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Bombardier Intern Scholarship at StFX supporting valuable summer experience for Public Policy and Governance students  

Fri, 2021-05-14 13:23
Pictured at top, l-r, Naomi Stobart and Sydney Chambers. Bottom: Chloe Walker, Matthew Russell and Matthew Stepien

The Public Policy and Governance (PGOV) Program and the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at St. Francis Xavier University are pleased to announce the inaugural winners of the Bombardier Intern Scholarship, made available to students through the generous financial support of the Beaudoin Family. 

Each year, four to five students are selected to receive awards valued between $7,000 and $10,000 through a competitive process. The awards provide students involved in the PGOV program with an opportunity to gain valuable experience working as a summer intern in an organization with a public policy, governance or public service focus. 

The 2021 recipients of the award are Sydney Chambers, Matthew Russell, Matthew Stepien, Naomi Stobart and Chloe Walker. 

The students say the scholarship is making a huge difference. 

“The significance of the Bombardier Internship award cannot be overstated, especially in such a trying year where simply finding an internship, let alone a paid internship is a difficult task for many,” says Matthew Stepien of Stoney Creek, ON, a fourth year honours PGOV student also taking a subsidiary in political science, who will investigate Arctic defence policy through his internship with the North American Arctic Defence and Security Network (NAADSN). 

“I hope to take many lessons of the policy creation process through my time at the NAADSN, which was possible because the award.”  

Chloe Walker of Ottawa, ON, a fourth year honours PGOV student taking a subsidiary in English, will complete her placement with the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax, NS, specifically in their Wije’winen/Come With Us Initiative. “This award is not only of great importance to me as a student entering my final year of undergraduate studies, but is also of great significance in that it is facilitating a really exciting relationship between myself as a representative of StFX and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre to be established,” she says. 

“In having one of the inaugural Bombardier Scholarships contribute towards a partnership that connects Indigenous knowledge, organizations, structures, systems and peoples into my foundational understanding of public policy and governance gained throughout core PGOV and interdisciplinary courses, I believe that a strong message of reconciliation and community partnership is suggested. I am proud to be a recipient of an award that values and supports work of this nature, and truly hope that the work I do this summer can be impactful in the realm of reconciliation in Canada today.”

Matt Russell of Stellarton, NS, a fourth year public policy and governance student taking a double major in PGOV and political science, will complete his placement at the Climate Change and Sustainability Office, Town of New Glasgow, NS. He says the Bombardier Scholarship has provided him the opportunity to be involved in research and policy making in the areas of climate change and sustainability at the municipal level and allows him to engage with various town managers to identify areas for potential improvements. 

“I am deeply thankful for this award. It has allowed me to pursue my passion for student government,” says Naomi Stobart of Saskatoon, SK, a fourth year honours PGOV student taking a subsidiary in political science, who will complete her placement with the StFX Students’ Union.

“Receiving this scholarship from Bombardier allows for me to fully invest myself into understanding non-profit organizations, their policy, bylaws and structure. This award allows me to support both council and executives in their role of advocating and providing for their constituents, the student body. Overall, this experience will be invaluable to a deeper knowledge and understanding of public policy and governance in action and I am grateful for Bombardier’s role in supporting me while I achieve this.”

Fourth year honours anthropology student Sydney Chambers of Toronto, ON, who is taking  a subsidiary in aquatic resources, will work at the Atlantic Policy Congress (APC) of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat, specifically in the Fisheries and Integrated Resources Department. “This award allows me to be a part of establishing a relationship between StFX and APC that will open the door for future research and important work towards reconciliation. Being one of the inaugural recipients of this award, I am honoured to be able to bring more focus towards Indigenous peoples, treaty rights, livelihood fisheries, and use my research to contribute to reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and settlers in Canada.”

Collaboration and Innovation: Master of Adult Education - Women’s Leadership and Community Development

Tue, 2021-05-11 16:24
Several participants pictured include, l-r, Odinakaonye Lagi (Nigeria), Jasmine Collis (Qalipu First Nation, Newfoundland) and Chanae Parsons (Nova Scotia)

A new online program at StFX designed for students who wish to pursue adult education research in areas of women’s leadership and community development, is now in its second year, and already has provided exciting results, organizers say. 

The Master of Adult Education - Women’s Leadership and Community Development is offered in collaboration between the StFX Department of Adult Education, and the Coady International Institute.

The cohort is the result of collaboration between Dr. Carole Roy from StFX’s Department of Adult Education who shared the idea for this program with Eileen Alma at the Coady International Institute. The Dean of Education, the Director of the Coady Institute, and the Director of Continuing Education supported it and Dr. Roy and Dr. Robin Neustaeter, cross appointed with the Department of Adult Education and the Coady International Institute, designed and facilitated the first online cohort in spring 2020. 

The first cohort began in April 2020 when a group of leaders from Nova Scotia, Ontario, Newfoundland (First Nation), Nigeria, Rwanda, and Ghana (now residing in Quebec) started the program. 

“Their backgrounds inspire respect as they actively work towards social justice and community development in solidarity with various groups including women, youth, poor, street-involved and incarcerated women, people with disabilities, refugees, Indigenous, and African Nova Scotians. Their dedication is commendable as they juggle caring for children and supporting relatives and communities while working full time and pursuing a graduate degree,” says Dr. Roy, the program’s coordinator. 

“They honour their diverse heritages and find pride and inspiration in their mothers, grandmothers, mentors, and in their own wisdom. They have faced struggles and have come to respect differences. They value resourcefulness and inclusiveness. They did not always identify as leaders but through experience and reflection they now recognize their commitment to their community, which at times has been fearless, supportive, empowering, or innovative.”

Dr. Roy says while some raised awareness, created book clubs and media for Black girls and women, others devoted themselves to ensuring health services for Indigenous communities, supporting refugees, producing educational media, and creating community-based educational opportunities to enrich academic success of Black youth. 

Others directed centers dedicated to supporting women, at times raising millions of dollars to create a place of refuge and peace for poor women and children. Others developed training programs for legal aid workers or created networks for women involved in community development in their region, country, or with international organizations. One took the pen in support of youth demanding justice in Nigeria. Another was recognized as an emergent leader in the African Nova Scotian community. “And still, they enrolled in this graduate program with dreams of justice and social and environmental sustainability. Needless to say, it has been an immense privilege to work with such a group of leaders.”

Over the last year, she says, there have been many inquiries and a second cohort started in April 2021, which Dr. Roy and Dr. Maureen Coady are facilitating. 

“Settlers, Indigenous, and mixed-race women from Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, and an Egyptian woman living in the Middle East are already creating a convivial community for exchange, learning, and support. They are nurses, mental health and youth educators, lawyer, designer, public servants, labour educator, social workers, and community developers, some already having received graduate degrees in economics, development studies, business administration, and design. A recent article in the Globe and Mail highlighted an Indigenous member of this new cohort,” they say.

As the participants embark on the three-year research-based program, they are developing their individual learning plan, thinking and discussing about leadership, reflective practice, and getting acquainted with the literature relevant to their interests in women’s leadership, community development, and adult learning.

Next year, they will learn about research methodologies, develop a research proposal, carry out data collection and analysis, identify themes and findings, and compose a report before reflecting on their learning on content and learning process over the whole program and they will present their research projects to each other. 

“We look forward to the first cohort graduating in May 2023 and are planning a third cohort for January 2022.” 

Those interested in women’s leadership and community development are encouraged to visit the program website and to contact Dr. Carole Roy at 


Enterpreneurship in Action: Nine StFX students receive Wallace Family Internships 

Tue, 2021-05-11 11:23
L-r, Top row: Richard Grant and Donald Jewkes, Emma Kuzmyk, and Tania Tesson. Bottom: Mbongeni Ndlovu, Cayla Olynyk, Thalia Puac and Adelaide Strickland. Missing: Liam Johnston

Nine StFX students have been awarded 2021 Wallace Family Internships that will allow them to pursue their unique business ideas and gain 12 weeks of full-time employment over the next few months. 

Successful recipients include Mbongeni Ndlovu and Liam Johnston; Richard Grant and Donald Jewkes; Thalia Puac and Cayla Olynyk; Emma Kuzmyk and Adelaide Strickland; and Tania Tesson, who will receive coaching and assistance from StFX staff and faculty mentors and engage in learning activities that help them explore and develop an enterprise venture. 

StFX DiscoverBox administers the Wallace Family Entrepreneurship Fund, which provides April to July internships to StFX students who have an enterprise idea and who are interested in starting a new venture, developing a new prototype, or applying innovative approaches to a particular product or service.

This year’s recipients and their projects follow below:

Mbongeni Ndlovu/Liam Johnston, Fitness Training App by AI

Computer science student Mbongeni Ndlovu and Liam Johnston’s project focuses on building the data infrastructure and a software application that strength and conditioning coaches can use to either enhance their training programming workflows or automate their ability to prepare training programs for athletes, based on their sport, position and individual characteristics. The app will also be able to make rehabilitation training programs based on a specific injury and all the muscles associated with it, he says. The two say data is the gold of the 21st century. Significant systems that are built on top of Artificial Intelligence (AI) require large amounts of high-quality data that is insightful and actionable. Strength and conditioning coaches manually design individual training programs for each athlete they are responsible for. This task is time and labour intensive as coaches account for many variables when creating training programs. Organizations such as universities with smaller budgets cannot afford to hire teams of strength coaches to manage the needs of all athletes, they say. Coaches typically end up making one single training program for a whole team, which negatively affects the athletes as these programs are too general and do not consider the individual needs. “Each athlete is unique and requires individualized training programs targeting their current needs and abilities, while also considering physical limitations the individual may have, such as an injury. There is currently no data that can be used to train intelligent systems that can make conditioning programs for athletes based on their sport, position, and abilities, therefore, one must be created. The conditioning programs made by coaches come in many different forms (spreadsheets, PDF’s, text files, etc.) and are presented differently based on the coach that prepares the program. All of these conditioning programs made by coaches were designed to be given to athletes and not for computers to understand. Thus, the data will be built from the ground up using first principles thinking and will be specifically designed in such a way that computers can understand the information that it receives and build cohesive training program plans that take into consideration the muscles, equipment available, past injuries, and training goals for the sport, position, and athlete.” 

Richard Grant/Donald Jewkes, Liven Beverages

Mr. Grant is a third year Schwartz School marketing student and Mr. Jewkes is a fourth year computer science student. In Liven they hope to produce and market Canada's first craft protein kefir, which is a fermented, probiotic milk beverage. “Our goal is to create a protein probiotic for general health conscious consumers to drink after a workout or as a tasty healthy post-meal dessert. So far we have produced a "looks like acts like prototype" in a small portion of the Antigonish Farmers’ Market kitchen. We are aiming to scale up production to then launch our Liven at the farmers’ market,” they say. The duo have food safe testing underway with Perennia food and beverage innovation in Truro, NS. They are also conducting market research and an introductory marketing campaign in anticipation of the product’s launch and hope to use the resources provided from the Wallace Family Internship to scale up the business, allowing them to conduct better product testing with Perennia and to expand production to enter other farmers’ markets. 

Thalia Puac/Cayla Olynyk, Dream Bean Yogart

The two fourth year nutrition students are working on a pulse-based yogurt sweetened with imperfect local fruit to satisfy the gap in the market for non-coconut-based dairy-free yogurt. “By using local, sustainably sourced, nutritious ingredients, this product would support local farmers and manufacturers in the Antigonish area who are seeking to reduce their waste,” they say. “It would satisfy the needs and wants of the environmentally and economically conscious consumer as well as seniors impacted by illnesses or disabilities.” Pulses, they say, are the dried edible seeds of plants in the legume family and in Canada they are grown across the prairie provinces, southern Ontario, and Quebec. Pulses contain high amounts of protein, fibre and folate, and may be effective in reducing risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. “As human nutrition students of BSAD 356/HNU 471, we have built an effective founding team and want to move this work beyond the classroom to build our venture knowledge and skills. After the cancellation of Mission Delicious last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to use this opportunity to take our ideas and learn not just product development, but also market and industry analysis. We have demonstrated our capacity for initiative and self-direction through our work as advanced major and honours students. Thalia’s project focuses on local blueberry production, while Cayla is exploring the experiences of student athletes with exercise-related gut distress. With shared values in health and a sustainable future we aim to address the current gap in the market for plant-based yogurts.”

Emma Kuzmyk/Adelaide Strickland, Tales of Activism and lessons of Sexual Violence on campus

Ms. Strickland, a fourth year BA honours development studies student, and Ms. Kuzmyk, a fourth year BA English honours student, will work on a project that will see them produce an anthology of student essays, poems, speeches, and artwork centering the experience of fighting sexual violence on university campuses. The anthology will consist of three sections: 1) What We Faced: stories about combatting rape culture, institutional inaction, and insufficient policies. 2) What We Built: stories about the programs, positions, and policies achieved through student activism. 3) How We Survived: stories about building networks of support, practicing community care, and overcoming adversity amidst protest and unrest. “Throughout the anthology, we will also include ‘tips and tricks’ for readers doing similar work, collected from our own experience and from each of our contributors,” they say. “Evidently, we hope that this project produces a publishable anthology of student voices. We hope that it will serve as somewhat of a guide or motivation for student activists in years to come—we certainly know that it would have been useful to us in pursuing our own activist ventures to read about what others were doing to combat similar issues. The learning outcome of working on a project such as this is also something we’re looking forward to—in learning new skills, making connections, and gaining experience in a field relevant to what we’d like to do.”

Tania Tesson, Naturally Me - A Shift to Cultural Appreciation

Ms. Tesson, a fourth year sociology student, says she created Naturally Me, which now produces face masks, “to have everyone experience another culture with the confidence of knowing about it. At the same time, tackling the cultural appropriation phenomenon continuously dividing us.” She says Naturally Me is aimed at showing appreciation and respect to other cultures. “I have decided to express that through clothing and starting with the Naturally Me masks, my current project under the Xaverian Innovation and Entrepreneurs Micro-Grant.” Ms. Tesson says she recognizes that it is hard to celebrate and appreciate the world's cultures by fear of cultural appropriation. “To tackle cultural appropriation, we need a shift to cultural appreciation. Giving the facts and story behind the fabrics used in each design will help that. It will also educate and allow people to provide the proper respect and appreciation to our world's cultures. Education on what cultural appreciation is can also provoke the change from cultural appropriation.” In this internship, she wants to explore a continuum of Naturally Me's mission: to tackle cultural appropriation and transform it into cultural appreciation. She is hoping to create social change through fashion and education. She would like to take Naturally Me a step further and develop children's books that will educate on cultural appreciation and acceptance of different cultures. Additionally, she wants to work on a t-shirt design in collaboration with people of different cultural backgrounds. Like the Naturally Me masks, each t-shirt will come with a flyer containing information about the fabrics and designs used. 

StFX congratulates Class of 2021—a graduating class that preserved and thrived; honours Dr. Robert Strang, Sean Boyd during Spring Convocation 

Fri, 2021-05-07 13:50
StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin addresses the graduating Class of 2021

The StFX Class of 2021—a group of graduating students who preserved and thrived in a year like no other—was celebrated May 7, 2021 as StFX welcomed nearly 945 new alumni and honoured Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang and Sean Boyd, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, with the degree Doctor of Laws honoris causa, during Spring Convocation ceremonies. 

Graduates were united in celebration, but physically separate as StFX officially awarded degrees and diplomas to the Class of 2021 during two virtual ceremonies that pre-recorded speakers and participants separately after changes to indoor gathering limits were introduced as part of the Nova Scotia government’s two-week provincial lockdown postponed the May 2 online convocation date. 

StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin brought congratulations and thanks. 

“Today, I begin by letting you know how grateful this university is to you, our graduates, and your families, for your patience and understanding as we continue to find new paths forward in response to the altered reality of life due to this pandemic,” said Dr. Hakin, who noted that if we talked a year ago, it would seem inconceivable this ceremony would need to take the form it has today, a form that changed multiple times in the last few weeks. 

“As the graduating Class of 2021, your personal journey through StFX has been unlike those of any other year that has gone before you. Stories of what you’ve navigated will become legendary in the history of StFX.”

The outcome—your convocation—is a fantastic achievement, he said, “and I congratulate each of you on the strength and resilience you demonstrated in reaching the finish line.”

Dr. Hakin says the promise of an immersive experience is a key differentiating element of the StFX journey. It’s what many students want. This year, StFX continued to provide that place where students can thrive despite limitations imposed by the pandemic. “Our success in completing the academic year can be attributed to the hard work and support of staff, faculty, students and members of the broader local community we call home. In the last year, we’ve witnessed a community collectively pulling together to achieve a remarkable outcome of supporting an immersive experience in which we have led the country in the proportion of face-to-face courses.” 

Dr. Hakin said making a difference to those around you is part of the Xaverian way and he can already see examples of that in today’s graduates. 


AM Dr. Robert Strang.jpeg Dr. Robert Strang

Dr. Strang, Nova Scotia’s top doctor and public face of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 response, congratulated the students for their amazing achievements this year. He also took time to challenge the graduating class to remember the call to look after each other, and to focus on those who have a greater need in our community, and on how we lift people up, how we lift communities up. 

“Thank you to the StFX community. It’s exciting to be here. I’m honoured and humbled to be receiving this honorary degree and to join part of the StFX family,” Dr. Strang said as he opened his remarks, and noted that it is important people understand he is receiving this honour on behalf of all public health professionals in recognition of their dedication and expertise over the past year-and-a-half supporting and leading Nova Scotia through the current pandemic. 

“It’s been a difficult and challenging year-and-a-half working through your education while dealing with all the requirements and restrictions that come with the COVID-19 pandemic. It hasn’t been easy.

“You have done an amazing job and a model for people to look at and to continue to have mostly in-person learning while keeping everyone COVID safe.”

Dr. Strang said the StFX and greater community has been incredible in their collaboration and commitment to each other, and students have been front and centre in that.

In thinking about his remarks for today, Dr. Strang said he had a few key messages. 

COVID has been difficult, but there are a few things it can show us. Among them is how connected we are at the global level, and the need to be mindful of how everything we do has possible impact.

Dr. Strang said the pandemic has reminded us of the importance to think globally, and act locally. “That’s not new at all at StFX,” he said. “It’s engrained in the culture and ethos of StFX.”

The second thing it’s revealed is our commitment to each other. “The success of Nova Scotia has really been because everyone has answered the call. The way we keep each other safe during the pandemic is to act for each other, to put each other’s needs ahead of our own to some extent. That to me is a critically important piece coming out of the pandemic.” Thinking about how we work together and that sense of caring for each other and looking after each other, can only make us better as we come out of the pandemic. 

The last piece, he said, is knowing the pandemic has had different impacts on different parts of our communities, particularly the most vulnerable. “The pandemic has really shone a light on some of those inequities and it’s important that we not turn away, but that we unpackage those and dive into those and say how do we reduce those inequities, make things fairer, more just, more caring in our communities. So that’s a call for all of us.”


A PM Sean Boyd.jpeg Sean Boyd

Sean Boyd, who’s been heralded as a global visionary in the mining industry and is a former member of the StFX Board of Governors, also reminded graduates that with challenges come opportunities, and that they’ve certainly learned how to adapt. 

“I am honoured and humbled to accept this honorary degree from StFX, particularly because three of my four children attended StFX,” he said as he opened his remarks. 

“What a day of accomplishment and anticipation for the future. Unfortunately, we can’t all be together, but this is your day to shine.”

Mr. Boyd said it’s also a day for being grateful—grateful for the friends made, the teachers you’ve learned from, and more importantly, for the people who’ve supported you through this journey of growth and accomplishment. 

“We’ve learned we can’t take anything for granted and to value and honour those in your life,” he said. 

To honour those special people, Mr. Boyd advised graduates to strive to exceed their own expectations, and to be the best they can be in whatever path they choose.  

Characteristics that have served him well have been patience with respect to his career path and willingness to make decisions and take risks. 

As well, he said he’s grateful to the many individuals in his life who have benefitted his path, including his father Kevin Boyd, who always advised him to think big and to set goals that seemed beyond reach, who often quoted a saying to him: ‘It’s not the mountains that will wear you down, it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” Former Agnico Eagle boss Paul Penna, he said, was a man of charity who taught him to help people if you can and that you must go to them, not for them to go to you. And his in-laws, including his father-in-law, an immigrant who came from Italy, provided an excellent lesson on realizing the richness of family.

“My hope and wish for all of you is simple, that those people who are most important in your life are by your side with you for many years, that you can share and celebrate the goodness of life together, that your belief in yourself is as strong as the confidence and belief that your family and friends have in you. That you take on all the mountains with energy and enthusiasm while ignoring the grain of sand in your shoe, and that your success is filled with the richness that comes with being kind, making a positive difference in people’s lives.”


AM Dr. Jen Jamieson.jpeg AM Dr. Laura Lee Kearns.jpeg A PM Kara Thompson.jpeg A PM Marlis Lade.jpeg Among major honours at the ceremony were the presentation of the President’s Research Award to Dr. Kara Thompson, Department of Psychology; and the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award to Dr. Jen Jamieson, Department of Human Nutrition; Dr. Laura-Lee Kearns, Department of Education; and Marlis Lade, Department of Modern Languages.  

Graduates were presented with their degrees containing two parchments, one written in traditional Latin and one in Mi’kmaq, to show StFX’s respect and honour for shared treaty relations. 

StFX Knowledge Keeper Kerry Prosper introduced alumna Michelle Lebrun who performed the Mi’kmaq honour song from her home in Pictou Landing, NS to honour and congratulate this year’s StFX graduates.


AM Chancellor Peacock.jpeg Chancellor John Peacock

Chancellor John Peacock conferred the degrees and diplomas in course. 

“I am proud of you, but not at all surprised by the character you’ve shown this past year,” Mr. Peacock said, telling graduates he hopes they take away an awareness of themselves, and also an understanding of the essential role others play in their life. “If this year has taught us anything is that we need each other.”

University Chaplain Rev. Donald MacGillivray delivered the invocation and Vicar of the Founder, Bishop of Antigonish Rev. Wayne Kirkpatrick, in his remarks told graduates he hopes their time at StFX helps them be good citizens of the world who will reach out to others, especially those in need, to help build a better world. 

Glenn Horne, past president of the StFX Alumni Association, brought greetings on behalf of over 50,000 alumni worldwide, reminding graduates this network is here to support and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them “as your collective potential takes root and changes the world.” 


AM Emily Sandre.jpeg Emily Sandre

Morning senior class speaker Emily Sandre, a Rankin School of Nursing student from Ottawa, ON, told classmates this is not how we imagined our last year at StFX or how we hoped to be celebrating our convocation. Through it all though, the Class of 2021 has preserved together to keep one another safe, and has contributed much good into the world, and has been the recipient of much goodness. 

Ms. Sandre reflected on the StFX motto, ‘Whatsoever things are true’ and its profound meaning and how it’s been woven into the graduating class’s individual journeys. 

“We are equipped with the knowledge and the experience to go out into the world and continue doing what is true, good and noble, and that is worthy of praise. Thank you, and congratulations to the StFX graduating class of 2021.”

Patt-Anne_Class-Spearker_750_web.jpg Patti-Anne Tracey

Afternoon senior class speaker, Patti-Anne Tracey, a Schwartz School of Business student from Antigonish, NS, said she is amazed to see the culture the class has built at StFX.

“We did not give up on our ultimate goal of graduating from this special university. In fact, we proved that our StFX community and our graduating class were able to successfully stand up and rise above a global pandemic and lead in extraordinary ways.”

Ms. Tracey gave huge thanks to the many people in the StFX and broader communities who made this year possible, and noted that in 2020, the graduates, like so many, were faced with a question of whether we choose to remain the same person we were before the world flipped or do we choose to grow and transform.

“Graduation doesn’t look like how you thought it would, but then again, neither do we.”

StFX is a special place, due largely to the people, the community and friendships. As you go forward, she said her hope for her class is that they will always chose to lend a hand, to raise each other up, and to deepen relationships.

For a complete list of graduates and award-winners from the Class of 2021, please:

Click here to view the 2pm ceremony Graduate List.

Click here to view the 2pm ceremony medalists.

Click here to view the 6pm ceremony Graduate List.

Click here to view the 6pm ceremony medalists.

StFX appoints Dr. Lace Marie Brogden as Dean of Education

Wed, 2021-05-05 09:14
Dr. Lace Marie Brogden

StFX Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley is pleased to announce that Dr. Lace Marie Brogden has been appointed the Dean of Education at St. Francis Xavier University, effective July 1, 2021.  

Dr. Brogden is an experienced, fully bilingual, academic leader having served as the inaugural Dean, Faculty of Education at Laurentian University when the combined French/English program was created in 2016. As Dean, Dr. Brogden has developed skills and insights related to strategic planning, university advancement, and managing organizational change. Dr. Brogden’s role as Dean has helped her to develop core competencies in building bridges between and among diverse stakeholders, including with international partners. It has also helped her understand the importance of patience and humility in advocating for what she believes to be right to time, place, and context. 

Dr. Brogden’s research and scholarship interests include language teacher education, negotiating subjectivities, social justice in education, and autoethnography. She has contributed to journals such as Qualitative Inquiry and La revue Canadienne des Langues vivantes/Canadian Modern Language Review. She is currently writing a book on the challenge of and importance for French-language teachers to learn about Treaty Education. Dr. Brodgen has also taught in public schools, served at the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, and has occupied roles as a faculty member and now academic leader in the post-secondary context. 

Dr. Brogden has an impressive track record of success as a university administrator. In addition to her position as Dean, Faculty of Education, Dr. Brogden has also been the Acting Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies since November 2020. The academic units she has led have seen enrolment growth, faculty renewal, and program improvement. Dr. Brogden is proud to have mentored faculty members engaged in meaningful work in their teaching, research, and service, while championing them with both internal and external stakeholders. 

Dr. Brogden is a Member-at-Large elected in 2016 and 2018 to the Ontario Association of Deans of Education Executive, was elected to the Executive Committee of the Association of Canadian Deans of Education in 2018 and is the current president-elect. She also serves as International 1st Vice-President, DKG International for the 2020-22 term. Dr. Brogden also engages in international service work promoting the personal and professional development of women educators. 

As part of her work in two demographically and geographically disparate universities over the past 10 years, Dr. Brogden has engaged with issues related to Indigenizing and attending to the rights, needs, and perspectives of Indigenous students and communities within the context of Treaty, ceded and unceded territories, and Truth and Reconciliation. She believes the academy should strive to lead – in both philosophy and practice – by addressing complex issues associated with establishing and maintaining healthy communities. COVID-19 has amplified the need to address inequities on campuses and communities and to work toward a post-colonial Canada.

COVID-19 crisis in India

Tue, 2021-05-04 18:24

To the campus community, 

Whilst we are collectively navigating the impact of the pandemic on our own province and country, it has become clear that India’s attempts to battle COVID-19 have led to a catastrophic health crisis with over 400,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths reported each day. On behalf of StFX, we express our deepest concern and care for those who are being affected, including many members of our own StFX community. 

StFX has enjoyed a long relationship with the people of India, including through our work at the Coady Institute, with our Indian students enrolled in both in-person and online degree programs, and with our faculty and staff members originally from India who maintain strong ties and family connections with those in the country. 

This Saturday we will be raising India’s flag in Alumni Plaza to fly for the next two weeks as a symbol that our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of crisis. I’d also like to remind the campus community that we have supports in place for those who may need them.  

StFX students wishing to access counselling supports are asked to please contact Ivan Drouin directly at as the StFX Health & Counselling Centre is closed for the summer. 

Other student supports include:

Mental Health Crisis Line


Crisis Text Line – text GOOD2TALKNS to 686868

GOOD TO TALK – to talk to someone call 1-833-292-3698

Faculty and staff who would like to speak to someone, are encouraged to access the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP):

•    By phone: 1-800-387-4765

•    By website:

•    Download the MyEAP app in your app store

This is a global crisis and I hope that you will join me in supporting members of our community who are greatly affected by this pandemic.  

Please continue to take great care of yourself, and one another. 


Andy W. Hakin PhD

President and Vice-Chancellor

St. Francis Xavier University

Antigonish, Nova Scotia · Canada

t: (902) 867-2188 |e:  

2021 Spring Convocation Update

Thu, 2021-04-29 15:58
Members of the Class of 2021 during the Xaverian Farewell, held earlier this semester.

To the Campus Community,

I am writing with an update regarding plans for our virtual 2021 Spring Convocation ceremonies. The changes to indoor gathering limits introduced earlier this week as part of the Nova Scotia government’s two-week provincial lockdown forced us to postpone our convocation as the number of people required for our virtual ceremony exceeded the newly introduced limit. 

Over the past 24 hours, much work has taken place to develop alternate plans that are in full compliance with the provincial gathering guidelines. This includes the decision to pre-record all ceremonial aspects and participants separately. With this, I am pleased to share that our virtual convocation ceremonies will now take place on Friday, May 7, 2021. 

There are two different ceremonies taking place; please note the one for your program: 

2 p.m. ADT Ceremony

Degrees: Ph.D. in Educational Studies; Master of Science, Education, and Adult Education; Bachelors of Education, Science, Nursing, Human Nutrition, Human Kinetics; Diplomas in Engineering and Integrated Dietetic Internship.

6 p.m. ADT Ceremony

Degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration, Music, and Diplomas in Jazz Studies, Bachelor of Arts & Science in Health, Bachelor of Arts & Science in Climate & Environment.

Please take a moment to review our 2021 Spring Convocation ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, which includes details on how to join each ceremony. If you have a question you don’t see addressed here, please contact Shanna Hopkins, Director of Alumni Affairs, at

In closing, this has certainly been an unprecedented year, requiring patience, flexibility, and resilience from everyone involved. We are grateful for your cooperation and understanding, and are looking forward to celebrating on Friday, May 7th.

Congratulations to all of our graduating students on your accomplishments. We look forward to the virtual celebration of your very special day.


Andy W. Hakin PhD

StFX President & Vice-Chancellor 

COVID-19 UPDATE - April 27

Tue, 2021-04-27 18:10

To the StFX Community,

Moments ago, the Premier and Dr. Strang provided an update that included a shutdown of the entire province (with some exceptions), beginning 8:00 AM tomorrow, Wednesday April 28th and remaining in place for two weeks.

In effect, this directive will mean the following:

  • Those who can work from home, should do so. If you cannot work from home or if you need to come to StFX to access work-related materials, it is perfectly acceptable to do so. Please contact your supervisor to discuss your specific details.
  • All classes currently in progress will transfer to online delivery format. Students are asked to contact their professors should they have questions.
  • Members of the campus community performing research-related activities must check in with their Dean.
  • Essential services will be maintained (e.g. Safety & Security). Construction activities are deemed essential services and will continue.
  • Convocation will be postponed. We will be evaluating our options and commit to updating the StFX Community as soon as we are ready with further details.

These are trying times; however, in the words of Dr. Strang, we will ‘lock arms and stay strong’ and get through this together. 


Andy W. Hakin PhD

President and Vice-Chancellor St Francis Xavier University 

PO BOX 5000 Antigonish NS | Canada | B2G 2W5

t. 902 867 2188 |  e.  

Unique Schwartz School, Coady partnership launches through Sears Internships 

Tue, 2021-04-27 14:14
L-r, Dr. Brad Long, Sears Interns Nicolas Coyle, Derin Derici and Victoria Morley, and Yogesh Ghore

A unique partnership at StFX is creating a bridge for Gerald Schwartz School of Business students into the Coady Institute thanks to the efforts of Dr. Brad Long, the John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility in the Schwartz School, and Yogesh Ghore, Senior Program Staff at Coady.  

Dr. Long has just hired the first cohort of three students through the new Sears Internships in Social Enterprise Program, made possible through funding from the endowed chair position he holds.

The Sears Interns—they include Victoria Morley, who graduates in May with a BBA honours degree in enterprise systems; Derin Derici, a fourth year BBA student taking an advanced major in marketing, minor in economics; and Nicolas Coyle, a fourth year student, taking a BBA advanced major in finance, minor in economics—will work on three separate virtual projects alongside Dr. Long, Mr. Ghore, Eric Smith and several other Coady team members, and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India. 

“The idea was for business students to be able to become involved with learning opportunities available through Coady, and I took that as an invitation to consider a broad range of possibilities. Conversations with Yogesh led to the idea of summer student internships – paid summer jobs doing research and/or working on projects that introduce Schwartz students to Coady people, partners, and development approaches,” Dr. Long says. 

The Coady is currently collaborating on a project with SEWA to enhance women farmers’ access to agricultural markets in India with the objective of improving their income and wellbeing. This project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT). Coady’s role in this project is to develop and test tools with women farmers to identify capacity building needs. Two of the students will work on this project: 

1. Producer-led value chain mapping of salt and fresh vegetables with women farmers in Gujrat, India. This project will include mapping the value chains from sourcing of agricultural inputs to production, harvesting, aggregation, processing, wholesale, distribution and retailing to local and distant markets. 

2. A model dashboard development for the farmers. A key component of the FIT project is developing a ‘model dashboard’ for farmers that helps them learn, make informed decisions and track progress. This component includes identification of the key performance indicators, the method, tools and frequency of data collection, data storage, and analysis. Working with the SEWA grassroots implementation team, the student will assess the need of such a dashboard, its feasibility, and technical requirements. 

The third project is Reimagining human capital from the perspective of women, workers, and union members, and the intersectionality of all three. Mr. Ghore says the current framing of human capital used by the World Bank and multilaterals focus on health and education as key components, linking investments in them to economic returns and productivity gains. This research aims to understand, expand and enliven the concept of human capital and influence its subsequent application. 


The students are excited for the opportunity. 

“I believe that the work SEWA does to mobilize and empower women in India is important, and a very worthy cause that I would love to contribute to. As an enterprise systems student, I have had the opportunity to work with data over the last four years and understand that data can be used as an asset and a means to create impactful change. This project intersects both my passion for making impactful change, as well as my desire to gain some rich short-term work experience,” Ms. Morley says.

Mr. Coyle says the recent farmers protest across India has brought to his attention the economic difficulties faced by female farmers. “My goal in taking on this project is to facilitate the empowerment of these women by increasing their margins after identifying steps and technologies in the value chain which could be improved upon, ensuring that they’re not invisible in the process by increasing the awareness of their value to themselves and other stakeholders. The Sears Internship provides me the opportunity to improve the lives of rural female farmers in Gujarat; giving these farmers the information they need will help increase their economic welfare. As we all know, investing in women not only adds to their quality of life, but uplifts their communities as well.”

Ms. Derici says she believes without hesitation that the future of the human capital depends on perspective of women, workers and union members. “I am confident that my skills and my passion for empowering women in workforce are a good match for the position.”


“These projects will be a great learning opportunity for the students as well as for the women farmers and entrepreneurs in rural India making a real difference in their livelihoods,” Mr. Ghore says. 

“The students will get to work on real life issues such as identifying barriers for women’s access to markets, credit and technology. They not only get to learn about the issues and challenges, but they will get to apply their newly learned knowledge and skills in finance, enterprise systems and marketing to address them. This will be a chance to apply the concepts they have learned in the class into real life enterprises that women run in an emerging market context. They will also get to interact with youth in India and share ideas, perspectives and solutions with them.” 

He says as the communities respond to the pandemic, it is opening up opportunities to look at problems differently and bring in innovations such as the use of digital technology. “What is exciting is that we will be connecting the StFX students with grassroots women leaders from SEWA to become part of the recovery and shape rebuilding of the rural economy—in other words, building it better! In a unique way, this partnership between the Coady and Schwartz School of Business allows different initiatives/programs within StFX to come together in way that creates new value and a win-win for all.” 

Dr. Long says these projects are part of the broader vision of social responsibility – students will be able to use tools learned in the business school, from data management to cost analysis to research and beyond and apply them in ways that generate positive social impact. 

“They will also be immersed in a non-corporate organization – a grassroots, member-based social enterprise – and so they will learn to appreciate the plurality ways that we can organize ourselves and create more sustainable and just futures.” 

The partnership resulted from conversations between Dr. Long, who leads work in ethics, leadership and responsible management, and Mr. Ghore, who leads the Inclusive Economies area at Coady.  

As part of his role at Coady, Mr. Ghore works closely with SEWA. As part of initial meetings, he shared initiatives Coady had with SEWA on women’s economic empowerment, innovation and entrepreneurship. In consultation with SEWA, he proposed initial ideas and then Dr. Long and he worked together and came up with four projects that were supposed to take StFX students to India in summer 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and they had to cancel all plans.  

Dr. Long says at that time, he was only planning to hire one student and select one project. Since he didn’t use any funding from last year, it allows him to hire more students this summer. 

The two worked out a plan for the students to work with SEWA remotely on the three projects. 

The John T. Sears Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility is funded by John and Adrienne Peacock, both StFX graduates. Ten per cent of funds generated from this chair go towards supporting Schwartz School students who participate in projects or programming offered through the Coady. This is intended to facilitate student participation in community enterprise or community development programming within the Coady. The Peacocks have maintained a strong connection to their alma mater. Mr. Peacock is now StFX Chancellor and previously served on the Coady Institute Advisory Committee. Mrs. Peacock has served on the StFX Board of Governors. Both have been a part of fundraising campaigns for the university.  

SEWA is one of the world’s largest member-based organizations with over 1.9 million women members working in the informal sector across 18 states in India. SEWA organizes and empowers women, helping them to earn a living and making visible their individual labour or small enterprises. SEWA has been a partner with the Coady International Institute for over 40 years in the co-creation of knowledge about social enterprises and asset-based community development. StFX awarded SEWA’s founder Ela Bhatt, an honorary doctorate in 1999. 

StFX student establishing mentorship program for LGBTQ youth in Atlantic Canada as Pathy Fellowship recipient

Mon, 2021-04-26 10:36
Lauren Sobot

Lauren Sobot, a graduating StFX student will be working to establish a mentorship program between LGBTQ adults and LGBTQ youth in Atlantic Canada, as a Pathy Foundation Fellowship recipient at the Coady Institute. 

“I am excited and honoured to give back to the community and make a positive impact on LGBTQ youth. I’ve heard that the Pathy Fellowship really encourages you to push your limits and step outside of your comfort zone, so I’m very much looking forward to growing both personally and professionally,” says Ms. Sobot of Burlington, ON, who graduates from StFX with an honours degree in biology and psychology.

She is among 16 youth leaders awarded a Pathy Fellowship for 2021-22. 

The 12-month fellowship provides community-focused experiential learning opportunities for graduating students of McGill University, Queen’s University, University of Ottawa, Bishop’s University, and St. Francis Xavier University. Applicants submit a self-designed initiative proposal to work with a community with which they have a connection, to foster sustainable positive social change in Canada and around the world. The Pathy Family Foundation supports each fellow with funding of up to $40,000. This is the largest cohort yet, with six fellows from the previously deferred 2020-21 program joining 10 new fellows for a cohort of 16. 

With the Pathy Foundation Fellowship, Ms. Sobot hopes to establish a mentorship program between LGBTQ adults and LGBTQ teens and young adults, with the goal of building confidence and resiliency within young LGBTQ people. “It’s so important for youth to have a trusted adult to confide in and receive advice about the unique stressors that come along with being LGBTQ, such as coming out, having unsupportive family, and dealing with homophobic and/or transphobic discrimination,” she says. 

“I got the idea from my own struggles that I’ve experienced through growing up as a member of the Queer community. Two very important figures in my journey are Dr. Rhea Ashley Hoskin and Dr. Karen Blair, who I met through my time as a research student in Dr. Blair’s LGBTQ psychology lab at StFX (now at Trent University). Having proudly LGBTQ professors has made me vastly more comfortable with myself, and they have been incredible LGBTQ mentors and role models,” she says. 

Ms. Sobot says she heard about the Pathy Fellowship in her first year at StFX. “I always thought it sounded like a great opportunity, but never imagined I could come up with a suitable initiative to apply. In my third year, while reflecting on my mentorship with Dr. Blair and Dr. Hoskin, I thought it would be a great idea to give the opportunity for mentorship to other LGBTQ youth.”

She says it felt surreal to know her journey has led her from being a closeted teenager to having the chance to start a program to help other youth experiencing similar challenges. 

Ms. Sobot is the 15th StFX graduate to undertake a Pathy Fellowship since 2015.

StFX student Devon Parris one of only 10 in Canada named a 3M National Student Fellowship recipient

Thu, 2021-04-22 11:25
Devon Parris

StFX student Devon Parris has been named a 2021 3M National Student Fellowship Award recipient—one of only 10 students from across the country to receive the honour. 

The fellowship is awarded up to 10 full-time diploma and undergraduate students at Canadian post-secondary institutions who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their lives, at their post-secondary institution. 

These students embrace a vision of education that enhances their academic experience and beyond, the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) says.

"It definitely means a lot to have the opportunity to work alongside the STLHE and the student leaders they are developing. I’m really excited to develop and contribute towards the fantastic projects the STLHE have to offer,” says Mr. Parris, a graduating fourth year honours English major and former varsity athlete from Kingston, ON.

He was also a recipient this past year of one of six inaugural Racial Justice Leadership Grants from StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership. 

For a full bio, please see:

Devon Parris 

Devon is a fourth year student from Kingston, ON, studying English at St. Francis Xavier University. He is a former varsity athlete and one of six inaugural recipients of the Frank Mckenna Centre for Leadership’s inaugural Racial Justice Leadership Grant—a grant designed to support advocacy, outreach, and research projects by BIPOC students in the area of racial justice. Devon’s project is the “Anti-Racist Film Review”—a film review site that analyzes anti-racist discourse within film while critiquing superficial, exploitive, and misrepresentations of contemporary racism. Devon hopes to create a more educated audience for anti-racist film and anti-racist discourse, while also highlighting narratives that portray oppression with nuance and depth. In the last year and a half, Devon has been a guest panelist on the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government’s 2020 Election Panel, involved in planning StFX’s 2022 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Summit (a conference that spotlights BIPOC academics and students in Atlantic Canada), and also appeared at national and regional undergraduate conferences to discuss anti-racist discourse in film. Following his undergraduate studies, Devon plans to pursue either a master’s degree in critical race theory or attend Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law with the goal of contributing towards racial justice in Canada.


Refresh 2021: Fun, leadership and community building on the agenda for Nova Scotia high school students at upcoming NSSSA provincial conference

Mon, 2021-04-19 12:03
Fun, leadership and community building are on the agenda for Nova Scotia high school students at upcoming NSSSA provincial conference, taking place virtually from StFX May 22-23

Nova Scotia high school students have many great reasons to attend the Nova Scotia Secondary Schools’ Association (NSSSA) annual provincial conference, Refresh 2021, taking place May 22-23, virtually from the StFX campus. 

Chief among them is that the student-led conference focuses on promoting leadership skills and community, in a warm, inclusive atmosphere, and it’s a lot of fun, say conference co-chairs Katie MacLennan and Ella Stacey. 

“This leadership conference will feature four incredible keynote addresses, opportunities to make friends from all over the province, and fun activities such as a talent show, "how-to" sessions and much more,” says Ms. MacLennan, a first year StFX engineering student from Bras d’Or, Cape Breton.

The weekend will be filled with friendship and an energy that’s a defining factor of NSSSA, she says. “The energy is so unique and so hard to describe. It’s a comforting, welcoming atmosphere that really brings out the best in you.”

“Through the NSSSA, I was able to conquer my fears of public speaking and it helped with the social anxiety I face,” says Ms. Stacey, a second year Dalhousie University student, originally from California, but who’s lived in Halifax for the past decade.

“My first provincial conference, Exceeding Expectations 2016, I was given a very warm welcome and gained skills, which I still use in my everyday life. By the time our last conference, Vision 2020, rolled around I was able to be myself, speak my mind, and be surrounded by many kids doing the same. The NSSSA is such an inclusive community, and I am always able to turn to the friends I made through it.

“This conference will be unlike anything done on a provincial level before. The pandemic took a lot from us all. It’s my hope that Refresh can bring some normalcy to the lives of high school students across Nova Scotia!”

The conference is open to all Grade 9-12 students in Nova Scotia. The registration fee is $25, with registration closing on May 1, 2021. Students can register here.

Refresh 2021, the organizers say, is a chance to take a moment to breathe and ‘refresh,’ to recognize the knowledge gained after many unexpected challenges and unforeseen changes in 2020. It’s also a chance to gain new strength and energy, to reinvigorate, and focus on the future. 


Ms. MacLennan says to make the virtual conference special, organizers will be shipping "Conference in a Box" boxes to all delegates who register. The boxes will include information and manuals about the conference along with some extra fun stuff delegates would typically get at a provincial conference.

Highlights from Refresh 2021 will include four dynamic keynotes and seven skill-building and how-to sessions over the weekend.

Ms. MacLennan says a welcoming tone will be set right from the start with an opening keynote delivered by Playfair, known for high spirited and high energy activities. Over the next two days, delegates will be inspired by addresses from filmmakers and StFX alumni Meghan and Marie Wright; the Nova Scotia Youth Project, whose mission is to make Nova Scotia a safer, healthier, and happier place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth; and Andy Thibodeau, a longtime NSSSA favorite, who closes the conference speaking about what we’ve all learned through a year of COVID-19 and how to apply that knowledge. (Bios for all speakers follow below.)  

While most students will attend the entire conference, Ms. MacLennan says delegates are able to attend sessions as their schedule allows. 


She says from her own personal perspective, NSSSA has greatly enhanced her leadership skills since she attended her first conference in Grade 10. At the time, she says she was quite shy, but has since grown to take on a number of leadership roles and has grown in her own self-confidence. 

“It’s mainly the energy that comes along with NSSSA. It’s a very unique high energy that allows you to participate as much as you like. Delegates have the right to pass, to say no thank you to participating in an activity. It gives you the ability to sculpt your own conference experience.”

Gaining new friends, listening to inspiring keynotes and attending the sessions with people who are going through the same things as you are just some of the benefits, she says. 

An added bonus to attending this leadership conference is that NSSSA is known across Canada and participation in it looks great on a resume, she says. 

Keynote Bios


Playfair pic.jpg Carol Ann Fried, Empress of Friedom Training Services, is passionate and committed to bringing playfulness and laughter into the workplace. Best known for helping people discover their “JoySpot,” she obtained her MEd in counselling psychology from McGill with a BA (honours) in psychology, sociology and romance languages from Dalhousie University. Carol Ann has enjoyed faculty appointments at McGill University and UBC. Carol Ann has been a professional speaker, facilitator and consultant with business, education, health, government, technology and the helping professions for over 25 years. Before finding her true calling as a motivational speaker and trainer, she was most successful in show business with screen credits including guest host for Howie Mandel on TV's "Deal or No Deal," voice coach to Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, and Sarah McLaughlan, and body double for Kim Basinger in the motion picture, "9 1⁄2 Weeks.” Proud recipient of the coveted second prize in CBC Radio’s world-famous answering machine contest, her latest creative foray is into the world of improvisational theatre, where she performs with Vancouver Playback Theatre. Carol Ann’s sessions are invariably hailed as practical, dynamic and fun.


Meghan and Marie Wright

Meaghan Wright pic.jpg Marie Wright pic.jpg  

Meaghan and Marie Wright are twin sisters and filmmakers from Dartmouth, NS. After completing marketing degrees at StFX, they co-founded Mirror Image Media, a full service video production company based in Halifax. There, they found their love for filmmaking and wanted to help tell stories around social issues. Mirror Image Media produces documentaries and promotional content at the local and national level. Some clients they’ve worked with are the National Film Board, CBC, the Canadian Cancer Society, and United Way. Two of their documentaries have circulated internationally at film festivals — The Social Shift, a feature length film on a cross Canada journey discovering social entrepreneurship, along with Transform, a short autobiographical documentary on spinal cord injuries. They were recently on Season 7's Amazing Race Canada and competed as the only east coast team. Currently, they are directing a feature length documentary on the North Preston Surf Program, which dives into the historical and cultural reasons behind the lack of diversity in surfing. They are passionate about creating change and bringing marginalized voices to the forefront through film. 


NS Youth Project - Mitch Hill & Sefin Stefura

Mitch NSSSA.jpg  

Mitch Hill

Mitch Hill is a queer and non-binary community organizer and activist from Cape Breton, NS. Mitch has been a grassroots 2SLGBTQ+ activist since their youth. Over the past nine years Mitch has held a variety of hired and volunteer roles within local pride organizations, AIDS service organizations, and other nonprofits. They hold a Bachelor of Business Administration from CBU while being a proud anti-capitalist. Currently Mitch works as a community educator for The Youth Project, specializing in 2SLGBTQ+ education in schools from elementary to university, and professional development. They are also a health and wellness educator for the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia. Mitch is vice-chair for the Cape Breton Center of Sexual Health, and a board member with The Ally Center. 

Sefin NSSSA.jpg Sefin Stefura

Sefin Stefura grew up and still lives in Dominion, NS. Sefin had been volunteering with the Youth Project between 2017-19 and has been working with the Youth Project since the summer of 2019. He has a passion for helping the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and he hopes to be a positive role model for struggling youth. He has a healthy obsession with his cat named Prince, is a proud new uncle, and is a massive dork. Sefin is currently in year three of obtaining his Bachelor of Arts/Community Studies degree. In his free time, he can be found working on his 2SLGBTQ+ novel, Final Encore.

Andy Thibodeau  

Andy NSSSA.jpg Andy Thibodeau was called “Mr. School Spirit” by King’s University College at Western when they named him alumni of the year in 2014. This passion for leadership and school spirit started in Grade 7 when Andy successfully ran for student council vice president. From organizing dances in 8th grade, pep rallies in high school and orientation week in university, Andy’s enthusiasm for youth leadership led to his unique career of inspiring students and staff across the continent. Since 1992, Andy has delivered presentations to schools and conferences across North America. Over two million people have seen him speak in all 10 Canadian provinces and 40 US states. 2021 will be Andy’s 13th appearance at NSSSA. As half of “Andy & Stu” speakers from 1992 to 1998, they keynoted the first FIVE NSSSA conferences!  Andy empowers leaders because he was always an active school leader: Student Council VP in elementary school, Student Council President at Laurier Secondary School, and Orientation Week coordinator in university. A highlight of his student leadership career was when Much Music named his high school the “Most Spirited School in Canada” while he was president. 



Clarification of Ontario restrictions related to COVID-19

Fri, 2021-04-16 21:56

To the StFX Community,

Earlier today, the province of Ontario announced further restrictions related to COVID-19, including travel into the province from Quebec, effective Monday, April 19th. This has caused some of our Ontario students (and their families) concern that they would not be able to return to Ontario when their exams are completed sometime on or after April 19th. The Ontario government’s decision today does NOT prevent an Ontario resident from travel into the province.  It also does not prevent a person travelling into Ontario for work purposes nor prevents those who are merely travelling through the province to reach their principal residence in another province.  Upon entering Ontario, students should be prepared to provide any available identification or documentation that supports the reasons for entry into the province.


With the above in mind, all examinations or other assessments previously scheduled shall be maintained.


For detailed information on interprovincial travel restrictions into Ontario from Quebec please visit:


Kevin B. Wamsley, PhD

Academic Vice-President & Provost

St Francis Xavier University

Antigonish, NS


Marking the one-year anniversary of mass shooting in NS

Fri, 2021-04-16 11:25



To the campus community,

This Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of the horrific mass shooting that shook our province, our country, and the world. Our Xaverian community shall remember the victims and those affected by this senseless tragedy, including those who had ties to our university community: StFX alumnae Alanna Jenkins ’05 and Lisa McCully ’13, as well as Cst. Heidi Stevenson, who grew up in Antigonish County and whose mother is a former StFX employee.

In honour of those we lost, the flags within Alumni Plaza will remain at half-mast until Tuesday, April 20th.

Earlier this week the province of Nova Scotia announced plans to hold two minutes of silence at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 18th in conjunction with a memorial service that will be live-streamed on Facebook. I encourage everyone to observe this moment of silence and take time to remember the 22 lives lost to this senseless tragedy:  

Tom Bagley

Kristen Beaton

Jamie and Greg Blair

Joy and Peter Bond

Corrie Ellison

Gina Goulet

Lillian Hyslop

Dawn Madsen and Frank Gulenchyn

Lisa McCully

Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins

Heather O'Brien

Heidi Stevenson

Emily Tuck, Jolene Oliver, and Aaron Tuck 

Joey Webber

John Zahl and Elizabeth Thomas

I also want to remind everyone of the mental health and wellness supports available to all members of the campus community. I encourage you to make use of these services if they are helpful to you, whether this week or any time throughout the year.

For students:

  • Health and Counselling Services – visit our website to learn more about our services and make an appointment:
  • NS Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-429-8167
  • Good2TalkNS: 1-833-292-3698
  • Crisis Text Line: text “GOOD2TALKNS” to 686868

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or proceed to your nearest hospital emergency department.

For StFX and Sodexo employees and their families:

Employee and Family Assistance Program – Our EFA program is available 24/7 and 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:
  • Download the MyEAP app in your app store

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or proceed to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Please take care of yourself and one another.



Andy W. Hakin PhD

President and Vice-Chancellor

St Francis Xavier University 

StFX earth sciences professor Dr. Brendan Murphy honoured with career achievement award from Geological Association of Canada

Tue, 2021-04-13 09:27
Dr. Brendan Murphy

A longtime StFX earth sciences professor has been honoured nationally for his exemplary career. Dr. Brendan Murphy, a Senior Research Professor, has been awarded the 2021 Career Achievement Award from the Volcanology and Igneous Petrology Division of the Geological Association of Canada in recognition of his career achievements in the field of volcanology and/or igneous petrology. Candidates are judged on their lifetime scientific contribution.

“The Volcanology and Igneous Petrology Division's Career Achievement Award has a long history of recognizing exceptional contributions to the field. Dr. Brendan Murphy is an exemplary recipient for this award. His work has given us new insights into petrology and tectonics and he has been an exceptional mentor and colleague to so many people. 

GAC would like to congratulate Dr. Murphy on this award and we are grateful to the VIP Division for the work they do to recognize and celebrate exceptional scientists like Dr. Murphy,” says Geological Association of Canada president Dr. Deanne van Rooyen.

Dr. Murphy says he is honoured by the career achievement award. 

“I suppose a career award means that I have successfully graduated from ‘young turk’ to ‘old turkey!’ I am honoured (and a little embarrassed) to be added to a list of recipients that includes many of Canada’s petrological icons,” says Dr. Murphy. 

“I am also the beneficiary of the wonderful geoscience culture in Atlantic Canada and a strong research culture in our Earth Sciences Department. Generations of students have also been a major stimulus and inspiration. Among many things, they taught me that learning is a two-way street. I would not be receiving this, or any other award, without them. To see many of them have successful careers after graduation is something that gives me the greatest satisfaction as I begin to navigate through my dotage.”

Dr. Murphy’s research focused on relationships between tectonism and magma compositions, using them to unravel the evolution of mountain belts and reconstruct the development of Earth and the continents. 

“Dr. Murphy has had an exceptional career with extensive contributions to our understanding of igneous petrology and igneous relationships to tectonism. His impressive career spans 40 years and has yielded more than 325 refereed publications and numerous Canadian and international awards and research grants,” reads the official award announcement. 

“His knowledge and expertise have been transmitted to thousands of students in dozens of mineralogy and petrology course deliveries, the writing of two textbooks and the supervision of research students. His many editorships/associate editorships/guest editorships, memberships on dozens of national and international scholarly organizations, and hundreds of reviews for journals, books and grant committees demonstrate he is an international scientific ambassador for igneous petrology and Canadian geoscience.”

StFX to honour Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang and Agnico Eagle Mines Vice-Chair and CEO Sean Boyd during Spring Convocation 2021

Mon, 2021-04-12 13:23
L-r, Dr. Robert Strang and Sean Boyd

St. Francis Xavier University will welcome almost 950 new alumni and will honour Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang and Sean Boyd, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, with the degree Doctor of Laws honoris causa, during Spring Convocation ceremonies on May 2. 

StFX will award degrees and diplomas to nearly 945 students from the Class of 2021 during morning and afternoon ceremonies that will be streamed live from the campus. StFX will present honorary degrees to Dr. Strang, Nova Scotia’s top doctor and public face of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 response, and to Mr. Boyd, who’s been heralded as a global visionary in the mining industry and is a former member of the StFX Board of Governors.

“Along with our students, who have worked exceptionally hard to earn their degrees, we are very proud to welcome Dr. Strang and Mr. Boyd to the Xaverian family,” said StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin. “Both have demonstrated tremendous leadership in their respective fields.”

The stage party, socially distanced, will proceed with convocation while graduates, parents and friends will watch virtually. The link to Spring Convocation 2021 will be posted on the university’s website in the days ahead.

Robert Strang resize .jpg Dr. Robert Strang

Dr. Robert Strang is Chief Medical Officer of Health in Nova Scotia appointed in August 2007. He received his medical degree from the University of British Columbia and completed Family Practice and Public Health and Preventive Medicine residencies at UBC. Dr. Strang was an Associate Medical Officer of Health in South Fraser Health, BC, from 1997-1999 and in 1999, he moved to Halifax to become Medical Officer of Health for Capital District Health Authority. He was acting provincial Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health prior to his CMOH appointment. As CMOH, he has provided leadership around the renewal of the public health system in Nova Scotia as well as raising awareness around the importance of creating policies and environments that support better health for Nova Scotian families and communities. He is passionate about public health and has worked with non-government organizations such as Smoke Free Nova Scotia, Heart and Stroke Foundation and Public Health Association of Nova Scotia. Dr. Strang has an adjunct appointment with Dalhousie University, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology.  

Sean_Boyd resize .jpg Sean Boyd

Sean Boyd serves as the Vice-Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, Canada’s second-biggest gold mining company. He was appointed the company’s CEO in 1998 after having served as the Chief Financial Officer from 1990-98 and Comptroller from 1985-90. During his tenure as CEO, Agnico Eagle has grown from a small, single mine gold producer to a multi-mine international gold mining company. In December 2020, the Globe and Mail ROB Magazine recognized Mr. Boyd as its Global Visionary of the Year CEO. He has been recognized as The Northern Miner’s Mining Person of the year in 2007 and 2017 and appeared on the list of The Best-Performing CEOs in the World in the Harvard Business Review in 2010, 2016 and 2017. In 2019, he was recognized by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (CPA Ontario) as a Fellow, the highest honour bestowed upon a CPA within the accounting profession. Mr. Boyd also serves on the Board of Directors for The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation where he chairs the Granting, Impact and Stewardship Committee. He has also served on the Board of the World Gold Council and as a member of the St. Francis Xavier University Board of Governors. Prior to joining Agnico Eagle in 1985, he was a staff accountant with Clarkson Gordon (Ernst & Young). He is a Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA, CA) and a graduate of the University of Toronto (BComm). 

Student work, artistic promise celebrated with 2021 Angus F. Macgillivary Art Bursaries  

Fri, 2021-04-09 09:22
StFX students Sydney Haws, Mila Walst and Britt Pigat, the 2021 recipients of the Angus F. Macgillivray Art Bursary, which recognizes outstanding studio production and encourages artists showing promise in the visual arts

Being recognized for the quality of their art work is an amazing feeling say StFX students Mila Walst, Sydney Haws and Britt Pigat, the 2021 recipients of the Angus F. Macgillivray Art Bursary, which recognizes outstanding studio production and encourages artists showing promise in the visual arts.

The $750 annual bursaries are named in honour of the late Angus F. Macgillivray, an exceptional artist, teacher and StFX fine arts department faculty member. Applicants for the award must submit a sketchbook and six finished artworks. Judges look for a mastery of skill in a variety of art mediums as well a sense of cohesive artistic vision.

“The Macgillivray Art Bursary has not only made a difference financially, but it has also heightened my drive and effort to make art a part of my future,” says Ms. Walst, a sophomore psychology student from New Glasgow, NS, who’s had the opportunity to take Art and Design (ART 115) last semester and Introduction to Drawing (ART 102) this semester “and loved every minute of it!”

Ms. Walst says she has used art to destress and let out her creativity “and I am honoured that my art has been acknowledged by StFX.” 

Ms. Haws, a second year human kinetics student from Aurora, ON, has taken an intro to design course as well as a drawing class. “I love art so much that I've decided to take it as my minor as well,” says Ms Haws. “To win this bursary means a lot. I am honoured to receive this reward and I plan to use some of the bursary towards more art supplies and towards my schooling.” 

Ms. Pigat, a second year student from Horseshoe Valley, ON studying aquatic resources, took the intro to design course her first year at StFX and both Drawing 1 and 2 first semester and this past semester. For this bursary, she primarily submitted her photography work (five photographs and one drawing). 

“Photography has been my passion and way of income for the past few years now, and it couldn’t have been more meaningful to have won this bursary with some of my favourite work,” she says. “This bursary not only helps me pay for my schooling, but also brings me so much joy and happiness. It truly means the world to me that my passion, love, and work was noticed and rewarded by StFX.”

StFX’s X-Oceans receives TD Friends of the Environment Foundation grant

Thu, 2021-04-08 14:45
Pictured are some of the members of the X-Oceans team including undergradate and graduate students

StFX Biology Department’s X-Oceans outreach program was recently awarded the Bank of TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (FEF) grant of $4,000. X-Oceans is the first ocean literacy outreach program of its kind in northeastern Nova Scotia. The program is aimed at youth in grades Primary-12 in Antigonish and neighbouring counties, providing both on-campus and off-campus outreach and is facilitated by StFX students and instructors.

“Members of the biology department have been doing outreach in a variety of ways for over a decade, serving approximately 2,200 youth per year. With ocean literacy requests increasing to the point of doubling in the last few years, the department has been motivated to create X-Oceans, an organized framework to meet the growing demand and secure additional resources to expand their efforts,” says X-Oceans Outreach Coordinator Regina Cozzi, who is also a senior laboratory instructor and a research assistant.

She says the current provincial and territory education curriculum offers only a single elective course in Grade 11 with an educational focus on oceans. “Not surprisingly, knowledge gaps in ocean concepts have been demonstrated in a number of local surveys of youth. The X-Oceans organizers aim to address this issue by providing ocean-based learning activities, through school visits and university-based camps. The activities are structured by grade level for appropriate learning expectations.”

Mrs. Cozzi says the department is well suited for such an initiative due to the live invertebrates, small vertebrates and aquatic plants housed in its salt-water touch-tanks, their 25 qualified staff and faculty who are experts in aquatic and marine biology and a large selection of curated, preserved, marine organisms and marine bone collections. 

The goal of X-Oceans is to actively engage and teach youth about ocean health, marine biodiversity, humanity’s disruptions of ocean ecosystems, and how there’s an important interconnectedness between oceans, environmental sustainability, climate change and human health. 

In addition, knowing that ocean literacy has many facets and involves interdisciplinary connections, this initiative fosters opportunities for youth to be inspired by undergraduate and graduate StFX student leaders and academia to continue in higher education and pursue diverse pathways and career opportunities, she says. 

Current X-Oceans team members include several biology laboratory instructors, professors, animal care facility staff and StFX students Emily Lavergne, Ella Maltby, Matt Freeman, Lauren Sobot, Sarah Silver Slayter, Mackenzie Arndt, Trinity McIntyre, Tiffany Bondoc, Sheldon Holmes, Ryan Small, Lia Blackett, Nicole Cameron and Megan P. Fass. Newcomers Gavin Hiltz, Madison Pendleton and Martina Gallant are presently working on developing activities for near-future outreach work, thanks to the TD FEF grant. 

These activities include a mix of hands-on activities, scientific inquiry and experiential learning approaches alongside ocean-based pedagogical materials and live organisms to stimulate curiosity, promote ocean preservation and stewardship in youth. The core idea being: “If you see it, touch it & learn about it, then you will want to protect it”. 

For additional information please visit the X-Oceans outreach website.

Scholars, musicians, museums, playwrights and more finding important resources in StFX’s Fr. Charles Brewer Celtic Collection  

Wed, 2021-03-31 14:12
The Fr. Charles Brewer Celtic Collection at the Angus L. Macdonald Library

A unique place in the educational world is found inside the Angus L. Macdonald Library on the StFX campus, where the Fr. Charles Brewer Celtic Collection—one of the premier collections of its kind in North America—is providing an important resource for StFX’s Celtic Studies Department and many more from international scholars to musicians, authors to playwrights. 

Just recently when The Highland Village, or Baile nan Gàidheal, wanted to create a display for a new building addition to its living history museum and Gaelic folklife centre, it turned to StFX’s Celtic Collection to see if they could partner to digitize important original Gaelic questionnaires the library has in its collection by John Lorne Campbell, who undertook the first comprehensive survey of the Gaelic language in Nova Scotia in 1932. 

Similarly, musical artists Mary Jane Lamond, Heather Sparling and Mairi Britten (also a StFX Celtic Studies professor) have drawn on the Celtic Collection as a valuable resource in their efforts to create a comprehensive database of Gaelic songs in Nova Scotia as part of their three year Language in Lyrics project. 

And international researchers, such as Dr. Rob Dunbar, Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities at the University of Edinburgh, whose research interests include Gaelic in Canada, are often in touch for their work.


“StFX is the beneficiary of visionaries such as former President Dr.  Patrick J. Nicholson, who, long ago, dreamed of a “Gaelic Library” and took steps which led ultimately to the creation of the Fr. Charles Brewer Celtic Collection at the Angus L. Macdonald Library. Many others agreed, that StFX was the perfect place for such an entity, considering the large numbers of Gaelic speaking Scottish Highland settlers in the area, and contributed in tangible and intangible ways,” says Special Collections Librarian Susan Cameron.

“The importance of this unique, valuable, and rare collection, to our students, faculty, the local Nova Scotia Gaelic community, as well as a widely distributed network of scholars, is evidenced by the myriad and ongoing use of its resources. It is a modern day success story of institutional support for a marginalized language and culture.”  

Located just off the Hall of the Clans on the library’s third floor, the two rooms that house the Celtic Collection at StFX have been part of the Angus L. Macdonald Library since the four-storey brick building opened in 1965. 

With over 10,000 items from extremely rare material dating back to 1690 to the most modern scholarship, the collection has grown over the years to become the largest of its kind in Canada and is recognized as one of the most significant in North America. 

scottishparl.jpg Special Collections Librarian Susan Cameron (third from right) and Sr. Margaret MacDonell (left), professor emerita at StFX, former head of the Department of Celtic Studies and StFX honorary degree recipient, are seen a number of years ago when members of the Scottish Parliament visited the Celtic Collection 

Ms. Cameron says this collection represents the heritage and culture of StFX’s founders and helps preserve and promote the literature, folklore, history, language, and music of the Celtic peoples, specifically the Scottish Gael. Although the emphasis is on Scottish Gaelic, she says all Celtic languages are represented including Irish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. As well, the collection houses some important Canadiana and Nova Scotia history resources.

The mandate of collection is to support the students and faculty of the Celtic department by collecting, preserving, and providing access to scholarly materials in relevant, multi-disciplinary subject areas. The local and extended Gaelic community and other researchers are also served by this resource.

Quite a few Celtic Studies graduates use the collection, as well as a broad range of others. 

For instance, musician Mary Beth Carty reached out to the Celtic Collections recently when she wanted to enhance the authenticity of recording a particular song. Library staff were able to track the song down for her on Gael Stream, Struth nan Gàidheal, Cape Breton Gaelic Folklore Archive digital collection.

They also helped scholar Effie Rankin in her research for her latest publication, "‘Bidh mi Cumha mu d’Dhéibhinn gu Bràth’[I Shall Grieve for You Forever]: Early Nova Scotian Gaelic Laments." Genealogy 4, no. 4 (2020): 118.

Local playwright Duncan MacDonald, who has authored productions such as Ships of 1801, is also a user and StFX Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities Dr. Laura Estill has recently approached the Celtic Collections about a collaborative project for two new courses she is teaching on book histories. 


Building robots: Computer science student’s undergraduate honours thesis looks at how we can relate human interactions to actions robots are taking

Tue, 2021-03-30 13:45
Computer science honours student Noah Barrett

For almost six months now, Noah Barrett, a fourth year honours computer science student from Tatamagouche, NS, has been building a pair of robots from the ground up as part of his honours thesis, working with his supervisor, computer science professor Dr. James Hughes. 

He’s had to engineer the robots and build parts with a 3D printer in Dr. Hughes’ Convergence Lab, code them, and add algorithms. As the project developed, so too did his interest in seeing how we can relate human interactions to the actions the robots are taking. 

“I was interested in looking at relating how people interpret different behaviours in robots to the specific actions those robots were taking,” he says.

“With the growing presence of robots in our day-to-day lives, it is becoming increasingly important that we ensure we have a rigorous understanding of human interpretations of robots and the level of trust we associate with them.” 

To investigate this, two robots were built and a study, including a survey of StFX participants, carried out. The robots were given the task of learning how to interact with their environment and did so by using artificial intelligence. People were then asked to observe two different types of videos: one being the robots learning how to interact with their environment, and the other being the robots carrying out a behavior that they had previously learned. 

“In the end, we could not find any statistically significant results, but a moderately sized data set was produced, which could potentially be used for further insight,” he says.

Dr. Hughes says the robots are quite elaborate little things. However, what makes them particularly fascinating, he says, is that these little robots learn. “They learn with a special type of Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence how to navigate their world,” says Dr. Hughes. 

“Long story short, the robots are turned on, they have no idea what they are or what they can do, but over time they learn to (a) move, (b) observe features in their environment, and (c) how to navigate their environment without crashing into things, although, sometimes they fail miserably.”

Mr. Barrett says the process to build the robots was an elaborate, time-consuming one, and at times difficult since he is not an engineer. But, it was also a fun and interesting project, he says, particularly as he was able to tweak prototypes using the 3D lab. He says he learned a lot over the project duration from working with electrical components to learning how to run algorithms on a microcomputer. 

He describes his creations as pretty simple robots with two wheels that allow them to move forward and back, left to right. They have an ultrasound sensor to sense distance, and the key part, a credit card shaped, powerful microcomputer, that allows for the algorithms. 

Mr. Barrett says there are several different layers to the code in the robots. 

“At the lowest level, we need code to allow the robots to be able to act on their environment, for example move forwards or backwards, and also to sense their environment, in the case of these robots to use soundwaves to detect distance. Then we need to construct a representation of the environment it is acting in, in this case they need to be able to tell what exactly they can do, and also whether doing particular actions are good or bad. Lastly, they need to have the algorithms that allow them to learn in the given environment. Because of the open-source nature of software, the development of these different layers was streamlined by using code produced by experts in the field.” 

Mr. Barrett will continue his studies in artificial intelligence following his graduation from StFX when he pursues a master’s degree in computer science at Dalhousie University. 

He says he is particularly interested in the field as society becomes more heavily reliant on AI algorithms, while at the same not fully understanding a lot of them “and it’s important that we do. That’s my motivation.”

He says StFX has been an ideal place to complete his undergraduate degree. “It’s community-centred and you’re able to have tight-knit relationships with professors. Even this opportunity, I doubt I would have had at a larger school. I feel really grateful.”