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StFX to launch seven new living learning communities in residence

Fri, 2018-01-26 15:49
In September, StFX will launch seven new living learning communities (LLCs) in its residences, providing space for students who want to live and learn and immerse themselves in a community tailored to a specific academic or lifestyle interest.

Starting this fall, StFX students will be able to take advantage of a unique living and learning opportunity designed to deepen the academic experience.

In September, StFX will launch seven new living learning communities (LLCs) in its residences, providing space for students who want to live and learn and immerse themselves in a community tailored to a specific academic or lifestyle interest.

“Living learning communities are a new initiative offered through Residence Life next year where students will live with other students, peers with similar interests,” explains Residence Education Coordinator Kerri Arthurs.

Each LLC is associated with one or more faculty departments and organizations, and the idea, she says, is that these communities combine academic and social learning, enhancing opportunities for development and learning for students outside the classroom.

Each community will have a primary faculty advisor as well as programming tailored to suit the interests of the students living in the community, Ms. Arthurs says, providing a real benefit as students take part in academic and creative programs with their peers, faculty members and community.

“It’s really about experiential learning,” says Student Life Director Jacqueline De Leebeeck who says many universities today are realizing the potential for students living in LLCs to experience that bridge between academic and community learning.

“It’s neat to see how these communities have evolved that suit a diverse range of students,” Ms. Arthurs says.

“We’re able to launch this neat roster that appeals to a broad range of students and offers opportunities for everyone. That’s really exciting.”

The seven new LLCs will include two academic-focused communities, one for first year nursing students in Mount Saint Bernard residence and the other in Bishop’s Hall for first year students enrolled in the Humanities Colloquium; as well as two interest-based communities and three lifestyle communities, each open to students in all years and all disciplines.

The interest-based LLCs will include EcoLiving; and the Wampum Project. This latter LLC, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, is inspired by the theme of reconciliation and is a project that will wrap up with the launch of a new residence experience for students in September 2019. The lifestyle LLCs will include Substance-Free Living; Quieter Lifestyles; and Single Gender (All-Women). Each will have a dedicated floor in MacIsaac Hall, which reopens in September.

Ms. Arthurs says that while a similar option of living together in residence had existed for Humanities Colloquium students, this launch will infuse it, and all LLCs, with focused programming that extends student learning outside of the classroom, applying structure and formalizing something that was already in place.

Earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk, faculty advisor for the EcoLiving LLC, says he’s been interested in this concept for a long time, and was familiar with the Humanities Colloquium offering. “That practice is so fantastic, to have students who are like-minded living together, it’s so clear to me how it would benefit the classroom,” he says, noting the potential it has to carry on dynamic conversations long after class time has ended.

“It’s exciting to be able to get those students together and give them some friendships and programming.”

“It’s a great project. It’s going to do good,” agrees fourth year anthropology student Tamara Cremo. As an Indigenous student, she says when she first came to StFX she experienced some culture shock and says at first she was a bit afraid to talk to professors and other students. “I think if I had this opportunity, I would have been more comfortable,” she says.

She says finding people that share your interests helps break the ice and helps students find that comfort zone.

Ms. De Leebeeck is excited by the possibilities.

She says when you bring together like-minded people from different disciplines and perspectives, it has the potential for great collaboration and new ways of looking at issues happening in the world.
Dr. Risk says he sees potential for even more leadership growth. “The seeds of collaboration between students are so much more likely to happen.”

Ms. De Leebeeck says the plan is to expand and grow these communities in future and she encourages interested students and faculty to get in touch with ideas.

New, incoming students can indicate their interest in living in an LLC next year on their StFX application. Other students interested in applying or wanting more information are encouraged to email or to check out for more information.

StFX program pairing international and domestic students and the local community receives community health funding

Wed, 2018-01-24 13:36
A new StFX initiative that helps build friendships between international and domestic students and the local community has received funding from the Antigonish Town and County Community Health Board, in connection with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Here, members of StFX’s Global Connections Buddy Program are seen enjoying an evening of curling.

A new StFX initiative that helps build friendships between international and domestic students and the local community has received funding from the Antigonish Town and County Community Health Board, in connection with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

StFX’s Global Connections Buddy Program is one of several local projects and organizations to receive funding from the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Wellness Fund. Presentations were made Jan. 22 at the People's Place Library in Antigonish.

Buddy Program group photo.jpg

Several local projects and organizations, including StFX’s Global Connections Buddy Program, received funding from the Antigonish Town and County Community Health Board in connection with Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Wellness Fund. Here, representatives of the various groups are seen at the Jan. 22 presentation.

“We’re very fortunate the health board is able to provide funding. This is a huge help,” says Donald Rasmussen, International Student Engagement Coordinator in StFX’s Office of Internationalization.

This year a cohort from Religious Studies, the International Office, Service Learning, Recruitment and Admissions, the Registrar’s Office and Antigonish Community Transit created the Buddy Program with a goal to pair service learning students with new international students to provide opportunities for students to build friendships while participating together in cultural activities connected to the Antigonish community.

Mr. Rasmussen says the Buddy Program started as a test program in September, pairing first year international students with upper year Canadian students. Each week, the pairs of students meet for a social activity of their choice such as sharing a meal, studying together, going for a hike or catching a movie. A group activity is planned each month that has some community relevance.

So far, participants have travelled to Keppoch Mountain to meet with Mi’kmaq Elders to learn about Aboriginal culture and to hike, have travelled to Sherbrooke Village to attend its annual Christmas event, and have spent time curling at the rink in St. Andrew’s where students from every continent were represented.

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Participants in the Buddy Program at Keppoch Mountain (top photo) and Sherbrooke Village Christmas event (bottom photo.)

“We have the sense that while domestic students and international students have a good experience at StFX, in some ways it’s a little separated. We want to help students integrate into the community. This seems to be a really functional way to do this,” Mr. Rasmussen says.

He says there’s been good reception from the students involved.

“It seems like a program we can expand.”


StFX biology master’s student to conduct research in Germany as recipient of NSERC Michael Smith Award

Wed, 2018-01-24 10:09
Alex Young

Alex Young, a StFX MSc biology student from Berwick, NS, will be travelling to Germany this semester to conduct research as the recipient of a Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement Award from NSERC.

To be eligible for the award, candidates must already hold NSERC funding. Mr. Young, who is supervised by biology professor Dr. Russell Wyeth, is a recipient of a $17,500 NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s award. He also holds a Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship.

Mr. Young’s research at StFX includes identifying the genes and cell types responsible for producing different neurotransmitters inside of the snail’s sensory organs. Those neurotransmitters are key to the functioning of all nervous systems, as they allow neurons (cells of the nervous system) to communicate with each other.

He will spend over two months at Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, Germany, working in the lab of Dr. Dan Jackson. Mr. Young says his research, examining the nervous system of a snail species (Lymnaea stagnalis), is meant to build understanding of how snails, and, by extension,  all animals, process sensory information. 

He says the foreign study award will allow him to pursue the final component of his research as well as network and learn from international experts in his field. Dr. Jackson’s lab at the University of Göttingen is known for this type of research and has a sophisticated robotic system to help microscopically visualize the patterns of gene expression in different tissues. 

In addition, Mr. Young says, “It will be really nice to go (to Germany) culturally, and just to learn a lot of new science and experience how research is done in different parts of the world.” 

Overall, he says he hopes his work both here at StFX and in Germany will give researchers an idea of the different genes and types of cells in the nervous system, and help make progress on understanding the function of neurons, in snails and in all animals. 

Opportunity to grow as a leader: StFX hosts Frank McKenna, XTalks, and fourth Leaders Summit @X

Mon, 2018-01-22 14:25

An action-oriented, practical and inspirational weekend. That’s what on the agenda for student leaders at the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership as StFX hosts the fourth Leaders Summit @X Jan. 26-27, this year in conjunction with the John C. Friel XTalks.

The summit, co-hosted by StFX Students’ Union, the McKenna Centre for Leadership and the Maple League of Universities, will be off to a special start as StFX alumnus Frank McKenna, former New Brunswick premier and former Canadian ambassador to the United States, is back on campus on Friday, Jan. 26 for a fireside chat as part of the John C. Friel XTalks, which also features talks by student leaders Annie Sirois, Sam Gan and Nicky Barona in the Schwartz Auditorium at 7 p.m. This event is open to the public.

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StFX student leaders, l-r, Annie Sirois, Sam Gan, and Nicky Barona will speak about leadership as part of the John C. Friel XTalks, which launches the Leaders Summit @X

Saturday will be a full day for participants, including a broad and diverse cohort of StFX, Maple League and some select high school students, with motivational and informative talks, hands-on workshops and their own action planning and commitment declaration sessions.

“It should be a wonderful launch. Student voices will be leading it off and then we will have a very prominent alumnus in Frank McKenna in a fireside chat. It will be an exciting, dynamic, hands-on weekend,” says Senator Mary Coyle, finishing her position as executive director of the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership before taking on her new role in the Senate of Canada.

“The McKenna Centre for Leadership is interested in promoting leadership in every sphere and helping students navigate those opportunities,” she says.  

“We always try to put our students forward. Students have been very involved in organizing the event.”

She says Xaverian Weekly co-editors-in-chief Claire Keenan and Ian Kemp will be emceeing the entire event and interviewing Mr. McKenna as part of the fireside chat. “They have been very instrumental in the planning of the summit.”

Mr. Kemp and Ms. Keenan say they are proud to be involved in this endeavour and to be working with a team of driven and diverse people.

“It's great to see the different facets of the StFX community come together to enhance student life,” they say. “The Xaverian Weekly is always delighted to see students enhancing their voices throughout campus and it is heartening to see the enthusiasm towards promoting student leadership. We are excited to emcee the event and look forward to hearing the student speakers and interviewing Frank McKenna.” 

Ms. Coyle says StFX students, staff and faculty are all involved in the workshops and leaders in actions sessions.

StFX Students of African Descent Advisor Kelsey Jones and Gender and Sexual Diversity Student Advisor Breanna O’Handley will lead a session on inclusive leadership; Brianne Peters, teaching staff at the Coady International Institute, will present ABCD – The Strength Based Leadership Approach; and human kinetics professor Dr. Angie Kolen and Athletics Director Leo MacPherson will lead a session entitled, “How good do you want to be?” exploring how young people can transition from leading themselves to leading others.

Ms. Coyle says another highlight will be Halina St. James of Podium Media & Communications Coaching providing a keynote address focused on Public Speaking, a Skill for Leaders followed by a workshop by Ms. St. James on public speaking, being authentic, building confidence, being a total communicator, and connecting to the audience.

In the leaders in action sessions, Ms. Coyle says a large part of the afternoon will be devoted to students identifying their priorities within the theme of leadership and working in small groups to develop action plans and declarations going forward.

“It’s not meant to be done on Saturday, Jan. 27,” Ms. Coyle says. “Students will carry forward with them the skills and knowledge they gain, and they will carry forward the agenda that they have identified for their future action.”

X-Chem Outreach receives CanCode funding through Actua to expand digital programming for youth

Mon, 2018-01-22 13:24
Participants enjoying a previous X-Chem camp

Today Actua, the national organization that represents X-Chem Outreach at St. Francis Xavier University, was named the largest recipient of funding from the Government of Canada’s new CanCode program.

CanCode is a $50 million fund, announced in the federal budget 2017, supporting the development of coding and digital skills for youth across Canada.

As a network member of Actua, X-Chem Outreach is pleased to be receiving a portion of Actua’s CanCode funding. This funding will go towards scaling up X-Chem Outreach’s community programming to reach even more youth in Antigonish and surrounding communities with inspiring, hands-on coding and digital skills experiences.

“This $40,000 grant will be invested in equipment and leaders and will allow us to deliver coding experiences, free of charge, to an increased number of youth in our local communities,” said Dr. Truis Smith-Palmer, StFX chemistry professor and one of the directors of X-Chem Outreach.

X-Chem Outreach is one of 35 network members receiving CanCode funding through Actua and will work with colleagues across the network to develop and exchange content that will help inspire Canada’s next generation of innovators.

“We are honoured to be a recipient of CanCode funding and thrilled to provide additional support to X-Chem Outreach to engage more youth in building digital skills,”  said Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO of Actua. “This support means that thousands more youth in Antigonish and surrounding communities will have the opportunity to access free, deep-impact, face-to-face learning experiences which are critical to their future success and our future Canadian workforce.”

Actua’s 35 network members will reach 500,000 youth and over 10,000 teachers across every province and territory with CanCode funding.

About X-Chem Outreach: X-Chem Outreach promotes hands-on chemistry, science and coding in Antigonish and surrounding communities (within one-two hour drive), and engages many underrepresented youth. Workshops are presented at schools in May and June, camps are held at various locations in July and August, and workshops are held at StFX on Saturday afternoons during term time. Professors, students and staff from science, engineering and computer science and education contribute their expertise.

About Actua: Actua is Canada’s leading science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) youth outreach network representing 35 university and college based members. Each year 250,000 young Canadians in over 500 communities nationwide are inspired through hands-on educational workshops, camps and community outreach initiatives. Actua focuses on the engagement of underrepresented youth through specialized programs for Indigenous youth, girls and young women, at-risk youth and youth living in Northern and remote communities. Actua’s major funders include: Government of Canada, Google Canada, Suncor Energy Foundation, GE Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Finning, Toyota Canada Foundation and Lockheed Martin. For more information about Actua, visit

About CanCode: The CanCode program will invest $50 million over two years, starting in 2017-18, to support initiatives providing educational opportunities for coding and digital skills development to Canadian youth from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12). The program aims to equip youth, including traditionally underrepresented groups, with the skills and study incentives they need to be prepared for the jobs of today and the future. Canada's success in the digital economy depends on leveraging our diverse talent and providing opportunity for all to participate—investing in digital skills development will help to achieve this.

Entrepreneurial best: StFX student Hannah Chisholm wins $10,000 top prize at Atlantic entrepreneurship competition

Fri, 2018-01-19 10:56
StFX student Hannah Chisholm (right) is congratulated by 100 Seeds Atlantic co-founder Allyson England on winning the 100 Seeds Atlantic pitch competition and its $10,000 prize

StFX entrepreneurship student Hannah Chisholm’s plan to launch her own business so impressed a group of 100 Atlantic entrepreneurs that she was named the $10,000 top prize winner at the 100 Seeds Atlantic competition.

The win will enable the Gerald Schwartz School of Business student to move her vegan egg alternative business idea closer to commercialization. It also provides much validation.

“I was really excited, and a little overwhelmed,” says Ms. Chisholm, an Antigonish, NS native, on claiming the top prize at the Jan. 16, 2018 pitch competition open to youth aged 16-24. 100 Seeds Atlantic is a non-profit organization created in response to Ray Ivany’s Now or Never report to foster youth entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada.

“I hoped my presentation would be excellent, but sometimes it is still hard to believe. This is something I’ve been working on for a year now, and it’s hard to believe I’m at the point where I’m almost ready to launch.”

Her product, called Eggcitables, is a chickpea-based vegan egg replacement that can be used to make omelettes, scrambles and other egg-based meals. She’s also developing the product to be used in baked goods.

She’s hoping to launch her business shortly after she graduates from StFX this May.

Ms. Chisholm, who has an egg allergy, says she began developing a product to use herself, playing around with ingredients. In summer 2017, when she was selected as one of four Wallace Interns at StFX, an internship where students take an idea and see if they can turn it into a business, she was introduced to the Perennia Innovation Centre, a group of food scientists based in Truro, NS. Together, they’ve been working on the texture of the product, and she says they’ve been a big help.

Ms. Chisholm says after Paula Brophy at the StFX Extension Department alerted her to this competition opportunity, she submitted her business plan and an application online and was chosen as one of three finalists to come to Halifax, NS to pitch their business idea in eight minutes to a roomful of entrepreneurs.

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Hannah Chisholm presenting (top photo) and celebrating (bottom photo) her competition win. 

Event organizers invite 100 entrepreneurs to the competition and ask each to contribute $100 to the prize money, which is to be spent toward developing the business idea.

Each of the 100 entrepreneurs write down their vote for the winner and the finalist with the most votes wins.

“It’s a really cool, interesting event,” Ms. Chisholm says. “There’s also a lot of networking opportunities.”

As the only female entrepreneur in the top three, she says it was also nice to showcase women entrepreneurs.

Ms. Chisholm says she’s done a lot of market research and is excited to tap into the huge movement with vegan food and people trying to eat sustainably.

She’s also hoping to fulfill a need. She says currently there is only one similar product on the market and it is expensive.

As someone who has allergies, she says she’s witnessed the growth in the industry as new products have come on the market and how valuable these advances are.

Ms. Chisholm credits her time at StFX for helping her grow as an entrepreneur.

She says the Wallace Internship was great, helping connect her to other entrepreneurs and a network of people. As well, she’s had a lot of support to work on the idea through various business classes projects, and she says she consistently gets emails from her professors encouraging and alerting her to opportunities.  

“My professors have had a lot to do with my ability to pursue this as an entrepreneurial venture, and have had a lot to do with my successes,” she says.

She says she also enjoys the way the entrepreneurship program is structured at StFX, allowing students to specialize in everything, taking courses in accounting, marketing, and finance. “You get a little bit of every major, and a well-rounded skill set.”

Ms. Chisholm, who’s been actively involved at StFX as co-president of Enactus StFX, Students’ Union Student Food Resource Manager, and in the StFX 4-H Society, says entrepreneurship has long been her passion, stretching back to high school.

The idea of being her own boss appealed to her as did the process of having an idea and working to create a product that can be sold.

“It’s cool to be able to get involved in something you’re really passionate about,” she says. “That’s really admirable that you get to work on something you’re passionate about.”

She will now be looking at finding partnerships, securing suppliers, and working on her branding and logo, and is targeting her official business launch for shortly after graduation.

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart,” she says. 

StFX receives a $20,000 Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund grant to support mental health training

Wed, 2018-01-17 14:21
L-r, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald; Director, Health, Counselling and Accessible Learning Margie McKinnon; John Ouellette, Bell Let's Talk representative; StFX Director Student Life Jacqueline De Leebeeck; and StFX VP Andrew Beckett

St. Francis Xavier University is pleased to announce that the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund is providing a $20,000 grant to expand Mental Health Literacy and Mental Health First Aid training on campus.

This funding will support training of an additional Mental Health First Aid (Adults Who Interact with Youth) course instructor at StFX, as well as training materials. StFX also plans to partner with First Nations experts who are trained as instructors in the Mental Health First Aid First Nations Course, to offer specialized training to student services professionals.

“By increasing mental health literacy across our campus, we will increase our ability to support all students in distress and guide them to appropriate professional resources as needed,” said Dr. Kent MacDonald, President of StFX. “We are pleased to have the support of Bell Let’s Talk for such an important issue on our campus. Bell has taken the lead across Canada in spotlighting the significance of mental health.”

“Bell Let’s Talk is very proud to provide a $20,000 grant to support additional Mental Health Literacy and First Aid training at StFX,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “The 2017 Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund provided 70 grants to support programs providing mental health services in communities around the country that help Canadians living with mental illness.”

StFX has already invested in training for three Mental Health First Aid (Adults Who Interact with Youth) instructors and has committed to offering six to eight more courses per year. The university offers Mental Health First Aid training to faculty, staff and students to increase mental health literacy across the campus community, and to improve and increase access to mental health supports for all our students.   

Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 31

Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for each of these interactions on January 31, at no extra cost to participants:

Text and talk: Every text message, mobile and long distance call made by Bell Canada, Bell Aliant and Bell MTS customers

Twitter: Every tweet using #BellLetsTalk and Bell Let’s Talk Day video view

Facebook: Every view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video at and use of the Bell Let’s Talk frame

Instagram: Every Bell Let’s Talk Day video view

Snapchat: Every use of the Bell Let’s Talk filter and video view

The Bell Let’s Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk Day, and provides significant Bell funding of community care and access, research and workplace initiatives. To learn more about the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, and to download the Bell Let’s Talk toolkit to help get the conversation started, please visit

Making a difference–Over 120 StFX students have benefitted from the Jeannine Deveau Equity Endowment Scholarship Fund

Tue, 2018-01-16 10:28
Several of this year's Deveau Scholars at the 2nd Deveau Scholarship Dinner

When the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship Fund was announced at StFX in October 2015, it was said to have the power to transform lives.

Two years later this is certainly true. Since the fund’s inception, 56 scholarships and over 70 bursaries have been awarded to StFX students, making it easier for Aboriginal and African Nova Scotians to access a university education.

Recipient Christina Sentho Turay says she greatly appreciates the Deveau fund for the helping hand it’s provided so that she can successfully obtain her BA in women’s studies and religious studies.

“This scholarship award will only push me further towards my degree and my dreams of one day having a successful career,” says Ms. Turay, a third year student originally from West Africa Sierra Leone who grew up in Antigonish, NS, and among those celebrated recently at the 2nd Deveau Scholarship Dinner.

Ms. Turay says as a low income student, facing increasing challenges of financial need, the scholarship will help her spend more time on her courses, which are crucial to her future.

This fund is extremely important in allowing students to excel beyond expectations, says recipient Summer-Joy Upshaw, who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in human kinetics program and who is taking a minor in human nutrition.

“With the Deveau Fund, I believe that we are breaking barriers by educating strong and powerful minds to achieve greatness and change the world. With this scholarship supporting me, I feel as though this is something I will surely be able to do.”


“It’s making a difference,” says Dean of Education Dr. Jeff Orr, chair of the Jeannine Deveau Equity Endowment Fund Committee.

“We have recipients in all faculties, in all years of our degrees.”

Ms. Deveau, a member of the Class of 1944 who enjoyed a successful career as a nutrition professor in Montreal, gifted $8 million to StFX, the largest private alumni donation of its kind in StFX’s history. The fund can grow to $13 million as it is tied to a matching initiative from other sources.

StFX Aboriginal Student Advisor Terena Francis sees the impact.

“I have always worked in the education field, supporting Mi’kmaq students from pre-school, primary to Grade 12 and now in university. My previous job was working at a P-12 public school for 13 years supporting students from the Paqtnkek community,” she says.

“I have always seen the potential in the Mi’kmaw students I worked with, however, for different reasons some weren’t reaching their full potential. I feel that there were a lot of reasons why, such as lack of funding, lack of supports, lack of understanding, etc. I believe with the Jeannine Deveau Equity Endowment Fund we are supporting university students to reach their full potential, whether it be through programming, financial support, educational support or cultural support. I feel that there is hope to ensure that access to education is equitable for all.”

Similarly, Kelsey Jones, who started as the African Descent Student Affairs Coordinator at StFX only months ago, has already witnessed the tremendous impact the Deveau Equity Endowment Fund has on the African Nova Scotian students on campus.

“Through scholarships and bursaries, this fund has helped to address some of the historical disadvantages in accessing post-secondary education and has allowed students to focus on what is most important, their studies,” she says.

“In addition, the emergency fund has acted as a safeguard for students who find themselves in financial difficulty and might otherwise have to discontinue their studies due to money constraints. Lastly, this fund has provided opportunities for my office to deliver more cultural programming to enhance the experience of not only African Nova Scotian Students, but also all students on campus. The Deveau Equity Endowment Fund enriches the lives of StFX students and continues to assist in fostering a more inclusive campus."

Dr. Orr says the Deveau fund is providing incentive for Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotia students to enter programs of their academic choice and be supported and rewarded for their work. It’s also attracting more students from these populations, he says.

“This has provided a wonderful opportunity for StFX to specifically address the reconciliation with two historically marginalized communities to better support people from these communities to have access to university studies,” he says.

“It’s also provided opportunity for people in different departments across campus to come together in support of these two communities.” 

Culture and the Cuban State: StFX political science professor’s latest book examines politics of culture

Fri, 2018-01-12 11:25
Political science professor Dr. Yvon Grenier

StFX political science professor Dr. Yvon Grenier has a new book out that offers an insightful analysis of Cuba’s cultural policy since the Cuban revolution.

Culture and the Cuban State: Participation, Recognition, and Dissonance under Communism, published by Lexington Books in November 2017, examines the politics of culture in communist Cuba. It focuses on cultural policy, censorship, and the political participation of artists, writers and academics such as Tania Bruguera, Jesús Díaz, Rafael Hernández, Kcho, Reynier Leyva Novo, Leonardo Padura, and José Toirac.

“My research area is Latin American politics, especially ideologies, culture, and comparative public policy. My goal in this project was to show how cultural actors, artists, writers, and academics, manage to do their work in Cuba, a country where there is no freedom of expression, but where cultural production is very much encouraged and indeed sponsored by the government. I wanted to find out how they square that circle,” Dr. Grenier says.

He says that while Cuban artists and writers are not free, indeed no Cubans are except the royal family, they enjoy more autonomy and privileges than most Cubans.

“I found them to be very smart about the political rules of the game, the "who gets what, when, and how." They are also very well trained, and for this the regime born of the 1959 revolution can take some credit,” he says. 

“Some say that things are changing in Cuba. The time when everything was mandatory or forbidden seems to be over. And yet, right now the space for public expression seems to be closing again, as if a certain pendulum between opening and closing is how this kind of political regime operates. I make that case in the book. I hope I succeeded in showing that one can learn a lot about a country by examining how it treats its artists and cultural actors more generally.”

Although the book has just recently come out, it has already received good reviews.

“Yvon Grenier, a sharp-eyed observer of culture and politics in Latin America, provides an illuminating analysis of the complex relations between Cuba’s intellectuals and the Castro regime,” writes Michael Keren of the University of Calgary, who in his review calls Culture and the Cuban State a “must-read for anyone concerned with the fate of creative imagination and critical thinking in authoritarian states.”

“Exceeding the revolutionary rhetoric which has impressed much of the research on Cuba in the past, Grenier looks seriously and rigorously into the state’s cultural policy over time, showing how changes in that policy from repression to liberalization and back have not altered the fundamental position of Cuba’s artists, writers and political scientists, a position marked by fear, censorship, self-censorship, and the need to perform intellectual acrobatics.”

Other reviewers had equally positive comments.

“This book is a path-breaking work that convincingly turns the conventional wisdom about the ‘cultural policy’ of the Cuban Revolution on its head,” writes Ted A. Henken of Baruch College.

“Most compelling and original is the author’s nimble analysis that distinguishes between a set of unwritten but untouchable “primary parameters” and another set of “secondary” and contextually permeable parameters that such cultural actors must constantly negotiate in order to avoid being dealt “out of the game” of Cuban culture as played on the island under the revolution.”

“For everyone who cares about the quality of intellectual life in Cuba and elsewhere, this is a book not to be missed,” says Silvia Pedraza of the University of Michigan.

Culture and the Cuban State is Dr. Grenier’s sixth book. Other publications include:

2009 Gunshots at the Fiesta: Politics and Literature in Latin America, with UCLA colleague Maarten Van Delden (Vanderbilt University Press). Paperback 2012.

2001 From Art to Politics: Octavio Paz and the Pursut of Freedom (Rowman and Littlefield, Culture and Politics series, Henry Giroux ed.); Spanish translation in 2004

2001 (Editor, Foreword) Octavio Paz, Sueño en libertad, escritos políticos (Mexico City: Seix Barral). (Dr. Grenier sometimes says this is his best written book as it was written by a Nobel Prize in Literature! Dr. Grenier selected the text and wrote the introduction.)

1999 The Emergence of Insurgency in El Salvador: Ideology and Political Will, Foreword by Mitchell A. Seligson (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, Pitt Latin American Series).

1994 Guerre et pouvoir au Salvador: idéologies du changement et changements idéologiques (Ste-Foy, Québec: Les Presses de l'Université Laval, coll. Sociétés et Mutations), xv + 350p.

Rare opportunity to see relic: Large crowds gather to see relic of St. Francis Xavier at St. Francis Xavier University

Mon, 2018-01-08 16:24
People line up for the rare opportunity to see relic of St. Francis Xavier

Standing inside the University Chapel at St. Francis Xavier University on Jan. 8, second year StFX student Matthew Crowell of Truro, NS pauses for a moment to describe his reaction to seeing and touching the glass-enclosed relic of the forearm of famous missionary saint, St. Francis Xavier—the university’s patron saint.

“It was very peaceful. I was clear-minded when I saw it,” said the human kinetics student.

“Something like this coming from Rome is very special. I can’t believe it’s the actual relic of St. Francis Xavier.”

Seeing the forearm of the Catholic saint at St. Francis Xavier University, the university that bears his names, makes the experience even more special, he said.

The major relic is on campus as part of a 14-city pilgrimage across Canada, organized by the Archdiocese of Ottawa, the Canadian Jesuits and Catholic Christian Outreach, a national university student movement.

“I am so overjoyed to be here with you at StFX,” Angèle Regnier, co-founder of Catholic Christian Outreach said to a large crowd gathered at the University Chapel awaiting the start of public veneration.

“This is an extraordinary privilege,” Ms. Regnier said as she explained the relic is normally on display at the mother church in Rome on a prominent, ornate altar. “You’d never think it would be removed.”

Permanently displayed at the Church of the Gesù in Rome, organizers believe this is the first time the relic has been on Canadian soil. His body, which is buried in Goa, India, as well as the relic of his arm, are incorrupt—they have not experienced natural decay since his death in 1552, says a press release from organizers who expect close to 100,000 people will visit the various events across the country—the same number of people it is believed Francis baptized with his right arm and hand.


Relic of St. Francis Xavier pictured in a photo from Catholic Christian Outreach

“Saint Francis Xavier is one of the most revered saints of all time,” Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa, said in the release. “He was a man of extraordinary courage and faith who shared the Gospel message of Jesus with thousands across southeast Asia, Goa and India.”

“So many people have an affinity to him, and none more than StFX,” Ms. Regnier said in her remarks at the chapel, noting that while travelling in Canada, the relic will mainly visit places connected with the Canadian Jesuits and Catholic Christian Outreach. “You are the only exception.”

She says this is an exceptional opportunity to sit with a relic. “Appreciate all of your time. This is holy ground.”

While in Canada, the relic is scheduled to visit Ottawa, Québec City, St. John’s, Halifax, Antigonish, Kingston, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria and Montréal. The veneration of relics, the release says, is a longstanding practice inside and outside the Catholic Church.

In conjunction with the arrival of the relic at StFX, Medieval Cultures at X also organized a panel discussion on the topic of medieval relics, a central feature in Christian religious and social life. Speakers included Dr. Donna Trembinski, Dr. Cory Rushton, and Dr. Sharon Gregory. 

China’s Arctic Ambitions: Irving Shipbuilding Chair at StFX's Mulroney Institute of Government launches new book

Thu, 2018-01-04 09:18
Co-authors, l-r, Whitney Lackenbauer of St. Jerome’s University and Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair at the Mulroney Institute of Government at StFX.

Over the past several years, China has dramatically increased its activity and investment in the circumpolar Arctic. A self-described “Near Arctic State,” Beijing’s growing polar capabilities have caused confusion and even alarm in some quarters, as its motivations and objectives remain uncertain. This important development in circumpolar affairs is the subject of a new book, launched in December 2017 by Dr. Adam Lajeunesse, the Irving Shipbuilding Chair at the Mulroney Institute of Government at StFX.

The book, China’s Arctic Ambitions, delivers a nuanced assessment of the growing Chinese interest in northern resources, shipping, science, and governance. Drawing on extensive research in government documentation, academic literature, and business and media reports, this book eschews the common assumption that China poses an acute threat to Arctic states’ polar interests. Instead, it offers a nuanced assessment of how different Chinese stakeholders approach the region and how carefully managed relationships can contribute to positive circumpolar development.

Dr. Lajeunesse, and co-author Whitney Lackenbauer of St. Jerome’s University, presented the book’s most important conclusions and led a spirited debate on the subject at an event organized by the University of Calgary Press.

China’ Arctic Interest is available for purchase in January 2018 and will be followed by more Arctic security research in the coming months as the Mulroney Institute develops its Arctic security research theme, Dr. Lajeunesse says.

StFX signs agreement with Cultivator Catalyst Corporation

Mon, 2017-12-18 16:37

St. Francis Xavier University is pleased to announce it has signed an agreement with Cultivator Catalyst Corporation (CCC), whose wholly owned Nova Scotia based subsidiary, THC Dispensaries Canada Inc (THC Inc) became a licensed producer of cannabis on November 30, 2017 under Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.

This is a three-year multi-disciplinary agreement where StFX will seek research collaboration opportunities with CCC and its subsidiaries on the development of proprietary solutions for the commercial cannabis industry. Specific areas of collaboration include the following:

* Creation of unique cannabis genetics that may be used in clinical trials that CCC intends to undertake
* Development of new delivery methods and mechanisms for cannabis into the human body
* Research into new approaches for growing and cultivating cannabis at an industrial scale
* Assistance in sourcing human capital for CCC with a particular focus on StFX students and graduates
* Work with regional and provincial authorities to support these activities

Andrew Kendall, StFX Manager of Industry Liaison and Technology Transfer, says that, “There are researchers at StFX with interest and expertise in cannabinoid compounds and how they may provide benefit for a variety of medical conditions. We are also interested in research into cannabinoids from a harm reduction perspective. With THC Inc., we see opportunities where our faculty and students can collaborate in these areas.”

Frank MacMaster, President of THC Inc. says, “I am excited to work with such a world-class academic and research institution. At both CCC and THC Inc., we are not looking to build just another cannabis producer. Our approach is to build a platform that will offer unique products and services in the broad cannabis market that will have a disruptive impact on this young but fast-growing industry. THC Inc. is the first of several licensed producers throughout Canada we expect to be operating under the CCC banner in the coming 18 months and our work with StFX will benefit them all. We also look forward to supporting the local community by creating a large number of employment opportunities and creating an international center of innovation in cannabis here in Nova Scotia.”  

StFX powerful economic contributor – generates almost half a billion to Nova Scotia economy

Mon, 2017-12-18 15:21

Study reports for every $1 government invests in StFX, $15 return

An economic report released this month reveals that St. Francis Xavier University contributed $481 million in 2016-17 directly into the Nova Scotia economy.

The report called ‘The Economic Impact of St. Francis Xavier University on the Nova Scotia Economy’ examines the economic impact of the university. The report is comprised of five categories including institutional spending, student spending, visitor spending, alumni earnings premium, and research and knowledge.

See the report here: 

economic report.pdf economic report.pdf

"One of the most useful aspects of this document is that it assembles data for different University activities into a single document," says Dr. Greg Tkacz, Professor & Chair of Economics at St. Francis Xavier University, and a co-author of the report. "When analyzed together, we can paint a more complete picture of the University’s economic impact on the region and province."

The report shows the university’s spending contributed over $104 million to the regional area in 2016-2017. In addition, more than $48 million flowing into the regional economy can be attributed to students and visitors to the university.

The value of a university education cannot be overlooked. As students graduate into the working world they are provided with higher wages known as the ‘Earning Premium.’ On average, university graduates with undergraduate degrees receive $14,000 to $39,000 more annually in wages, while those with above a bachelor’s level earned a gross earnings premium between $22,000 and $54,000 annually.

Research also impacts the local economy through the creation, dissemination and fostering of knowledge. The university was responsible for investing almost $86 million into the economy that was directly related to the primary functions of the university, teaching and research.

"Given the high proportion of out-of-province students attending StFX, the institution can be viewed as an “exporter of education services” — money flows into Nova Scotia in exchange for a university education, which helps boost Nova Scotia’s Gross Domestic Product," says Dr. Tkacz. 

"This flow of funds into the province is captured not only through student spending, but also through the high proportion of out-of-province visitors who travel to Antigonish for events such as convocation and the X-ring ceremony. All of these generate substantial economic spin-offs for regional service providers related to lodging, food and recreational activities."

The government’s investment into StFX is a good one. The government multiplier factor embodies the amount the government funds the university and how much the university contributes in return. In the case of StFX, for every dollar the government invested in the university, StFX provided $15 in return into the economy.

This comprehensive report estimates total economic impact by employing the recognized and formal economic impact reporting standards developed by the University of British Columbia, later utilized by many universities across Canada.  

Philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Byrne awarded SSHRC funding, publishes new book on Aristotle’s physics  

Thu, 2017-12-14 11:11
Dr. Christopher Byrne

For Aristotle, matter matters.

That’s the precis of a new book from StFX philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Byrne, who deals with Aristotle’s contributions to physics in a forthcoming book, Aristotle’s Science of Matter and Motion, to be published by the University of Toronto Press in 2018.

Dr. Byrne received a grant of $8,000 for the book from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Aid to Scholarly Publications through the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences. It is a competitive process and a prestigious award.

“I was quite gratified to receive this award, as the topic of my book is not exactly on everyone’s lips. Still, I was moved to write this book because there is a curious view of Aristotle that is still quite widespread: on the one hand, he is considered one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy, indeed, in many fields, having made important contributions to biology, ethics, political philosophy, logic, metaphysics, rhetoric, and the theory of tragedy; on the other hand, he is held by many philosophers and historians of science to have failed so badly at physics that he held back its development until the seventeenth century when the Scientific Revolution finally overthrew Aristotelianism,” Dr. Byrne says.

“So the puzzle that drew me to this topic was how such a great thinker could have failed so badly in his understanding of the material world.

“As it turned out, I discovered that his views on the material world are not nearly so bizarre and wrong-headed as people have claimed. On the contrary, he offers a systematic account of matter, motion, and the basic causal powers found in all physical objects due to the matter from which they are made.”

Matter is important for Aristotle because he holds that all perceptible objects are ultimately made from physical stuff of one kind or another and that this matter is responsible for many of their basic features. He also investigates the nature of change in general, independent of the specific nature of the object undergoing a change; here, he begins with locomotion, the most fundamental kind of change.

Finally, Aristotle offers an account of the basic features of matter and motion that is quantitative and non-teleological. His use of final causes in biology and elsewhere is compatible with his quantitative, non-teleological account of matter and motion, because in his view all goal-directed changes take place in physical entities more complex than the material elements.

“Indeed, Aristotle’s biology presupposes his physics because goal-directed changes presuppose non-teleological changes in matter. For Aristotle, then, matter matters a great deal,” says Dr. Byrne.


NCCDH collaborates with Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle and MUSKRAT

Tue, 2017-12-12 13:31
Staff from the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, hosted by StFX, sat in circle with members of the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle to begin writing the Circle’s story. The NCCDH is co-writing TIHAC’s story with Rebeka Tabobondung and Erica Commanda of MUSKRAT, an online Indigenous arts and culture magazine

This past month, staff from the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), a public health knowledge centre hosted by StFX, sat in circle with members of the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle (TIHAC) to begin writing the Circle’s story. The NCCDH is co-writing TIHAC’s story with Rebeka Tabobondung and Erica Commanda of MUSKRAT, an online Indigenous arts and culture magazine.

TIHAC is a self-determining advisory group representing Indigenous people in Toronto. It was established through the collaboration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous health agencies in the city, including Toronto Public Health and the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.

As an organization, TIHAC envisions a thriving, healthy Indigenous community in Toronto through the respectful harmonizing of practices, policies and resource allocation. Its mandates are to guide and advise provincial health systems in their health programs and services for Indigenous people and to influence the policies that impact the health of Indigenous people in Toronto.

The NCCDH has been in conversation with TIHAC members about this partnership for over a year.  Partners hope that telling the story of TIHAC’s success will spark similar collaborations across the country.

The NCCDH’s portion of the project is being led by Karen Fish, a knowledge translation specialist.

She says TIHAC’s story points to a community-driven, culturally inspired approach to improving the health of Toronto’s diverse and inequitably-served Indigenous population.

The story will describe the cultural and spiritual practices that have been foundational to TIHAC’s work. It will also highlight what Circle members, Youth and Elder advisors, and health system staff have learned in working toward “A Reclamation of Well Being,” the name of Toronto’s first Indigenous health strategy for Indigenous peoples in Toronto.

The story will be jointly published by TIHAC and the NCCDH in June 2018.  

Scholarship success allows biology master’s student to conduct month of field work, research in Ireland

Thu, 2017-12-07 15:16
StFX biology professor Dr. David Garbary and master's student Meredith Karcz

Meredith Karcz, a StFX biology master’s student from Burlington, ON, will spend a month in Ireland conducting field work on the impacts of rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) harvesting as a scholarship recipient of the Dobbin Atlantic Scholarship Programme, administered by the Ireland Canada University Foundation.

Ms. Karcz, who is supervised by biology professor Dr. David Garbary, is a successful recipient of the scholarship which supports students/faculty from eastern Canada to spend time in Ireland on a collaborative project.

Scholarships are awarded to candidates of the highest calibre, whose work relates to both Irish and Canadian interests and provides the potential to develop ongoing international links. The fund will support a month of field work for her thesis related work in Ireland. It includes travel and $1,200 per week for four weeks.

Ms. Karcz will be hosted at the National University of Ireland Galway by Dr. Dagmar Stengel, a colleague of Dr. Garbary’s, whose lab also studies rockweed harvesting.

Ms. Karcz says she is looking forward to experiencing research on an international level.

“I’m very excited to travel, and to build academic links,” she says.

“This is a marvelous opportunity for a student to have an overseas opportunity to do research associated with their thesis,” Dr. Garbary says.

“The fact this work was funded shows the importance of this seaweed (rockweed) as an economic base and a cultural phenomenon both in Nova Scotia and in Ireland.” This species of seaweed, he says, is among the most important, and more research needs to be done on it. 

The fact that StFX faculty have collaborations overseas also points to the strength of the department, he says.

Rockweed, which is harvested in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and is considered a fishery, is a growing multi-million dollar industry here, Ms. Karcz says. The seaweed is used primarily in agricultural applications and fertilizers.

Research, she says, has primarily taken a species focused approach up until this point, but to properly ensure that current harvest methods are sustainable, the impact on the entire community needs to be assessed.

She says rockweed forms a very dense canopy almost like a kelp, underwater forest. She is trying to understand the impacts harvesting has on the other algal species and invertebrates that inhabit and live underneath the rockweed canopies.

The same seaweed is harvested in Ireland, she says, but they use a different technique. In Nova Scotia, a harvesting rake is used to cut the seaweed on a yearly basis. In Ireland, the harvesting is done by hand with a blade, on the shores when the tide is out.

She’ll be researching questions such as what are the differences in biological community structures based on different harvesting methods and is one method more sustainable than the other. 

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women held at StFX

Wed, 2017-12-06 15:44
Ceremony co-hosts, l-r, third year StFX student Karen Nembhard and RCMP Cst. Deepak Prasad

Members of the StFX community took time to remember and to issue a call to action against gender-based violence during the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women commemoration ceremony held on campus Dec. 6.

“Think of an action that you can do to end sexualized violence,” RCMP Cst. Deepak Prasad, who co-hosted the ceremony with third year StFX student Karen Nembhard, said to the large crowd gathered in the Schwartz auditorium.

“You guys are the people who can make a difference,” he said as he quoted a saying noting the difference between ‘one day’ versus ‘day one.’ “Today is day one. That’s our call to action.”

Ms. Nembhard says while much has been done, gender-based violence is still very much a reality and problem in our communities.

“We look forward to continued change in our community,” she said as the co-hosts reiterated the words of previous ceremony speakers encouraging everyone to explore ways they can get involved to end gender-based violence.

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, the day marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 young women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal.

As well as commemorating the 14 young women whose lives ended in an act of gender-based violence that shocked the nation, December 6 represents an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in our society.

It is also an opportunity to consider the women and girls for whom violence is a daily reality, and to remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence. And finally, it is a day on which communities can consider concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

Guest speaker Dr. Robyn Bourgeois, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Brock University, and formerly of StFX’s Coady International Institute, delivered a videotaped address. In particular, she focused on the reality of violence against Indigenous women.

As an Indigenous woman herself and as the mother of two Indigenous girls, she says they live in the shadow of some disturbing statistics and a certain degree of fear every day. Indigenous women, she says, represent only about four per cent of the population, but account for almost 20 per cent of the homicide cases in Canada. Dr. Bourgeois said similarly Indigenous women are nearly six times more likely to be victims of homicide and about 2.5 times more likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous.

Dr. Bourgeois provided some context for this, spoke about the challenges faced, and provided strategies to end this violence, including honouring and recognizing the sovereignty, self-determination and unique knowledge of Indigenous women and involving them in any initiatives, putting pressure on government to take action to end this violence, and of supporting people and efforts working towards this goal.  

Also during the ceremony, Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf presented first year StFX student Claudia Fulton with both the Memorial Scholarship for Women in Engineering as well as the General Motors of Canada Ltd. Women in Science Bursary, awarded for leadership potential and academic standard.

2017 day of remembrance scholarship.jpg

Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf (left) presents the Memorial Scholarship for Women in Engineering and the General Motors of Canada Ltd. Women in Science Bursary to first year student Claudia Fulton

Margie McKinnon, Director of StFX’s Health, Counselling & Accessible Learning Centre also spoke, providing background on the development of StFX’s standalone sexual violence policy launched last fall. She strongly encouraged everyone to familiarize themselves with the policy, and provide input.

The key goal of all our work is to support and protect the rights of survivors, she said.

“I invite you to be part of this work,” she said as she issued a call to action to everyone to make a personal commitment to learn more about sexualized violence.

It’s not enough to be aware of sexualized violence, and it’s not enough to think the responsibility of sexualized violence prevention lies with this committee or other groups, she said.

“As individuals, each one of us has the power to stop sexualized violence,” she said. “Take a risk, challenge all forms of sexualized violence when you see it.”

2017 day of remembrance singer.jpg

Fourth year student Brenda Gatera sang during the ceremony 

Fourth year StFX student Brenda Gatera gave a stirring musical performance during the ceremony while Ms. Gatera and Ms. Nembhard provided a moving closing performance. 

Adult education professor invited plenary speaker at major international UNESCO forum in South Korea

Tue, 2017-12-05 14:05
Dr. Leona English

Dr. Leona English, a professor of adult education at StFX, recently returned from giving a plenary address at a UNESCO forum in Suwon, Korea. Attended by some 400 delegates from 98 countries, this UNESCO event monitored progress in adult education goals articulated at the last CONFINTEA (international adult education conference), convened by UNESCO in Brazil in 2009. 

Dr. English presented findings from the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE III), which she worked on in 2015 at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in Hamburg, Germany. GRALE III represents progress in adult education goals in 139 UNESCO Member States, over a seven year period.  Attendees of the CONFINTEA Mid-Term Review were representatives of UN agencies, governments, UNESCO commissions, NGOs and ministries of education. As well as presenting GRALE III, Dr. English was a member of the writing team that drafted the outcome document from the conference, the Suwon Statement.

In 2016, Dr. English was made an honorary fellow of UIL, along with six international leaders in adult education. On that occasion, she was also part of a global Think Tank hosted by UIL to deliberate on Lifelong Learning and the Sustainable Development Goals, in light of the UN’s Agenda 2030. She is now editing a special issue of the UNESCO journal, International Review of Education, to profile the outcomes of the Think Tank. 

Mary Coyle, executive director of StFX’s McKenna Centre, appointed to Senate of Canada

Mon, 2017-12-04 14:18
Mary Coyle

Congratulations to Mary Coyle, the executive director of StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership and former director of the Coady International Institute and StFX Vice-President, who has been appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Ms. Coyle was one of two appointments announced on Dec. 4, 2014. Also named to the Senate is Mary Jane McCallum of Manitoba.

“A long-time champion for women’s leadership, gender equality, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mary Coyle has forged a distinguished career in the post-secondary education and non-profit sectors, with a focus on international and local development,” said the announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Ms. Coyle joined StFX in 1997, serving as Vice President and Director of the Coady International Institute, a centre of excellence in community-based development and leadership education. During her tenure, the Coady grew significantly, enhancing its global education and innovation agenda and expanding programming for women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples.

Since 2014, she has worked as the executive director of the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership, a centre devoted to developing student leadership. She also continues to work as an advisor and facilitator for various organizations, including the Haitian Centre for Leadership and Excellence and the Friends United Indigenous Arts and Culture Initiative.

Ms. Coyle played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, and the Indian School of Microfinance for Women, the announcement says.

She holds a diploma in French Language from the Université de Besançon in France and a Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Literature with a major in French and a minor in Spanish from the University of Guelph.

After working for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as a Cuso International cooperant in Botswana, she earned a Master of Arts in Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. She subsequently worked as a rural development advisor in Indonesia and later to support two State Islamic Universities develop their community engagement strategies.

Prior to joining StFX, she spent a decade as executive director of Calmeadow. Ms. Coyle helped the organization pioneer the creation of the world’s first commercial micro finance bank, BancoSol, in Bolivia and establish the First Peoples Fund to provide micro loans to First Nations and Métis communities in Canada.

She has three daughters and six grandchildren.


"The Day Has Finally Come!" StFX senior class receives coveted X-Rings

Sun, 2017-12-03 16:29
StFX students celebrate after receiving their X-Rings on December 3, 2017.

Click here to watch the 2017 StFX X-Ring Ceremony!


St. Francis Xavier University was brimming with energy and excitement today, December 3, 2017, as almost 900 students received what’s become a global symbol of StFX pride and perseverance: their X-Ring.

“The day has finally come!” exclaimed StFX President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Kent MacDonald ’86 ’93 upon greeting students at StFX’s Charles V. Keating Centre.

In his remarks, Dr. MacDonald welcomed friends and family of students who watched the ceremony from overflow rooms on campus, as well as those joining from across the globe via live-stream.

He also spoke about his perspective on what sets StFX students apart.

“I get asked often what makes StFX students different than others,” said Dr. MacDonald. “One of the things I’m proudest of about our students is their ability think as non-conformists,” noting it was the leadership of such students that lead to the re-establishment of the December 3rd X-Ring ceremony in 1982.

“If there’s anything the world needs today, it’s people who are willing to look at problems in a different way. And that’s what we do here at StFX.”


Senior class co-president Alex Corrigan addressed his fellow X-Ring recipients by recalling a conversation with a graduate from the Coady International Institute, who remarked that the most memorable learning experiences take place during discussions and interactions with others.

“In that time together, we teach each other important things,” said Alex. “We learn about new cultures and parts of the world we’ve never seen. We learn to communicate, articulate and debate both effectively and respectfully.

“I hope when you look at your X-Ring, you’ll remember these important lessons that we’ve learned from each other.”


Emily Paige Mork introduced the ceremony’s guest speaker, Robyn Tingley ’96, who last month was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. In her remarks, she encouraged students to stay true to the Xaverian values that continue to make StFX strong.

“StFX is bigger than all of us,” she said. “It’s a collection of all our actions, and the idea we hold each other to a higher standard. It’s the idea that 100 years from now, StFX will still stand as the best testament to global leadership and community-mindedness anywhere in the world.

“You are now one of us, and we will always welcome you into this wonderful, connected community of ours. No matter where your journey takes you, let your X-Ring serve as a reminder not only of what your X-Ring means to you, but what you mean to it.”

Glenn Horne ’07 ‘08, president of the StFX Alumni Association, delivered the Alumni Greeting to all assembled.

“1184 days ago, most of you stepped onto this campus for the first time as students. Today, the count down for your X-Ring is over! Take a moment and breathe it in.”

He also encouraged students to embrace the meaning behind their X-Rings.  

“The X-Ring’s meaning, as a symbol of justice, community and perseverance, is embodied by everyone who wears it. It has been crafted by those who wore it before us, and it’s now yours to carry forward.”


Each year, an honorary X-Ring is given to a member of the StFX community who exemplifies Xaverian values. This year, the honour was bestowed on Dr. Roy Rasmussen, a professor in the department of human kinetics who – in his almost 50-year career at StFX – has consistently epitomized academic excellence and inspired both students and faculty alike. In announcing the honour, student Erin Visser described Dr. Rasmussen as a man who is always listening to students and putting their needs above his own.  

During the ceremony, Tamara Cremo offered words of welcome and Fr. Gary MacPherson ‘72, university chaplain, delivered the invocation. Evan Davison-Kotler gave an explanation of the StFX motto, while Corrina Degen read a passage from the writings of Dr. Moses Coady. Senior class co-president Rachel LeBlanc served as master of ceremonies.

Students Rebecca Charnock, Josh Machan, Cassandra Mann, Joshua Parsons and Yaxin Yang performed a lively musical interlude that was written especially for the ceremony. Annie Sirois, President of the StFX Students’ Union, led the senior class in reciting the Xaverian Commitment that all students sign at the beginning of their first year of study.

Jami Campbell, Jacqueline Mackay, Erin Visser and Mary Jessie MacLellan ’87, Director of Alumni Affairs, also lead the group in singing the StFX University song, Hail and Health.

As students departed the hall, they tapped their new rings against a wooden kneeler from the StFX chapel, a tradition dating back to when the ceremony was still small enough to be held in that space.