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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.” 


Irving Shipbuilding Chair at StFX takes part in Operation Nanook ’18

Mon, 2018-08-20 13:45

Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, StFX’s Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security, took part in the Navy’s annual Operation NANOOK this past week. Dr. Lajeunesse joined several members of parliament aboard HMCS Charlottetown on its cruise from St. John’s to Iqaluit, as the frigate navigated around icebergs, conducted live fire exercises, and practiced combined operations with the ice-strengthened Danish frigate HDMS Vaedderen

Operations NANOOK is an annual Canadian Armed Forces exercise, which allows the military to rehearse ‘whole-of-government’ responses to potential safety and security threats in the North. From oil-spills and ship groundings to terrorism and crime, these threats are growing as the Arctic ice melts and human activity increases, he says. 

Dr.-Adam-Lejeunesse-01-MyStFX.jpg Dr. Adam Lajeunesse

Dr. Lajeunesse has studied these annual exercises, and Canada’s Arctic security more broadly, for over 10 years and was excited by the opportunity to view the operation up close. It was a hands-on experience in every sense, as Dr. Lajeunesse was given a chance to steer and control the 4,800 ton vessel and even integrated in Charlottetown’s boarding party as it captured Vaedderen during a mock take-over. 

In the future, the Navy’s Arctic patrol responsibilities will be taken over by the new DeWolf class Arctic Offshore and Patrol vessels; until then, he says, Canada continues to rely on thin-skinned ships like Charlottetown to pick delicately through the Arctic seas in defence of Canadian sovereignty and security. “Climbing aboard is an experience I will never forget” says Dr. Lajeunesse.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Navy for allowing me to participate in the Canadian Leaders at Sea program. Extending a more regular presence into the Arctic will be one of Canada’s great challenges in the 21st century and the progress that we’re already seeing is certainly heartening.” 


From the Xaverian Weekly to journal publication, StFX student is co-author on published piece

Mon, 2018-08-20 13:17
Katerina Hirschfeld

An article that had its start in the Xaverian Weekly student newspaper—and was co-written by a StFX student—has now been formally published in the journal Atlantis.

The piece “Beyond Aesthetics: A Femme Manifesto,” was co-authored by Katerina Hirschfeld, a recent StFX graduate, and Rhea Ashley Hoskin of the Student Success Centre, who is also a doctoral student in sociology at Queen’s University. 

Ms. Hirschfeld says the experience has been gratifying. 

“I still find it hard to believe that it’s published,” says Ms. Hirschfeld who graduated with an honours BA in 2017 and is currently completing a Master of Arts degree at Acadia University, where she is developing a thesis on on representations of time within queer narratives. 

“Having something published is such a big deal to me. I never thought that I would be able to create something that would receive that degree of recognition. I have to say, it feels pretty good! There is something so uniquely rewarding about contributing to the academic conversation in this way.”

Ms. Hirschfeld says before the Xaverian’s Pride Week issue, she and Ms. Hoskin had only talked about collaborating. Both share research interests in queer and femme identities. Ms. Hoskin is the author of “Femme Theory,” and has published extensively on femininities, femme identity and femmephobia. 

“We knew that we wanted to work on something together, but had not taken any concrete steps towards a publication. When we heard about the call for submission for the Xaverian’s Pride Week issue, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to finally collaborate on a piece,” Ms. Hirschfeld says. 

“We decided to write a manifesto about femme identities and the powerful possibilities of femininity. As femmes, this is a subject that is close to both of ours hearts.”

Ms. Hirschfeld says she has Ms. Hoskin to thank for the fact that their manifesto is published in Atlantis.

“As an undergraduate student, I have no experience in the publication process. Our submission to the Xaverian was really a preliminary piece, and we kept feeling the urge to add more—a good sign that Ashley and I will have many more collaborations in the future! After revising the piece and opening-up ‘femme’ in ways that we hope feel more inclusive of those who identify as femme, Ashley contacted Atlantis and submitted the manifesto for us.”

Ms. Hirschfeld says her time at StFX left an impact: “One of the most valuable aspects of the StFX English department, and of StFX as a whole, is that I had the opportunity to work closely with the faculty there. My English professors were always available to guide me, push me to come up with my own ideas and have the confidence to pursue them.”


Remarkable achievement: Schwartz School of Business student paper accepted for prestigious finance conference

Wed, 2018-08-01 10:49
Matt Hadfield

Once again, the quality of StFX student undergradatue research has been singled out. 

Matthew Hadfield, a StFX Gerald Schwartz School of Business honours student, now graduated, has learned the paper that resulted from his StFX honours thesis has been accepted for presentation at the Financial Management Association (FMA) Annual Meeting, a prestigious finance conference taking place this fall in California. 

To have an undergraduate student’s paper accepted at a conference such as this is very unusual. 

“This is a remarkable achievement,” says StFX Schwartz School faculty Dr. Bhavik Parikh, who supervised Mr. Hadfield and is a co-author on the paper, Algorithmic Trading. Market Liquidity and Flash Crash: Evidence from the Indian Market, with Mr. Hadfield and StFX professor Dr. Yen Nguyen and Ajay Kumar Mishra, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

The study examines the impact of algorithmic trading (AT) and non-algorithmic trading (non-AT) on market liquidity around the flash crash on October 5th, 2012 that occurred on the National Stock exchange (NSE) India. 

“Over the past four years, I have worked with several students on their undergraduate honours thesis. A lot of them have shown promises to excel in their area of research, but Matthew stands out as he continued working on this project after his graduation also,” Dr. Parikh says. “His perseverance and dedication and to work on a complex project like this is commendable. He immersed himself in this project by spending a lot of time learning about Indian Stock Markets and doing large data analysis. The skills he has acquired through this experience will be useful in both academic and professional endeavours,” he says. 

FMA executive director Michelle Liu had similar praise. 

“While we showcase some undergraduate research from the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Finance (JURF) in a special session at the conference, it is uncommon for undergraduate students to have research papers accepted for presentation at the conference through the regular submission process. The selection of your undergraduate student co-authored paper was even more notable this year, as we had a near-record number of submissions for the conference and therefore, the selection was very competitive,” she says.

“I was very surprised and excited when I heard that the paper had been accepted. I am humbled that my thesis is being recognized by a conference of this caliber. I am thankful for all the work of my supervisors, the paper would never have made it this far without them,” says Mr. Hadfield of North Vancouver, BC, who graduated from StFX in May 2017 with a first class honours degree in finance and minor in economics.

Mr. Hadfield moved to New Zealand at the beginning of this year to study and begin his working career. He is currently studying for a masters of finance at Victoria University of Wellington and was recently hired by FMZ, a fintech company. He is working part-time while he completes his degree. 

“My thesis is always a topic during job interviews,” he says. “I enjoy discussing the paper and the implications it has on today’s markets. Many employers highly value honours degrees, recognition of the thesis from the FMA’s international conference definitely increases the creditability and impact of the research.”

He says his time at StFX, particularly the friends he made, his involvement with the StFX rowing team and his close relationships with professors have influenced who he is today. 

The FMA annual meeting takes place in San Diego in October, where Dr. Parikh, co-author, will present the paper.  

With over 6,300 members, FMA is one of the largest international finance associations in the world. The annual meeting is the primary conference of the association and brings together over 1,500 academics and practitioners to present new research, discuss current issues in finance and financial education, and network. 

Dr. Parikh says their work compared AT and non-AT order submission behavior around the flash crash event day and normal days. “We observe the dominance of AT orders over non-AT orders across the study period. Our overall results show that AT Intensity and market liquidity decline during the flash crash. For AT, both quoted spread and depth have deteriorated while non-AT witnesses a decline in quoted spread together with an increase in depth,” he says. “These results highlight that AT traders take advantage of order submission speed, trading expertise and adjust their orders faster than non-AT traders. Our findings are consistent after controlling for the firm-specific effects, firm size, and firm beta.”


Leading Canadian expert on Indigenous research methodologies at StFX for Educational Research Forum

Wed, 2018-07-25 16:18
Dr. Margaret Kovach

Dr. Margaret Kovach was the Scholar in Residence at the Third Annual Educational Research Forum held in StFX’s Schwartz Auditorium on July 23.  

Dr. Kovach (Sakewew p'sim iskwew) is of Plains Cree and Saulteaux ancestry and a member of Pasqua First Nation. She is a leading expert in Indigenous research methodologies in Canada and recognized around the world for her contributions to this field. Her keynote address was entitled What Makes Indigenous Methodologies Different? Principles, Practices, and Possibilities. Organizers say it provided important insights what constitutes Indigenous research. 

StFX education faculty Dr. Joanne Tompkins says Dr. Kovach noted nine guiding principles: purpose, ethical research, community engagement, Indigenous Knowledges, oral dissemination, personal story, holistic preparation, social justice through Indigenous research, reciprocity and finally the fact that Indigenous research and researchers matter. “Through her passionate presentation, she kept her audience engaged for almost a full hour,” Dr. Tompkins says.  

In the audience were 150 StFX Master of Education and Master of Adult Education students who are beginning their program and a new cohort of PhD students beginning their doctoral work in education. 

Other graduate students came in from a distance through live streaming. Of particular interest were 16 Mi’kmaw and numerous non-Mi’kmaw educators and scholars currently engaging in decolonizing research. 

Dr. Kovach was welcomed to Mi’gma’gi by Christine Sylliboy, educator, community leader and graduate student from We’koqma’q Mi’kmaw community. Darlene Prosper, community leader, counsellor and advocate for education from Paq’tnkek Mi’kmaw Community gave words of a gift of tobacco as thanks to Dr. Kovach and offered a gift of quill and beaded earrings produced by local craftsperson and artists Mary Catherine Lafford. 

Dr. Kovach spent the afternoon attending the Educational Research Forum listening to masters and doctoral students presenting their research to new graduate students. The following day Dr. Kovach spent time in graduate research classes held on campus. StFX Faculty of Education was fortunate to have such a talented, passionate and inspiring action-oriented Indigenous scholar on campus and thanks the Office of Research, the AVP, Dean of Education, and Continuing and Distance Education for partnering to bring Dr. Kovach to campus. One sobering note that Dr. Kovach left the audience with is was the statistic that in 2006 Indigenous scholars represented one per cent of all academics in Canada. Twelve years later, in 2018, Indigenous scholars represent only 1.4 per cent of all academics in Canada (CAUT, 2018). Clearly there is much more work to be done to Indigenize the academy, says Dr. Tompkins. 

Research forum to showcase important work being undertaken by M.Ed. and PhD students in StFX’s Faculty of Education

Fri, 2018-07-13 09:17
L-r, StFX education faculty and committee members Dr. Dan Robinson, Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, Dr. Joanne Tompkins, and Dr. David Young. Missing from the photo is committee member Dr. Anne Murray Orr.

StFX Master of Education and Inter-University Doctoral Program in Educational Studies graduate students will have the unique opportunity to present and share their research on Monday, July 23 when the StFX Faculty of Education hosts the Educational Research Forum (ERF), beginning at noon in the auditorium of the Schwartz School of Business. 

Delivering the keynote address at the ERF will be Dr. Margaret Kovach of the University of Saskatchewan, this year’s Summer Institute Scholar in Residence. In addition to the keynote, Dr. Kovach will also be visiting M.Ed. and PhD classes following the ERF. 

In the audience will be 120 educators, who are attending their first two courses in StFX’s Master of Education program, 14 new students enrolled in the Inter-University Doctoral Program in Educational Studies, as well as educational partners from around the province. 

“The Educational Research Forum provides a venue to showcase the important work being undertaken at StFX. It is a wonderful opportunity for current and former graduate students to share their research with a wider audience,” says Dr. David Young, Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Leadership.

Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, Chair of the Inter-University Doctoral Degree Program, adds, “It is a unique event in that it brings into focus research that is relevant to Nova Scotia teachers and learners in a variety of educational contexts as well as the quality of graduate research happening in both the M.Ed. and PhD programs.” 

Following opening remarks from Dr. Young, as well as Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Kovach will deliver her keynote address entitled, “What Makes Indigenous Methodologies Different? Some Thoughts on Principles, Practices, and Possibilities.” 

Dr. Kovach is the well-known author of Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts, and is a leader in numerous areas, some of which include Indigenous research (epistemology and methods), leadership and governance in First Nations education, and Indigenous lifelong and adult learning.

Following the keynote address, graduate students will share the results of their research in a conference style format. 

A reception in the Schwartz School will allow for informal discussions about the research presentations.

The ERF organizing committee, comprised of Dr. Dan Robinson, Dr. Jennifer Mitton-Kükner, Dr. Anne Murray-Orr, Dr. Joanne Tompkins, and Dr. David Young, wishes to thank for their support the Office of the Academic Vice-President and Provost, the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Continuing and Distance Education, and the Office of the Dean of Education. 

Two gold awards for StFX Advancement at national CCAE conference

Thu, 2018-07-12 14:04
L-r, Iain Boyd accepting the CCAE gold award in the “Best Fundraising Initiative’ category for the Xaverian Scholarship and Bursary Fund Campaign, and Alexa Zarins, Mike MacKenzie and Jessica MacLellan accepting the ‘Best Use of Social Media’ category gold for the StFX Day of Giving Campaign.

The StFX Advancement team has struck gold—twice—for its outstanding work. 

StFX Advancement was recently recognized nationally, winning two Prix d'excellence Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) gold medal awards at the 2018 CCAE national conference held this year in Halifax, NS.

The Prix d'excellence is the annual awards program of the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education, recognizing top achievements in alumni affairs, public affairs, communications, marketing, development, advancement services, stewardship, student recruitment and overall institutional Advancement.

StFX took home two national first place awards, one in the ‘Best Use of Social Media’ category for its StFX Day of Giving Campaign, and the other in the “Best Fundraising Initiative’ category for the Xaverian Scholarship and Bursary Fund Campaign.

“I was very, very proud of the Advancement team, and of the university, that we were recognized for our work among our peers across the country,” says Murray Kyte, StFX Vice-President, Advancement. 

“First and foremost, it’s important to know that our work is recognized as being of high quality and relevant, which supports our team’s engagement and pride. It’s also important for the university to be recognized as a place where high quality work is happening, which supports the great work that is happening in all areas of the university,” he says. 

“Frank McKenna always says StFX punches above its weight, this is another instance where StFX knocks it out of the park, competing against large schools.” 

Mr. Kyte says a lot of people may not know what the Department of Advancement does. The department, he says, provides a broad variety of services to support the university’s vision. It primarily consists of three functions, alumni affairs; development, which is the fundraising apparatus; and all marketing and communications for the university.

Among the department’s work is producing marketing materials, digital platforms, public and media relations, the AlumniNews magazine, relationship building, major and planned gifts, fundraising campaigns, and the Annual Giving program, and playing a key role in planning and executing events such as Homecoming, Convocation and the X-Ring ceremony, as well as working with the StFX Alumni Association.   


On the leading edge–StFX psychology faculty and students celebrate success at national convention

Wed, 2018-07-11 14:56
Delegates at the pre-conference

Once again, StFX psychology faculty and students were well represented at the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) National Convention, which brings together almost 1,800 psychologists and psychology students. 

Of particular note, StFX psychology professor Dr. Karen Blair organized the largest ever LGBTQ psychology conference to take place in Canada as a pre-conference, and StFX psychology professor Dr. Margo Watt was honoured with the John C. Service Member of the Year Award from the Canadian Psychological Association, recognizing CPA members or fellows who have given exceptional service or made a distinguished contribution to the association during the year. 

The event was held this year in Montreal in late June. As host of the 2018 International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP), the CPA’s 79th annual meeting and convention was this year integrated in the ICAP 2018 program.

Dr. Blair organized the LGBTQ psychology conference as a pre-conference to ICAP. Some 115 delegates from over 20 countries participated in two full days of programming. Dr. Blair and Rhea Hoskin, an instructor at the StFX Student Success Centre and a PhD candidate at Queen's University, received a $25,000 SSHRC Connection Grant held at StFX to support the event and matching funds were provided by the International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues (IPsyNet). Much of the funding went towards supporting travel bursaries for international delegates, including delegates coming from as far as Uganda, Chile, South Korea and New Zealand. 

Breanna O’Handley, StFX’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisor and a recent StFX graduate, and Ms. Hoskin each presented their research at the pre-conference, as did Dr. Blair’s master’s student, Kay Jenson, from Acadia University. The students had the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the top researchers in the field, including Dr. Sari van Anders, a newly appointed Canada 150 Chair at Queen’s University, who was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. 

psychology conference 2018.jpg L-r, Breanna O’Handley, Daragh McDermott (Anglia Ruskin University, UK), Dr. Karen Blair, Rhea Hoskin, and Kay Jenson (Acadia University) 

psychology conference 2018 1.jpg L-r, Dr. Margo Watt, Emma Truffyn and Alley Goodreau

Dr. Blair, the program chair, says participating in the conference was invaluable. “This coming winter 2019 semester, I’ll be teaching a 300 level psychology course on LGBTQ psychology (Psyc 386). It is the first time that the course, or anything similar to it, will be offered at StFX and the conference was a great opportunity to learn about the latest advances in the field, which I will be able to now incorporate into the course,” she says. 

“It was such a hit that we are now planning a second conference to take place in July 2020 in Prague.” Dr. Blair and Ms. Hoskin will also be editing a special issue Psychology and Sexuality based on the research presented at the 2018 pre-conference. 

In recognition of the challenges and risks that many LGBTQ researchers face in different parts of the world, conference delegates donated $660 to Rainbow Railroad to help support a fundraiser that StFX student Laura Sevigny started last fall after taking a course with Dr. Blair and learning about the Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian organization helping LGBTQ refugees seek asylum in Canada. 


A highlight from the conference included Dr. Margo Watt receiving the John C. Service Member of the Year Award, which was presented this year to members of the Task Force on Criminal Justice, of which Dr. Watt is a member.

Dr. Watt also delivered the section keynote for the Criminal Justice Psychology Section. Her talk was entitled, “Fitness to Stand Trial and Criminal Responsibility Assessments in Canada: Improving Access to Qualified Mental Health Professionals.”

Several of Dr. Watt’s students also presented their research during the convention. 

Emma Truffyn, a 2018 StFX graduate who is starting a graduate program in counselling psychology at Western University this fall, one of Canada’s top psychology graduate programs, presented her thesis research as a poster, “An Investigation of Anxiety in Dental Services.” 

Fourth year honours student Jessie Doyle presented a poster, “Anxiety, Sensitivity and Mindfulness As Mediators of Relations Between Attachment and Cluster B Personality Traits,” and Alley Goodreau presented a poster on research from Dr. Watt’s lab, “The Mental Health of University Student Athletes.”   

Dr. Blair also presented a section chair address during the main conference as chair of the CPA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity section (When Everything is Your Topic: A Peek into a Program of Research Focused on LGBTQ2S+ Psychology) and Ms. Hoskin gave two more presentations during this part of the conference. 


New Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy announced for StFX

Tue, 2018-07-03 14:57
Dr. Peter Kikkert

St. Francis Xavier University, in collaboration with Irving Shipbuilding Inc, would like to announce its new Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy, Dr. Peter Kikkert for The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at St. Francis Xavier University.

Dr. Kikkert will work to research Canada’s role in global marine security issues with a focus on the Arctic region, and will contribute to strengthening the marine industry in Canada.

“I am very excited to be a part of the Mulroney Institute of Government,” said Dr. Peter Kikkert, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy. “This Institution is set to become a leader in the field of public policy and governance and I’m pleased to be a part of this important work and share and expand my research in arctic and marine policy issues.”

His research work will be a strong complement to that of Dr. Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Artic Marine Security at StFX, and they will form a great collaborative team. 

Dr. Kikkert’s research focuses on security, sovereignty, stewardship and international legal issues in the polar regions. His current and proposed work as Irving Shipbuilding Chair will focus on the development of the Polar Code, the evolution of Northern transportation systems and the enhancement of local search and rescue and emergency response capabilities in northern communities.

“We are delighted with the appointment of Dr. Peter Kikkert as Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy,” noted Dr. Richard Isnor, Interim Director of the Mulroney Institute of Government and Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.  “His research work will be a strong complement to Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security, who has already had a tremendous impact in advancing research efforts at the Mulroney Institute in his first year at StFX.  Dr. Kikkert and Dr. Lajeunesse are research collaborators and I expect they will continue to form a strong collaborative team linking with other researchers from across the country and internationally.  The strong support of Irving Shipbuilding Inc. for each of these Research Chairs have helped to establish a unique pillar of Arctic-oriented research at the Mulroney Institute of Government that will help inform policy in a range of sectors.”  

The Mulroney Institute of Government, which was announced in October, 2016, will be Canada’s leading centre for undergraduate teaching and research in the field of public policy and governance. A cornerstone of the project includes an endowment that is in excess of $20 million for academic chairs and student scholarships and bursaries. 

Irving Shipbuilding has provided $1 million in funding for two Irving Shipbuilding Chair positions as part of its Value Proposition commitments under the National Shipbuilding Strategy  – Canada’s 30-year plan to renew the fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. 

“Irving Shipbuilding is proud to welcome Dr. Kikkert to StFX as an Irving Shipbuilding research chair,” says Mr. Kevin McCoy, President of Irving Shipbuilding Inc. “We know the work undertaken by the two Irving Shipbuilding chairs will inspire students and increase the knowledge of Canada’s growing marine industry, supporting the mandate of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.”

In 2011, Irving Shipbuilding was selected by the Government of Canada to construct Canada’s future naval combatant fleet and committed to investing 0.5% of its contract revenues in creating a sustainable marine industry across Canada. This will amount to approximately $12.5M over the construction of Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, the first class of vessel under construction at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Human kinetics student Kelsey Ellis selected to present obesity research at Canadian conference

Tue, 2018-06-26 09:52
Kelsey Ellis

Kelsey Ellis, a third year StFX human kinetics honours student from Ottawa, ON, was selected as one of the few undergraduate students chosen to deliver research at the Canadian Obesity Meeting for Students and New Professionals. 

The multidisciplinary conference designed to highlight the latest advances in obesity research was held at Western University in London, ON from June 20-22, 2018.  

Ms. Ellis's proposal presentation focused on the design of sustainable physical activity programming for adults with intellectual disability living in community assisted living. Individuals with intellectual disability are at a higher risk for obesity related conditions due to a number of personal and environmental barriers many face for a healthy lifestyle, she says. 

Ms Ellis has been working closely on this project with her supervisor, human kinetics professor Dr. Amanda Casey whose research centres on interventions and reducing sedentary behaviour in group homes.  

“The conference allowed Ms. Ellis an opportunity to gain valuable insight from experts in the field and share knowledge to help her design interventions for vulnerable populations,” Dr. Casey says.

“She discussed her findings with graduate researchers, professors and other healthcare practitioners interested in preventative medicine and addressing chronic disease in marginalized populations.” 

Ms Ellis, who is also an All-Canadian X-Women soccer player, was one of eight students selected to receive a competitive travel award from the Canadian Obesity Network to attend the conference. She is the incoming president of StFX’s Canadian Obesity Network Chapter. At the conference she was able to meet with other chapters across Canada and discuss advances in obesity research and innovative ideas focusing on how to promote obesity management and prevention on and off campus and make a difference in the community. 

This summer Ms. Ellis is also a 2018 recipient of an RBC Foundation Undergraduate Summer Research Internship Award for a second project focusing on sustainable physical activity opportunities for children with autism spectrum disorders. These awards are worth up to $6,250 for a minimum of 12 weeks and a maximum of 16 weeks of paid research. 

StFX psychology professor receives SSHRC Insight grant to study how sharing and fairness develop in children across cultures

Mon, 2018-06-25 10:03
StFX psychology professor and SSHRC Insight Grant recipient Dr. Tara Callaghan (left) and student researcher, 2018 StFX psychology graduate Jessica Delorey

Collaboration. Concern for others. Equality and fairness. How does sharing and a sense of fairness develop in children across diverse cultures? That’s a question StFX psychology professor Dr. Tara Callaghan will tease apart in a new international research study. 

Dr. Callaghan is the successful recipient of a significant three-year SSHRC Insight Grant. The study, A longitudinal study of reciprocal sharing across diverse cultural context, will see her conduct research in two diverse cultural settings; one a traditional rural village in India and the other in Antigonish, a small town in Nova Scotia. Dr. Felix Warneken, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is a collaborator on the project. 

“The reason is to not only see what’s common across cultures, what we may be predisposed to as part of our human nature, but also to see how parents holding different, or even the same, beliefs may socialize or parent their children differently and how socialization goals also play a role in children’s development outcomes,” she says. “Our parents raise us to be successful in the culture we’re developing within. They’re passing on those beliefs whether they mean to or not,” she says. 

“We try to understand where basic psychological abilities and traits are coming from, and the cultural wash that goes over it,” says Dr. Callaghan, who has been conducting research across cultures on the development of positive social behaviors in children since 2002. This research will continue a long-time collaboration with Dr. Warneken and three other developmental researchers, Dr. Peter Blake (Boston University), Dr. Katie McAuliffe (Boston College), and Dr. John Corbit, who will be involved in study design, analysis and student supervision at StFX. 

“Whether we are looking at those basic psychological abilities and how they develop, or the cultural supports and how they impact development, it all leads back to that question, the origins of human nature,” Dr. Callaghan says. 

She says her research is broadly focused on understanding the development of positive social behaviour, altruism is included, collaboration is included, children’s sharing and helping. It’s an area in developmental psychology that’s really exploding right now, she says. And also one that is overlapping with other fields of study such as economic game theory, cultural anthropology and human evolutionary biology. 

“Our team is trying to tease apart the factors that increase or decrease these positive social behaviors, the degree to which they are part of our biological predispositions as humans and how factors like cultural beliefs, parenting practice and children’s experience with other children can shift that around,” she says.  

In the SSHRC funded study, they’ll be looking at a number of psychological abilities that are believed to be foundations for reciprocity; where children understand that if they give something to someone now, that person may respond in kind in the future. The psychological foundations include things like future-oriented thinking and planning, taking the perspectives of other people, and especially their emotional perspective. The target age range is three to five years of age, she says, when there are major changes in social cognition that may pave the way for children to act in ways that are more prosocial, and to be more strategic in their prosocial behavior. The research also aims to determine whether children’s prosocial behavior is predicted by the socialization goals of their parents.

The SSHRC Insight Grant has also allowed her to hire student researchers to work in her lab, including 2018 StFX psychology graduate Jessica Delorey, and Antigonish native Annie Cudmore.

This summer, Dr. Callaghan will travel back to India (where she conducted preliminary research over the winter) to conduct the study with the assistance of Indian field researchers for a three-week period. The goal is to have the first, three-year-old, wave of the longitudinal study completed early in the fall. 


StFX Archives Now Searchable

Tue, 2018-06-19 12:15

Patrons are now able to search the collections of the St. F.X. University Archives online. You can find the link under" Search Our Collection" on the Archives website.

The collection is searchable by a central portal or search box.  The records are divided into corporate records (St. F.X. records), and personal papers, plus other classifications, etc.  Please continue to check back as records are added on a continual basis.

Mr. John Peacock announced as StFX Chancellor

Fri, 2018-06-15 10:57
John Peacock

St. Francis Xavier University is pleased to announce its 10th Chancellor, Mr. John Peacock, a StFX alumnus and highly respected Canadian corporate and philanthropic leader.

Mr. Peacock is the retired Executive Vice-President of Fednav Limited where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is also on the Board of Teekay Offshore Partners, and although retired from his various community boards, he is very active in pursuing the philanthropic interests of The Peacock Family Foundation, which he established when he retired from Fednav.

Mr. Peacock and his wife Adrienne are StFX graduates from the Class of 1963. Both have remained strong supporters and actively involved at their alma mater. Mr. Peacock has given his time and talent, serving on the Coady International Institute Advisory Board and Mrs. Peacock serving on the StFX Board of Governors. They are Coady International Institute Honorary Patrons. Together, they established the Dr. John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Responsibility at StFX in recognition of Mr. Peacock’s former professor who greatly impacted his academic experience while he was a student.  

“StFX is a special place, and I am honoured and delighted to be able to take on the role of Chancellor,” says Mr. Peacock. “For both Adrienne and myself, our time at StFX was a wonderful experience. More than just a learning experience, our student days helped shape our lives for the better. It is indeed a privilege for me to be able to play my part in promoting that same excellent foundation for the next generations of students.”

Michael Boyd, Chair of the StFX Board of Governors, says the university is thrilled to welcome Mr. Peacock to the role. “John has enjoyed a distinguished career and brings much expertise as a recognized leader nationally and internationally. All the while he has maintained a deep commitment to StFX, understanding the important role the institution has played in developing students for the betterment of society,” Mr. Boyd says.

“We are extremely proud to welcome John as Chancellor,” says StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald. “A StFX champion through and through, and a gracious and humble man, he has always gone above to support StFX. He brings extensive experience in the corporate world, has been a wonderful philanthropist, and has a deep belief in the value of a StFX education. We are looking forward to his inspired leadership.”

Mr. Boyd also took the opportunity to recognize and thank Dr. Susan Crocker, StFX’s ninth Chancellor, for her service and tireless dedication. “Susan was the first female and the first lay person to hold this position and we are very grateful for her contributions in advancing the university,” he says.

Mr. Peacock has over 40 years accounting and senior business leadership experience. He retired in 2007 from Fednav Limited, a Canadian ocean-going, dry-bulk ship-owning and chartering group. Joining as Fednav’s Treasurer in 1979, he became Vice-President Finance in 1984 and joined the board of directors. In 1998, Mr. Peacock was appointed Executive Vice-President of Fednav and President and Chief Operating Officer of Fednav International Ltd., the group’s principal operating subsidiary. Prior to joining Fednav, Mr. Peacock was a partner with Clarkson Gordon (now Ernst & Young) in Montreal, Canada. He has served on many boards which has included being Chairman, Oceanex Inc; Chairman, McGill University Health Centre Foundation; Governor of the Foundation of Quebec University Athletics, Director, Montreal General Hospital Foundation and Trustee, McCord Museum.

He takes on the role of StFX Chancellor on September 1, 2018.  

StFX student success at annual ChemCon Conference

Wed, 2018-06-13 10:00
Top row, l-r, Katie Doran, Dr. Gerry Marangoni, Pablo Scrosati, Shannon MacLennan, Dr. Geniece Tapley. Bottom: Andrew Duffy and Bry Crabbe.

A group of StFX chemistry students had a very successful time in attending the 43rd annual ChemCon Conference at Saint Mary’s University from June 8-10, 2018. This Atlantic Canada regional conference is the annual local meeting of the Chemical Institute of Canada. 

StFX had five students attend, Katie Doran, Andrew Duffy and Bry Crabbe from the Hallett-Tapley Group, Pablo Scrosati from the Razul Group, and Shannon MacLennan from the Maragoni Group, as well as two faculty members, Dr. Geniece Tapley and Dr. Gerry Marangoni.  

Mr. Duffy and Mr. Crabbe presented award-winning oral presentations. Mr. Duffy received first place in the ‘Organic best oral presentation division’ in the Undergraduate Organic Division for his talk entitled “Palladium Nanoparticles Supported on Niobium Oxide Perovskites as Heterogeneous Photocatalysts in the Heck Reaction,” and Mr. Crabbe received best oral presentation in the Graduate Materials Division for his talk entitled, “Photocatalytic C-C Coupling Reactions using AuNP Functionalized Potassium Niobium Oxide Perovskites.”

As well, Ms. Doran and Mr. Scrosati presented extremely well received poster presentations. 

“The students gained valuable experience explaining their research at the conference to people from several disciplines of chemistry and discussing their research to other members of the regional chemistry community,” says Dr. Tapley.

“Both the oral and poster presentations were well received and myself and Dr. Marangoni received several compliments on the work presented by the X students. We are pretty proud of them here in the Chemistry Department.”

Dr. Kent MacDonald, President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Francis Xavier University appointed Chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents (CONSUP)

Tue, 2018-06-12 12:49
StFX President and Vice Chancellor, Dr. Kent MacDonald

(HALIFAX, N.S.) – Dr. Kent MacDonald, President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N.S., has been appointed Chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents (CONSUP).


Dr. MacDonald follows Prof. Dianne Taylor-Gearing, President, NSCAD University, Halifax, N.S., who completed her two-year term as CONSUP Chair, June 5, 2018.


CONSUP is an advocacy organization representing Nova Scotia’s ten universities across the province.


Dr. MacDonald said that CONSUP is more committed than ever to fulfilling the visionary goals of the One Nova Scotia Report which declared that “universities represent one of Nova Scotia’s greatest comparative advantages.”


He added that, “our universities are a key pillar of the One Nova Scotia Report and central to successful achievement of many of its stretch goals for the province.”  He noted that, “helping Nova Scotia meet the objectives of its population growth strategy through attraction and retention of students; enhancing experiential learning opportunities through student co-op and internship programs; promoting entrepreneurism; leading R&D and commercialization of university research and ensuring Nova Scotia’s university sector maintains its high quality, accessibility and sustainability, are all important objectives for CONSUP now and into the future.”


Dr. MacDonald also commented that “our universities most important role is developing good citizens with creative thinking skills and problem-solving ability, attributes essential for a progressive, cohesive society.”


Nova Scotia’s universities are a key driver of the provincial economy and are the third largest export revenue sector behind tire manufacturing and seafood preparation and packaging.  The combined annual value of student (international and out of province) and research exports is $866 million annually.


Dr. MacDonald noted that Nova Scotia’s universities are also highly focused on inter-institutional collaborative initiatives to meet the objectives of the NS Accessibility Act (Bill 59); creating healthy campuses with a special emphasis on prevention of sexual violence and improving student mental health services and, fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations for post-secondary education.


For further information, contact:

CIndy MacKenzie

(902) 867 - 2401

Peter Halpin, Executive Director, CONSUP

(902) 425-4238/497-4419


StFX hosts national and regional physics and math conferences

Fri, 2018-06-08 16:23
Theory Canada 13 (TC13) participants at StFX

Academics from across Canada and from around the world were on the StFX campus this week to learn, share information and collaborate at two conferences related to physics and mathematics.

The Atlantic General Relativity Workshop and Conference (AGR 2018) took place June 6-7, followed on June 7-9 by the national conference on theoretical physics, Theory Canada 13 (TC13).

An audience of over 50 registered participants from Eastern Canada and internationally attended AGR 2018, organized by StFX mathematics professor Dr. Robert van den Hoogen. 

math conference 2018.jpg

Participants of the Atlantic General Relativity Workshop and Conference (AGR 2018)

TC 13, organized mainly by StFX physics professor and department chair, Dr. Peter Marzlin, brought about 75 participants from across Canada and abroad including India, Russia, the USA, Mexico, and western Europe to campus. 

“Theory Canada is the national conference on theoretical physics that brings together scientists working on Relativity, gravity, quantum physics, particle physics, and condensed matter theory,” Dr. Marzlin says. 

“We are the proud hosts of the 13th edition of the conference, which is sponsored by StFX, as well as the Perimeter Institute, the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, the Centre de Recherches Mathematiques, the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences, the Winnipeg Institute for Theoretical Physics, as well as two private companies (Lumiant and Solar Power Network).”

Dr. van den Hoogen says the AGR series of meetings has been a regular and annual feature of the Relativity and quantum gravity community in Atlantic Canada for over 25 years.

Prior to the conference, on June 5th, StFX hosted a one-day workshop for senior undergraduate and graduate students on “General Relativistic Effects in Cosmology.” Over 40 students and researchers from across the world converged on StFX and Antigonish to learn from local and international experts led by Dr. Chris Clarkson (Queen Mary College University of London) in a friendly and welcoming learning environment, he says.

Dr. Latham Boyle (Perimeter Institute) opened the AGR Conference on June 6th as the invited speaker and spoke on the topic of the “CPT symmetric universe." For the next two days, researchers from the Atlantic Provinces, Canada, the United States, Europe and Africa presented their research in all aspects of classical and quantum gravity.

This year’s workshop and conference was sponsored by StFX, the Perimeter Institute, and the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (AARMS).

PhD student completing internship, ‘very important piece of the puzzle’ in StFX lab

Thu, 2018-06-07 10:05
PhD student Inês Leal (right) and Dr. Julius Ellrich

Inês Leal, a 3rd year PhD student from Portugal currently in the program of Oceanography at the Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski, is visiting StFX to study how pelagic food supply, barnacle larval condition, and barnacle settlement are related on our shores. 

“My project includes a latitudinal comparison of the ecophysiological mechanisms underlying recruitment of marine benthic invertebrates, which I have carried out in Greenland (polar region), Brazil (subtropical region) and Panama (tropical region) so far. Studying now in StFX makes up for the last and very important piece of the puzzle, a temperate region,” she says.

“I had the opportunity to do this internship in the lab of (StFX biology professor) Dr. Ricardo Scrosati as a follow up of the visit of my PhD co-supervisor Prof. Augusto Flores (CEBIMar/USP) to StFX last November. I am happy to strengthen this collaboration, and look forward to analyzing these results, as there is still a lot to find out on larval ecophysiology. Hopefully with this internship we will be able to fill in some gaps!”

“This is an important project because it will fill a gap on our understanding of how pelagic nearshore processes affect benthic processes on the shore. In fact, it is a hot topic in marine ecology these days,” Dr. Scrosati says.

Her thesis, he says, will eventually make comparisons of her Nova Scotia results with results for other coasts of the world she has recently investigated, such as those from Greenland, Panama, and Brazil, ultimately looking for commonalities.  

She recently started her field work in rocky intertidal habitats near Arisaig, NS, aided by Dr. Julius Ellrich, a post-doctoral fellow in the lab.

Dr. Scrosati says this is part of a larger project led by Rejéan Tremblay, from the University of Quebec, and Augusto Flores, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. His lab has recently joined these efforts and prospects for biogeographically broad findings are exciting.

Ten-year study on cannabis use by youth reveals distressing results

Wed, 2018-06-06 15:47
Dr. Kara Thompson

St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) Psychology professor Dr. Kara Thompson has revealed troubling results from cannabis use by Canadian youth.

According to two new studies that followed patterns of marijuana use across a decade in Canadian youth, those who start using cannabis early and continue to use it often are more likely than their peers to have co-occurring problems, poor health outcomes, and less occupational and educational success in young adulthood.

A team of researchers, led by Dr. Kara Thompson, StFX, and Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater, University of Victoria, looked at data from the Victoria Healthy Youth Survey, which followed a cohort of 662 young people over 10 years. The youth, who were between the ages of 12 and 18 when the study began in 2003, were interviewed every two years about their substance use, mental health, accomplishments, and general wellbeing. The researchers observed how substance use patterns unfolded over time, and how these patterns were influenced by other factors in adolescence and young adulthood.

“We hear a lot of talk about risks for youth using cannabis, especially with legalization around the corner, but our understanding of patterns of cannabis use among Canadian youth over time and the consequences of use is actually quite limited,” says Leadbeater. “Our hope is that this work sheds light on how young Canadians use cannabis across adolescence and young adulthood, what predicts different patterns of use, and how these patterns contribute to mental health and well-being of young people.”

Two studies, published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science and Prevention Science, found five different patterns of cannabis use. Approximately 30 percent of the youth were classified as high-risk, meaning they started using cannabis frequently in early adolescence or increased in use across adolescents and were using more than once a week by young adulthood. These risky patterns of use were associated with the poorest health outcomes in young adulthood, including higher levels of substance use disorders, mental health and behavior problems, as well as lower levels of educational and employment outcomes.

“The young people who follow high-risk cannabis patterns are not only using cannabis. They often begin to use other substances (like alcohol) in adolescence, and they are experiencing other behavioral problems that may contribute to both negative outcomes and the initiation of cannabis,” says Thompson. “An effective public health approach to reducing cannabis for youth will need to acknowledge the contexts and co-occurring problems that accompany risky cannabis use in young people.”

Researchers say that findings from this study will provide results that government and other public health practitioners can use to inform current and future cannabis policies.

This project was one of a handful funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to look at how cannabis legalization would affect certain Canadian populations, including youth.

Study 1: Thompson, K., Merrin, G. J., Ames, M. E., & Leadbeater, B. (2018). Marijuana trajectories in Canadian youth: Associations with substance use and mental health. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement50(1), 17.

Study 2: Thompson, K., Leadbeater, B., Ames, M., & Merrin, G. J. (2018). Associations Between Marijuana Use Trajectories and Educational and Occupational Success in Young AdulthoodPrevention Science, 1-13


Infographic_Canadian youth marijuana_FINAL-1.png

StFX human nutrition students awarded Sir James Dunn Scholarships

Mon, 2018-06-04 10:30
L-r, 2017 scholarship recipient Karli Ochitwa and 2018 scholarship recipients Katlynn Serafinchon and Anna Neufeld

StFX human nutrition students were honoured with awards at the department‘s Integrated Dietetic Internship Program’s orientation session held recently.

The Sir James Dunn Foundation of St. Andrews, NB generously provides awards each year to interns in the StFX Integrated Dietetic Internship program. The award recognizes students who demonstrate the potential for leadership and a keen interest in dietetics as it relates to healthy aging and the nutritional care of the elderly. 

2018 Sir James Dunn Scholarships were awarded to fourth-year student Katlynn Serafinchon of Spruce Grove, AB and third-year student Anna Neufeld of Mission, BC. Both interns are currently in their first internship practicum experiences.

2017 recipient, Karli Ochitwa of Weyburn, SK is continuing her internship experience this term in her second internship practicum.

This $6,500 scholarship is renewable for each of the three 14-week internship practicum courses.