An Open Letter to the Students of StFX University

 
 

I am hard-pressed to believe that my time as Students’ Union President has come to an end. Even as I write this, I still expect to receive emails sent to an account that is no longer in my name, telling me about the next problem that needs to be resolved. Similar to the ones who came before me, now that I have reached the end, I find myself looking back on everything that was achieved.

The Executive Team and I were determined to accomplish many things on behalf of our students, but most importantly we were determined to do our best for them, every single day. In light of recent events, I can perhaps say that a number of us on the team are leaving with mixed feelings. I do not presume to speak on behalf of my team, but for me, there were moments in this year that felt like something out of a film.

As President of the Students’ Union, I felt strongly that it was my responsibility to uphold the dignity of my office. I was aware of my position as a highly visible member of both the Union and the school; I never wanted to do something that would reflect badly on either of these institutions. However, it was challenging to say nothing as I witnessed behaviour and comments in the second half of my tenure that were exceptionally problematic and also representative of a larger rhetoric that has in recent times, penetrated university campuses.

I will begin by stating that I am very conscious of the power of words. This is not only as an outcome of my background, but also because of the effect of a very different type of letter that I wrote around this time last year. Words have the power to harm, to heal, to blind, and to reveal. These revelations might be about you or about others. Most importantly, in all of these instances, words have the ability to impact. As someone who interacts with different systems of oppression in my every day life, I have witnessed how words can be used to subjugate and stifle, or to liberate and free. For this reason, I am very careful with how, where, and when I use my own words. I will state that awareness of my words further increased in my time as President because it was part of my job to speak on behalf of over four thousand people.

In our childhood, we are taught that honesty and telling the truth are important values. As we get older, we begin to choose what is important to us personally and how we will uphold these values. From my perspective, truth and honesty are imperative for the position of leadership that the President holds. Students pay for the operation of the Union and vote to choose the representatives of the organization. Therefore, students have a right to know what happens in the Union each step of the way. In fact, it is the duty of students as constituents to ensure that their elected leaders are doing what they said they would and are making decisions that uphold the democratic processes of the institution.

If students have deemed that their representatives are not performing the jobs they were elected to do, then students have the inherent ability to remove these individuals from their positions. The Students’ Union, similar to other democratic institutions, has checks and balances that are intended to ensure that no one person has the ability to do what they want without repercussions. All students need to do is ask for the information about these processes and it shall be given to them.

The checks and balances in a democratic institution include a healthy Fourth Estate. It is the job of news and media to investigate different situations and offer analysis to help the reader gain perspective. While holding a position of leadership, it is expected that a person will receive criticism at any time. Open criticism of institutions and leadership are one of the best indicators of a strong democracy. These criticisms hold leaders accountable for their actions and ensure that the operations of a given democratic body shall fulfill their intended purpose. This is why the autonomy of the press must be protected and held at the highest regard. As students participating in a democratic process, you do not have to be afraid of offering criticism or of speaking the truth, regardless of the threats of lawsuits and promises of anger that may follow.

In addition to my reflections about the presidency and the Students’ Union, I would also like to offer my thanks to everyone who contributed to making this year so incredible.

I will begin with my Executive Team; Tiffany, Tega, Kallie, Clancy, and Sean, I never imagined that I could have a team as great as you. Tega, your wisdom and resilience have been nothing short of awe-inspiring to all of us. Kallie, your humour and ability to offer an objective perspective always kept us grounded. Clancy, your determination and compassion reminded us to be kind to one another. Sean, your creativity and ability to bring people together kept us close. Last, but never least, to my wonderful VP Academic, Tiffany. Thank you for being my right-hand, confidant, and close friend. When we were both elected that cold, January night in 2018, I never thought that I would gain such a beautiful friendship and partner-in-crime/all-things-theU. You and I will always be “the throat-puncher and the politician” respectively, as we were once humorously described.

I would also like to give a warm thank you to Tanaka, our fantastic Chair of Council. In our organization, the positions of President and Chair of Council are set up to have a complicated relationship. I think you and I were truly able to turn this belief on its head. I could not have asked for a better Chair, you led with grace, strength, and an uncanny ability to keep calm, even when everything went wrong.

There are so many people who have contributed to the Union beyond just the ones I have named here. Thank you for everything you contributed and for all that you did for our students.

Finally, I would like to thank you, the students of StFX University. You have treated my team and I with kindness, trusted us to do the right thing, and supported us in a way we had never anticipated. In all of our decision-making, at the end of the day, we were always faced with answering just one question. “Is this in the best interest of our students?” If we could see that something was not, we changed the circumstances; we searched for new information, we asked for advice, we looked at best practice, and we discussed and disagreed. All this was with the objective of ensuring that we were making the highest quality of decisions for our students. You were our motivation for pushing StFX to be the best place it could be. By electing us, you trusted us with the great responsibility of representing your voice; this was not a task that any of us took lightly. Thank you, for believing in us and for giving us -for giving me- the opportunity to serve you, the students.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Mesay

President

StFX Students’ Union

 

Pilot Project Launch

 
 

Funds available for StFX students to display their work at the Art Gallery

The Students’ Union has recently funded a part of the cost for hosting Nic Latulippe’s “Canadiana” exposition at the StFX Art Gallery from March 4 to 14, 2019. Latulippe convinced the Students’ Union to repay him $1100 for printing his artwork displayed at the exposition and renting the space.

The money came from the Council Initiatives Fund which also supported student-led projects such as The Xaverian Review this year. Part of Latulippe’s initiative is to have funding for art expositions more accessible to students on campus.

Latulippe learned about the Council Initiatives Fund while speaking with Tega Sefia, Vice-President of Finance and Operations of the Students’ Union. Sefia informed Latulippe that any student can request money from the Fund for a project at a council meeting.

Latulippe’s proposal, according to the Council Minutes, included that he would get funding on the condition that his artwork be displayed in the Brian Mulroney Hall Institute. However, Latulippe has been selling prints from “Canadiana” displayed at the exposition for personal profit. The Xaverian Weekly reached out to Latulippe inquiring about purchasing “Alone” and “Maritime Icon.” Latulippe replied that original prints displayed at the “gallery” as well as “reprints” are available for purchase.

Photo: http://www2.mystfx.ca/art-gallery/exhibitions

Photo: http://www2.mystfx.ca/art-gallery/exhibitions

The idea of featuring StFX artists at the campus Art Gallery opens doors to showcase student art, yet there is little evidence that funding behind this new project is distributed fairly across all StFX artists. The amount of money allocated to fund Latulippe’s exhibition was substantial compared to the $500 he proposed to council that future artists receive for showcasing their work in the Art Gallery.

While the efforts of Latulippe, the Students’ Union, and the Art Gallery to promote student artwork is commendable, the execution of this project is flawed. Funding aside, Latulippe’s exposition was displayed for 10 days while Doumkos’ exposition was displayed for nine days. Latulippe’s full name appears on his promotional poster while the only identifier linking Doumkos to the exposition is her website doumkos.com.

Students’ Union executives are considering various strategies to ensure the long-term success and fairness of this pilot project. Latulippe is to be praised for putting forth this project rooted in the empowerment of student artists.

 

Patagonia Action Works

 
 

Clothing company integrates activism with business

Patagonia has announced that they will refuse to sell corporate logo vests to companies that do not prioritize the environment. The fleece vest has become a corporate wardrobe staple of Wall Street and Silicone Valley firms. The change in Patagonia’s distribution policy came to light when the CEO of the financial communication PR firm Vested applied for, ironically, branded vests. According to an email from an unidentified supplier:

“Patagonia has nothing against your client or the financial industry, it’s just not an area they are currently marketing through our co-brand division. While they have co-branded here in the past, the brand is really focused right now on only co-branding with a small collection of like-minded and brand aligned areas; outdoor sports that are relevant to the gear we design, regenerative organic farming, and environmental activism.... Due to their environmental activism, they are reluctant to co-brand with oil, drilling, mining, dam construction, etc. companies that they view to be ecologically damaging...”

Patagonia has a long history of environmental activism. In 2018, CEO Rose Marcario announced Patagonia was going to give back the $10 million tax cut to grassroots organizations focused on environmental conservation. Until recently, the company mission was “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” The slogan was changed in December, however, to something more akin to a call to action: “Patagonia is in the business to save our home planet.”

The change has impacted more than just the company letterhead, however. In an order to the company HR department, founder Yvon Chouinard requested that throughout company hirings - regardless of department - experience being equal, the candidate who is the most committed to environmental conservation should be hired. According to a report published by Fast Company, Chouinard has said the change has “made a huge difference in the people coming into the company.”

In addition to mottos and missions, Patagonia has a long history of supporting organizations dedicated to outdoor activities and environmental initiatives. The company has a history of awarding 900 grants per year to various organizations. Recently, the company has become much more selective in the grant allocation process, choosing to focus on three key areas: agriculture, politics, and protected lands. In an interview with Fast Company, Chouinard provided an example of this increased selectivity:

“We give out about 900 grants a year to different activist organizations… We’ve given money to an organization that repairs people’s bicycles. Well, they’re not going to get any money anymore.”

Chouinard has a long personal history of environmental activism, both within and outside the company. In 1986, Chouinard dedicated 1% of total Patagonia sales, or 10% of profits (whichever was higher) to environmental activism and initiatives. In the early 1990s, an environmental audit of the company revealed that the source of their cotton – although ethically farmed – had a large associated environmental footprint. The use of pesticides and insecticides were responsible for a vast amount of the environmental damage associated with cotton production. In response, Chouinard ordered the company to switch cotton sources to those that were certified organic. Although the move was valiant, it almost resulted in the bankruptcy of the company. Sales plummeted 20% due to supply chain issues, and it took Patagonia a total of three years to train and certify the cotton farmers. After the cotton supply issues were remedied, however, sales improved to a steady rate, and have been increasing ever since.

The action taken by Patagonia to not only combat ecological damage, but also enforce environmental proactivity through selective partnerships, is a wonderful example of using corporate influence for the betterment of society. Acta non verba. Social corporate responsibility is a topic too often tackled by words, rather than actions. 

Patagonia has taken corporate responsibility several orders of magnitude beyond the industry standard; hopefully firms will take after their lead, and alter their own internal policies accordingly.

 

Irony on the World Stage

 
 

Comedic relief in time for exams

As another year winds to a close here at StFX, and the heavy weight of exams come bearing down on us all, a good whimsical tale can help alleviate the pressure. Or better yet, two recent stories from across the globe which serve to remind us that sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction. Or at least more ironic.

Massimiliano Fedriga, of the League party in Italy, has been vocal in his opposition to Italy’s policy of mandatory vaccinations of children since its inception. The mandate was put into law following a Measles outbreak in 2017, and it requires vaccinations against twelve diseases.

According to the legislation, unvaccinated children would be barred from pre-school and daycare, and their parents would face heavy fines.

Fedriga argued that parents shouldn’t be obliged to vaccinate their children. He even went as far as to say on one occasion, that the larger part of the ruling coalition government at that time, the Democratic party, was being “Stalinist.”

Recently, rather unfortunately and somewhat comically, Fedriga contracted chicken-pox — one of the 12 diseases requiring vaccination in 2017’s legislation.

Many were quick to point out the brutal irony of the situation on Twitter. But, to be fair to Mr. Fedriga, he claims that he was never a supporter of the anti-vax movement. As reported by The Independent, Mr Fedriga recently posted on Twitter, “I have always said that I am in favour of vaccines, but to achieve the result it is necessary to have an alliance with families not imposition.”

A well known Italian doctor, and operator of the website MedicalFacts, Robert Burioni first wished Mr. Fedrigo a speedy recovery. But, afterwards, he took the opportunity to highlight the importance of vaccinations, “The only way we have to avoid such tragedies is to vaccinate us all to prevent the circulation of this dangerous virus, which could have hit a much more vulnerable person.”

If that story was not bizzare enough, don’t worry, there’s more. In a turn of events that one would expect in a piece by The Onion, an Egyptian singer by the name of Sherine Abdel-Wahab has recently barred from performing in Egypt for implying that the country doesn’t respect free speech.

According to the New York Post, at a concert in Bahrain in late March, Abdel-Wahab was recorded saying “Here I can say whatever I want. In Egypt, anyone who talks gets imprisoned.”

After this remark, a high-profile Egyptian lawyer, Samir Sabri, filed suit against Abdel-Wahab. The lawsuit accused the singer of using the music festival and foreign parties to speak ill of Egypt. The singer was then promptly banned from performing by the Egyptian Musicians Syndicate, which licenses musicians in the country.

The Emirates Woman magazine reports that the following week, Abdel-Wahab made a public appearance to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, saying, “I am very tired. I made a mistake. I am sorry. I appeal the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, who is our father. I feel that I was persecuted. I did nothing. I love Egypt.”

Despite the outlandish stories, we remind the reader that they are in fact reading The Xaverian Weekly, and they are not dreaming. Good luck with exams, until next time.

 

Why Do People Avoid Canadian Blood Services?

 
 

Friendly reminder that it’s in you to give

Most of us have probably heard or seen an advertisement to donate blood to Canadian Blood Services (CBS), especially when demands are critical; however, given only 1 in 60 Canadians choose to donate blood, why do other Canadians avoid CBS like the plague?

One of the most common concerns when it comes to giving blood are needles and passing out. Those who have trypanophobia tend to shy away from giving blood or even getting tested for their blood type, which is a bit of a harder hurdle to get over. For those that worry about passing out due to the amount of blood they’re giving, CBS has minimum weight requirements in place and snacks around to maintain blood sugar levels to avoid that very situation. If you’re prone to fainting at the sight of blood in general, it’s a bit harder to avoid passing out unless you don’t watch the entire process of blood donation.

Others cite not being aware of where or when blood donations are occurring. It is very easy to find this out information by visiting the CBS website or calling their number at 1-888-2-DONATE. Most donation dates and places are at easily accessible areas and times; there are often convenient blood drives on university campuses and at community hubs. For those that say they haven’t donated blood because they’re never asked or invited to donate somewhere, remember that it’s not only up to CBS to get you to the donation locations.

Some individuals chalk up their lack of blood donations to not having the time or just avoiding it altogether. For those individuals, it’s key to offer incentives such as having rewards for donating a certain number of times or being a first time donor. While CBS does offer pins and certificates for certain levels of donations, it may be worth investing a little money into short campaigns that give out things like $5 gift card. Of course, these types of initiatives appear more like bribery in exchange for blood, when blood donation should be more of an act of altruism.

Medication and chronic illnesses can also be barriers to donating blood. I’m sure there are other individuals like myself that were unaware for years that they could donate blood even while taking medication for a chronic illness. This is why being aware that CBS has a detailed list of medications or medical conditions online that do or do not hinder your ability to donate blood is incredibly important. Otherwise, some eligible donors may avoid donating blood altogether just because they’re not sure they won’t be rejected at the door for taking a particular medication.

Restrictions on how long you have to wait to donate blood after getting piercings and tattoos may also be discouraging younger people to donate. Individuals have to wait three months after getting a tattoo or piercing to donate due to the risks of infection associated with both, which is an important reason to wait to donate blood. However, approximately 36% of Canadians aged 18 to 34 have tattoos based on a 2012 study, younger generations may be showing up less to donate because of blood donation requirements around tattoos. Perhaps if CBS increases awareness about the restrictions, they might catch potential young blood donors before they head to an appointment for their next piercing or tattoo.


Photo: thethunderbird.ca

Photo: thethunderbird.ca

If you are a man that has sex with men, CBS requires you to wait a year since your last sexual contact with a man to donate blood. The blood ban hits gay men disproportionately since it automatically excludes those who are sexually active or in long term relationships. It also perpetuates the stigma of HIV/AIDs in the gay community, even though you can get HIV/AIDs if you are in a heterosexual relationship. Given that the proportion of individuals that identify as LGBTQIA+ is increasing among younger generations, the CBS should consider changing their donation rules related to men who have sex with men so they don’t lose a lot of eligible donors in the future.

There are many reasons why people avoid donating blood, most of which can be remedied by increasing awareness around restrictions to donating blood, how to get involved, or providing more incentives. CBS should also consider that they may be attracting less of the younger generation due to the rules around donating if you get tattoos, piercings, and men who have sex with men. In the end, I would still urge all of you to look into donating blood and to donate if you can.

 

Soyez Prudent

 
 

How do we preserve French culture?

I am a former French immersion student, and have no French background, no ancestry rooting back into the first Acadian settlers of Nova Scotia, no ties to the French. Meanwhile, I am concerned for the state of French within our province and across our country, given that French is an official language of Canada and it was a path I chose to continue to study. The culture, from as far as I can see, is slipping.

The French are classically portrayed as beret wearing, ascot sporting, baguette eaters with a hint of poutine on the side, but the French have a much richer ancestry. Many of your favourite dishes likely came from French cuisine, a huge component of the arts was inspired by and produced by the French, and, of course, they are responsible for creating the language of love. Canada often advertises itself as a bilingual nation, but short of direct interactions with Quebec or France, I see little to no promotion of French by the government. This could be due to the fear of the Québec and their separatist desires, but if anything, the promotion of French across the country would discourage such a move.

During my work placement last year, it was brought to my attention that there was a high demand for French teachers in Halifax, even as far as the end of September. The doors began to swing wide, accepting people with minimal French backgrounds as educators for those who wish to pursue it. That’s a problem. If people who are not well versed with the language are being hired on to instruct others, we immediately see a major decrease in student ability and comprehension, unless students take the initiative themselves. While I love the idea of maintaining the French program, it should not be kept or promoted if it isn’t going to be strong and well-run.

Moving to the local French, the Acadians cultivated the land and developed strong irrigation systems that have been adapted to use in the modern day. Many of the art pieces (the stars you see on so many homes across the province as an example) and structures we see across Nova Scotia are adaptations, if not direct representation, of the Acadians, and while there are museums and hot spots for Acadian culture, unfortunately there is little to no funding, and upkeep and maintenance is lacking. The understanding behind these symbols is also being lost, the star being a direct representation as the household being Acadian and not just French, but many people see it as purely design. There are some reports out there that suggest the star was the French equivalent to a wind chime in that it was believed to protect homes from evil spirits, but that could be individual beliefs rather than representation of the Acadians at large.

There was recently a panel on how to protect the Celtic heritage at the Bauer, but I think the same conversation needs to be had with French. Yes, it isn’t as discouraged or oppressed in our region such as that of others, but it is not immune to the greater powerhouse that is English. To paraphrase my mother, she used to tell me events only carry the weight that we give them, which to me is symbolic of what we value. Is age of greater value than the expulsion of the Acadians? We certainly seem to prioritize and celebrate birthdays far greater than moments in history. How about the Congrès Mondial Acadien? A large festival that I can’t say I had heard of prior to this article. I believe my mother’s statement can also be applied to all aspects of life. What do we give weight to?

To fix this issue, I think there should be a greater emphasis on addressing the problem in the first place. With the decreasing number of professionals entering the system to promote French, and an increasing number of students enrolling in Immersion, there is an imbalance. If French were something to be promoted through business, or with incentives, that could encourage the use on a day to day level. There is always a lot of talk on what French can get you and where it will take you down the line, but in my experience, French has only increased my employability minimally. 

On a personal note, a friend of mine recently underwent testing to see if she qualified as bilingual for the government and while she did not attain the highest level, she did do well; however, she could not hold a conversation with me. Now I’m not saying I have great French, but I know that I can hold a conversation with first language French speakers. My personal experience leads me to believe that our system is corrupt and that we should be addressing the issues. 

If somebody doesn’t do well on the test, that doesn’t mean you can’t hire them, but instead (particularly within the government) offer courses. Recognizing that development of Canada was in large due to Acadians should have been something addressed in the Canada 150 celebrations. There is a lot of talk about the indigenous populations and rightly so, but French became an official language for a reason, and it is seldom addressed.

I am here to say I want more. For some in the country, French is still the only language they speak. French within a community has always been accepted, unlike other languages, but if we fail to embrace it, we risk losing it.

 

The Battle of Coffee

 
 

The best coffee in Antigonish for the friendliest student price

Now, before I start, I must add that I am not a coffee expert and I do not claim to be one. This is just my guide to the best cup of coffee in Antigonish. I’ve been living in Antigonish now for four years, and I think I’ve cracked the code on what places sell the perfect cup, at the best price.

Finding the perfect cup of coffee can be really hard, but once you find that sweet spot that makes the perfect cup, it’s hard to let go of it.

I never used to be a coffee drinker before coming to university, imagine that. Even in my first year I prided myself in not needing any aid in the morning to get my system going. However, now that I’m in my fourth year I can guarantee you that by the middle of second year I became a loyal coffee drinker. I’ll admit, I hated it at first, but the late night of paper writing was not kind to me, so I used to just drink the coffee while secretly despising it. Now that I like the taste of coffee, does that make me an adult?

Alright, so let’s get started. Right off the bat, I’m sorry to all the loyal Tim Horton’s drinkers, but that coffee isn’t even in the top five of good coffee, it’s watery dirt. There, I said it. As for McDonald’s, you are not bad. If I had to pick between the two of you for a place to get coffee I’d have to go with McDonald’s without question. I see you, but you do have room to improve.

I’ll start with Pachamama. Now, I am a big fan of this little but blossoming spot. The food and snacks are delicious and vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free friendly! Big win in my books, coming from someone who has celiac disease. As for the coffee, it’s not bad coffee to say in the least instead it just does not mingle well with my taste buds, also the price isn’t too friendly to my tight student budget I’ll be honest.

Oh, Tall and Small, you own my heart, but not precisely my coffee heart. I should correct myself; your drip coffee does not hold my heart. But! Your latte’s, well that is another story, I am a devoted latte customer at the T&S. If you ever really want to treat yourself with any specialty coffee latte, cappuccino you name it, then Tall and Small is your answer. Plus, Collen and Leah (shout-out) make some wicked coffee art with a kind smile. For someone who operates on a student budget, I must admit to spending too much money on lattes.

So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, who’s the coffee winner? It’s Sodexo coffee! I’m just kidding, far from. It’s the Waffle Bus! This may come across as a surprise, but I mean should it? It’s no secret that this place makes some of the best food in town, so it’s only natural that their coffee is also the jackpot. It’s so smooth, and always piping hot, I recommend going with the light roast, plus they have brown sugar to put in your coffee, it’s a game changer. Plus, if you bring in a reusable mug, it’s only $1.50, saving the planet while also fixing your coffee needs for a great deal.

Like I said before, I am by no means a coffee connoisseur, but four years of testing out new places in the nish, I think I found the perfect spot. By all means, you can disagree with my top coffee. Before you do, test out the Waffle Bus’s coffee. Who knows, you might agree.

 

Living at the End of Time

 
 

A critique on capitalism in popular culture

The collapse of competing economic ideologies by the 1990s, led to the supremacy for an invisible ideology; it believed only in the power of markets, it dissolved our future, and created an existential ennui that has left many of us disjointed from time and alienated from ourselves and our environments. In the video  essay, “Hypernormalisation,” Adam Curtis includes a brief clip from an interview with a Russian woman during the late Soviet era. The interviewer asks the woman what her dreams are, she replies, befuddled, “what are dreams? What purpose do they serve?” For Curtis, this is symptomatic of the late Soviet Union, the stagnation of communism produced an existential ennui. 

The dreams of scientific Marxism had failed to produce a futuristic, stateless utopia and instead created an oppressive state capitalism that had reduced their lives to little more than ensuring that numbers increase on production charts.

The end of Soviet expansion, the misadventures in Afghanistan (itself a prophetic omen for American imperialism), economic decline, and creative stagnation would come to give Western leaders a false sense of triumph and victory. It will also foreshadow our own creative stagnation that has cast a spectre over the world, which is Capitalist Realism.

With the fall of the USSR in 1991, Francis Fukuyama predicted the “end of history,” understood as the struggle of one civilization against another and the conquest of a single world order. In this vision of the future, liberal democracies would spread to country after country, and would usher in a coherent and copacetic, global vision of economic and political philosophies. Pilloried at the time and even more so after 9/11, various criticisms were levelled at Fukuyama, most popularly that “Western Civilisation” was at war with a new global power, Islam. Media outlets, desperate for a new boogeyman, and with the help of American intelligence agencies, manufactured a single, imperial entity out of numerous disparate factions all claiming religious inspiration. According to these theorists and media personalities, instead of “ending” history, we were being ushered into a new era of clashing civilizations; Islam versus the West. However, they were quite wrong.

In reality what was happening, for Soviet Russia and Western society, was that history was already beginning to end in the 1970s. What was largely believed to be true, was that American capitalism was the true, victorious engine of innovation and progress, but what was actually true was that the spark of American innovation in the post-war period came not from the free market, but from the government sponsored race to land a man on the moon, a vision not of American politicians but of Communist men with utopian dreams of the future.

American belief in progress and the future only took root due to the impulsive desires of American politicians to beat godless Communism. This is not to say that America has ever lacked imaginative dreamers, on the contrary, many important innovations and research was completed by American men and women. What mattered was that the American government also shared those dreams and contributed funding to make non-marketable future visions possible.

Once the Space Race had been won in 1969, President Nixon, never a champion of the NASA program, cut funding for three additional Moon landings after Apollo 17, plans for Mars missions, a Moon base, and a permanent space station went unsupported. Once victorious, American politics reverted to their base impulses; the belief in the supremacy of the market over of all things. From Reagan and Thatcher, to Obama, Trudeau, and Macron, none of the elected leaders of the Western world know how to imagine a world that is not dominated and decided by the mindless “free market,” what is possible is only possible by the whims of an hand that, in theory, is invisible, but is subject to the manipulations and interventions of Mammonist greed of corporate raiders and fund managers. 

The prioritization of market capitalism led to two major outcomes. Primarily, the period after the 1970s led to the beginning of wealth inequality under which America is currently suffering. The fetishisation of wealth has lead to American politicians believing that capital hoards are beneficial to society, which they have been proven, time and time again, to be false.

In reality, capital hoards and the rise in prominence of financial institutions lead to worsening conditions for income earners (this includes the invented “middle class” but also for working classes and people living with disabilities). Secondly, while the cancellation of the Apollo missions did not directly cause the end of the belief in future progress, it is symptomatic of this trend. Famously, President Carter asked Americans to believe in a different world in the wake of the Oil Crisis. Instead of embracing the challenge of living in a oil-reduced world.

This pessimism is not content to parasitize our elected leaders, but it pervades across many major areas of our lives. We no longer trust in our institutions to perform, instead we rely on two-dimensional data and statistics to inform us without the reality of context. We have turned our entire life over to middle-managers, people who have jobs without duties; this is the dream realised on neo-liberal capitalism. That the state could largely relinquish control of the economy over to the corporate interests and let them exploit benefits produced by labour. Ironically, the illnesses of market capitalism pervade even among our supposed mortal enemy (at least until their recent destruction), Islamic State. Little else needs to be brought to bear to crush the criticism that Fukuyama was pre-emptive in his analysis.

If what matters is only what can be bought and sold in a “free” market, then the potential progress of the future, cannot be countenanced. We become locked in what has been described as “Capitalist Realism.” 

The future visions of our predecessors that the benefits of industry and automation would be shared equally among the people of our society has been stolen from us and instead of attacking those responsible for the theft of our productivity, we are encouraged to attack the weakest among us as being responsible for our collective failure of imagination. Instead of challenging our bosses for greater share in the benefits of our labour, for more time with our loved ones, for more time to engage in personal pleasures, and for more time to attend to our health and well being. We end up attacking those who enjoy even a portion of these benefits.

Instead of envisioning a better world, reimagining the methods of distribution of profits and benefits of labour, we become locked in the sickness of nostalgia and fear of change. We purchase and re-purchase our past in an attempt to relive the future that was lost to us. In the ennui of our period of history, we long for something better, but we have the sickness of nostalgia that prevents us from realising and imagining better futures. We are hampered by the all-pervading sense that there is only market capitalism, that all that has value is determined by buyers and sellers in stock exchanges and commodity markets and that our elected leaders can only tweak tax rates, pull levers, and make mildly inspiring but meaningless speeches. 

We no longer believe in change, but in minor iterations of our present reality. Instead of experimenting with alternative societies, we continue the drudgery of capitalism with reproductions of previous aesthetics, failing to reproduce the conditions of more inspirational generations, haunted by previous societies, we fetishize them, we become fully hauntological.

Even our cultural artefacts reflect this; in every version of Sim City, our ability to affect change is restricted to minor bylaws and tax rates. Instead of drawing on our struggles against injustice and inequality, ending slavery, child labour, racial discrimination, banning CFCs, providing pensions and health care, we are reduced to imaging only what is possible through the market, we are reduced to accepting only that which the market has decided has value. Our imagination has been so thoroughly restricted to the current capitalist reality that we can only imagine the end of the world, whether that be from plague (Contagion), zombies (Day of the Dead and countless others), catastrophic environmental collapse (2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Walking Dead), space-borne destruction (Armageddon), or nuclear destruction (Sum of All Fears), even our science fiction visions are capitalist in essence (District 9, Elysium, The Expanse, Cowboys & Aliens, Downsizing (possibly the most egregious film in recent history), The Boss Baby, etc.); they fail to think creatively and imagine a world outside of capitalism. In these various realities, it is as if they are tacitly admitting that we will die by capitalism rather to reinvent ourselves to save ourselves from our own base, avaricious impulses.

The experience of our reality is that not only are we possible of being more than sum total of our market or monetary values, but that we must be able to imagine being beyond value. We must be able to imagine a better future where our health and well-being is not decided for us by middle managers and politicians who fret ceaselessly about the daily, irrational, whims of the market, but also we we must imagine this future for the well-being of the planet and the survival of our species. 

We cannot wait for the market to discover whether or not there is profit in preventing climate change, that time has come and gone and the time for action is now. The poor, the people living with physical and mental disabilities, and the workers cannot wait for American insurance companies to determine whether there is profit in providing care. It does not require us to have an Other to improve ourselves. To fail in this endeavour of imagination is not to end the world, humanity will continue to live on and return to history but as misery, not triumph. However, we can do better.

 

“Human”

 
 

An interview with Natalie Doumkos

Immediately following the beautiful gallery: “Canadiana” by Nic Latulippe, Natalie Doumkos had the opportunity to showcase her beautiful artwork taken from the big city of Toronto in small town Antigonish, NS. I had the pleasure of interviewing Doumkos during her time hosting the StFX Bloomfield Gallery from March 15th to 24th, and am honoured to share her thoughts with the readers of the Xaverian Weekly. As the second part to a two-part piece showcasing the artists themselves, this piece will highlight Doumkos and her inspiring work which, like the work of Latulippe, paves the way for other student artists to showcase their art on campus. Here is her story.

When Doumkos was young, she recalls receiving toy cameras as gifts for Christmas which began her experimentation with the art of photography. As years went on and more toy cameras were gifted, Doumkos eventually upgraded to a real camera in grade 11, which was a DSLR. With the ability to shoot professional level photos in her hands, Doumkos continued to explore and take pictures to build her portfolio, ultimately leading to her sharing her art in the summer of 2018.

Doumkos’ inspiration for creating art came from her love of exploring cover art itself. Her photos gained more and more meaning as she continued her pursuit of art, but exploring was always the driving factor to her work. In her exhibit, there are several individuals included in the photos. These individuals are friends of Doumkos who share in the same motivations for exploration and photography as an expression of emotions, and they inspire her to pursue the art she creates. Art is often seen as a means to portray emotions that cannot be easily put into words, this is the case for Doumkos as well, and her art carries meaning that just cannot be described. As the saying goes: “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Appreciating basic principles of design, Doumkos’ main form of art is her photography, but she experiments with videography, sketching, and many types of painting including oil, watercolour, and acrylic. She uses these alternative forms of art to diversify her creative abilities as photography showcases what already exists, sketching and painting on the other hand forces her to create something out of nothing but her imagination.

The journey for Doumkos to host the Bloomfield Gallery was a long one, one that began years ago in her explorations in the city of Toronto, to capture the memories she put on display in her exhibit. With taking photos comes editing the shots to the specifications of the artist, which took countless hours according to Doumkos. The idea to host the gallery began for her in October, 2018 as she began to accumulate the photos and stories she has gained over the years. Over the months leading up to the gallery, she had been going through some personal troubles, and her art stood as a way to get through some tough times. When she found it hard to voice her emotions, her images became a kind of healing mechanism. The beautifully written stories that accompanied the photos on the gallery walls were written the day of the opening of the gallery as Doumkos searched for the right words to say.

Photo: www.doumkos.com

Photo: www.doumkos.com

These written companion pieces helped aid her visual artwork and served to encourage the emotional resonance of the cityscapes Doumkos has had the pleasure of capturing throughout her lens.

Interestingly, Doumkos had told me that while editing her photos, the music she listened to had a significant impact on the tone of the picture, where rhythm and energy led to vibrant colours and saturation and conversely, slow tunes with more atmospheric sound led to a more subdued and cool tone. The gallery had not been the first time Doumkos had showcased some of her work. However, most of what has been shown in public places were posted anonymously.

Over the years she met new people who shared the same interests in exploring as mentioned above, and with these people, she has followed her passion for exploring and documented her memories along the way. As her talent behind the lens continued to improve, Doumkos had been given many opportunities working with various companies big and small. Many of these opportunities come with sample products from the companies as a thanks for her work with them which was certainly a perk. While these opportunities intrigue her, she is hesitant to pursue photography as a full-time career for fear of it losing the artist and emotional value that inspired her to begin in the first place.

Exploring Toronto started on the ground for Doumkos, despite her gallery being of much higher quality, both figuratively and literally. She began by taking photos of things that caught her eye, like exciting outfits, but her sights quickly aimed upwards. The theme of “Human” was cityscapes-- to showcase the beauty that the urban environment hides on its rooftops. Emphasizing the ability for photography to express herself, Doumkos enjoys the exploration element to her work even more than the photos themselves at times, so cityscape is her main style. That being said, she has also experimented with architecture, landscape, lifestyle and products, though cityscape and urban exploration is her passion.

As an artist, Doumkos believes no “perfect” photo indeed exists. She does think that Toronto is the most beautiful city in the world, which inspired her desire to explore the city. From her accounts and the written companion pieces found at her gallery it is clear that at times she would wait hours to capture the sunrise or sunset as it shone in precisely the direction she had envisioned. Many of the photos featured in the gallery took precise timing to catch the breathtaking views.

Doumkos would tell aspiring artists to focus on the voice in your mind and your creativity, don’t compare yourself to other people and don’t share your art until you’re ready but when you are don’t be afraid to share. She believes that what you get out of life is what you put in, and to always create art for yourself first and not others, as well as to not listen to the negative feedback from others in your pursuit of art, it is subjective and so long as it matters to you then it is worth it. Being self-taught, there are plenty of lessons and videos to learn from on YouTube or online classes all over the internet to improve your artistic talents. Lastly, once you start creating art “don’t turn back, and don’t let anyone tell you to turn back,” as Doumkos would say.

“This is it for Toronto,” says Doumkos about her gallery “Human.” The journey had been two of the best years of her life, but she is ready to move on to whatever comes next. And recently, she had fortunately been chosen as the incoming VP of Activities and Events for the 2019-2020 school year, so she is living in Antigonish for the foreseeable future. Being in a new environment, she is searching for new meaning to inspire her artwork to come, as it is not the end of her creating art, merely a new chapter ahead. Doumkos’ work can be found on her website www.doumkos.com

 

Under 9000

 
 

Spotlighting some artists that’re <9000 on Spotify

Pet Library

My album of the year for 2017, Pet Library’s Pity Party might be the most honest thing you’ll ever hear. With lyrics like “sharing a pack of cigarettes and a lighter that didn’t work, all I wanted was to kiss you, I thought about it so much it made my head hurt,” perhaps they sound corny on paper. However the delivery, the urgency, and the tinge of dustiness puts you on the sidewalk and looking for the kiss. This is an album for a moment in time: you’re young, vibrant, and just melancholic enough to ruin everything.

Fox Wound

Keeping on the trend of AOTYs, Fox Wound’s In Passing, You’re Too Faded was nearly my 2016 pick. Although a bit more serious than Pet Library, Fox Wound carry the same sort of urgency. Their sound may be a bit more spaced and mature, but fiery still. We’ll call them emo, we’ll call them post-something, but I’ll call them contemplative for now. Fox Wound just released a new album, so it’s a great time to support! And they’ve got an instrumental called “So Which One Is Jim” – I’ll take anything that references The Office.

Cultdreams

Formerly known as Kamikaze Girls, this duo combines bitter punk philosophies with an unflinching message. Their shouted vocals and fuzzed-out tones are hardly crust-core. The standout track, “Teenage Feelings,” off their debut might be the only song you’ll need to hear. If I’ve got to put a label on their sound: think an angry Alvvays with more distortion. I’ve been to Tall and Small, I’ve seen some playlists, I know you all like Alvvays. I know you’ll love Cultdreams.

Coast to Coast

This one’s a one-song challenge. It hasn’t been in my favour, but opinions for Coast to Coast’s song “Post Graduation” have been polarizing. 95% of the argument comes down to the singer’s voice. I love it. I’ve also heard it sounds like Patrick Star. Most of Coast to Coast’s material deals with the few months after undergrad. For some of you this may seem a bit too real. For some of you this might seem far away. For now, listen to “Post Graduation” and let me know how you dig it. They’re my favourite upcoming band, maybe they’ll be yours too.

Palm Reader

Vocals aren’t the question with Palm Reader, not one bit. And while they may be the heaviest suggestion on this list, they’re perhaps the most likely to explode. There’s a rumbling in the UK underground “metal” scenes. Some band just released a sophomore album that somehow made quite a few end-of-year lists for quite a few publications. Odd, innit? 

Palm Reader

Braille lives up to every word of hype. Heavy as an anvil, feral as my ex’s stupid cat, but melodic and fragile as Billie Holiday on a smoked-up stage, you’ll feel Braille.

Fluxion

Total shift of pace now. Fluxion works with a mixture of UK dub and ambience. In the least clear way possible, his work sounds like dangerous study music. Each album, each track, all carry a sense of urban tension. The hazy fence pictured on his debut album artwork couldn’t be more perfect. Mechanical factory-beats muffle over distant blips and blorps. And there’s a synth somewhere inside – hidden, but still heard. Try Ripple Effect to start, it may be less abrasive. But close your eyes whenever you listen. Who’d think meditation was so industrial?

Modern Rituals

Sure, they’ve released a new album. Sure, they’re about to release yet another one. But I want to drive you towards one of the greatest EPs in the last few years. 2016’s Stranger Culture might be the perfect party. “Pushing Teeth” can’t get any more fun. Every single line was meant to be sung along to. Further, I’m impressed with the way their vocalist’s delivery sounds like a strut. Of course, this doesn’t make much sense until you hear it. In the same manner that Morrissey’s voice matched his rose-held floating-walk, Modern Rituals has   a singer who’s cooler than you no matter how he looks. With a post-punk mentality and a partied post-hardcore sound, Stranger Culture will always        be a great 24 minutes

 

Canadian Accent Mosaic

 
 

There is no one true Canadian English dialect, and that’s a great thing

The popular CraveTV original series Letterkenny is a story about a group of small town Ontarians who spend most of their time watching their roadside veggie stall and chirping one another.

If you don’t know what chirping means, let me break it down for you. “To chirp” is essentially used to describe talking smack about someone. Insulting someone so expertly, that the person being insulted is completely impressed by the effort.

It’s also a phrase pretty common in good old Canada. And one of the backbones of what makes Letterkenny so hilarious.

But the greater reason why Letterkenny gained popularity is due to their expert usage of Ontarian slang and regional dialects. Something that a lot of Canadians assume we don’t even have!

Listen. To you, you might not have an accent. But that’s kind of the point – accents aren’t weird when they’re yours.

I can only talk confidently on English-speaking Canada, but rest assured there isn’t just one French-Canadian accent either.

Recently, I was in a class and overheard a girl discussing how, “funny” those Newfies sound when they talk. It may come as a shock to her that people from Newfoundland...probably think she sounds funny too. Wherever you’re from, you have an accent; a dialect; different words for things.

There is no, “one true Canadian accent.” I know a lot of our own media likes to convince us otherwise – think back to all those times the line, “pass me a two-four, you hoser?” are said in classic Canadian comedy shows like SCTV’s Bog and Doug Mackenzie segments. Those are all well and good, but we’re more than that.

Canada’s the second biggest country in the world – and if there’s anything we don’t really have, it’s one universal identity.

Often, people referred to Canada as a mosaic. Though this typically refers to multiculturalism, I believe this is just as true about provincial cultures. Across our ten provinces and three territories there is so much diversity in speech and provincial identity.

An immediate example is that first and last part of a loaf of bread. For many people in Nova Scotia, it’s called the heel. In Ontario, people tend to call it simply, “the end of the bread.”

Other dialects call it, “the crust” or, “the husk.”

It’s pretty easy to miss these sorts of regional differences – they’re pretty mundane. But there is something interesting in the mundane and the ways people identify everyday things and actions.

Take an essential item for any StFX student – rain boots. A friend from Newfoundland has informed me that they call them, “rubbers.” Equally funny is the Saskatchewanian term for hoodie, which is, “bunny hug,” apparently. Personally, bunny hug sounds way more unique.

But there’s even more layers to this discussion than just regional differences. How about generational differences?

An extremely common, “Canadian word” that gets passed around on your average Buzzfeed article is chesterfield. Chesterfields being, naturally, a word to describe a couch or sofa. In my experience, I only ever hear my grandparents or people my grandparents’ age using the word. The reasoning for the term going out of style is likely due to an increase in outside influence – younger people being exposed to more mainstream (read: American) ways to describe things.

But is that really the reason? Obviously, we still have plenty of our own ways to describe things that are distinct from Americans and other English speaking countries. Perhaps the real reason for chesterfield growing outdated is simply that it’s gotten too old.

Even a simple pronunciation of a common word can set people apart. Growing up, I was often picked at (all in good fun, of course) for pronouncing aunt as “awnt,” which is the common way to pronounce the word in Nova Scotia. Growing up in Ontario, where everyone pronounces aunt like “ant,” I was constantly confused as to why someone would want to call their aunt an insect.

Despite fears of a, “universal Canadian accent” being formed due to the popularity of the internet, it seems the opposite is happening. According to a recent enquiry by The National Post, “As the world becomes more globalized, we react by wanting to preserve our local identities through language.” Not only do I find that fascinating, but completely true.

Maybe that’s why shows like Letterkenny are so popular – it’s validating to see representation for different Canadian regional dialects and terminology in the media. And I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy our dialect mosaic. 

 

Teresa Young Interview

 
 

Discussing Salt Spring National Art Prize submission, art, cross-country travel and more

Teresa Young was interviewed by Yanik Gallie on March 4, 2019. Young is an Indigenous artist of mixed Cree and Norwegian ancestry who was born on the west coast of Canada and is currently making art in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Young’s created two album covers for rock groups in Sweden and the U.S. and covers for books and magazines. In 2014, her art was used in a book called the Rigged Universe by Canadian poet Anthony Labriola published with Shanti Arts.

Young’s art has won numerous awards in competitions worldwide. Her work is part of collections throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Her artwork can be purchased directly from the artist’s website teresayoungartist.ca or at Art 1274 Hollis gallery in Halifax.

***

YG: How did you get into art?

TY: I was pretty isolated growing up. When I was thirteen, my mother brought my brother and myself from Saskatchewan to the Lower Mainland in British Columbia. We had relatives there and stayed for a summer. I used to go down to Stanley Park where artists did portraits, and I befriended some of them, basically getting myself some private lessons (chuckles).

I was focused. Art was all that interested me. I’m hyperactive so it was my coping mechanism. I looked at people like they were part of an ongoing visual display of light colour and shading. As I’ve gotten older, I can turn it off. My viewpoint of the world is with an artist’s eye.

YG: What is the artist’s eye?

TY: It’s part creativity and part appreciation of the world. It makes the world a brighter place because it’s almost like a symphony of music in a visual form. The oddest thing can catch your eye and draw you in. A lot of my artwork has evolved from a more abstract style and that flowing-organic style started since I was 14. There’s a feeling of movement to life, and I’m trying to capture that emotion in my art.

Photo: teresayoungartist.ca/digital-paintings

Photo: teresayoungartist.ca/digital-paintings

YG: Can you describe an approach you take when drawing or painting figuratively?

TY: If I’m doing art figuratively, I take different approaches. Sometimes I’ve got a concept, and I want to bring it into the design and composition that flows the way I want it to move. I’m expressing feelings, emotions, perceptions, and inner-perceptions that I’m not even aware of yet. Inner-perceptions always come out in the art as I’m painting.

Now, I’m working on a triptych for the Salt Spring National Art Prize (SSNAP). When I taught Contemporary Indigenous Studies at Dalhousie University, it was quite interesting because it changed my direction.

YG: How so?

TY: I used to be more reliant on a stream of consciousness with my art. I didn’t want to restrict or direct it that much. My art changes constantly. The way I handle colours, movement and stroke in the composition of my works from 20 years ago has evolved.

My art is very different now. I’m more interested in self-direction to explore the idea of a message behind the art. I’m about halfway through completing my triptych  submission for SSNAP. There are three canvases at a 30-degree angle. They are going down to represent the feeling of going downwards. I’ve got a gavel in the upper left. It’s all deep, deep, sunset colours like oranges, magenta-type reds going into purples, tans and browns, and a powdered blue. Streams flow down from the gavel. The justice buildings in Ottawa are in the dark, and they’re flowing down into a cross-legged figure seated in the right bottom corner. I have a stream of blues with feathers around it, and it’s flowing down like a river. It starts with nothing, and then there are lights floating down representing spirit. There’s a pow-wow in the middle painting of the triptych. The artwork is about missing and murdered Indigenous women. What I’m trying to do is present the idea that for reconciliation, we’ll have to factor this reality to get anywhere.

YG: That’s a powerful message.

TY: I’m going to hit them with a sledge hammer, I figured (chuckles). I typically had such a beautiful style that was not shocking. I’m moving away from that because I needed a direction. Finding my heritage was important. I learned about it 20 years ago, but I didn’t focus on it in my art until now. Getting to the point where I want to focus on it has led me in this new direction.

YG: Does your art change depending on the geographic location in which it’s made?

TY: I’m sure it does because I used to have more height and West Coast sail-ish aspects in my underlying style. I’ve noticed that in the last nine years I’ve been in the east, my art is becoming an underlying woodland-coloured style, and that change is unconscious. It’s got to be something to do with the environment and even the light. I’m very aware of light shadow. I love the Nova Scotia light. It feels like it’s almost painted. It’s so different than everywhere else.

YG: You’re well-travelled across Canada.

TY: I’ve driven across Canada eight times, two of them on a motorcycle. It rained two-thirds of the time each way during one cross-country trip on the bike. I have a blog that I haven’t touched in years called Surrealistic Reflections, and I published an article about how the sound of motorcycles makes me nostalgic. I talked about that trip across Canada, going from New-Brunswick to Kamloops when I was in the military as a radio technician. I had lost my plastic windshield on my Kawasaki 440 on the highway when I hit a  bad-rough stretch in the  prairies. I ended up getting rid of the windshield. It’s quite challenging to ride a motorcycle without one, but I did. On the way back, and this is why the windshield is important, they were resurfacing the Trans-Canada with tar, and it sprayed back up on to me from the road. So, I had this layer of oil on me, and I hit a small bird with white and grey feathers. It sprayed out. I was tarred in feathers. I started laughing so hard I had to pull off the highway. People were stopping and taking photographs, and it was hilarious. I enjoy life, and I find it amusing.

YG: Which elements of art by Salvador Dali and Georgia O’Keefe speak to you the most?

TY: O’Keefe, I didn’t know about her until about five years ago. Someone pointed out that the way I use colours and the organic flow of my artwork reminded them of O’Keefe. When I look at her abstracts, it’s almost like they’re distant cousins with mine. They’re close to my style, and I really like her work. Another artist in Nova Scotia that I like now is Monika Wright. She does beautiful flowing abstracts.

I like surrealism, Dali is basically the great forefather and master of surrealism. My favourite painting of Dali’s is “Santiago El Grande,” and it’s at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton. I’ve seen it. It’s like nine feet tall, and it’s beautiful. I’m not even religious, but that artwork is gorgeous.

YG: Are you familiar with petroglyphs?

TY: I’ve seen them in person when I lived in Ontario for a while, and I find them interesting. I know that Alan Syliboy bases his style on petroglyphs. I saved him until the very end when I was teaching a course. Students had to do an art     analysis of many contemporary Indigenous artists, and I never covered Syliboy during the course on purpose because he was on the final (chuckles).

YG: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

TY: Go into digital art. It’s a growing field, and there’s a lot of room for experimentation and growth. Get some fundamentals so that you’re not left without tools. I think if you stick to traditional these days, you’re severely limiting yourself for no reason. Digital artwork is exploding, and there are a lot of opportunities in that field. Mind you, I minored in Computer Engineering, so maybe I’m biased because I work in the IT industry. I feel that getting all the tools you need, trying everything you can, and adapting are healthy habits. When I was teaching myself as I was growing up, I bought every book I could afford. The only few things that I hadn’t tried was encaustic   because I developed asthma and can’t stand the fumes and painting with egg tempera. I tried everything else I could get my hands on, including silk screens.

Another advice that I would give is to step outside of your comfort zone regularly. I’ve had my phases when my art got dark and subtle because I was not stepping outside my comfort zone. Create your own feeling of stasis and confusion. Never stop and think, I don’t want to wreck this. Take ownership of the art and say, “it’s my art. I’ll do whatever I want.”

 

An X-Ceptional Year of Sport

 
 

X-Men and X-Women reach new heights

A total of 14 varsity teams from a wide array of sport competed in the AUS and proudly donned the white & blue this school year. It was a year filled with highs (Rugby national championship) and lows (winless X-Women Basketball team) but enthralling nonetheless. Here is a brief rundown on each team’s season.

Soccer: After finishing fourth at the end of the regular season, the X-Women had a valiant run in the AUS postseason, falling in agonizing fashion in the final 1-0 to Cape Breton. The semifinal was a nail biter, as the team prevailed in extra time after a dramatic penalty kick goal at the death. Two players, striker Kelsey Ellis and midfielder Mercy Miles were honoured with second-team All Canadian spots at the end of the season.

For the men, it was another difficult ending to the season. For the second straight year, rival UNB Reds dispatched the X-Men in the semifinals. This time, it was 2-1 in extra time. AUS all-star and last season’s U Sports Player of The Year Dan Hayfield had a penalty kick to tie it in the extra frame, only for it to be turned aside. In brighter news, Hayfield and defender Josh Read were named to the All Canadian Second Team, while Ayoub Al Arabi was named to the All-Rookie team. Captain Liam Elbourne was bestowed the prestigious honour of being named a Rhodes Scholar. He was the number one ranked student in the Business Administration program with an average of 94.25%! The Scholarship enables him to attend the hallowed Oxford University in England.

Football: A victory in the AUS Loney Bowl was the highlight of the year, buoyed by Kaion Julien Grant, a potential top ten pick in the CFL draft which is happening on May 2. Fourth year Jordan Socholotiuk was the only back in U Sports to rush for 1000 yards. The season ended with a 63- 0 loss in the National Semifinal to the eventual champions Laval Rouge et Or.

X-Women Rugby: Running out of superlatives to describe this team, as it was another dominating year. The team wrapped up its sixth U Sports National Championship, winning against the Guelph Gryphons 41-24. Prop Joanna Alphonso was the catalyst for the team, as she was honoured with Female Athlete of the Year at StFX’s Athletic Banquet this past weekend. They also won their 20th AUS championship, when they defeated vaunted rivals Acadia handily by a score of 31-7.

Cross-Country: In the first year of Eric Gillis’s tenure as head coach of the Cross-Country program, both teams finished 12th at the National Championship in Kingston, Ontario. Rachel MacDougall was the first of the X-Women to cross the line, 55th overall.

The highlight of the year on the women’s side was the first place showing at the Moncton Invitational in October. They had six of the top 11 places. They also came second in the AUS championships in another fantastic team performance with four athletes in the top 10.

The men took home the AUS banner, with Angus Rawling winning his second straight gold medal. Alex Nueffer won bronze and Paul Maclellan was hot on his heels, finishing fourth. Rawling was also honoured with AUS male cross-country athlete of the year. The team also had a podium sweep at the Moncton Invitational with Rawling, Nueffer and Maclellan finishing one-two-three respectively.

Basketball: It was a year of intrigue for both basketball teams, as the men finished 7-13 on the year, and was able to claim the last playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. However, they were dispatched by Cape Breton in the AUS quarterfinals by a score of 89-66. After the year, it was reported that former X-Men player Tyrell Vernon will be taking over the head coach position in two years from Steve Konchalski, ending his mammoth tenure at the program.

On the women’s side, it was a disappointing first year for Head Coach Lee Anna Osei, as the team went 0-20. She was controversially suspended for the tail-end of the season after a report came out that showed bruising on a player’s arms after a ‘disciplinary measure’ during practice. She will resume head coach duties next year and will be helped by Vernon, who will be acting as an associate coach for the next two years on both basketball teams.

Track and Field: The teams had 11 athletes compete at nationals in Winnipeg. Prior to that, the women finished second at the AUS championships and the men placed third.

Throughout the season, a plethora of school records was also broken: Fifth-year Tim Brennan set a new 600m record with a time of 1:20.05. Angus Rawling followed up his successful cross-country season with a record in the 3000m of 8.03.34. This broke his own record that he set last season. Kirishnia Cooper took the record of triple jump with 13.14m. Relay teams in the 4x200 and 400 also set new records, and those teams featured Brennan, Adrian Kinney, Eric Sutton and Brad Barclay.

For the women, Jane Hergett took the 600m record at 1.33.96. The 4x800m relay team of Zoe Johnston, Paige Chisholm, Aidan MacDonald and Hana Marmura ran a time of 9.29.31 to set a new record.

Hockey: After a great regular season, the X-Women’s season came to an emotional end in the AUS finals, as they lost the final game of the best of three series 2-1 to the St. Thomas Tommies. Star Defender Lindsey Donovan was honoured with a selection on the All Canadian U Sports First Team. Gearing up for next season the team also announced the additions of two assistant coaches and locals to Antigonish: Trevor MacIssac and Bryan Smith.

It was a rollercoaster of epic proportions for the men’s team. In the final month of the regular season, a massive brawl-- provoked by a player on Acadia -- dominated the headlines. 

The team had to deal with suspensions and tough injuries heading into the posteasosn. Luckily, they got hot at the right time and were able to come away with a bronze medal at the U Sports Championship, dispatching the Saskatchewan Huskies 5-1. 

 

Athletic Banquet Honours Outstanding Achievements

 
 

Joanna Alphonso & Kaion Julien-Grant named StFX student-athletes of the year

On the evening of Thursday, April 4, members of the StFX Athletics community were honoured as guests to the annual athletic banquet. The banquet is held each year to celebrate and honour the accomplishments of the StFX athletic department. This includes the accomplishments of not only athletes, but also coaches and staff including athletic therapists and managers.

The banquet was held the the Charles V. Keating Memorial Centre, where guests took part in a cocktail hour, a nutritious dinner (chicken with the sauce), a number of entertaining sketches by the hosts, and compelling speeches by many highly regarded members of the community.

To begin the athletic banquet ceremony was an amusing video featuring the two hosts, Joanna Alphonso of X-Women Rugby and Albert Banahene of X-Men Football. In the video, the hosts parodied a bunch of popular late night game segments, such as Cash Cab, Carpool Karaoke, and Spill your Guts or Fill your Guts. The contestants of the games were noteworthy athletes and familiar faces to the StFX sports community.

After the video, Alphonso and Banahene proceeded to the stage to introduce themselves, crack some jokes and lead guests through the night ahead. The funniest of jokes was when Alphonso announced that the football and rugby teams would be hitting the buffet first, only to psych the teams out and have them go last for the sake of having enough food for everyone else.

All rookies to have used their first year of eligibility were each given a pin to recognize their new achievement. These pins also serve as a rite of passage for these rookies as new members to StFX athletics.

Afterwards, teams whose accolades included winning an AUS banner were honoured. Countless Wooden Trophies each carved in the shape of “X,” were distributed to every winner of AUS in 2018-2019. This included the massive football team, X-Men Cross Country, and X-Women Rugby.

X-Women Rugby members were not only honoured with the classic wooden trophies, but were also finally given their National Championship rings. Early in the academic year, the women clinched gold at the 2018 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championships. Members were finally given their flashy rings to celebrate this incredible accomplishment. The rings featured a large centered blue X, and engravings of the game’s final score (41-24 against Guelph Gryphons), players’ last name, StFX Rugby, and lastly, the team’s motto going into the tournament, “Kill the Bird.”

There was also a large volume of awards granted to many well deserving and hard working members of StFX athletics. Of the various awards were StFX Female Student-Athlete of the year, StFX Male Student-Athlete of the year, StFX Female Community X-Cellence award, and the StFX Male Community X-Cellence award. The winners of these awards were Joanna Alphonso herself, X-Men Football receiver Kaion Julien-Grant, X-Women Soccer player Kelsey Ellis, and Track & Field athlete Riley Jennings respectively.

Alphonso was named the StFX Female Student-Athlete of the Year. She is in her first year of education and her fifth year of eligibility. Throughout her time as prop on the StFX Rugby team, Alphonso was an exemplary leader, dedicated teammate, and hard worker. From Ajax, Ontario, Alphonso was an AUS All Star for all five years of her career. She has also been an U SPORTS All-Canadian for four straight years. As X-Women Rugby brought home its sixth national championship banner, Alphonso brought home her third. Alphonso achieved U SPORTS All-Star status this year for her second time, and she is the sixth overall highest scorer in AUS Women’s Rugby history. This placement is behind four StFX rugby alumni, including Olympian Ghislaine Landry, Courtnay Malcolm, Magali Harvey, and Sabrina McDaid.

Photo:  goxgo.ca/general/2018-19/releases/20190404nhyu5t

Photo: goxgo.ca/general/2018-19/releases/20190404nhyu5t

X-Men football receiver Julien-Grant received StFX Male Student-Athlete of the Year honors. Julien-Grant is a fourth year human kinetics student. Reigning from Toronto, Ontario, he is one of StFX’s most highly recognized receivers of all time. Julien-Grant led the AUS conference with 49 receptions this season, yielding an average of 6.1 receptions per game. His receiving yards came to a total of 638, and had five receiving touchdowns this year. Julien Grant has been they key cog in X-Men Football’s three AUS wins in the last four years. He has been honoured as AUS conference MVP and a conference all-star as both receiver and kick returner. Not only that, he also claimed U SPORTS first team all-Canadian honours for his third year in both offense and special teams. Julien Grant is the StFX Football leader in all-purpose yards with 4,563, which puts him at sixth from the top in the AUS.

Photo: goxgo.ca/general/2018-19/releases/20190404nhyu5t

Photo: goxgo.ca/general/2018-19/releases/20190404nhyu5t

The StFX Female Community X-Cellence award was awarded to Kelsey Ellis of X-Women soccer. Ellis is a fourth year human kinetics student from Ottawa, Ontario. Ellis has a remarkable array of accomplishments that made her an excellent candidate for this award. She was co-president of the StFX chapter of Obesity Canada, volunteer at L’Arche Antigonish, volunteer at StFX Fit 4 Life, volunteer at St. Martha’s hospital, coaching young boys soccer, and assisted with the Motor Activities at X program. While taking on these roles, Ellis championed the “OneTeam” initiative, a program for varsity athletes to work with local athletes with disabilities and promote peer mentorship. As an assistant at the Motor Activated at X program, she provided programming for an adult with lower neuron disease. On top of all these responsibilities and commitments, Ellis was able to remain a U SPORTS academic All-Canadian for her three years of study, and be honoured as a U SPORTS second team all-Canadian and an AUS first team all-star.

Riley Jennings from X-Men track & field was the winner of the StFX Male Community X-Cellence award. Classmate to both Ellis and Julien-Grant, Jennings is also a fourth year human kinetics student. He is in his third year of eligibility as a thrower for StFX track & field. From Debert, Nova Scotia, Jennings has involved himself in an impressive and commendable amount of activities in the community. Like Ellis, Jennings also volunteered with the Motor Activities at X program. He also contributed to the Autism learn to skate/swim program, and volunteers at StFX Fit 4 Life and Fit 4 Tots. He also coached throwing to local high school athletes within the community, was facilitator for the Antigonish Multisport program and assisted with the creation of the inclusive sledge hockey program at StFX. In track & field, Jennings won silver at AUS championships and set a new StFX record. He placed fifth at the AUS championship in shot put. Jennings is recognized as a Leader of Distinction by the StFX Leadership academy.

In addition to athletic awards, student therapists, strength & conditioning interns, and student managers for all teams were presented with plaques to show appreciation for their contributions this successful 2018-2019 season. The hope is that 2019-20 will be filled with even more banners!

 

Recap: Art Gallery Exposition (March 15 to 24)

 
 

Showcase of photographs by StFX student Natalie Doumkos

Photo: doumkos.com/Cityscape/

Photo: doumkos.com/Cityscape/

Photo: doumkos.com/Landscape/i-sMmnPhK

Photo: doumkos.com/Landscape/i-sMmnPhK

 

Patrolling the Policies of X-Patrol

 
 

A sit-down with Senior Lead John Comeau

During The Xaverian Weekly’s production night on March 11 2019, Two X-Patrol members were sitting down near the radio station. Of course, taking breaks is perfectly fine. However, more than three hours later, those same two individuals were sitting in the same spots. It was then when they got a message on the radio to take a break.

“Finally!” one exclaimed enthusiastically.

Why would those two be sitting down for three hours, hanging out on their phones?

I sat down with John Comeau, Senior Lead of X-Patrol, on March 22 to get some answers.

***

BA: How many current X-Patrol members are there?

JC: 78 and they’re all students

BA: What kind of screening happens for an application?

JC: We first make sure that the student is coming back for more than just their fourth year, so that we can retain high numbers of staff and we don’t have a turnover every year. So we’re looking for second and third year applicants, and sometimes we’ll make an exception if we are really short on staff. But, we make sure that they’re in good academic and conduct standing. We send it off to Residence Life and they tell us if they have any major conduct issues or like a 60 or 65 average I think. That’s kind of like the only screening and then we conduct interviews. They are pretty brief, and based on that we decide. We’re pretty open and we usually don’t turn many people away for this job because there is events that require 30 or so staff.

BA: What do walk-homes consist of, and what limits do officers have to their patrolling?

JC: The walk home system was created as a way of helping students get home safe after events. We always partner up a male and a female on patrol so that no matter who we’re walking home they feel safe, and approachable. Our parameters for where we can walk home is anywhere on campus. If somebody lives off-campus we can walk them right to the edge of campus, but our staff are told not to leave campus property. Oftentimes we’ll just even walk people back from like the KMC to Bloomfield so they can get a drive with Drive U to get home that way. Or even between the library after 8pm when it’s dark sometimes. We’ve had students call security and ask for just a walk home from the library to Governor’s or something like that.

BA: How many people per day patrol?

JC: On any given night we’ll have at least six, but on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday we have eight until 3am. But, on any other night of the week, it’s only until 12:30. But we have two people or one patrol pair stay after 12:30 and work in the Bloomfield until three, so that the building can remain open after hours.

BA: Do you think that there are too many patrols at some point?

JC: On weekends, it can honestly be not enough but I think that it’s finding that right balance because there are nights where it’s quiet and we’re not really needed. However, for example during exam period we still keep six staff on every day of the exam period right up until the end. But, you never know when something’s going to happen or when something’s going to come out of the blue. Outside of just walking people home and doing patrols like that, we also assist the officers in doing checks on apartment style because there’s no community advisors (CA) in those buildings. They do roundabouts throughout the floors to report damages or parties or anything like that. And they also do wall walks around the Oland Centre/Keating complex to make sure that there’s no high schoolers, because there’s a lot of space on campus that can’t be monitored by the three full time officers. So, I think that it’s an appropriate number. But in years past they didn’t have any patrols on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday nights. It was just a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday thing.

BA: When did that change happen?

JC: I think it was about five years ago with new management. They figured that with the new walk home program, that was something that they wanted to offer every night of the week.

BA: What are the responsibilities of the full-time security officers?

JC: They’re in charge of doing more lockouts of bedrooms and opening and closing classrooms and buildings, issuing temporary keys and those type of things. Usually when there’s a thing that X-Patrol deals with that gets escalated, they’ll be in charge of helping out before we get the RCMP involved. There’s only two of them so they’re pretty busy with their own duties, and a lot of things kind of fall on them if a student has problems with their faucet late at night, they could call security and they would go. Or if there’s a leak in a building, there’s a lot of small jobs that they’re tied up with so they often aren’t around on campus.

BA: Do X-Patrol Officers have the jurisdiction to ticket students?

JC: No, so we don’t write tickets. You have to go through a police appointment act to be able to act as an officer and write provincial tickets. We just deal with a lot of incident reporting and putting people through conduct that way. We do writeups but not like in a ticketing form and I know that the school used to give fines for certain things but that’s not really our business.

BA: Do you know how much students pay for the X-Patrol program?

JC: I’m not entirely sure how the financing of student goes. But, how X-Patrol is funded is, we have an account with the university that’s budgeted for these patrols and the same kind of thing that Drive U does is there’s an account that will do the daily kind of patrols. We’re in Meal Hall every single night of the week which is paid through by Sodexo. We’re kind of contracted out through lots of different departments on campus. For example, athletics will get us at their events, the Students’ Union will call us in for assistance managing The Inn line or an event in the Mackay room or even The Alumni Affairs will have us at a wine and cheese night if there’s a bar. So anytime there’s liquor served on campus, it’s more sensible for us to be the security enforcing liquor licenses than it is to have a full-time officer at their rate of pay because we get paid minimum wage for what our security work is. We’re kind of contracted out and I would say, 80% of the hours that are available to our staff, go through events and Residence Life and athletics and all these different departments that require us to be on campus for.

BA: The contracting work, do you guys get paid the same or different than the regular work?

JC: It’s all the same, they request a number of XP’s that they want at the events and we will confirm whether or not we think it's an appropriate number to staff that event. It’s kind of on a need basis based on what the event is and such.

BA: I know we have a safety and security fee at the start of they year and I am not sure how much of that is appointed to X-Patrol?

JC: Yeah, I don't particularly know the numbers. I know that the entire budget for the X-Patrol essential service, which includes campus patrol and all of the nightly work that we do, which is paid through by our department, is very minimal. We typically have six people working from eight until 12 (four hours), that's 24 hours at minimum wage. But for a house hockey cup as an example, we have 35 staff in the Keating Centre, and they're all paid for four hours and then we have like six per residence for an hour shift right, so there's a lot more money coming out from the events that is paid out through the departments. We're on an approved budget through the Board of Governors, as long as it stays within the kind of pre-approved parameters

BA: Do you think that the students payment prior to the addition of the all-day patrol under the old management cost more?

JC: You know, I don’t really know, but I do know that five years ago the full time officers were under a different contract, and some of the duties that they have done have increased and such they’ve worked out different arrangements for compensation, so their salary is significantly higher than what we get paid.They work full time hours so the majority of what the security fee would entitle is probably paid out through the full time staff. I would say that the whole money that cycles through this department is paid out through other people contracting us for events and such.

BA: What is the disciplinary process for the X-Patrol Officers, if they were caught doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing?

X-Patrol Senior Leads: Katrina, John and Dylan / Photo: Instagram @X_Patrol

X-Patrol Senior Leads: Katrina, John and Dylan / Photo: Instagram @X_Patrol

JC: What happens is if we get an email sent to us at X-Patrol (xpatrol@stfx.ca) by any outside person; me, Katrina or Dylan, one of the Senior Leads will read it. We have a performance management system in place where, if a staff will do something like be caught on their phone sitting down or any sort of reprimandable act. Then we go through a one two three strike system where the first strike is kind of an informal meeting where we talk to them about it. The whole idea of it is to not just dismiss staff but it’s a growth and development opportunity because ultimately what we want is our staff to leave X-Patrol with more leadership skills and good work ethic. The leveling system of X-Patrol; there’s level one level two and the Senior Lead. So, there’s a slight compensation grade with that but mainly the level two’s will lead the shifts and they bring a lot of the things to our attention. The Senior Leads are like the management of X-Patrol. If we see people on their phones or doing things like that then it’s kind of brought through a trickle down to us.

BA: How has X-Patrol responded to the recent off-campus case, of a drug-induced sexual assault? Do you guys have meetings where incidents like this are brought up?

JC: We have weekly meetings. So, a lot of issues like that and a lot of concerns are expressed every Sunday. But with sexual assault and with other touchy issues on campus that have been going around, especially if it’s off-campus then it’s not really our job or what we’re being paid to do so we kind of stick towards what we’ve been asked to do and our patrols and walk homes and such. We’re not ever off-campus so I do know that if there’s a time where a CA will call us into a building to help with a situation, a lot of our staff are trained in Mental Health First Aid. Because it was an issue that has been coming up more often than not dealing with cases where there may be situations that are hard to deal with and may leave longer lasting effects on our staff after they leave, so they need to know how to cope with it themselves and how to help other people cope with it.

BA: Do you guys have Bringing in the Bystander training?

JC: Yes, we have a lot of that same training that the CA’s get in September.

BA: What do you think X-Patrol can do better?

JC: You know, there are lots of concerns and we meet and we discuss things that are working well and things that are needed to change. I think one of the common things that’s pretty well known between us and the Students’ Union is the disconnect between the two security departments and how it’s not the most effective way of applying security on campus, when we have two separate departments, one in The Inn through the Students’ Union wearing the green shirts and us through X-Patrol. We have different protocols and we have different communication and a lot of the things, it would be a lot more effective if we were all fluid as one security department because then we would all have the same incident reporting, communication, radioing and first aid training. That’s kind of the one issue that we face and there’s a lot of gray zone and it’s been fixed a little bit this year as we are actually paid now to be in the second floor of the Bloomfield. In years past, I know that we weren’t paid and, The Inn lineup can often be an issue where a lot of things will happen, or when students leave The Inn they are storming out and they’re damaging things. So, our patrols were having to leave outside and come inside the second floor of the Bloomfield, and we resolved that issue with a discussion between us, Sean Ryan (The U Manager) and Cody McGregor (The Inn Manager) saying there's a need for us to be in the building and it's not fair when we can’t continue to do our job when we're having to clean up the mess of the Student Union. But there is an idea circulating about eventually having X-Patrol running the Inn security over the next couple years, they're going to try and transition into all having it under one security. In years past, safety and security campus police were paid and was a part of the Students Union the same way that Drive U is. So, only in the last couple of years it transferred management over into safety and security and there's kind of a disconnect between the two.

You can reach out to xpatrol@stfx.ca with any questions you may have.

 

Council Controversy of Students’ Union

 
 

Incoming president Cecil VanBuskirk wakes up dormant 1972 Act

During the 2016 U.S primaries, the Washington Post made an ominous change to their slogan: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” The message intended to provoke conversation surrounding the state of democracy in the United States. Without discourse, democratic institutions would certainly perish. Death, however, would not come swiftly; rather, the slow creep of apathy would inevitably lead to the erosion of democratic institutions. Discourse is the preserving light; without it, the roots of democracy atrophy, and darkness follows.

Today is a day for discourse.

Prior to debate, participants must have mutual understanding of the reality, principles and series of events that necessitate discussion. Contra principia negantem non est disputandem. The past few weeks have been full of debate lacking a common ground; therefore, an overview of recent events is in order.

As outlined in the SU Bylaws (the operational document for the Students’ Union), the hired (as opposed to elected) positions of the Students’ Union (SU) have historically (15+ years) been selected by a panel composed of the incoming SU President & Vice-President, outgoing Vice-President (for the position being hired), two councilors and the General Manager (GM) of the Students Union (advisory role, no vote on panel). This panel interviews applicants and then conducts a vote to hire the most competent candidate. A panel system was likely designed to avoid nepotism, especially given the relatively small size of this campus. Once a decision is made, the individual is appointed by the incoming president via an email with an offer of employment attached.

During the recent hiring of the VP Finance and Operations, two candidates were interviewed: Patrick Wallace and Brody Haskell. The panel voted 3-1-1 in favor of Mr. Wallace’s hiring. Following the decision, incoming president Cecil VanBuskirk sent an offer of employment to Mr. Wallace, who accepted the offer.

During the following days, VanBuskirk brought a discrepancy between the By-laws and the SU Act of Incorporation (The Act) to the attention of the GM and the Chair of Council. Within the By-Laws, a panel structure is described for the VP hiring process. In The Act, however, a line item states that the president shall appoint the VP Finance and Operations.

The Act has not been reviewed in decades and is not a document referenced to for day-to-day operations. With that said, legally, The Act is the superseding operational document for the Students’ Union. Up until this point, the line had been interpreted as the president offering the position to the candidate once the panel had voted. Under VanBuskirk’s interpretation, however, the statement provides the president with the unilateral authority to appoint whomever they chose to the position.

VanBuskirk then proceeded to act on this interpretation. Within 24 hours, the already-accepted offer of employment to Mr. Wallace was rescinded, and a new offer of employment was sent to Mr. Haskell. When the issue was brought before council, VanBuskirk referred to the discrepancy between the two documents. VanBuskirk also stated that he felt the panel’s decision to hire Mr. Wallace over Mr. Haskell was rooted in prejudice pertaining to the candidate’s race, gender, ethnicity, and political affiliations. It is worth noting that both candidates are straight, white, cisgender men from Nova Scotia. This leaves political affiliation, which was allegedly not discussed in the interview. When questioned about his comments, VanBuskirk stood by his original allegations of bias:

“Why did I do this then… The reason is that I witnessed some unethical behavior… I witnessed actions that caused concern that would impact the voting on the hiring panel. And then, as a counselor… I have a duty to act in accordance with the Students’ Union by-laws, policies, procedures. So, then I posed the question as to what qualifies this hiring panel, and what criteria makes it a hiring panel…”

A member of council prodded VanBuskirk further, requesting he elaborate on the specific unethical behavior he observed on the panel.

“To me, this boils down to fairness. And when I witnessed fairness not being properly practiced in the hiring panel, that’s when I raised a question to Happiness (International Student Representativa) … The procedure that was followed, I prefer not to directly comment on the circumstances around them, but I witnessed unfairness and I witnessed discrimination, what I perceived as discrimination under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act and under the [StFX] Code of Conduct.”

The alleged discrimination is not, however, VanBuskirk’s main concern. Again, and again, he reiterated that the issue at hand was not the selection of candidates, but the discrepancy between two major organizational documents.

“It’s not so much a matter of what was done. The bylaws need to be changed. And I understand that there will be a motion on the agenda to change that, and I couldn’t be in more support of that. But for right now, we need to uphold the bylaws and do the bylaws justice.”

The majority of council agreed that a discrepancy exists – that is, the way in which the Students’ Union had been conducting the VP Finance hiring process was not in line with the process outlined in The Act. Additionally, the lawyer retained by the SU has confirmed that The Act is the superseding organizational document.

In fact, several line items of The Act conflict with current SU electoral and operational practices. For instance, The Act states that the President and VP Academic are required to run as a slate; that is, as running mates. This discrepancy draws the validity of the past election, along with those of the past four years, into question. Vice President MacLennan and Incoming President VanBuskirk debated the issue in council:

MacLennan: “Why are you only choosing to follow one point, rather than the rest of the points in The Act of Incorporation… For example, if you want to actually follow The Act of Incorporation, then we should be talking about the election processes thus far. Within The Act of Incorporation, the President and Vice President should have been elected via slate.”

VanBuskirk: “I agree.”

MacLennan: “So why aren’t you contesting that point?”

VanBuskirk: “Because it has already happene- “

MacLennan: “Because it benefits you. But you also already hired someone for the VP Finance position.”

VanBuskirk: “Here’s the issue, O.K. The issue was around the hiring process. We seek out legal advice around the hiring process and after an expert guided us on what exactly to do, we followed that legal action. Not Cecil, The U.”

When VanBuskirk was asked in Council about his relationship with Mr. Haskell, he stated they were not close:

Sasha Paul, Gallery Member: “I have serious concerns based off of what everyone has been bringing up already, that the moment that you chose to bring up these discrepancies, was just when you didn’t feel like your friend had been given a fair chance. Because let’s be honest-“

Unknown Gallery member: “Friend?”

Paul: “He is your acquaintance, is he not?”

Cecil: “Ah, no he’s not, actually.”

Paul: Ok, if you want to go down that route that’s fine. But [inaudible] you are not proving yourself to be a trustworthy President… You’re not even in the position yet. And so, I think this really is going to impact how your team is going to move forward in the next year, and how people are going to view you, because you continue to refer to fairness and to ethics, but your actions are the complete opposite of that. What you are doing here is manipulating things that [inaudible] are at fault, rather than to actually genuinely fix them, you are using that fault to push forward your own agenda. And that’s not what the Students’ Union is about. The Students’ Union is about representing everybody in this room, because they pay Students’ Union fees. This is not free, right? And what you’re doing is taking away people’s voices. You, eliminating the other people’s voices from that panel, the five members that you chose to ignore, is really taking way their voices, and that demonstrates to me what you’re going to do next year, and I’m very concerned about that.

In response to the allegations that VanBuskirk is acquaintances with Haskell, a number of students directed The Xaverian Weekly to an Instagram photo of the two of them, posted to Mr. Haskell’s account. Additionally, two students noted that Haskell and VanBuskirk sit together in class and have presented a group presentation together.

Screen Shot 2019-03-24 at 4.43.42 PM.png

The Xaverian Weekly reached out to VanBuskirk to comment on his relationship with Mr. Haskell:

“I can say that he is someone I know from doing a group project with in the business faculty. I would argue that I have a similar relationship with both Paddy and Brody, they are both aquiantances (sic), nice guys and are both supporters of mine.”

The recent comments by VanBuskirk appear to contradict his previous statement made in front of council.

In response to the controversy surrounding his actions, VanBuskirk wrote a statement for The Xaverian Weekly that has since been published on his personal Facebook account. In summary, VanBuskirk states that the initial hiring process was unconstitutional. Additionally, he outlines why Mr. Haskell was the superior candidate, citing past experience in student government, leadership experience, and base-level Government of Canada Security Clearance, among others. The full list can be found in his statement, published to our website. In comparing Mr. Haskell to Mr. Wallace, the statement alleges that Mr. Wallace was only originally picked because of his popularity and reputation as a “nice guy”.

The posted statement has garnered a significant amount of controversy, with students posting comments both in favor of and against VanBuskirk’s actions. The Xaverian Weekly reached out to some of the vocal students for comment; their statements are included at the end of this article.

In summary, a disagreement between the By-Laws and The Act left VanBuskirk with the legal authority to circumvent the established hiring panel and appoint the candidate who was not chosen for the position. This required VanBuskirk to rescind the offer that had already been accepted by Mr. Wallace. While the legality of the move is no longer under significant dispute, the ethics of circumventing a hiring panel composed of democratically elected councilors and the incoming Vice President has been challenged. Additionally, the rationale behind selecting a single line item to pursue as contradictory, rather than the entire document, has raised questions regarding the intent behind VanBuskirk’s move.

For any readers wishing to follow this story, Council will be meeting to discuss the issue this Sunday at 3:00pm in Council Chambers, 4th Floor SUB.

Statements:

“I am incredibly disappointed in the initial response that was released by Cecil in regards to the VPFO selection process. He did not demonstrate an understanding of the concerns raised by the students towards the decision made, as most of his letter focused on justifying his actions. If he was truly listening to what students have been saying, he would be finding a solution to right perceived wrongdoing, rather than doubling down and blaming students for taking issue with the choices made. This is not acceptable conduct for the incoming student union president.” - Student, anonymous by request

“If it's broken, then it should be fixed. Cecil may have not addressed the situation as discrete as most of the U would have liked him to, but what Cecil did was address it in the most transparent way that he possibly could have. I'm proud to call Cecil a friend because of how real he is. His personality is contagious and he stays true to himself, which is very hard to find these days. To add to this, it takes a true leader to attach their name to a controversial subject and I applaud his passion for the StFX students. Instead of attacking his character or actions I personally think people need to accept that the U has not been following the correct rules and should now take action by correcting the mistakes that have been made. I am excited for Cecil and the rest of his team and to see what steps they can make towards a truly transparent Union.”

- Elizabeth Gushue, Student

“There are several things that, for me at least, don’t add up. Constitutionally, yes you are supposed to appoint the VP Finance, but why not appoint the VP finance that that was democratically chosen by a hiring panel within the U. As Emma already said, as students we put our faith in the hiring panels of the U, and clearly, they thought that Paddy was the better choice. I refuse to believe that

the hiring panel selected Paddy because he was the “nicest guy” and for you to say that is rude and disrespectful. Yes you may believe Brody to be the best candidate for the position, and I’m sure you fought for that, but you lost, and to go against the democratic decision of the hiring panel goes against the core values we have as StFX students and just as responsible citizens. Further, to now go and say “well I chose Will Fraser over him for a different position” is just ridiculous. Obviously you weren’t going to appoint Brody to a different position when you wanted him as VP finance. Arguing that you passed him over for something else is a weak and superficial argument argument at best. I have never felt this let down by the organization that is supposed to defend me as I do right now.”

But what do I know, I’m one of those people who “doesn’t have a brain” as per one of your former posts...

- John Walker, Student

“I know I’m not around anymore but I’m deeply saddened and frustrated by your actions, Cecil. The U has taken tremendous efforts over the last couple years to be more inclusive and dispel the belief that it is a clique. I can’t help but feel you’ve taken the step forward that was made towards that goal, two steps back.”

- Annie Sirois, StFX SU President 2017-2018.

 

Ethiopian Airlines Flight Tragedy

 
 

Another grim disaster, claiming 157 lives

On March 10, the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed, leaving all 157 people onboard dead.

The passengers were citizens from 35 countries. Kenyans were the most represented nationality, with 32 losing their lives. Canadians were the second largest group, with 18 fatalities.

The United Nations has stated that 21 people who lost their lives onboard Flight ET302 were affiliated with the organization.

It is likely that it will be months before the full investigative reports are made public. But, there are some leads.

The model of aircraft which crashed shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is known as a “737 Max 8.” It’s a new iteration of the Boeing 737, which is one of the most successful airliner series in the world active since 1968. The Max 8 is one of Boeing’s newest airliners, beginning service with Malaysia’s Malindo Air on May 22, 2017.

The new design includes improved aerodynamics, more efficient and powerful CFM LEAP engines, and an updated cabin which rides lower to the ground. The lower profile of the aircraft was included in the design to make the aircraft more suitable for smaller airports with limited ground equipment. While this may sound like a small design change, it wasn’t.

Because the aircraft sits lower to the ground, the position of its new, larger engines had to be adjusted. In response, Boeing moved the engines a little further forward and higher up on the underwing pylons. If the engines were too low, they could potentially intake rubbish from the runway, to catastrophic effect. The chosen design allowed Boeing to fit the new engines without necessitating an entire fuselage redesign.

But, it was not without its flaws. The changed position of the engines created a possible risk that the nose would pitch up during flight, which could cause stalling. To mitigate the risk, Boeing created a software called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. MCAS couples with a sensor on the fuselage that would detect if the nose is too high and automatically make corrections.

Back on October 29, Lion Air flight 610 crashed in the Java sea, killing 189 people, The circumstances were similar, crashing shortly after take off. The aircraft, also a 737 Max 8.

Examination into the Lion Air crash found that the pilots were unable to control the airspeed or altitude of the airliner and after each time they pulled up from a dive the system forced it down again.

According to the New York Times, a warning light which was intended to warn pilots of the faulty sensor was sold by Boeing as part of an optional instrument package. When CNET asked about the warning light a Boeing spokesman said:

“All Boeing airplanes are certified and delivered to the highest levels of safety consistent with industry standards. Airplanes are delivered with a baseline configuration, which includes a standard set of flight deck displays and alerts, crew procedures and training materials that meet industry safety norms and most customer requirements. Customers may choose additional options, such as alerts and indications, to customize their airplanes to support their individual operations or requirements.”

Questions were raised over the training of the pilot in the March 10 flight. But Ethiopian Airlines, which is regarded as likely the safest airline in Africa, has responded, claiming that it’s pilots completed the training recommended by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

Despite Boeing’s claims that the Max 8 is perfectly safe, the FAA has joined the list of more than 40 countries which have grounded the aircraft, citing similarities between ET302’s crash and that of Lion Air flight 610.

Boeing has been backlogged for orders of the Max 8 jet, but now many airlines are getting cold feet. One of the biggest developments being Garuda Indonesia’s sought cancellation of its order for 49 of Boeing’s 737 Max 8’s. A multi-billion dollar deal.

Boeing shares have dropped 14% since the Ethiopia Airlines crash.

The investigation remains ongoing.

 

Fraud Prevention Month

 
 

It pays to check your bank notes

Do you know how to check the security features of Canada’s polymer bank notes, including the vertical $10 note featuring Viola Desmond? If your answer is no, or you’re not entirely sure, read on!

All of Canada’s polymer notes have leading-edge security features, helping us to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats. These features are quick and easy to check by sight and touch.

You can check all your polymer notes in the same way—feel, look and flip:

* Feel the smooth, unique texture of the note. It is made from a single piece of polymer with some transparent areas.

* Feel the raised ink on the large number, the large portrait, and the words “Bank of Canada” and “Banque du Canada.”

* Look for transparency in the large window.

* Look at the detailed metallic images and symbols in the large transparent window.

* Flip the note to see the elements inside the large transparent window repeated in the same colours and detail on the other side.

Photo: Bank of Canada

Photo: Bank of Canada

By now you may have seen the new $10 note in your cash transactions. Did you know the new bill includes some enhanced security features compared with other polymer notes?

* A colour-shifting eagle feather that changes from gold to green

* A 3-D maple leaf that appears to be raised but is actually flat

* Three maple leaves above the portrait

You can learn about the vertical $10 and watch a video about its security features at https://www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes/vertical10/.

Photo: Bank of Canada

Photo: Bank of Canada

Did you know?

There are more than 2.2 billion genuine notes in circulation in Canada. Bank notes are a vital method of payment used in over 30 per cent of retail transactions.

The Bank of Canada works to keep counterfeit levels low in Canada by

* strengthening bank note security through ongoing research and development;

* working with retailers to increase bank note verification;

* working with law enforcement agencies to promote counterfeit deterrence; and,

* ensuring the quality of notes in circulation.

More tips

Whether you’re the clerk or the customer, you can help stop counterfeit notes from entering the cash flow. Check your notes, and you’ll be able to detect a counterfeit at a glance.

* Compare a suspicious note to one you know is genuine. Look for differences, not similarities.

* Check two or more security features.

* If you do not know how to check an older paper note, ask for a polymer note instead.

For more about Canada’s bank notes, security features and counterfeit prevention, go to www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes.

 

The College Admissions Bribery Scandal

How privilege will get you further in the post-secondary education system

Most of us remember the stressful time of applying to university during the last year of high school. After all, many of us worked hard to get good marks and engaged in extracurriculars to get into university of our own accord; but, what if after all the hours you spent on getting into university, you were told your spot was given to someone who bribed their way in?

A scandal related to university admissions in the United States was recently revealed, wherein rich parents are accused of making $25 million in illegal payments to get their children into selective schools. The scandal has involved actresses like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, but the majority of the case centers around Rick Singer, who ran illegal payments through his college prep company called The Edge College and Career Network. The scandal has brought up how privilege plays a role in the university admissions process, and how easy it is for the elite to bypass the rules.

One of the methods parents used to get their children into top American schools was by bribing athletic staff or designating their children as recruits for various teams, such as in Loughlin’s case. It raises questions about how many athletes have earned their place, and how many of them received sports scholarships, which could make or break a less privileged individual’s chances at paying for university. Furthermore, the scandal is a blow to student-athletes who do put in the hours for training and in their academics, instead of using photoshopped pictures to get a place on the team.

Another issue that has been uncovered by the admissions scandal is the use of standardized tests as benchmarks for acceptance. While the testing system in the United States is known to be flawed, the fact that parents involved in the scandal were having others write the test for their children or abusing accessibility accommodations should be denounced. Not only will these students be entering university without some of the academic skills and knowledge they need, but they’ll likely make it harder for students that actually need accessibility accommodations to acquire them in the future.

On top of this particular university admissions scandal, it’s well known that rich parents or alumni donate large sums to universities in exchange for their children’s acceptance into top schools. Even if donations can help fill funding gaps or help researchers at post-secondary institutions, they shouldn’t be used under the guise of providing personal family favours behind closed doors. More generally, universities need to do a better job of scrutinizing who they get large donations from.

Beyond this particular admissions scandal, the truth is that not having the right background reduces your chances of university admittance from the outset. If you or your family doesn’t have the time or resources to hire tutors, participate in extracurriculars, or travel, then it becomes difficult to become the model student that universities look for. However, the affirmative action programs that try to address some of these issues are constantly under attack, often from the privileged group that gets into universities at disproportionately higher rates to begin with.

How privilege factors into university admissions is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to post-secondary education. Privilege matters enormously in university when you can afford all the associated costs, don’t have to work at the same time, and in the most extreme cases, paying off someone to write essays for you. Those who don’t struggle through university likely have time to network, take unpaid internships, or travel, which also gets them through the door faster at high paying or important job positions post-graduation.

Privilege in the post-secondary system has much deeper roots than the latest university admissions scandal in the United States. It is a set of both blatant and invisible advantages that affects students long after their first step on campus, and if you look around, you’ll see it here at StFX too.