affairs at StFX’s Diversity Engagement Centre made the announcement on behalf of the university, noting Mr. Prosper’s long-standing work as a community leader.

She also presented him with an eagle feather, a tremendous sign of respect and appreciation.

“Eagle feathers represent honour in Mi’kmaq culture,” explained Terena. “They symbolize wisdom, honour, strength and trust, and to me, that’s Kerry. He has lived his life by the ways of Mi’kmaq natural law.

“We are grateful to have him at StFX!”

In his role as Knowledge Keeper, Mr. Prosper will work with interested students, staff and faculty, offering wisdom and teaching about traditional Indigenous ways of being and knowing. He will maintain office hours on campus throughout the year and lead program opportunities like Learning Lodges, which will be offered on campus once a month, featuring Indigenous-centric content that’s driven by students themselves.

Members of StFX’s Joint Advisory Council consulted with groups like the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaw Kinamatnewey, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, and Pictou Landing Mi’kmaw Nation on the creation of the Knowledge Keeper position.


Mr. Propser was one of three featured speakers at the Treaty Day event, which saw a standing-room only crowd fill StFX’s Immaculata Auditorium. Proclaimed in 1993 by then Premier of Nova Scotia John Savage and Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, Treaty Day promotes public awareness and education of treaty rights and obligations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

StFX students Cheyla Rogers and Justice Gruben began the evening with an acknowledgement that the event – and StFX itself – is housed on the traditional ancestral territory of Mi’kma’ki. The territory is unceded by the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) peoples, and is covered by the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1725.

Cheyla noted that, despite strides made towards Indigenous/settler reconciliation, First Nations’ youth still face serious systemic disadvantages. For instance, they are 7 times more likely to die by suicide and 6 times more likely to be a victim of homicide than their non-Indigenous peers.  

Justice - who also offered Mi'kmaw and Wolastoqiyik honour songs - spoke about the importance of ongoing reconciliation work.

“Reconciliation is about taking responsibility and moving forward,” he said. “It needs to be about more than just flags and territorial acknowledgements. To truly honour the treaties that were signed, it takes a whole other set of steps.”

Lindsay Marshall, poet and former chief of Potlotek Mi’kmaw Nation, was another of the evening’s featured presenters. He spoke about the need to understand treaties not just as documents signed by our ancestors, but as living, breathing agreements that guide our lives and actions today.

“A treaty is alive,” said Mr. Marshall. “Treaty education is so important to everyone, because we all need to understand there isn’t just one treaty beneficiary. Both sides benefit. All of us.”

He also noted his optimism that the youth and young adults of today will enact the changes required to move closer to full reconciliation.

“Young people will be the engine for this change. And I think we have the means and the desire to create the change right here in this room.”

Cheryl Maloney, a prominent voice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and long-time advocate for Mi’kmaq rights to natural resource protection, also spoke. She shared stories from her life of activism, including how she used her legal background and knowledge of Canadian constitutional law to delay the controversial Alton Gas project near Stewiacke, Nova Scotia.

She also challenged attendees to do their part to uphold treaty rights.

“These are my stories, but they talk about your responsibilities,” she said. “Honour and protect the treaty. They are your survival.”

The event also included presentations and remarks from StFX students William McReady, Keeley MacCuish, Mariette Pique, Chelsey MacPherson, Monica Ragan, April Prosper, Ellen Byrne, Broderick Jackisch, and Katelynn MacPhee. All students are enrolled in Anthropology 332 Mi’kmaw Studies: Advanced Critical Issues in Indigenous Anthropology, taught by Dr. L. Jane McMillan, Associate Professor and Chair of StFX’s Anthropology Department.


John Peacock installed as StFX’s 10th Chancellor

Sun, 2018-09-30 10:21
StFX's 10th Chancellor John Peacock (centre) is pictured with StFX Board of Governors Chair Mike Boyd (left) and StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald

John Peacock, a distinguished Canadian corporate and philanthropic leader and a StFX alumnus from the Class of 1963, has officially become the university’s 10th Chancellor.

Mr. Peacock was installed as Chancellor during a ceremony held in the StFX Chapel on Sept. 30, 2018, the final day of Homecoming Weekend 2018. 

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to serve as StFX’s 10th Chancellor. It is both an honour and a privilege and I would like to thank the Board of Governors for giving me this opportunity,” said Mr. Peacock, who noted his affiliation with StFX started 58 years ago this month when he arrived on campus after graduating from St. Patrick’s High School in Quebec City. He has since gone on to an inspired career, with over 40 years accounting and senior business leadership experience. He is the retired executive vice-president of Fednav Limited, a Canadian ocean-going, dry-bulk ship-owning and chartering group. 

“The role of Chancellor is an ambassadorial and ceremonial one, advancing StFX’s interests provincially, nationally and internationally, serving as an advocate for the university’s history, mission and vision. The Chancellor is a distinguished person with a record of demonstrated excellence in his/her chosen field and in community service; an individual whose reputation and experience exemplifies StFX values. It is a role made for Mr. Peacock. He is a StFX champion through and through,” said Board of Governors Chair Mike Boyd, who introduced Mr. Peacock and delivered the Oath of Office.

StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald officiated over the investiture, investing Mr. Peacock with the robes of office.

A well-respected leader, Mr. Peacock continues to serve on Fednav’s board of directors. He also serves on the board of Teekay Offshore Partners, and although retired from numerous community boards, he remains active in pursuing the philanthropic interests of The Peacock Family Foundation. 

He and his wife Adrienne, also a 1963 StFX graduate, have long supported their alma mater. Mr. Peacock served on the Coady International Institute Advisory Board and Mrs. Peacock on the StFX Board of Governors. They are Coady International Institute Honorary Patrons, and together, they established the Dr. John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Responsibility at StFX to recognize Mr. Peacock’s former professor who greatly impacted his academic experience while a student.


In his installation address, Mr. Peacock thanked and acknowledged his predecessor, Dr. Susan Crocker, StFX’s ninth Chancellor, and the first woman and the first lay person to fulfill this role. “Susan, you have set a fine example of excellence. I will do my best to do the same.”

Mr. Peacock says he very much enjoyed his years at StFX. “I believe I matured in many ways, received a good education, met a lovely girl from the Mount who is with me here today, graduated in 1963, and headed for the big city of Montreal to pursue my studies to become a chartered accountant.

“Over the intervening 55 years, I have watched StFX grow and prosper.”

StFX, he says, has changed in many ways in that time—more students, expanded curriculum, improved physical facilities and enhanced reputation—but the essence of the university has not changed.

“I think this point is well made by Dr. MacDonald when he recently stated: ‘StFX is a small university by design. While our students’ minds are broadened by informative learning, they are also shaped by the strong sense of community that’s only possible at a small, primarily residential university.’”

Mr. Peacock noted the primary responsibility of the Chancellor is to serve as Chair of Convocation and confer all degrees of the university. In addition, the Chancellor is expected to represent the university to the external community and, in this role, is an advocate for the vision of the university as endorsed by the Board of Governors.

Mr. Peacock said that while reflecting on the state of the world today can be daunting with concerning issues such as climate change, the rise of authoritarian rulers and the consequent threats to democratic institutions, and the enormous disparities in living conditions and concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, there is also hope.


“Our hope for change is right here in Antigonish. Our university is an agent for change. Our students are this engaged and aware generation. And it is their courage to confront the injustices and challenges of the world today which should give us confidence that optimism is justified, and they can, and will, make the world a better place.

“I very much look forward to the opportunity of being a witness to the efforts of our students, to hopefully interact with them from time to time, and to shake their hands and greet them as they receive their degrees from this wonderful institution, which I had the honour of graduating from 55 years ago.”

Mr. Peacock says he very much looks forward to working with all to achieve StFX’s motto, “Whatsoever things are true.”

Congratulations and greetings during the ceremony came from across the country, including from Central Nova MP Sean Fraser on behalf of the Government of Canada, and the Hon. Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, Minister of Gaelic Affairs and MLA for Antigonish, on behalf of the province. 

Also bringing greetings were Chief Paul Propser, Mi’kmaw First Nation, Paq’tnkek; Rev. Dr. John Barry, Chair, Council of Priests, Diocese of Antigonish; Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher; Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron; Dr. Adela Sandness, Chair of the StFX University Senate on behalf of faculty; Barry Purcell of Facilities Management on behalf of StFX staff; StFX Alumni Association President Glenn Horne; and StFX Students’ Union President Rebecca Mesay. 

Vicar of the Founder and Bishop of Antigonish, the Most. Rev. Brian Dunn, delivered the benediction, and University Chaplain Gary MacPherson delivered the invocation.  

StFX anthropology professor Dr. L. Jane McMillan served as Master of Ceremonies.

Board of Governors student representative Emma Crilly read a passage from the university’s motto from the Philippians 4:4-9, Whatsoever things are true.

A reception followed the ceremony in Dennis Hall. 

StFX appoints Dr. Mathias Nilges as Director, Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership

Fri, 2018-09-28 09:43
Dr. Mathias Nilges

Dr. Mathias Nilges, a StFX English professor, has been named the Director of StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership, a centre devoted to developing student, faculty and community leadership. 

As director, Dr. Nilges, a seasoned member of StFX faculty with a strong record of accomplishment, is responsible for the academic programs and the management and operations of the McKenna Centre, which provides students with opportunities to link theory with practice, and to focus on local, national, and international leadership applications.

He will work with groups across campus including the Coady International Institute and the Mulroney Institute of Government to maximize resources and develop events and programs that distinguishes StFX. He will also provide leadership to develop academic programming, and actively engage and energize students and members of the campus community. 

Dr. Nilges says he is looking forward to the role. 

“One of the most exciting aspects of the McKenna Centre to me is that it makes it possible to foster and to produce courageous, innovative projects by students and faculty at StFX, projects that make important contributions to contemporary academic, sociocultural, and political debates,” he says.

“The McKenna Centre is a very special resource for us at StFX insofar as it is able to support and amplify big, new ideas on our campus. I hope that we can make it our ‘blue sky thinking division’ that serves all students and faculty on our campus, and I look forward to developing a rigorous academic focus at the centre. 

“We will work to bring together students and faculty across fields and disciplines through new initiatives and new opportunities for collaboration in an attempt to foster the creation of courageous new thought and ideas and to creatively address some of the most pressing problems of our time.”

Dr. Nilges has been an English professor at StFX since 2008. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was the winner of the 2009 University of Illinois at Chicago Outstanding Dissertation Award.

He has been appointed an Obama Fellow, Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany, May/June, 2019, and is currently a Jules Léger Scholar in the Humanities and Social Sciences at StFX. 

Dr. Nilges is a frequently invited keynote speaker, including recently delivering a prestigious series of lectures and workshops at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee as the university’s Rheney Lecturer. He was also the driving force behind the recently launched The Examined Life Lab, a student-led online lab at StFX that offers research opportunities to students in the humanities and that fosters the development of important current skills through analyses and critiques of daily life designed to better understand the pressing problems of our time. 

He is the author of three monographs, including one in preparation, as well as numerous edited collections, edited journal volumes, articles, book chapters, reviews, and translations. 

For the past decade, he has been actively involved in the StFX community in a variety of roles from serving as the Chair, Faculty of Arts to an Immersion Serving Learning faculty leader.  

Living on the Edge: StFX Rankin School of Nursing students take part in simulation of what it’s like to live in poverty

Thu, 2018-09-27 15:24
Senior Rankin School of Nursing students participate in the Living on the Edge simulation, experiencing what it's like to live on the brink of poverty

The doors into the world of a person living in poverty in Nova Scotia opened wide for nearly 120 fourth year Rankin School of Nursing students on Sept. 27 as senior Community Health nursing students stepped into Mount St. Bernard’s Chapel classroom and into the persona of someone living on the edge. 

The Rankin School of Nursing teamed with the United Way Halifax to offer the simulation experience called Living on the Edge as a required course in the curriculum that finishes this year.

The intent is to help student participants and future nurses see the world from a different perspective that haven’t experienced poverty before, says Rankin School Assistant Director Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine.

“They will spend an hour experiencing one month living on the edge of poverty in a simulated environment through role playing, where each student takes on an assigned role a family member or a community service provider,” Dr. Sheppard-LeMoine says. 

“Most of the participants will be assigned a role in a scenario as part of a family unit or as a single person and they are given the task to get through the month using the resources they have.”

“It’s what it’s like to live on the brink of poverty,” says Daniel Blacquiere, donor engagement officer with the United Way Halifax, and one of the facilitators. 

“It showcases the reality that people face.” 

Mr. Blacquiere says the experience is designed to build empathy and understanding of what it’s like to live in poverty in Nova Scotia, and also to work towards helping close that gap. 

Poverty, he says, can affect anyone. Sometimes it is easy to recognize, sometimes not. Many people, he says, are living one paycheque, one circumstance, away from financial crisis. It’s something that can happen to anyone.  

“It’s a really good learning experience,” says Dr. Sheppard-LeMoine. “It’s a creative way to make it real.” 

Mr. Blacquiere says the United of Way Halifax has been offering the simulation experience, which started in Missouri, to businesses and universities for the last three years. All the data has been updated to reflect Nova Scotia, he says. 

“It’s designed to be a little uncomfortable, a little stressed. The debrief, that’s when we see the aha moment. It’s really powerful.”

Offering the experience to nursing students is such a perfect fit, he says. In their careers, nurses will often deal with people who face these issues. 

“A stroke of bad luck could put anyone over the edge,” says facilitator Lisa Buchanan, United Way Halifax development research officer.  

“Imagine yourself in the shoes of the folks who may experience this.” 


Hundreds of alumni to return to campus for StFX Homecoming 2018 

Wed, 2018-09-26 14:32
Hundreds of alumni are expected back on campus this weekend for Homecoming 2018

Close to 1,000 StFX alumni and friends are expected back on campus this weekend for Homecoming 2018.

Alumni are coming back to alma mater from all over the world, including from South Africa, Switzerland, Hong Kong and the United States. Alumni are also coming from a broad range of class years, including members of the Class of 1948, celebrating their 70th reunion. 

The Welcome Home Dinner, one of the weekend’s highlight events, on Friday, September 28 will honour some of StFX’s shining stars with the presentation of the Alumni Awards of Excellence. Andrew Howlett ’02 will receive the Young Alumnus of the Year Award; Anne Campbell will receive the Friend of StFX award; and Gerry McConnell ’67 will be presented with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. The Chapter of Year Award will be awarded to the Edmonton Chapter.

The StFX Hall of Honour, held Saturday, September 29 at 11 a.m. in the Schwartz Auditorium, recognizes members of the StFX community who have carried on the StFX tradition of helping others. The Hall of Honour serves as an inspiration to current students and ensures the StFX tradition continues. The 2018 inductees are Allene MacPherson Goforth ’65, Joseph McGann ’68, and Morag Graham ’68.

Bios of the Alumni Awards of Excellence recipients and the Hall of Honour inductees follow. 

Alumni Awards of Excellence

Distinguished Alumnus - Gerry McConnell ’67 

Gerry McConnell has brought honour to StFX and the Nova Scotia community through leadership and service. After graduating from StFX in 1967, Gerry entered Dalhousie Law School. He was called to the bar in 1971 and was an associate and partner at Patterson & Palmer law firm from 1971-87. He received the Queen’s Counsel designation in 1986. In the 1980s and ’90s, his career evolved when he became involved in mining exploration in north eastern Africa, and then in the late 90s his entrepreneurial spirit led him to create the acclaimed winery Benjamin Bridge. During his time in Africa, he was struck by the beauty of the people and land but was affected by the extreme poverty. With friends, he set out on a social justice journey, investing in social programs to improve schools, infrastructure and medical programs in five countries. In 2004, Gerry was the recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Republic of Niger. Gerry has been a strong StFX supporter. He is the Class of 1967 lifetime president and a major contributor to the 1967 class gift at his 50th reunion. He was inducted into the StFX Hall of Fame as a member of the 1965-66 hockey team and is a lifetime member of the President’s Club. He’s been a key supporter of the Women of X-Cellence Fund and offers his support to alumni events with much commitment. 

Chapter of the Year - Edmonton Chapter

The StFX Alumni Association Edmonton Chapter is a dynamic, involved, and welcoming group who seek to engage all alumni, of all ages and interests. The chapter annually hosts a number of alumni events and helps StFX with recruiting efforts and bursary development. Among their community engagement activities, the chapter hosts a StFX Day dinner and celebration, an annual new student send-off and alumni bbq, an Alberta beef and East Coast lobster dinner night, a night at the races, three or four pub nights a year, and they host a president’s reception. The chapter has also volunteered at a local soup kitchen and supports several local charities with donations at their events. They also actively seek to aid in recruiting new students to StFX, help to arrange school visits in the area, and are in the final stages of establishing a $500 bursary for students from the Edmonton area to attend StFX. The Edmonton chapter has been in existence since 1970 and has a long legacy of bringing StFX graduates and their families and friends together in fellowship. 

Friend of StFX - Anne Campbell

Anne Campbell’s long association with StFX began in her hometown of Antigonish, NS, then continued with her late husband Michael A. “Diker” Campbell, a graduate of the StFX Classes of 1958 and 1959. Anne and Diker were a StFX team of their own, promoting and honouring the spirit of StFX in their home community of Halifax. As tireless volunteers, they were involved in the annual Father Kehoe Dinner in Halifax as well as alumni events near and far. Their love of StFX was evident in their commitment to alma mater. Anne has continued to serve as an advocate of StFX alumni in Halifax, spreading the word about alumni gatherings and ensuring people come out to attend. Her enthusiasm is an inspiration and contributes to the success of Halifax chapter events. She believes in the importance of giving back and established the Michael A. Campbell Scholarship to provide an annual award to a Citadel High School student in Halifax to attend StFX. 

Young Alumnus - Andrew Howlett ’02

Andrew Howlett embodies the spirit of StFX. He has done this from his days as MacNeil House president to fulfilling the role of StFX national Alumni Association president. He tirelessly promotes StFX, including serving as the Toronto chapter alumni president to delivering an inspiring speech to hundreds of students on the Feast Day of StFX during the iconic X-Ring Ceremony. After graduating from StFX, Andrew completed his medical doctorate at Dalhousie University, and a residency in psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He is a psychiatrist in the Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Program at St. Joseph’s Health Centre where he also works as an educator, administrator and researcher. He is the co-founder of the Fathers’ Mental Health Network, and the creator of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Project, a campaign to engage men in talking about their health. He is the first to provide a Fathers’ Mental Health Consultation and Treatment Program in Canada. Despite a busy family and professional life, he has steadfastly remained committed to StFX. This focused, driven, and energetic man has always found a way to put his family, friends and community needs ahead of his own. 

Hall of Honour Inductees

Allene MacPherson Goforth ’65

Allene MacPherson Goforth is recognized for her trailblazing achievements, including becoming what is believed to be the first deaf woman in Canada to graduate from university. The Sydney, NS native contracted tuberculosis meningitis at age seven. As a result of medical treatment for it, she became deaf, and later had to leave her siblings and parents to attend the Halifax School for the Deaf for about three years. A bright and eager student, she returned to her home area to complete her schooling, eventually graduating from Holy Angels High School. She was awarded a scholarship to pursue university studies and attended StFX where she thoroughly engaged in and enjoyed student life. She graduated in 1965 with a BSc in home economics, and subsequently obtained certification as a dietician from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, all the while overcoming new challenges and convincing sceptics of her ability in a hearing world. In 1978, she changed careers and returned to studies, graduating with a BA in liberal arts and sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and then with her master’s in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her working career was mainly spent as a librarian. Although deaf, she never allowed the hearing disability to hold her back. She is described as a person with insight and strength, always positive, always engaged. Her talents, scholarship and achievement, as well as her contributions to her community, embody the StFX motto, a life of thought and service. 

Joseph McGann ’68

Joe McGann is a person focused on making a difference in the lives of others. He graduated from StFX in 1968. His time at StFX exposed him to a social consciousness framework that he has embraced. His life’s journey has been characterized by service to others, driven by a deep respect for individuals and a conviction that each of us should share our blessings. A key moment of service in his work life occurred as part of the U.S. Government Crises Management Team supporting the Pentagon and World Trade Centre recovery after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. In his personal life, his efforts have been centred on youth, the needy and homeless both locally and in Cuba, his church, and the StFX community. Within the Westford community he spent many years working with youth, coaching baseball and hockey. Beyond athletics, he focused on helping each child gain confidence and appreciation for fair play. For over 40 years, he has shared his time too in his Westford Parish of St. Catherine, teaching religious education and volunteering with the Knights of Columbus. Extending beyond his home community, he is also involved with two groups helping marginalized individuals in Cuba and in Lowell, Massachusetts. In the early 1970s and ’80s, he served as head of the StFX Boston alumni chapter, and was the New England representative for the capital campaign led by the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney. He also served two terms on the StFX Board of Governors. Joe McGann has truly embraced the spirit of StFX and the tradition of giving back to the community. His life is a positive legacy of impactful service. 

Morag Graham ’68

Morag (MacDonald) Graham is an example of a life lived with integrity, strength and determination served by a keen intellect and desire to serve others. While a student at StFX, she was actively involved in organizations running the gamut from X-Project to the Debating Team. She was a member of the field hockey team and wrote a weekly column for the Xaverian Weekly. In her final year, she received the Marimar Trophy (today called the Carmel Loisier Award) as the outstanding senior female graduate. She has been a promoter of StFX all her life. She spent six years serving on the StFX Board of Governors and has also been actively involved in alumni chapter activities and has been a frequent presence at StFX Homecoming. Morag spent almost 40 years as an educator, taking on roles from classroom teacher to principal. Many students credit her with giving them the courage to aim high. She has been an exemplary community volunteer and has served on many boards from L’Arche Cape Breton to the Judique Community Centre, from the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre to Inverness County Small Options. She has worked tirelessly for the advancement and promotion of her local area and has dedicated herself to the enrichment of the lives of others in her community. In all capacities, she has shown leadership and dedication.

Inspiring curiosity in youth: StFX science and math outreach programs receive nearly $200,000 in PromoScience funding

Thu, 2018-09-20 13:56
2018 StFX NSERC PromoScience grant recipients include, seated, l-r, Dr. Robert van den Hoogen (Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities) and Dr. Geniece Tapley (X-Chem). Back row: Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden (Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities), Dr. Truis Smith-Palmer (X-Chem), Jennifer Fraser (X-Chem), and Dr. Tara Taylor (Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities.)

Two StFX-based outreach programs that inspire curiosity in youth and an interest in science and math have received very good news.

X-Chem Outreach and Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities—two separate programs, each facilitated by StFX faculty—have received a total of nearly $200,000 in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PromoScience Program. 

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, made the announcement on Sept. 17, 2018, as part of $11.9 million in funding for 163 grants through the PromoScience Program, which supports hands-on learning experiences for young Canadians and teachers. The funding is used to encourage youth to make science part of their education, their careers, and their lives. 

The news was welcome on the StFX campus. 

“It means we can really increase our range, visit more students, improve our activities, buy more equipment, and reach more youth, more often,” says StFX chemistry professor Dr. Truis Smith-Palmer on the $75,000 in funding X-Chem will receive over the next three years. The program also received one-time grants of $5,000 for Science Odyssey and $9,500 for Science Literacy Week. She leads the program with Dr. Geniece Tapley and Jennifer Fraser. 

“It’s really helpful. It will allow us to bring more programming to the communities we serve,” says education faculty Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden, who with Drs. Tara Taylor and Robert van den Hoogen in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, facilitates Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities, an after school, in-community mathematics outreach program in several Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities. The program has received $112,500 in funding over three years. 

“It will help keep programming going, pay for travel, and it also allows us to bring people together to see how we can grow the program,” she says. 

Both programs make a deep impact in the region. 

Offered through StFX’s Chemistry Department, X-Chem is a multifaceted outreach program with over 30 years experience engaging youth in science. They provide children, from about four years old through to Grade 12, with opportunities to do hands-on science and to connect with working scientists. For decades, they’ve been bringing science to children.

They visit schools, host Saturday afternoon science and coding camps, and run seven science and six coding summer camps on campus, including two all-female camps, as well as eight off-campus summer camps, including in Indigenous communities. 

Last year alone, the program impacted about 7,000 students, including about 5,500 in May and June alone, says Ms. Fraser. 

Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities, now in its fourth year, helps make mathematics meaningful to students while showing them the power of using math as a tool to address problems in the world. Ellen Carter, a doctoral student in StFX’s Faculty of Education, is the program coordinator.

Throughout the academic year, about 15-20 StFX undergraduate and B.Ed. students travel to communities to engage students in Grades 4-12 in hands-on investigations of mathematics related to their everyday lives. At year end, they host a gathering at StFX with workshops put on by community elders and knowledge keepers as well as faculty. In the afternoon they take part in an amazing math race around campus. Dr. Lunney Borden says the program is aimed at helping kids see that math is a really important part of STEM. “It’s increasing engagement and attitude, and helping to demystify mathematics.”

One of the program’s main benefits is it allows students to explore the math inherent in their own culture and to see it is an important part of their heritage. 

“That’s a big part of it, connecting to the community,” Dr. Lunney Borden says. “We’re looking at issues, problems and knowledge from the community to make the links.

“It’s helping kids to see how we can use math to read and write the world.” 

“We’re learning from them, and they’re learning from us,” Dr. van den Hoogen says.

Dr. Taylor notes it is great learning for the student leaders as well. “It’s outreach to them too, to help them learn about the community,” she says. 

The outreach has even extended to school teachers, several of whom have taken program ideas relating to Indigenous and African knowledge back into math classrooms to use with students.

Dr. Lunney Borden says the Mi’kmaw word, Mawikinutimatimk, which means coming together to learn together, can really sum up the program. “That’s the whole goal, to learn together.” 


StFX professor to deliver keynote address in Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series

Tue, 2018-09-18 09:43
Dr. Rachel Hurst, this year's Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series presenter.

The Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series will hold its fourth annual lecture on Tuesday, October 2 at 7 p.m. in Dennis Hall. The annual lecture is an initiative of the Hive for Feminist Research, an interdisciplinary research group formed in 2013 to increase the visibility and understanding of feminist research at StFX in all its diversity. A reception will follow the lecture and all are welcome. 

This year’s presenter is Dr. Rachel Hurst, faculty member with the StFX Women and Gender Studies Program, who will present a talk entitled, “Settler Fantasies and Colonial ‘Before and After’ Photography.” Drawing on her experience in her previous work on cosmetic surgery and other idealized representations of women. Dr. Hurst will discuss the connections between visual culture, embodiment, and power within the vast photographic archive of Indigenous people from the later 19th- and early 20th-century North America. 

These photographs, she says, were taken by colonial settlers and those of European descent, rather than Indigenous peoples themselves and therefore represent the fantasies that European settlers had about Indigenous peoples, even as they were presented as objective evidence of Indigenous life and peoples. Dr. Hurst argues that this archive systematically imposed European norms of gender and sexuality on Indigenous peoples. 

“While there are scholars who situate gender and sexuality as central to their analyses of photographs in specific places and times, what is missing is a broad understanding of how these photographs are connected to one another across time and place – and into the present – through gender and sexuality as they are framed within a settler ‘before and after’ logic of Indigenous transformation,” she says. 

Dr. Hurst founded the Hive for Feminist Research in the summer of 2013 to offer a space for StFX researchers to share and discuss work. The Hive defines feminist research broadly as a type of inquiry concerned with understanding relations of power, particularly those based on gender as it intersects with race, sexuality, class, and ability. 

Dr. Christina Holmes, a member of the lecture committee, said “Dr. Hurst was chosen to give this year’s lecture both to honour her contributions to feminist research at St Francis Xavier University, as well as the importance of her current topic of research to Canadian society and how we understand reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.” 

The Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series serves as a connection between all four StFX faculties, the Coady Institute, and the Angus L. Macdonald Library. The lecture series runs on a three-year cycle, with a speaker from the Arts/Science/Library in year one, a speaker from Business/Education in year two, and from the Coady International Institute in year three. 

Members of the Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series committee include Christina Holmes (Arts), Erin MacDonald (Coady), Opal Leung (Business), Rebecca Mesay (WMGS Student Society), Laura-Lee Kearns (Education), Melanie Warner (WMGS Student Society), and Ann Fox (Science), Library representative TBA.

StFX Rankin School of Nursing honours student in leadership role with College of Registered Nurses Council

Mon, 2018-09-17 11:26
L-r, Fourth year StFX Rankin School of Nursing honours student and College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia (CRNNS) student representative Layla Green is pictured at the CRNNS AGM with Rankin School nurse educator Wendy Panagopoulos; StFX Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Cathy MacDonald; Yvonne Fraser, placement coordinator/nurse educator; nursing faculty Dr. Joanne Witty Rogers; and Rankin School Assistant Director Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine.

It’s been a terrific time of learning about and contributing to her chosen profession for Layla Green, a fourth year honours Rankin School of Nursing student from Falmouth, NS, who has taken on a leadership role with the College of Registered Nurses Council (CRNNS).

Ms. Green is the representative for all Nova Scotia nursing students on the CRNNS.

“Ever since my first year in the program I’ve been drawn to the public health aspect of nursing, and how the profession intersects with other departments in our government to keep the public safe,” Ms. Green says. 

“The CRNNS is our governing body, meaning that we not only get our licenses through them, but they are charged with monitoring our practice, keeping it up-to-date and ethical, and ultimately keeping the public safe by ensuring the highest quality of nursing and care. Being able to see behind the screen at how some of these decisions are made and even potentially add a student/upcoming nurse’s perspective on a few issues really intrigued me into pursuing this role.”

Rankin School Assistant Director Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine says the nursing school is very proud of Ms. Green for taking on this role. “Layla is making a significant contribution as the only Nova Scotia student on the CRNNS council. She is the student voice with our regulating body who grants licenses to all practicing nurses in Nova Scotia,” she says.

Ms. Green says at the end of her second year, several nursing professors brought her name up as a potential candidate and she subsequently applied and was appointed to the two-year student position on council, which rotates between Nova Scotia nursing schools.  

Ms. Green started the position last fall. Four times a year she attends council meetings where they discuss various items from policies that need to be examined to news of interest from across the world that they may want to look at incorporating into their own policy/practice, she says. 

“There is also discussion on how to best train and retain nurses in Nova Scotia, a topic which I’ve been able to contribute to being a student myself, and looking towards the future of being employed in Nova Scotia.” 

She says her main role is to offer insight that a current student might be able to provide and to consider the concerns her peers may have regarding various issues and bring those to the table. 

“I am likely to be the last student representative on the council for CRNNS as we are moving towards a One Nurse Regulator for the province, which will be a joining of the RN college and the LPN college. This has been the focus of much of the council’s work over the last year I’ve been on council and I must say it has been an amazing experience watching the dedication of the now-former president Ruth Whelan and current president Charmaine McPherson, as well as CEO Sue Smith and the rest of the council who have put so much of their time into this new and exciting direction for nursing in our province,” Ms. Green says.

She says the experience has made her more aware of the political side of the profession, and the hard work that goes on often behind the scenes to create a structured, fair, and supportive resource for nurses across the province. 

“While the main goal of the CRNNS is to ensure public safety, this must involve the just regulation of its nurses, and to do so with the proactive and inviting manner with which the council has shown me is truly something I aspire to,” she says. “After attending the Annual General Meeting and awards banquet last May as a council member, I feel I now fully appreciate the strong voice the nursing community carries throughout our province, and the wonderful work that we can achieve by exercising that power to create positive change. I don’t think I had ever been more proud of the profession I am entering into and it truly reinforced that I was on the right track at this point in my life.”

Ms. Green says the position is one of many opportunities she’s had at StFX. It is hard to pin down exactly how much StFX and the Rankin School Of Nursing have influenced her over the last three years, she says, as she’s had so many wonderful role models and opportunities simply by being here. 


“I feel that the university experience in general tends to make you grow as a person, but StFX has gone above and beyond for me in that regard. I have been able to push myself as a leader even in first year by being on the Lane Hall House Council and the Equity and Diversity Committee on campus, then as a member of the StFX Nursing Society, and now through the CRNNS. 

“Academically, I’ve been encouraged to pursue more than I thought I was capable, currently pursuing an honours degree that three years ago seemed a daunting task. Being at a smaller university in an even smaller program, I now recognize everyone in my classes and have made friends I know I will have for life, and without whom I don’t know I’d be able to do half of the things I do. 

“If StFX and the School Of Nursing has taught me anything it’s that if you surround yourself with people who support you and you make those crucial connections with profs and other role models, then you can do pretty much anything you set your mind to, corny as that sounds.”

Ms. Green is currently working on research with one of her professors, Dr. Donna Halperin, and she says she would love to continue working on that project in some regard post-graduation. This past summer she had the opportunity to do a co-operative learning placement in the Annapolis Valley working on a maternal/child unit with new moms, babies and children. “After working there for two months, I can easily say I would love to work with this population again. I know that while I plan on getting hands-on experience for a few years after graduation, I still plan on staying involved with our governing body in some fashion and will always be connected to that side of our profession as my practice progresses.”

International partnership: StFX building ties with University of Glasgow - Dumfries Campus

Fri, 2018-09-14 14:19
Pictured, top to bottom are, University of Glasgow – Dumfries Campus, School of Interdisciplinary Studies education students Erin Craighead and Jordan Rae, and health and social policy students Rebecca Stanley and Ruairi Turner, faculty Anne Ferguson, StFX Office of Internationalization Director Larissa Strong, Dr. Jeremy Law of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, and StFX education professor Dr. Chris Gilham.

A special group of guests from Scotland was on the StFX campus this week to talk about strengthening international partnerships.

A delegation from the University of Glasgow – Dumfries Campus, School of Interdisciplinary Studies—including two faculty members and four students—was on campus to discuss potential activities for further partnerships, building on the relationship that exists with StFX’s Faculty of Education. StFX has an international practicum available to its B.Ed. students, who have been to Scotland twice.  

“Hopefully, we will set up an international student placement experience,” says Anne Ferguson of the University of Glasgow – Dumfries Campus, who says the two schools have had a good relationship since they first collaborated together through Skype in December 2015. 

“Student teacher placement, a student exchange program, staff and faculty mobility, we hope to try to build on that,” adds colleague Dr. Jeremy Law.

Dr. Law says during StFX’s last visit to Scotland he recalls speaking with StFX education professor Dr. Chris Gilham and becoming fascinated with his mental health literacy research, including a partnership Dr. Gilham is involved in with in Halifax, NS. Dr. Law says they are now working on preparing a grant for the Nuffield Foundation to introduce mental health curriculum to schools in Scotland. 

Dr. Law says their university received funds from its mobility internationalization to explore closer ties and how “we can bring our campus closer to StFX, for possible student exchanges and staff mobility.” 

As part of the visit, StFX placed the two visiting education students in local schools for two days and the two health and social policy students at the National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health on campus for two days. As well, Dr. Gilham facilitated ‘Mental Health 101’ for the delegation. The group also spent a day in Halifax discussing mental health literary at

The students, who had to apply for the opportunity, say the experience has been terrific. 

“I’ve fallen in love with it, the scenery, the people who are so kind and friendly, they want us to have a good time,” says Mr. Turner, a student ambassador at his university. 

“It’s home away from home,” Ms. Craighead agrees. “It feels almost familiar even though I’ve never been before.”

Ms. Stanley says the opportunity really appealed to her, particularly the mental health side of things as well as the opportunity to visit Canada, a country she always wanted to see. 

All four students say their placements were a valuable experience. 

Ms. Craighead and Ms. Rae spent one day each at Antigonish Education Centre and St. Andrew Junior School shadowing teachers, helping out during lessons, even meeting with a Gaelic teacher, and getting a review of what school is like in Canada. 

“It’s really interesting to see how much they knew about Scotland,” Ms. Rae said.

Mr. Turner and Ms. Stanley enjoyed learning about the work the NCCDH does and seeing similarities and differences with Scotland. 

“As part of our internationalization efforts, we see this partnership as an important one that will benefit faculty, staff and students,” says Larissa Strong, StFX Director, Office of Internationalization.

“It’s been such a treat,” Dr. Gilham adds. “You don’t expect things to grow and evolve in this way. It’s very rewarding.”

Teach Mental Health: StFX involved in launching new mental health literacy course for pre-service and practicing teachers

Thu, 2018-09-13 16:28
Dr. Chris Gilham

A comprehensive, free, online course that helps educators—both teachers and B.Ed. students—understand and recognize mental illness while decreasing stigma in classrooms is now available—to great reviews.

The self-directed course,, was developed through a five-year partnership between education faculties at St. Francis Xavier University, Western University and the University of British Columbia, and TeenMentalHealth.Org, a non-profit organization led by mental health expert Dr. Stan Kutcher. It’s intended to help pre-service and practicing teachers develop and expand their mental health literacy.

Since its August 15th launch, the course has already attracted over 1,000 registrants, and some school boards have made it mandatory professional development for administration staff.

“It’s been well received,” says StFX education professor and team member Dr. Chris Gilham.

Dr. Gilham says it’s not just that a lot of people have signed up for the course, it’s the potential the course has to work for people and to make a difference that is exciting.

He says the course was developed to address two main needs.

After completing a national scan of over 30 educational institutions and organizations across Canada, the team found there was almost nothing available for teachers related to mental health literacy training.

There was also the felt sense of teachers that they don’t have the knowledge base to deal with the mental health issues they’re seeing in their students.

The teenage years are a critical time for mental health issues. The major onset of mental illness happens between the ages of 13 and 25, and one in five youth will have a mental illness before the age of 25, Dr. Gilham says.

This course reinforces for teachers that they are well positioned to notice signs and symptoms and be able to access school support teams to have early intervention, which helps with finding proper, effective treatment, he says.

The course, he adds, is meant to help educators and students maintain and optimize good mental health, to know when they need to ask for support, and how to identify resources and supports before things get difficult for people to take care of themselves or others.

Dr. Gilham says the team plans to collect data to see how the course is working, and will tweak and revise according to feedback.

Although originally designed for B.Ed. students and teachers, Dr. Gilham says the course would also be useful for anyone interested in mental health literacy.

It’s free. Interested people can register at any time, they can complete the course at the pace they want, and they can choose to receive a certificate of completion when finished.

Virtual global classrooms: StFX Rankin School of Nursing faculty win best paper award for their creative approach to shared global learning

Wed, 2018-09-12 15:08
Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine and Dr. Cathy MacDonald

StFX Rankin School of Nursing faculty Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine and Dr. Cathy MacDonald have been singled out for honours for a paper that details their creative approach to shared global learning. 

The two received the Session’s Best Paper Award (Health Care & Bio Medicine1), presented in Orlando, Florida at the 9th International Multi Conference on Complexity, Informatics and Cybernetics/International Conference on Society and Information Technologies. 

Their paper, Virtual Global Classrooms Without Walls: Collaborative Opportunities for Higher Learning Engagement, has also been published in the Journal of Systematics, Cybernetics & Informatics. Vol. 16; Number 1.

“In this paper, we shared our creative pedagogical approaches using synchronous communication implementing video conferencing,” Dr. Sheppard-LeMoine says. 

“Our example focused on a shared teaching/learning experience that was facilitated for the undergraduate BScN nursing students in Doha, Qatar and StFX Rankin School of Nursing in Antigonish,” she says. 

The focus was on building understanding of community practices in both countries.

Opportunities were also offered at the graduate level for Middle Eastern students in the areas of palliative care and leadership. 

She says video technology that StFX supported in a large classroom brought together students in a shared learning experience. Both she and Dr. MacDonald say that this work provides not only an opportunity for future higher learning engagements, but also a foundation for future global collaborative research and practice partnerships.

“We were humbled that our paper was selected as the best in a session with researchers and academics from around the world,” Dr. Sheppard-LeMoine says. 

“We were connected with other faculty and researchers who held a passion for how we teach creatively in our global community of education. It was a way to share with others the impact we are having in our interprofessional nursing community through the use of technology from StFX that may not be considered.”

“I was honoured that our paper was selected for the best paper award in the Health Care and Bio Medicine category of this international conference,” Dr. MacDonald says. “It was exciting that our research and pedagogical approaches were shared and recognized internationally. Having our paper published in Journal of Systematics, Cybernetics & Informatics was another unanticipated acknowledgment and truly exhilarating experience.” 

Readiness for the field: StFX teachers publish new book on preparing pre-service teacher educators

Wed, 2018-09-12 14:19

The intricacies involved in preparing pre-service teacher educators for the field is the subject of a new book, Readiness for the field: Perspectives from within the triangle of teacher education, edited by two StFX teachers, Dr. David Young and Dr. Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier. 

Dr. Thomas Ryan of Nipissing University is also a co-editor of the book, a compilation of 18 peer-reviewed essays, published in September 2018 by Common Ground. 

Dr. Young and Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier say throughout the book the focus remains on the narrative as told by new teachers and those involved in teacher preparation and supervision. 

“Each chapter is a personal glimpse into the practice of teacher education, where the value rests in the perspectives of the authors as they recount their experiences and research in teacher preparation programs and schools across Canada,” they say. 

“This book is intended for academics, professionals, and researchers in education or education-related fields. We anticipate the contents herein will benefit all those involved in the education and preparation of teacher candidates from Canada and beyond.” 

In the book, submissions from authors across Canada have been categorized into four thematic sections: Multiple Voices and Experiences from the Academy and the School Setting; University Faculty and Practicum Supervisors: Bridging the Classroom and the Field; Cooperating Teachers: A Reciprocal Learning Story; and Pre-service Teachers: “When the Rubber Hits the Road.”

Both Dr. Young and Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier say the book is a natural outgrowth of their roles as teachers. 

As a member of StFX’s Faculty of Education and Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Leadership, teacher preparation is the cornerstone of what Dr. Young does. 

Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier, a former sessional lecturer with StFX’s Faculty of Education and now a Core Faculty member with Yorkville University’s Faculty of Education, teaches MEd classes in adult education and in educational leadership. She is also the Manager of Networks and Ongoing Learning at the Coady International Institute

This is Dr. Young’s third book. His first book was Teaching online: Stories from within, which was published in 2014. His second book, published in 2017, was Education law in Canada: A guide for teachers and administrators. This is Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier’s first book.

Dr. Young’s research is focused on the broad topic of educational administration and policy. More particularly, his current writing deals with issues surrounding law and education. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publications including Capsle Comments, the Education & Law Journal, the Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, and the Journal of Educational Administration and Foundations. 

Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier’s research focuses on accessible learning in face-to-face and digital spaces. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including articles in Transformative Dialogues, Journal of Educational Administration and Foundations, and the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and chapters in Emerald’s Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning series and Springer’s Handbook of mobile teaching and learning

Re-energizing scholarship: StFX English professor appointed CRRS Tudor and Stuart Book Series editor

Thu, 2018-09-06 14:43
StFX English professor Dr. Joseph Khoury

StFX English professor Dr. Joseph Khoury has an exciting challenge ahead. 

Dr. Khoury, a well-known Renaissance scholar, has been appointed editor of the Tudor and Stuart Book Series at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) at Victoria University at the University of Toronto. 

He’s been tasked with re-energizing the series at this world-class centre. 

“It’s an opportunity to try to make sure certain books that were very important for studying history and literature, and are currently out of commission, are available to today’s scholars.

“I thought it would be an interesting challenge,” he says. 

“They help us to understand our past, and they help us to understand many of the issues we still contend with today, and they make for fun reading.”

The CRRS approached Dr. Khoury to see if he would be interested in the task. He’s a Renaissance scholar, his well-received book Barnabe Riche, The Adventures of Brusanus, Prince of Hungaria (1592) was published at the University of Toronto, and he’s been active with the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies including previously serving as its president. 

The books—all from the Tudor and Stuart ages, basically from around 1485-1700—will need to be conservatively modernized for spelling, grammar and for archaic words, explaining the word’s meaning at the time. Each book will need a good introduction to place it in context so that it is easier to understand, and to help make it an important study tool for students and scholars. 

“It’s very important,” he says. “These books are fundamental. They allow other scholarship to happen.”

Dr. Khoury says he is looking forward to seeking scholars who want to take on these books, weighing proposals, learning about new scholarship and new ways of doing things, and working with other scholars to carry the projects through. 

“The learning opportunities are immense.”

The editorship will require steady, solitary work, the kind of scholarship that is sometimes not given the kind of regard it deserves because it’s often done in the background, slowly and steadily, he says. It can be thankless at the beginning, but it is so important, especially when seeing the work suddenly picked up by other scholars who are grateful the work is being done.

Applications open for fully funded ISL in Ghana student experience

Thu, 2018-09-06 13:41

Applications have now opened for the fully funded Immersion Service Learning (ISL) in Ghana student experience, a 12-week, in-country experience offered in conjunction with the six-credit course, IDS 398. 

This student experience is fully funded by The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program. Students only pay course tuition. 

Students must be entering third year or above in 2019-20 to apply. Application deadline is Oct. 12, 2018.

IDS 398 and Service Learning in Ghana bring together experiential learning in community-based contexts in Ghana with academic course work to deepen students' understanding of the dynamics of local change in contemporary Ghana as it relates to issues of global inequality and social justice. 

Through service learning experiences in community-based partner organizations and ongoing critical reflection, students blend theory with practice for a complex understanding of community development in rural Ghana today. 

This course is designed to complement learning in a wide variety of academic areas. Through community placements, students can focus on elements of the course that connect with their particular disciplinary interests.

QEScholars join a community of young global leaders across Canada and around the world to create lasting impacts both at home and abroad through cross-cultural exchanges encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences.

For more information and to apply, please visit here. To learn more about the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program, please see here.

StFX students involved in novel wind modelling research

Wed, 2018-09-05 14:08

Learning about wind on the highway took up a good part of the year for StFX engineering students Jenny Bowie and Connor McCabe, who hope to use the knowledge to help increase fuel efficiency.

The two, who graduated this spring, spent the last year as part of a group of four students in StFX earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk’s FluxLab involved with novel wind modelling. 

The work originated within a project helping advance truck-based gas detection technology, funded by ACOA Atlantic Innovation Fund. The goal was to improve wind measurement with better anemometer placement on the research trucks, and offset calibrations for speed and yaw. Tara Hanlon, who graduates from StFX with a MSc degree this fall, and Meghan Flood, a 2018 engineering graduate, laid the foundational research, and wind work steadily branched out in the research group.  

Ms. Bowie, recipient of a 2018 Wallace Family Internship, created a mathematical algorithm to aid in measurement of wind from vehicles and started testing her product on a real vehicle. She’s been working to find the frontal wind speed experienced by a car without the use of an anemometer. 

FWork-01-MyStFX.jpg Jenny Bowie 

Meanwhile Mr. McCabe of Greenwood, NS, recipient of a StFX Student Research Award and University Council for Research (UCR) Award, installed an anemometer on a Classic Freight transport truck that helped map highway winds over two weeks while it traveled 8,000 kilometres. 


Ms. Bowie says the opportunity to be involved in research at StFX has been amazing.

“This is my first time working in a field so directly related to my schooling and it’s a very different experience. It’s really great that the hours you put into working are also hours that make you a better student and give you valuable experience. It has also been very rewarding to see how far my project has come,” she says. 

Her project involved using data collected from the moving vehicle along with dynamic equations of vehicle motion and an algorithm she’s been working on. This is important because wind speed is the biggest factor that impacts fuel economy. She says the vision right now is to use this technology to help fleet companies to save fuel through a couple possible systems.

“The opportunity of getting involved in research is an amazing benefit to StFX students. Other than the obvious skills you learn with the material, mine being primarily programming and dynamics, you learn so many other practical skills that are required for self-directed studying, the new experiences and the challenges.” 

Ms. Bowie, who will start her third year in civil engineering at Dalhousie University this fall, says the opportunity to become involved in research at StFX started when her thermodynamics professor, Dr. Gurpreet Matharoo—her co-supervisor throughout this project—approached her, inviting her to chat about a project the Flux Lab needed someone for. “So, a big thank you to Dr. Matharoo!”

The biggest surprise of the experience? Learning about all the interesting research going on at StFX, she says. 

“Getting involved in a lab showed me so many different opportunities you can have with your program material.”   


Mr. McCabe’s research has been looking at ways to reduce emissions in the transportation sector by understanding how the wind affects fuel efficiency. 

“About two thirds of fuel consumption at highway speed is due to air drag, and high wind gusts increase this dramatically,” he says. 

“By measuring the wind from a vehicle, the winds that highway vehicles encounter can be better understood. With greater knowledge of the relationship between wind and fuel consumption, several methods to increase fuel efficiency can be developed. Some of these include mapping winds, adjusting routes based on wind patterns, and even developing an adjustable cruise control system that accounts for wind. Research in this area is important because it is highly applicable to the industry—decreasing emissions goes hand in hand with financial savings on fuel.”

A large part of his work included using a computational fluid dynamics software to model the air flow over a transport truck. 

Truck-01-MyStFX.jpg This helped in determining a good anemometer location and in ensuring proper wind measurements from that location. He also worked on creating a wind-based cruise control algorithm, which showed potential for fuel efficiency increases of up to 16 per cent. 

For his field work, he worked with Classic Freight, a freight company out of Dartmouth, NS, to attach an anemometer to measure winds from one of their trucks. The truck travelled around Atlantic Canada for over two weeks, collecting data on wind speed and direction. This data will be used to gain a better understanding of the winds experienced by highway vehicles and how they affect fuel efficiency.


“The opportunity to be involved in research as an undergraduate is one that is hard to beat,” he says. 

“The critical thinking, communication, project management and hands-on skills that I have gained from this experience are ones that I will carry with me throughout my academic career and onward. Research as an undergraduate not only helps you to develop your academic skillset, but it also allows you to better understand and appreciate the scientific method,” says Mr. McCabe who begins his first co-op term as he moves on to Dalhousie University to complete his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering over the next three years.

“The opportunity to get involved in research is one of the great benefits of being a student at StFX. Having faculty and supervisors that encourage you to explore your ideas and ask questions provides an exceptional academic experience.”

He says what he found most surprising about his research experience is just how impactful it can be. “You don’t necessarily expect what you do as an undergraduate to have a large impact on society. But when you’re given the opportunity to ask questions and the right tools to look for answers, the results can be quite surprising.”

“Time” to make connections: between ideas and across campuses

Thu, 2018-08-30 09:27

The Maple League universities are offering a new, groundbreaking and multidisciplinary course exploring the theme of “time” this Fall, demonstrating how this consortium of universities can collaborate to offer students a richer, more relevant learning experience across four campuses.

Four award-winning professors from different fields (Dr. David Hornidge, Physics, Mount Allison University; Dr. Michele Murray, Religion, Bishop’s University; Dr. Michael Cardinal-Aucoin, Biology, St. Francis Xavier University; and Dr. Jeff Hennesy, Music, Acadia University) have designed an innovative learning experience in a team-taught, distance learning environment.

“It’s an exciting multidisciplinary, team-teaching approach and a very interesting topic – Time,” says Dr. Michael Cardinal-Aucoin, StFX biology professor. This course is an opportunity for students to be introduced to different disciplines and the different approaches they take to asking and answering questions, to different ways of knowing. It will give students the chance to explore subject matter, ideas, and methodologies that might usually be beyond the scope of their chosen degree program.”

Using the latest technology, students enrolled in the course at all four Maple League universities will reflect on how time informs and shapes knowledge in four very different academic disciplines. They will attend classes via videoconference and in person throughout the Fall semester. Classes are divided into disciplinary blocks and one professor explores what time means in their field of expertise with the students and other instructors. This synchronous online learning experience provides students with both in class and virtual instruction in a small, intimate, seminar-style course.

As the professors write, "Time is a concept we encounter every day and yet one that we rarely, if ever, consider beyond checking it on our wall clock (or iPhone). However, our seemingly familiar relationship with time deceives us into believing that the concept of time is a simple one. This course will seek answers to questions such as: What is the meaning of time and how can it be defined? What is the space-time continuum and what does the theory of relativity imply about time? How do organisms perceive time and what is a biological clock? How have different religious traditions perceived time and given it meaning? How is time divided to create rhythms and how do we keep a beat?"

“This multidisciplinary learning experience encourages students to make connections between facts, concepts and ideas in various academic disciplines,” says Maple League Executive Director and Bishop’s University English Department Associate Professor Dr. Jessica Riddell. “Made possible by 21st-century technology, this course is a striking demonstration that the liberal arts approach to learning – at the core of all four of the Maple League universities – is more relevant than ever for students, as they seek to understand our increasingly complex and fast-paced world.”

Through their collaboration, the four universities of the Maple League help students prepare for rapidly evolving job market, with courses like these that challenge students to think critically and creatively about the world around them.

StFX hosts inaugural Atlantic Indigenous Mentorship Network Summer Institute

Wed, 2018-08-22 11:40

Creating a safe, healthy, and supportive space for Indigenous learning to occur within Atlantic post-secondary institutions was the intent, and organizers of the Atlantic Indigenous Mentorship Network (Atlantic-IMN)’s inaugural Summer Institute: Weja'tu'k kina'masutiminu maqamikewiktuk (We Get Our Education From the Land), hosted Aug. 7-11 on the StFX campus, say the five-day event did just that.

“With the guidance of our Elder Advisory Circle and the planning team led by Catherine Hart, and Dr. Debbie Martin of Dalhousie University, we designed an experiential, co-learning program to support Indigenous students and students involved in interdisciplinary Indigenous health research on their academic journey,” says StFX faculty member and organizing committee member Dr. L. Jane McMillan. 

“We took students out of the classroom and on to the land to consider the importance of Indigenous rights, food security and food sovereignty with community experts. The idea was to encourage students to engage with Indigenous knowledge on the land and to open their minds and hearts to new ways of learning and sharing. It was a tremendous immersive experience for faculty and students alike and a program that we will continue to nurture and grow.”

In all, 19 people participated in the institute, including nine undergraduate and graduate students from StFX, Dalhousie University and Mount St. Vincent University. 

"As a Mi'kmaq student, participating in the Summer Institute at StFX was very meaningful for me because I got to learn so much about Indigenous food sovereignty and food systems from some of our Mi'kmaq elders, knowledge keepers, and from each other,” says participant Devann Sylvester of Membertou First Nation who graduated from StFX with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2017 and is now in her second year of the Bachelor of Education program, for elementary. 

“I know these topics are important for our nation as Mi'kmaq people in moving forward together,” she says. “I loved how the five days of the institute involved ceremony, talking circles, field trips, traditional knowledge, discussions, feasts, and being outdoors. I became emotional at times throughout the week because I knew that I was a part of something special."

Likewise, participant Monica Ragan, a fifth year honours StFX student from Whycocomagh, NS, who is in the aquatics resource program with a focus on anthropology, said the institute was a great learning experience. 


“The Summer Institute taught me to see health and food in different ways from the western, scientific notion, which I have been educated in. Now I am critically assessing the information which is presented to me and trying to use this information to ensure I am looking at both perspectives of the issue. 

“As I learned, access to traditional foods is related to health outcomes of Indigenous groups. Therefore, one cannot assume what is ideal for someone who is European is appropriate for an Indigenous individual, especially when it comes to diet and this issue needs to be made more aware to those in the health and academic professions.”


She says the stories and people she met left a positive impact on her learning, particularly the presentation from Nadine Bernard, a graduate of the Indigenous Women Community Leadership Program at StFX, whose journey through life-changing circumstances led her to develop her own business to provide healthy and time-saving recipes for the slow cooker and to use these recipes as a tool to educate others. “It speaks volumes to her dedication and passion for helping others, but also for Indigenous food sovereignty,” she says. 

“I am doing my honours thesis about the different relationships with the Margaree-Lake Ainslie watershed in Cape Breton, and I believe the information I learned from the Summer Institute will be beneficial to add a Mi’kmaq perspective to my paper on their understanding of resource management called netukulimk.”

“Participating in the Atlantic-IMN provided me with an invaluable experience to learn from Mi’kmaq knowledge keepers, IMN mentors, and my fellow participants. It was richly rewarding to learn from people who have had very different life experiences from my own, and reassuring to encounter others who are similarly positioned or have had similar experiences,” says Keith Williams. 


“One of our mentors, Andrea Curry, shared teachings from her elders, one of which was that the ‘longest journey in life is from the head to the heart.’ I am currently enrolled as a PhD student in Educational Studies at St. Francis Xavier University. The focus of my program, and all of my previous post-secondary education to date, has been intellectual. The summer institute was, at once, profoundly personal and intellectual, which helped me to arrive at the insight that meaningful societal change is only possible when both the head and heart reciprocally inform our understandings of the world and our place in it.”

IMN is a regional network that offers mentorship, learning opportunities, and financial support, for graduate students interested in pursuing Indigenous health research. 


During the summer institute, participants gathered at StFX to talk and learn about themes that ranged from Indigenous food sovereignty to the inter-connectiveness between people and food. Over the course of the event, participants took part in ceremony, cultural learning, land-based learning, community events, and were engaged by presentations and activities delivered by academics, Elders and knowledge holders, and community members with experience participating in Indigenous health research. 

One of the outcomes from the institute will be the creation of an interdisciplinary and it’s hoped co-institutional Indigenous land-based learning course for credit, says Dr. McMillan. 

StFX Associate Dean Dr. Cathy MacDonald, and faculty members Dr. Joanne Whitty-Rogers and Dr. Ann Fox were also participants in the event. StFX also supported the institute through an in-kind contribution from the Office of StFX Vice-President Research & Graduate Studies, Dr. Richard Isnor. 

This project is funded by CIHR Indigenous Mentorship Grants. 

StFX names Dr. Donald Abelson as Director, Mulroney Institute of Government

Tue, 2018-08-21 16:37
Dr. Donald Abelson

St. Francis Xavier University is pleased to announce that Dr. Donald Abelson has been appointed the founding Director of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, and the inaugural ECN Capital Chair in Canada-U.S. Relations. 

A specialist in Canadian-American relations, U.S. politics and U.S. foreign policy, Dr. Abelson brings over two decades of extensive scholarly and research experience to the position, particularly around the role of think tanks and their efforts to influence public opinion and public policy. He comes to StFX from Western University where he spent the last 25 years of his career in various roles including professor and chair, Department of Political Science, Director of the Centre for American Studies and Director of the Canada-US Institute. 

He received his BA in political science from the University of Toronto, a MA in political studies from Queen’s University, a MA in journalism from Western University and a PhD in political studies from Queen’s University.  

He is the author of nine books, including Do Think Tanks Matter? Assessing the Impact of Public Policy Institutes (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002, 2009, 2018), which has been translated into several foreign languages, Northern Lights: Exploring Canada’s Think Tank Landscape (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), and with Stephen Brooks and Xin Hua (eds), Think Tanks, Foreign Policy and Geo-politics (Routledge, 2017).  

He has also authored over four dozen articles and chapters that focus on think tanks, free trade, environmental cooperation, and foreign policy. In addition, he is a regular commentator on CBC, CTV, TV Ontario, and other major media outlets. 

“Dr. Donald Abelson is an inspired choice for the ECN Chair in Canada-U.S. Relations and founding Director of the Mulroney Institute of Government,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies and interim director of the Mulroney Institute. “He is widely recognized as a leading Canadian and international scholar in the areas of think tanks and their influence on public policy, particularly in Canada and the United States. He has a proven track record in leading policy-oriented research centres at Western University and will be an incredible asset during the critical start-up phase in the development of the Mulroney Institute of Government at StFX,” Dr. Isnor says.   

Dr. Abelson says he is very much looking forward to the role. 

“It is an incredible opportunity to be able to come to StFX and be the founding director of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government. It speaks to my research and teaching interests in the field of public policy, which I have undertaken over the last 25 years, especially the work I’ve done on the role of think tanks in Canada and the U.S. I’m committed to putting many of the ideas I have analyzed into action, and to work with the other research chairs to produce timely, policy relevant and academically rigorous research,” he says. 

Not only is it exciting to step in as the Institute’s founding director and to occupy the only endowed research chair in the country devoted exclusively to studying the relationship between Canada and the U.S., but Dr. Abelson says he is also very keen to contribute to the new and innovative four-year undergraduate program in Public Policy and Governance at StFX. He says   this program, launched in 2017, “will continue to attract bright and energetic students interested in taking on leadership roles in government, the private sector and in the not-for-profit community.

“My vision is three-fold: to make the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government a national and international centre for expertise in public policy research and analysis, and to help policy makers at all levels of government, leaders in the private sector, and other individuals concerned with a range of public policy issues, to think more critically and methodically about how important economic, social and political developments in Canada and beyond our shores affect this country’s vital interests,” he says. 

But another part of this vision is to ensure students in the Public Policy and Governance Program are provided with the best possible training and opportunities to become leaders.

Dr. Abelson says one of the things that sets the Institute apart from other public policy centres and programs in Canada is the focus on leadership, and on the important skills students require to succeed both in their university studies and in their transition to the workforce. He says the commitment several donors have made to supporting student bursaries and scholarships is vital.

“A lot of the fundraising for the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government has focused on setting aside money for student bursaries and scholarships, and that really should be and continue to be a key focus so that qualified students are able to participate in this unique program.” 

While professionally this is an incredible opportunity, more importantly, the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and the undergraduate program it houses will further strengthen the reach and global impact of StFX, says Dr. Abelson. “This kind of investment which recognizes the importance of research, undergraduate training, and leadership will pay huge dividends for generations. It’s a transformative undertaking.”

Dr. Abelson says the creation of the Institute speaks volumes about Prime Minister Mulroney’s life-long commitment to StFX and his enduring belief in the value of education and public service. ‘The Institute bears Prime Minister Mulroney’s name,” but as Dr. Abelson says, “in so many ways, it also reveals his soul. Mr. Mulroney’s life changed forever when he came to this picturesque campus, and I suspect that nothing would make him happier than to know that future StFX students will graduate with the confidence and determination to leave a positive and lasting impact on Canada.”  

Dr. Abelson also took time to credit all those at StFX involved in drafting the blueprint for the program and the institute, noting the incredible job they did setting up courses, internships, and scholarships.

“The foundation they’ve established is truly amazing,” he says. “They really understand how public policy works and what kind of program is needed to train students. I am deeply honoured to come to campus to work with the people here.”