Partnership between RBC Future Launch and Riipen provides $50,000 funding to incorporate practical and meaningful work experience into university classrooms
The Maple League of Universities is pleased to announce that the RBC Future Launch program has awarded the four universities – Acadia, Mount Allison, St. Francis Xavier, and Bishop’s – $50,000 in funding to make Riipen’s work-integrated learning software available at the four Maple League institutions.
At the core of the Maple League's mission is the centrality of the student experience. By providing unique experiential learning opportunities such as those made possible through the Riipen platform, we equip our students with the skills necessary to enter the world ready for a rapidly changing job market.
“Experiential learning is critical to a 21st century liberal education, and is well aligned with the emerging and established strategic visions of our universities,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, Chair of the Maple League of Universities and President of Acadia University. “We are excited to see how this platform can help us with capacity building and resource sharing. Riipen will give our students access to valuable work experience that will enhance their learning and stand out to future employers.”
This investment will allow the institutions to build more experiential and work-integrated learning into courses and provide support for faculty who want to incorporate industry projects and case studies more easily and directly into the curriculum. Experiential or capstone assignments can be posted to Riipen’s marketplace of over 5,000 industry partners, and students will work on real-world projects to gain hands-on experience, demonstrate employable skills and network with employers.
“We are excited to be partnering with the Maple League. Seeing this level of collaboration between institutions is crucial to the improvement of student experiences,” said Dana Stephenson, CEO and Founder of Riipen. “What makes the Maple League an especially exciting partner for us is their focus on teaching, their shared history in the liberal arts and their willingness to work together to improve the student experience. We look forward to seeing creative and collaborative experiential learning opportunities for students facilitated through Riipen.”
Students and alumni from StFX and its Maple League of Universities partners have a unique opportunity to learn about the Holocaust and the relevance of Holocaust education today through a new Maple League immersion spring session course, The Holocaust & Now.
The course, delivered through distance education and immersive, in-person learning in Europe, brings history, psychology, sociology, education, art, and more fields together with experiential learning, to examine human behaviour and experience during and after the Holocaust with a focus on the relevance of Holocaust education today. Students will be able to tailor course content to their specific program while also participating in a general curriculum focused on understanding the human context of the Holocaust.
Along with readings, class discussions and assignments, the course includes a 16 day immersion portion travelling to Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic with faculty leaders Dr. Karen Blair and Dr. Rhea Hoskin. The group will visit sites relevant to the Holocaust and will participate in unique immersive learning experiences. Students from all disciplines and years are welcome to apply before the Oct. 15, 2019 deadline.
“Holocaust education is at a turning point where we are currently educating the very last generation who will ever have the chance to meet and hear from a Holocaust survivor firsthand,” says Dr. Blair, a StFX psychology professor.
“Consequently, the future of Holocaust education now rests in their hands - how will they use that information? How will they continue to share survivors’ stories with the world? Being able to say to their children, grandchildren ‘I visited these sites, I heard from survivors with my own ears.’ will be incredibly powerful once there are no longer any survivors with us,”
In 2016, Dr. Blair began teaching a fourth year psychology seminar course on the Social Psychology of the Holocaust, which later led to designing StFX’s annual Germany/Poland Service Learning trip that takes students to Germany and Poland over reading week to learn about the Holocaust.
She says the idea for the Maple League course came about so that students could have enough prior knowledge of the Holocaust to add proper context to what they’re seeing to get the most out of the experience.
Holocaust knowledge has been slowly decreasing over time, she says, yet, there are a number of universal lessons that can be applied from the Holocaust to current day events, and indeed to future events yet to happen.
“Demystifying the humans who were involved, critically examining the behaviour of perpetrators, bystanders, and rescuers, as well as intimately seeking to understand the experiences of victims are all important for understanding humanity and human behaviour in any context,” she says.
“Students who have taken similar courses or participated in the StFX Holocaust Service learning trip speak of the experience as life-changing. For many, participating in this course will be a once in a lifetime experience that they carry with them for the rest of their lives and that will shape the way that they interact with others on a day-to-day basis.”
Dr. Blair says one of the unique features of the Holocaust & Now course is that it isn’t just about learning about the Holocaust, it’s also a critical examination of Holocaust education and will encourage students to think deeply about what the future of Holocaust education will look like and what role they will play.
She says the idea to open the course to the Maple League of Universities made sense.
“The Maple League of Universities focuses on providing transformative learning experiences with immersive elements. The Maple League also allows us to harness the power of four smaller universities to tackle ambitious projects like this one. It may be difficult to find 12 students from one campus alone who would have the means and interest in participating in such a course, but across four campuses, and across the alumni of all four campuses, we have no doubt that we’ll find enough interested participants.
“There’s also something special added to the experience by travelling with peers from other institutions. At the end of the day, much of what happened to allow the Holocaust to occur can be boiled down to viewing the world through the lens of ‘us vs. them.’ Bringing students together who perhaps sometimes take an ‘us vs. them’ perspective on each other can further contribute to building a transformative learning environment.”
The course is interdisciplinary and is aimed to appeal to students across any area of study. In fact, the final assignment will be tailored to each students’ interests and academic needs.
The course is designed as a 300 level course, but it is open to students from first year onward. Any student can apply. Additionally, because the course is offered through Continuing Education studies, it is also open to alumni and friends of the Maple League universities, meaning that applicants do not need to be current university students to apply.
Dr. Blair brings to the course her expertise teaching the fourth year seminar on the Social Psychology of the Holocaust, developing StFX’s annual Holocaust Service Learning Trip and her experience in studying human behaviour: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Her research interests dovetail with this perspective on human behaviour, as she studies Holocaust education, prejudice, hate-crimes, and mass-shootings, but also studies relationships, social support, resiliency and health.
Dr. Hoskin’s background is in gender studies, feminist sociology and social psychology. Her research focuses on gender roles and their association with violence. In the context of the Holocaust, she studies how masculinity and femininity, as well as views of both of these constructs, influenced perpetrator behaviour and were used to shape the dehumanizing victims. Dr. Hoskin co-led the first Holocaust Service Learning trip in 2018.
StFX Athletics inducted the 23rd class into the StFX Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 3, 2019, to kick off Homecoming weekend. Included in the 2019 class are three athletes: Andrew Culligan (hockey), Dave Liem (soccer) and Dr. Beth McCharles (soccer, hockey), along with two builders: Dr. Cecil MacLean and Dr. David Cudmore.
Andrew (Andy) Culligan (Hockey, Class of 1974)
Andy Culligan enjoyed five successful seasons with the X-Men hockey team. A prolific goal scorer, the left-winger led the team in scoring for three of those years. Honoured on three occasions as an Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association (AIAA) all-star, he was second overall in league scoring for two seasons skating with the blue and white. The 1971 StFX rookie of the year, he earned recognition as the team's most valuable player in 1972. His 194 career points remains the third best in X-Men all-time career leading scoring as he has left his mark in the record books.
Dave Liem (Soccer, Class of 1987)
Dave Liem was a standout goal scorer with the X-Men soccer team for four seasons. Leading the team scoring race for three of those campaigns, he was honoured as an Atlantic University Athletic Association (AUAA) all-star for three consecutive years. He received national recognition as a second team all-Canadian in 1983, the first X-Men soccer athlete to receive such status. Upon graduation, his 27 career goals garnered him the third position in the conference record books and tops in the StFX career scoring list. The X-Men team most valuable player in 1984, to this date, he remains fourth overall in the StFX record book for career goals.
Dr. Beth McCharles (Soccer/Hockey, Class of 2001)
A successful dual-sport athlete, Beth McCharles was a national-caliber goalkeeper with the X-Women soccer team for four seasons, in addition to skating with the X-Women hockey team. For her extraordinary play on the soccer pitch, she was honoured as the 1998 AUS most valuable player, and became the second ever X-Women soccer athlete to garner first team all-Canadian status. She again received all-Canadian recognition on the second team in 2000, as well as being named an AUS first team all-star. A leader and captain with the soccer squad, she won three AUS championships on the ice with the hockey team, enjoying a remarkable StFX varsity athletics career.
Dr. Cecil MacLean (Builder, Class of 1931)
Dr. Cecil MacLean enters the StFX Sports Hall of Fame posthumously in the builder category, having made significant contributions to the StFX athletic department for the better part of 50 years in varying capacities. From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Dr. MacLean was a volunteer broadcaster, covering the play-by-play commentary on the road for countless StFX hockey and rugby games for the local CJFX radio station. For 46 years he hosted a radio sports program reporting on intercollegiate team events and providing on-air interviews of StFX varsity athletes. He lent his writing talents to a weekly sports editorial column for the Antigonish Casket newspaper for 30 years, detailing the many achievements of StFX teams and athletes. Aside from his journalistic contributions, Dr. Mac Lean coached the X-Men hockey team for three seasons, leading them to a N.S. and Maritime Intercollegiate championship in 1941. He was responsible for the revitalization of intercollegiate baseball at StFX in the mid 1940s and coached the team for a decade. He was readily counted upon to be the master of ceremonies for numerous athletic banquets, as well as guest speaking at countless StFX alumni events. He was the founding member of the StFX Varsity Club that established the StFX Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1976, and he remained an integral member of the induction committee for many years, researching and writing citations for numerous inductees.
Dr. David Cudmore (Builder)
Dr. David Cudmore enters the Hall of Fame as a builder, having dedicated his time and medical expertise to StFX Athletics for the last 30 years. The medical leader of the sports medicine team for StFX Athletics, he is a genuine and devoted supporter of X-Men and X-Women varsity athletes. A notable sports medicine expert certified by the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Dr. Cudmore has been an invaluable resource to the athletic therapy staff, coaches and athletes as a selfless individual who makes himself readily accessible for countless treatments. He has covered hundreds of home and away games in all StFX sports over the years as a consulting physician, often travelling to AUS and U SPORTS championships to be on the sidelines should a medical need arise. Well respected in the regional and national sports medicine community, Dr. Cudmore serves on the U SPORTS medical committee and has become a leader in the treatment of concussions over the past decade. His local Antigonish concussion clinic has gained province-wide recognition and he himself received the 2015 Special Recognition Award for outstanding support to advance the causes of brain injuries in Canada. Honoured with the 2005 Alumni Award of Excellence as a Friend of StFX, four years later he was the deserving recipient of the X-ceptional award for going above and beyond to contribute in a positive manner to StFX Athletics. For three decades Dr. Cudmore has served as a formidable mentor to countless student-athletes over the past three decades while generously giving his time and medical expertise to the StFX Athletics department.
To understand the warmth that the Sisters of St. Martha have shared with the campus community for a quarter of a century through Wellspring Centre—celebrating its 25th anniversary this year—is as simple as stepping into Wellspring’s space on the second floor of Morrison Hall, filled with plants, soft lights, tables and seating, and members of the campus community quietly reading, making toast or a cup of tea.
For 25 years now, Wellspring has been an oasis in the middle of campus, where students, staff and faculty can stop in for a cookie, some fresh fruit and a bit of peace.
On Oct. 4, the Marthas celebrated the anniversary during StFX Homecoming weekend with an afternoon open house and cake cutting.
As well, to mark the milestone, 16 stories from students now hang in the University Chapel, sharing the importance of the gift of the Marthas in creating Wellspring. Several Marthas also provided stories, sharing the history of Wellspring.
Sr. Catherine Arsenault and Sr. Ivy Maccan are the Marthas who currently staff the centre, located in the former St. Martha’s Convent.
Wellspring opened in September 1994 as a means for the Marthas, a congregation founded in Antigonish in 1900, to maintain a StFX presence when the convent closed in August of that year. Students, staff and faculty have since enjoyed a warm spacious gathering room; kitchenette facilities including complimentary tea and coffee; a seminar room where up to 10 can gather, a comfortable quiet room for reflection, prayer and meditation, and friendly, helpful staff.
“We’re not about programming. We’re really about presence,” the Sisters have said over the years.
“Our main goal is to serve the university community.”
Wellspring, they say, really found its niche on campus as a place of welcome, with many people calling it a sacred space. “Students come here to study because of the peace it offers. There’s something really special about the place. I think it’s about hospitality, and what that can do for people, being welcomed.”
Wellspring’s mission has been to offer a welcoming Martha presence on the StFX campus, one that is conducive to the development of persons and one that enhances the life of the university community. The centre is a comfortable, peaceful place for all members of the university community to spend time in the midst of a bustling, hectic campus. The facilities provide a place for quiet reflection, for study, or to relax with friends over a cup of tea. As one student remarked “everyone benefits in their own way.”
Climate justice was the topic of conversation as nearly 300 StFX students—taking courses in development studies, women’s and gender studies and sociology—gathered together Sept. 27 to take part in the Women's and Gender Studies Educational Forum, Seeking Justice & Equity Amidst The Climate Crisis, held at the Keating Centre.
This educational forum, co-sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Development Studies Program, and the Department of Sociology, and co-organized by faculty members Sutapa Chattopadhyay (development studies), Dr. Riley Chisholm (sociology) and Dr. Nancy Forestell (history and women’s and gender studies), explored the connection between gender and climate justice.
Each of the participating students had to read an article to prepare for the event, while an introductory short panel, led by Prof. Chattopadhyay, Dr. Chisholm, and Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre executive director Wyanne Sandler, kicked off more extensive conversation throughout the afternoon. After round table discussion, the students were asked to report back with ideas and action items from their conversations.
“The broad focus we had was to connect environmental destruction/harm/crimes/violence with feminism as a political struggle, a movement and its basic tenants, to show how social inequalities and injustices are interlayered and enmeshed with climate destruction, but also ask broader questions as how climate change is an intersectional matter and how is it tied with history, politics and power,” the presenters said.
They said students were asked to construct and develop their own perspectives through discussions forwarded by the speakers and through their own everyday challenges linking climate crisis/change with feminism.
Students were also asked to discuss, debate and propose changes to halt or slow down global climate construction, and to think about the roles they’ve played or can play.
The forum, they say, is designed to offer students a broad understanding of or a way forward to the future while showing the entanglements across race, ethnicity, class, and gender with climate destruction.
StFX psychology professor Dr. Karen Blair has won an award recognizing her outstanding research. She is the recipient of the 2018 Hugo G. Beigel Award for the best paper published in the Journal of Sex Research (JSR) in 2018. The award, named for the first editor of JSR, promotes and rewards research excellence in sexual science, and is granted annually.
The award is adjudicated by the journal’s editor and six associate editors, who each read every article published throughout the year and vote on the winner.
“Many of the awards we receive in academia are awards that we apply for ourselves. What really makes this award quite an honour is that no one applies for it; it is adjudicated by a small group of dedicated associate editors at JSR who take the time to read and evaluate every single paper published in the journal each year and then they select a winner. JSR is one of the top journals in my field of research and many of the associate editors are scholars whom I have looked up to for years, which makes receiving this award quite a privilege,” Dr. Blair says.
Dr. Blair’s article, entitled “Not all orgasms were created equal: Differences in frequency and satisfaction of orgasm experiences by sexual activity in same-sex versus mixed-sex relationships,” was published in issue 6, vol 55 of the Journal of Sex Research. The article explores the popularly referred to concept of the ‘orgasm gap,’ in which researchers have long reported that men appear to experience more frequent and consistent orgasms than women. However, in Dr. Blair’s article, she and her co-authors, Dr. Jaclyn Cappell and Dr. Caroline Pukall, found that the gap ceases to exist when considering solitary sexual activities or same-sex relationships. Further, the study was one of the first to explore variations in satisfaction associated with different sexual activities. In her role as the director of the StFX Knowledge Translation Centre, Dr. Blair and StFX students produced a video abstract for the paper last year, which can be viewed here.
The award will be presented at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality’s 2019 Annual Meeting (SSSS). The award consists of a cash grant of $500 US, one registration fee waiver for this year’s meeting, and a Certificate of Research Excellence from The Society. This year the annual meeting will be held November 7-10, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.
Picking up sticks in the Nova Scotia woods on a sunny Saturday is not what first-year students in the Social Justice Colloquium (SJC) and the Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health (BASc in Health) program thought they would be doing on their third weekend at StFX. But there they were—about 60 of them, working with their instructors and several Coady Global Change Leaders to check and clear steep trails littered with leaves and branches blown down by Hurricane Dorian.
The students were participating in a cross-course Service Learning activity designed by their instructors, Dr. Clare Fawcett (Anthropology-SJC) and Dr. Christina Holmes (BASc in Health). They were supported by Arlynne McGrath (Service Learning Program community coordinator), Paul Basilie (Keppoch general manager), Eric Smith (Positive Action for the Keppoch Society (PAK) Board of Directors member and Coady International Institute), as well as Dr. Chris Frazer (History-SJC), and Dr. Nancy Forestell and Dr. Rachel Hurst, both from the Women’s and Gender Studies program and SJC.
The site of the Service Learning experience, the Keppoch, is a multi-season, multi-sport recreational facility in Antigonish County about a 15-minute drive, or 40-minute cycle from the StFX campus. Developed, maintained and managed by PAK, it is an extensive network of mountain-bike, hiking, Nordic-ski and snow-shoe trails on the site of a former ski hill, and also includes the Keppoch Lodge.
As the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney returned to StFX, his alma mater, on September 18, 2019 to celebrate the grand opening of The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall, speaker after speaker spoke about how transformative the $52-million state-of-the-art building and its academic programs, including a unique institution for government and leadership, is for the students of today and tomorrow.
“We are extremely grateful to Prime Minister Mulroney and his family for making this vision a reality. It’s a project that entrenches StFX as a national and international destination for leadership, receiving widespread support both at home in Canada and from around the world,” StFX Interim President Dr. Kevin Wamsley said during the opening ceremony.
“The Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall provide new opportunities for the StFX community, a platform from which we can deliver our academic mission in new and exciting ways.
“This project is an investment in people,” he said, and an investment in scholarship, research and innovation. Already, the four-storey, 93,000 square foot glass-walled building, which took two years to construct, and the academic contributions from the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government have taken StFX to the next level, Dr. Wamsley said.
Dr. Kevin Wamsley
In an emotional and inspiring speech, Mr. Mulroney told the crowd it is a special moment in his life to participate in this ceremony “marking the opening not only of splendid new buildings at StFX, a place I love, but, more importantly, the beginning of grand new opportunities for young Canadians and others from around the globe to learn, lead and help build a better world for us all.”
Mr. Mulroney personally raised $100 million to create the cornerstone of StFX’s Xaverian Commons Project, and he expressed sincere thanks and gratitude to the generosity of donors who made this day possible.
He also noted a highly impressive and generous new scholarship and bursary program, some $16 million, will help many young students acquire the education StFX founders dreamed of. Over 200 scholarships are available annually, including awards specifically designed for marginalized populations such as Aboriginal and African Nova Scotian communities.
StFX Board of Governors Chair Mike Boyd, one of a number of people to speak during the opening, remembered as a student meeting Mr. Mulroney, back on campus for his 25th Homecoming only weeks after being named Canada’s 18th prime minister.
“Then as now, he demonstrated his focus on students,” Mr. Boyd recalled.
“For us, it certainly was inspiring to see someone from a small school, someone from our school, could achieve such success.”
In her remarks, the Hon. Caroline Mulroney, MPP, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs, Government of Ontario, noted how StFX really opened the world for her father.
From light-hearted to serious, the grand opening ceremonies featured many emotional moments
LEARN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
“In many ways, StFX is where it all started for my dad,” she said, as she too offered thanks to all who helped make this day possible and subsequently for their role in helping shape the leaders of tomorrow.
“It’s here where my dad learned how to make a difference.”
The Hon. Caroline Mulroney
She said it came to no one’s surprise that StFX was to be the home for her father’s Prime Ministerial Library. But she said the family believed her dad’s legacy required something more, something that would honour the Brian Mulroneys of the future, providing young people with the skills and tools they need, providing scholarships and bursaries, insightful faculty and real world opportunity.
“When you have the tools you need, you can make a mark on the world in a way you never thought possible.
“This is our hope for the Mulroney Institute,” she said as she noted how proud and inspired her family is and how they can’t wait to see students roll up their sleeves and get to work just a like a boy from a small town on the north shore of the St. Lawrence did so many years ago.Mulroney-03-MtStFX.jpg
Mila and the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney share a moment in the replica of Mr. Mulroney's Parliament Hill office from his nine-year tenure as Canada's 18th Prime Minister
FOUNDATION TO BUILD ON
“How blessed are we that Mr. Mulroney chose Nova Scotia, StFX, and Antigonish, to be home to this magnificent building and learning institution,” Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said in his remarks as he noted the gift Mr. Mulroney has given to a province, and a country, a learning foundation that all can build on.
“This magnificent institution could have been placed anywhere in this country. You chose to put it here. We are deeply grateful. We will never forget,” the Hon. Frank McKenna, fellow StFX graduate, former New Brunswick premier, and an instrumental part of the fundraising campaign, reiterated in his remarks.
The Hon. Frank McKenna
Make no mistake, he said, that it is here today thanks to the massive reservoir of respect for Brian Mulroney around the world.
Both he and Mr. MacNeil spoke of Mr. Mulroney’s accomplishments and contributions to the country.
Mr. Mulroney was accompanied to the opening by his wife Mila Mulroney and their family. About 300 invited guests were in attendance.
Mulroney Hall is a focal point within StFX, connecting the lower and upper campuses; the Joyce Family Atrium, the centrepiece of the building, will be a gathering place for faculty and students; the facility’s classrooms are fitted with the latest technology and a 300-seat auditorium provides a venue for music, theatre and debate. In addition, Mulroney Hall features a replica of Mr. Mulroney’s Parliament Hill office from his nine-year tenure as Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, including his papers, speeches and letters from world leaders.
To watch a livestream of the event, please see https://livestream.com/accounts/735962/events/8814206/videos/196497986
StFX University is teaming with the broader community, including the town and county of Antigonish and Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, to create a plan for a sustainable future when it comes to climate change.
From Nov. 14-21, StFX will host Climate and Democracy Week, a week-long series of events, open to all, that will feature local and international renowned climate leaders who will host talks, workshops and facilitate activities.
A major highlight is planned for the Nov. 14th opening ceremony when StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Chief PJ Prosper of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher, and Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron launch the Climate Strategy Working Group, formally establishing a strategic plan on how to become climate ready in the region.
“This is a big deal. It’s going to be momentous,” says StFX sociology professor Dr. Riley Chisholm, who with Dr. Corrine Cash, Coady Institute senior program staff and facilitator of StFX’s Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate and Environment Program, is co-organizing the event.
PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER
Dr. Chisholm says StFX reached out to its partners to initiate the event in the belief that together the capacity for addressing this crisis increases markedly. Good work is already happening, she says, but sometimes it’s in parallel, rather than complementary.
“This is people coming together, taking down those walls. The academy is reaching out. It’s about how we can learn from each other, how can we explore and develop solutions together.”
“We can’t not work together on this issue,” says Dr. Cash.
“Hopefully this is the beginning of bringing people together on this issue in an attempt to create cooperation and collaboration and to build on that and to try to do good things.”
Dr. Cash says a lot of people are passionate about climate, but they don’t necessarily understand it or understand what can be done or how it can be done.
The week is offering people the opportunity to become engaged.
“What excites me is the extraordinary enthusiasm we’re getting from all sectors. There’s a real want for engagement,” Dr. Chisholm says.
She says she’s particularly excited about the diversity of participants, who range from international students to local farmers, young children to Catholic nuns to health practitioners.
“It weaves all those voices together.”
HOTTER, WETTER WILDER
Following the launch of the working group, Dr. Blair Feltmate, Chair of the Government of Canada Climate Adaptation Plan, will deliver the opening keynote address on Nov. 14, entitled, “Hotter, Wetter, Wilder: Is Canada moving fast enough to keep up with a changing climate?” The talk takes place at 7 p.m. in Mulroney Hall Auditorium.
On Friday, Nov. 15, a climate week panel, A People’s School on Climate Change takes place in Dennis Hall at the Coady from 6-8 p.m.
Panelists include Kerry Prosper, Paqtnkek Elder and Knowledge Keeper; Dr. Romeo Bertoloni, Deputy Director of Country Engagement for the National Determined Contributions Partnership Support Unit, World Resources Institute; Dr. Cash; Jolene Andrews, Gitxsan-Witsuwiten Nation Indigenous Community Developer Private Consultant and artist; and Dr. Simon Addison, Principal Researcher for Climate Change, Public Policy and Resiliency, International Institute for Environment and Development.
Local community groups will also be set up in Dennis Hall that evening giving people opportunity to discuss initiatives happening in Nova Scotia as well as the kind of actions they can take.
The next day, Saturday, Nov. 16th, a Weekend People’s School takes place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the People’s Place Library on Main Street. A number of concurrent sessions will take place with topics running the gamut from ecology and faith to a children’s art house, from climate and public health, to soil carbon sequestration in Nova Scotia, to the experience of international students from the Bahamas on being climate refugees.
Everyone can take part, and Dr. Cash says it’s exciting to see the revival of the People’s School movement—started by her granduncle Tom Boyle, and others, including Moses Coady—and that it’s once again helping bridge the gap between the community and the university, bringing knowledge to the people, and knowledge back to the university from people who live in the community.
Other highlights from the week will include the second screening in Canada of The Biggest Little Farm on Nov. 20 from 5-7 p.m. at Cineplex Theatre. The film is receiving rave reviews, and is offered free of charge.
Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo of the Labrador Institute at Memorial University will present the closing talk on Thursday, Nov. 21, entitled “Mourning Nature.”
A compelling, and almost forgotten part of Nova Scotia history, the story of Lillian Burke, who was instrumental in the development of the Chéticamp hooked-rug cottage industry in the late 1920s and early 1930s, has been brought to life in a new book by Dr. Edward Langille, a professor of French language and literature at StFX.
The Story of Lillian Burke, published by Boularderie Island Press, and released in June 2019, has been consistently listed on the 100-bestseller list in Atlantic Canada all summer.
“It’s part of Nova Scotia history that people know very little about,” says Dr. Langille, who first became intrigued by the American artisan’s life story after a chance discovery in a New Glasgow antiques store, where he happened upon some of Ms. Burke’s original hooked rug designs and started researching her life and the events that helped establish the industry in Chéticamp in 1927.
His research led to several published academic articles as well as public lectures on Ms. Burke, of Washington, DC, a friend of the Alexander Graham Bell family, whose multi-faceted career spanned five decades.
Ms. Burke came to Cape Breton after she started tutoring Bell’s grandchildren in drawing and watercolours, Dr. Langille says. She became a family friend and started spending summer holidays at the Bell estate in Baddeck. Supported by Bell’s daughters, Marian Fairchild and Elsie Grosvenor, she revived the defunct Cape Breton Home Industries founded 50 years earlier by Bell’s wife, Mabel Hubbard Bell, to generate economic development.
She visited the Acadian village of Chéticamp looking for women interested in producing hooked rugs for commissioned orders. She found not only an established rug hooking tradition, but women eager to learn new techniques. She taught them these new techniques and insisted on using only pale and soft colours and high quality wool. She designed and marketed the distinctive Chéticamp hooked rugs in New York City.
Over the years of her career, she also became a pioneer in the field of occupational therapy, having worked overseas as a ‘reconstruction aide’ during WWI and in later years as a therapist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Dr. Langille, a well-respected editor, translator and literary historian, specializing in the works of Voltaire, and whose scholarship has been honoured by the French government, which awarded him the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre’ des Palmes académiques, says the idea for the book, his first with a commercial publisher, grew over a long period of time as he pieced her life together.
He says the story he found was inspiring and important, and he wanted to make it as accessible as possible.
“I want people to enjoy the story, to become wrapped up in the story of her life,” says Dr. Langille.
BOOK LAUNCHES PLANNED
Book launches for The Story of Lillian Burke will be held in Cape Breton on September 19th in Chéticamp at the Trois Pignons Museum and on September 20th in Baddeck at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. A third launch is planned for the StFX campus on September 27th in the McKenna Centre at 3 p.m. All are welcome to attend.
Martin Grosvenor Myers, MD, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, and great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, wrote the forward for the book and will be a guest speaker at all three launches.
“It was a great project. It never seemed like one minute of work,” says Dr. Langille.
“I got interested because it was about Acadian culture more or less and I’m always interested in that.”
He also noticed some people had been very judgemental and had accused Ms. Burke of making money on the backs of the Acadian people. “This intrigued me,” he said, prompting him to investigate further. He said his research proved this wasn’t the case. She wasn’t rich, he said, and she died still working. He says it seems that some academic historians had tarnished her reputation unfairly.
Dr. Langille says through his research he discovered a wonderful person—she wasn’t perfect, he notes—but he came to the understanding from meeting several people who knew her as well as poring through a range of sources including news clippings, her WWI personnel file, education employment reports and a number of letters, that she was a generous and kind-hearted woman.
“I thought it was an incredible story and I wanted to do justice to her.”
The Story of Lillian Burke is available at the Antigonish Five to A Dollar and on amazon.ca.