It’s a moment that members of the StFX family say they will cherish forever, and one that aspiring Xaverians look forward to for years.
Today, December 3, 2019, the moment became real for over 900 senior St. Francis Xavier University students, who received their coveted X-Rings during a ceremony in StFX’s Charles V. Keating Centre.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening!” exclaimed one excited student as she entered into the Keating Centre at the start of the ceremony, alongside other senior students all clad in black ceremonial gowns.
One by one, students processed towards the main stage and received their X-Rings, and the Keating Centre could hardly contain the excitement of the moment. Indeed, the students’ enthusiasm was felt all over campus.
StFX President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Kevin Wamsley began his remarks by noting a bit of irony: he himself does not have an X-Ring.
“I feel naked,” he joked. “But after four-and-a-half years at StFX, I think I have an idea of what makes this place tick.”
“You are students who are engaged in your university experiences. You are engaged in social justice activities, and in helping other students as well as members of our broader community.”
He said this is the power represented by the X-Ring.
“The X-Ring is the symbol of your experience here at StFX. The X-Ring is the symbol of your commitment to community. So give back to your community like the graduates before you, and give back to StFX. Honor your X Ring by serving others.
“The world needs it, badly.”
Dr. Wamsley also extended thanks to all of the family and friends who travelled great distances to be on-campus for the ceremony, as well as those who watched via livestream.
SKILLS THAT MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND
The ceremony’s guest speaker was Maggie MacDonnell ’02, a StFX alumna who won the 2017 Global Teacher Prize over 20,000 nominees from 179 countries. In her remarks, she offered a reflection on her takeaways from her time as a student, and how they are all encapsulated in her X-Ring.
“When I think about my time at StFX, I realize that while I did graduate with a degree in Human Kinetics, what I really graduated with was an unofficial degree in community building,” she said. “When I remember StFX’s culture, and all of the activities and programs, there were so many times for us as students to practice learning how to connect with each other and how to build community.
“To me, that’s what the ring symbolizes. It conveys something tangible to somehow represent and symbolize all of those meaningful, but intangible, lessons that StFX has taught us.
“So today, when you get your ring, know that it’s your reminder that you come from a special place. A place that values community, and those soft skills that make the world go around.”
Senior class students participated throughout the ceremony. Jonas Lawrence, co-president of the senior class, served as master of ceremonies, while Nicholas Latulippe greeted the excited students and the approximately 2000 family and friends who watched from the Amelia Saputo Centre for Healthy Living.
Senior class co-president Taylor Kennah gave opening remarks, speaking about the unique bond that’s shared by all X-Ring recipients – one that cannot be fully understood by those who are not part of the StFX family.
Samantha Bardwell gave an explanation of the StFX motto, and Maxwell Gauthier read from the writings of Dr. Moses Coady.
Joanna Alphonso introduced the guest speaker and Emma Kyte gave the response.
Students’ Union president Cecil VanBuskirk led the Xaverian Commitment.
The honorary X-Ring is presented annually to someone who personifies the Xaverian spirit of community, leadership, and service. This year’s honorary X-Ring was awarded to Dr. David Cudmore, a general practice physician in Antigonish who has served as the medical leader of the StFX Athletics sports medicine team for over 30 years. During the ceremony, Dr. Cudmore was lauded for his compassion, professionalism, and his outstanding concern for the wellbeing of StFX student athletes.
“There are over 50,000 alumni cheering you on right now, whether they know you or not,” said StFX Alumni Association president Marc Rodrigue ‘08. “They’ve been cheering you on since you arrived at StFX, and now they’ll encourage you to join them in cheering on those who follow in your footsteps.
“No matter what this ring means to you, I encourage you to think of it as being part of something bigger than just ourselves.”
A strong history and a bright future.
That was the sentiment at a celebration of the Coady International Institute’s 60th anniversary, held December 2, 2019 – exactly 60 years to the day from the Institute’s opening.
Special guests and community members gathered for a reception in the Coady International Institute’s Antigonish Community Foyer, where they reminisced about the Institute’s incredible global legacy of sustainable, community-centered growth and development.
With a mural of Monsignor Moses M. Coady, founder of the Antigonish Movement and namesake of the Coady Institute, overseeing the festivities, attendees shared stories from the Institute’s past and shared hopes for its future.
Their hopes are high – and for good reason.
During the ceremony, Gord Cunningham, Executive Director of the Coady International Institute, announced over $1 million in funding from four groups to support and strengthen Institute programs over the coming years.
The funding includes $477,000 over four years for Coady’s work with the Supporting Transition, Retention and Training for Girls (START4GIRLS) program in Zimbabwe. Lead by CARE Canada, and funded through Global Affairs Canada, the project will work with girls, adolescent women, and their communities to promote vocational skills training. It will also place a special emphasis on married girls and teenage mothers who have dropped out of school.
Further funding of $125,000 USD from the Ford Foundation will support Coady’s work with partner group The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India. The three-year project will design participatory tools to measure how and where economic vulnerability affects women and their ability to participate in formal and informal employment.
Finally, a $300,000 contribution from the Comart Foundation will strengthen Coady’s ability to work alongside Indigenous peoples and African Nova Scotians, right here in our own province. The funds will be matched by the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment, for a total investment of $600,000. The combined investment will strengthen Coady’s capacity to work more closely with Indigenous and African Nova Scotian students, whether through scholarships that bring students to the Institute or by bringing Coady programs into the community.
The diversity of funding announcements reflects Coady’s commitment to work closely with partner groups around the globe, and increasingly, closer to home here in Canada.
“The Coady Institute continues to be a place where change leaders – whether from other parts of the work or here in Nova Scotia – discuss issues, share innovations and develop real, tangible solutions,” said Gord.
“Local leaders are making change happen.”
Among the local programs celebrated at the event was the Centre for Employment Innovation (CEI), an initiative of the Coady Institute and StFX’s Extension Department. Alongside partners within the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, CEI has worked with more than 100 people from underrepresented groups, helping them gain access to meaningful employment as well as training and professional development opportunities.
It was also noted that Coady’s Global Change Leader program, one of almost two dozen programs that will be offered in 2020, recently received over 1,900 applications for just 20 spots. It’s a figure the Coady Institute says supports the need for such programming, and affirms the Institute’s positive reputation around the world.
In addition to remarks from Mr. Cunningham, speakers at the event included Jamie Smith, Director of Social Innovation; Eileen Alma, Director of Women and Indigenous Programming; Anthony Scoggins, Director of Education Programs, StFX President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Kevin B. Wamsley, and two recent graduates from the Coady Institute: Sheila Pelly and Andrea Curley.
Mr. Kerry Prosper, Indigenous Knowledge Keeper on campus, offered a territorial acknowledgement, in recognition of the fact that the Coady Institute is located on Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and un-ceded territories of the Mi’kmaq people.
Spirits were high in the Charles V. Keating Centre as family, friends and loved ones gathered to watch the newest group of StFX graduates receive their degrees and diplomas at StFX’s 2019 Fall Convocation, held December 1.
StFX conferred over 200 degrees and diplomas during the ceremony, spanning programs at the diploma, bachelor, and masters level. The hard work and perseverance displayed by graduates over their course of studies was noted by Dr. John Peacock ‘63, University Chancellor.
“I have no doubt that each of you bring a unique story of struggle, challenge and achievement. I hope as you reflect on your journey, you will also reflect on those who provided you with support, encouragement, and love while you worked to get here. I hope you take the time to thank them.”
He also challenged graduates to consider how they will make the world “a better, safer, and happier place.”
“Your generation is fighting against the destruction my generation has caused,” said Dr. Peacock. “Climate change, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia. I urge you to think carefully about the role you’ll play.
“And I hope that StFX has formed you into the type of person who won’t run away from a challenge.”
Dr. Peacock’s comments were seconded by Dr. Kevin B. Wamsley, President and Vice-Chancellor of StFX, who noted, of all the events that take place each year at StFX, Convocation is his favourite.
“Convocation is a celebration of the belief that an academic degree means something. That the creation and dissemination of knowledge provides hope for future, and prepares us to take on the challenges that confront us.”
Dr. Wamsley also noted many of the new graduates who already don an X-Ring, and implored them to “remember what the ring celebrates.”
“Use your StFX degree to build bridges between people to solve problems in this great country. We are at a time of great polarization and disagreement. Build bridges to help us find our way.”
StFX awarded an honorary degree to Dr. Helen Vari, a Canadian philanthropist and the President of the George and Helen Vari Foundation. Dr. Vari has been a lifelong supporter of education, academic research and the preservation of cultural heritage.
In her remarks to students and guests, Dr. Vari, who identified herself as a “Hungarian refugee,” recalled an act of kindness on behalf of StFX that forever shaped her family’s life.
In the fifties, StFX established a Hungarian Refugee Fund to support newcomers from the country who were arriving in Canada. The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney ‘59, then a StFX student, travelled to Montreal on behalf of the university to disperse the funds to Mr. George Vari, Helen’s husband – and a refugee newcomer himself. In addition to the funds, Mr. Mulroney also took his own winter coat and gave it to Mr. Vari, recognizing he did not yet have one of his own.
It was a small act of kindness that made an enormous impact on the Vari family.
“This is not only generosity – this is humanity,” said Dr. Vari. “This is your university, and this is our wonderful Canada. I cannot thank you ever enough.”
She also encouraged the new graduates to exemplify this same kind spirit in their own lives.
“Be good. Do whatever you can for other people, whether a smile or a dollar. And know that, in our wonderful country of Canada, everything is possible. Whatever you decide, you can do it!”
Also honoured during the ceremony were StFX biology lab instructor Regina Cozzi, recipient of the 2019 Outreach Award, and Lindsey Arnold, Instructor with StFX’s Continuing & Distance Education department and Student Success Centre, who received the 2019 Outstanding Staff Teaching Award.
S.A.F.E. (Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace) received the 2019 Community Partner Award in recognition for their tireless work to give Syrian families displaced by conflict the opportunity to rebuild their lives in Antigonish. StFX and S.A.F.E. are proud to have a strong partnership, which has created many opportunities for learning and the exchange of ideas and talents.
New graduate Kyle Sarka, who is originally from Inverness, N.S. and received his Master of Education at the ceremony, delivered the graduating class address. He noted that when he enrolled in StFX as an undergraduate student, many of the new student facilities developed in recent years were still a dream.
“But the culture of this university is timeless, and what I learned from being part of this culture is that Xaverians are a family. And as you look back, remember that it was all worth it.”
Marc Rodrigue, president of the StFX Alumni Association, extended congratulations to the new graduating class on behalf of entire StFX alumni network. He also encouraged them to use their experiences at StFX to make the world a better place and to inspire positive change, wherever and whenever possible.
2018 Honorary Degree recipient
Dr. Helen Vari
Helen Vari is an eminent Canadian philanthropist and the President of the George and Helen Vari Foundation. Throughout her life, she has supported student scholarships, academic research and the preservation of cultural heritage. Mrs. Vari was educated in both Austria and Hungary. She came to Canada, where she married her late husband The Honourable George W. Vari. Mr. Vari established the engineering and construction company SEFRI Construction International. She has been a lifelong supporter of education, committed to ensuring students of all abilities and backgrounds have opportunities to study. The George and Helen Vari Foundation was created in 1984 to promote education in Canada and cultural and educational exchange, and it has provided philanthropic gifts to a number of institutions. Mrs. Vari is also a primary financial contributor through the Vimy Foundation to the construction of the new Visitor Education Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. She has been a member of many organizations, including the Vimy Foundation; The Canada Council for the Arts, Alliance Francaise de Toronto, Maison des étudiants Canadiens at the University of Paris, the Ontario Heritage Foundation, and the Leukemia Research Foundation of Canada, among many others. She is the Founding President of the World Monuments Fund in France, a Foundation dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide. Mrs. Vari's contributions have been widely recognized. She is a member of the Order of Canada. She has received prestigious honours, including: Commander, Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (France), Dame Commander of Merit of the Order of Saint-John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta; Queen Elizabeth II 50‘Anniversary Golden Jubilee and 60" Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Medals; Officier du Mérite National (France); and honorary doctorates from York University, Ryerson University, Victoria University, University of Toronto, and the University of Ontario Institute and Technology.
2019 Outreach Award
Lab Instructor, Biology
Regina Cozzi has been a member of the StFX community since 2000, first as a research assistant and now as a laboratory instructor in the Biology Department. Mrs. Cozzi is extremely dedicated to her outreach work for both the department and the local community. Her efforts have engaged and educated thousands of children in the region. For years she has promoted ocean literacy to youth and adults through numerous outreach workshops, both in English and in French. Since 2013, Mrs. Cozzi has organized the department’s annual World Oceans Day (WOD) event, which promotes ocean awareness to the general public, especially to younger generations. This highly anticipated educational event draws over 1,000 people annually and has lasting impacts. Mrs. Cozzi also launched the Bio-Outreach website for the Biology Department and created an organized online data entry to keep track of the department’s outreach activities, currently benefiting approximately 2,000 youth annually. In addition, she volunteers as a judge at regional science fairs and at the StFX Student Research Day. She contributes to women in STEM, volunteers with the West River 4-H Club as waterfowl leader, collaborates with X-Chem to facilitate ocean literacy activities during Science Literacy Week and helps facilities summer camps and school visits. Ms. Cozzi’s strong community involvement can also be seen through her blog, Country Parent, promoting local activities for children, since 2012. Mrs. Cozzi holds a MSc in environmental immunotoxicology from the Université du Québec.
2019 Outstanding Staff Teaching Award
Instructor, Continuing & Distance Education and Student Success Centre
Lindsey Arnold joined StFX in 2017 as an instructor for the Student Success Centre and for Continuing and Distance Education. She brought with her a student-centered and inclusive teaching philosophy that grew out of research she did in earning her Master of Arts in education at the University of Toronto OISE, and also out of her diverse contributions to the field of education, including running a vibrant tutoring business and developing transformative curriculum overseas. Her accomplishments at StFX include developing and delivering various face-to-face and online workshops and courses as well as one-on-one instruction. Her pedagogy emphasizes student-centered, active and holistic learning alongside direct instruction delivered through multiple modes in order to ensure accessibility, inclusivity, and engagement. As an essay writing and learning skills instructor, she teaches students from different disciplines and backgrounds, many of whom are struggling to succeed at university. One of her colleagues describes the “positive influence” she has on her students and states that, “Lindsey is a particularly favoured instructor at the SSC, and students actively seek her out to work with them. This is because Lindsey is a caring and compassionate instructor who advocates for the academic and personal success of all students who visit the centre.” Her contributions to the intellectual life at StFX and the academic skills of StFX graduates have earned her recognition as an outstanding teacher.
2019 Community Partner Award
SAFE (Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace)
Since its inception, SAFE (Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace), which works to give Syrian families a chance to rebuild their lives in Antigonish, has inspired countless people with the power of community relationships. From the start, StFX and SAFE have had a strong partnership that has created many opportunities for the exchange of ideas, talents and learning. Together, SAFE and StFX have organized or co-sponsored several events for sharing knowledge, creating awareness and building community. These included the presentation of To Eat an Almond, the organization of StFX Refugee Awareness Day, X Talks: Hope and Education and the President’s Colloquium: People in Crisis. What can we do. The work of SAFE and the issues it highlights have been brought into the classroom and into students’ academic, social and personal learning. Presentations have provided unique opportunities for students to learn more about refugee issues. Students involved in fundraising, advocacy and peer education have learned leaderships skills while mobilizing the student body to achieve a goal. Several research studies have come out of SAFE’s work as a sponsorship group and the arrival of refugees in the community. The work SAFE has done on campus, co-sponsoring events such as the Peace for Syria Walk and the Affirmation of Peace/Salam has helped StFX create a more diverse and inclusive campus where students have opportunity to learn from those who have a different religion and life experience.
While researching another project, StFX Celtic Studies professor Dr. Ranke de Vries came across a fascinating text that talked about the use of animal dung in medieval medicine—to treat common ailments like baldness and snake bites.
Intrigued by the information she found, Dr. de Vries has published the text, with translation and notes, in a new article in the North American Journal of Celtic Studies. The text has never before been edited.
“Nobody has looked at this text up to now, which means that these recipes have been hidden away in this manuscript for roughly six centuries,” she says.
She says she came up with the idea for the article quite by accident. “I came across the text as I was doing some research for a completely different article about medieval medicine. When I was looking through the manuscript description for TCD MS 1343, I saw that it contained this short text on medicinal uses for animal dung, which I found intriguing,” she says.
“What type of animal dung was used, and what on earth would that be good for? Did doctors use fresh dung? As it turns out, most of the Irish recipes involve dried and burnt goat dung, which was considered beneficial to cure a range of afflictions, from alopecia (localized hair loss) to bites from venomous animals – but dung from sheep, cows, mice, and birds are also present.”
She says one of the things she did not realize before she did research for this edition was that animal dung was used in medical recipes long after the Middle Ages.
What interested her about the research?
“First of all, I find medieval medicine as a field is utterly fascinating, as the principles behind it are so fundamentally different from modern medicine. To us, most of it may seem idiosyncratic at best, and downright lethal at worst. A modern reader might wonder what the value of studying medieval medicine might be, when so much progress has been made in the field of medicine since then. And that is a valid question.
“When you look at medieval medical recipes, many of them contain highly toxic ingredients, mercury, for example, or various kinds of lead, and you should absolutely never try to make them at home, or use them in any way whatsoever. But there are some recipes, like a recipe for eye salve found in the Anglo-Saxon Bald’s Leechbook from the ninth century, that have been shown to be quite effective against MRSA, caused by a bacterium that is resistant to many types of antibiotics.”
She says in a time when antibiotics are becoming less effective, the thought of maybe coming across a recipe that can be used to cure modern disease is alluring.
She says the topic of medicine in medieval Ireland is something that has not been studied very much until relatively recently, even though there are around 100 manuscripts containing medical material, dated to the 14th century and after, and new texts are found periodically.
Part of the relative lack of research has to do with the fact that the texts themselves are quite challenging – they are filled with technical terms, and the manuscripts contain lots of abbreviations as they were written for use by medical families, who of course knew the material very well.
“I really liked the challenge of editing such a text, and it is always exciting to be able to work on something that nobody has ever looked at before – these recipes have not been studied for 600 years,” she says.
“Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the recipes themselves are also quite interesting – mouse pellets, for example, were thought to help against kidney stones. You have to wonder whether that has anything to do with the size and shape of the pellets…”
Dr. de Vries says she is delighted that the article has appeared, and hopes that students and scholars alike find it useful, and that it will inspire people to take up studying medieval medicine.
Found in a 15th-century manuscript written in Irish Gaelic, the manuscript, titled TCD MS 1343, is currently held at Trinity College, Dublin. The text is essentially a collection of medical recipes that contain various kinds of animal dung, along with an explanation as to what ailment each type of dung cures.
For the edition, she says she first looked at the original text in the digitized manuscript, which can be found on the Irish Script On Screen project.
“As texts in medical manuscripts tend to use a lot of abbreviations, I first had to determine what the abbreviations stood for, which took a while—one particular symbol had me stumped for a couple of months. I then translated it and attempted to explain any particularly tricky or unclear sections. The Irish Gaelic text refers a number of times to Avicenna, a very famous medieval Persian physician who lived in the late 10th and early 11th century. Avicenna wrote, among many other things, a work called the Canon of Medicine. The Irish writer of our text likely did not use the original Arabic text, but a Latin translation of the Canon. This meant that in order to be able to compare the two versions, I had to translate a few paragraphs from the Latin translation as well. I am very grateful to my StFX colleagues Professor Ed Carty and Dr. Donna Trembinski, who were kind enough to assist me in that translation.”
Incidentally, she says, the manuscript has a lot of other interesting material. She is currently working on a few fragments from the same manuscript that deal with mandrake, the number of bones in the human body, rhubarb, and different units of measurement.
Dr. de Vries says she actually took her transcriptions for these latest fragments into the medieval medicine course she is currently teaching, and students helped her find background information for the various sections, which was really useful. She also received help in transcribing the fragments from students in her Selected Topics course on medieval manuscripts.
Public policy and governance students from StFX had the opportunity to experience their studies firsthand when they travelled to Halifax Nov. 8, 2019 to meet and engage with provincial politicians and policymakers.
The field trip came about after Dr. Peter Kikkert, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic Policy at StFX’s Mulroney Institute of Government, asked Antigonish MLA and Minister of Health and Wellness Randy Delorey if arrangements could be made to bring the group of students to Halifax.
Minister Delorey arranged meetings for the students with officials in several departments, including finance, executive council, health, and environment.
“This was all about exposing the students to the different career pathways that public policy can take them on,” Dr. Kikkert says, “and to hear from the actual practitioners on the skills they should be working on as they complete their undergraduate degree.’
He says the experience also gave the students the chance to ask relevant and timely questions on issues and themes they’re currently studying.
Students say the experience was terrific.public policy 2.jpeg “The trip was a really meaningful opportunity to witness firsthand potential career opportunities and paths I can follow with my undergraduate degree in public policy. It opened my eyes to the broad scope of work within the government and bureaucracy and the possibility I have to work in a position and department that I feel extremely passionate about,” says second year public policy and governance student Chloe Walker from Ottawa, ON.
“A few highlights for me were definitely meeting with the Ministry of the Environment and connecting with my fellow classmates. I left the trip feeling excited about my future as a graduate from StFX’s public policy program and a clearer understanding of how I will apply my knowledge from StFX to life beyond the classroom. Special thanks to both Professor Kikkert and Professor (Adam) Lajeunesse, as well as Minister Delorey and all the others we met for making this experiential learning opportunity possible.”
Hannah Peters of Herring Cove, NS, a third year student in public policy and governance, agreed the field trip was an excellent experience.
“Being from Nova Scotia and getting an inside look into how various departments in the provincial government work was fascinating. Meeting the departments of environment, finance, health, and the executive council was exciting to see how the different areas process their policies,” she says.
“We had lunch with Minister Randy Delorey. It was interesting to sit down and talk to him about various issues, and his background on how he became the Minister of Health. It was intriguing to hear the different experiences and education of individuals in the policymaking fields in the departments.”public policy 1.jpeg “To me, the trip was a great eye-opening experience,” says second year honours public policy and governance student Matthew Stepien from Stoney Creek, ON. “Since so often in the PGOV program we are taught about 'the government' and the policies that it implements, but I never truly understood the people who are involved in making the government operate on a day-to-day level. This trip really went a long way to showing how the hard work of government is done by a number of dedicated and hardworking individuals.
COMPLEMENTS ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE
Minister Delorey says he was happy to help coordinate the experiential learning opportunity for students of StFX’s Public Policy and Governance program with the Government of Nova Scotia, as having the opportunity to hear directly from front line public servants complements the academic learning that takes place in the classroom, helping provide additional context and reference points for past and future coursework, and adding another layer to the learning.
“I believe the meetings also provided practical value for students by providing insights into the specific work being done by policy staff within the public sector as well as the diverse range of backgrounds serving in these important roles.”
Minister Delorey says he was also pleased to have the opportunity, both as local MLA and as Minister of Health and Wellness, to join the students for a Q&A session, along with a number of department employees who are StFX alumni. The alumni provided introductions including comments on their studies at StFX and their work experience with the province.
“These discussions provided insight into the variety of career opportunities despite seemingly unrelated undergraduate studies, which hopefully put students at ease to know that there remain many career path options once they successfully complete their studies at StFX,” he says.
“Finally, I would like to acknowledge the willingness of the many public servants who participated to make this experience possible. Every department approached agreed to participate and the Executive Council Office jumped at the opportunity and offered to facilitate the detailed coordination between departments and StFX. The feedback from all who participated was very positive—students seemed to genuinely appreciate the insights and employees valued the interest students placed in their work.”
As first year StFX students, Madison Pendleton and Sophie Sawler were immediately on board when their ‘Intro to Biology’ professor Dr. Michael Cardinal-Aucoin gave his students the opportunity to participate in an optional class project last year, providing an opportunity for the students to do extra work outside class time to gain experience doing health-related research.
The project proved so successful that their research, “Let’s talk about sex: A mixed-methods study of student awareness of and access to sexual health primary care resources at a residential university in Canada,” was accepted for presentation at both a national and international conference.
From Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2019, Dr. Cardinal-Aucoin, Ms. Sawler and Ms. Pendleton travelled to Vancouver, BC to present their research at the Family Medicine Forum, a national medical-related conference. The two StFX students were by far the youngest presenters in attendance.
“Being able to have this opportunity is beyond what I expected coming to StFX,” says Ms. Sawler, now a second year health student.
“I can’t describe the feeling. It’s amazing,” agrees Ms. Pendleton, now a second year biology student, who says building these types of relationships and experiences early in their undergraduate degree is invaluable.
Both students say they want to become doctors in the future and the chance to be around people at the conference who have recently gone through the healthcare field was a one-of-a-kind experience to talk and network.
“Being around people you aspire to be like was awesome,” says Ms. Sawler.
Dr. Cardinal-Aucoin says the idea behind the research project was so the students could present at a local conference, the Dalhousie University Primary Healthcare Research Day in Halifax, NS, in the spring. He says that experience went so well that they decided to apply to other conferences.
They were accepted and attended the Family Medicine Forum in Vancouver. Both students received funding from StFX’s Dr. W.F. James Student Research Conference Travel Support Program to attend and present their research findings.
Their work was also accepted at the international North American Primary Care Research Group conference, held in Toronto, where a colleague of Dr. Cardinal-Aucoin presented their poster.
Dr. Cardinal-Aucoin says the idea to offer the opportunity to the students was important to him.
“I just want to try, at least, not just to teach the facts of biology or science, but also how it’s done, and that’s research. One of the best ways is to dive in and do some research. That can be difficult, especially in first year courses.”
Dr. Cardinal-Aucoin says he didn’t want to make the project obligatory as not everyone would be interested or be able to devote so much time and effort to it.
For Ms. Sawler and Ms. Pendleton, both say the opportunity to do research and to expand their knowledge appealed to them. They say Dr. Cardinal-Aucoin did everything he could to help and support them in this experience.
Helping older women reclaim a presence in the community and in society is the aim of research undertaken by Kelly O’Neil, a StFX PhD student, who plans to focus her studies on older women becoming agents of change through a community radio project.
Ms. O’Neil, of Halifax, NS, is in her first year of the Nova Scotia Inter-University Doctoral Program in Educational Studies and is supervised by StFX adult education professor Dr. Carole Roy.
Already, her work is having impact. On Nov. 18, CBC’s Information Morning interviewed Ms. O’Neil on her master’s thesis, which focused on older women and housing insecurity in Halifax.
One of the key findings in that research and something that carries over into her upcoming project is the feeling of older women feeling invisible, she says.
“Throughout this research, I heard about a strong sense of imposed invisibility, that their value is no longer seen and it’s perceived they don’t have a lot to offer,” says Ms. O’Neil who received the best thesis award while completing her master’s in family studies and gerontology at Mount Saint Vincent University under supervisor Dr. Janice Keefe.
With a background in community work and a degree in social work, Ms. O’Neil says she has worked with people in poverty previously and has seen how people are marginalized with no social or political power or presence. Add in the fact of being older, and also as a woman, and it can present a particular set of barriers.
An older woman herself, she says it is a group too that isn’t always represented in research.
Ms. O’Neil says for her PhD research she was thinking about ways that women can challenge and resist that, and how they can use this invisibility to become an instrument of power. She wanted to create an avenue where the women would be given a voice—the opportunity to speak for themselves.
“The community needs to the be spokesperson for the community,” she says.
“The project, as I envision it, is for older women, aged 55 and up, who are economically marginalized and living within the Halifax Regional Municipality, to come together to train as citizen journalists.”
She says she’d like to develop a radio podcast program, something ideally that would continue after the research is complete.
Ms. O’Neil, who is currently completing course work and a literature review, notes she is still about a year away from starting the research.
It’s a topic of research already gaining traction. Her master’s work—which included an illustrated infographic summarizing key findings of her thesis in a visual way—not only drew media attention, she also sent the infographic to a number of stakeholders including various elected officials. She was subsequently invited by some MLAs to talk about her research and its implications.
“The key for me is that it (the information) is accessible, interesting and in the community. Whatever I do, it belongs in the community, that’s really important for me.”
Alumni and faculty from StFX’s Music Department were well represented among the award winners, earning numerous honours when the Music Nova Scotia Awards handed out its hardware Nov. 10, 2019 at the finale to Nova Scotia Music Week 2019.
“This shows that StFX continues to be a force, and a home, for music in the province,” Music Department chair Kevin Brunkhorst says on the great showing.
Among those picking up awards were:
• Erin Costelo ’98, also former part-time faculty, who picked up awards for Recording of the Year, Americana/Bluegrass Recording of the Year, Solo Recording of the Year, and Producer of the Year.
• Breagh McKinnon ’14 of Port Cities, which received nods as Digital Artist of the Year and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year
• Tom Easley ’92, part-time faculty, Mark Adam, former faculty, Geordie Haley ’82, and Kevin Brunkhorst, Music Department chair, all of The Easley Quartet, which won Jazz Recording of the Year.
The chance to gain experience, build connections and be immersed in all things healthcare was an invaluable learning experience, says third year StFX biology student Kennedy Nangle, one of three StFX students, the first from the university, to attend the Canadian Undergraduate Conference on Healthcare (CUCOH), the largest-student run undergraduate healthcare conference of its kind in Canada.
Ms. Nangle, Maya Lowe, a BaSC in Health student, and human kinetics student Claire Simmons were the first StFX students to attend the three-day conference, now in its 15th year, held at Queen's University in Kingston, ON from Nov. 8-10, 2019.
They joined 360 delegates from over 25 universities across the country to engage in hands-on workshops and discussions that showcase the multidisciplinary nature of healthcare, including the wide array of professions in the healthcare industry. This year’s conference theme focused on preventative medicine.
“It was exciting to learn about all the different aspects of healthcare that you can get into,” says Ms. Nangle of Ottawa, ON, the first StFX External Ambassador for the conference.
“The conference was very healthcare focused, the area I’m looking to go into,” says Ms. Nangle, who volunteers once a week in the local St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Emergency Room Program and is about the start volunteering for the hospital’s Music Therapy and Meditation Program.
She says she was looking for opportunities to get involved when she came across information on the CUCOH conference. She applied to become an External Ambassador, a person who recruits people, organizes logistics and fundraising for the conference at their school.
Ms. Lowe was also accepted as a StFX External Ambassador.
“I thought it was a really unique experience, and I personally wanted to attend,” Ms. Nangle says on why she decided to apply to be an External Ambassador.
She says the conference was a terrific experience. It exposed attending students to many different keynote speakers, from a health policy lawyer to scientists, and let students participate in hands-on workshops and collaborative case challenges.
Ms. Nangle says delegates were also able to tour the graduate and medical school facilities at Queen’s, including attending a workshop in the anatomy lab.
She says it was a highlight for herself, Ms. Lowe and Ms. Simmons to get to experience at the conference things they learn about every day.
Ms. Nangle says she hopes even more StFX students will attend the event next year.