Learning Lodge: Honouring Indigenous Women

 
 

Dr. Jane L. McMillan’s Anthropology class and sponsors welcome Indigenous leaders

People gathered in Immaculata auditorium on March 6, 2019 to attend a learning lodge from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. featuring five panelists who honoured Indigenous women. Outfitted with red dresses and ties, the auditorium was dressed to represent the absent women and men who are missing and murdered.

The evening began with a land acknowledgement and honour dance performed by Shiloh Pictou featuring the Kiju Boys on drum. The drum group from Paqtn’kek includes David Morris, Francis Julian, Cory Julian, Thomas Julian, Dustin Pictou, and Ozzy Clair. Pictou wore a radiant red regalia symbolic of healing and carried an eagle’s feather to honour and keep the creator close according to Terena Francis, coordinator of Indigenous Student Affairs at StFX.

Panelists Shane Bernard, Karen Bernard, Jennifer Cox, Devann Sylvester, and Kasha Young then recognized women who empowered them. The resiliency of speakers was inspirational as they shared their realities of coping with trauma and inter-generational trauma.

Photo: Yanik Gallie

Photo: Yanik Gallie

The photo above shows Sylvester holding a photograph of her grandmother who was murdered when her mother was a young child. Sylvester honoured both women in her life. Sylvester said, “As an Indigenous woman, mother, and student, it is an important duty for me to honour the Indigenous women in my life that supported me and became my role models. For whatever reason, society has devalued Indigenous women throughout history which has major consequences for us to thrive and be successful in today's world. I am aware that I am 3 times more likely to be a victim of violence or killed which makes me aware of my surroundings every day of my life. My grandmother Marie Ninnian Marshall was a victim of homicide shortly after my mothers birth, which robbed us of ever knowing her. My way of being resilient is to become successful in my education and future teaching career, to teach my 4 year old son to be a good man and respect all women in his life, to tell my grandmothers story, and to participate in events like these that focus on honouring Indigenous women. In Mi'kmaq history, our societies were matriarchal and based around respect for women because women are the creators of life. This needs to come back and be acknowledged, and the learning lodge did an amazing job acknowledging that respect. I am very proud to be a Mi'kmaq woman.”

Common threads of discussion among speakers were the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women inquiry and Moose Hide Campaign. In light of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women inquiry final report scheduled for publication this April, Cox questioned the briefness of the inquiry leading her to doubt that it accounts for all missing women and children.

Panelists mentioned a shared concern for their own and their children’s wellbeing during everyday-life situations in Nova Scotia. Pauses during the speeches were most powerful as they personified the silenced voices of local missing and murdered Indigenous women and men.

Dr. Jane L. McMillan was host of the event sponsored by the department of Anthropology, Anthropology 234, Kerry Prosper, Indigenous Student Society and Indigenous Student Affairs. 

The question and answer period with panelists included some prepared questions from the Anthropology 234 students and spontaneous questions from the audience. A Guatemalan advocate and ally in the audience raised concern for the issue of missing and murdered Guatemalan children at this time. The woman referred to a recent case from Guatemala where a state-run home for women minors recently went up in flames claiming 41 of 56 lives. 

A takeaway from the event is the pervasiveness of the issue regarding missing and murdered women nationally and internationally. Listening to the first-hand struggles of colleagues and community members who are directly impacted by this issue was poignantly discomforting.

The Moose Hide Campaign is a movement of people standing up to end violence against women from coast to coast. Moose Hide Campaign adverts including leather or non-leather pins are available on the table outside The Xaverian Weekly newsroom by the StFX Store in Bloomfield Centre Room 111D for those interested in                     supporting the campaign.

 

Antigonish Craft Beer Festival 2019

 
 

Gathering of Atlantic brewers

Craft beer fans in Antigonish have something exciting to celebrate! Three local organizations – CACL Antigonish, Legion (Branch 59), and Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre – are collaborating in a unique partnership to co-host the inaugural Antigonish Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, March 30, 2019. This event, taking place at the recently opened Credit Union Social Enterprise Centre (75 St. Ninian St, Antigonish), will feature 12 top-notch craft breweries from across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Attendees will have a chance to sample their products, enjoy live entertainment, and take home a souvenir glass. The event will showcase the best of our region, celebrate the thriving local craft beer industry, and highlight our spirit of innovation. 

Confirmed brewers to date include:

The Townhouse - Antigonish

Half Cocked - Antigonish

Propeller Brewing - Halifax

9 Zero 2 - Antigonish

Big Spruce - Nyanza

Meander River - Newport

Maybee - Fredericton

Garrison Brewing - Halifax

Sober Island - Sheet Harbour

Upstreet - Dartmouth

Tatamagouche Brewing Co. – Tatamagouche

Off Track Brewing - Dartmouth

Tickets to the event are on sale now. Tickets are $40, with a special early bird price of $35 (available for a limited time only). VIP tickets are also available for $55, which include exclusive access to the event during the VIP hour and a selection of complimentary finger foods.

Tickets are available online at tickets.festivalantigonish.com,  or in-person at the CACL Cafe or the Legion lounge (75 St. Ninian Street, Antigonish).

The evening will begin with a VIP Hour at 6 p.m. General admission runs from 7:00 to 10:30 pm. Admission includes a souvenir beer glass and eight sample drinks from any vendors. Hot and cold food items, and additional drink tickets will also be available for purchase on site. Designated Driver tickets are also available for $10.

Organizers say this will be a premium, first-of-its-kind experience for the residents of Antigonish and surrounding areas and will draw media attention as well as business investments to the region. It will support local entrepreneurs, bolster Antigonish’s tourism and destination marketing, and provide a unique event with mass appeal across various demographics. They expect the event to sell out early so advance tickets are recommended.

All three hosting partners are well-respected non-profit organizations with deep roots in the local community and a strong national presence for their innovative work in social and cultural growth. Proceeds from the event will support these organizations in  furthering their work within the community.

Photo: Festival Antigonish

Photo: Festival Antigonish

 

This Is What A Feminist Looks Like

Looking back on International Women’s Week

Women’s week at StFX has come to end after a week of laughter, tears and solidarity and what a beautiful week it’s been to say in the least. 

I wish that I could have attended every single event that was put off this week, but alas it’s paper season in my fourth year and it’s not being too kind to me.

I started off the week by attending the screening of Dolores. Dolores centers on Dolores Huerta’s committed work to organize California farmworkers to form the UFW, in alliance with the Chicano Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, Gay liberation and US-based LGBTQ+ social movements, and the late 20th century women’s rights movement.

I have to say I am ashamed that I did not know who Huerta was before I watched this documentary. Huerta is a powerhouse of a woman and I can easily see that I have fallen in love with this woman. She stood up to sexist remarks that were snarled at her and found her way in a male dominated society. She changed the future for many Chicano farmworkers, improving their work conditions, and making them know that their concerns and voices are valid and heard. 

If you ever come across this documentary and have the chance to watch it, I encourage you to do so, you’ll also find yourself blinded by Huerta’s brilliance.

Then on Wednesday, March 6, I attended the Learning Lodge: Honouring Indigenous Women, which was a very powerful night. The panel consisted of Shane Bernard, Karen Bernard, Jennifer Cox, Devann Sylvester and Kaysha Young. Each of the panelists shared their own personal stories of what it means to them when it comes to honouring indigenous women and how we can continue to honour these women. Everyone brought something so unique and special, the audience held onto every word that was spoken. It was a privilege to be able to hear these their powerful voices.

Friday, March 8, marked international women’s day around the world and one of the celebrations that took place on this campus was a women’s march. It started off on the steps outside of the Coady International Institute, the honour song was sung out in the cold air by two Mi’kmaq women but their voices warmed the souls of everyone there. 

Rebecca Mesay and Naima Chowdhury also offered words of solidary before the rally began. The group took the streets of Antigonish cheering and chanting about women’s rights and the need for improvement. It was hopeful and encouraging when people in their cars  would honk their horns and smile at us.

Yet, something strange happened. When were out in the community of Antigonish I felt free, and a sense of safety and support from the rest of the community. The minute we stepped back onto campus I felt myself being scared, scared to cheer and I could feel the eyes of students passing us burning into my back.

And, it made me angry. I’m proud to be a feminist, I’m proud of my loud voice and I’m proud of standing up to injustices when I see them. And somehow, I find myself being afraid to be who I am on this campus.

Being a feminist on this campus is like walking around with a huge target on your back and it’s hard to ignore the stares, the judgment and the whispers.

But I won’t let the judgement of others hold me back, rather I’ll let it fuel me to keep on fighting the good fight. This was the last women’s week I’ll get to    experience at StFX and it          exceeded all my expectations.

Managing the Mundanity of March

 
 

Tips and tricks on combatting the lethargy before exam season

In managing the hierarchies of “hard times of the year,” people usually assume February is the worst time of the year. It has the fewest holidays, it comes right after New Year’s and all the holiday festivities, and the March Break is so far into the future that every day after February 1 is the real slough month. There is probably some truth to all of this, despite being the shortest month out of the year. However, it is not February that is the worst month, it is instead, March. This month we can’t decide whether its winter or spring, or both! 

At the end of February the snow was almost gone, it felt like spring was coming and then we got dumped on and we’re back under a crusty layer of snow & ice until the sun comes out in the next few days to partially melt it all down and reveal the gritty, gray, broken streets filled with potholes?

So, what do you do to combat how dumb March is?

One - Do yourself a favour and check out some of the amazing community artwork at StFX and in Antigonish. The art gallery in Bloomfield is always changing their artwork and you never know (unless you read their schedule) what they’ll bring next. Did you know that all the artwork found on campus is owned by the university? There’s also the new McNeil gallery in Schwartz. Why not check out both? Or even the town library.

Two - Get out of town, even for a little bit. Being in town while the snow melts on a grey day can really suck the life out of you. Getting just a little time outside of Antigonish there’s still wonderful picturesque landscapes that you can see or walk through. Sure, Mahoney’s beach at this time of year is probably chilly and bracing, but there’s lots of other places to check out. Point George has some lovely cliffs, Tatamagouche has a great brewery and a really eclectic antique store.

Three - Go to the library. The Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library is an incredible  resource and a great place to relax quietly for a couple hours. Plenty of comfortable seating, a quiet atmosphere, and lots of magazines to check out, all free of charge. Even better, your library card can be used online to check out ebooks if you really can’t leave the house but want something new to read.

Four - Try out something new such as learning a skill or  language. It doesn’t have to be something that you commit to for the rest of your life, but something you spend a little bit of time trying out and learning about. There are plenty of opportunities in Antigonish to explore knitting and stitching, language classes, art and other craft skills. All you need to do is show up and prepare to  participate.

Five - Perhaps you’ve bottomed out on PUBG or Fortnite and another shooter isn’t really your thing. Try some classic NES, SNES, Genesis, NeoGeo, and many other games through an emulator like OpenEmu for macOS. Your friends never shut up about how great Chrono Trigger was? Now is your chance. Maybe try a farming simulator, like Stardew Valley and get lost trying to maximize your yield by strategically placing sprinklers and scarecrows all while trying to woo the local cutie.

Six - Meet some friends for some board games. Everyone knows someone who owns a board game or two. Get some friends together and find out whom among your group is the competitive one while playing classic games like, Catan, Monopoly, or maybe some newer ones like Scythe or Exploding Kittens. Another option is heading over to Lost Realms, where they have a great variety of games from the simple and quick to the complex and time-consuming.

Regardless of what you do over March, try something different and out of the ordinary. For most people, it’s the routine that gets them and even though the routine disappears over the break, not having goals or plans in place makes the time slip away and can leave you feeling purposeless when you return to class. 

So, make sure to make a change, avoid the Netflix binge, book your week off with some new activities with friends, and be purposeful with your time.

 

“Villages”

The Xaverian Weekly gets second rights to publish from The Antigonish Review Poet Grow-Op

Some parents will tell you

it takes a village to raise a child. 

To teach her how to say please 

and thank you

how to apologize when

she’s done something wrong

and mean it

how to apologize when she hasn’t 

and sound like she means it.

They’ll tell you it takes a village 

to teach her how to add.

One plus one is two,

two plus two is four,

Girl plus life is beautiful,

and don’t you ever forget that.

They’ll tell you it takes a village 

to teach her to subtract  —

the bad from a good day, 

herself from a bad day,

the lies from the things 

they will try and tell her.

It takes a village to raise a child 

they say.

To teach her that good things 

come in threes,

but not to believe in superstitions 

and that her thoughts

are only worth a penny

if she doesn’t market them for more.

To teach her that the sky is blue, 

except sometimes it’s not  — 

and maybe not knowing is okay 

but she’ll ask anyway,

because it takes a village

to raise a child who asks questions, 

just like it takes a village

to raise a child who won’t.

But sometimes,

a village will fall apart  —

rooftops turning to dust

as walls fall down around her

and so sometimes

she’ll have to build her own. 

She’ll build lopsided skyscrapers 

with no stairs

out of the lego bricks she’s saved, 

then fill them with women

who bend themselves into ladders 

to help each other up.

Or, she’ll build long, low houses

with no roofs

so that she can imagine she’s flying 

when she lies down to sleep each night.

She will collect people 

like postage stamps 

and fill her lego houses 

with the ones that stick.

The red house on the corner

will be for the first boy

to ever take her out for coffee.

Next door, her first best friend,

and in her village you will find teachers  — 

the good ones

who taught her how to love herself

and how to make 5’2” look tall  —

but also those who told her not to speak, 

that her voice wasn’t worthy  —

because it was through rebellion

that she learned to shout.

Some parents will tell you

it takes a village to raise a child, 

but sometimes

the village you’re given

isn’t the one that you need.

Visiting Tragedy

 
 

A reflection on a service-learning trip to Germany and Poland

I guess I didn’t know what I was getting myself into before we set off on this journey. Is it weird to say that I was excited? I left for this trip feeling whole, and now it feels like a small piece of me has been removed and I don’t think it’s coming back.

We started in Berlin and oh how fantastic you were! The hustle and bustle, the thrill of a city. Yet, very quickly we started to learn about your dark past that lingers in every alley, nook and cranny.

We learned about hate, how this hate was stemmed from the minds of mankind. A hate that would change the course of history forever. I’m also sorry Berlin, I’m sorry the evil minds of those men have made other people have pre-convinced ideas about you. For awhile I understood and saw just how powerful an idea that leads to actions have overshadowed who you are, I could still see your beauty through the cracks.

Poland. You were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, your beauty put me on my back. Yet, I could feel your sadness the moment I put my foot on your soil, a sadness so deep even the roots of trees could not reach it. Momentarily I was blinded by your beauty, and I only saw the good, the loud music on the streets, the colourful houses and the explosion of culture. But then I started to remember your pain, a pain that the whole world must carry.

We left the beautiful streets of Kraków, and we were no longer under your spell.

We came to Auschwitz, and then I froze. A part of me drew cold that I’m still trying to warm.

Oh god in heaven, where are we? Oh god in heaven where were you, I thought? As we walked the grounds of the death camp, I knew that this was not your doing. It was mankind’s.

I did not know any of you, and yet I feel the loss of six million people upon my shoulders as if I had known you all personally.

I do not know why this happened to any of you. I do know why your lives were disregarded as not being seen as human beings. I’ve been trying to find these answers, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may never fully know why.

So that is why I’m never going to forget any of you. I refuse to forget your pain and dehumanization, and I refuse to forget that your futures were snatched out of your hands and thrown into the fires.

By refusing to forget, I’m making a promise. I promise that for the rest of my time on earth I will make sure what happened to you never happens again. I promise to recognize the patterns in society that resulted in your death. I promise to speak up even when I’m scared.

A part of me is gone and will be with all of you forever. I hope you can take comfort in having a piece of me with you.

 

International Women’s Week Events For March

 
 

Standing together: women organizing for justice

Once again this year, events are being planned to mark International Women’s Week in the Antigonish area.

This year’s theme is Standing Together: Women Organizing for Justice. Events will highlight examples of collaboration and solidarity that have advanced justice and equality. There will be educational events to promote understanding of Indigenous peoples’ relationship with Canada and Canadians; a public presentation and discussion about women’s activism; and a film about the first female farm workers union organizer in the United States. Celebratory events include the annual Feminist Cabaret; Women’s Breakfast and Silent Auction; and an International Fashion Show. Participating restaurants will serve free coffee to women on International Women’s Day (March 8). Youth-focused events include an IWW-themed Family Singalong, and activist girls and young women gathering to tackle “period stigma.”

The week will begin with a KAIROS Blanket Exercise on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 pm in the St. James United Church Hall. Deb Eisan and Denise John of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre will guide participants through a unique and powerful learning experience that will deepen their understanding of the experiences of Indigenous peoples within the colonial context, and their present-day relationship with non-Indigenous people and the Government of Canada.

An evening of information sharing for local women is also planned for Monday, March 4 at 6:30 pm at the Canso Library Resource Centre. Representatives from community organizations will talk about the services available to women of all ages as they navigate life transitions and address problems.

On Tuesday, March 5 at 7:00 pm, a film will be shown about the life and achievements of Dolores Huerta, a Central American union organizer. Her struggle to form the first farm workers union in the United States became a struggle for gender equality within that same union.

On Wednesday, March 6 at 6:30 pm in Immaculata Hall, the StFX Anthropology Department will host Learning Lodge: Honouring Indigenous Women. A panel will speak about traditions of honouring women, and about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Also on Wednesday, March 6, girls, young women, and allies are invited to participate in Girls Taking Action to End Period Stigma at the People’s Place Library. This fun and interactive workshop to take action in debunking myths and stigma around menstruation will start at 6:30 pm and will be hosted by Faye Fraser and her team of Girls Take Action members.

Joy Worth Fighting For, a public presentation by Karen B.K. Chan followed by discussion is planned for Thursday, March 7, at 7:00 pm at the Coady Institute’s Dennis Hall. Karen B.K. Chan, an award-winning sex and emotional literacy educator, will speak about making women’s struggle for gender equality joyful. Chan quotes Emma Goldman, an anarchist political writer and activist (1869-1940): “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.” Chan asks, “As we fight the good fight, what kind of time, energy, and value to we give to joy, love, pleasure, play, and rest? How might they be part of the revolution, and not just the reward?” Chan uses humour, kindness, and art to teach new approaches to emotional health and inclusive human relationships.

Friday, March 8 is International Women’s Day. The Women’s Breakfast and Silent Auction is planned for 7:30-9:00 am at the Maritime Inn. For tickets, contact the Women’s Centre at 902-863-6221.

Also on Friday, participating restaurants and coffee shops will be offering a free cup of coffee to women.

A major highlight of International Women’s Day is the annual IWD March, which will begin with a rally in front of the Coady Institute at noon and move through town. Following the march, Mayra Jimenez will speak at the People’s Place Library about the collective, 8 Tijax. Mayra is raising awareness about the quest for justice and reform following a preventable tragedy that killed 41 girls in a dormitory in Guatemala.

At 7:00 pm on Friday, an International Fashion Show will be held in the MacKay Room. A dazzling variety of fashions will be showcased from different cultures and perspectives.

No International Women’s Week would be complete without the annual Feminist Cabaret. Once again, Piper’s Pub will be the venue for this uproariously entertaining and celebratory variety show on Saturday, March 9 from 8:00 to 11 pm. Doors open at 7:00 pm. The show will be hosted by Jenn Priddle and CJ MacIntyre. There will be a 50-50 draw, door prizes, and a special drink, Feminist Fatale that has been designed for the occasion.

For more details, find us on Facebook @internationalwomensweekantigonish or contact the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre & Sexual Assault Services Association.

The idea of IWD originated in working class women’s struggles for good jobs, a living wage, and political rights. The tradition of celebrating IWD in Nova Scotia goes back to the pre-WWII years when women in Cape Breton and other parts of the province organized events.

Each year on March 8 since the 1980s, Antigonish area women have marked the successes and goals of local and international women’s movements. In 2013, what had been a one-day affair on March 8 grew into a week of women organizing, learning, honouring, and celebrating.

 

Reeny Smith: Nova Scotian Artist, World-Class Talent

 
 

The best I’ve seen in person, no question 

To set the stage, I’ll tell you about a time I was setting a stage. Last summer I worked for the Strathspey Performance Arts Centre in Mabou, Cape Breton. As part of an artist showcase series, we tried something a little unconventional. Chairs were set up on the stage to face the empty auditorium. A platform was center-stage, the artists would play to a cap of around 50. Performances were intimate, comfortable, and warm. 

But stuck in the middle of our weekly strummy-strummy singer-songwriter bill was Reeny Smith. She was billed as a “soul-inspired powerhouse” hardly at home in the heart of fiddle country. And so now it’s show night, stage is set. As I’m setting up the side bar, I notice a keyboard flanked by two stools that weren’t there when I’d put out the chairs. 

“Is that hers?”

His head usually in his board, the sound guy looked up.

“Yeah, we just finished sound check. You just wait, man. Just wait ‘til you hear her.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, it’s her and two of her cousins. Incredible.”

Explains the stools, then. I didn’t think too much about the words. After all, our sound guy was always complimentary – great guy. But he’d always been able to explain why. All I was getting now was a “just wait?” Something’s up.

It’s a tiny crowd tonight. Maybe the aging Inverness County demographic didn’t vibe with “Pretty Girl Swag.” I say vibe, I mean get. Showtime, lights go low, Reeny Smith enters with two other young women. A few gracious hellos, a silent pause. 

I lost track of time, I lost track of how many times I shook my head. I kept glancing at the sound guy, he kept giving me that tight-lipped and raised-eyebrow’d “I told you so” look. Her performance was minimalist, a single keyboard with three voices still shook every little auditorium crack. Stripped-down isn’t the word, there was nothing bare. Her sound was raw, huge, and incredible.

Towards the end they broke into some gospel standards. My mother would’ve died and gone to heaven. And quietly as she came in, she thanked the audience and walked out.

Since then I’ve looked up her Spotify. 2018’s WWIII: Strength Courage Love is almost unrecognizable from what I’d heard on the stage. But don’t think for a second her studio material is anything lesser. Whitney Houston’s Whitney is a perfect pop record and it’s the first record that came to mind when I heard WWIII

Sonically, Reeny Smith does draw from a quite a few influences in pop, R&B, and soul. But I mention Whitney because it gives me the same sensation that this is huge, this is extraordinary.

She’s already received three African Nova Scotian Music Awards. If I’m to sell you on a single song, it’ll be easy to point at her singles. “Survive” has a mammoth chorus that’d tap Sam Smith out – it’s the single of singles. “Good Girl Swag” is a party, undeniable. But I’ve just got one, right? “I Get You Now” is perfect, the only word. Her post-chorus break has been stuck in my head for months. I’ll quietly hum it in The Tall and Small to myself, you’ll probably do the same wherever you are.

For all this talk, you’d almost forget she’s so close to home. Imagine that, eh? We have a genuinely world-class talent living two and a half hours from campus (give or take). You’ll want to know her name, you’re about to see it everywhere.

 

Hit Scottish Musical Coming to Theatre Antigonish

 
 

Sunshine on Leith is a foot-stomping, award-winning musical from Scotland 

Sunshine on Leith is a vibrant, energetic piece of musical theatre, loved by audiences and critics alike. First produced in 2007 by the Dundee Rep Ensemble in Scotland, the show won the UK Theatre Award for Best Musical that year, and has toured the globe several times since. It also had a successful film adaptation in 2013. Written by Stephen Greenhorn, the play features the foot-stomping songs of The Proclaimers.

Sunshine on Leith follows the highs and lows of servicemen Ally and Davy as they search for normality after returning home to Scotland from a tour in Afghanistan. Families, friendships, and relationships are not all plain sailing in this funny and moving musical story about love and life. Ally’s marriage proposal is rejected by his childhood sweetheart, a disillusioned nurse who moves to the US to seek career fulfilment instead. Davy gets a job in a call centre while his parents feud over the discovery of his father’s past infidelity. Both young men struggle with questions about home, identity, language, love, and displacement. At the heart of this uplifting story is a simple question: Would you walk 500 miles for the one you love?

The Proclaimers are a world-renowned Scottish music duo composed of twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid. Best known for their euphoric songs like “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” and “Sunshine on Leith,” their music is timeless, capturing a gamut of human emotions, and written with poignancy, emotional honesty, political fire, and wit.

Sunshine on Leith begins with a Pay-What-You-Can Preview performance on Tuesday, March 5, and opening night on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Performances will take place daily until Sunday, March 10. All shows begin at 7:30 pm, with doors opening at 7 pm. 

The show is directed by Artistic Director Andrea Boyd, and the music is directed by Emery van de Wiel. Set and lighting design is by Ian Pygott and costume design by Martha Palmer. The large cast includes a mix of community members and StFX students, some of whom are veterans of the Bauer stage and some who are new to the joy of acting.

Actor/Singer Laura Teasdale and radio personality Ken Kingston are among the cast members with principal roles. “I have loved this musical for years” says Teasdale. “It is small but mighty; very funny, but truly touching and so cleverly written… I am a huge Proclaimers fan and this music... Well every song is a hit and we are rockin’ it.  So much fun!”

 

Innocence and Experience

 
 

Collected Poems

“I to E”

When did I become afraid of acting differently?    

When did I want the attention you had?

When did my childhood freedom stain?

When did I change?

My voice changed from conformity to maturity.

Self serving and energetic, I was just dying loudly. 

Now I keep my peace.

I acted as if cool, but truthfully, my deep chasm I hoped to fill.

Change.

Change did occur for me, 

from place I to E.

Yet, I’m still growing;

I’m living quietly on this journey.

“Living”

The beat of the soul thumping again and again.

Seeking to burst out of today’s oppression. 

The freedom song. 

The story breathes until the novel is shut. 

But for now, the narrator’s voice speaks loudly, softly, quietly.

Still developing its plot line: intro, climax.

Lastly, resolution.

“The Bridge”

Between us is a gap

made by myself

forming a vast space between you                          and I.

Yet, the bridge we build is in fact pulling our two continents closer

closing that man-made hole.

And when I look down from up here, seeing the pit incre

                                                                                                  ment

                                                                                                            ally 

retract, I realize this gap helped me understand we are different.

And that’s alright.

 

My Hair is Not Your Playground

 
 

“Oh, I love your hair!” You say, as you reach out to touch it.

I wince and half-smile as your fingers tangle up in my Afro like an intruder,

an unwanted invasion on a Monday afternoon.

 

Not too long after, come the questions.

A flood I did not sign up for when I walked into the gym,

nor when I walked into the X-ray room at the dentist’s

or even when I walked into our shared workspace.

 

“I swear it was long last week, did you get a haircut?” You ask.

Like on many other occasions, I try to explain the concept of hair extensions

and protective styling, but your face scrunches up in confusion,

and only more questions come.

 

You don’t understand how I could possibly sit for 8 hours to get my hair braided,

and how on earth do I use a needle and thread to attach a weave on?

You can’t fathom how my hair could shrink when it comes in contact with water,

“Where did all of your hair go today?”

 

I wish you knew your questions were exhausting.

That, although asked innocently (I presume), 

I’ve already answered those same questions five times earlier today.

I wish you knew that sometimes, I just want to sink into the crowd unnoticed,

but your loud compliments and exclamations over my new hairstyle quash my

camouflage.

If you only knew also, your claims that I look exactly like your friend Theresa,

because we have the same braids, are neither flattering nor rational,

perhaps you would consider my peace before you spoke.

 

It’s okay to be confused when I go from long, blonde hair to a shorter Afro next week.

It’s okay to ask because you do not understand the complexities of my crown.

I too, have had my own questions about it.

Questions for God about why He did not bless some of us with straighter, looser curl

patterns,

or why life couldn’t be a little simpler than it is with this kinky mess?

 

But this kinky mess is my kinky mess.

To have, and to hold, and to love till death do us part.

I no longer question the tight, sometimes frustratingly undefined nappy curl of my

crown

because I’ve come to understand that my hair sets its own boundaries,

its own standards of beauty.

It defies gravity and stands up for what it believes.

(If you don’t believe me, look for me on a windy Nova Scotian day).

 

So, the next time you feel the strong urge to run your hands through my hair without

asking,

or when you suddenly feel the irresistible itch to play a game of 21 questions with me,

stop, take in a deep breath, remain calm and repeat after me:

HER - HAIR - IS - NOT - MY - PLAYGROUND.

 

Local Love

 
 

Support local businesses

Have you ever had a cherished store in your own home- town shut down? If so, you know the feeling of having to hear the heartbreaking news of your absolute favourite local store close its doors forever.

This is becoming more and more common in our society; locally owned businesses that used to flourish with customers are now at a point where they do not have enough customers to generate the type of revenue they would need to keep their lights on. I’m encouraging you to start or continue supporting the local businesses within your own town. 

When you choose to spend your money at a local business whether a restaurant, art gallery, coffee shop, or grocery store, you’re supporting the business and the individuals that help run it. 

Take places in Antigonish such as the Townhouse, The Waffle Bus and the Tall and Small Café, all three of these businesses sell delicious food. The ingredients for these dishes are coming from farms in the surrounding area, fresh vegetables from Bethany Gardens, farmed chicken from Loch Abar Farmers or fish from fisherman living in the area.

The point is, these farmers and fisherman also making a living off be able to a sell their products to these businesses, but they’re only able to keep doing that just as long as the doors of the business keep ringing.

You might think yes that’s all wonderful, but I don’t have the money for locally priced foods and that’s a fair point. When you eat local it tends to be a bit pricier than say something like McDonald’s (which might I add is corporately owned, and has mass produced food which is not only bad for the environment but also bad for you, I digress) but trust me it’s really worth it. It might seem like a pain paying that little extra, but in the long run you’re helping out more people than you can imagine.

Investing your money into these businesses means keeping a community alive, a community that you might very well depend on for your own job, family, or school. When local business die, there are jobs lost, and people will have to migrate out of the town to find other jobs, soon it’ll become a ghost town.

When you purchase local, you’re also able to get to know the people who own the business, who by the way really appreciate you and they want to get to know you. You end up building connections and relationships that you otherwise might not have had. It’s pretty hard to build a connection with a huge company that only cares about getting your money and not getting to know you.

I hope my words to you have made you change your mind a little bit. Next time  you’re feeling hungry or wanting to pick up some new groovy home décor, consider supporting a business ran by your neighbor.

In my closing words, I’d like to give my farewell to Fixed Coffee & Baking. As a Newfoundlander I was stunned to hear the news like the rest of St. John’s last Wednesday that Fixed will be closing their doors permanently on March 10. I’ll miss your delicious coffee, food, laughs and warmth, and your sparkling drinks in the sweet muggy summers. Yet another business falling victim to the lack of local support.

 

Playlist For the Future

 
 

New music by today’s promising female black talent and triumphant returns of senior legends

Black History Month is just as good of a time as any to dedicate some time to discovering new black music. The past few years have been filled with ambitious new songs by some very promising women. Whether they be American or Canadian talent, these ladies are really bringing something great to the table. On top of new talent, some of music’s most influential legends are continuing to make their mark on the industry; whether it be brand new singles or snatching honourable awards. Here’s a list of ten songs – and ten artists – you need to hear this month.

Normani – “Slow Down”

Normani, one of the former members of the popular girl group Fifth Harmony, has yet to make her formal solo debut. The 22 year old has released several collaboration singles since 2018; her single “Love Lies” with Khalid was an instant success, peaking in the Billboard top 10. However, one of her singles that went under the radar is the song that truly shows the potential of Normani as a solo pop superstar. Her project with Calvin Harris – specifically the solo house/EDM jam “Slow Down” could have fit wonderfully as a pre-release single for a solo EP. However, it was part of her Normami X Calvin Harris project. Although Normani has no concrete plans to finally drop her official solo EP or studio album, “Slow Down” and its catchy, classic beat gives us a taste of what to expect.

SZA – “20 Something”

Solána Imani Rowe, known professionally as SZA, made huge waves a couple of years ago with her album CTRL. The entire project gives off diary vibes, bringing the listener along with her musical diary entries. “20 Something” is perhaps the most intimate example. As the conclusion of the album, “20 Something” is about a topic that anyone at this school could relate to. “Hopin’ my 20 somethings won’t end / Hopin’ to keep the rest of my friends / Prayin’ the 20 somethings don’t kill me, don’t kill me” is lyrics that ring particularly true for university students. It’s scary to think beyond the comfort of your residence, your quaint university town, your small group of friends. And it’s difficult to think beyond the comfort and struggle of being a twenty-something. SZA’s work perfectly explains the under-represented anxieties that young adults face.

Lizzo – “Juice”

Minnesota based singer-songwriter Lizzo began 2019 with a total banger. Her single “Juice” is effortlessly catchy and an incredibly feel-good song. Lizzo’s confidence is what truly sells the song; and not everyone has that kind of talent. “Juice” guarantees to give you an energetic jolt that will be stuck in your head for weeks. “Blame it on the juice” indeed!

Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel 

It’s no wonder that Janelle Monáe’s third studio album Dirty Computer is nominated for  Album of the Year. The album brings forth Monáe’s signature mix between R&B, soul and electronica, but overall feels fresh amongst the rest of her discography. The lead single, “Make Me Feel”, is definitely a perfect way to introduce her unique blend of genres to a newbie. Although she has not received the widespread, mainstream success that she deserves, Janelle Monáe has entered a completely different level of success – with this record, she has earned her place among the list of great, unique indie pop princesses. A critical darling, you can definitely expect to hear more of her beautiful, but under-appreciated gems for years to come.

H.E.R. – “Can’t Help Me”

Gabriella Wilson’s H.E.R. project is named so for a reason. An acronym for Having Everything Revealed, H.E.R.’s music is similar to SZA’s by virtue of being stripped down and brutally honest. “Can’t Help Me” is a wonderful example of this type of acoustic, easy-listening track. There is an element of warmness that makes the minimalist beat and repetitive guitar feel incredibly nostalgic. While the lyrics are sparse, they are truthful. This track in particular is just one of those songs that definitely leaves an impression on you not for its catchiness, but for its relatability.

cupcakKe – “A.U.T.I.S.M.”

CupcakKe might be most notorious for her extremely sexual lyrics, but the truth is that this woman has amazing rap and songwriting talent. Sexual songs included. Her flow is honestly  the best I’ve heard of any recent female rappers, and she has no qualms making songs about serious topics. “A.U.T.I.S.M.” is one of the stand-out examples of cupcakKe’s serious tracks. Although it’s short, “A.U.T.I.S.M.”(A Unique Thinking Individual Strongly Matters) is a great, to the point song about Autistic people and the struggles they face. Whether it be a song about important social issues, or sexual expression, cupcakKe knows exactly how to get her points across in an interesting and personality-driven way.

Missy Elliott – “WTF” (Where They From)

The first senior artist on this list is none other than Missy Elliott. Although she hasn’t released anything in the past few years apart from a couple singles (WTF included), Missy has made her mark on the decade in other ways. Most recently, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The first female and first hip-hop artist to achieve this milestone, Mariah Carey was also nominated for the award (Carey being another bi-racial legend). “WTF” is just another example of Missy’s unique flair that will never be duplicated.

Janet Jackson – “Made For Now”

Janet Jackson is, without a doubt, one of the most influential female artists of the past 50 years. Since the controversy surrounding the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004 (which is currently being re-examined by many as an example of double standards in the music industry), Janet Jackson has been largely out of the mainstream. “Made For Now” is a stepback in the mainstream direction. A summer bop featuring Daddy Yankee, hopefully the single is a sign of things to come.

 

Sakura Saunders Interview

 
 

Beehive Design Collective and the Youth Activism Conference workshop series

Sakura Saunders in an environmental justice and indigenous solidarity activist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She’s been organizing in Canada for close to thirteen years, and is currently a member of the Beehive Design Collective, an arts and activist organization that creates intricate and metaphor rich murals to act as centrepieces in educational campaigns around social justice issues. Previously, Sakura also worked as a media activist in the United States. 

On Sunday, February 3, Sakura visited the StFX campus to facilitate the first of the Youth Activism Conference workshop series. The workshop centred around creativity and art in activism, and story-based strategies for organizing. 

***

AS: What role do you see art and story occupying in activist and protest work? 

SS: I think that story is fundamental to creating narrative. We need to create narrative that represents not only the reality that we live but the reality that we want to see, and we need to challenge dominant narratives and myths around the inevitability of the status quo, especially considering that right now, the status quo is driving us towards climate chaos and an extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of very few people. We need to be challenging that system of economics and getting back to the basics, saying “we actually need to rebuild our economy in a way that prioritizes both people and the land that sustains us,” and this is actually going to be better at meeting the needs of most people. We have a convincing narrative because it’s not very hard to prove what our current state of capitalism has done in terms of environmental devastation and wealth inequality, and the fact that people feel so powerless. So many people don’t even feel comfortable speaking out in their workplaces about injustices that they face because workers in our current economy are disempowered and afraid of losing jobs. We really need to assert that our economy doesn’t necessarily need to be this way, that our society doesn’t need to be this way, and that, supposedly, we live in a democracy and are able to choose a different path. As for campaigns for a higher minimum wage, they’re not extraordinarily ambitious, but they are illustrative in the gains we can make that are good for people and are beneficial to the overall economy. I think that there are lots of instances where if we assert the necessity of taking care of each other and the planet, that is actually going to be better for our society, and not cost society as the dominant narrative would suggest. 

AS: What about art makes it so conducive to social change?

SS: When I think specifically of the Beehive Collective art, it’s really beautiful, detailed illustrations of animals, and plants, and machines, and the quality of the artwork makes even people who don’t share our political values curious. They want to understand what’s happening in the images, and they become curious and disarmed by it. When you tell someone a story, you’re not telling them what to believe. You’re telling them a history, and then if they listen, the lessons are embedded in that. It’s a softer way to approach people that allows them to make those connections on their own, but at the same time, we created that art with the intention of changing hearts and minds, enabling people to see a different way of being, and to understand the trajectory that they’ve been on through examining histories and seeing how the system has perpetually undermined people and taken away their power, and as a result have made it so that decisions are being made far away from where those decisions are having impact. We’re just getting worse and worse off as a society. We’re getting more poor, and we’re having less control over our lives

AS: What makes a good story?

SS: I ran a training today based on how to construct effective narratives. This is based on a methodology I learned from what is now the Centre for Story Based Strategy, and a smart story, a good, effective narrative, is one that reframes an issue, that opens fissures in the dominant narrative, takes those contradictions in the popular narratives that we’re fed and opens those wide up to expose their absurdity. It has as primary characters the agents of change, who are the people that are most impacted by the negative aspects of the status quo or the dominant narratives. It creates new characters, new heroes, and it foreshadows the outcome that we want to achieve while building a frame that has all sorts of necessary underlying assumptions that reflect a value system we think is fundamental to the new world we want to bring. And that is, fundamentally, a value system of care. If we prioritize taking care of each other, and taking care of the environment, I think you’ll find that people will be plenty busy, people will have more agency, and people will be happier - it will be a happier society overall, we’ll have less social issues.

AS: Can you tell me about a specific moment when you witnessed art playing an import role or impacting a movement you were involved in?

SS: I don’t know if I’d call it art, as much as culture. I’m so inspired by the Indigenous resistance and resurgence taking place in Canada that is so based in traditions, and the reclamation of language, and implicit in language and traditions is a centering of future generations and the land. I think that’s very powerful, and I think it simultaneously reinforces indigenous sovereignty, which is something that’s glossed over a lot, even though the vast majority of the population in Canada lives within 100 miles of the US border, and somehow people feel very entitled to this entire country. I think that what is happening right now with the conflict in Wet’suwet’en Yintah, that’s created conflict across the entire Canadian landscape. In learning about the hereditary system, and how it isn’t like kings (that’s a very western way of looking at it), but it’s more like a system where people have roles and responsibilities, and you’re raised with certain responsibilities, and if you don’t live up to those responsibilities there are checks and balances to remove your title and remove your names, but that fundamentally embodied in that role is not some shallow notion of democracy or popularity, but actually this responsibility to future generations. 

AS: For those among us who don’t identify as artists or storytellers, do you have any advice on how to incorporate creativity into activist work?

SS: Creative activism isn’t necessarily about 2-D art, or musical art, or anything like that. I gave examples of creative actions today that included musical flash mobs in shopping malls, or pranks, where different types of creativity are at play. If you’re a writer, if you’re an athlete, if you’re a visual artist, if you’re a musician, or just someone who’s very bold - creative action is about symbolism. It’s about forwarding a narrative, forwarding a set of values, it’s about winning hearts and minds, it’s about knowing who you’re speaking to, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the skill you have to render a certain image. And if you still feel like you don’t identify as a creative in any of those capacities, you can still work with others. I think that the best work is work that incorporates a lot of different perspectives. We all have a role, and we build from below. If you’re interested in doing creative actions but don’t feel creative yourself, just get together with other people. Check out methodologies that exist that can take you through questions to help you shape an action that will be both creative and effective in reaching your goals.


 

The Hardest Part of February is the Spelling

 
 

Some ideas to help you unwind during the break

Read: I know, I know, you’re already reading for courses – or at least you’re supposed to be. But how much of what you’re expected to read is for fun? When’s the last time you stayed up late turning pages? We often forget what it feels like to read for enjoyment in undergrad. So I’ll suggest things: read something stupid. Read something without a complex argument. Instead, maybe find something with a knight, a mystery, a really hot love interest. Reading used to be fun, right? Maybe we need the novel equivalent to Grown Ups 2 – fart jokes, butt scratches, and slapstick.

Walk: It is solved by walking. Whatever “it” is, it’ll almost always be solved. I’m not talking exercise, we’ll get to that. But there’s a sense of clarity when you walk, headphones or no headphones. I’ve found that sitting can be a brain-trap. If I remember right, every essay I’ve ever written (at least the ones that ended up half-decent) were “figured out” while on a walk-break from the laptop. If I only knew why walking made us feel so good I’d tell you. Maybe it’s a nomadic carry over from caveman genes. Whatever the case, go out your door and walk without a plan.

Exercise: It’s old hack. You’ve heard it a million times already. So I’ll try and spin this another way. “Go out and be active” comes off as “I dunno, do something”, there’s little direction. I’ll say this: go out some evening and run until you can’t. Stop, breathe hard. Breathe some more. And then run back. You’ll hate most of it, but the second you’ve caught your breath at home is everything. A rush of “I’ve done something good for myself” followed by “Damn... I feel good”. Pretty good for thinking “I want to die” seconds before. If anything, don’t exercise for the six-pack. Move for your head. You’ll thank you later.

Get lost in Spotify: We’ve covered all the basics I think, now for some fun ones. Most of us have Spotify, yeah? Most of us have got lost in a YouTube hole, yeah? Well do that, but with Spotify. Go to “Discover”, find something that sounds half decent and disappear down the rabbit hole. I’ll warn you, make sure you’ve got the time to spend. Most of us have only done this sort of thing when procrastinating. Your discovery time then is usually spent with the dread of due assignments lurking around. The same beautiful chaos is so incredible with a free conscience.

Performances, Lectures: I know you get the same emails I do. Every second day we’re told about a new lecture series, a new performance on campus, a new event somewhere in these halls. So please don’t delete them along with the pointless emails about Banner and      Moodle. I’ve seen some incredible performances here, I’ve heard some awesome lectures outside of class. I don’t even regret the dry ones – even those give me something to learn.

(Good) Netflix: The last point was a hard sell, I know. And this one’s hardly a sell. You’re all using Netflix, yeah? Here’s a few suggestions. First, Maniac. Jonah Hill and Emma Stone star in a miniseries that looks to “fix the mind” in an alternative future. I binged it in one go - not because I wanted to, but because I had to. And this isn’t some Birdbox meme, this one has an ending. Another suggestion: Brigsby Bear. Kyle Mooney plays a man who discovers his whole world is a lie in a beautiful piece on childhood fantasies. No matter what you choose to discover, try not to be like me and everyone else: “Oh...sounds cool... I’ll watch The Office instead tho...”

Arts: Me, like everyone else, I have random moments where I’ll think “I love Bob Ross, why don’t I try actually painting?” But I never do. And so I ask you to do. Even if you doodle, sketch, or scratch something into a desk. Make art, make it pure. Don’t think too hard, don’t focus too much. Just make something with your hands. Even if it sucks, even if you think it’s silly. Get lost in the process. A visiting lecturer gave one of my classes some clay to play with. We lost an hour in what felt like seconds.

Be (in silence): When’s the last time you sat in silence (besides the morning or night in bed)? I’m not talking meditating, I’m not talking a breath exercise. I’m just talking silence. Maybe you cook, maybe you clean, maybe you just look out the window. But in silence? No music? Crazy, I know. But only once you’ve unplugged can you really know the appeal. I’m not preaching, believe me. I’m plugged in too, always. But those minutes or hours of silence now mean more to me than the latest YouTube conspiracy video. I trust you’ll find love for silence too.

Volunteer: Opportunities are everywhere on campus, everywhere in town. Now, you always here of the positive impact volunteer work has on our community. This much is not news. But I’d like to point out something a little different: don’t you sleep a little better knowing you’ve done good. Going to class, going through the motions of the day-to-day, doing the things you’re expected to do, all this is standard. But no one expects your volunteered time. Volunteering is exceptional, the act of doing good. It’s a good stretch, cracking all your back and you announce “right, that’s what I’m meant to do”.

Stare: Much of what I’ve said has been proactive. Most of it is “doing”. This one’s a bit lazy, but most important. We had a sunset in late January. It was incredible. If/when we get one in February, stare at the sky. Sunsets are cliché? Don’t be so joyless. Don’t take a picture, don’t tell your friends, don’t say a word. Just stare. This is unplugging, being in silence, going for a walk, getting lost, and breathing all at once. Maybe not even a sunset. Just something beyond you, something beautiful. Maybe just a high mark written in red pen, maybe just a well-baked biscuit.

 

A New Approach to Mental Health

 
 

Flourish @ X

When the discipline of psychology began, it was much closer to philosophy than a hard science. Early critics of the field stressed the importance of objectivity, for psychology to ever be taken seriously as a science. Of course, this was a positive change in many ways, as understanding the human mind requires rigorous and replicable study. Yet, there is something profound in the writings of the psychological pioneers like Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow and Viktor Frankl. It is worth questioning where the old approach to psychology may have had merit, and whether anything is being overlooked in the current approach.

In many ways, the relatively new subfield of psychology, Positive Psychology returns to the disciplines roots while maintaining scientific rigor. Though much of modern psychology is focused on retroactively treating those with mental illnesses and disorders, Positive Psychology takes a proactive approach to mental well-being. The study is concerned with identifying what it takes to lead a happy and fulfilled life.

In recent years, some universities across Canada have initiated programs which apply the findings of Positive Psychology to help the general student population maintain mental well-being. Now, StFX has launched a new concept which follows in that spirit. So, I sat down with Ivan Drouin, clinical psychologist here at StFX, to get the low-down about his exciting new project on campus this semester.

The program is called Flourish @ X, and it’s a large-scale approach to self-actualization. It is made up of a variety of events, workshops and informative talks - for students, for free. In Ivan’s words, “Just like we try to have activities to promote a good physical health, we’re trying to now have activities on campus to promote a good mental health.” Currently, the first of many workshops for Flourish @ X are underway focused on mindfulness, stress, and procrastination management. Anyone interested should not delay!

At the core of Flourish @ X is a Positive Psychology literature review of world philosophies and religions which has described 6 “cardinal virtues,” comprised of 24-character strengths which span cross-culturally, and which have direct impact on one’s happiness. Flourish @ X is aimed at helping students identify and develop these character strengths within themselves.

As mentioned previously, workshops are only one small piece to Flourish @ X. In addition, there will be Ted Talk style presentations by students, for students, meeting on the second floor of Mini Moe’s cafe. Ivan elaborates, “That’s kind of the basic of the flourishing program, offering exercises, workshops and events, to promote a better mental health for the students.”

These talks will take place on Tuesdays from five to six o’clock, on February 5, March 5, and April 2. Conversations will revolve around three main topics as of now: 1) Healthy lifestyles, 2) Healthy relationships and 3) Success at X. Presenters will be current students and recent graduates. Anyone interested in giving a talk is encouraged to contact Ivan Druin at idrouin@stfx.ca with a short, half page summary of what they would like to speak about.

Flourish @ X is in practice, but it is still developing. Down the road there may be other offerings like a collective art project, among other things. Ivan recommends that those interested visit the Facebook page, Flourish at StFX, and drop-in on an upcoming workshop. Dates for which include: January 31, February 7 and 14 from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. in Bloomfield 427.

 

Where’s Our Flag?

 
 

It’s time for StFX to permanently install the Pride flag & the Pan-African flag 

Back in September of 2015 StFX permanently installed the Mi’kmaq flag, which was long overdue. This land was and still is the traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq people. StFX made the move forward for helping the process of reconciliation and indigenizing this campus with this act. 

On January 7, 2019 the pride flag was raised outside of Morrison hall to celebrate the beginning of pride month here at StFX. It was a very blustery cold day, but still people showed up to show their support and celebrate diversity. Alongside the pride flag sits, the Mi’kmaq, Nova Scotia, and Canadian flag. All of which are permanently installed. I think we can all agree that it’s time for StFX to permanently install the pride flag and Pan-African flag here on campus. 

Bre O’Handley is the Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor here at StFX. O’Handley is such an important figure on this campus and works tirelessly to make a positive difference on this campus, this university is lucky to have her working here. I asked O’Handley about the pride flag being permanently installed and what it would mean to the LGBTQ+ here on campus and she had this to say, “In the case of the flag at StFX, now that the Mi’kmaq flag is permanently installed, I definitely think the flag flown during African Heritage month should be permanently installed next as StFX has a long history of oppression with those communities. If StFX chose to fly the three flags (including the Pride flag), this would be a sign of respect and support for these communities which still experience discrimination. Flying the pride flag would indicate to students within the LGBTQ+ community that StFX is a space for them and that StFX as an institution acknowledges their presence on campus and welcomes them here. It’s really simple yet a powerful way that StFX can work towards being a more inclusive and welcoming campus to students who have historically been marginalized on campus.” 

O’Handley made a very important point in her statement, the flag flown during African Heritage month should also be permanently installed. 

February 1 will mark the beginning of African heritage month here at StFX, in which the Pan-African flag will also be raised for the month. I spoke with Summer-joy Upshaw, who is the Representative of Student of African Descent and asked her the similar question of why the Pan-African flag needs to be permanently installed at StFX. 

“The importance of representation across our campus lies solely in the diversity of the people we represent. Being situated on a campus that is the home to many diverse backgrounds and cultures means that it is important to devote the utmost effort into accurately representing these cultures in an equitable and prosperous way.” 

“The celebration of any group of individuals holds such a powerful impact that can only strengthen bonds of solidarity amongst social and cultural groups. Given that we are experiencing a time of extreme advocacy, on the behalf of many marginalized, stigmatized and oppressed groups, it only seems appropriate that our campus do its due diligence and continue creating an inclusive and culturally enriched environment for all that study here. The installment of a Pan-African flag holds extreme importance to me as I, myself, self-identify as African-Nova Scotian. Being the Representative for Students of African Descent on this campus, I witness many instances of injustice that still continue to affect our people.” 

“I find it extremely crucial to continue advocating on behalf of my constituents, as equitable outcomes for all, on all planes, is a basic human right. With the installment of a Pan-African flag comes triumph and satisfaction. This flag not only symbolizes the great obstacles that our people have overcome, but it also gives acknowledgement to the point that regardless of the hardships we have been faced as a people, we have overcome it, and for that, we are resilient. The Pan-African flag is an emblem of strength and courage and deserves nothing more than to be flown high above our campus grounds in recognition of all of our African peoples.” 

This institution prides itself and always expressed how it’s a very inclusive campus and a positive space for everyone no matter their race, sexuality, gender or religion. It does not take much to install these flags, but what they mean to the individuals that identity with these flags means everything. 

It does not matter how much the university advertise words about inclusivity, words do not mean anything if no action is taken. University is hard, no matter what year of study you are in, or what one’s program is. The last thing that anyone would want to feel is not supported or the feeling of not being welcome. These flags represent parts of people identities, and how far they’ve had to come in life to get where they are today. 

It’s 2019 and it’s time for StFX to make room for the Pride flag and the Pan-African flag outside of Morrison hall permanently. 

 

Karen Nembhard Interview

 
 

Co-coordinator of B.L.A.C.C. invites students to get involved with their society

Karen Nembhard was interviewed by Yanik Gallie on January 25, 2019. 

Nembhard is a fourth-year international student who is pursuing a B.A. in Psychology (Concentration in Forensic Psychology) and a minor in Development Studies. Nembhard  is one of the coordinators for the B.L.A.C.C. Students Society. Nembhard is passionate about social justice issues. She believes it is important that we all consider the role we play in making our university a more equitable social environment to live, learn and work.

***

YG: Tell me about yourself and your philosophy as a leader. 

KN: I am in my fourth-year major in Forensic Psychology concentration as well as a minor in Development Studies. I do as many courses on Women and Gender as possible because my area of interest is social justice. I’m super passionate about it. I love seeing people do the work to get to a more equitable society. It’s very important and valuable work. Hopefully we get to a day where we don’t have to do that anymore, but for right now it’s good to be aware of it. That ties into my philosophy. As a leader, it’s about improving the conditions and understanding that words like diversity, inclusion, and equality have become buzzwords. We have to be realistic and set goals that are attainable. I believe in equity. Saying we’re equal and the same denies me of my individuality and experience as well as another person who might have a physical disability or be from the LGBTQ+ communities. I think we need to allow people to be individuals by seeing them as full people and helping them in that way. 

YG: What have been successes and challenges of your society?

KN: The successes are that we were able to get this thing off the ground and have people come out and like it, support it, and have a good time as well as having tough conversations sometimes. Tough conversations are required for growth. The process of growing isn’t easy, there can growing pains; In anything, they’re inevitable. I would say challenges would be that we tried to have a B.L.A.C.C. society of some sort a few years ago and it didn’t really work out because not everyone felt like they were being included and represented in the way they wanted to be. Meaning, there is a lot of diversity within the African descent society. I’m of African descent, but I’m from the Caribbean. My experience will not be the same as someone who’s of African descent from Canada. If you’re African as opposed to African descent, there are also differences. I would say it has been a little bit challenging to really deal with and showcase that. A lot of the time when you look at someone of color, you just kind of tag past it. When you describe someone of color, it tends to be “Oh, I know that person’s Black.” If I am a person of dark skin, but I am from an African country I might not view the world as a Canadian would. From the outside, we’re seen as one. If I am of African descent and do something bad like having a bad conversation with a police officer and everyone gets painted in the same light, that’s not fair to our community. We don’t get to have the same individuality as everyone else. There is a lot more diversity within cultures, but we tend to focus on “Well, we have some Black people in this picture,” “Asians in this picture,” and “LGBTQ+ people in this picture” but there are so many layers beyond that which we don’t look at. It has a been a challenge in terms of getting people to understand and acknowledge that. At the same time, there is strength in numbers. It’s better to be seen as a community for certain efforts. If you’re rallying for something like a representative of the Students’ Union, we want to do that and hold onto our individual identities. 

YG: Describe your vision for the society’s future.

KN: My vision is increasing in its reach. By reach, I mean not just StFX but reaching out to students at Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University because there is more strength in greater numbers. I want for it to always remain true in that the first and foremost important thing is to be a safe space for students of color and to be representative of the diversity within the community. I definitely want it to be an advocacy platform too. 

The name of the society is pronounced “Black” but it’s spelt B.L.A.C.C. and “B” is biracial, “L” is the Latinx community, “A” is African, “C” is Canadian, and the other “C” is Caribbean because they are the different backgrounds and cultures that we come from. I’m sure we can add way more letters because it can be more diverse. I think it should stay true to being diverse and hopefully it will be a place where people go to for help and resources. I hope it can improve the race relations at StFX and improve people’s understanding of diversity and those buzzwords by creating a real meaning for them. It’s one thing to say, “We’re diverse and working on being diverse,” but people just don’t get up and go. Antigonish is a predominately white community. Saying to somebody from Antigonish, “Hey, you should be more diverse.” How? You just stop at saying it should. People could use some help in understanding what that means. 

Photo: Tega Sefia

Photo: Tega Sefia


YG: How is Agnes Calliste’s vision and pathway here at StFX meaningful to your society?

KN: It’s badass. She was the first person to create the African Student Descent office that Kelsey Jones occupies. I think that was the first step in creating a safe space for students of color who attend StFX because they have someone that I can go to for advice or help in a particular area. Even our society now relies on that office a lot. For students who might not be aware of what the office does, we try to connect students. If you’re a student of African descent and you need help or you’re facing a particular issue on campus, B.L.A.C.C. might not have all the answers because we’re students but you can go to the office to get more help. That office is instrumental and very important. I think we need to pay attention to the work that’s being done there. Calliste did that years ago, and here we are now being grateful for it. It’s important to value that moment and the things that have come since. I think she’s an inspirational badass. 

YG: Do you think the Pan-African flag should be permanently installed on campus?

KN: Absolutely. I’m not Black for a month. I’m Black 365 days a year. If it’s a leap year, add an extra day (chuckles). I think it should be there at all times as a symbol that this university is committed to working towards better relations on that front. I’m not saying they aren’t, they definitely have made improvements, and I support and salute changes that are made outside of the Black community like the Indigenous and Pride communities. They’re not mutually exclusive, because the system of oppression doesn’t decide, “I’m only going to work against this group.” It’s shared. I think raising the flag is a perfect next step for the university. The flag is a symbol that the university is committed. It’s not just let’s do this for a month. We’re Black students for the entire time we’re here and the rest of our lives. It would serve as a reminder. Let’s say we put up a flag. We can’t say that everything’s great now; The flag should be a reminder of more work to do. 

YG: What is your message to students about your society?

KN: I know that some students think I’m not necessarily Black, I would want to know more, and I don’t know if I can participate. You absolutely can. We’ll add another “A” for allyship to the name. I think it’s important to have more voices looking at these issues and learning about culture. The general StFX community consumes Black music, culture, and art. How cool would it be to learn more about it appropriately? It’s one of the best spaces on campus to come, ask questions, and learn. We’re open to all students who want to join our society. 

 

St. Ninian’s Development and Revival

 
 

Nine saints await restoration to former glory

In five years, St  Ninian’s Cathedral will reach the venerable age of 150 years old. In that time, the cathedral has seen many changes; renovations, restorations, and additions. For that 150th anniversary, retired StFX computer science professor, Ernst Schuegraf, is hoping that the most recent restoration will be finished in time. Schuegraf is a passionate advocate for the return of the work of the original artist, Ozias Leduc, a lauded Québecois artist, whose work in St  Ninian’s has been altered, covered over, and almost forgotten even in the time before his death 1955. Schuegraf has been deeply involved in the research, restoration advocacy, and funding drives in hopes that the public will be able to see the illustrious artwork of Leduc in time for the anniversary.

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Though lauded and celebrated in Québec, where his skill can still be seen in a number of Catholic churches across the province, Leduc’s work at St  Ninian’s is only now being restored to some of its former glory. When originally completed, the cathedral had a rear, semi-circular space with a large stain glass window, the apse, which poured light into the length of the cathedral. Leduc utilised this central source of light and painted the twelve apostles (plus St.  John the Baptist and St. Cecilia) down the length of the main space, the nave, ensconcing them in painted faux-stonework niches, and painted shadows and highlights into the faux stone niches as if light from the apse was pouring in at early morning.  Originally, each of the niches were connected to each other with elaborate lines of faux stonework painting, but this was all painted over and forgotten sometime after the 1930s.

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

The cathedral is the result of a move of the diocese from Arichat to Antigonish. Built to improve a smaller church on main street, of which only the cemetery still remains, which can be found behind the gas station and the Royal Canadian Legion building. The men of the time were expected by the bishop to provide one day of unpaid labour a week to help build, move, and quarry limestone and sandstone from North Grant. The unpaid labour was in addition to the charge of 89¢ a head, no small fee in the 1860s, levied on the parishioners to help pay for the cathedral. The cathedral still retains some of the hidden mementoes of Antigonish’s important maritime past; the church rests on timbers salvaged from a shipwreck at the time of construction, and the glass prisms that directed light into the lower decks of the ship are still in place directing sunlight into crawlspaces below the cathedral. Even with some attempts to control costs the diocese was left in debt to the tune of $40 000 (more than a million dollars in 2019), including the efforts made to move the fledgling university to Antigonish from Cape Breton. The cathedral also boasts the original organ that was installed during its construction, a manual organ than Father Donald MacGillivray says is of such quality that “it will last another 500 years.” Once St. Ninian’s was completed it was the largest stone building east of Montréal for some time and a good example of Romanesque architecture, which was rather in vogue across North America and Western Europe.

Finished and consecrated in 1874, it would be almost 30 years before the interior would be Leduc would be hired to paint the nave, the ceiling, and the stations of the cross. 

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Although some of his artwork would have been painted in Montréal on canvas and transported to Antigonish (to be glued into placed in a process called merouflage), while in town, Leduc painted a number of landscapes and portraits, some of which can still be seen around the university. However, much of his artwork has been painted over, destroyed or, like his works in Xavier Hall, lost during renovations in the 1930s and 1950s, the niches and the apostles were completely painted over, only now to be painstakingly restored. A large painting over the altar of God carrying a book inscribed with the alpha and omega symbols, has been so badly painted over that only the beard remains and the cost to restore the rest is staggering, and no less made worse by steam leaks, moisture, and soot damage from decades past.

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

The work of raising money to restore the cathedral is considerable. The annual repairs to the church and a 2012 settlement to victims of former Nova Scotia priest, Hugh Vincent MacDonald, have left the Diocese with few available resources to restore the saints, each with a $20 000 price tag. It has only been through the generosity of the parishioners of St. Ninian’s that Father Donald MacGillivray and Ersnt Schuegraf have been able to restore five of the fourteen saints to the original glory of Ozias Leduc.

Anyone interested in learning about St. Ninian’s cathedral or donating to restoration efforts can visit saintninian.ca.