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Joint release from local leaders regarding COVID-19

Fri, 2020-03-27 14:48

The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 presents an immense challenge for communities around the world, and the Antigonish region is no exception. While health and safety protocols for self-isolation and social distancing may keep us physically separated from one another, we must not – and will not – be separated emotionally or in terms of care for our neighbour. In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever for our local communities to join together in solidarity and respect.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Maintain social and community connections – from a distance. Call your neighbours who live alone and may find this period of social distancing particularly isolating. Let them know you are thinking of them and, if you are in a position to do so, offer to pick up supplies or goods they cannot access themselves. 

2. Stay informed. The situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change rapidly, with all levels of government announcing new measures almost daily to help slow the spread of the virus. The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness has also updated their online self-assessment portal for people who think they have symptoms of the illness. Familiarize yourself with these resources, and check back often for updates:

Government of Canada COVID-19 Portal: www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-cov...

Province of Nova Scotia COVID-19 Portal: www.novascotia.ca/coronavirus/

Nova Scotia self-screening tool for COVID-19: https://when-to-call-about-covid19.novascotia.ca/en

3. Follow Public Health Directives. Staying at home, washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, practicing social distancing, limiting your shopping to only essential goods (purchased once a week) and self-isolating if you feel sick, are all basic and critical actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

4. Be kind.  Know that these are stressful and anxious times for everyone. Let’s work to ensure that everyone in the Antigonish area feels cared for and respected. Take a moment to thank those front-line workers who continue to keep our community running. Think about the international students within our community who are not able to return home to their families. Reach out to people whose employment has been impacted by the virus. It’s these people, like yourself, who are the fabric of our communities. By keeping each other strong, we keep ourselves strong. 

The spread of COVID-19 rests upon our individual and collective actions. You have a responsibility to yourselves, your neighbours, and those healthcare workers who are on the front lines of battling COVID-19 to do your part. Please take these directives seriously and follow them fully. We are in this together. 

Sincerely,

Laurie Boucher, 

Mayor, Town of Antigonish

Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD

President and Vice-Chancellor

StFX University

Paul Prosper

Chief, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation 

Owen McCarron, 

Warden, Municipality of the County of Antigonish 

UPDATE: Message from StFX President, March 26

Thu, 2020-03-26 16:54

To the Campus Community, 

Weeks ago, we couldn’t have possibly imagined the challenges that we are facing today. In times like these, people really show you who they are, which leads me to say that I am exceptionally proud of (but not surprised) how our community – students, faculty, and staff alike – have risen to the occasion and responded with efficiency, patience, and true compassion. Together, in the past two weeks alone, we have:

• Transitioned all of our classes from in-person delivery to a number of online formats;

• Helped almost 2,000 students move off-campus much earlier than anticipated;

• Ensured that students and employees had access to health and wellness supports at this incredibly stressful time; and,

• Transitioned almost all of our staff and faculty to a remote working environment.

The scale of these changes has been significant, to say the least and I want to thank every one of you for helping make this happen. Crises have a way of bringing out the best in people, and I think it’s fair to say that we have seen the Xaverian spirit, as we know it and describe it, exemplified. You have gone above and beyond to help each other through very uncertain times, demonstrating resilience and patience when adapting to new learning, teaching, working, and living environments. 

I also want to offer a special thank you to those employees who continue their work on campus because their responsibilities cannot be completed from home. It is important that we, as a community, recognize that there are a number of our colleagues who cannot be at home with families or loved ones throughout the day. They are working hard to maintain critical operations on campus. On behalf of the entire StFX community – our staff, faculty and students -- thank you to our frontline staff.

For all that has been done, there is still much to do. In the coming days we will be looking at how we will complete exams and evaluations, exploring, for example, the option of a pass/fail system. We have heard your questions, and want you to know we take them seriously. Please know we are considering these options very carefully and will reach out with information as soon as we can. At the same time, this environment is very unpredictable and new problems and concerns arise. Please bring any of your concerns forward to our attention so that we may be of assistance.  

I also want to remind the campus community that now is a time to look after yourself, as well as one another. The stress and anxiety COVID-19 has introduced to us all is truly unprecedented. Please review the various mental health supports available and use them. There is no judgment given or shame associated with asking for help. This is precisely the reason for which these tools and services are designed. I have listed some at the bottom of this message for easy reference. 

We have to recognize that removing ourselves from our routines and all of the interesting and rewarding parts of our workplace is not easy. In isolation, I find myself missing direct contact with colleagues and missing the friendly faces and conversations with students, staff, and faculty, some of the things that we may take for granted. In the coming weeks, StFX will provide information and materials to help you to stay connected. Look for calls for participation – we need to stay in touch. 

Finally, please continue to share the strength and influence of our StFX community by checking in on friends, relatives, and neighbours who may find this time particularly hard. In recent days, a number of people have suggested replacing the phrase ‘social distancing’ with ‘physical distancing’ to reflect that, although we are separated physically, we can stay connected socially. So pick up the phone, launch Skype, or have a group Zoom session with your friends and family. Check in with one another, and ask for help if you need it. We will come through this by making sure that everyone feels seen, respected, and cared for. 

Stay safe and healthy. 

Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD. 

President and Vice-Chancellor

St. Francis Xavier University 

Resources for Students:

• Healthy Minds NS

• Good2TalkNS: 1-833-292-3698

• Crisis Text Line: text “GOOD2TALKNS” to 686868

• NS Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-429-8167

• To arrange a phone meeting with a StFX Health and Counselling Centre staff member, email idrouin@stfx.ca

Resources for Employees:

StFX’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) can provide you with immediate and confidential help for any work, health or life concern.

Access your EFAP: 

• By phone: 1-800-387-4765

• By website: workhealthlife.com

• Download the MyEAP app in your app store

COVID-19 Update: NS declares state of emergency

Sun, 2020-03-22 14:01

To the Campus Community,

Not long ago the Premier of Nova Scotia provided an update that included declaring a state of emergency for the province. Below is a link to his webcast for your reference. 

https://novascotia.ca/stayinformed/webcast/

(please note the update starts at approximately 24:00 mins)

At its root, a ‘state of emergency’ grants the government extended authority to create and enforce guidelines when necessary. In this particular instance, law enforcement will now have the authority to fine people who gather in groups of larger than five and/or who are not following prescribed social distancing protocols. 

Protocols relating to travel were also updated. Effective today, anyone traveling into the province must self-isolate for 14 days. This is an expansion of the directive that anyone returning from international travel must self-isolate. Related to travel, the border between Canada and the United States has been closed to all non-essential travel. As restrictions continue to tighten, we will continue to assist students who are not able to travel home. Also, If you are member of our campus community, a Canadian citizen, and are having difficulty returning to Canada, it is imperative that you register with the Canadian Government  https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration. Please let your Dean or Director know as well so we can assist if at all possible.  

The Premier’s message was clear. We, as a community, must ensure that we continue to follow the directives of the Nova Scotia Public Health Authority. Avoid congregating in groups of larger than five individuals. If you must be in a space with more than five individuals, ensure you are practicing social distancing best practices, keeping a minimum of six feet apart from others. 

These protocols are important. We all must do our part to not only protect our own health, but to ensure we do not overwhelm the healthcare system in the province. 

This is not a time for fear or panic; rather, a time to focus on the three ‘C’s mentioned in the province’s update: Caring, Community and Common sense. Keeping protocols in mind, I ask that you reach out to help others who may be in need (e.g. groceries and supplies), particularly those in isolation, the elderly, or single parents.

Stay safe and healthy. We will get through this together.

Kevin B. Wamsley,

President and Vice-Chancellor

StFX University

 

COVID-19: Update from StFX President, March 18, 2020

Wed, 2020-03-18 17:45

To the Campus Community

It’s been four days since the StFX campus started adapting to the new reality. I can say without hesitation that we -- students, faculty and staff -- have been presented with significant and unprecedented challenges, all within a very compressed time frame. The impact related to COVID-19 continues to evolve at a rapid pace with decisions being made on an hour-by-hour basis as new information materializes. 

Having said that, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to our amazing community. It’s said that people come together during times of adversity and the StFX community has been proving this to be true. The level of collaboration, creativity, thoughtfulness, and, yes, understanding and patience is quite simply something to be acknowledged and be proud of. While we work out operational details, we, as a community continue to be resilient. Here are just some of the recent highlights:

-    Our academic community is making tremendous progress regarding transitioning our academic delivery to an online model. With assistance from StFX’s IT staff, our faculty are discovering new opportunities to ensure the term will continue. Students, a reminder that classes will resume on Monday, March 23rd. Your professors will be sending you information regarding your classes by 4pm, Friday, March 20th. Please be sure to monitor your emails. 

-    Our students have been heeding our call to practice social distancing. The vast majority of those living in residence have either left campus or are in the process of moving home. Your cooperation and understanding has been tremendously helpful as we employ measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  To those students who don’t have the opportunity to go home, rest assured we will be here to offer continued support for as long as it takes. 

-    Our services and work on campus continues to wind down. As students make their way home, campus facilities have either closed or are operating with reduced hours. Those employees who are able to work from home have begun to do so and many more are in the process of transitioning to work from home. Please refer to our FAQs posted on stfx.ca/coronavirus for specific services information. 

I extend my gratitude and appreciation to our alumni and friends of the university from around the world who have reached out to offer support. It’s humbling to be reminded of the reach (and the strength) of the Xaverian community.  Thank you. 

As of this afternoon, Nova Scotia Public Health is now reporting 12 cases of COVID-19 within the province. I can’t underscore enough our collective responsibility to do what we can to limit the risk of spreading the virus. I encourage you to be diligent and do your part – stay home, employ the recommended hygiene practices, and be considerate of those at higher risk within our communities. 

For the latest updates from the university, visit www.stfx.ca/coronavirus.

 

Thanks to all and be safe. 

Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD

President and Vice-chancellor

StFX University

 

StFX Campus To Close 5PM today (Sunday, March 15 2020)

Sun, 2020-03-15 15:18

To the Campus Community

 

The situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve with three presumptive cases now being reported in Nova Scotia. StFX remains committed to evolving our strategies in response to the latest developments. It is with that in mind that I inform you of the latest decisions:

 

  • The StFX campus will be closed to the external community/general public as of 5:00 PM today, Sunday, March 15, 2020. The closure will remain in effect until April 30, 2020. (Exceptions are parents picking up students, and the foyer, 3rd floor Bloomfield for Maritime Bus Services).

 

  • The Alumni Aquatic Centre, gyms and ice surfaces within the Amelia Saputo Centre and Keating Centre will close for all users (including students) as of 5:00 PM today. If your department is affected by the closure of these areas, please contact your supervisor about your work schedule.

 

  • Students will continue to have access to all other facilities on campus and are asked to respect social distancing protocols.

 

  • All internal and external in-person events will be cancelled for the duration of the closure.  This includes but not limited to sports camps, conferences, church services, etc.

 

  • We will adapt our operations to further reduce the number of visitors on campus. For example, Campus Tours and in-person HR interviews will be suspended during the closure.

 

  • All administrative buildings and offices will remain open. 

 

COVID-19 presents a number of unprecedented situations and challenges for the campus community. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work through these trying times.

For the latest COVID-19 updates from StFX University, visit Stfx.ca/coronavirus.

 

Kevin Wamsley, PhD

President and Vice Chancellor 

StFX University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 UPDATE: Classes suspended as of Monday March 16, 2020

Sat, 2020-03-14 15:59

To the Campus Community,

The situation regarding COVID-19 remains fluid, rapidly evolving and presents unprecedented challenges. I appreciate that uncertainty can cause anxiety and stress among the campus community.

I write to inform you that StFX will suspend all in-person classes Monday March 16th to Friday March 20th. This will permit our instructors the time necessary to assess how programs will be delivered through to the end of the term.

It is important to note that we are not closing the campus nor is the academic term cancelled.

Please be aware that classes will resume on Monday March 23rd using online or other alternative delivery methods. The laboratory components of some courses may not be able to continue. In such cases, adjustments to project expectations or lab grades will need to be made. More details on how classes (including exams) will be delivered will be provided in the days ahead.

Though in-person classes are suspended, faculty can continue to work from their offices.  As well, our campus, including residences and dining halls, will remain open at this time. Employees should attend work as usual.

Students living in residences who are able to return home are encouraged to do so. Please be assured that anyone who cannot return home for reasons such as international travel restrictions, serious personal reasons, or university obligations will continue to be provided accommodation. For those students staying in residence we reserve the right to move you to another residence in the interests of student safety.  Further information regarding residences will be provided by Student Services in the coming days.

The health and safety of our campus community remains foremost our top priority and with patience and understanding, we will continue our resolve and work our way through these extraordinary times.

Kevin Wamsley, PhD

President and Vice Chancellor

StFX University

 

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions for your reference:

Have classes been cancelled at StFX?

In-person classes at StFX are suspended for the week of March 16-20. This is a preventative measure to increase social distancing, eliminate large-group gatherings, and allow professors time to shift to alternative means of teaching. Continuing and Distance Education classes continue as normal.

Will I be able to complete the academic year?

We are working to ensure that all students will be able to complete their academic year. StFX’s intention is to transition from in-person classes to a remote teaching environment (i.e. online) for the remainder of the term.

When will classes resume?

Classes will resume on Monday, March 23rd. More information on classes will be provided to students in the days ahead.

How will I complete final exams?

StFX is working to finalize arrangements that will allow all students to complete their exams. Students will not be expected to return to campus for exams. There will be more details to come on this next week, as we consult with the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents and Nova Scotia Public Health regarding next steps.

I am currently on a clinical or co-op work placement or working in a research capacity. Are these being impacted?

Clinical and co-op placements, as well as limited research activities, including thesis-based Masters co-op work placements can continue.

Are residences at the university closing down?

Residences will remain open until April 5th, but we are encouraging all students who can return home to do so.

I am unable to return home. Can I still stay in residence?

Yes. All students who need to continue living in residence will be able to do so. Please note, for students’ continued safety we reserve the right to move students to another residence. Students Services will be sending out more information regarding residences in the days ahead.

Is the campus shutting down?

No. University offices and facilities remain open. The decision to suspend classes represents a measure to reduce large gatherings and increase social distancing.

Employees are expected to report to work as usual.

An Update From Dr. Kevin Wamsley Regarding COVID-19 Preparations

Fri, 2020-03-13 15:47

Dear Members of the StFX Community,

COVID-19 has presented the university with significant challenges. These challenges are not just about academic credit or attending work or the hosting of events; the issues we are facing are about the personal health and safety of friends, family, and ourselves. Your health and safety are our priorities. We have based our decisions on how the university will proceed in its operations on the latest health reports from the Public Health Agency of Canada, on careful conversations with other universities but, most importantly, following the advice of Nova Scotia Public Health. With this information at hand, it is our contention that StFX remains a safe location for our students, faculty, and staff.

StFX shall remain operational under very specific conditions.

Almost 50% of our student population hails from outside of the Province of Nova Scotia and forcing our students to travel home at this time is a far greater risk than having them remain in Antigonish. However, there are very specific conditions under which we must, as a community, proceed. As such, we ask that every community member adhere to these conditions.

The university remains open and will continue to share updates with the campus community as we receive information and as decisions are made. We encourage you to visit and bookmark www.stfx.ca/coronavirus for the latest information from the university. Again, this is a fluid situation and you should expect to receive additional updates as any further decisions or directives are issued. The situation is fluid and rapidly evolving, with various jurisdictions (including Nova Scotia) considering further measures to stop the spread of the virus as new information becomes available.

In the meantime, I wish to share StFX’s response regarding COVID-19:

  • StFX has activated a committee to oversee our pandemic preparedness. Their work continues to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our campus community.
  • Academic Leadership is reviewing programming continuity and contingencies.
  • Operational directors have conducted risk assessments, identified critical activities, and are developing contingency plans for business continuation.
  • StFX has and continues to meet with the Regional Emergency Management Organization.
  • StFX has prohibited all academically-related student international travel, and non-personal faculty and staff international travel. StFX employees and students, currently travelling, shall impose a self-monitoring protocol, for a period of 14 days upon return to Antigonish.
  • Authorization for an additional 10 cleaning staff; updated cleaning and disinfecting  procedures have been implemented.
  • Morrison Hall will be eliminating self-service stations, transitioning to full-service stations.

Nova Scotia Public Health reminds us that the risk to those within the Province of Nova Scotia remains low. As such, the university remains open and facilities such as the libraries, recreation centres, food services, health and wellness centre, etc., remain fully operational. However, there will be restrictions on class sizes, public gatherings, and social events. These restrictions will be noted on the website and will be communicated directly to you. Until further notice, students, staff and faculty should continue to go to classes and work as usual. If you have extraordinary circumstances that require accommodation, please see your Dean or supervisor. If you are ill, stay home. If you are feeling anxiety or are unsure, please speak to Health and Counselling or your immediate supervisor. We are here to help.

This situation is causing significant stress and anxiety among our StFX community members. Rest assured that the University is exercising the utmost caution and care in the decision-making that affects us all so personally. At this time, risk is low but we remain vigilant and continue to meet daily to consider appropriate actions to maintain the health and safety of all of our members. We ask you to remain calm and to be vigilant about hand-washing and social distance. 

Within stfx.ca/coronavirus are FAQs. I attached some of them below for your reference. 

On behalf of the university, I thank everyone for your patience and understanding. In my time at the university I can see that we are bound to help one another in times of challenge and difficulty at StFX. We will emerge from this together as a community.  

Kevin Wamsley, PhD

President and Vice Chancellor

StFX University

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the risk of infection?

Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk as low, and there are no diagnosed cases within Nova Scotia.

I live in residence. Should I take special precautions?

Follow normal precautions for preventing the spread of illness, such as washing your hands often and not touching your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands. Do not share water bottles or drinks with others. Keeping your room clean is also a good idea, as is wiping down ‘high touch’ surfaces in your room like door handles, light switches, and desks.

The university has authorized the hiring of 10 additional cleaning staff to increase the frequency of disinfection procedures around campus.

Is the university instructing its custodial staff to do any additional cleaning?

Custodial Services are implementing infection prevention and control measures in our cleaning practices to emphasize disinfecting and cleaning of all contact points and surfaces. The university has authorized the hiring of 10 additional cleaning staff to increase the frequency of disinfection procedures around campus.

Should students/staff/faculty with flu-like symptoms attend class/work?

No. If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms – whether or not you believe them to be related to COVID-19 – you should stay at home or in your residence room, and see a healthcare professional as you deem appropriate. 

Employees who are experiencing any flu-like symptoms should take a sick day, or arrange to work from home as appropriate.

Should I stay home from class as a precaution?

Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk as low, and there are no diagnosed cases within Nova Scotia. If you are not sick, and have not come in contact with any person who may have contracted COVID-19, there is no reason to not attend class.

However, if you are feeling sick and/or are showing symptoms related to COVID-19, you are encouraged to stay home and consult the Nova Scotia government’s self-assessment guide, which will dictate whether you should report your symptoms to 811.

Will the university be cancelling classes or events?

There are no plans to cancel classes at this time. Event cancellations are at the discretion of the event organizers.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk from COVID-19 as low.

Who should I contact if I have concerns?

If you have concerns about your health or wellbeing, contact your local healthcare provider. If you are a student, you can also contact StFX’s Office of Health and Counselling Services at (902) 867-2263. The office is located in Bloomfield 305.

StFX students take part in Royal Canadian Navy’s new Canadian Students at Sea program

Fri, 2020-03-13 09:24
Recently, 17 StFX students travelled to Halifax to take part in the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Canadian Students at Sea program

Last week, 17 StFX students travelled to Halifax to take part in the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Canadian Students at Sea program. This initiative, organized by professors Adam Lajeunesse (Brian Mulroney Institute) and Jamie Levin (Department of Political Science), in partnership with the RCN’s Strategic Outreach team, offered undergraduates in military history and security studies a chance to engage with members of the Canadian military and get a glimpse of navy life.

StFX at Sea-MyStFX_04.jpg

Over the course of a very full day, students visited the Navy’s Atlantic Operations Centre, Maritime Security Operations Center and Joint Rescue Coordination Centre to see how Canada’s governmental agencies monitor the country’s maritime approaches and manage search and rescue in the Atlantic. There was time for a walk-by of the new oiler Asterix as well as a tour of the dry-docked submarine HMCS Windsor and the patrol ship HMCS Moncton. To really show off the Navy’s capabilities, students spent the afternoon aboard the patrol frigate HMCS Ville de Québec, where high speed manoeuvers, boarding and firefighting demonstrations, as well as a tour of the ship’s operations room and bridge, brought to life Canada’s responsibilities – and capabilities – at sea.

canadian students at sea .jpg Improving Canadians’ understanding of their Navy, and the role it plays in the country’s security and prosperity, is an important part of sustaining the service and building its future fleet. Canadian Students at Sea is a step towards showing Canada’s future leaders what the Navy does and how its work shapes and secures the country. StFX’s students were taken by the RCN’s generosity, with both its time and energy – from a personal briefing with Rear-Admiral Craig Baines (Commander, Maritime Forces Atlantic) to guided tours by Captain (N) David Benoit (CO of Formation Maintenance Facility Cape Scott).

This trip was made possible with generous support from the Faculty of Arts, the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, the Public Policy and Governance Program, and the Department of Political Science. 

StFX Rankin School of Nursing professor part of CIHR study leadership team to help improve COVID-19 policy effectiveness

Thu, 2020-03-12 09:44
Dr. Donna Halperin

StFX Rankin School of Nursing professor Dr. Donna Halperin is one of the co-principal investigators who have received a $500,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to address the effects of the COVID-19 public health outbreak on control policies and implementation on individuals and communities. 

The project, entitled “Understanding the effects of public health outbreak control policies and implementation on individuals and communities: a path to improving COVID-19 policy effectiveness” will examine the cultural dimensions of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic such as examining how individuals and communities understand and react to the disease, studying the response of public health, and exploring how public health policy affects individuals and communities. 

While public health policies are required to control an infectious disease outbreak, these policies can adversely affect individuals and communities, says Dr. Halperin. 

Quarantine, limitations in movement and public gathering, and other restrictive measures can put a social and economic burden on individuals, which may be disproportionate, depending on their socioeconomic status and other factors. 

She says healthcare providers are both involved in administering the policy, but are also put at grave risk in caring for patients. 

Dr. Halperin says this will be a multi-province, multi-country study in Canada (British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia), Bangladesh, and China (Guangdong). 

The researchers will use qualitative methodology (document review, key informant interviews, focus groups) and quantitative methods (surveys) to examine policy and implementation from the public health/policy perspective as well perspectives of the media, communities, healthcare providers, patients and their caregivers, and members of the general public. 

These data will be used to improve the process by which public health policies are created and implemented.

Dr. Halperin says there is a knowledge gap about how to best integrate the perspectives of individuals and communities, particularly those with social vulnerabilities, into policy formation and implementation, creating suboptimal effectiveness of public health policies. The researchers, she says, aim to close this gap by exploring the effects of policy on communities and individuals.

Two StFX Gerald Schwartz School of Business students honoured with prestigious $30,000 Sobey Award

Fri, 2020-03-06 10:35
L-r, Gerald Schwartz School of Business Dean Dr. Todd Boyle, Mairi McKinnon and Taylor Kennah.

Two Gerald Schwartz School of Business students at StFX, Mairi McKinnon of Halifax, NS and Taylor Kennah of Bathurst, NB, are recipients of the prestigious 2019-2020 Frank H. Sobey Award for Excellence in Business Studies. The award, valued at $30,000 each, is given annually to eight business students studying at Atlantic Canadian universities. 

The award recipients are selected based on their entrepreneurship, supporting their communities, and their employment experience, by a board of directors comprising of Atlantic Canadian business and academic leaders.

“Both Mairi and Taylor are most deserving of this award,” says StFX Schwartz School of Business Dean Dr. Todd Boyle.

“Mairi is an outstanding student not only in terms of her academic performance but also in her commitment to both university and community engagement. Mairi has made a significant positive impact in the lives of so many people,” he says. 

Examples of her entrepreneurial skills, leadership, and community engagement are numerous and include her role as president of a successful junior achievement company, invitation to speak at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame gala in 2016, work at the IWK Hospital, student leader for the StFX Service Learning Department, Venture Canada Intern, and her volunteer work in a health clinic in Tanzania. 

“Taylor is a remarkable entrepreneur who has combined her leadership skills, commitment to her community, love for the arts, and creative talent. She is an outstanding role model for both children and her university peers,” says Dr. Boyle.

Among her many leadership roles, she currently serves as president of the Schwartz Women in Business Society. Her leadership also extends into her local community. About three years ago, she founded Bathurst on Broadway, a highly successful not-for-profit musical theater camp in Bathurst, NB that provides dance, drama, and theater instruction to children aged five to 13 years.

Both students were recognized at a formal event at The Crombie House in Abercrombie, NS.

Trivia challenge with special guests kicks off Nutrition Month at StFX

Wed, 2020-03-04 15:29

StFX’s Department of Human Nutrition kicked off Nutrition Month this March with some special guests.

StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, and representatives from the Antigonish Farmers Market all captained trivia teams, which included a number of StFX students, who together faced off on their nutritional knowledge.  

To get on the scoreboard, the teams had to answer a series of questions on subjects ranging from where do dietitians work to household food insecurity to Canada’s new food guide.

Dean of Science Dr. Daniel Belliveau acted as judge.

When the event concluded, Team Wamsley had captured first place in the competition.

Nutrition Month is a time to celebrate healthy eating and to celebrate the role of dieticians.

StFX’s Coady Institute to lead $10 million project in support of women’s leadership

Wed, 2020-03-04 13:34
L-r, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser; Coady Executive Director Gord Cunningham; Eileen Alma, Coady, Director, Women and Indigenous Programming; Senator Mary Coyle; StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley; and Anthony Scoggins, Coady Director of Education Programs.

It was a celebration of much good news on the StFX campus March 4 as it was announced StFX’s Coady Institute is leading a collaborative five-year project to strengthen gender equality and women’s leadership opportunities around the world. 

Sean Fraser, Central Nova MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, was on campus for a special funding announcement of nearly $10 million from Global Affairs Canada for a project, titled ENGAGE! Women’s Empowerment and Active Citizenship, which will see Coady work with organizations on the ground in communities across five countries, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, and Tanzania, to strengthen individual and organizational capacity while providing tools and opportunities for women to increase their own empowerment. 

The partner’s projects will focus on areas such as leadership development, social enterprise, climate adaptation, leadership and management education and future of work all with the goal of gender equitable change.

Co-designed by Coady Institute and five partner organizations, ENGAGE! will advance gender equality and poverty reduction by enhancing women’s capacity to participate in the social and economic life of their communities.

BETTER THE WORLD

“This year marks the 60th anniversary of Coady and its position as a global leader in employing education and collaboration to effect positive social changes,” StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley said. “This initiative perfectly aligns with the Coady legacy of working directly with communities to better societies, all over the world.”

This is a particularly important announcement for our university, for the Coady, and for people around the world, Dr. Wamsley said. 

“What better organization than Coady, embedded in StFX, to take on this great work,” he said.

“Wouldn’t Moses Coady be smiling today.”

This great gift from the Government of Canada, this $10 million, is going to go so far in transforming the world and helping women empower themselves to make social change in their communities, he noted. 

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to share this news,” Mr. Fraser said as he congratulated Coady on the important work it continues to do, and noted how this project will serve both local and global interests. 

NEXT CHAPTER

The relationship between the federal government and Coady has been ongoing almost since Coady’s inception 60 years ago, and Mr. Fraser said he is pleased to make this announcement, sharing in the next chapter of the institution.  

What a great day this is for StFX, the Coady, partners and “for the future of the world, frankly, that’s what this is about,” Senator Mary Coyle, who formerly led the Coady as executive director, noted in her remarks. 

This new partnership announced today by the Government of Canada will enable Coady to be a significant accelerator to achieving goals of gender equality, she said. 

“Today we are celebrating the opening of many doors for and by women.” 

“The ENGAGE! project provides a wonderful opportunity for Coady staff to collaborate with our partners in their home countries and communities, sharing and learning about the practice of asset-based development on the ground,” Gord Cunningham, Executive Director, Coady Institute, said. “We will then bring those lessons learned back to the Coady classroom here in Antigonish.”

Eileeen Alma, Director, Women and Indigenous Programming at Coady, and the ceremony’s emcee, noted there is a lot to be excited about. She thanked all those involved, particularly Coady staff, led by Anthony Scoggins, who worked on this project. Two staff members, Brianne Peters and Eric Smith, recently returned from a planning meeting in Ethiopia with partners, introduced the project on behalf of the team. “We are working with women who are going to change the rules of the game,” Ms. Peters noted. 

Coady engage 2 .jpg

The five organizations joining Coady Institute in this initiative are long-standing partners with strong experience in advancing gender equality and community change. They include:

• Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India;

• Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) in Ethiopia;

• Gender Training Institute (GTI) of the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP);

• Christian Commission for Development (CCDB) in Bangladesh; and

• Centre Haïtien du Leadership et de l’Excellence (CLE) in Haiti.

ENGAGE! will apply an asset-based, citizen-led development (ABCD) approach to promote gender-equitable change. This approach ensures that local communities, particularly women, exercise ownership and control over social and economic development initiatives that respond to their realities and priorities.

“Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh is very much excited being part of the ENGAGE project, and at the same time we are hopeful to bring some significant changes in the lives of women through working together with Coady in the next five years,” Imran Kibria, Head, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation with Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh, said.

Partners and their networks will engage a cohort of nearly 1,500 women and their allies in ENGAGE!, including many from marginalized groups such as ethnic minorities and persons living with disabilities. As well, ENGAGE! will reach an estimated 13,810 female and 5,600 male beneficiaries directly, and a further 253,180 beneficiaries indirectly.

The announcement was made as StFX and the community celebrate International Women’s Week, March 8-14.

Internationally-known historian to give 2019-20 Christian Culture Lectures at StFX

Wed, 2020-03-04 09:26
Dr. Jacqueline deVries

The internationally-known historian, Dr. Jacqueline deVries, of Augsburg University, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will give the 2019-20 Christian Culture Lectures at StFX. Her lectures will take place in the Schwartz School of Business on Mon. March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 215, and on Tues. March 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 215. Her first lecture is entitled "The Evolution of Sex: Science, Religion, and 19th c. Gender Debates;" her second lecture will be on "Religion and Women's Suffrage: A Centenary Perspective."

Dr. deVries specializes in modern European and British social and cultural history. Her research focuses on the history of feminism and the social history of religion. She is the author of Women, Gender and Religious Cultures in Britain, 1800-1940 (co-edited with Sue Morgan, 2010), and is completing a book tentatively titled Women, Religion and Social Change, 1795-present. She has published a number of articles in scholarly journals, such as Feminist Studies and History Compass.

Dr. Rhonda Semple, a faculty member in the StFX Department of History and a member of the Christian Culture Lecture Series Committee, says that Dr. deVries brings an exceptional wealth of scholarship to her historical research and that StFX is privileged to serve as host to a scholar of such remarkable standing in this year’s Christian Culture Lecture Series. “Dr. deVries was in the vanguard of contemporary historians who, beginning in the late 1980s recognized the importance of re-integrating belief into the study of religious and cultural institutions. She has brought the tools of feminism and broader critical cultural approaches to the study of Christianity in the history modern globalizing west.”

 

StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership hosts two-day Energy Transition School 

Tue, 2020-03-03 15:12

How do we imagine an energy transition?

That was the question participants at a recent Energy Transition School, hosted by StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership on Feb. 28-29, 2020, focused on over two days at the multi-session event directed by three scholars, Dr. Jeff Diamanti of the University of Amsterdam; Dr. Imre Szeman, University of Waterloo; and Dr. Jennifer Wenzel, Columbia University. 

Organizers from the McKenna Centre have said the event was quite a success and has made an impact it the community, “as it started the discussion around the possibilities of an energy transition, and created concrete solutions that can be taken on in the community.” 

energy 3 .jpg

The event was attended by StFX students, faculty members and community members who worked collaboratively to find ways of addressing the social, political, economic, and cultural hurdles that stand in the way of substantive energy transition. 

Organizers say the workshops were custom-tailored and offered multiple activities and topics to brainstorm and exchange ideas on how to mobilize an energy transition and imagine a better future. 

The workshops, they say, gave the opportunity to think critically about ideas such as campus divestment, Canadian policy, and increasing energy literacy, all with special attention to Indigenous sovereignty. 

energy 5 .jpg Over the two days, students, faculty, and community members collaborated in working groups on ways to make concrete changes to foster an energy transition. On the second day of the event, the groups presented their ideas on creating ways forward in campus divestment, created a framework for a program that would empower the voices of youth in the climate crisis, and other concrete solutions that could take place in the community.

energy 1 .jpg

energy 4 .jpg On Saturday evening, a Q&A titled, "how we got here... and where do we go from here?" opened the floor to students, faculty, and community members to ask the speakers questions on initiating energy transitions. The public roundtable titled “what comes (after) after oil? imagining energy transition” was a highlight of the event as well. 

 

StFX human kinetics professor Dr. Sasho MacKenzie consults with LA Dodgers during spring training

Tue, 2020-03-03 14:48
Dr. Sasho MacKenzie

StFX human kinetics professor Dr. Sasho MacKenzie had a unique opportunity over Reading Week. He travelled to Arizona for Major League Baseball’s spring training—at the request of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

“The focus of this trip was fitting hitters into the most appropriate bat for them,” says Dr. MacKenzie who has been working with professional and Olympic athletes on their training techniques and biomechanics for the past 15 years. 

In the past six years, he’s focused mainly on the golf industry, but two years ago he started consulting with the LA Dodgers. “I was contacted by their player development department based on my published research and success in the golf industry,” he says. 

While in Arizona, he was with the Dodgers, who play in the National League, on February 18th and 19th, and with the Texas Rangers of the American League on February 20th. 

“The process involves the biomechanics of how the hitter swings the bat, the physics of impact and ball flight and then predicting which bat properties would yield the best in game hitting performance over the course of the season or against a particular pitcher using statistical techniques,” he says. 

Dr. MacKenzie has teamed up with an entity called Baseball Performance Labs and Marucci Sports, the number one bat provider to the MLB. 

“Marucci is able to custom build the bats based on our fitting recommendations. I also consult with the teams’ performance science departments. What’s the best data to collect on players, what’s the best way to collect that data, and how should this information be communicated to hitting coaches and players.”

He says the experience has been a good one. 

“Conducting and publishing scientific research is very enjoyable, but being asked to apply your research and knowledge at the highest level of sport has been particularly satisfying.” 

Taking advantage of life and learning to the fullest

Tue, 2020-03-03 10:59
Andreina (Andie) Márquez de la Plata Gregor

Ever since she arrived at StFX from her home in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Andreina (Andie) Márquez de la Plata Gregor has hit the ground running. 

“I’m taking advantage of the experience to the fullest. I came to get an education, but also to learn about life too. That’s what I’m doing,” says the third year honours sociology student who is excelling at StFX. 

Academically, she’s in the top five per cent of her program and is an International Scholarship recipient. Outside of class, she’s actively involved at StFX and in the community. 

During her time at StFX, she has worked as a research assistant with modern languages professor Dr. María Soledad Paz-Mackay; has taught in the Spanish lab; tutored Spanish in the community and through StFX’s Continuing Education; volunteered at Antigonish’s Friendship Corner; worked for StFX Conference Services at the StFX University Summer Hotel; and for all three years, has worked as a meal hall supervisor at Sodexo, the campus food provider. 

Recently, Andie, whose future plans include social work, received news she’s a recipient of a Scotia Scholars Award for summer research that will focus on elder care. She will complete the research under the supervision of Dr. Katie Aubrecht, StFX sociology professor and Canada Research Chair Health Equity and Social Justice

Says Andie on her motivation: “I like to keep busy doing things that are fulfilling.”

Her StFX experience has been good, she says. “I really like it. I didn’t know what to expect. Everything has fallen into place, especially this year. A few professors are really looking after me.”

Recently, with input from her professors, she declared her honours in sociology. She will also take a minor in psychology. 

Social work has always been where she’s inclined, but she says that decision was solidified a few years ago when a devastating earthquake hit her home country of Ecuador, destroying two cities. 

“At that moment, I felt so powerless. I really wanted to help, but as a high school student, there is only so much you can do.”

She recalls seeing a lady who did help and thinking, “I want to be this person. That’s my job, helping. That was the final thing that let me know that’s what I want to do.”

From StFX faculty to friends she’s made in the community to her boss, she says everyone has all been so nice. 

“StFX is helping me grow as a person. It’s what I wanted when I came here.”

As for her advice to other students considering StFX: “Take it. Do it.” 

StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership to sponsor 10 First Nations women to attend leadership conference

Fri, 2020-02-28 11:11
StFX's Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership

Ten First Nations women will be attending a leadership conference this May designed to encourage more women to run for municipal and First Nation band elections in eastern Nova Scotia, thanks to support from StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership. The Leadership School for Women will be run by Government FOCUS (Female Objectives Cape Breton Unama’ki Strait).

The conference is hosted by the Town of Port Hawkesbury. Organizers there had put out a call to local governments asking if they could help participants with child care and travel costs to help remove barriers to participate. However, organizers were disappointed to find out that Richmond County councillors decided not to support the event.

“Given that championing leadership initiatives for women, and in particular Indigenous women, is a key aspect of our mandate, the Advisory Board of the McKenna Centre quickly took action and unanimously voted in favour of supporting the event. I was able to write to Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton the same day to offer our help,” says Dr. Mathias Nilges, Director of the McKenna Centre and StFX English professor.

Additionally, he says StFX’s Human Kinetics Department is also committing to support conference participants with free play, active and inclusive childcare, and the university’s Extension Department has offered to help with promoting the event.

StFX’s McKenna Centre providing dialogue, leadership on issues of importance to students and society

Fri, 2020-02-28 11:04
Dr. Mathias Nilges, Director of StFX's Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership

For nearly a decade, the McKenna Centre has attracted established leaders from a wide range of sectors who’ve come to StFX to ponder one central question: what is true leadership – and how can we teach it?

The Director of the McKenna Centre, Dr. Mathias Nilges, is an ardent supporter of students and their creativity, and his cutting-edge approach to leadership combines the academic study of leadership with hands-on training that encourages students to direct their own path to leadership.

Dr. Nilges notes that “one of the most exciting aspects of the McKenna Centre 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.”

The McKenna Centre does not exist to tell students what they should be thinking about; rather, it provides a forum for students to deeply engage with the toughest issues of their generation. In doing so, they gain an understanding of the role they might play, both during their tenure on campus and beyond.

Because leadership skills are transferable across fields and have value and utility for a wide range of endeavours, the McKenna Centre supports a wide spectrum of innovative ideas, events, projects, and initiatives from students and faculty.

Indeed, the slate of speakers, events, and initiatives in the 2019-2020 academic year has been remarkable in its depth and breadth, and the McKenna Centre is quickly becoming a nation-leading incubator for social change.

In early September, the McKenna Centre set the tone for the year by hosting the first annual StFX Shoreline Cleanup, a community event that underscored that leadership involves taking action, even in small ways. This was soon followed by the Annual Leadership Summit, which was focused around the topic of so-called “Soft Skills” and created space for students to gain a fuller understanding of the spectrum of abilities required of leaders behind the scenes, from daily diplomacy to active listening.

The range of speakers that the McKenna Centre hosted this year was broad and cross-cutting, unified by one core principle: that the speakers provoke self-reflection and dialogue about issues that are important to our students and our society. They included:

Bruce Campbell, the former Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one of Canada’s leading policy research institutes;

Imre Szeman, Jeff Diamanti, and Jennifer Wenzel, whose work probes ways in which we can undertake an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables;

Tina Oh, a first-year Master of Environmental Studies student at Dalhousie who received the 2018 Brower Youth Award for her leadership in the environmental movement; and

The StFX History Department welcomed Dr. Eric McDuffie, whose research interests include the African diaspora, the Midwest, Black feminism, Black queer theory, Black radicalism, urban history, and Black masculinity. The McKenna Centre helped support the event financially. 

Additionally, the McKenna Centre supported three longer-term endeavours:

The McKenna Fellowship program, which funds recent StFX graduates interested in public policy and leadership for sustainable development. Interns spend several weeks on the campus at StFX prior to engaging in two separate, four-month internships in Ottawa, either as policy analysts or assistants to senior managers in government departments or agencies;

LEAD 100, a strategic communication, media, and public relations course. All year, students have participated in this extracurricular course as a means of developing their communication and leadership skills beyond the traditional classroom; and

The McKenna Scholar in Residence program. The inaugural scholar, Dr. Adolph J. Reed, Jr., is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania whose research interests include American and Afro-American politics and political thought, urban politics, and American political development. During his time at the McKenna Centre in November, he conducted workshops, met with students, and delivered a keynote lecture to the broader campus community.

Most recently, the StFX physics department hosted the star-studded Atlantic University Physics Association Conference, organized by StFX students. The McKenna Centre helped support the conference financially. AUPAC was anchored by three outstanding scholars: Dr. K. Renee Horton, the first African American to earn a PhD from the University of Alabama in Material Science, has worked for NASA since 2009 and currently serves as the Space Launch System Lead Metallic/Weld Engineer; Dr. Donna Strickland, a Canadian optical physicist and pioneer in the field of pulsed lasers who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018; and StFX’s own, alumnus Dr. Allan MacDonald, a physics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who received the 2020 Wolf Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking work in a field known as twistronics.

The Honourable Frank McKenna ’70, whose efforts brought the eponymous centre into fruition in 2011, was the president of the Students’ Union at StFX during tumultuous times. The cultivation of student leadership is close to his heart, and when the centre opened, he noted that the “McKenna Centre isn’t bringing leadership to StFX. Instead, it is bringing a centre to a university which has a long tradition of leadership.”

The McKenna Centre, under the guidance of Dr. Nilges, is enjoying certainly doing just that. The activities of the centre for the 2020-2021 academic year are in the planning stages, but one thing is certain: they will all, in large or small ways, contribute to the legacy of student leadership at StFX.

 

Latinx Youth Response to the ‘Trump Effect’: Dr. Nilda Flores-González to deliver StFX Jules Léger Lecture Series, hold office hours, workshop

Thu, 2020-02-27 09:25
Dr. Nilda Flores-González

“Latinx Youth Response to the ‘Trump Effect,’” will be the subject of the StFX Jules Léger Lecture Series to be delivered by Dr. Nilda Flores-González at StFX on Thursday, February 27 at  5 p.m. in Schwartz 152.

Dr. Flores-González is a professor and associate director of the Sociology Program at the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. Her current research explores the effects of racialization on the ways in which youth understand national belonging.

Professor Flores-González is the author of Citizens but not Americans: Race and Belonging among Latino Millennials (NYU Press, 2017), and School Kids, Street Kids: Identity Development in Latino Students (Teachers College Press 2002), co-editor of Marcha: Latino Chicago in the Immigrant Rights Movement (University of Illinois Press 2010) and co-editor of Immigrant Women Workers in the Neoliberal Era (University of Illinois Press 2013).

While on campus, Dr. Flores-González will have office hours on Friday, February 28 from 10-11 a.m. in Mulroney Hall 4032, and will deliver a workshop on February 28 from 11:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m. in Mulroney Hall 3030 titled, “Latinos as “Real” Americans.” Discussion will focus on a chapter from Dr. Flores González’ book Citizens but not Americans.

Scholars have shown an increase in racial discrimination and hate crimes since Trump’s election— what is dubbed the “Trump effect.” The Pew Research Center found that nearly half of Latinxs report that discrimination based on their ethnicity and/or race has worsened since Trump’s election. Dr. Flores-González will speak on how Latinxs experience and respond to this increasingly hostile climate remains in question.

The lecture series and workshop are sponsored by StFX Jules Léger Fund, the StFX Department of Modern Languages in collaboration with the Human Rights and Equity Office, the Departments of History, Sociology, Political Science and Development Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Public Policy and Governance Programs.

Senior student wins cost of her X-Ring as survey winner

Wed, 2020-02-26 16:52
StFX Academic Vice-President and Provost Dr. Tim Hynes makes the presentation to senior student Jacqueline Aucoin. 

Jacqueline Aucoin, a senior BSc human kinetics student from Glace Bay, Cape Breton has won the cost of her X-Ring by participating in an annual survey for senior students that gauges student satisfaction and experience.

The survey is administered by the Academic Vice-President and Provost’s office and the Office of Institutional Analysis. It collects data on all aspects of the student experience from academics to extracurriculars from a senior student perspective.

All those who participate are eligible for a prize draw to win the cost of their X-Ring.

Pictured here, StFX Academic Vice-President and Provost Dr. Tim Hynes makes the presentation to Ms. Aucoin. 

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