From the stirring rhythmic beats of the African drumming procession that opened the ceremony to the closing prayer that encouraged all to hear in their hearts the powerful words expressed, the launch of African Heritage Month 2020 in Antigonish not only shone a spotlight on the culture and contributions of African Nova Scotians to society, it recognized the strength that comes with unity.
A large crowd of StFX students, faculty and staff, community members, and local school students filled the MacKay Room, Bloomfield Centre, on the StFX campus on Jan. 23, 2020 to unite and celebrate that February is African Heritage Month. The theme for the month is “The Ties that Bind: Faith, Family, and Community.”
“Together, we gather to honour and celebrate the many contributions that African Nova Scotians past and present have made to our society,” said Kelsey Jones, StFX Coordinator, African Descent Student Affairs, and co-emcee of the ceremony with Lorraine Reddick, Student Support Worker, Strait Centre for Education.
“African Heritage Month marks a time of reflection, awareness, and most importantly, education,” she says.
African Heritage Month is a great opportunity to learn about the contributions, history and culture of African Nova Scotians, Ms. Reddick says. It is equally important that this knowledge be integrated into learning throughout the year, she noted.
Ms. Jones says we must recognize the contributions of those who came before us and who laid the foundation, and we must honour their legacy and continue to fight for justice and equality.
Getting together for a meal with friends and family over the holidays is a time-honoured tradition. This year, that circle grew a little wider as a group of StFX international students and members of the local community connected over Christmas through a new program at StFX called Home for the Holidays.
The StFX Office of Internationalization arranged the inaugural Home for the Holidays program to connect international students studying at StFX with families living in the Antigonish community during the holiday season. StFX is home to students from over 40 countries around the world, and many are interested in learning more about Canadian holiday culture, says Donald Rasmussen, StFX’s Coordinator for International Student Engagement.
This year, he says 17 students were matched with eight host families, and reaction to the experience has been positive from all involved.
MEANT A LOT
“I was super excited. I really wanted to engage, and I was a little emotional as I was missing my family,” says Anamika Saxena of India who was one of three international students to spend time with StFX Gerald Schwartz School of Business professor Rhonda McIver and her family, enjoying a meal and a visit at their home.
“It meant a lot for me, to rebalance my emotions, and to have people around me.”
Eshitha Chitla, also of India and taking a master’s in applied computer science, says it was a great chance to meet people, to learn more about Canadian culture and for people here to learn more about her culture.
Both students said they really enjoyed the meal, and the fact their hosts took the time to prepare something that would appeal to their Indian heritage with lots of spices, as well as the chance to spend time with “the sweet little children,” who played games and showed the visiting students their paintings.
“It was really nice. We really enjoyed it,” Ms. Saxena says.Home for the Holidays-01-MyStFX.jpg Home for the Holidays-03-MyStFX.jpg “We loved it,” says Prof. McIver.
She says her family was interested in getting involved in the program as they wanted to know some of the international students better, to learn about their culture, and to help the students feel more at home on campus
“Part of it is making sure students are fitting in and feeling comfortable and at home and that they have some allies. I have a son at university. I know what it is like,” she says.
She says her family hopes to connect again with the students over the term.
Mr. Rasmussen, who the students praised for his strong support of international students, says the program was promoted online and through the local Antigonish radio station and their office received immediate interest from faculty and staff members at StFX, as well as members of the broader Antigonish community.
In most cases, students were invited to their host family’s home during the holidays to enjoy a meal, meet family members, and experience Canadian holiday festivities. Some groups also got outside for winter hiking and snowman-making.
He says the office plans to run the program again next year.
St. Francis Xavier University has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Maritime Launch Services Ltd.
The signing of the agreement took place January 17, 2020 at StFX in the Joyce Family Atrium, Mulroney Hall before a large crowd that included the Hon. Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia Minister of Health & Wellness and Gaelic Affairs and Antigonish MLA; Mary Preville, Director General of Policy for the Canadian Space Agency; as well as representatives from ACOA, Nova Scotia Business Inc., local municipal governments, the local chamber of commerce, and the aerospace industry.
Maritime Launch Services (MLS) has proposed to construct and operate a private commercial space launch site for launching satellites into low Earth orbit. The purpose of the project is to establish a commercially-controlled, commercially-managed launch site that would provide options in North America in support of the growing commercial space transportation industry.
In support of the project, StFX is committed to the pursuit of research and creative works, ultimately contributing to academic discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, providing a lasting positive impact to the community.
“It is StFX’s vision to be a leader among Canada’s undergraduate universities for its research and creative contributions to student experience, community collaboration, social responsibility and growth opportunities,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies. “This agreement certainly fits within that vision. Our faculty and staff will explore new and exciting research. We are also enthusiastic about the new opportunities that this presents for student employment here in rural Nova Scotia in knowledge-based careers that diversify the rural economy.”
Dr. Isnor says he is enthusiastic about opportunities that agreements like this can create and how it’s supportive of the One Nova Scotia Coalition and Ivany Report, which challenged post-secondary institutions to look for opportunities to collaborate with companies being established or trying to contribute to society and the economy in the province.
Minister Delorey and Ms. Preville of the Canadian Space Agency also spoke during the event, offering their congratulations.
This one initiative has so many far-reaching positive implications, Minister Delorey said as he noted possible research opportunities and opportunities to support the local area.
“We are pleased to partner with StFX,” says Steve Matier, President and CEO of Maritime Launch Services, who noted the MOU is a logical next step as their initiative ramps up and with their focus toward the development of the most critical element of their needs to grow, retain and challenge the local talent and expertise here in Nova Scotia.
Possible opportunities for research are in the areas of computer sciences, chemical analysis, environmental monitoring and aquatic resources to name a few.
The proposed site for MLS is located in Canso, Nova Scotia, about an hour’s drive from StFX.
Robyn Maynard, the award-winning author of Policing Black Lives and a Vanier Scholar at the University of Toronto, will be at StFX Feb. 6, 2020 to deliver the 10th Annual Dr. Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture Series, organized by the StFX Department of Sociology.
The lecture series, named in honour of the late Dr. Agnes Calliste, a celebrated academic and sociology professor who taught at StFX for over two decades, was established to honour Dr. Calliste’s legacy and to continue her work of bringing esteemed speakers to campus during African Heritage Month to speak on issues of race and racism.
Ms. Maynard, an acclaimed author, activist and educator, will speak on the topic of ‘Black Life, Black Liberation and the Climate Crisis.’ The event begins at 7 p.m. in the Schwartz Auditorium.
The presentation of the StFX Black Leaders Awards will also highlight the evening. A reception will follow, and all are welcome to attend.
Kelsey Jones, StFX’s Coordinator, African Descent Student Affairs, will provide opening remarks.
StFX faculty member Dr. Ornella Nzindukiyimana will introduce Ms. Maynard, who during her time on campus, will also take part in a lunch with black student leaders and a workshop with local youth via X-Project.
Robyn Maynard is the acclaimed author of Policing Black Lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present (Fernwood 2017). The book is a CBC national bestseller, currently in its third printing, designated as one of the “best 100 books of 2017” by the Hill Times, listed in The Walrus‘s “best books of 2018,” shortlisted for an Atlantic Book Award, the Concordia University First Book Prize and the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction, and the winner of the 2017 Annual Errol Morris Book Prize. The work has received glowing coverage and has been published in French.
Ms. Maynard’s writing on race, gender, and discrimination is taught widely in universities across Canada and the United States. Her expertise is regularly sought in local, national and international media outlets and she has spoken before Parliamentary subcommittees, the Human Rights Committee of the Senate, and the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. She has a long history of involvement in community activism and advocacy. She been a part of grassroots movements against racial profiling, police violence, detention and deportation for over a decade and has an extensive work history in harm reduction-based service provision serving sex workers, drug users, incarcerated women and marginalized youth in Montreal. She is currently a PhD student and Vanier scholar at the University of Toronto and is working toward the completion of a new book manuscript.
Ms. Maynard, who won “2018 author of the year” by Montreal’s Black History Month, has published writing in the Washington Post, World Policy Journal, the Toronto Star, TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, Canadian Woman Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies Journal (forthcoming), Scholar & Feminist Journal (forthcoming), as well as an essay for Maisonneuve Magazine which won the acclaim of “most-read essay of 2017.”
Please be advised that StFX will delay opening until 4:00 PM today, Thursday, January 9th as the university continues to clear accumulated snow and ice across campus. Essential services will be maintained (Morrison Hall, Security, Facilities Management).
Please be advised that StFX will be closed today, Wednesday January 8th due to the impending storm. Essential services will be maintained (Morrison Hall, security, cleaning, snow removal).
The university will resume regular operations at 6:00 A.M. tomorrow, Thursday, January 9th.
Three nursing faculty from StFX’s Rankin School of Nursing (SON) were recently celebrated for their continued dedication to the SON.
Dr. Cathy MacDonald was warmly acknowledged for her many contributions to the SON in her role as acting director. “Her compassion for others and tireless hard work have made long lasting impressions within the SON, across the university, and within the broader nursing community,” said assistant director Dr. Debbie Sheppard LeMoine.
The school celebrated and welcomed Dr. Patti Hansen Ketchum as the incoming director starting in January 2020.
Dr. Sheppard LeMoine was congratulated as well for receiving tenure and promotion and for her hard work and impact on the ongoing success of the Rankin SON in her role as assistant director, Dr. MacDonald said.
The StFX Rankin School of Nursing recently held a curriculum retreat at Keppoch Mountain and they were honoured to collaborate and have their partners from the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) facilitate the day.
Along with faculty and staff from the Rankin School, in attendance were Cindy MacQuarrie , NSHA senior director of interprofessional practice and learning; Nancy McConnell Maxner, NSHA director; and Sherri Roach, NSHA provincial manager of student placements.
Rankin School assistant director Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine said the group spent the day examining steps for further evaluation and implementation of the School of Nursing curriculum.
“It was significant to have our NSHA partners with us. They are very committed to supporting our program goals,” she says.
It’s a moment that members of the StFX family say they will cherish forever, and one that aspiring Xaverians look forward to for years.
Today, December 3, 2019, the moment became real for over 900 senior St. Francis Xavier University students, who received their coveted X-Rings during a ceremony in StFX’s Charles V. Keating Centre.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening!” exclaimed one excited student as she entered into the Keating Centre at the start of the ceremony, alongside other senior students all clad in black ceremonial gowns.
One by one, students processed towards the main stage and received their X-Rings, and the Keating Centre could hardly contain the excitement of the moment. Indeed, the students’ enthusiasm was felt all over campus.
StFX President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Kevin Wamsley began his remarks by noting a bit of irony: he himself does not have an X-Ring.
“I feel naked,” he joked. “But after four-and-a-half years at StFX, I think I have an idea of what makes this place tick.”
“You are students who are engaged in your university experiences. You are engaged in social justice activities, and in helping other students as well as members of our broader community.”
He said this is the power represented by the X-Ring.
“The X-Ring is the symbol of your experience here at StFX. The X-Ring is the symbol of your commitment to community. So give back to your community like the graduates before you, and give back to StFX. Honor your X Ring by serving others.
“The world needs it, badly.”
Dr. Wamsley also extended thanks to all of the family and friends who travelled great distances to be on-campus for the ceremony, as well as those who watched via livestream.
SKILLS THAT MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND
The ceremony’s guest speaker was Maggie MacDonnell ’02, a StFX alumna who won the 2017 Global Teacher Prize over 20,000 nominees from 179 countries. In her remarks, she offered a reflection on her takeaways from her time as a student, and how they are all encapsulated in her X-Ring.
“When I think about my time at StFX, I realize that while I did graduate with a degree in Human Kinetics, what I really graduated with was an unofficial degree in community building,” she said. “When I remember StFX’s culture, and all of the activities and programs, there were so many times for us as students to practice learning how to connect with each other and how to build community.
“To me, that’s what the ring symbolizes. It conveys something tangible to somehow represent and symbolize all of those meaningful, but intangible, lessons that StFX has taught us.
“So today, when you get your ring, know that it’s your reminder that you come from a special place. A place that values community, and those soft skills that make the world go around.”
Senior class students participated throughout the ceremony. Jonas Lawrence, co-president of the senior class, served as master of ceremonies, while Nicholas Latulippe greeted the excited students and the approximately 2000 family and friends who watched from the Amelia Saputo Centre for Healthy Living.
Senior class co-president Taylor Kennah gave opening remarks, speaking about the unique bond that’s shared by all X-Ring recipients – one that cannot be fully understood by those who are not part of the StFX family.
Samantha Bardwell gave an explanation of the StFX motto, and Maxwell Gauthier read from the writings of Dr. Moses Coady.
Joanna Alphonso introduced the guest speaker and Emma Kyte gave the response.
Students’ Union president Cecil VanBuskirk led the Xaverian Commitment.
The honorary X-Ring is presented annually to someone who personifies the Xaverian spirit of community, leadership, and service. This year’s honorary X-Ring was awarded to Dr. David Cudmore, a general practice physician in Antigonish who has served as the medical leader of the StFX Athletics sports medicine team for over 30 years. During the ceremony, Dr. Cudmore was lauded for his compassion, professionalism, and his outstanding concern for the wellbeing of StFX student athletes.
“There are over 50,000 alumni cheering you on right now, whether they know you or not,” said StFX Alumni Association president Marc Rodrigue ‘08. “They’ve been cheering you on since you arrived at StFX, and now they’ll encourage you to join them in cheering on those who follow in your footsteps.
“No matter what this ring means to you, I encourage you to think of it as being part of something bigger than just ourselves.”
A strong history and a bright future.
That was the sentiment at a celebration of the Coady International Institute’s 60th anniversary, held December 2, 2019 – exactly 60 years to the day from the Institute’s opening.
Special guests and community members gathered for a reception in the Coady International Institute’s Antigonish Community Foyer, where they reminisced about the Institute’s incredible global legacy of sustainable, community-centered growth and development.
With a mural of Monsignor Moses M. Coady, founder of the Antigonish Movement and namesake of the Coady Institute, overseeing the festivities, attendees shared stories from the Institute’s past and shared hopes for its future.
Their hopes are high – and for good reason.
During the ceremony, Gord Cunningham, Executive Director of the Coady International Institute, announced over $1 million in funding from four groups to support and strengthen Institute programs over the coming years.
The funding includes $477,000 over four years for Coady’s work with the Supporting Transition, Retention and Training for Girls (START4GIRLS) program in Zimbabwe. Lead by CARE Canada, and funded through Global Affairs Canada, the project will work with girls, adolescent women, and their communities to promote vocational skills training. It will also place a special emphasis on married girls and teenage mothers who have dropped out of school.
Further funding of $125,000 USD from the Ford Foundation will support Coady’s work with partner group The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India. The three-year project will design participatory tools to measure how and where economic vulnerability affects women and their ability to participate in formal and informal employment.
Finally, a $300,000 contribution from the Comart Foundation will strengthen Coady’s ability to work alongside Indigenous peoples and African Nova Scotians, right here in our own province. The funds will be matched by the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment, for a total investment of $600,000. The combined investment will strengthen Coady’s capacity to work more closely with Indigenous and African Nova Scotian students, whether through scholarships that bring students to the Institute or by bringing Coady programs into the community.
The diversity of funding announcements reflects Coady’s commitment to work closely with partner groups around the globe, and increasingly, closer to home here in Canada.
“The Coady Institute continues to be a place where change leaders – whether from other parts of the work or here in Nova Scotia – discuss issues, share innovations and develop real, tangible solutions,” said Gord.
“Local leaders are making change happen.”
Among the local programs celebrated at the event was the Centre for Employment Innovation (CEI), an initiative of the Coady Institute and StFX’s Extension Department. Alongside partners within the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, CEI has worked with more than 100 people from underrepresented groups, helping them gain access to meaningful employment as well as training and professional development opportunities.
It was also noted that Coady’s Global Change Leader program, one of almost two dozen programs that will be offered in 2020, recently received over 1,900 applications for just 20 spots. It’s a figure the Coady Institute says supports the need for such programming, and affirms the Institute’s positive reputation around the world.
In addition to remarks from Mr. Cunningham, speakers at the event included Jamie Smith, Director of Social Innovation; Eileen Alma, Director of Women and Indigenous Programming; Anthony Scoggins, Director of Education Programs, StFX President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Kevin B. Wamsley, and two recent graduates from the Coady Institute: Sheila Pelly and Andrea Curley.
Mr. Kerry Prosper, Indigenous Knowledge Keeper on campus, offered a territorial acknowledgement, in recognition of the fact that the Coady Institute is located on Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and un-ceded territories of the Mi’kmaq people.