This award recognizes a local, regional, national, or international community partner who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the growth and development of educational (teaching and/or research) opportunities in the StFX University community. Recipients may include non-profit agencies, arm’s-length government agencies (e.g. schools, health boards, etc.) and individuals.
Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE) is a local Charity formed for the purpose of sponsoring Syrian refugee families displaced from their home country by war. The charity was established to help these families resettle, and start a new life in the Antigonish area. With the help of StFX-for-SAFE and many other volunteers, SAFE has been able to save tens of lives and give many newcomers to this country the change at a new beginning.
Since its inception in 2015, the work of SAFE and the issues that it highlights, have been brought into our classrooms and into students’ academic, social and personal learning and development.
Today, we count hundreds of StFX students who have been involved with SAFE in one way or another: in fundraising, advocacy and peer education. These students have developed leadership skills, while mobilizing the student body to achieve SAFE’s noble and humanitarian goals.
Through Service Learning and as volunteers, StFX students have had direct contact with Syrian families. Through their interaction with these newly arrived families, our students have been able to witness the refugees’ challenges of learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, and establishing a new life as new Canadians who have fled a country of conflict. Students have also had to learn how to work with (and support) children and adults who have limited English skills; an opportunity that was seldom available in Antigonish, prior to the inception of SAFE.
New areas of research interests have also grown out of the collaboration between SAFE and StFX. Dr. Norine Verberg (SOC), Dr. Joseph Khoury (ENGL), Drs. Dan and Ingrid Robinson (EDU), and Dr. Linda Darwish (RELS) are examples of StFX faculty who, with the help of SAFE, were able to conduct research or publish articles on refugees.