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Research by StFX student Liam Elbourne receives international attention

Wed, 2018-10-24 11:09
Liam Elbourne

Liam Elbourne, a StFX Schwartz School of Business student from Halifax, NS, taking joint honours in business and economics, has had a busy and successful summer, gaining international attention for his research.

In June, he presented his paper “Shocks to Military Support and Subsequent Assassinations in Ancient Rome,” co-authored with former StFX economics professor Cornelius Christian, at the 52nd annual conference of the Canadian Economics Association at McGill University in Montreal. He was the only active undergraduate student to present in a regular session at this conference, which featured almost 1,000 presenters.

The paper, which showed that ancient Roman troops who relied heavily on local food sources were more likely to mutiny during drought years, thus reducing the emporer’s support and increasing the probability of their assassination, was subsequently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Economics Letters, a highly-respected outlet that has published the work of many past Nobel Prize recipients. 

Although historical in nature, the findings of this paper received extensive media exposure due to the current prevalence of droughts and global warming. Full-length stories about this research appeared in some of the world’s leading outlets, including The Smithsonian magazine (which has a print circulation of 1.8 million), The Economist (1.1 million) and The Telegraph (400,000). 

Mr. Elbourne attributes much of his success to the guidance he has received from Dr. Christian and the StFX Economics Department. 

“Coming to university without a clear idea of what field of study I might like to pursue, I feel quite lucky to have landed in one of the top undergraduate economics programs in the country,” he says. “Not only is the teaching exceptional, but the StFX Economics Department provides students the opportunity to pursue research with their professors. Without the guidance and support of Dr. Christian and the department, the incredible summer that I just had wouldn’t have been possible.”

Mr. Elbourne, who is also captain of the X-Men soccer team, will graduate in May. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in economics. 

StFX math and computer science students excel at Science Atlantic conference

Fri, 2018-10-19 14:21
Student award winners, including an impressive contingent from StFX, at the recent Science Atlantic Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science conference

StFX math, stats and computer science students had a very impressive showing at the recent Science Atlantic Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science conference held Oct. 12-14, 2018 at the Université de Moncton.

Three StFX students won research oral presentation awards—including a first place finish for Grace Tompkins in the Statistics Research Oral Presentation category—and the computer science team of Darwin Groskleg, Brandon Anthony and Thomas Ciha placed so well in the competition, they earned the right to advance to the North American North East regional competition.  

Also, in the oral presentations, StFX student Katie MacEachern received second prize in the Computer Science Research Oral category, while Cynthia Forgeron received third prize in that same category. 

"Congratulations to StFX's computer science team, Darwin Groskleg, Brandon Anthony, and Thomas Ciha, whose excellent performance in the computer science competition placed StFX as the third ranked school in Atlantic Canada. They are proceeding to compete at the North Eastern North America regional competition next month," says StFX computer science professor Dr. Jacob Levman. 

This is the first time that StFX has a computer science team heading to the North American North East regionals, which take place on November 10th in Rochester, NY, he says. StFX will host a satellite event on campus where the team will compete alongside the leading team from Mount Allison University and UNB Fredericton.

math team resize.jpg L-r, StFX math students pictured at the Science Atlantic Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science conference include Grace Tompkins (first prize winner in the Statistics Research Oral Presentation), April Long, Ally Hancock, and Isaac Bezanson.

Psychology students present research at Toronto conference

Wed, 2018-10-17 13:32
L-r, Amira Hmidan, Odessa McKenna, Dr. Karen Blair, Breanna O’Handley, Emilia Lorenz, and Rhea Hoskin

StFX psychology professor Dr. Karen Blair and several students recently attended and gave presentations at the Canadian Sex Research Forum held in Toronto, ON—a terrific opportunity to broaden their academic learning.   

“This is the second year in a row that we have been able to take students to this conference and have them present their thesis research,” Dr. Blair says. 

“The students (Odessa McKenna, Amira Hmidan and Emilia Lorenz) were supported by funds from the Jules Leger Fund. We absolutely would not be able to take this many students to conferences without this source of funding. This level of support for undergraduate students to attend conferences where they get to present their research is simply unparalleled by other universities,” she says. 

Dr. Blair said the students had the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the leading researchers in the field from across Canada, including a number of Canada Research Chairs. She says she also received a number of positive comments about their presentations, and that they were some of the only undergraduate students giving oral presentations at the conference. 

The conference was a fantastic learning experience and very student-friendly, says StFX student Odessa McKenna. 

“It was enlightening, entertaining, informative and inspiring, exposing me to a variety of new and unique research relevant to the pertinent issues of sexual assault, public sexual health, sexual discrimination and much more,” she says. “It also gave me the opportunity to interact with and learn from a number of successful and experienced researchers and professionals. CSRF is a remarkable organization and I always felt extremely welcomed and appreciated.  I hope to have the chance to attend in the future.”  

The student presentations included:

Emilia Lorenz, who graduated from StFX in May 2018 with a degree in psychology, gave an oral presentation on her thesis research examining the psychophysiology of sexual prejudice. She is an international student from Germany and flew back to attend the conference and to visit StFX. Her presentation was titled, “Turning the Other Cheek: Evidence of Cognitive and Physiological Self-Regulation Among Heterosexual Men with a History of Anti-Gay Aggression.”

Amira Hmidan, who also graduated in May 2018 in psychology, gave a poster presentation on her research examining sex dreams, “Gender, Erotophilia and Sociosexuality as Predictors of Sexual Dream Content, Valence and Frequency.” 

Odessa McKenna, a current StFX human kinetics student, gave a poster presentation on her proposed thesis research exploring public vs. private affection in same-sex vs. mixed-sex relationships, titled “It’s a Comfort to Hold Hands,” Or Is It? A Survey and Experience Sampling Study of Private v. Public Affection Sharing Patterns in Same-Sex and Mixed-Sex Relationships.”

Bre O’Handley, a StFX psychology graduate who is currently working as StFX’s Gender and Sexual Diversity Student Advisor, gave an oral presentation on the research that she has continued to work on since graduation exploring LGBTQ individuals and their parents’ memories of coming out. Her presentation was titled, “Memories of Coming Out: Recall Concordance Between LGBTQ+ Adults and their Parents.”

Steve Wilton, a former StFX music student who is now studying psychology at Acadia University, gave a poster presentation on a StFX Funded Observation Study conducted over the summer with Ms. McKenna, Dr. Blair, Ms. O’Handley, and Rhea Hoskin where they observed public displays of affection in 10 different cities. 

Rhea Hoskin, a Student Success Centre instructor at StFX, also gave a poster presentation on research from her recently defended dissertation, titled, “Femininity? It’s the Aesthetic of Subordination”: Examining the Intersecting Role of Femmephobia in Experiences of Discrimination and Oppression Among Sexual and Gender Minorities.” 

Dr. Blair says the delegation also listened to a number of relevant and current presentations, such as a presentation on experiences of sexual violence on Canadian campuses showing that nearly half of all sexual assaults that take place on Canadian university campuses take place during a student’s first year on campus. Dr. Blair and Ms. O’Handley look forward to sharing the knowledge they learned on this topic with the StFX community as it moves forward in implementing evidence-based practices to reduce campus-based sexual violence. 

Philosophers from Canada and U.S. to meet at StFX

Tue, 2018-10-16 14:02
Dr. Eleonore Stump

StFX and the Antigonish community will have a rare opportunity, on October 19 and 20, to meet faculty, independent scholars, and graduate and undergraduate students, from central and eastern Canada and the northeast United States coming to participate in this year’s meeting of the Atlantic Region Philosophers Association. 

Established in 1970, the association’s aim is to foster research and scholarship within the philosophical community in Atlantic Canada. StFX has hosted the conference in 1998 and 2008, but this year’s conference has attracted more participants than ever before. Among the topics that will be discussed at this year’s meeting are respect for rights and the ethics of organ donation, indigenization and the curriculum, and questions in the history of philosophy and Canadian philosophy.

In addition to specialist lectures and presentations, there will be a public lecture at StFX on Friday, October 19, at 7.30 p.m., in 205 Schwartz. Dr. Eleonore Stump, the Robert J. Henle, S.J., Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University will speak on “Guilt and Forgiveness,” addressing the question of whether there are some things for which a person can never, and should never, be forgiven. The lecture is open to all. 

Dr. Stump is the author or editor of some 20 books and over 100 articles. She is a former Gifford Lecturer at Glasgow, a former Wilde lecturer at Oxford, and a former president of both the American Catholic Philosophical Association and the Society of Christian Philosophers. In addition to her teaching and research at Saint Louis, she is an Honorary Professor at Wuhan University (China), the Logos Institute (St. Andrews, Scotland), and the Australian Catholic University.

While Dr. Stump is in Antigonish, she will meet with StFX students from the Humanities Colloquium and senior students in the Faculty of Arts, as well as with interested members of the Antigonish community.

StFX will also be well represented at the conference. Among the presenters will be Jamie Samson, a fourth year philosophy student and a recipient of a StFX Irving Internship this past summer, and six StFX philosophy alumni: Mary-Jo Curry (BA 2008), Paul Curry (BA 2005), Dylan Mackenzie (BA 2008) from Saint Mary's, Robbie Moser (BA 2001) from Mount Alison, Edward Taylor (BA 2012) from Concordia and Peter Haskett (BA 2014) from Carleton University.

For more information on the conference and on Dr. Stump’s visit, contact StFX philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet. Information on the conference, along with details for registration, can be found at

From class essay to academic conference – Schwartz School student Ali Barnes presents work at the 48th Atlantic Schools of Business Conference

Tue, 2018-10-16 09:41
Ali Barnes

What started as a class research paper for Schwartz School of Business marketing student Alexandra (Ali) Barnes has taken on a life of its own, evolving and growing so much that the 

fourth year student from Toronto, ON, had her paper accepted for presentation at an academic conference attended mainly by faculty and graduate students.  

Ms. Barnes presented her paper, “Restorying activism and precarious work through Denise Cole’s dedication to protecting Labrador lands and waters,” during the Atlantic Schools of Business annual academic conference held Sept. 28-30 in Moncton, NB—an achievement even more significant as it’s rare for undergraduate students to present at the conference. 

The paper is co-authored with Ms. Barnes’ Gender and Management class professor, Schwartz School faculty Shelley Price and their colleague Denise Cole. 

“In this paper, we restory “activism” and “precarious work” through Denise Cole’s dedication to protecting Labrador lands and waters at the Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Development site,” the authors write in the paper’s abstract. “We were curious about activism as “community work” and how it challenges the boundary conditions of precarious work.” 

Ms. Barnes says the paper all started as an assignment in her Gender and Management class, in which she wanted to look at activism as a form of precarious work, particularly Indigenous women’s role in protection work

Since then, the paper has shifted and evolved, and changed to better understanding Indigenous storytelling methodology, which Ms. Barnes has learned is very central in many Indigenous cultures. 

After the completion of the course, the study expanded as a collaborative effort between the three authors. 

Ms. Barnes credits Prof. Price as an instrumental mentor. 

After reading the essay, she says Prof. Price approached her to let her know the work had much potential and provided a list of conferences to which she could apply to present the work if interested. She says she also supported her in the decision to take on the extra work of the paper, in which she worked hard to understand story as Indigenous methodology and Indigenous axiology in her decolonizing efforts.  

“It was a really cool experience,” Ms. Barnes says. “She really pushed me in ways to learn and grow and to explore new ways of writing and conducting collaborative research.”

Conducting research using a circular approach toward the co-creation of story is very different and challenging, she says, but a very good learning experience.

The work, Ms. Barnes says, continues to evolve even now. It’s going into a book chapter. The book is titled, Connecting Values to Action: Non-Corporeal Actants and Choice in Actor Network Theory (ANT), with editor, Dr, Chris Hartt. The title of the chapter is, A mighty river and its story-acts: An approach to capture a more holistic network of agencies, by authors, Shelley Price, Chris Hartt, Denise Cole and Alexandra Barnes. 

Ms. Barnes says her interest in Indigenous cultures and colonization—something she wasn’t exposed to her during her high school career—started at StFX when she took first year women’s and gender studies and sociology classes.

“I was floored by what I learned. I was shocked. And also fascinated,” she says. “Every opportunity I got to write papers or do projects, I took it as my responsibility to learn.”

Ms. Barnes says the opportunity to participate in the academic conference was a terrific learning experience. She particularly enjoyed meeting many like-minded people who are interested in research and learning about other research project ideas. 

Of the four months of extra research work she did on the paper after the course’s conclusion, she says: “I did it because I think it’s important for people to learn, and to be a part of the reconciliatory process.”

StFX welcomes nearly 1,500 to second annual Open House

Sat, 2018-10-13 13:05
StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald welcomes all to StFX's second annual Open House

StFX welcomed over 600 prospective new students and their families to campus, a total of nearly 1,500 people, on Saturday, Oct. 13 during its second annual Open House, a day designed to let high school students see firsthand what life is like as a StFX student and to discover all that the university offers.

For high school students, the full day of activities was a great chance to attend academic information sessions, to talk with faculty and staff, visit a student services showcase, tour campus, and enjoy lunch.  

“I immediately fell in love with the place,” says high school student Olivia Brownell of Sackville, NB who wants to go into nursing and is interested in health studies. 

“I’m very excited. I’ve never been so excited to see a school before. I first heard about StFX and its nursing program in Grade 9,” says Ms. Brownell who has already been accepted into StFX’s Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health and has applied to StFX’s Rankin School of Nursing. 

Ms. Brownell says she got up at 6 a.m. to make the trip to Antigonish and is glad to have the opportunity to visit campus. 

“I like seeing things before I make a decision…I feel I have a connection,” she says.

“I love it here. It’s welcoming, kind of like a family,” echoed Jacob MacDonald of Sydney, NS, who also got up before 6 a.m. without complaint to travel to StFX, where he learned he was accepted in the business program. 

He was visiting with parents Melissa and Gerald, a StFX graduate of 1983.

Anna McCormick of Bedford, NS, and Maddy MacDonald of Hammonds Plains, NS, visiting with their mothers Sarah McCormick and Pam MacDonald, said the open house was a great opportunity to see what options exist and to learn more about the academic programs offered at StFX. 

It was a theme echoed by StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley in opening remarks. 

“This is your day to explore StFX and see if StFX is right for you. This is your day to ask a lot of questions,” Dr. Wamsley said.  

StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald welcomed all to campus and spoke about what he thinks makes StFX special.

“The reason StFX is different is we are a national university looking to engage students in a small, residential setting,” Dr. MacDonald said.

He said StFX is looking for academically focused, socially engaged students. 

He encouraged prospective students when they come to university not to simply think of themselves as high school graduates, but as university students “where it is cool to be intellectually curious.”

Along with this academic focus, he says StFX wants students who are socially engaged, who have the ability to see beyond themselves and care about what’s going on in the world around them. 

“This is a university for 166 years has produced social activists.”

He invited everyone to explore the campus – visiting classrooms and labs, attending student sessions and learning more about StFX.  

The day started off with early-bird campus tours and included a Student Services Showcase so visiting students and their families could learn about the many services to support students in their personal and academic goals. 

After a BBQ lunch, the afternoon included a chance for attendees to meet with faculty and program chairs to ask questions and explore the academic programs offered at StFX. 

Student guides again helped visitors explore campus during the afternoon via guided tours including visits to the residences, academic spaces and student life buildings.    

Students who applied online before Oct. 5 also had the chance to receive a decision on their application at the open house. 

Anyone who missed the open house but would like to arrange a personalized campus tour are invited to do so any time by contacting the Visitor Centre by email at or by phone 902-867-4964. 


StFX faculty awarded over $425,000 in NSERC Discovery Grant funding

Fri, 2018-10-12 16:22
L-r, Dr. Mike Melchin; Central Nova MP Sean Fraser; Dr. Karine LeBris, Dr. Gerry Marangoni, Dr. Jamie Braid, and StFX VP Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Richard Isnor at the announcement.

StFX celebrated an announcement of over $425,000 in new research funds from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grants on Oct. 11 when Central Nova MP Sean Fraser visited campus to make the announcement and deliver remarks. 

StFX faculty receiving awards in the 2018 NSERC Discovery Grant competition include:

• Dr. Mike Melchin, Earth Sciences, who received $29,000/year for five years, totaling $145,000, plus an additional $45,000 Northern Research Supplement ($9,000/year for five years).

• Dr. Jamie Braid, Earth Sciences, received $21,000/year for five years, totaling $105,000.

• Dr. Gerry Marangoni, Chemistry, received $22,000/year for five years, totaling $110,000.

• Dr. Karine LeBris, Physics, received a Discovery Development Grant of $10,000/year for 2 years, totaling $20,000 that will be supplemented by $5,000/year from StFX.

StFX Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Richard Isnor, thanked Mr. Fraser and the Government of Canada for the investment in scholarship. 

“The NSERC Discovery Grants are critical for providing a diverse base of scientific research and training students of all types, in universities and communities across Canada,” he says.  

“These grant applications receive rigorous peer review and successful applicants truly represent research excellence in their respective fields. I would like to congratulate our 2018 Discovery Grant recipients and recognize the research efforts of all StFX NSERC Discovery Grant holders.”

NSERC announcement Sean Fraser and students.jpg L-r, StFX students and 2018 NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award Holders, Mary Besaw (Earth Sciences), Grace Tompkins (Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science), Patrick O’Brien (Physics), Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, Liam Farrell (Physics), and Sachin Mohandas (Physics/ Mathematics) 

Musical notes: StFX, Holland College renew articulation agreements

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

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

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

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

StFX and HC.jpg

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


An annoucement from StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald

Fri, 2018-10-12 12:13


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


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

To the Campus Community,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kent D. MacDonald

President and Vice Chancellor

St. Francis Xavier University

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We are grateful to have him at StFX!”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


John Peacock installed as StFX’s 10th Chancellor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A reception followed the ceremony in Dennis Hall. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It showcases the reality that people face.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hundreds of alumni to return to campus for StFX Homecoming 2018 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alumni Awards of Excellence

Distinguished Alumnus - Gerry McConnell ’67 

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

Chapter of the Year - Edmonton Chapter

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

Friend of StFX - Anne Campbell

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

Young Alumnus - Andrew Howlett ’02

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

Hall of Honour Inductees

Allene MacPherson Goforth ’65

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

Joseph McGann ’68

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

Morag Graham ’68

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

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

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

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

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

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

The news was welcome on the StFX campus. 

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

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

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

Both programs make a deep impact in the region. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All four students say their placements were a valuable experience. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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