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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.”

Helping students succeed: Marangoni Family, including StFX professor Dr. Gerry Marangoni, donate $100,000 to StFX Chemistry

Mon, 2021-03-29 15:12
Dr. Gerry Marangoni delivers remarks during the announcement

StFX science students will have even more opportunity to participate in undergraduate research and to learn new skills thanks to a generous gift of $100,000 the university has received from the Marangoni Family, which includes longtime StFX chemistry professor Dr. Gerry Marangoni. 

The donation from the Marangoni Family to the Chemistry Department will be used to create a fund to support student research, capital equipment acquisition, and to create an endowment for future needs.

“Thank you to you and your family,” StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin said during the announcement made March 29, 2021 during a ceremony held in the Sobey’s Reading Room, Physical Science Centre, and livestreamed to the campus community. 

“It’s a game-changer, Gerry.”

Bringing students into the game is what we do at StFX, Dr. Hakin said, and this donation will help provide even more opportunities to involve students in research. 

During his remarks, Dr. Hakin spoke about Prof. Marangoni’s many achievements, both in the classroom and outside of it, and noted that an aspect that really stands out about the chemistry professor is his curiosity. He asks really great questions about the world and pushes the boundaries for answers. “He’s passing that on to the next generation of learners. That curiosity is being fed into the students.”

In explaining the thinking behind his family’s donation, Dr. Marangoni said the gift is about supporting the department, helping enable even more student research, and helping provide equipment and an endowment for future needs.

“As a department, we take a lot of pride in the work we do in teaching and research,” he said, noting how his family hopes this gift will enable students to have that lab experience “we so highly value. 

“Our family thought it was important to make a contribution. It’s a contribution that we’re really proud of.”


Fourth year honours chemistry students Nicole MacNeil and Taylor Doucet, who have both worked as research assistants in Dr. Marangoni’s lab, spoke on a personal level about what this donation will mean to students.

“This funding will give peace of mind to students and professors wanting to do research as some of the money will be going to supporting undergraduate students wanting to gain research experience,” Ms. Doucet say.

She says this experience is invaluable for students. 

“I would not trade my time working in Dr. Marangoni’s lab for the world. The experience I’ve gained, and friendships I’ve made are irreplaceable.” 

Ms. MacNeil said research opportunities during undergraduate studies allows students like her the opportunity to apply what they learn in classes and teaching labs for practical, real-world purposes. 

“Experience in a lab environment helps students to really learn about the process of research and explore ideas in science outside of the classroom and gain skills in data collection and interpretation,” she says. “This donation will provide the funding for more undergraduate science students to be able to participate in research. 

“This donation will also fund crucial new equipment for the department to use for research and teaching activities.” 

One of the pieces of research equipment that this donation will help fund is a Benchtop NMR.

Shannon MacLellan, a 2019 chemistry graduate and current second year education student, served as emcee. She says she often thinks about how grateful she is to have had such great educators and mentors in this department, and she looks forward to emulating those characteristics herself in the coming years. 

“This department and its members hold a special place in my heart, and I know this donation will have a wonderful impact for students, staff, and faculty, for years to come.”

chemistry 2 .jpg

Dr. Gerry Marangoni (centre) at the announcement, with StFX Academic Vice-President and Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley (left) and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin

Dr. Marangoni’s long relationship with the StFX Chemistry Department spans back to 1992. 

Over the years, he has helped educate young scientists, who have gone on to varied careers, contributed to breakthroughs in fundamental knowledge, and supported the economy by helping create new products and companies.

Along with his teaching and research work, Dr. Marangoni is the founder and scientific advisory board member of SONA Nanotech, a nanotechnology life sciences firm that has developed multiple proprietary methods for the manufacture of various types of gold nanoparticles and used this technology to develop a COVID-19 rapid antigen test. The company has developed an innovative line of gold nanoparticles for life sciences applications including hyperthermal cancer treatment and diagnostic imaging.

Dr. Marangoni is also the founder, with Dr. Kulbir Singh, of GMS Surface Tech. This company created environmentally friendly cleaning products that are highly effective products for scent-free environments and scent sensitive people. The company’s first line of green products included a successful whiteboard cleaner that is both scent-free and environmentally friendly. Their products are carried nationally by many major office product chains and are beginning to be exported to other markets within North America. 

Xaverian Farewell: Spirit of community shines as Class of 2021 recommits to pursuit of excellence 

Sun, 2021-03-28 21:32
StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin and Linda Hakin stand with several members of the Class of 2021 following the Xaverian Farewell Ceremony

Senior students—soon-to-be-graduates clad in black robes—took time to celebrate the spirit of community, to reflect on their journey at StFX so far, and to recommit to the pursuit of excellence as members of the Class of 2021 gathered at venues across campus on March 28 to participate in the Xaverian Farewell Ceremony.

The ceremony, a traditional farewell for graduating students, bookends the Xaverian Welcome Ceremony held annually during first year where members of each entering class pledge themselves to the pursuit of excellence in their academic, social and spiritual lives. 

“This is the moment, a new chapter in your life,” StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin said in welcoming remarks to open the ceremony in the University Chapel. Due to COVID-19 gathering size restrictions, the Xaverian Farewell was live-streamed to four other campus locations including Barrick Auditorium in Mulroney Hall, the Schwartz Auditorium, the Keating Centre Conference Rooms, and Coach K Court. Each venue had a Dean as host and faculty and staff members welcoming members of the senior class. 

XF time capsule reflections .jpg

Senior students write reflections to be included in the time capsule to be opened in 2046, 25 years time

“It’s not an end point, but rather a transition,” Dr. Hakin told the Class of 2021 as he advised the students to take time to explore the paths available to them and to be confident in the knowledge that StFX has provided the tools they need to succeed. 

Dr. Hakin also acknowledged their tenacity in navigating a pandemic during their senior year, and the strength and adaptability they and the StFX community have shown this past year in offering face-to-face learning. 

“Your journey has been unlike any who came before you,” he said as he congratulated the students on all their achievements. 

“Well done everyone. We are proud of you.”

This moment, he told the students is an opportunity to reflect on their journey at StFX, and to look ahead to the future, including how they will continue the StFX legacy of giving back to those around you.  

“Go and make a difference.” 


The ceremony had many touching moments, including preserving a piece of StFX as we know it today. The Class of 2021’s Life Officers proceeded down the chapel’s centre aisle with items to be sealed in a time capsule to be opened in 25 years, at Homecoming in 2046. As well, all students were asked to fill out a provided card, including their reflections, for the time capsule. 

Alumni Affairs Director Shanna Hopkins introduced the Life Officers, who include Sean De van der schueren, Jeneva Dennis, Ally Hancock, Kyra Tessier, Katelyn Libbus, Reid McDonald, Maggie Oliver, Kielan Pilgram and Alyzandra Torreon. 

“Our lives are richer because of you,” Ms. Hopkins told all members of the Class of 2021. “Together, you have created a place of purpose, community and family. Embrace what the experience has meant and let it live on in part of you,” she said.

“As you become alumni, recognize this experience is not over. It’s just beginning. Welcome to the strongest alumni network in Canada.” 

In his remarks, Academic Vice-President and Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley reminded the students that four years ago, we sat here together about to embark on an exciting academic journey. Soon, you’ll turn the page on the next chapter of your life. “I have no doubt, you’re not the same person you were four years ago,” he said as he noted he hoped their journey has been full of friendships, lessons learned in and out of class, and defining moments.

“Four years ago, I asked you who would you serve. I ask you that again,” he said. Who will you serve, your community, your profession, the marginalized and less fortunate, he asked as he encouraged the students to make the world a better place for the next generation. 

“There is a world out there that demands your attention.”

Dr. Wamsley, in wishing the students all the best as they soon embark on this next chapter, also asked them to wear their X-Rings with pride and with a sense of responsibility to serve others. 

It was a sentiment echoed by speakers University Chaplain Father Donald MacGillivary and by Vice-President Students Elizabeth Yeo, who emceed the ceremony. 

The Xaverian Commitment was led by senior student Ryan Small, while Eriq Proctor led the Student Reflection. Classmate Kamy Roberge Carrington led the presentation of academic hoods as several senior students presented the hoods as a symbol of academic hopes. The students included Priscilla Panchol, Maya Lowe, Jake Porter, Tamara Cremo, Dante Coulter, Andrew Boyle, Rebecca Demmings, Tsz Nok Jerry Ko, Emily Sandre and Kennedy Nangle. 

XF 2.jpg

The candlight procession from Mulroney Hall

Senior student Amy Graham closed the evening ceremony, leading her classmates in lighting individual candles. Students formed a candlelight procession exiting each venue, illuminating a path for faculty and staff as a symbol of the path faculty and staff have illuminated for them. These paths, Ms. Graham said, also serve as reminder for the future, “which we know will be bright…and a reminder to keep the StFX flame burning bright.” 


From wrongful convictions to quality of care and COVID-19, annual StFX Student Research Day shines spotlight on student research projects 

Thu, 2021-03-25 20:38
StFX student Brennah Agnew presents her research during StFX Student Research Day 2021

The breadth and depth of StFX student research was showcased March 25 as StFX once again hosted its annual Student Research Day, with close to 75 students presenting research in 10 different streams running the gamut from public health to computational analysis to business and leadership.

Research topics presented ranged from recommendations for coral reef conservation to wrongful convictions in Canada to quality of care and COVID-19: understanding contributors and impacts on long term care. 

The 2021 Student Research Day—the 18th edition at StFX—was held via an online virtual format. 

“Student Research Day is always an exciting event on our annual academic calendar,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, Associate Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.

“We have adjusted to an online approach for this year, which does allow us to do a few different things, such as organize our student presentations into themes and open the Student Research Day up to anyone who wants to take part (including friends and family that live far from Antigonish). We do look forward to being able to return to an in-person event in 2022, as this event is clearly a social celebration of student research efforts at StFX.”

StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin delivered opening remarks before the first group of sessions while Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Academic Vice President and Provost, gave the closing remarks and drew for prizes. He also announced that the university is donating $10 in the name of each student who presented to Kevin’s Corner, a student food resource at StFX, which provides healthy snacks for students. 

Dr. Hakin thanked everyone for participating, from the students to their excellent mentors to all who made the event possible. 

What an incredible job to prepare for this day, he said, especially in the time of COVID.

Dr. Hakin also thanked the students for all their work. “We have students who are receiving information in their courses, and they are part of active knowledge creation.”

Student Research Day gives students the opportunity to showcase their research or advanced studies undertaken as part of their upper-year classes, advanced majors, honours, or graduate programs. The evening is dedicated to students’ work in either an oral presentation or poster format with the presenting students available to provide other students, faculty, staff, and interested community members with the opportunity to discuss the research presented. 

“Thanks are due to Charlene Weaving (Human Kinetics), and Dr. Erin Austin (Psychology), who were key members of our organizing committee. A special thanks, however, is due to our Research Administration Coordinator, Jacqueline MacDonald, who did much of the actual event organizing, as well as Bill Hannah and Matt Cameron, who provided support with the technology for the event,” Dr. Isnor says.


Two StFX students win awards, seven present at Science Atlantic Aquaculture & Fisheries and Biology Conference

Wed, 2021-03-24 19:42
L-r, StFX students Amy Dodge and Lauren Sobot

Seven StFX biology honours students presented their research projects, and two, Lauren Sobot and Amy Dodge, won awards at the recent Science Atlantic Aquaculture & Fisheries and Biology Conference hosted virtually by Cape Breton University March 12-14. 

Ms. Sobot, a fourth year joint honours student in biology and psychology from Burlington, ON, won the top prize for the best biology oral presentation. 

“Presenting at Science Atlantic was a great opportunity to strengthen my public speaking and science communication skills. I also enjoyed hearing about the fascinating research other students are involved in. It was an honour to receive this award out of an impressive pool of young researchers,” she says.

Ms. Dodge, a fourth year honours biology student from Moncton, NB, won the third best biology poster presentation award. 

“This was a great experience and I really enjoyed engaging with others in the biology community,” she says. “Our lab faced a lot of challenges in our research due to COVID, so it was very rewarding to be recognized and to represent StFX.”

In all, there were 20 oral presentations and 43 poster presentations by biology undergraduate students at the conference.

StFX students who presented their honours projects, including their supervisors and talk titles, include:

•    Lauren Sobot (supervisors, Dr. Nik Thomas, Dalhousie, and Dr. Russell Wyeth, StFX)—DNA Cruciforms in Vibrio Species

•    Amy Dodge (supervisor, Dr. Tamara Rodela)—The Role of the Adenosine A1 Receptor and HIF1a in the Cross-Tolerance of Danio rerio to Hypoxia and Ammonia

•    Ryan Small (supervisor, Dr. Barry Taylor)—Use of leaf litter decomposition as a method of measuring ecosystem condition in acidified streams and ponds

•    Carmen Ucciferri (supervisor, Dr. Russell Wyeth)—Extracellular Recording of Chemosensory Neurons in the Tentacles of the Great Pond Snail, Lymnaea stagnalis

•    Kennedy Nangle (supervisors, Dr. Derrick Lee, Math & Stats Department, and Dr. Moira Galway)—Examining the impact of gene-gene interactions between DNA modulating genes on breast cancer risk

•    Mel Belong (supervisor, Dr. Ryan Lukeman, Math & Stats Dept)—Mathematical Modeling in Epidemiology: A Case Study of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia

•    Ben Fisher (supervisors, Dr. Bill Marshall and Dr. Tamara Rodela)--Insights into functional divergence of teleost cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR)


StFX proclaims March 31st as ‘Coach K Day’

Wed, 2021-03-24 16:55

StFX University is preparing to say goodbye to a coaching legend. Veteran X-Men Basketball head coach Steve Konchalski is retiring at the end of the month after 46 years behind the bench.

In honour of Coach Konchalski, StFX University President Dr. Andy Hakin has proclaimed that StFX University will be celebrating ‘Coach K Day’ on Wednesday, March 31st in tribute to our legendary coach.

On Coach K Day, we encourage all students, faculty and staff – along with the greater Antigonish community and alumni across the globe – to wear their StFX colours on March 31st in honour of Coach K! Everyone is encouraged to dress in blue and white to school or work, wear your StFX branded clothing, and feel free to send out pictures on social media using the hashtag #ThanksCoachK. 

We also welcome those on campus to stroll by the outside of the Saputo Centre on March 31st between 12-1 p.m. to bring physically distanced well wishes to Coach K and to pick up a commemorative poster and X cookie. 

More details on Coach K Day at StFX and all of Steve Konchalski’s accomplishments can be found at 

StFX awarded close to $800K to expand and enhance its computer science programs

Fri, 2021-03-19 13:24

St. Francis Xavier University has been awarded $794,000 to expand and enhance its computer science programs.

“StFX University is delighted to receive funding from the provincial government to enhance our computer science programs,” said Dr. Andy Hakin, President and Vice-Chancellor, StFX University.  “We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues in government to create more opportunities for study in computer science programs and promote opportunities for under-represented groups within the emerging digital economy of our province.” 

Digital skills drive the start-up economy and COVID-19 has accelerated digital adaptation and increased its importance. The digital future is here, and digital skills are essential to creating the jobs of today. Producing more digital talent in Nova Scotia will strengthen the start-up ecosystem across all areas from clean tech to agri-food and ocean sciences.

“As we work toward economic recovery, we need to focus on sectors that will energize our economy and set us up for long-term sustainability,” said Lena Metlege Diab, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. “This investment will help foster new opportunities in the digital sector with an emphasis on equity and inclusion and ensure more Nova Scotians have access to the training they need.

Nova Scotian universities and our quality of life have long been natural advantages to our start-up environment, but we can aim to be a world leading start-up capital where CEO’s invest, grow their firms and create more jobs.”

As Nova Scotia’s digital economy continues to grow, the need for more training opportunities in computer science is essential. The province invested $16.8 million in Dalhousie University, Acadia University, Saint Mary’s University and St. Francis Xavier University to increase or enhance their respective computer science programming.

To ensure the funding aligns with the province’s economic vision for a future that includes everyone, an advisory group with representatives from the Departments of Labour and Advanced Education, Inclusive Economic Growth and Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services will work collaboratively with the universities and oversee their proposals on how the funds will be spent.

Excellence in Business Studies: Two StFX Schwartz School students receive $30,000 Frank H. Sobey Award 

Thu, 2021-03-18 15:56
L-r, Victoria Morley and Patti-Anne Tracey

Patti-Anne Tracey and Victoria Morley, two fourth year students in StFX’s Gerald Schwartz School of Business, have been recognized as exceptional business students and future leaders. 

Each has been awarded $30,000 as a 2020-21 recipient of the Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business Studies.

The two fourth year StFX students are among nine business students, studying at Atlantic Canadian universities, to receive the award this year. The award was started in 1989 to support the development of future business leaders and business programs in Atlantic Canadian universities. Recipients are chosen by a Board of Directors, comprised of Atlantic Canadian business and academic leaders, and are based on entrepreneurial experience and interest, academic standing, extracurricular and community activities, and career aspirations. 

“I could not be more pleased with the recognition of Patti-Anne and Victoria as 2020-21 Sobeys Scholars. They both have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit and a tremendous commitment to service within the Schwartz School, the university, and within their respective home communities. They are exemplars of the type of students we strive to attract to StFX – academically focused, socially engaged and service oriented. They have brought great pride to all of us in the Gerald Schwartz School of Business,” says Dean of Business.

Ms. Tracey of Antigonish, NS is completing a BBA with a major in management and leadership. She also is a member of the X-Women hockey team. She says she is thrilled and overjoyed to be a recipient of the Frank H. Sobey Award for Excellence in Business Studies. 

“Knowing my hard work, passion, dedication, and leadership throughout my time in university is reflected in this award is a humbling feeling. This award will be an incredible asset to my personal growth, and it will allow me to continue to pursue my educational dreams,” she says. 

"I want to express my gratitude to the Schwartz School of Business professors and administration, the StFX Athletics Department, the campus community, my hometown Antigonish community, and most importantly, my family, for their incredible support throughout the last four years at StFX. I take so much pride in the people here, the community spirit, and the encouragement we have for one another. It has been a dream being a business student and representing StFX. I am looking forward to entering the professional sphere and applying my newfound knowledge and leadership skills towards my next journey.”

Ms. Morley, a BBA honours in enterprise systems student from Collingwood, ON, says she is “absolutely honoured to be a recipient of the Frank H. Sobey award. Throughout my time at StFX, I have worked hard to do my best and persevere despite facing difficult external challenges. It feels incredibly fulfilling to see that perseverance pay off, and to be a recipient of this award that will allow me to pursue further education and continue on a positive trajectory. I feel indebted to my peers and the faculty at StFX for their unwavering support of my endeavours over the last four years.”

Both students have made tremendous contributions to the StFX community and beyond.

Victoria Morley - St FX.jpg Victoria Morley

Ms. Morley has served for the past three years in three different positions on the Schwartz Business Society executive, including this year as president. She currently serves as an executive member of the Best Buddies Society at StFX and is a Best Buddy herself.

She is passionate about raising awareness for services and supports for grieving young people. In fact, her honours thesis seeks to leverage data analytics to understand the prevalence of childhood bereavement in Canada. In October 2021, she plans to travel to Nepal to climb to the Mount Everest base camp as part of a fundraising campaign that will benefit Season’s Centre for Grieving Children in honour of her late brother. Since age 18, she has backpacked 12 countries. 

Ms. Morley received an Alumni Recognition Award in 2019 and was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Scholarship that same year. She received the EDC International Business Scholarship Award in 2020, as well as the Tanenbaum Canada-Israel Exchange Scholarship, which she completed a semester abroad at IDC Herzliya, Israel, virtually due to COVID-19. She represented StFX twice as a delegate at the Model United Nations Conference in New York City, and has competed at four case competitions across Canada. She plans to complete a master’s degree abroad after graduation from StFX.

Patti Anne Tracey Sobeys photo .JPG Patti-Anne Tracey

Ms. Tracey has been a part of the StFX Athletics Leadership Academy as an elite leader and is co-chair of the SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Council).

Through support from the Wallace Family Entrepreneurship Fund, she, along with a teammate, created an educational training platform about sexual violence in athletics. Their website provides sexual violence prevention materials and training resources to Canadian sport organizations and coaches.

She also helped develop the concept of the X-Connects podcast to help people cope with the isolation that resulted from COVID-19. The project was intended to enhance connections within the StFX community and to give individuals a stronger feeling of community to help them navigate through the difficult period.

Ms. Tracey was also a student volunteer for three years at L’Arche Antigonish and was the program director of a four week Social Innovation Bootcamp (supported by Enactus StFX). She is a three-time U Sports Academic All-Canadian and is a Schwartz Women in Business Recognition Award.

She has been accepted and will pursue a Corporate Residency MBA at Dalhousie University after completing her BBA at StFX.





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

Fri, 2021-03-12 15:20
L-r, Academic Vice President Dr. Kevin Wamsley makes the presentation to student Eric Sutton

Eric Sutton, a graduating StFX B.Sc. in human kinetics student from Peterborough, ON, has won the cost of his X-Ring by participating in an annual survey for senior students that gauges student satisfaction and experience. All who participate are eligible for a prize draw to win the cost of their X-Ring.

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

Shown above, Academic Vice-President and Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley (left) makes the presentation to Mr. Sutton. 

X-Ring-Winner-MyStFX copy (002).jpg Eric Sutton 

StFX awarded $400,000 to grow equity, diversity and inclusion capacity in research enterprise

Fri, 2021-03-12 11:05

St. Francis Xavier University has been awarded $400,000 ($200,000 each year for two years) to help identify and overcome systemic barriers that impede the career advancement, recruitment and retention of underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. 

“This is an important initiative by the Government of Canada to strengthen equity, diversity and inclusion in the research environment at small universities across Canada,” says Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Vice-President of Research. “We are delighted to have been successful in this competitive process.”

Twelve post-secondary institutions across Canada will receive a two-year grant. The Government of Canada is committed to tackling challenges encountered by underrepresented and disadvantaged groups in Canadian research institutions and their impacts on the whole of the research ecosystem. To that end, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Institutional Capacity-Building Grant was launched as a pilot program in 2019 to support institutions as they adapt and implement organizational and systemic change informed by evidence and meaningful engagement with affected groups. 

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced the 12 institutions sharing close to $4.8 million in funding as part of the 2020 competition of the EDI Institutional Capacity-Building grant. This pilot funding program is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). NSERC is administering it on behalf of the three federal research granting agencies.

StFX student, faculty, staff and alumni score big in 2021 ECMA award nominations

Thu, 2021-03-04 11:13

StFX has scored well in the recently released East Coast Music Association (ECMA) award nominations with an undergraduate student and a number of faculty, staff and alumni all up for 2021 honours.

Moira MacMullin, a fourth year StFX student taking a BA in psychology with a minor in music, received an ECMA award nomination in the category Rising Star Recording of the Year for her debut EP '6 Is Green,' released Oct. 16, 2020. When releasing music as a solo act, Moira goes by the name Moira Bren. She also releases music with her younger sister, Claire MacMullin (also a StFX student, studying engineering and earth sciences) as part of the folk-pop duo Moira & Claire. Both are music directors at StFX’s radio station CFXU.

StFX faculty, staff and alumni are well represented in the Children’s Entertainer of the Year category with two nominations, for DR. G and for Bingly and the Rogues.

DR. G is led by alumnus Greg Melchin. His live performances have been supported by music faculty Jake Hanlon and Carolyn Curry.

Bingly and the Rogues includes Justin Gregg (leader, and part-time biology faculty), supported by Ranke de Vries (Celtic studies professor), music faculty Paul Tynan and Jake Hanlon, alumni Jenn Priddle and Natasha MacKinnon, Claydon Goering (StFX Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor) and Laura Teasdale (director at Festival Antigonish).

Among the StFX alumni nominated for awards are

Jazz Recording of the Year: Anteater with Casey Thompson (leader), supported by Andrew MacKelvie, Adam Seto, Brendan Melchin, and Kye Ehresman

Inspirational Recording of the Year: Ease Back – Natasha Blackwood

Studio Engineer of the Year: Scott Ferguson

Breagh Isabel (Breagh Mackinnon) is up for a couple of ECMA awards, for Fans Choice Video of the Year: Classified, "Good News" featuring Breagh Isabel (director: Mike Boyd) and for Song of the Year: Classified, "Good News" featuring Breagh Isabel.

StFX pre-service teachers becoming entrepreneurs to help teach entrepreneurs 

Wed, 2021-03-03 15:51
Pictured are Dr. Greg Hadley and students in his B.Ed. Secondary Business Education class

A group of StFX pre-service teachers are learning to become entrepreneurs to help educate future entrepreneurs. 

Students in Dr. Greg Hadley’s B.Ed. Secondary Business Education class have all been tasked with conducting a business venture assignment so that they will be well prepared to help teach high school students to do the same. 

“This is an important simulation as completing a venture has become an expectation in many high school business education courses,” Dr. Hadley says. 

“Many assignments in our B.Ed. program are designed to prepare students for classroom teaching. In this case, 'the venture' is a curriculum outcome for Entrepreneurship 12, a popular business course in Nova Scotia. Supporting high school students as they plan and launch a venture is generally a good deal of work for the classroom teacher. It was with that in mind that this assignment was born,” he says. 

“The goal is to prepare our future business education teachers with the knowledge and experience to take a high school class through the business venture process in a meaningful and educative way. It is a piece of experiential learning with direct, practical benefit for our pre-service teachers.” 

The assignment asks students to create their own venture in a process that closely mirrors what classroom teachers do. Students, working in groups, generate ideas, refine them, and mobilize them into an actual venture, he says. 

The assignment, offered for the past three years, is the centerpiece of the business pedagogy class and is popular with students. Over the years, students have launched food service ventures, planned extra-curricular events, worked with the campus newspaper, and created social enterprises. This year, his class is working through four separate venture projects. One group has created a social enterprise that sells cards featuring the artwork of Nova Scotia artists from different cultural affiliations, while another group is selling customized trading cards. One group is selling hot chocolate 'bombs' that make hot chocolate preparation easy, while another is planning an extra-curricular event for students. 

The greeting card company CardsFourCause, he says, is a nice example of how students have pivoted to complete this task given the restrictions of COVID 19. The students have also introduced an e-commerce element, something new for the assignment. 


In this case, the students, Jenny Melong of Pictou County, NS, Adrian Covey, who grew up in Prospect Bay and now lives in River John, NS, and Tracey MacNeil of Mabou Harbour, Cape Breton, launched a social entrepreneurial venture project in which they’ve partnered with Nova Scotian artists from diverse cultural groups to feature their artwork on professionally printed greeting cards. Profits are donated to organizations that support social justice, the environment, fine arts, and culture. 

The students say the learning experience has been terrific. 

“As pre-service teachers, we have found tremendous value in the business venture simulation experience. Not only has it provided an opportunity for educational learning and growth related to entrepreneurship, but it has also created a platform for social integration, outreach, and communication with and amongst our B.Ed. colleagues. It has been extremely beneficial and rewarding to share knowledge and ask questions along the way with other pre-service teachers,” say the three students, all in their first year of the education program. 

“The experience of taking an idea from the ideation phase through to mobilization has allowed us to access and strengthen the entrepreneurial KSAs (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) required of an entrepreneur. When we think about our readiness as a professional educator, we are now more confident in our ability to teach well, using active, experiential learning as the basis of our teaching.”

The three students say they originally planned to implement the venture as a small scale, profit-oriented venture, but with their focus on social justice in their Sociology of Education course, they thought it would be a nice opportunity to raise funds and awareness for related causes. 

“As such, we decided to implement a social entrepreneurial, non-profit venture that paired art with advocacy. We partnered with artists from diverse cultural groups across Nova Scotia including Acadian, African Nova Scotia, Indigenous and Scottish Gaelic. We empowered the artist to define a group or organization to which they would like the profits from the sale of their cards donated, which ended up including causes linked to youth empowerment, social justice, the environment, arts and culture. To increase our reach, we decided to implement our venture using an e-commerce platform and social media marketing. To date, we have sold over 300 cards and our website has been visited by over 500 users across Canada, the U.S. and even a few in the U.K and Kenya!”

Creating the venture was at first a daunting endeavour, they say, but with guidance of Dr. Hadley and excellent group communication and collaboration, they were able to break the process down into segments and assign tasks and accountabilities through Microsoft Teams. The group was able to stay on track and get the venture up and going in a short time, with sales skyrocketing within the first few days. “While our campaign will soon be coming to an end, in the future, we will be exploring ways to keep “CardsFourCause” alive as a part of the B.Ed. program’s Secondary Business Education course.”  

The students say there are several takeaways from this activity. 

“We have learned there are many uniquely talented artists in minority cultures in Nova Scotia. One of the artists we partnered with for our venture is an inspiring, self-taught, 11-year-old African Nova Scotian sketch artist from Antigonish named Sylas Smiley. Sylas has taught us how important youth are in the community, and what an incredible contribution to the future they make. We have also experienced, first-hand, the vital role technology plays in today’s business environment; particularly the internet, making it possible to sell over 300 unique cultural greeting cards in only 10 days.”

They were surprised by the overwhelming amount of support they received. “We were extremely humbled to have one of our cards used as the thank you card for the StFX Department of Sociology Dr. Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture. Community support was also very humbling, with over $400 in local sponsorship secured to support costs associated with the venture.”

Student entrepreneurship provides unspeakable value, they say.

“We recently had a youth entrepreneur, a Grade 10 student from Pictou County, deliver a presentation to our class. She was more than enlightening; she was heartwarming, inspiring and hopeful. She made one comment that continues to resonate with us; relating to the idea that incredibly young children become excited, energetic, motivated, in the face of fun, hands-on, interactive types of activities. Her statement caused us to reflect on how relevant and valuable it is to foster student entrepreneurship, in any educational manner possible. Students of all ages deserve to be educated about entrepreneurship.”

COVID Update: Avoid travelling to Halifax/Consistent group of 10

Fri, 2021-02-26 19:24

To the campus community,

Earlier this afternoon, our province’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Strang, announced what he called a ‘circuit breaker’ intervention within the Halifax and Central region, to help stop the spread of COVID-19 within the province.

I’d like to share a reminder to the campus community to avoid all non-essential travel to Halifax and the Central Region. Also, a reminder that it is ok to socialize in a group of 10; however, please ensure that you are doing so with a consistent group of 10. According to Dr. Strang, this is a practice where improvement is needed across the province.

Although the cases may seem far from our everyday lives, it is important that we remind ourselves that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. To date, StFX students, faculty and staff have done a tremendous job in keeping our communities safe. With cases on the rise in the province, including some cases for which the virus is proving untraceable, it’s vital that we keep our focus. 

Let’s continue to be diligent in our activities, take care of ourselves, one another and our community. To quote Dr. Strang, “We must all take precautions, even if we, personally, are not at risk.” Let’s take his words to heart and continue to practice safe and low-risk behaviours.

Have a safe weekend. 


Andy W. Hakin PhD President and Vice-Chancellor

St. Francis Xavier University

Kiknu “Our Home” —Indigenous Student Centre officially opens at StFX

Fri, 2021-02-26 15:40
L-r, Mi'kmaw Elder and StFX Knowledge Keeper Kerry Prosper and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin joined together to officially open StFX’s Indigenous Student Centre and unveil its name, Kiknu, meaning 'our home' in English.

Kiknu, meaning ‘our home’ in English, is the name of StFX’s Indigenous Student Centre, officially opened on campus on Feb. 26.

Mi'kmaw Elder and StFX Knowledge Keeper Kerry Prosper and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin joined together to unveil the centre’s name during a ceremony held in Dennis Hall in the Coady Institute. 

“I give thanks for this,” said Elder Prosper as he welcomed all to the ceremony, held with a small number of in-person guests. Due to COVID-19, the event was livestreamed to the campus and broader community via StFX's Facebook page. 

Elder Prosper shared a most honoured, traditional welcome with everyone gathered for the official opening. The Indigenous Student Centre, he said, is a safe spot for our students, their families, and for all Indigenous people who come here. 

“We have lived here for thousands of years, but today we struggle to find safe spots in our homeland,” he said. 

“We will always remember this day.”

“It’s a special moment in StFX’s history,” Dr. Hakin said as he recognized honoured guests at the ceremony and thanked the community for allowing StFX to have this moment.

“I’m excited about the possibilities that Kiknu brings us.” 

Dr. Hakin says the name speaks to what this place can be and should be. “Our home, that’s what it says.”

He says he sees Kiknu as a place that will bring people together, where peer mentoring and learning happen organically, a place that will promote the success of students, and that will create an environment that promotes friendship and helps in the journey to bring about truth and reconciliation. It will be a place of growth, and a place to amplify Mi’kmaq culture in our daily lives and provide learning opportunities to all.  

“It will enrich the campus.” 

“I’m so glad that this is happening,” says StFX Faculty of Education professor Michelle Sylliboy, who brought greetings during the ceremony. She also thanked Terena Francis, Coordinator, Indigenous Student Affairs at StFX, for all her efforts to make this day possible. 

Prof. Sylliboy was involved in going back to the community to ask Elders, including StFX alumni, for their input on the name. Kiknu was suggested: “It’s a home away from home for these students.” 

Jeneva Dennis, a fourth year BA student, who emceed the afternoon event, spoke about the importance of the space. She said it is a place where she can come to study, to talk to people, and to be able to hold her culture close. 

StFX Vice President Students Elizabeth Yeo gave a Territory Acknowledgement and delivered opening remarks, noting that StFX is committed to honouring treaty relations because we are all treaty people. While StFX recognizes there is work still to be done, she says today is a meaningful step forward, celebrating the naming of this space, and creating a space with the hopes it ensures that Indigenous students feel safe, welcomed and honoured. 


StFX selected as vaccination site

Wed, 2021-02-24 14:03

February 23, 2021

To the campus community,

Later today we are expecting the Nova Scotia government to announce that StFX has been selected as a venue for one of the province’s COVID-19 Community Vaccination Clinics.

The provincial government recently announced a vaccination strategy that will see residents of Nova Scotia receive the vaccine in descending order based on age, with those aged 80 and above among those receiving the first doses.  It is anticipated that the entire vaccination roll-out will take at least six months, and StFX expects to serve as a clinic venue for the public for the duration of the province’s vaccination timeline. The MacKay room within Bloomfield Centre has been identified as the venue for this clinic.

We are very pleased to be able to offer our facilities as a venue for this critical part of the province’s COVID-19 response. Please note that the site itself will be managed by Nova Scotia Public Health officials, who will also make all decisions regarding vaccination appointments and roll-out. You can find a series of Frequently Asked Questions provided by the province with more information on the government’s vaccine plans by visiting StFX’s COVID-19 web portal:


If you have specific questions on the province’s plans for vaccine roll-out, please contact Nova Scotia Public Health using this email address:





Andy W. Hakin PhD

President and Vice-Chancellor

St Francis Xavier University