How and Why X-Project Began
Joe Webb was a founding member of the X-Project organization on campus in 1965. While the organization became ratified that year, the origin of X-Project dates back to 1957. This document is Yanik Gallie’s treatment of notes written by Webb on how and why X-Project began. Webb graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and intended to return for a Bachelor of Education. Before he could enroll, he was offered the position of principal on a teacher’s permit at the Lincolnville school. Webb then pursued his teacher’s license during summer school for four years and continues to substitute at the age of 74.
The origin of X-Project traces back to Webb’s call for help to his friend Rollie Chiasson who was still at the university. Chiasson posted a sign in the dining hall asking for volunteers who might want to take a drive down to Lincolnville and work with some students hoping at least a couple people would show up at the designated date and time. Much to their surprise, 13 people volunteered. At the same time, Joan Dillon and a number of friends from Antigonish were teaching pottery in Lincolnville. They too travelled in borrowed cars from Antigonish each week. The two groups joined forces primarily to share transportation. They quickly began to share programming ideas working with students and adults to promote literacy, offering cubs and beavers, providing recreational programs, and more. X-Project is one of the oldest student societies on campus and has grown to include surrounding communities Guysborough, Paq’tnkek, and Pictou Landing.
Joe Webb’s wife, Nancy Webb, inspired him to write the origin story a year ago. According to Webb, the intent behind writing the story was to preserve the society’s initial commitment to “anonymity. If you look at old yearbooks, you will not find our names, and that is a good thing.” Webb added, “I am at peace with the fact that the small seed planted in 1965-66 at StFX has grown in scope and effectiveness. Joan Dillon, Lisa Lunney Borden, and the thousands of others have provided a wonderful example of how when one group chooses to help another, both groups benefit.” Webb remembered, “the first 20+ volunteers said they got more from X-Project than they ever gave, and I know that is true for me.”
I was at Good Counsel Academy in Monastery as a student and was privileged to accompany the legendary Father Anthony Henry to Lincolnville on many occasions where he had established a community center from which he ran various programs, met many needs of this poor community, and got to know many of the folks there.
I attended StFX and about midway through my studies Father Edo Gatto and Mr. Angus MacGillveray were instrumental in getting a university-owned building just off campus where they established Abelard’s coffee house. Many of us gathered there to play anagrams or chess and have organized a spontaneous discussion group about the social issues of our time. By the time I graduated, some of us were chagrinned that during those years of college revolts in U.S. and Canada about civil rights and concerns, our focus, including my own, were a tiddly-winks club which challenged the oxford debaters. I posted an announcement for an Apathy society and no one came to the meetings. In April of 1965, the drama society won the Dominion Drama Festival. Director Frank Canino wanted to redo the campus logo. That year, no StFX sports team went on to finals. He wanted the faces of drama rampant over a field of jock straps. So much about our concern for society while attending a university known world wide for the Coady institute and dedication to helping communities all over the world.
While speaking one day to Brian O’Connell who was upper administration at StFX at the time he commented that his twins both young with down syndrome (called Mongoloid in those days) were at a loss now that school was nearly over and there was no summer program. I discussed this at Abelard’s and along with several friends who, I hesitate to name them because I would miss most people, set up a program every evening for two hours at Abelard’s outside and inside. And, on Saturdays we went on field trips. All this while we worked summer jobs, but this was the spirit fostered at the coffee house and I have often felt since that Abelard’s had a lost to do with X-Project before the fact.
I was waiting to go back next year for my Education degree when I received an urgent request through my godfather Mac Mackenzie from social services. A teacher from the school in Lincolnville had quit and they had no one as replacement. They arranged a temporary permit for me, and I became the principal. Please understand that no one wanted to go there in those days and the community was looked upon as a problem area. There were at least 31 organizations travelling to Lincolnville, Upper Big Tracadie and Sunnyville all with a solution for the “Lincolnville problem.” At that time, no black people lived within the Antigonish town limits. You could not be black and get supper at many restaurants. Even in Guysborough, the Nova Scotia home for colored children, it was a house of horrors and we in Nova Scotia were proud believers that we were not prejudiced. And, do not even get me started about indigenous folks.
While teaching in Lincolnville at a school ingeniously built in a location so that, wonder of wonders, it was only within busable distance of Lincolnville and Upper Big Tracadie. Mattie settlement kids who were white went to the school at Monastery while there was not a single white child at our school. I discovered that the junior and senior high kids, who were bussed to Guysborough, could not get homework help there because of the bus schedule and like most other parents then and now, theirs could not help much. Here arose the founding tenet of X-Project. Instead of coming to Lincolnville with an agenda, ask what the community-identified needs are then help. I asked my Abelard’s friends and we started to go down one or two nights a week to help with homework at the school rather than the center. I got that advice from locals too, some of who were Baptists and not comfortable with the center. Soon it was evident we needed more people. I got a friend, Rollie Chiasson, to post a small notice outside the dining hall. It read, “Are you interested in helping tutor students from nearby communities and a contact person?” We were amazed. Soon, we needed extra cars to help and added more nights. We also discovered that StFX students working with the young people were getting as much from the young people as they were giving.
Spring of 1966
As the college year wore down, the students who knew I was leaving the next fall wanted to form a society on campus to continue the process and maybe expand it. I again asked Mac and several other social-service types for help to set this up. We advised and the students agreed to some cornerstone provisions for the constitution as they became a functional college organization.
No publicity, no agenda. Just ask community people what they need and try to help. Avoid thank yous and all advertising that might attract those looking for something good to put on a resume.
So now, what do we call this club? After soul searching by one and all, we picked the name X-Project because no one would even know what it was other than those who joined and there would be nothing to gain except possibly a good feeling that accompanies a good deed. And so, it was born when I left to teach in Canso that September. We had no idea how this project would flourish. As I understand it, the university hired Joan Dillon some years later as liaison between college and the project. She had been doing pottery along with the brilliant potter May K. MacDonald at the center and knew most of the people in Lincolnville and I believe even had been involved with the students in the project. I think there were several staff involved as well, but I have only a passing knowledge of the growth of the project until Joan invited me back for a celebration. I could see that she was beloved by one and all and had given heart and soul to continue the good work begun so many years before. I was pleased to see that the students had even branched out into forums and gatherings to discuss social issues and their work within the Indigenous and African Nova Scotian communities.
If it is important at all to know our origin, I hope my descriptions herein will serve to provide a factual account of the very crude beginnings of what has become such a wide-ranging program. May we all continue to serve one another.
The Xaverian Weekly gets second rights to publish booklet
Lisa Lunney Borden wrote “X-Project: The Beginning Years” at Joan Dillon’s kitchen table while talking to Joe Webb on the phone in 2006. This booklet documents the early years of X-Project from the perspectives of its founders. The inspiration for publishing the booklet came when Dillon received an honourary doctorate of Laws from StFX thirteen years ago.
It all began in November of 1961. Itinerant Artist Gilles Gaudry was living in the school house in Lincolnville through an arrangement he had made with Father Anthony who was with the Third Order of St. Augustine at the Monastery and who had been working in the communities since 1954. At the time many families in Lincolnville were living on only $364.00 per year and Gilles wanted to help the community that had so graciously welcomed him. He would often hitchhike to Port Hawkesbury and New Glasgow to put on art classes and bring back money to the communities to help the people. One day Gilles arrived at the pottery school in Antigonish run by Mother St. Phillip, CND. He took a week long pottery course and at the end of the week Mother St. Phillip gave Gilles a pottery wheel, some clay and a small kiln. He took these items back to Lincolnville and began teaching community members how to do pottery. His plan was to get the community members to make pottery and sell it; unfortunately his dream was cut short. On November 11, 1961 Gilles was riding in the back of a fish truck while hitchhiking and the truck was struck by a train and Gilles was killed.
Following Gilles’ tragic death, Margie (Milner) Boyle, Kay (Wilmot) Cameron, and Joan Dillon who were all students of Mother St. Phillip at the pottery school offered to take his place in teaching the pottery, strongly supported by Mother St. Phillip herself. They approached Father Anthony who was reluctant at first because other groups had volunteered to work in the community but had not kept their commitments. The women convinced him that they would stay and he agreed to let them come. With the help of men from the Third Order of St. Augustine’s who loaned their cars for transportation, the three women began travelling to Lincolnville three nights a week to teach pottery classes.
When they arrived in the community they were invited to do their pottery in a center that Father Anthony had built. They worked with him to start cubs and scouts, Father Anthony’s ABC Band, in addition to the pottery. They eventually needed to recruit more volunteers and soon a group of about 30 people were coming down, along with members of the Sisters of St. Martha. They travelled each week in cars also donated by the Third Order of St. Augustine. At the time there were approximately 98 children and about 30 families in Lincolnville.
In 1965, Joe Webb, a recent StFX graduate was given the position of teaching principal in the Lincolnville school. He felt that many students in the school were having difficulty in getting their homework done, and wanted to find some way to help them. He thought of his friends who were still in university and thought maybe they would like to come down and help some of the students. He made a call to his friend Rollie Chiasson and proposed this idea. They decided to post a sign in the dining hall asking for volunteers who might want to take a drive down to Lincolnville and work with some students hoping at least a couple people would show up at the designated date and time. Much to their surprise 13 people volunteered. They borrowed cars and began travelling to the community as well. Initially they wanted to stay separate from the pottery group, but eventually the two groups decided to merge so that they could share transportation. Joan Dillon negotiated a bus deal with Dr. Remi Chiasson, Superintendent of schools who granted them the weekly use of a very large bus at a reasonable price and soon the whole group began traveling together. In March of 1966, the group sat down and wrote a constitution that formed the society now known as X-Project. The goals of this group were quite simple; they would only go to the community as long as they were invited and welcomed by the community, they would respect the wishes of the community and responds to the community’s requests, and they hoped that some day they would no longer be needed.
Over the years X-Project quickly grew to include more communities and more members. The group began to organize many community building events including the 1968 Indian Teach-In which was organized by Father Bill Burke. All the Atlantic Canada First Nation Chiefs and even the Deputy Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs attended. It was a weekend event with about 200 people in attendance. Following the success of this event in 1969 a Black Teach-In was held which was equally well attended. X-Project has held numerous Saturday programs, bowling days, swimming days, skating parties, youth leadership weekends, and literally thousands of nights in communities. Thousands of StFX students have volunteered over the past 40 years and many community members have been consistently involved since the beginning.
On the passing of Kevin Fraser
Dear Xaverian Community,
I have often thought about what to say to all those who honoured Kevin. Ironically, it was very difficult to find words to describe the effect the outpouring of support had on our family, especially since Kevin was never at a loss for words. Although our lives have been considerably altered, there is some solace in knowing the impact Kevin had on others during his time at StFX. During this challenging time, StFX has demonstrated that it is a community of care. The number of people who donated to Kevin’s Corner, sent us messages, wrote cards and supported us, made it clear how important he was to many of you. Receiving the honorary X-ring and attending the ceremony in Kevin’s honour was something I will always remember. Knowing that he was valued by others as much as we valued him brings us some peace. Kevin truly did live the values of StFX, integrity, dignity, truth, and respect for all. His connection to the community was obvious in the number of hearts he reached and the relationships he built with many of you. Kevin had no idea the influence he had on the lives of others, which truly does make him a Xaverian at heart. We wanted to take the time to thank all of you for recognizing Kevin, supporting us, and bringing us into the Xaverian family. We will be forever grateful and connected to the university. Most importantly we want to thank you for making his time at StFX something he loved, and for being his friends.
Quaecumque Sunt Vera,
The Armstrong and Fraser families
Culture of art
Everywhere I go
I want you to be
not just to simply be with me
come on man, I’m not that needy
but check it
I want you to see what I saw
You might like to smell
what I smelled
touch what I touched
feel what I felt
it’s just a thought
just an idea
that’s how we 1st appeared
All around me were iron bars
till I found freedom
I had barely scrapped the surface of love
till deep down, you dug me out
How can I owe a debt
to the one I love?
Can I be
of the way you inspired me?
I’m greatly moved
I fly free
“Black Artist Boy”
You have subtitles that come across so strong
your imagination and sense of feeling
Is it with you I belong?
Your world I long to enter
yet I am
to be surrounded by your strength
My, my, my
you could swallow me
Would you dare use it on me?
You are everything
Black artist boy
Can I be myself before it’s too late?
Will I see what is in front of my face?
Black artist girl
don’t be foolish
be with him
build a world
Black artist boy
A Christmas spent “up the lane” in Upper Big Tracadie, Nova Scotia
Tara Reddick is a third-year student at STFX, she grew up in Antigonish. She is a playwright, her play “The West Woods” toured Nova Scotia and was also featured at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 2017. The following story is a little look into her childhood during a Christmas spent “up the lane” in Upper Big Tracadie, Nova Scotia. Upper Big Tracadie is a rural African Nova Scotian community about 25 minutes from the town of Antigonish.
My mother and father always did the best they could at Christmas. I never really asked for anything. What I received, I received. It was always about the spirit of Christmas and never about gifts. I never bragged to my friends after Christmas break, I had nothing to brag about. I tell you though, I can remember every Christmas like it was yesterday. I miss my Nanny especially at the Holidays, she died the day after Christmas; I was there when she took her last breath and I think about her everyday. Nothing will ever come close to a Christmas spent at my Nan’s down home. She was our matriarch, she was our rock. Her name was Dorothy Daye and this Christmas marked the third year of her passing.
Go Tell it on the Mountain
Christmas eve, mom and dad pack up the few gifts we have and the 6 of us load up our Dodge Omni meant for 4. Lorraine and Wilfred, two boys and two girls rowdy unruly brats. Mom says, “Let’s wake up Christmas day down home kids.” Do we have to mom? Off to Nanny and Granddaddy’s we go. Folks are home from Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Aunts, uncles and cousins alike. Nintendo show downs, penny hockey, snakes and ladders. Checkers too, but we can’t find all the pieces. Sliding down the stairs on our bums. Carpet burns and playing school, “I want to be the teacher this time.” The wood furnace is burning, uncle Barry got it wide open I tell yah! Nan is baking, molasses cake, corn bread, brown sugar-squares, lemon, apple and blueberry pie, “Did anyone take out the turkey yet?” Better take out a big one. It is still early in the evening, now it’s time to get out Mahalia Jackson’s Christmas album. The needle on the record player isn’t the best, but it plays. Granddaddy fell asleep in his favourite chair. Just a few hours before he had it rockin’ and the kitchen turned into a wrestling ring. WWF legends, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Roddy Piper. “ Get em, that’s it, pin him, come on pin him, give it to him.” He smokes his Export A’s and sneaks a little drink and the sweat is pouring. “How much wood did Barry put in that furnace anyway?” The kids are tearing the house up, playing hide and go seek, finding places we never knew existed.
Nan cleans houses in town and the families she works for always give her chocolates. Me and cousin Geneva eat them before she even knows they are open.
Later in the night, Nan just wants her daughters to stay in and pray in the Christmas day, but my aunt’s got other plans. They go down, down the lane to Mrs. Cunningham’s and over to Rear Monastery to visit aunt Evelyn. They come back laughing and telling stories and I listen, I always listen. Nan is asleep at the table she was waiting up. Now all 20 of us cousins have found a spot to sleep. On the floor, we take beds on the coach, even in the hallway, in every corner all of us sleeping, close as close can be. The house is warm with love and we are happy the furnace has died down, but don’t dare let that fire go out cause it’s cold tonight.
Morning, Nan is first to wake up she is at the stove. She starts in on breakfast. Two cartons of eggs, two pounds of bacon, fresh biscuits and beans. The aunts are tired, “See I told you fellas’ to stay your ass home last night, out running the roads.”
I wish I could go back in time, there was so much love and I had my Nan.
There is something eerie yet peaceful about cemeteries. Especially on a day like today. The air is crisp, and the leaves have started to turn colour like the ripening of an apple. The light is bouncing off the polished gravestones, and of course, my friend’s laughter is tickling my ears. I wonder if dead people throw parties? Do they mind having us on their graves? Do we have some ghosts just chilling beside us? I couldn’t tell ya, but I like to think so.
I plop myself down on the blanket, immediately there’s dirt on my jeans.
“What’d I miss?” I ask.
“We’re talking about our coming out stories.” Ruth says with a mouthful of rainbow chocolate chip cookies.
They talk the way the wind blows, around me but not necessarily to me. Ruth goes on about how coming out is a continual constant. You never stop doing it. She’s still in the process of telling her family she’s pan. Before you make the joke, no pansexual doesn’t mean she’s attracted to pans it means she’s attracted to anyone, gender is thrown entirely out the window. She doesn’t admit it, but I totally think she likes women and non-binary people more than men. But, don’t tell her I said that.
“Aw fuck!” Alice drops a cube of cheese on the ground.
She’s bi, not the same as pan but similar and, as she loves to tell everyone, she’s our local raging feminist. My ears twitch right in time to hear Alice say the most badass sentence, “I’m not straight enough for the straights or gay enough for the gays. I’m 100% gay and 100% straight.” Seriously Alice. Put that on a t-shirt.
“Yass Queen, preach!”
There he is. My favourite guy, Sean. If you couldn’t tell from the “Yass Queen,” Sean’s gay. He’s sugar in black coffee. Sweet, yet strong and a total teddy bear.
Then there’s me, Kali, the straight one. I adore these people. They are the embodiment of pure sunshine. They get pushed behind dark clouds and have to fight through leaves, but they always manage to shine. I wouldn’t say the same about me.
“Helloooo, Kali. You still with us?” Alice snaps me back to earth.
“Yeah, yeah. what were you saying?”
“Remember we’re going out tonight. Meet at 7, our place.” Sean pipes up.
“Gotcha. I’ll be there. I’m not square.” I say with a wink and some major finger guns.
It looks like the Tasmanian Devil just tore through my room. Slashes of red sequins, denim skirts, heavy wool, and black dresses are in every nook and cranny. There is nothing in my closet to wear. I know that sounds like the most melodramatic, stereotypical girl thing to say, but I mean it. Every sleeveless top shows the inflamed pimples on my shoulders. Every skirt makes my thighs look like jiggly tree trunks. Every crop top makes me look like a bloated pregnant woman. It’s horrifying. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that bowl of cereal this morning. I see the scale in the corner, it’s begging me to step on just to laugh at me with the number. Just the thought of that number makes my stomach clench so much that a little vomit crawls up the back of my throat.
I have to put something on, seriously, I can’t go out in my bra and underwear. That would be even worse. I go full Narnia and find a black halter top and a green button-up skirt in the back of my closet. It’s good enough.
I make my way to the bathroom even though it feels like I’m walking through tar. I look in the mirror, and all I see is an ugly, worthless girl, who doesn’t fit in anywhere. My nose is huge and round, and my cheeks are like chipmunks. I open my makeup bag and pick up my foundation brush. I start painting my skin, making it even. Mixing and blending colour after colour around my eyes, adding glitter, making their blueness pop. It’s like getting lost in living art. I contour out the hollows of my cheeks and the sides of my nose. I’m creating a miracle on my face. My nose is slim and cheeks defined. I love that about makeup, I can look however I want. Manipulate whatever I want. I finally get to be pretty. I lean in close to the mirror and apply the final touch. I carefully swipe on a terracotta red lipstick. I don’t like much about my face but, I can at least say, I have very sexy lips.
I rush out the door and into what appears to be a light show. The sun is setting, and the sky is a wash of rosy pinks and vibrant oranges. I love this time of day. Right when the day begins to turn night, almost as if the world is switching persona just like the rest of us. My heels click on the hard pavement. I can already feel my feet getting sore around the toes. This might be a very long night. I stand to wait for the walk symbol to come on and spot a cute guy on the other side of the road. Long hair, tight shirt, very Jim Morrison and totally my type. I make a mental note to find him in the club later. I finally cross the street and walk a little further and get to my friend’s front door. I just go in, there’s no need to knock. The house is a bundle of energy. Sean is in the kitchen mixing what appears to be Malibu and Coke. Ruth is fussing about the music, “Shut up and Dance” by Walk the Moon is bumping away.
“Has anyone seen my other earring?” Alice calls out while coming down the stairs.
“Did you check the bathroom?” Sean yells back.
“Oh, hey Kali. Yeah, Sean, I checked there.”
Holy shit. Alice looks great. She’s in a skintight, sky-blue dress. It shows every curve, from her rounded shoulders to her firm thighs. She’s like the Goddess Venus just stepped out of a painting, round and soft. Wait, what am I thinking? I’ve never had such a thought about a girl, sure as hell not Alice. I think I need a drink.
We pregame hard. The drinks are flowing almost as much as the laughter is. Sean keeps bringing us drink after drink. I swear that boy thinks he’s a professional bartender. We’re up dancing on the couches, the room is swirling with pure, unadulterated joy. I don’t know how the club could be any better than this.
“We should get going if we want to get in, it’s getting late,” Ruth says. I look at my phone, it’s 11:30. The time has just slipped away, I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun. We stuff some money and our ID’s into our bras and head out the door. The club is literally a block away, so I won’t bore you with the details of the walk. Long story short, we giggled a lot and stumbled even more.
The club is going ham. The music is blaring, the bass is going like a hammer pounding a nail. “Anyone want shots?” I scream over the music, but my friends can barely hear me. They all throw their hands in the air which I guess means yes. The bar is swarming with people. Sean goes to the bar, throws some hardcore elbows and manages to get through while the rest of us go grab a table. I look out at the dance floor and it’s just a sea of people. I bet if there wasn’t any music, they wouldn’t look like they were dancing and look more like skankily dressed potatoes fighting.
A few minutes later Sean comes over with four hot pink shots. Leave it to Sean to be utterly extra and utterly predictable. I count down “One, two, three, GO!” We all down our shots and immediately get twisted expressions on our faces. That was like biting into a lemon. Ruth shoots up, grabs my hand and pulls me onto the dance floor. Everyone else follows suit, and we join the mass of fighting potatoes. Something catches my eye. It’s Alice’s hair. It’s shining as the strobe lights pass over and bounce along with the beat of the music, just like Alice. Something is pulling me closer and closer to her. I’m all of a sudden stone cold sober. I just so badly want to be near her. She’s smiling, and it’s radiant. My heart’s pounding and our eyes meet. I just go for it. I kiss her. She kisses me back. The music fades into the background. The whole world seems to stand still. Her lips are soft and tender, and she kinda tastes like cherries. It feels so right. Then boom; it hits me like a brick wall. I pull away. Everything floods back. The music is deafening. I look around at my friends, and they’re dumbfounded. They look like someone just killed a cat in front of them or something. My heart’s racing and not in a good way. My hands are shaking like a baby’s rattle, and my breath is stuck in my lungs. I have to get out of here. I can’t stay. I need out. Then I’m running. Running. I’m freezing to death and burning alive at the same time. The streets become a blur, and somehow, I’m home.
I’m standing in front of my mirror and still shaking beyond belief. Get a hold of yourself, Kali. Don’t be such a wimp. I splash cold water on my face. I don’t recognize the girl staring back. Her face is dripping with black mascara. Her lipstick is smeared at the edges. I reach for my makeup wipes, slowly pulling one out of the container. Breathing heavy I rub at my eye, it stings a bit. Then I do the other eye and finally my lips. Barefaced with slightly stained lips I see myself. For the first time, I really see myself. My breathing has slowed down, and I’m still. Really still. But, I’m the straight one. I can’t be… I… maybe I’m not so different after all. Maybe.… maybe. Am I gay?
I entered to drying coats, I left to drying eyes
After Danielle Richard and Jessica MacLean closed out the Bachelor of Education music recital with “Musical Theatre Boys,” I left and dug for a cigarette - whatever’d calm my nerves. I understand speed-walking out of St. James United Church a little after 8pm while fumbling with a lighter isn’t a good look. So, I decided against it. But after an hour straight with my hairs standing up, I needed a comedown.
The setting made sense. A cold and wet November 3, we huddled in the pews to keep us warm. Bunches of Education students mixed with family and friends. A few sniffles, mumbled chatter, jackets unzipping, awkward half-smiles to strangers.
“When’s it going to start? Isn’t it at 7?”
They appeared almost on cue, single file and well-dressed. Silence, a single sniff. Joseph Goodwin stood while the other three took their seats in the front row. Pianist sits, everyone’s silent. A stifled cough, “Oh jeez, I’m so sorry.” Silence again. Goodwin began.
Goodwin opened with Handel’s “Lascia ch’io pianga.” I’ve run out of adjectives for his baritone or the control he has over it. Jaw-dropping’s cliche, but accurate. And I sat full mouth mouth-breathing, everything about his work with the National Youth Choir of Canada and garnered acclaim made sense. As he hits notes beyond us, we just sit breathless.
Second, Lauren Siteman. Her frankness refreshes us. Siteman introduces her first piece simply, “It’s a love song.” Siteman’s talent too, is direct. Every note hit perfectly, every dynamic switched on a dime. I need to address something. Siteman, whether she knows it or not, sings honestly. I’m not sure how to describe it yet, but everything she sings I believe. It was a love song. Because for three minutes I somehow knew who and how she loved.
Third, Danielle Richard. In her second year of education, this was her first performance. Her voice control was absolutely terrifying. Goodwin and Siteman had each of us nodding, smiling, and gasping, but Richard had us looking around at one another with an awed, “Are you seeing this?” sort of face.
Nothing surprises me about her background in musical theatre. The way she carries herself on a stage speaks for itself. I should note here as well that Danielle’s performance of “I’ll Be Here” brought a few people to tears. But not me though… absolutely not… not a chance. We’d always been told Danielle is incredible, then we heard her for ourselves and know it to be true.
Fourth, Jessica MacLean. Her stage presence is an extension of herself. Most of us cling onto some drab sense of self importance. Jess tosses all that trash out. She moves around the stage with intent one second, vulnerability the next. Whatever the piece calls for, she clicks into her performative nature and disappears.
MacLean only returns after she’s sung the last lines of “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” once the applause begins, there she is. How she stays so expressive and fluid while hitting even the hardest notes perfectly, I’ll never understand.
A fifth member of the Education Recital, Stacia Findlay, was slated to perform but unfortunately pulled out due to an illness. Rumours are she’s an internationally renowned monster in her own right. I’m looking forward to her performance.
Another recital is in the works. Go see it. Whether it’s an email or poster, plan around the date you read. I entered to drying coats, I left to drying eyes.
An inside perspective into the life of an international student
I want you to use your imagination for a second. Imagine leaving your home, the country you were born and raised in, to gain a higher education and pursue a bright start to your future. Imagine saying goodbye to your family and friends and packing up two bag-loads of your life to take with you as you travel alone to an entirely new continent with which you are not entirely familiar with. Imagine arriving at your destination and failing to see anyone in the distance who remotely looks like you, and then later discovering that this will be the setting of the next four years of your life.
When I was recruited by Saint Francis Xavier University, I was quite literally sold the Canadian dream. With promises of a diverse, peaceful culture that embraces and celebrates other nationalities, of renewable bursaries and opportunities for work that would “reduce the cost of my tuition tremendously,” there were hopeful stars in my eyes as I pictured my future at this university. I was going to make tons of new friends with whom I would share my culture as I equally experienced theirs, and I would perhaps even return home with a Canadian accent after a few months.
The reality could not have been any more different. In all of the dreamy tales fed to us in the large assembly hall of our high school, it seems that the university recruitment team simply forgot to mention that the tuition at StFX was going to be hiked by 6% every year for the next three years because the university is in so much debt, and that this would actually translate to a 12% increase for international students, since they pay double the tuition fees compared to Canadian students.
The lovely recruiters also had a little ‘slip’ of memory and neglected to inform us that the total cost of residence for the year does not include or cover the two/three-week Christmas break during December, and that all students are required to evacuate their rooms and expected to independently find alternative accommodation for themselves over this period. Of course, mentioning these vital factors to potential students was not of great importance at the time. As long as they managed to successfully rope in and recruit a couple of us, the rest would figure itself out. After all, the university is kind enough to perform favors such as providing alternative campus living arrangements for those international students who are unable to go home for Christmas, all at a little charge, of course! What is an extra one or two-hundred dollars to someone who already pays $30 000 to be here?
My question is, why, oh why, then, would StFX continue to recruit a large number of international students, if they constitute most of the debt carried by the university? Is their solution to this problem, therefore, to hire a debt-collector masked as an International Student Advisor, who will deceive international students into a trap of sharing their financial struggles, only to add them to her ‘blacklist’ of individuals to monitor and watch out for? The international population is truly better off not having an Office of Internationalization, if it houses individuals who intentionally advocate against them. The very students whom she is purposed to be a support for (at least, according to her job description), are the ones whom the university has mandated her to take a strong position against and, quite frankly, get rid of.
Moreover, university administration made it very clear that 2018 would be a year of change and uncompromising rule. Whereas the university was previously quite understanding and lenient towards international students, and permitted them to construct plans for payment that would still allow them to register for courses so long as they had been making some steady payments to their accounts during the year, this policy changed overnight. With an ironclad fist, the university denied access to course registration to all international students whose student accounts were anything above the new threshold of $5 000. Lo and behold (and this should certainly not come as a surprise to any of us), this new policy was not transparently communicated to any students, nor was there sufficient notice given prior to implementation of this new practice.
So, when July came around and it was registration time, many unsuspecting international students received devastating emails from the Accounts Office that informed them that they would not, in fact, be able to register for classes, and they essentially would have about one month to miraculously decrease their balances owing to $5 000 if they wished to continue their enrolment with the university for the upcoming year.
I’ll ask you to again to imagine being an international student on the receiving end of this news; having traveled a long way from your country to this foreign land for an education, which, so abruptly, was snatched away from you. Imagine being halfway through university at this point, and being unable to join your peers as they progress into the year ahead while you remain behind, a balance of $10 000 or worse, $50 000, standing between you and your future, as you work tirelessly to reduce it just so you can catch up.
Worse off, the concept of government loans or assistance to students is virtually non-existent in many of the countries from which StFX recruits its international population, and most parents are paying 30 thousand dollars straight out of their pockets, in economies that are not half as stable as Canada’s. Yet, international students are being held to the same merciless standards as Canadian students who have these privileges.
This is the unfortunate reality of several international students who attend(ed) St Francis Xavier University. Unexpected, uncommunicable costs are constantly flung in their direction, and they are expected to just bear the increments and tough it out, with no compromise on the part of the university. Just this month (on November 8 2018), StFX residence services sent out an email regarding accommodations over the Christmas break for internationals who are unable to go home, indicating that they would be placed in FX Hall (formerly Coady MacNeil Hall) for the break at a daily rate of almost $30 for a single room, totalling a hefty $600 for a three-week stay. How it could be possible that a student who is probably unable to afford a trip to go home to begin with, be able to afford to pay $600 - for such poor living conditions - is beyond me. This also comes as a huge slap to the international community, who, just last year, fought to be placed in a more livable building because the present condition of Coady MacNeil Hall is dilapidated and unbearable, suitable only for its current use as a storage facility for janitors’ cleaning supplies. Thus, after begrudgingly moving internationals into Power Hall for the December 2017 holiday, the university administration turned around and decided to not only revert back to Coady MacNeil as the building allocation for Christmas this year, but to hike the cost of stay by over $400 without any warning or any explanation for the increased rate.
Amazingly, one of the universities strategic goals is “Increased enrolment by under-represented students, including international students,” a statement bleeding with irony, contradiction, and deception. What the university really wants is more students to manipulate and deceive as they demand double the tuition for half of the deserved services.
The message here is clear: we, the international students, are unwanted and useless, and our comfort/sanity while we are halfway across the world from home, is not a priority. While many other universities place their international population at the forefront of every decision, acknowledging the fact that they are so far from their homes and their families, StFX treats their international students as inconveniences whom they are doing a favor by inviting onto this campus. You can count on the fact that we as international students will not make any recommendations to our peers in our home countries for Saint Francis Xavier University as a choice for higher education.
I wish StFX all the best as they try to achieve their strategic goals in future years, because for as long as they continue to treat international students like the butt of the joke and some good-for-nothing cash cows, the reputation of this university and how it really treats its international students will spread and always stand to reflect the truth which their recruitment team fails to speak.
Why the piece of gold jewelry means so much
Every December, excitement fills the air as graduating StFX students wait to receive their coveted X-rings. As soon as they receive theirs, the countdown begins for the next year of eagerly awaiting X-ring recipients. But, why is a piece of silver, gold, or platinum metal worth all the fuss?
Like many, I came to StFX in my first year fascinated by the gold ring that I would get years down the road. I had admired them since the application process to StFX, and the intrigue surrounding them only grew as I saw a few fourth-year classmates proudly show theirs off. Who wouldn’t admire a ring that supposedly could connect you to other alumni through a quick glance at their right hand?
Since first year, the meaning behind X-ring has changed quite a lot for me. No longer is it a mystery, but a symbol of four intense and rewarding years at StFX. All the late nights, piles of assignments, and early mornings suddenly seem worth it, even though throughout the process of getting to X-ring, it sometimes seemed like an insurmountable task.
X-ring is more than just the academic achievements behind earning it. It’s also about the friends, faculty, and members of the community that become a proxy family during your time at university. For many of StFX students that come from across the country, or from abroad, X-ring represents the home away from home that we create during our years in Antigonish. To have a constant reminder of that sense of family and lifelong friends gives a lot of significance to the ring.
For many receiving their X-ring this December, it is meaningful because it connects them to family legacies. Some recipients come from a long line of Xaverians, and getting the X-ring is the final step in joining the family ranks. For others, like myself, we are the first members of our extended family or friends who are getting X-rings, which makes it all the more special in our eyes; however, no matter if you’re tied to a family legacy or not, some of us will hope to see other family members or our own children be able to get their own X-rings in the future.
There’s also the question behind every X-ring about the legacy we’re leaving behind at StFX. With hope, the impact we made through societies, athletics, the community, or by sticking up for important issues on campus, will live on long after we leave campus. Especially this year, issues such as bringing changes to the sexual violence policy or the revitalization of campus through buildings like the Mulroney Institute may be on the minds of many, as X-ring recipients may not be around to see the final outcomes of those projects.
X-ring signals the beginning of a shift in our relationship with StFX as well. Perhaps, farther down the line, we’ll give back through donations, come back for homecoming, or stop wearing our X-rings altogether if we feel that the university isn’t acting proactively enough on important issues. There’s no question that we’ll think about keeping up to date on what’s happening at StFX and staying in contact with the friends that we made while here every time we glance at our rings.
Lastly, what X-ring means for many is that we’re one step closer to our goals, whether they be personal, academic, or career oriented. As much as receiving an X-ring can set off the existential panic about what our futures should be or where to go next, at least we can say that we’ve got one thing done. Hopefully, the lessons and experiences from our time at StFX carry forward for the rest of our lives.
This December 3, when seniors finally file through the Keating Centre to receive their X-rings, know that there is a lot of meaning behind the smiles and excitement of getting one ring. And for those who still eagerly await their rings, some food for thought: how will you make your X-ring mean something to you?
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation cuts most of its $5 million pledge to Saudi Arabian charity
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a charitable organization based in the United States. It is by all accounts, the biggest private foundation in the United States, with an endowment of roughly $50.7 billion. Recently The Gates Foundation has made headlines after making a decision to cut most of its $5 million pledge to the Saudi Arabian charity, The Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Philanthropic Foundation, or, the MiSK foundation for short.
The decision was not without cause, of course. It comes in the wake of the October 2 murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a columnist for the Washington Post, and had been a harsh critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Just this past week, Turkey called for an international investigation into the murder which occurred in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi had gone to get the required documents for his upcoming marriage.
In a statement to Fortune magazine, The Gates Foundation said, “Jamal Khashoggi’s abduction and murder is extremely troubling. We are observing current events with concern, and we do not plan to fund any subsequent rounds of the Misk Grand Challenges program.”
On October 19, after many prior denials, the Saudi Arabian state finally addressed the incident. They claimed that the reporter had died in an altercation with 15 rogue operators. Spokesmen for the kingdom denied that the crown prince had any involvement in the murder.
Turkish government officials have remained vigilant in the case. The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claims that Turkey has audio recordings of the killing and has shared them with other governments, “We gave the recordings, we gave them to Saudi Arabia, we gave them to Washington, to the Germans, to the French, to the English.” On November 12, our own Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that although he hasn’t, members of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have listened to the tape.
From the United States, mixed signals. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a conversation with Mohammed Bin Salman “emphasized that the United States will hold all of those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable, and that Saudi Arabia must do the same.”
In a seemingly contradictory fashion though, U. S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has stated that the tapes do not implicate the Crown Prince’s involvement in the murder.
For an interview with NPR, Mary Louise Kelly spoke with Shadi Hamid, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Hamid noted some curiosities about the case, “So the interesting thing about him is that he wasn’t always a dissident, and he was actually a consummate insider with close connections to the Saudi royal court. That’s what makes this different.”
Further in the interview, Hamid added some speculation as to possible cause for the killing, “I think we can say that he had become the most prominent Saudi dissident... I think he was the one person who could credibly and effectively cast doubt on Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for Saudi Arabia at a time when Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, as he’s called, was really trying to portray himself as this young reformer and the young reformer that America should hitch its wagon to… You know, if I criticize Saudi Arabia for something, that’s one thing. But if Jamal Khashoggi did that, then it’s different because he’s speaking from within the family.”
Though European nations have been highly critical of the Saudi regime, not all world leaders have shared their view. In the Middle East, leaders including Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have recently been urging the White House to continue its support for MbS.
Israel’s support of Saudi Arabia comes as a surprise to many, Saudi Arabia has yet to give diplomatic recognition to the state of Israel. Nonetheless, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said to the White House in a phone call that although, “what happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous, and should be duly dealt with... it’s very important for the stability of the world... that Saudi Arabia remain stable.” Likely, Netanyahu has decided to support the Saudi Arabian crown prince, in light of their shared enemy, Iran.
Despite the appeals from Egypt and Israel, and the differing perspectives of certain officials of the United States, The Trump Administration recently made their stance clear. On November 15, the U. S. placed sanctions on the 17 Saudi officials accused of involvement in the murder. The sanctions pertain to freezing all the assets of the suspects and blocking American citizens from doing business with them.
In the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the story has changed again since the original October 19 statement. Now, their official story is that a team dispatched to Istanbul to retrieve Khashoggi made an impromptu decision to kill him. Of the 17 Saudi officials accused of involvement, the kingdom has threatened five with the death penalty.
Although more than one month has passed since Khashoggi was last seen alive, his body has not been recovered. After admitting to the involvement of at least some state officials in the murder of Khashoggi, Saudi Arabian officials confirmed that his body was dismembered by the killers. Turkish officials believe that the murderers then dissolved Khashoggi’s body in acid and poured the remains down the drain of the Saudi consulate.
U. S. President Donald Trump called the incident, “The worst cover-up ever.”
StFX alumni and current Blue Jays Reporter talks breaking into the industry and Bautista!
Bowen Assman interviewed Gregor Chisholm on October 11 2018. Gregor is a 2005 StFX HKIN alumnus, graduate of Ryerson University in journalism, and is currently entering into his ninth season as a Blue Jays reporter for MLB.com.
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BA: How’s it going? Are you on vacation now that the Blue Jays season is done?
GC: Yes, kind of, until the offseason, as they are searching for a new manager right now, so I am still doing some stuff, but for the most part, nothing really happens until the World Series is done. Then things will pick up, with trades and free agency. But, normally October is really slow if the team you are covering isn’t in the postseason. But it is a little bit busier this year because of the search for a new manager, but I get a couple weeks off to rest and recharge.
BA: So, you were originally a sports reporter for The Xaverian Weekly back in University, and you also worked with The U. Did you always see yourself working within sports?
GC: I did actually, I took a weird route to get there, but even when I went to school at StFX, I mean I grew up in St. John New Brunswick, so I kind of even knew when I was in grade two that I wanted to go into sports journalism, But I did not want to move to Toronto right away. I had some ties to Antigonish as my Dad was originally from there, and my grandparents lived there. I used to go to basketball games there as a kid, so I always kind of liked StFX. I figured that I would go and get my undergrad at StFX, and then eventually go to Ryerson, as it had a post-grad journalism program, so I figured that I would do it the postgrad route instead of straight out of high school. But yes, when I went to StFX, I kind of figured that I would be going to journalism school after StFX. That is why I got involved with The Xaverian Weekly for a couple years. I did two years as a sports editor there, then did some freelance stuff in the Maritimes, and did the StFX student union stuff with The U for two years as well. VP communications one year, then I was president my last year.
BA: What kind of freelance did you do?
GC: One of the big ones I got was kind of really random. When I was a sports editor, I think I was in my second year, the World Junior Hockey Championships were actually in Halifax (2003). Randomly enough, Team Canada did part of its training camp at StFX.
GC: Ya, it was kind of crazy, the World Juniors were really big, but it was before they were only going to the NHL cities, so some of the smaller cities got it at that time, and Halifax got it that year, so the juniors did some of their training camp at StFX but it was during Christmas break, and all of the students were gone, I was gone too. But, randomly, I figured there was a chance, because they did their training camp there, that I randomly applied for a media credential through The Xaverian Weekly, I put all my The Xaverian Weekly contact down for it and they approved my media pass, so I was able to get a media pass for the entire tournament. I went to Halifax on boxing day and I knew some people who lived there so I stayed with them, for ten days, or however long the tournament was. But through the tournament was where I was able to do some freelance stuff. I’m from New Brunswick, so I was able to sell some stores to the Telegraph Journal in New Brunswick. The stories were random, as they had a linesman who was in the tournament who was from just outside of St. John so I did a story on him. There was a coach from UNB who was involved in the tournament so I did a story on him and then I did a couple for local publications in Nova Scotia. So that’s how I started and through those contacts I occasionally, like when UNB came to play StFX, I would write a story for the Telegraph Journal, just like when the playoffs were going on for hockey and basketball, they would want stuff, so I did The Xaverian Weekly stuff, along with freelance stuff on the side.
BA: Would you say that was your ‘foot in the door’ moment?
GC: I think so, like with the World Juniors, I was more of a basketball and baseball guy then a hockey guy, but I was still a pretty big hockey fan too, but I guess that was kind of when I thought for sure, with what I decided what I wanted to do as I always kind of knew, but this was reassuring when I went to that (World Juniors) and just saw how everything worked. It was cool because you were in the same media room as all the big guys from TSN, like Bob Mckenzie, and everyone was beside you so it was cool to see that. I mostly observed because I didn’t have a ton of work to do, unlike some people who had daily assignments, I just had the freelance stuff so, a lot of it I used as an opportunity to see behind the scenes of how it all works. That freelance stuff might have played a bit of role in me getting into Ryerson in the first place, but The Xaverian Weekly stuff helped, The Students Union stuff helped, it was kind of all a part of the journey.
BA: Cool. It must have been awesome to see Bob McKenzie!
GC: Yes! It was! Actually, when I moved to Toronto and Ryerson, that was actually my first journalism job, at TSN. So it was cool, a few years after my first experience, I was working and I had a low level job at the time and working in the ‘pit’ behind the bankers and SportsCentre, so it was cool to go from one extreme three years before it, to actually working for TSN.
BA: How important do you think it is to have alumni reaching levels, like you are, in the sports industry and how can it potentially impact future Xaverians?
GC: Yes, it is interesting. I think one of the cool things is that, well StFX is not known as a journalism school and there was not any journalism classes when I was there, so it was definitely a weird route to take for me to get to where I am, but it certainly goes to show that well, my time at StFX was four of the most fun years I have ever had as it was a lot of what I turned into and because of that school, my experiences with The Xaverian Weekly and the Students Union, and with StFX, you can do so many things hands-on, compared to a much bigger school or city, where you do not get the same opportunities. So, to get exposed to that early on and having so many responsibilities is a big reason. I have no regrets. It ended up costing me a bit more money to do the two-degree route, instead of going into it (journalism) right out of high school so I have no regrets at all. Even people who go to StFX for something that they aren’t exactly planning to do. Like I took Human Kinetics but I knew all along that I wasn’t going to do anything with that program, but the lifestyle and through experiencing so many different things at StFX, I learned more doing that kind of stuff and the journalism jobs after then I did at Ryerson. When anybody asks me where I went to school, I always say StFX. I never really mention Ryerson unless I am talking to a journalist who might know about their program. StFX is always the one that I refer back to.
BA: It is obviously tough, being in a small school, and not located near any professional sports teams, as you went to Ryerson to continue your education, but how tough was it for you to break into the industry?
GC: I did get some lucky breaks along the way. That is kind of how you have to do it to a certain extent. My resume from the StFX days really helped me get some of the opportunities because I did have a lot of experience at that point. Then, Ryerson played a role as initially I got in to TSN through an internship with the school, and then after my internship was over in three months that’s when they kept me on after that and I got hired by them. That was my first journalism job. This industry obviously, especially in the last number of years has taken a pretty big hit. It is even harder now than when I broke in. I broke in just before some of the walls started crashing down a little bit, in terms of job opportunities. For me, I always knew Toronto, for me I am a Maritimer and I always try to go back as much as I can but I always figured that Toronto would always be where I would end up. Because back home, obviously, unless you are covering the university sports or the Quebec Major Junior League (QMJHL) there is not many things to cover out there. Toronto were the teams I grew up watching and rooting for and I always figured that to do what I wanted to do would always have to be here (in Toronto). Especially because I was not much of a hockey guy as I wanted to do Raptors or Blue Jays. I didn’t really want to do Calgary Flames or something like that so that really narrowed it down kind of in terms of knowing where I would end up being. Toronto is where so many of those opportunities are, and it’s the mecca of Canada for all the sports.
BA: What was your most exciting moment during your years as a Blue Jays reporter?
GC: Well, you start looking at it a bit differently when you are a reporter for sure. I used to be a big Jays fan and I certainly would not describe myself as a fan anymore as you get to know things on a different level and see behind the curtain. You get to know all of the players and what they are really like as well as the front office and executives. You get to see that part of it and you view things differently, but even so I would still say the game in 2015 with Jose Bautista, the bat flip game (Game 5 ALDS) was still the most incredible thing that I have been around. I just finished my eighth season doing Jays full time and I did a couple seasons part time before that but that was by far the craziest event for sure. For one, to be there for the first playoff series since 1993 and the environment was pretty cool, but the events leading up to the home run was pretty incredible. Russell Martin threw a ball off of a player’s bat minutes before and there was chaos in the building and everyone was upset with the umpires, and for a while there I thought there was no way we were getting out of there without some sort of riot breaking out. Then five/ten minutes later it got even crazier when Bautista hit his home run. So, just this frantic style, game and atmosphere and just trying to come up with a game story and multiple articles after that was pretty crazy. There was even a moment in the press box where pretty much every reporter was trying to figure out what was going on. There was just so much confusion during that inning and people were throwing stuff on the field, it was crazy! So, just to be there for that was crazy, even though it does not really matter to me anymore whether or not the Jays win or lose, you like to see good baseball, but I don’t care certainly not as much as I did when I was a fan. So it wasn’t the winning part of it, it was the whole playoffs in general where you couldn’t beat that atmosphere.
BA: Do you have any other plans within the industry, or do you like where you are at right now?
GC: I don’t know! That is a big question to be honest with you. I got this opportunity a lot younger than most people do and I am pretty grateful for that it does make me think: What’s next? A lot of times when these guys get into these beat jobs where you are covering a team full time, and a lot of the ones I have worked beside have been doing it for 35 years. It can be that this is what they do for the rest of their life. On one hand I could see myself doing that as I still really enjoy it, but on the other hand, I don’t know if 15 years from now, or even 10, if I would want to do as much travelling as I do now. There might be something that comes after this but I don’t really know what it is, as to be honest with you my entire life leading up to Toronto has been trying to get a job like this, and I was twenty seven when I got hired by MLB, and I have been with them ever since so we will see how it plays out!
What’s the situation with young people and November 11?
Remembrance Day is so engrained in Canadian culture that it runs the risk of becoming routine. While the core spirit of the holiday – remembering veterans and reflecting on Canada’s involvement in wars – remains, is Remembrance Day more of a symbol than an impactful, solemn event as it is intended to be?
Being in a history class, I decided to ask some of my classmates to write down anything they knew about the poppy – where it came from, what it represents, anything. I was curious to see if StFX students who take history classes at a 200+ level would know more than the basics. Among the 8 students I surveyed, there were a few common things mentioned. Seven of the eight surveyed mentioned the poem In Flanders Fields (with two mentioning the author’s name, John McCrae). Special mention of the First and Second World Wars was the second most common thing to mention, with six students referencing it. Besides these two, everything else was pretty scattered. Many answers were unique; referencing the Canadian Legion, the commonwealth, generic “battlefields” and “remembering the past”, and only two students had things to say about the history of the poppy itself. This information was exclusively tied to the evolution of the poppy’s appearance, and the do’s and don’ts of how poppies should be worn.
Honestly, this was about what I expected. In Flanders Fields is such a ubiquitous part of Remembrance Day culture. Not only is it common to memorize the poem in grade school, but it’s also used in song form during some Remembrance Day ceremonies. Knowing about the World Wars should also be a given. Besides this, student answers about the poppy varied.
If a class of mostly history students had overwhelmingly basic offhand knowledge about poppies and November 11th in general, does that mean students who aren’t engaging with history (especially Canadian history) would be even less aware? It’s hard to tell. I’m not sure if spouting ‘fun facts’ about a holiday based around remembering war is all that important.
Something that makes Canada’s Remembrance Day unique is the speed in which it all got started. Founded as a special day in 1921, Canadians were among the first to engage with war in a way that involved living memory. We were rapidly involved in setting up memorials and remembrance ceremonies. Is there a bias against updating anything to do with Remembrance Day today? I’d say that the negative reaction is there. The White Poppy has routinely been a controversial idea; created to be a symbol of pacifism, the White Poppy often incites negative reaction from people who automatically assume that this alternative is meant to replace the Red Poppy. While some people do use this poppy, it looks like it won’t become mainstream for a long time, if ever.
Poppies, In Flanders Fields, the Legion, and ceremonies are the common traits of November 11th, but beyond all of this, isn’t the emotional reaction you get from this holiday the thing that’s the most important? A lot of people have ties to veterans, whether they knew their veteran relatives or not. Taking off the “world war” lens, we have so many other war-related things to be including in our cultural memory. The Korean war, the Gulf war, the Afghanistan War, and Canada’s involvement in peacekeeping missions are certainly included in Veteran’s Affairs Canada’s official Remembrance Day information. I believe that among the general public, the focus is overwhelmingly on WWI/WWII. It’s not bad by any means to focus on these catastrophic events in world history, but with more and more veterans from the world wars passing away, maybe a heightened focus on Canada’s modern and
ongoing military engagements would be beneficial. Bringing awareness to younger people who might not have any living relative who interacted with “wartime Canada” in the WWI/WWII sense could create further inclusion for those currently serving in the Forces and perhaps revitalize the ceremonies and bring forth the concept of living remembrance.
Play by Mary Zimmerman featuring StFX students starts November 7
Something magical is happening on the Bauer Theatre stage. The popular venue for live theatre has been home to several hundred different plays, set designs, and theatrical elements over the years, but staging a play set entirely in water is an exciting first!
In November, Theatre Antigonish will open its 44th season with the Tony-award winning play Metamorphoses, by Mary Zimmerman. This play is a spellbinding adaptation of the classic myths of Ovid. It is storytelling at its best, with a series of short stories told in and around a shallow pool of water on stage. With its evocative images, visual exuberance, and exquisite costumes, this play is a clever juxtaposition of the ancient and contemporary as it explores the theme of transformation. And since the entire play is set in water, audience members will even have a chance to catch a fun splash or two, if they choose to sit up close to the stage!
Metamorphoses begins with a pay-what-you-can preview on Wednesday, November 7, and opening night on Thursday, November 8. Performances will take place November 7-10, and November 17-18, at the Bauer Theatre, located on the campus of StFX University. The show begins at 7:30pm and doors open at 7pm. The play is directed by Theatre Antigonish’s Artistic Director Andrea Boyd, with set and lighting design by Ian Pygott and costume design by Martha Palmer. The stage manager for the show is Ashley Pettipas. The cast includes a large group 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. The prospect of performing a play in water poses unique challenges for all aspects of the show – set design, costumes, direction, acting, backstage work, audience seating, climate control – but it also brings excitement, exuberance, and the joy of creative discovery as the cast and creative team work through rehearsals.
Boyd says “I am so excited to direct this play. The stories will provoke laughter, tears, grief and joy. It will surprise us and draw us in. The actors are all amazing, and the creative team is working wonders to bring the play to life. It is a beautiful play with stunning visuals. And who doesn’t enjoy playing in water?”.
Advance tickets for Metamorphoses are on sale now – online at www.theatreantigonish.com or by phone at (902) 867-3333. Tickets are $15 regular, $12 seniors, and $10 students. Season passes are also on sale, providing a saving of up to 30% on all five shows for the season.
Now entering its 44th year, Theatre Antigonish is a professionally-led community theatre organization, offering high quality productions at the Bauer Theatre during the fall and winter months. As a non-profit organization, Theatre Antigonish brings together StFX students and members of the local community to work together on all aspects of the plays, including acting, designing, set-building, sound and light, and promotions. For more information, contact email@example.com, call (902) 867-3333, or visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/TheatreAntigonish.
Name: Nicole Zambrano.
Year of Study/Program: First year Bachelor of Art in Political Science.
Where are you from? Guayaquil, Ecuador.
The first play that you’ve ever been in? Metamorphoses will be my first play!
Name: Michael Gillis.
Year of Study/Program: Second Year, English Major.
Where are you from? Georgetown, Ontario.
The first that that you’ve been in? Goodnight Desdemona Good morning Juliet, a Shakespeare parody.
Name: Devon Side Walker.
Year of Study/Program: Third Year Business, Management advanced major.
Where are you from? Grande Prairie, Alberta.
The first play that you’ve ever been in? First play I was in was at Theatre Antigonish: Eurydice.
First play ever: a Christmas play in the 8th grade.
Name: Tyler Kingston.
Year of Study/Program: Second year, Nursing.
Where are you from? Miramichi, New Brunswick.
The first play that you’ve ever been in? Snow White and the 7 dwarfs.
Name: Salome Barker.
Year of Study/Program: Fourth year, Women and Gender Studies.
Where are you from? Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The first play that you’ve ever been in? The Nutcracker.
Name: Madison Kendall.
Year of Study/Program: Second Year, Arts Program.
Where are you from? New York City, USA.
The first play that you’ve ever been in? Solidea Island.
People gather in Bloomfield Centre for a celebration of culture
First Nations students’ share their stories
My name is Devann Marie Sylvester and I am a Mi’kmaq student here at StFX. I come from the Membertou First Nation community in Cape Breton, NS. I am 25 years old and a proud student-parent of my 3 year old son Denver Sylvester. I went to school in both Cape Breton and Truro, NS and graduated high school at Cobequid Educational Centre. In 2017 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at StFX, and now I am currently in the Bachelor of Education program and will be graduating this upcoming May 2019 in the elementary stream. After graduation I plan to return to my hometown to teach our younger generations.
My name is Tasha McKenzie, I am from Indian Brook, Nova Scotia and lived my whole life on the reservation until August of 2013 when I started here at StFX. I am in my last year of my Bachelor of Arts degree with hopes to get into the Bachelor of Education program after I graduate. I aspire to teach the true Canadian history including my Indigenous ancestors. I have spent three of my years here playing on the X-women rugby team, though I had to take a step back to focus on my education they are still my family. In my grade 12 year at Hants East Rural High School, which is about a 15-minute drive away from my home community, I was recruited by the rugby coach here at StFX, along with other universities. I finally decided on staying in province and moved to this small town of Antigonish, instantly falling in love - I felt right at home here. Not a day goes by that I regret choosing StFX! I am proud to be a Mi’kmaq women on campus. staying in province and moved to this small town of Antigonish, instantly falling in love - I felt right at home here. Not a day goes by that I regret choosing StFX! I am proud to be a Mi’kmaq women on campus.
Lend a helping hand to one of StFX's finest organizations
Are you interested in deepening your understanding of issues that impact local Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities? Are you seeking ways to combat inequity and injustice of systemic racism in real and significant ways? Would you like to build friendships with neighbouring community members, youth leaders and peers? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, X-Project is the place for you to volunteer.
So, what exactly is X-Project? Well, it all began in 1965 when Joe Webb, a recent StFX graduate, was given the position of teaching principal in the Lincolnville school. At the time, Lincolnville, a historic Black loyalist community, faced many inequities along with considerable racism in the surrounding areas that meant that job opportunities, education, and support systems were limited. During his time as principal, Joe noticed that his students were having difficulty completing their homework. He was determined to find some way to help them out. He called his friend Rollie Chiasson to discuss the issue, and realized that many of his friends who were still in university might be able to come out and help some of his students. He also spoke with community members to discuss how to best go forward with this idea. The students he contacted posted a sign just outside of meal hall calling for volunteers willing to drive to the Lincolnville school and help out. Their hopes were that at least a couple of people would show up at the designated date and time. It was a pleasant surprise when 13 people showed up, enthusiastic and willing to help out.
Around the same time, Margie Boyle, Kay Cameron, and Joan Dillon were travelling to Lincolnville three times a week to teach a pottery class. They had been inspired to do this after the tragic passing of Giles Gaudry, an itinerant artist who had begun teaching pottery in the area as a way to give back to the community that welcomed him in. These women continued his legacy of teaching pottery with the help of Mother St. Phillip, Father Anthony, and men from the Third Order of St. Augustine’s. They not only taught pottery class, but as relationships with the community grew stronger, they helped to create Father Anthony’s ABC Band as well as the cubs and scouts programs. They eventually needed to recruit more volunteers and soon a group of about 30 people were coming down, along with members of the Sisters of St. Martha.
Though initially the group offering homework help and the group doing pottery stayed separate, eventually the two groups decided to merge so that transportation could be shared. Joan Dillon negotiated a bus deal with Dr. Remi Chiasson, Superintendent of schools who granted them the weekly use of a very large bus at a reasonable price and soon the whole group began traveling together. At the time there were approximately 98 children and about 30 families in Lincolnville. Though the two groups joined forces primarily to share transportation, they quickly began to share programming ideas and worked with students and adults to promote literacy, offer cubs and beavers, provided recreational programs, and more. In March of 1966, the group of volunteers sat down and wrote a constitution that formed the society now known as X-Project. The “X” in X-Project was actually chosen to represent the importance of operating as an “unknown factor”- that is, not asking for recognition or going into communities with a personal agenda, but rolling up your sleeves, listening and understanding community needs, and working alongside them with determination in a quiet manor. So, the core intentions of this group were quite simple; only go to the community if invited and welcomed, respect the wishes of the community and respond directly to the community’s requests.
Over the years X-Project quickly grew to include more communities and more members. The group began to organize many community building events including well-attended teach-ins that focused on Indigenous issues in 1968 and the impact of racism on African Nova Scotians in 1969. X-Project has held numerous Saturday programs, bowling days, swimming days, skating parties, youth leadership weekends, and literally thousands of nights in communities. In more recent years, X-Project has helped to bring some important keynote speakers to campus including Wab kinew in 2015, Senator Sinclair in 2016, Buffy Sainte-marie in 2017, and Desmond Cole in 2018, in keeping with their long tradition of discussing important ideas relating to equity and justice. Thousands of St.F.X. students have volunteered over the past 50+ years and hundreds of community members have been consistently involved since the beginning. What began as a small group of students committed to working alongside one local community to support children’s learning has grown into a phenomenal, strong family of students, alumni, youth, and community members all working together toward common goals.
Today, X-Project works with five African-Canadian and Mi’kmaw communities in the surrounding area; Paqtnkek, Pictou Landing, Antigonish, Sunnyville and Lincolnville. We continue to offer small group educational assistance, recreational and leadership programs for the youth in these communities. Each week a number of student volunteers board vans and buses and head out to the communities to work with the children in their homes or in community centers, helping with homework, playing educational games, doing activities and being a mentor. Also, approximately four times each term, youth from the communities are brought to the St.F.X. campus for recreational programs such as Sports days, Halloween and Christmas Parties, swimming, bowling, and skating. Each year we also work with the teens in the communities to provide youth leadership programs. This often involves several Saturday trips in to the university to meet as a group and participate in activities and workshops that help to develop leadership skills. The youth leaders also help to plan workshops and activities for their own communities and act as leaders for recreational programs and weekly educational assistance. Each March, the youth leaders come to St.F.X. to participate in the youth leadership weekend where they engage in activities and workshops that they have helped to plan throughout the year.
X-Project continues to be almost entirely run by volunteers and the success of X-Project rests solely on the interest, initiative, and commitment of students on this campus. Over the years it has become inexplicably clear that both the student volunteers and the community youth gain so much from being involved with X-Project. Volunteering with X-Project gives you the opportunity to learn about yourself and others, take breaks from the overwhelming university life, foster beautiful relationships, connect with communities in a meaningful way and work towards common goals of greater equity and justice.
We’re always looking for more volunteers to join the family! If this sounds like something you’d love to do then why not become part of the crew of students that heads out to communities weekly or helps out during the various planned events on campus? Perhaps you know all about X-Project already and are keen to take on a leadership role. You can still apply to be part of our Student Branch executive using this form https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=x6tGjAuWJEGJUBYosrGS-VaWTnL0S8xOvtUiLOfuj2BUMFlDR0M2N1JCODdDUlZRV0JaSlVHMVNOSS4u. Available volunteer positions include community coordinators, youth leadership coordinators, saturday program coordinators, transportation coordinator and office manager.
If you’d like to get involved or want some more information, just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com! We will also be society night on September 6th and you can join us for our volunteer orientation on September 20th! You can also find us on Facebook (fb.me/stfxproject), Instagram (@stfxproject), and Twitter (@stfxproject) to stay in the loop!