Prior to arriving at StFX in 2010, Dr. Greg Tkacz spent 18 years at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa. His work with the Bank studied the correlation between financial markets and the economy, and his teaching at StFX aims to increase students’ awareness of the interconnectedness of real-world events and their economic implications. Over the past decade, Dr. Tkacz has driven the growth of the Department of Economics by creating a platform from which some of StFX’s finest students have launched.
Dr. Tkacz and his colleagues take great care to follow the careers of their graduates, and current students are often reminded that their predecessors have achieved stunning success in post-graduate programs and in professional careers – as in the case of Gabrielle Vasey, currently completing a PhD in economics at the University of Pennsylvania, or Michael Thomson, a senior analyst in California providing expert witness reports in health insurance, finance, and intellectual property disputes. There have been more than 50 honours students in economics in the past four years, and the department keeps a close eye on their careers beyond StFX, using this information to inspire and drive current students.
One of the most remarkable achievements of Dr. Tkacz and the faculty of the Department of Economics, though, has been the consistent placement of graduates with the Bank of Canada. Since 2014, seven StFX students have been chosen as Research Assistants with the Bank – a number that is remarkable for a small, undergraduate university in Nova Scotia. Each year, the Bank of Canada receives 600-700 applicants for 10-20 positions, and StFX has had at least one successful applicant each year. Dr. Tkacz notes that the feedback from the Bank is “outstanding”: “our students were highly-touted right off the bat, and then did outstanding work while they were there.”
Casey Jones was the first successful applicant, in 2014. She stayed with the Bank for two years, as a Research Assistant. The Bank supported her study at Carleton University, and she is now an economist with Finance Canada. She was conscious of the importance of proving herself in a tough field: “Going to the Bank as an RA, I knew I was the first from StFX. I wanted to make a great impression not only for my career but also to show that the StFX Economics Department could produce students of equal quality to larger academic institutions.”
Bethany Madsen and Kirsten Gallant both successfully applied to the Bank in 2018, making them the sixth and seventh Research Assistants from StFX. Remarkably, of the seven, four have been athletes on the StFX Rowing team (as were Vasey and Thomson): Jones, Megan MacDonald, Matt Cormier, and Madsen.
Madsen sees clear parallels between rowing and an honours degree in economics: “In both cases, I went in knowing they were going to be difficult. But when you’re close with your teammates, you think, If they can do it, I can do. It’s the same in economics. I used to have very bad math anxiety. Now I think, Give me a derivative. There’s a safety net of people that are going through the same things.”
As she wove through the application process for the Bank of Canada position, Madsen was strongly encouraged by her former rowing teammate, Matt Cormier. He’d had the same role in 2016-2017, and went on to do an MA at Queen’s; he now works in Competition Economics at Charles River Associates in Toronto. Cormier notes: “Lochaber Lake was the most important classroom to me during my time at StFX. The lessons I learnt there about perseverance, work ethic, time management, and approaching challenges analytically and purposefully are as essential to my pursuits after leaving campus as they were to my academic work outside of rowing. Being surrounded by a group of motivated student-athletes who were working towards big goals – both in and outside of sport – made me push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of doing.”
Dr. Katie Edwards, coach of the StFX Rowing club and assistant professor of English, is not surprised that so many of her athletes have also enjoyed academic success. “Like Greg,” she says, “I keep track of our graduates. There is a strong and direct correlation between the personality type that produces good rowers, and that which produces good students: driven, self-motivated, and possessing an enormous capacity for hard work.”
She is proud of the achievements of her rowers, but also expresses admiration for Dr. Tkacz and his colleagues: “I think the faculty members in Economics are doing phenomenal work. They set a very high bar for their students – and then work with them until they reach it. Greg and his colleagues are among the very best faculty members at StFX.”
At the recent National Dinner EAST, in Halifax, we celebrated the legacy of leadership that StFX cultivates. We were especially delighted to share with our guests the work of Dr. Dave Risk, the Altus Group Chair in Emissions Research and a member of the faculty in the Earth Sciences department. Through the research projects in Dr. Risk’s Flux Lab, dozens of students in the last decade have gained incomparable experience working in the field in such diverse geographic landscapes as Norway, Alaska, and Saskatchewan. Dr. Risk’s emissions-detecting technology has caused considerable excitement in both the academic and private sectors, but it is his tireless work with StFX students that has cemented his reputation as one of our finest professors.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of the Extraordinary.
The X-Ring is a symbol of the bearer’s membership in the Xaverian family. Sometimes, though, the ring has much greater family significance.
By the time Adrian MacKenzie married Alison Aucoin in the early 1950s, he’d served in the Second World War, completed his undergraduate degree at StFX, and was deep into his medical studies at Dalhousie. The young couple had little spare cash, but Alison saved diligently in order to finally purchase the coveted X-Ring as a surprise for her new husband. She bought it, as she recalls, for between $30-$40, from Birks in Halifax. It had no inscription other than the year she bought it: 1950.
When their first son, Michael, was born in 1955, Adrian was now Dr. MacKenzie, well on his way to becoming a renowned pathologist.
As Adrian and Alison added four more sons and two daughters to their growing family, Dr. MacKenzie’s career similarly expanded: he became the head of clinical chemistry at Dalhousie in 1960, and developed world-class facilities at the Pathology Institute of the Victoria General Hospital.
Unfortunately, Dr. MacKenzie succumbed to colon cancer in 1970, at the age of 46, leaving behind his beloved Alison and their seven children. He’d worn his X-Ring until the day he died.
The ring was given to one of Dr. MacKenzie’s brothers, who lived in Newfoundland and who had also graduated from StFX. And when he passed, the ring was offered to a brother-in-law, also named Adrian – although that Adrian had no connection to StFX.
Dr. MacKenzie’s eldest son, Michael, became a physician himself, and with his wife, Judy, raised his family in Antigonish, where he continues to practice medicine. They named their first son after Michael’s father, who’d passed when the younger Dr. MacKenzie was only 14.
There was no mention of the long-forgotten X-Ring until the second Adrian MacKenzie, Dr. MacKenzie’s grandson, was about to graduate from StFX. His grandmother, Alison, wondered what had become of the ring, and contacted her brother-in-law, now living in New York state, to ask him about it. The ring, at that point, had been missing from the immediate family for 31 years.
After much digging, the ring was discovered in a box in the attic, somewhat worse for wear. The brother-in-law shipped it back to Nova Scotia, and Alison had it refurbished before presenting it to her grandson in advance of the X-Ring ceremony in December of 2001. It needed to be resized, so her grandson took the opportunity to add an inscription: “Adrian MacKenzie” -- both his name and the name of the original wearer of the ring. He added his graduation year, too – 2002.
The significance of the ring is not lost on the younger Adrian, who recently completed a PhD in community health at Memorial University (thus becoming yet another Dr. MacKenzie). “Other than my wedding ring,” he notes, “it is the only material possession that I care about.” It does not come off his finger.
Alison, still living in Halifax, sees her grandson often, occasionally confusing him for her own Adrian, her love. And, she’ll pat his hand, telling him “that ring is where it belongs.” She would know: in addition to her husband and brother-in-law, two of her children and six of her grandchildren have degrees from StFX – a perfect legacy for the first Dr. MacKenzie.
It’s one thing to study literary theorists in class, it’s another thing altogether to present your work, network and ask questions of those very same experts as a participant at a prestigious international conference.
That’s the rare opportunity afforded to four StFX students—Jennifer Aftanas, Laura Blinn, Emma Hofland-Burry and Jessica Morrison—who will accompany StFX English professor Dr. Mathias Nilges, a conference co-organizer, to Germany in May to present their work as part of a special session at “Reading In The Age Of Trump: The Politics And Possibility Of Literary Studies Now,” taking place May 15-18 at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany
Additionally, StFX English honours students, Renée Proctor and Alejandra Torres, who are both supervised by Dr. Nilges, will attend as conference organizers.
“It’ll not just be a great opportunity for them, but it’s especially noteworthy, since the conference is an intensive event that brings together prominent names in literary studies for an intensive conference including presentations, discussions, and public event,” Dr. Nilges says.
“The fact that the event only includes notable academics, and not even graduate students, makes it all the more significant that four of our undergraduate students will participate and present their work.”
Dr. Nilges agreed to take the four students who wrote the strongest papers as part of his upper-level course, “Contemporary Literary Theory” with him to the conference. His colleagues in Germany agreed to add a special panel for StFX students.
The four students who wrote the best papers and who will present at the conference include Ms. Aftanas, a fourth year forensic psychology student from Halifax, NS; Ms. Blinn, a third year sociology major from Bridgewater, NS; Ms. Hofland-Burry, a fourth year biology student from Sackville, NB; and Ms. Morrison, a second year English student from Framboise, Cape Breton.
They are receiving funding support through the Jules Léger Endowment for the Faculty of Arts.
The four will present their thoughts on the recent “method wars” in literary studies and run a session that puts the conference’s participants in the hot seat by asking them to clarify and define basic concepts, ideas, and approaches that are shaping literary critical debates today.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to get to present to top literary theorists, and to interact with people you’re writing about and researching in the classroom,” says Ms. Hofland-Burry.
“And to ask questions and get feedback,” agrees Ms. Proctor, who will present in another session at the conference.
“It makes what you’re doing in the class real,” says Ms. Aftanas.
Ms. Morrison says she’s looking forward to the back-and-forth conversations between conference participants. “They can’t put all their thoughts and opinions in their papers, it’s a chance to see what else they’re thinking about,” she says.
Ms. Blinn says she is excited about the opportunity to present her work, and the opportunity to make connections that may have an impact on her future studies.
“It’s another opportunity to develop the skills we need as we move forward in our academic careers,” Ms. Hofland-Burry says.
Ms. Proctor says the conference will not only help her make personal connections, but it will also be useful as a measuring stick to see where she’s at as she heads into a new chapter of her life as she starts graduate school in the fall.
The students say another cool thing about the opportunity is that they all come from different backgrounds—from English, sociology, biology and forensic psychology. While they have different interests, they also have common overlap, and all bring different perspectives and ideas.
“It really shows StFX’s interdisciplinary approach to education,” Ms. Aftanas says.
The students also had words of praise for their professor, Dr. Nilges, saying he makes the subject accessible and is very encouraging, but at the same time expects them to achieve high standards. The class, they say, was challenging, but also enjoyable.
Both Ms. Torres and Ms. Proctor will create a ‘keywords’ project during the conference, interviewing participants on the understanding of literary theorist terms so that everyone shares the same meaning of those terms.
Ms. Torres says she has studied some of the scholars who will be in attendance and has developed her own ideas based off some of their work. “It’s a really cool opportunity,” she says about meeting them.
The conference will be live-streamed and presentations will be archived and available for viewing after the event concludes.
More on the conference can be found at the following links, https://examinedlifelab.squarespace.com/confhome and https://examinedlifelab.squarespace.com/description-speakers
When it comes to choosing a university, choosing to study abroad is a big step. It is far from home, it’s a different culture, and it can have its share of both opportunities and challenges.
And it can have great rewards.
Currently, a group of over a dozen students from Ecuador, all from the city of Guayaquil, are studying at StFX, and the students says it’s been a great experience.
“I have grown so much as a student, and a person. I have worked on skills I didn´t even know that I had, and the teachers are the best, always willing to help and super friendly,” says Rachell Alcivar-Meza, a third year double major human kinetics and human nutrition student.
She says she first heard about StFX from a friend from high school, Nicky Barona, who shared her own personal experience of attending StFX. Ms. Alcivar-Meza says the university seemed like a good fit for what she was looking for. She also liked the academic programs offered.
So far, she says her StFX experience has been amazing.
Ana Maria Bejarano-Martinez, a first year human nutrition student, says several factors attracted her to StFX, including the fact that as a smaller university, she would be able to get the most personalized education possible, and that as a small university with small classes, located in a small town, the transition from high school would be less harsh.
“I also had a scholarship earned from academic excellence in high school, which would prove beneficial for paying my tuition. The third factor would be the Catholic heritage of StFX. My family and I are Catholics, as well as the vast majority of people in the area where I lived back home. If I went to StFX, I knew I would be able to keep my faith during my college years.”
What’s her experience been like?
“I have truly loved it. I really like the classes and how you can always go to your professors if there are any problems. I am also pleasantly surprised with the amount and quality of student resources for academics, wellbeing, recreation, career, etc. From friends’ comments even, I have noticed that here in StFX, there’s a huge concern for student wellbeing that I find really valuable,” she says.
“I have made some friends here, but I am also glad that there is a tight-knit group of Ecuadorians that we call a “support group” of each other. That has definitely been a great resource for our adjustment.”
Andreina (Andie) Márquez de la Plata Gregor, a second year student taking a double major in sociology and psychology, says she heard of StFX through International Learning, and then did her own research on the university.
“I fell in love with the campus, the city, and the program. Being from a big city, I wanted that change of scenery. Since as long as I can remember, I wanted the experience of living abroad, and university is the perfect excuse for doing that,” she says. “I do want to go back to Ecuador to be a social worker and hopefully be able to apply all that I’ve learned so far at X and Canada in general.
“So far, everything has worked perfectly for me. I’ve had lots of opportunities to grow and learn. I study hard, I work a lot, and I’m involved on campus and the bigger community.”
Third year computer science students Junior Pena Batista and Sebastian Rodriguez Almonte, both students from Universidad Iberoamericana UNIBE in the Dominican Republic, have spent the last four months at StFX on exchange through the Emerging Leaders of the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarship program.
The two students from Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, say they loved everything about their experience, from their classes to their residence, to, yes, even the winter weather.
“We’re sad we have to go back. We loved everything,” say the duo who are now writing final exams.
Both students say they so enjoyed their experience at StFX they are both planning to apply to come back to StFX in September as full-time students for their senior year.
What did they like so much? The learning, the classes, the friendships, the professors, the bond professors have with their students, and living in residence, they say.
“We met amazing people. They are all so welcoming,” Sebastian says. “We really felt at home,” Junior agrees.
The ELAP program is funded by Global Affairs Canada and scholarships provide students from Latin America and the Caribbean with short-term exchange opportunities for study or research, in Canada.
The two students say they did a little research into several universities and StFX was the one they liked the best—including the opportunity for students from all around the globe to merge together and make bonds.
And along with experiencing a new culture and new courses, they were looking forward to experiencing a different climate. They wanted to experience winter, Sebastian says.
“We loved it,” they say.
At StFX, they belonged to the International Student Society and say they enjoyed meeting people from different countries as well as many Canadian students.
Scholars, librarians, and students from across Atlantic Canada converged on StFX April 8 to attend the first-ever THATCampX: Digital Pedagogy held at the university
THATCamps take place around the world, but this is the first one in Antigonish, says organizer, StFX English professor and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities Dr. Laura Estill.
THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp,” and it is an unconference: an open, inexpensive meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot, she says.
“As a new CRC, I proposed to offer digital humanities training in Atlantic Canada,” says Dr. Estill, who organized this event with Meghan Landry, Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier, Katie Aubrecht, Matea Drljepan, and Margaret Vail.
“THATCampX is a gathering to make connections, start discussions, and reflect on our current digital practices and pedagogies. THATCampX is also the first step towards thinking about future digital humanities training events,” she says.
“This is a very interdisciplinary event and will help us decide, as a community, how we can collectively engage in responsible digital practices. I’m looking forward to seeing the next steps that emerge from this.”
Dr. Estill says the day was a great success. “It was wonderful to see folks from different intellectual backgrounds coming together to talk about how we use digital tools in our classrooms. The Twitter hashtag, #THATCampX, offers a snapshot of some of our discussions as well as links to relevant materials.”
THATCampX is also the first step towards thinking about future digital humanities training events. She says she also hopes to launch the Digital Humanities Summer Institute-East (DHSI-East) as part of the international DHSI.org training network based at the University of Victoria.
She says she also hopes outcomes will help map, as a community, the kinds of future initiatives of interest, and that a highlight of the event was showcasing our regionally-based expertise by brainstorming future courses we could teach.
Bonnie Stewart from the University of Windsor delivered the keynote address, entitled, “Digital Pedagogy in an Age of Algorithms: What do we DO about Data?”
Dr. Estill says 31 people attended the event, with participants from StFX, Acadia University, Mount Saint Vincent University, Cape Breton University, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, Dalhousie University, Université de Montréal, and ACENET-Compute Canada. Participants included graduate students, professors, librarians, curriculum support advisors, and the range of fields included the humanities, such as English, history, and women’s studies; the social sciences, including psychology; computer science, and library science.
Members of the StFX community once again gathered to celebrate scholarship, this time at the 4th Annual Celebration of StFX Authors held to recognize StFX faculty authors who have published books in 2018.
The event, held in the Sobey Foundation Reading Lounge in the Physical Sciences Building, was hosted by Dr. Kevin B. Wamsley, StFX Academic Vice-President, and Dr. Richard Isnor, Associate Vice-President Research and Graduate Studies.
The books published in 2018 included:
1. Robert Zecker, History
• Robert M. Zecker, “A Road to Peace and Freedom: The International Workers Order and the Struggle for Economic Justice and Civil Rights 1930-1954” (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2018)
2. Don Abelson, Political Science
• “Do Think Tanks Matter? Assessing the Impact of Public Policy Institutes." Third Edition. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018
3. David Young, Education
• Young, D.C, Kraglund-Gauthier, W.L. & Ryan, T.G. (Eds). (2018). “Readiness for the field: Perspectives from within the triangle of teacher education.” Champaign, IL: Common Ground
4. Christopher Byrne, Philosophy
• Byrne, Christopher, “Aristotle’s Science of Matter and Motion." University of Toronto Press, in 2018
5. Suzanne Stewart, English/Catholic Studies
• Stewart, Suzanne, “The Tides of Time, A Nova Scotia Book of Seasons.” Pottersfield Press (Nov. 27, 2018)
6. Stephen Marmura, Sociology
• Marmura, Stephen,“The Wikileaks Paradigm: Paradoxes and Revelations” Palgrave/Macmillan. September 2018. ISBN 978-3-319-97139-1
7. Steve Baldner, Philosophy
• “Thomas Aquinas: Basic Philosophical Writing.” Edited and Translated by Steven Baldner. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2018. ISBN 978-1-55481-372-8
8. Corrine Cash, Coady International Institute
• “Water, Energy, Food and People Across the Global South: ‘The Nexus’ in an Era of Climate Change” Editors: Swatuk, Larry; Cash, Corrine (Eds.) (2018)
9. Lavinia Stan, Political Science
• Cynthia Horne and Lavinia Stan, eds., “Transitional Justice And the Former Soviet Union, Reviewing the Past, Looking toward the Future” New York: Cambridge University Press 2018
10. Peter Kikkert, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. Research Chair in Canadian Artic Marine Security Policy
• Jennifer Arthur-Lackenbauer, Peter Kikkert and P. Whitney Lackenbauer “Familiar Fields to Foreign Soil Three Rural Townships at War, 1914-1918” GA Printing of Norwich, Ontario 2018
11. William Sweet, Department of Philosophy
• William Sweet “Philosophy Re-engaging Cultures and Ways of Life” (Washington, DC: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 2018) [ed., with George F. McLean]. ISBN 9781565183384 (pbk.)
12. L. Jane McMillan, Department of Anthropology
• L. Jane McMillan “Truth and Conviction: Donald Marshall Jr. and the Mi’kmaw Quest for Justice” UBC Press 2018; ISBN 978-0-7748-3748-4
13. James Mensch, Political Science (Retired)
• Mensch, James, “Selfhood and Appearing, The Intertwining” Boston: Brill 2018. ISSN: 1875-2470
14. Peter Clancy, Political Science (Retired)
• “From Nova Scotia to Algonquin Park: Memoirs of a Dirt Forester” Donald F. George with Assistance from Peter Clancy, Friends of Algonquin Park, 2018. ISBN 978-1-894993-74-6
Helping other people succeed is something that Sanjidha Ganeshan, a second year psychology student from Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius, has always wanted to do. Now she is very much looking forward to working to help other international students adjust and thrive to life in Canada and at StFX.
Ms. Ganeshan has stepped into two leadership positions at StFX. She has been elected as both the international students’ representative on the StFX Students’ Union and as the president of the International Student Society at StFX.
“I want what’s best for people. Thinking about my first year at StFX, and how the International Student Society and the International Office was always there to help, to offer advice, I want to be that person who is ready to help students, and that’s why I wanted to take the leadership position,” she says.
“Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to contribute to making a change in the world.”
Ms. Ganeshan says as a high school student she wanted to study abroad, but she wasn’t sure where she wanted to study. She first learned about StFX while attending an education fair in her home country where StFX representatives were on hand to talk about the university, the town, the benefits of attending, and the door that would open on new opportunities. She decided to apply.
“I had never lived on my own before. I knew it would be hard, but I was also very excited about the freedom and independence. I wanted to do everything on my own, to open my own bank account, to be responsible for my money, to buy groceries.”
Ms. Ganeshan, who speaks French and Creole, learned English in school and could speak the language, but says she found it hard at first to converse and study in English all the time.
Coming to a new country can have its challenges, but she says one of the benefits has been learning to step out of her comfort zone, including being the one to stop being shy and starting the conversation with others. She currently serves as the secretary of the International Student Society, and she says that helped her a lot. “I get to meet a lot of people, and help them with the transition to Canada and to adapt to university life.
“I always think about this, that this is what I want to do. I want to advocate for international students on campus and Antigonish in general.”
Ms. Ganeshan says she has found her courses at StFX very interesting, but also a lot of work. She’s enjoyed the fact that the smaller campus has made it easier to meet people and that smaller classrooms make it easier for professors to know their students. She says the friendly environment and community stands out for her about StFX.
As for what she’d tell other international students? “It’s hard to leave your country and come to a whole new place that you’ve never heard of before, especially if English is not your first language. It’s going to be hard, but you will be able to get through it. StFX is an opening to new opportunities, and there will be someone here to guide you. It is definitely going to be a challenge, but you will be able to overcome obstacles and fears and, in the end, you'll be proud of your success and what you have been able to achieve."
StFX students once again came away with a very impressive showing from the National Model UN (NMUN) Conference held in New York City March 24-28, winning three awards at the event, the largest intercollegiate MUN conference in the world, drawing over 5,000 students from over 400 universities and 130 countries.
Formally recognized by the UN Department of Public Information as a registered NGO, NMUN is also a registered Academic Impact Member of the UN.
This year, a delegation of 28 StFX students travelled to New York City to participate.
Model UN conferences simulate the activities of the United Nations in proposing, debating, and voting on resolutions on major global issues, with the simulation taking place under various organs and committees of the UN. StFX has a long history of participating in MUN conferences, including the Harvard National Model UN conference, the McGill Model UN Conference, and the NMUN Conference.
Although this was only the second time for StFX students to attend the NMUN-NY Conference, they came back with three awards—one more than what they won at last year’s conference. Michaella Brand, a fourth year political science honours student, and Chelsea De Kelver, a fourth year religious studies major student, won an Outstanding Delegate Award for their performance in the Human Rights Council; Matthew Trnkus, a fourth year political science honours student, won a Position Paper Award for his pre-conference paper; and the StFX delegation as a whole won an Honourable Mention Delegation Award for their collective performance.
In addition to participating in the conference, the students also got a chance to visit the UN Headquarters and participate in a special General Debate session on the Sustainable Development Goals in the UN General Assembly Hall. Mr. Trnkus spoke at the podium on behalf of StFX delegation as its head-delegate.Model-UN-02-MyStFX.jpg
Matthew Trnkus, president, and Position Paper Award winner
The StFX delegation was led by Matthew Trnkus (president), Rachel MacQueen (vice-president), Nicolas Latulippe (secretary/treasurer), and Patrick Anderson (fundraising chair); and Dr. Youngwon Cho from the Department of Political Science served as the faculty advisor.
“Our students’ success is a testament to their dedication and commitment,” says Dr. Cho.
“While the conference itself is five days long, the students have been preparing for it for months, engaging in extensive research, learning the rules of procedure, strategizing, practicing speeches, and going through a series of mock sessions leading up to the conference,” he says.
“This is not just about going on a trip to New York City or getting a tour of the UN Headquarters. It is about working hard, thinking about the many global problems confronting the international community, and meeting and collaborating with people from around the world toward finding possible solutions.”Model-UN-03-MyStFX.jpg
Outstanding Delegate Award winners Michaella Brand and Chelsea De Kelver
“As a student studying political science, I have spent years focusing on international relations and the important role played by international organizations. The opportunity to simulate the United Nations and participate as Germany expanded my knowledge beyond the theoretical into the practical. It is an experience I would recommend to everyone interested in actively participating in improving the global political climate,” says Ms. Brand.
Ms. MacQueen says she is extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to represent StFX at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York City. “Being able to work with thousands of university students from across the world to address critical international issues was an incredibly educational and rewarding experience. Visiting the United Nations General Assembly Hall and being surrounded by other people who are committed to making the world a better place is extremely inspiring,” she says.
“Not only does Model UN allow students to learn about international relations and global issues, but it also enables them to enhance their research, diplomacy, and public speaking skills. I really believe that this type of experience is valuable for all students, regardless of the particular field of study they are in or their future career goals.
Ms. De Kelver agrees that it was one of the most rewarding experiences she’s ever had. “Learning about international relations in a practical setting and getting to meet so many amazing students was an amazing opportunity,” she says.
Mr. Trnkus, the outgoing president, said this year’s MUN team built on the successes of last year. “Myself, Michaella and Chelsea were very honoured to win respective awards in our committees, but as a group, we were very happy to be awarded the “Honourable Mention Delegation Award.” Best wishes moving forward for this group of bright young students, and thank you to all of those that supported us financially for this trip!”
StFX represented Germany in 17 committees across numerous bodies of the UN, including the First, Second, and Third Committees of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the UN Environment Assembly, the Peacebuilding Commission, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Food Programme, the Human Rights Council, the Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Commission on Population and Development, the UN Industrial Development Organization, and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.
Among the topics addressed were capacity-building for combating climate change in developing countries, nuclear disarmament, external debt sustainability, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, sustainable production and consumption, marine plastic litter and microplastics, food security, Sustainable Development Goals, restorative justice, international migration, peacebuilding and security sector reform, the Myanmar crisis, gender in peacekeeping operations, access to safe drinking water, refugee settlement, protection of children with disabilities, mental health in humanitarian crisis, and many more.
This year’s conference participation was made possible in part by the generous funding provided by the Jules Leger Endowment, the Bloomfield Family Endowment, the Mulroney Institute of Government, the Department of Political Science, the Dean of Arts, and the MeKenna Centre for Leadership.
Students interested in joining the StFX team for next year’s conference and committed to its continued success should contact Dr. Cho at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participating students this year included:
Chelsea De Kelver
William Rogers, a StFX fine art faculty member, had his painting “IN THOUGHT” juried into the 152nd Annual Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society from April 1-21, 2019, and it has been awarded the DI DI DEGLIN AWARD with $1,000. The presentation will be made at the society’s annual dinner to be held Friday evening, April 12, 2019 at the Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY.
This painting also won the Dorothy J Corson Award from the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour in 2016. The painting was done during the Sunday figure drawing sessions at StFX, and is a portrait of StFX student, and now graduate, Shuchang (Emily) Dai from China.
Gratitude. Encouragement. Delight.
These are just some of the words that StFX students Hannah Kennedy, Chelsey MacPherson and Paytan Robinson use to describe the feeling of being named 2019 recipients of StFX’s Angus F. Macgillivray Art Bursaries.
The $750 bursaries recognize outstanding studio production and encourage young artists showing promise in the visual arts, and are named in honour of the late Angus F. Macgillivray, an exceptional artist, teacher and StFX fine arts department faculty member.
To be considered, applicants submit a sketchbook and six finished artworks. Judges look for a mastery of skill in a variety of art mediums as well as a giving a sense of cohesive artistic vision.
“I was thrilled and very surprised! There is incredible talent and creativity throughout the art department at StFX, so it means a lot for my work to be recognized,” says Ms. Kennedy, a fourth year accounting student from Sackville, NS, who is taking a studio art minor.
Over her four years at StFX, she has taken courses in batik, art history, printmaking, botanical drawing, painting, and drawing.
She says receiving the bursary has given her the encouragement and motivation to continue to create and share more art.
“I had the best time studying the history of art and architecture, experimenting with different mediums and learning from my professors and classmates. I feel like I have gained so many valuable skills and knowledge through my art minor. This award and my experience with the art department has given me a great feeling of gratitude. Receiving the bursary will help fund my plans to travel and relocate after my degree is complete,” she says.
Ms. MacPherson of Glengarry, ON, who is working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Celtic studies and has a background in fashion design, says receiving the bursary makes her feel supported and inspired to continue as an artist.
She took oil painting classes with Andy MacLean, who she says eschews stress and is a wonderfully encouraging instructor. “I think art is important because it is one of the most effective mediums at reminding us of our humanity, replete with all its flaws,” she says.
“I was thrilled when I learned that I had received the 2019 Macgillvray art bursary,” says Ms. Robinson, a second year chemistry student from L’Ardoise, NS and graduate of Richmond Academy in Louisdale, NS.
“This means a lot to me; it is always great to be recognized for something you really care about and enjoy doing. Receiving this bursary will motivate me to continue making art for myself and others. Painting and sketching are really great ways to balance out your workload, especially when you have a lot of math or science.”
She is currently taking ‘intro to painting’ and last year took ‘intro to drawing.’
A number of exciting changes are coming to campus dining, including the addition of a full-service Starbucks Café at Morrison Hall and extensive renovations and new offerings at the Bloomfield Centre café .
Bob Hale, StFX Director, Ancillary Services, says as part of the recent tendering process for food services on campus, Sodexo regained the contract, and as part of the deal, will open a full-fledged Starbucks location in the space now occupied by Mini Moe’s in Morrison Hall.
Renovations will start on May 6th with the new, fully-functioning Starbucks location to open for September, with new seating and Starbucks-brand décor. While renovations are ongoing over the summer months, Sodexo will operate a temporary location in the Yellow Room in Morrison Hall.
With the addition of a full Starbucks café on campus, Mr. Hale says the “We Proudly Brew” Starbucks offerings currently available at the Keating Centre and Bloomfield Centre cafés will no longer be offered at those locations.
Exciting changes are also planned for Bloomfield Centre café, including the addition of a build-your-own salad bar, Just Us! coffee, a taco bar, and a homemade milkshake station.
“We’ll still be serving Rita Wraps,” Mr. Hale assures. “That’s the number one question we receive.”
Bloomfield café will close on April 12 and reopen for September. The renovations will include a new flow to the servery, new furniture and new offerings.
When it reopens this fall, offerings on tap at Bloomfield Centre café will include:
• Noodle House – Noodle bowls served with a choice of crisp vegetables, noodles, protein and toppings.
• Farmer’s Field – Made-to-order salads where customers can choose a selection from the chef’s creations or customers create their own salad with fresh and local feature ingredients, topped off with homemade dressings.
• B’Rito Taqueria - B’Rito and Taqueria takes the custom burrito concept to a new level with daily protein, rice and bean features. Custom burritos, bowls, tacos and salads topped your way.
• Bloomfield Grill – Hand-formed burgers, fresh-cut fries and loads of fresh toppings to make every creation unique.
• Just Us Coffee and Espresso – Just Us! is a worker co-operative exclusively roasting specialty-grade certified fair trade organic coffee in Nova Scotia.
• Old Fashion Milkshakes – Classic vanilla, chocolate or strawberry milkshakes topped off with all the trimmings. Or, try one of the featured shake creations, strawberry cheesecake or triple chocolate.
• Rita Wrap – The StFX essential served hot off the press.
Family members, friends, and members of the StFX community gathered on April 2 to celebrate the memory of StFX graduate Holly Bartlett ’02 and to present the annual Holly E. Bartlett Memorial Bursary. This year, the award was presented to Lara Westhaver, a fourth year science student from Sydney Mines, NS.
Holly’s mother, Marion Bartlett, and her sister, Amanda Jenkins, presented the award to Ms. Westhaver during a ceremony held in the President’s Reading Room in the Physical Sciences Centre.
The award, started by the Bartlett family and friends, is available to a full-time undergraduate female student from Atlantic Canada. The student must demonstrate a commitment to community service and student activities.
Ms. Westhaver has certainly demonstrated commitment to community service and student activities.
She is the president and founder of WISE StFX, a student society that supports women in science and engineering. She is also a student representative on the Outstanding Teaching Award Committee and for the StFX Pre-Medical Society. She volunteers at Brigadoon Village and is a student ambassador with Cam's Kids, a mental health promotion and outreach organization. She works part-time through the Nova Scotia Health Authority doing research with physicians at St. Martha's Hospital in Antigonish, and she has been a teaching assistant, a biology student researcher, and a volunteer tutor for international students. She is also a member of the X Dance Society.
Ms. Westhaver will attend Dalhousie Medical School in September and hopes to become a family physician and work in Nova Scotia with marginalized populations.
“StFX has allowed me to become the best version of myself. I have had a lot of unique opportunities to flourish and discover things I am most passionate about,” she says.
The annual bursary honours Ms. Bartlett. She was born in Halifax, NS, with an eye condition called Microphtalmia characterized by small underdeveloped eyes. By the time she was 13 she rapidly lost what little sight she had. She graduated from Prince Andrew High in June 1997 with several awards and scholarships including The Walter & Wayne Gretzky Scholarship. She and her guide dog Willow started classes at StFX that fall.
In 2002, she graduated from StFX with an honours arts degree in psychology, earning a spot on the dean’s list. She also attended Carleton University, received her human resources certificate from the Nova Scotia Community College, and at the time of her death in 2010, was working for the Department of Community Services and enrolled at Dalhousie University where she was working toward her master’s in public administration. Her degree was awarded posthumously May 2011.
Ms. Bartlett is remembered as an independent young woman, with a great sense of humour, who never wanted her disability to define who she was. She was always looking for her next adventure and experienced sky diving, rock climbing and swing dancing.
A group of StFX students, faculty and alumni shared the breadth and success of their experience in refugee justice activism at StFX during a March 23 roundtable panel at the largest annual gathering of researchers, policy makers, and representatives from community and settlement organizations working in the field of immigration and settlement in Canada.
The StFX delegation participated in the “Student Led Refugee Sponsorship and Resettlement: Building Capacity through Partnerships” panel at the National Metropolis Conference in Halifax, NS.
The roundtable explored the work of StFX students engaged in refugee sponsorship and resettlement through two programs, StFX WUSC and StFX for SAFE, and included discussion focused on how the students in these StFX organizations strategize to establish and achieve goals, and on the capacity building generated by collaborating with university staff and faculty and community members
“The conference was wonderful,” says StFX student and StFX for SAFE president Evan Davison-Kotler.
“The refugee resettlement efforts that have occurred in Antigonish are truly unique, and the conference provided us with the opportunity to share our experience with other people involved in resettlement throughout the country. The roundtable allowed us to analyze the factors that have contributed to StFX and Antigonish's success in supporting refugees; it also provided us with a platform to collaborate and strategize for the future. Overall, the conference was a great learning experience for everyone involved.
The National Metropolis Conference connects up to 1,000 people every March to discuss emerging issues, identify and set research priorities and inform policy regarding immigration, refugees, settlement and integration in Canada.
The StFX participants in the roundtable included:
• StFX sociology professor Dr. Norine Verberg, StFX for SAFE faculty advisor;
• Jordan MacDonald, StFX Class of 2018 and former StFX WUSC vice president;
• StFX student and WUSC president Kristen Stephens;
• StFX student and StFX for SAFE president Evan Davison-Kotler;
• Sam Krueger, WUSC Regional Liaison Officer - Campus Engagement: Quebec and the Atlantic, who has worked with StFX WUSC on campaigns including the StFX Day of Refugee Awareness;
• StFX modern languages professor and WUSC faculty advisor Dr. Maria Paz;
• Mallory Legere, StFX Class of 2017 and former StFX WUSC president;
• Suzanne van den Hoogen, Saint Mary’s University and formerly StFX WUSC faculty advisor;
• StFX sociology student Alistair Hill who is doing his thesis on the educational integration of older Syrian students who started school in Canada as a teenage learner.
St. Francis Xavier University’s National Dinner EAST, held Friday, March 29, at the Cunard Centre in Halifax, was a fitting celebration of StFX’s legacy of leadership, and the role the university has played in shaping so many leaders from political, business and community spheres.
Attendees featured members of the StFX family both old and new, including alumni, students and friends of the university – many who are leaders in their own right.
A highlight of the evening was a panel discussion featuring four members of parliament – all StFX graduates – who spoke about how they were impacted by their time at the university.
Panelists included the Honourable Bernadette Jordan ‘84, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Member of Parliament for South Shore-St. Margaret’s; the Honourable Lisa Raitt ’89, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Milton, Ontario; Mr. Sean Fraser ‘06, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Central Nova; and Mr. Rodger Cuzner ’07, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, and Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso.
The panel was moderated by Kim West ’86, president of Royer Thompson and former member of the StFX Board of Governors.
The panelists offered a number of reflections on how studying at StFX impacted their life’s trajectory and approaches to leadership.
“You don’t graduate from StFX without a social conscious,” said Minister Jordan. “It is a place that teaches you to give back.
“I wouldn’t be doing what I am today if not for the friendships and connections I have to StFX,” she added.
Mr. Fraser recalled his time as president of the StFX students’ union as an experience that helped awaken his drive and commitment to public service. He also credits the university for helping to broaden his worldview.
“At StFX I learned there were things more important than my own life experience,” he said.
Ms. Raitt spoke about how, even more than her many positive memories from StFX, what she appreciates is how the university taught her to manage when things don’t go according to plan.
“StFX taught me resilience,” she said. “I learned how to deal when plans weren’t going like I thought they would.”
Finally, Mr. Cuzner recalled some of the many faculty members who made an impact on his time at StFX, including Peggy Gallant, Packy McFarland and Roy Rasmussen.
The panelists were also joined in the audience by colleague Mr. Sean Casey ‘84, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Charlottetown.
CELEBRATING REMARKABLE STUDENTS
The evening also provided an opportunity to celebrate the recent achievements of two very impressive StFX students.
Liam Elbourne, a fourth-year student pursuing a joint honours degree in business and economics, was named as StFX’s newest Rhodes Scholar in November 2018. Liam, from Halifax, N.S., has garnered international attention for his research, which he presented in June 2018 to the Canadian Economics Association. He was the only undergraduate student to present at the association’s annual conference, which featured almost 1,000 presenters.
Emma Logan, a fourth-year finance student who is also from Halifax, N.S., received accolades this year for her initiative called Hearing for All, which collects and refurbishes used hearing devices and donates them to areas of the world where they’re needed. She was unable to attend the event as she was in the Dominican Republic, helping to distribute some of the many hearing aids and devices she has collected.
Both Liam and Emma were also recipients of the prestigious 2019 Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies, valued at $25,000 each. They are among just eight students from Atlantic Canadian universities to win the award this year.
A LEADER OF StFX’S OWN
The 2019 National Dinner EAST was the last as president for StFX’s own leader, Dr. Kent MacDonald. Dr. MacDonald, who serves as the university’s president and vice-chancellor, recently announced his decision to not serve a second term when his contract expires in July 2019.
In introducing Dr. MacDonald, Dr. Dave Risk, Professor of Earth Sciences at StFX, recalled his unwavering passion for StFX and the personal touch that has characterized his tenure as president.
“Kent’s leadership style is deeply personal,” said Dr. Risk. “He buys Timbits and coffee for those who clear our walkways after a snowstorm, in the wee hours of the morning when no one else is there to see his kindness.
“I hope that you all see what I see: a passionate man who has borne the weight of the institution about which we all care – deeply – with the utmost integrity, and with honour.”
Dr. MacDonald received a standing ovation from the crowd as he stood to offer his remarks.
“I’ve often referred to the presidency of StFX as my dream job – and I’ve meant it,” reflected Dr. MacDonald.
“Evenings like this are special, because they remind me of the extraordinary things our students, faculty, staff, and alumni achieve. The Emmas and the Liams and the Dave Risks are part of a large group that steps onto campus, every day, thinking about how to make a meaningful impact to our community and to the wider world.
“This is StFX: a place, a university, and a community that propels people forward, urging them to be their best.”
The evening included remarks from Mr. Marc Rodrique ’08, who recently became president of the StFX Alumni Association. It also featured a video celebrating a $3 million gift made by StFX University Chancellor John Peacock’ 63 and his wife Adrienne ’63, in honour of retired StFX faculty Dr. Johnny Sears. The gift established the John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility, a position which will help shape the next generation of socially-conscious business leaders.
The 2019 National Dinner EAST was made possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors, including presenting sponsors TD Insurance and the StFX University Alumni Association, reception sponsor Bird Construction, post-dinner reception sponsor Sodexo, young alumni sponsor Agnico Eagle, and supporting sponsors O’Regan’s Automotive Group.
Third year students in the N333 nursing class of Daphne Connolly and Marie Arnott in StFX’s Rankin School of Nursing were able to gain a new perspective on cutting edge and collaborative care following a presentation by guest speaker Dr. Jack Rasmussen, a burn care specialist at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, NS.
Dr. Rasmussen has unique training as both a plastic surgeon and an intensivist or critical care doctor, allowing him to follow major burn patients from the time they enter the hospital, through reconstructive surgeries, all the way to recovery, the organizers say. The QEII is the only adult health care centre in the Maritimes to house an inpatient burn care centre, and having this expertise is an important step in improving how the QEII delivers care to burn patients.
During his presentation at StFX, Dr. Rasmussen spoke about innovative treatments such as skin grafting using a synthetic called Integra. Dr. Rasmussen uses a new skin grafting machine called the Meek mesher, acquired through the efforts of previous burn unit director Dr. John Stein, and funded by the QEII Foundation and the Nova Scotia Firefighters Burn Treatment Society. Using the machine, he can take a relatively small amount of healthy skin from one part of a major burn patient’s body and spread it over a larger area of their body, helping the patient heal faster with fewer surgeries.
Prof. Arnott says the presentation was well received and several student nurses taking critical care nursing as an elective said the talk further reinforced the theory they’ve learned. Others commented on how Dr. Rasmussen’s work peaked their interest in becoming part of a burn unit team at some point.
Dr. Rasmussen is a StFX graduate. Interestingly, he was taught anatomy and physiology at StFX by his father, longtime human kinetics professor Dr. Roy Rasmussen.
The important role of research on campus was once again celebrated as faculty from across disciplines presented their work during the 2019 StFX Faculty Research Day held March 22 in Bloomfield Centre.
Throughout the day, visitors could take in a number of research poster and oral presentations that included topics such as “Politics of ocean planning in the Gulf of St. Lawrence” to “The reach and effectiveness of a diabetes prevention program: small steps for big changes;” from “The permafrost carbon cycle feedback to climate change & the Paris accord: Are we already committed to 1.5 C of warming?” to “Economic policy uncertainty and bank stability.”
Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Academic Vice President & Provost, speaking in opening remarks, noted today is a day to celebrate the outstanding research culture we have at StFX.
“Thank you for coming out to share your research and to hear about the research of others,” he said.
At StFX, he says, faculty are dedicated to teaching, which is so important, and also have outstanding research programs, where they get grants, publish in top-ranked journals and provide opinion and commentary in a number of outlets.Faculty research day Kevin Wamsley.jpg
Dr. Kevin Wamsley delivers welcoming remarks during StFX Faculty Research Day
“As a university, we value the opportunity to celebrate this.”
The day’s facilitator was Dr. Richard Isnor, Associate Vice President Research and Graduate Studies, whose office sponsored the event.
New this year, Faculty Research Day also included a Lunch with Arts, Health Research Panel with colleagues from four universities across Canada and an Arts/Health Research Workshop, both hosted by StFX sociology professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) Health Equity & Social Justice Dr. Katie Aubrecht.
StFX’s 17th annual Student Research Day was also held the night before, March 21, in Bloomfield Centre, and Dr. Isnor says holding the two events back-to-back over consecutive days in the same location is meant to encourage sharing across both groups.
The event concluded with a research reception in the McNeil Gallery, Schwartz School of Business to celebrate major research accomplishments from the past year.
From studying disadvantaged youth and academic success to investigating estuarine plant survival in pre-industrial boat harbour sediment, StFX’s 17th Annual Student Research Day presented a vast, varied and impressive array of student research.
Over 100 research posters and oral presentations highlighted the annual event held this year on March 21 at Bloomfield Centre.
Student Research Day gives students the opportunity to showcase their research or advanced studies, and the community the chance to learn about and discuss the work.
Research topics, representing a wide mix of disciplines, ranged this year from ‘twitter on trial: public and journalists’ perceptions of twitter generally and live-tweeting specifically from the courtroom’ to ‘taking personalized medicine into the clinic: a preliminary review.’
“It was tremendous to see the quality and diversity of oral and poster presentations at the 17th Annual Student Research Day, as well as the great turn-out and participation of the StFX community. Student research at StFX has a distinct impact on a wide range of issues and our student researchers participating in Student Research Day have again demonstrated a high level of confidence and quality for which they should be proud,” said Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies.
“It’s meant to share across both groups,” Dr. Isnor says.
A number of awards were handed out following the event These included:
Best Oral Presentation – Science (Co-Sponsored by the StFX Campus Store and the Research Services Group): Patrick O'Brien, PHYSICS, Invariant Centre of Mass of the Upsilon(2S) Meson
Best Oral Presentation - Social Sciences and Humanities (Co-Sponsored by the StFX Campus Store and the Research Services Group): Alejandra Torres, ENGLISH, "Recommended for You": Netflix's Basic Algorithm for Racism
Best Poster Awards (Co-Sponsored by the StFX Campus Store and the Research Services Group):
Gold: Jessie Doyle, PSYCHOLOGY, The Role of Anxiety Sensitivity and Influence of Anxious Attachment in Borderline Personality Disorder
Gold: Amy Rowe, ECONOMICS, Economic Benefits of English Medium Instruction: A Cross-Country Analysis of Linguistic Distance
Silver: Liam Elbourne, ECONOMICS, The Impact of the Financial Crisis on the Yield and Volatility of Canadian Bank Stocks
Silver: Emma Hennessey, HUMAN KINETICS, The Impact of your next move: X Fans in Training on Waist Circumference, Body Weight, and BMI in Overweight and Obese Men
Silver: Evan Davison-Kotler, BIOLOGY, Development of a dermal protein scaffold for the treatment of full-thickness skin wounds
Silver: Kirsten Gallant, ECONOMICS, A Dynamic Model of People Who Inject Drugs and the Role of Different Interventions in Overdose Prevention
Silver: Sydney Silver, BIOLOGY, Salinity tolerance of Halocladius variabilis (Diptera:Chironomidae) larvae from the rocky intertidal zone of Nova Scotia, Canada
Outstanding Community Engaged Research Project, sponsored by StFX Service Learning Program: Sarah Comandante, HUMAN KINETICS, The Power of Play: A Qualitative Examination of Parent's/Guardian's Perceptions of the Fit 4 Tots Program
Angus L. Macdonald Bibliography Award, sponsored by the Angus L Macdonald Library: Kendra Barry and Brianna Gottschall, HEALTH, Taking Personalized Medicine into the Clinic: A Preliminary Review
Local Undergraduate Research Award in Physiology (LURAP), sponsored by The American Physiological Society: Evan Davison-Kotler, BIOLOGY, Development of a dermal protein scaffold for the treatment of full-thickness skin wounds
After weeks of preparatory research to apply insights from Northern history, Canadian studies, and international law to a simulated crisis in Canada-United States relations, five senior undergraduate students from Trent University travelled to Nova Scotia this past weekend. On March 16th, they faced off against student counterparts from StFX in an all-day mock re-negotiation of the response to the Polar Sea crisis of 1985-86—a tense round of bilateral discussions after a US Coast Guard icebreaker transited the Northwest Passage (which Canada considers its historic internal waters subject to its full sovereignty) without Canadian permission.
The Trent students, mentored by Canadian studies professor and Canada Research Chair in the Study of the Canadian North, Whitney Lackenbauer, played the role of the Canadian delegation, while nine undergrads from StFX represented the United States. The StFX students were mentored by Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Maritime Security Policy at StFX.
The two sides debated fine points of international law, maritime security, shipping and development opportunities, and Inuit historic sea ice use and occupancy in a back and forth exchange the spanned several hours of intense discussion.
Their deep and nuanced understanding of this complex problem impressed the “impartial” moderator Dr. Peter Kikkert, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy at StFX.
“Students who had focused their preparatory readings on legal affairs carried on a spirited debate over applicability of Canada’s historic waters claim, its straight baselines, and an alleged international strait running through the Arctic Archipelago,” he noted.
Others “displayed a broad understanding of global security concerns, sought ways to sidestep sovereignty issues to meet Canadian environmental regulatory needs without denying American freedom of navigation, and debated questions of Inuit usage and human security that anticipated the debates leading to the creation of the Arctic Council in 1996.”
The organizers say the point of the exercise was to energize students and encourage them to explore scholarly literature and debates on Canadian sovereignty and the myriad issues surrounding it, including security, transportation, economic, environmental, and Indigenous dimensions. Then they applied their knowledge to a historical scenario, engaging in discussions and crafting proposals to simulate how negotiators might overcome competing priorities and interpretations of law in real-world deliberations.
“The students’ success in the exercise was best demonstrated by their organic development, over multiple break-out sessions with their peers, of a series of compromises and proposals which closely tracked what Canadian and American negotiators actually tried in the late 1980s,” Dr. Lajeunesse observed. “Both sides equally understood their respective nations’ ‘red lines’ and each of these proposals failed in light of those immovable national requirements.”
He says in the face of repeated and frustrating failures to arrive at a compromise, the American (StFX) delegation brashly threatened sanctions and aggressive naval challenges. The Canadians (Trent) dared the Americans to take them to the International Court of Justice. “Just when it looked like the negotiations were doomed to collapse,” Dr. Lackenbauer recounted, “the two parties abruptly changed course and decided to set aside irreconcilable differences so that they could pursue a more practical and pragmatic arrangement.” After a rapid series of back-and-forth concessions and offers, students produced a framework for Arctic cooperation which mirrored, in a surprising number of respects, the Arctic Cooperation Agreement that Canadian and American diplomats agreed upon in 1988, Dr. Lackenbauer said. That neither team had been given this document or had seen it going into the event highlighted just how thoroughly they had assimilated their respective national positions, needs, and requirements.
Drs. Lackenbauer and Lajeunesse hope that this will become an annual or biennial event, with students exploring different scenarios that encourage them to explore the complex interaction of political, environmental, socio-economic, legal, and cultural variables in international negotiations.
“As the US Coast Guard begins to rebuild its icebreaker fleet, the American security community is now speaking freely about new ‘freedom of navigation voyages’ through the Arctic waters,” Dr. Lajeunesse notes. “If this summer or next we do see a renewed challenge to Canadian sovereignty we can only hope our representatives show the same level-headedness as our students!”