X-Project: The Beginning Years

 
 

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.

 

Ending the Stigma

 
 

Bell Let’s Talk Day sparks more conversation for the ninth year

After 2019’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell reported a record 145 442 699 interactions, translating into $7 272 134.95 in donations towards mental health initiatives across Canada. This will be the ninth year that Bell commits more money to mental health, and initiates more conversation to create a Canada that is stigma-free.

Stigma, according to the Oxford Dictionary is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” To be more general, stigma is a negative stereotype. With regards to mental health, the biggest barrier between those suffering from problems or illnesses and recovery is the stigma they face.

About one fifth of Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year, yet according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “despite how common it is, mental illness continues to be met with widespread stigma: in hospitals, workplaces, and schools; in rural and urban communities; even among close friends and families.”

Bell Canada notes the 5 simple ways to end the stigma and start a conversation. It is important to note mental health is an extremely complex matter that is unique to each and every person. Bell’s five points are aimed at ending stigma, and not intending to take authority on fixing mental illnesses. The five points are as follows:

Language Matters. Words make a difference. Worlds help, but they can also hurt. We must make a conscientious effort to use the right language with others. For example, one who suffers from a mental illness is not “crazy.”

Educate Yourself. This is extremely important. Mental health is a concept that continually gets researched and studied, and our understanding of it is constantly evolving. Having the right tools and knowing the right language makes a massive difference. Supporting those experiencing mental illnesses can also be ameliorated by knowing how to correctly speak and address their struggles.

Be Kind. Kindness is the most simple and effective way to make a difference in the world. Caring for others in gestures big and small can remind them of their worth and remind them that you are there for them. By offering to speak to someone over coffee, or simply passing a smile, you could unknowingly turn someone’s whole day around.

Listen and Ask. Mental illness is a very common form of human pain and suffering. Being a good listener and asking how you can help or simply being there for people you care about can be an essential step in their recovery.

Talk About It. Breaking the silence is everything Bell set out to do when it began the Bell Let’s Talk initiative. According to Bell’s statistics, two out of three people suffer in silence in fear of judgement, rejection, or burdening others. Being open to a conversation and sparking conversation helps to eliminate the stigma.

Here at StFX there are many events and groups that aim to end the stigma during Bell Let’s Talk and throughout the entire year. During the week of January 28 to February 1, StFX Athletics dedicated their home games to mental health awareness, with athletes sporting the BellLet’sTalk blue toques, and holding posters to support the conversation. The hashtag #oneteamformentalhealth was used prominently on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. The Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) was also present throughout the week, hosting events like a coffee house at local business, Tall & Small, Photo Booths at sporting events, and mindfulness and yoga sessions!

Residence Life also hosted a number of events throughout residences. On January 29, the Residence Life team also held a Health Promotions booth in the Student Union Building, where they distributed blue BellLet’sTalk Toques and other helpful resources.

On January 30, Flourish @ X, a program dedicated to students making the best of their university experience, promoted Bell Let’s Talk on its Facebook page, stating “Mental Health is something that should be nourished like physical health and no one should suffer in silence.”

In our small StFX and Antigonish communities, in our country we’re proud to call home, and across the world, mental health is something we must all be mindful of. Mental illness affects many, and eliminating the stigma will make a massive difference for everyone. Taking actions and making a difference, big or small, is what is needed to make progress.

 

The Meaning of X-Ring

 

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?

 
 

A Symbol of Unified Individualism

 

Thoughts on the meaning of X-Ring

When was the first time you heard about StFX? Who told you about this university? Well, chances are that person was a proud owner of an X-Ring. That individual is only one member of the Xaverian community, a proud and widespread network of alumni from our tiny university nestled here in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. But why is it that such a large community of people are united by one symbol, the simple yet elegant X-Ring? Why does it matter?

From the beginning of our time at StFX, we see the X-Ring everywhere and hear about it all the time. Every year the atmosphere on campus changes on December 3 as the graduating class celebrates receiving their X-Rings; you can feel the excitement in the air. While other universities may ridicule our ceremonies and fascination with a simple ring, it is from this excitement we feel every year on the feast of Saint Francis Xavier that justifies the meaning of the X-Ring. For me, the X-Ring represents the memories of my time at StFX. Through the highs and lows, the good and the bad, the ring reminds me of my experiences here and how I have grown from them. Who I was when I first stepped onto campus is entirely different from who I will be when I leave. As a student of StFX, I am fortunate to have an iconic memento to stand as a constant reminder of who I was, who I am, and who I will strive to be in the future. 

Have you ever been in a public place wearing StFX apparel, and someone approaches you only to start up a conversation about your studies, all because they wear an X-Ring on their finger? This bond with the Xaverian community of members both new and old lasts through generations and it is arguably one of the greatest assets that StFX has. No matter where we may be, meeting another bearer of an X-Ring is sure to spark a tantalizing, nostalgia-fuelled conversation about the incredible times once had on our beautiful campus. I have had many of these such encounters while out in my home community, from conversations with elderly ladies at Costco to a recent graduate of 2016, the connection between Xaverians is timeless. Through these conversations, the everlasting bond between fellow Xaverians grows and continues to attract new students to our university each year. My elementary school music teacher is a Xaverian, my high school hockey coach is a Xaverian, even my MLA is a Xaverian, and connections like these are not uncommon amongst the students who attend StFX. 

This of course all hinges on the social meaning that the X-Ring inevitably holds, especially as the Xaverian family becomes more widespread. It is the symbol of the StFX brand, and we as holders are its advertisers. Some may view this in a negative light, as corporate greed or as a means to support a societal structure that relies on students being pushed through universities all for accreditation. But while arguments could be made to support the negative, I choose to see things through a lens of positivity. The X-Ring shines bright as a representative of the best aspects of our university. From our amazing programs to our house cup hockey games, our Welcome Week and O Crew, Wing Nights and our outstanding varsity teams, it is through these amazing qualities and many more that the StFX experience is remembered so fondly for much of the Xaverian family.

The truth is, the X-Ring means something different to everyone. Your ring represents all the work you have put in to be able to wear your ring for the first time. All the tests, projects, readings, presentations and hard work, your StFX experience will be forever embodied by the golden X-Ring you can call your own. 

 
 

Note from the Co-Editor-in-Chief

 
 

Upcoming investigation into StFX’s handling of alleged sexual assault case

The Xaverian Weekly is aware of an alleged sexual assault that occured last November on StFX’s campus.

We are also aware of a recent news article written by Brett Bundale of the Canadian Press and subsequently published in Global News, Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail and Narcity.

This article makes specific claims centering around StFX’s administration and their handling of said sexual assault case.

We are currently in the process of interviewing requisite individuals, as well as investigating into why these decisions were made on the administrative level.

While we believe in giving everyone the right to due process, we also understand the controversy surrounding this case, and why students may feel betrayed by the administration.

It is important to note that we are independent and autonomous from the University and Students’ Union.

As the primary source of news for students on campus, we understand the responsibility we have in delivering honest, unbiased, well thought out articles. Our goal is to have our report on the matter in our fifth issue published October 25. The Xaverian Weekly stands in solidarity with the StFX community condemning sexual violence and harassment.

 

Construction Woes

 
 

The impact of revitalizing campus

Chances are, you’ve encountered one of the many construction projects on campus already. While it may not seem incredibly disruptive, the number of ongoing projects over the next few years are sure to have an impact on such a small campus.

Among the projects that the university is currently pursuing is the construction of the Mulroney Institute of Government, and the renovation of the Oland Centre and Nicholson Tower. The ambitious Xaverian Commons project also includes building the StFX Ceremonial Flag Plaza and the Centre for Health Innovation over the next couple of years. Despite the advantages to updating campus infrastructure, is it worth going through the chaos of construction?

One of the immediate impacts of all the ongoing construction projects is the amount of noise they produce. Unfortunately, the heavy machinery involved and the general process of creating a building means construction is rarely a quiet process. That noise can prove to be distracting for classes and offices surrounding the construction areas. Not to mention, the loud intermittent clangs from the construction areas don’t always inspire confidence in the final product or the safety of those areas.

Navigating around campus has become a constant guessing game while the construction is underway. Moving between classes now means figuring out how to efficiently get through closed roads and manoeuvre between upper and lower campus, among other things. The construction at StFX makes campus less accessible, an issue the university already struggles with.

Those who drive face difficulties during construction as well, including limited parking space. Already scarce parking spots are being enforced with parking passes for the second year in a row, adding another factor to keep track of for those commuting to campus. Furthermore, it’s more difficult to drive through campus with the ongoing construction projects, especially those blocking portions of the road in the middle of campus.

Photo: Phoebe Cseresnyes

Photo: Phoebe Cseresnyes

Construction is causing havoc in terms of class and office locations. Classrooms have been created in almost every building on campus, which are not always the most accommodating to technology or learning in general. Some faculty and staff offices have been moved twice over the last year, with another move to come when Nicholson Tower reopens, disrupting their capacity to get work done on campus.

The construction doesn’t come without financial costs. This is the first year that a $125 fee has been added on student accounts to fund the new Fitness Centre. The fee was subject to a referendum last year, and the expansion is a welcome project for the Oland Centre; on the other hand, this new fee will be paid over the next 10 years, which means current and future students will feel the impact on their bank accounts over their time studying at StFX.

Many senior and junior students won’t get to see the final product of the construction projects, even though they’ve funded part of them through tuition fees. It may be only eight more months until the Mulroney Institute opens for most people on campus, but not all. While there’s always the chance to see the changes by coming back for homecoming, it might make dealing with the effects of construction a bit more justifiable if upper year students got a glimpse of the final product before graduating.

Construction on campus causes many headaches, especially as students begin to settle into the routines of the academic year. Hopefully the inconveniences will be worth the investment the university is making into updating and beautifying campus; but until the projects are finished, it might be worthwhile to invest in a hard hat to get in the spirit of the challenges facing construction on campus.

 

Alumni Empowerment

 
 

StFX alumni in politics gives students a voice

One thing that StFX is best known for is its involved and passionate alumni community. For students just starting out on their undergrad journey, the idea of being a Xaverian beyond four years may seem too far away to worry about. However, our alumni community has the potential to represent more than just returning to campus for homecoming. Among StFX's alumni stories are those who have found success in Canadian politics. Politicians have a unique power that many government positions do not – they have the opportunities to not only launch positive change, but also act as a mediator for the people who want to.

A great example of this is Sean Fraser. He is a Liberal member of parliament representing the riding of Central Nova, and also an X grad. Very active on social media, Fraser's twitter gives off an approachable atmosphere and showcases his involvement in Central Nova Scotian communities. What does this mean for you? It means that you have someone in the know. Like most StFX alumni, Fraser is proud to be a part of the circle. Of course, writing to any member of parliament if you have concerns or ideas is fine, but the chances of having your thoughts listened to are far greater if you have something in common with the MP. An MP with a StFX background might also be aware of any university or township issues before someone even asks them about it, which is another advantage.

Beyond using alumni power as a voice, there is also the way in which StFX alumni can inspire others to go forward with their own career decisions. StFX publishes an Alumni News magazine twice annually. For Summer 2018, included was an article about women who graduated from StFX and how the university encouraged and empowered them to achieve success in whatever they wanted to do. Liberal Nova Scotia MP Bernadette Jordan became the first woman to represent the South Shore-St. Margaret's riding, and she says that StFX, “ignited [her] passion for federal politics.” By sharing her story to other members of the Xaverian community, she has shown that she is not simply here to represent her undergrad. Her accomplishments inspire women in the community, whether they be politically-inclined or otherwise, to reach their goals.

Photo: http://bjordan.liberal.ca/

Photo: http://bjordan.liberal.ca/


Furthermore, political alumni have another big way to contribute to StFX; donations and buildings! Most recently, The Mulroney Institute of Government has been built due to Brian Mulroney's generous donations to the school. This is another major power that X alumni involved in politics, or another wealthy profession harbour. Because not only does it allow them to give back to their school community, but it also brings a sense of pride to StFX for having so many alumni success stories. Having alumni that are able to donate their money and influence to the school also gives current students a sense of belonging; maybe in the future, current students will be able to donate just like so many of those before them.


The phrase 'small but powerful' is something that resonates with this school. Despite our size (population-wise and geographically), Xaverians have made waves. Of course, everyone knows about our most well-known politician (probably ever), former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, but there are other politicians active in all tiers of Canada's government right now who are doing good work...and they are wearing X rings! Aforementioned MP Sean Fraser is once again a great example, given his recent tweets promoting the Help the Helpers conference, right here in Antigonish. So if you're ever feeling like you want to make a change in your community, utilizing alumni connections is a powerful way to do so. 

 

A Word About The Bursary

 
 

My goodness has time ever flown by. It seems like just last week The Xav published an article introducing the Class of 2018 Student Refugee Bursary but with only a couple of weeks left in the school year, I figured it is time for an update and many thank yous.

We began our campaign in September with the goal of raising $50,000 to establish a bursary to help students who attend StFX and who were at one-time refugees. The goal was bold and seemed very ambitious from the start but thanks to the X-Ring Store, our Chancellor, UNIFOR, StFX for SAFE, StFX WUSC and students like you, we just might make it. To date, we have raised more than $21,000 and that number doesn’t even include Dr. Crocker’s offer to match all student contributions up to a maximum of $20,180 or the commitment that the X-Ring Store has made to donate all net proceeds from the year to our bursary. This means that our fund will grow from its current state, but we are far from guaranteed to reach our goal and any contribution would be so so appreciated.

I am so proud of our class for coming together and raising so much this year, and I would also like to recognize a few additional people and groups for working so hard over the year. Firstly, thanks to StFX for SAFE and StFX WUSC who have worked tirelessly doing coat-checks, bake sales and raffles to raise money. These students have donated their time to an incredible cause and for that I say a tremendous thank-you. Thanks to Drs. Susan Crocker and Kent MacDonald as well as everyone in StFX Advancement and the X-Ring Store for their encouragement, guidance, generosity, contributions and hard work. You know who you are and for your help I will always be grateful. Thanks to Majd Al Zhouri for performing his harrowing one-person, one-act play “To Eat an Almond” and shooting a video to raise funds and awareness. His story is incredible and he is even better. Thanks to Sylvia Phee for her help securing $2500 and $500 donations from UNIFOR national and local. An incredible union with a generous and socially conscious membership. Finally, thanks so much to Dr. Norine Verberg for all of her hard work and guidance throughout the year. Thank you thank you thank you thank you, you have all made a wonderful difference.

 

X-Sledge hockey tournament

 
 

 The Motor Activities with StFX (MAX) program hosted an X-Sledge hockey tournament on March 14 from 2-4pm on the KMC main ice.  The MAX program, run through the Department of Human Kinetics, holds a weekly recreational sledge hockey program that allows HKIN students and community members with and without disabilities to participate. The program allows participants to be physically active and improve their fitness while having the opportunity to play a sport they love. Human Kinetics students learn about how to adapt physical activity programming for various disabilities and apply their knowledge in community practice.

The MAX program designs events and activities based on feedback from the individual participants.  Last semester, the participants were asked what they want to see happen in the program.  The immediate response from the participants was that they would like to hold a competition where family and friends can come watch them play a game with peers without disabilities. Secondly participants stated that they want more than one practice per week with increased access to resources, coaches and training. We are trying to take steps towards these goals and we have had great collaborative support from both StFX and County Recreation, the Antigonish Bulldogs Minor Hockey Association as well as the wider community.

Danielle Pellerine was one of the first participants in the MAX sledge hockey program 12 years ago and is very excited to finally have the opportunity to compete in a tournament.  Danielle states “I really enjoy coming to the MAX Sledge Hockey Program every Wednesday.  It gives me an opportunity to get some exercise and I love hanging out with my teammates and the StFX Human Kinetic students.  You really get to know everyone and they become life-long friends.  I am happy we’re able to do this and bring more awareness to our program and the sport in general.”

Indeed, the tournament illustrated that designing an event for various ability levels may be challenging but possible with time and effort. The StFX campus is aiming to move forward with greater accessibility via external funding for the Oland Centre which may be used to support changes to the built environment and make it more inclusive for all users.  StFX Recreation has also sought to find ways to adapt programming to accommodate for everyone regardless of ability. Dr. Casey explains that ``people sometimes think accessibility is costly and beneficial for only a small minority. Yet if you design universally then you can actually provide benefits for all users. Human Kinetics students are engaging with the community to see how this works in practice.”

StFX students are also learning an important lesson, especially how to make inclusive physical activity work in practice and overcome the barriers associated with it. StFX X-Woman hockey players have been involved in the MAX sledge hockey program since it started in 2006.  Current X-woman players, Emma Winters and Sarah Johnson said that “being able to step up and coach for the program in honour of the alumni on the team is an incredible opportunity as being coaches for the program has been passed down.  It is great to be a part of a program that encourages inclusion and we feel privilege to offer the opportunity to participate to all individuals.  Through on and off ice training we have seen tremendous progression and endless potential in these athletes.  The athletes are given a chance to excel and we constantly see improvements in quality of life and participants working towards future goals."

As a student, volunteer and assistant to the MAX program myself, I am grateful to have the opportunity to directly impact the community. Being a part of the design process and participating in the MAX program allows me to bring evidence into practice and improve the health of vulnerable populations.

 

Don’t be Afraid of Feminism

 
 

 The Importance of Women and Gender Studies Courses at X

With women’s week having just ended here in Antigonish – and with all the different events and keynote talks that are going on this month – I was thinking a lot about how much my perspective on life and other women has changed since choosing to major in Women and Gender Studies.

I think, not to be completely biased, that the most influential courses a student can take in their undergraduate degree would have to be women and gender studies classes.

Yes, this is my major, so I obviously have a lot of wonderful things to say about this department, the professors, the courses and material that we learn in class. But there are so many other reasons as to why these courses are so fundamental in a young person’s learning.

Before you get tired of me rambling and decide to skip this article to read something else, please read a little bit of it; maybe it’ll even convince you to take a class in this area.

Before I even started taking courses in the WMGS department, I thought I had a relatively good understanding of feminism, issues of systematic oppression around the world and anything that was related to the equality/inequality of how humans are treated. Turns out I knew pretty much nothing.

In my first intro class with Dr. Lisa Pasolli, I got a bit of a taste of everything. The big thing that I learned from that class was intersectionality, which is something that everybody should be interested in.

Intersectionality is a concept used to analyze how all women throughout the world, whether they be Indigenous, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, trans, bi or a lesbian, are impacted by systems of oppression and how they differ from one another.

This concept opened my eyes to how differently women and men are treated as well as ways to tackle these systems of oppression and help our sisters, mothers, daughters, aunts, cousins and any woman that you can think of.

Now that I’m in my third year, a class that I’ve been taking – Critical Race and Sexuality in Canada with Dr. Rachel Hurst – in my opinion should maybe be mandatory for every student to take.

In the past three months of being in that class, I have learned more than I have in some in my year long courses (no shade). In this class we analyze Canada, we learn about the different systems of power within Canada and how it has had an impact on our own people: namely, indigenous peoples and black people. There are issues going on in Canada that frankly I was not aware of, and it is likely that many other students are not either.

Simply a few examples: the Japanese internment camps that happened in Canada during WWII, or the reality of how black people are treated like criminals in Canada, black men being carded in the streets of Toronto.

Most Canadians have a blanket over their eyes thinking that this country is a country of freedom, a land where no wrong can happen. That is so far from the truth. Yes, we do live in a country that when compared to other countries is doing a bit better, but when you look closely, we’ve still got a long way to go before we can claim to be the ‘best’ country in the world when it comes to equality and how we treat others.

If you’ve been avoiding taking a WMGS class because of how you see feminism portrayed in the media and you think that women are these men hating monsters, that’s not what it is. There are a lot of great advocates for feminism that are doing a great job, but there are also quite a few folks that are skewing the word feminism and making it only for them (white feminism) or using the word feminism without actually understanding it and standing up for feminist issues.

If you’re not interested in feminism because you think blah blah blah it’s only for women, a) you’re wrong, feminism is for everybody, and b) you should be taking more interest into women’s rights because, well… you’re a human, are you not?

Maybe you’ve been wanting to take a WMGS class, but you cannot find anything to fit your schedule or your program; that’s fair, it can be very limiting. This is why each program should have classes dedicated to pairing your degree with women and gender studies related course. I’m aware that that is another issue altogether, but it’s something worth looking into and fighting for.

Feminism is for everybody: it’s beautiful, it’s growing, and forever changing. The future of society relies on feminism.

So, don’t be scared. You know what, maybe be scared! Be nervous to not know about something, but then take that fear and push yourself a little further to educate yourself. You’re not only educating yourself, but you’ll then also be helping those around you who might not know as much, and you can take the time to educate them as well. Education is bliss!

 

What Does Feminism Mean to You in 2018?

 
 

StFX students discuss feminism in a post-Weinstein, #MeToo and #TimesUp world.

Feminism to me is that my future daughter(s) know their worth, and that they have the ability to be respected and achieve anything they want. Feminism to me is that my future son(s) know what respect is, and that they look up to women as leaders, heroes, great philosophers and thinkers. Feminism to me is finding a girlfriend or wife that independently achieves her aspirations. Feminism to me is taking paternity leave so that my wife can enjoy her career. It’s being able to go out and see women comfortable to dress how they choose and walk home alone without fear that they will be attacked because the outfit they wore. – Liam Hyland

Feminism in 2018 means inclusivity, intersectionality, and empathy. We need to be fierce and forceful in supporting all marginalized people. It is a must to listen and uplift voices of dissent, educate ourselves on how to be the best activists and allies we can and leave room for others to grow and learn through their own activist journey. - Jasmine Cormier

Feminism in 2018 is intersectional and inclusive. It means having difficult conversations, working in solidarity (while also understanding and validating diverse experiences/histories!), and working towards gender equality from a place of compassion and love. - Sydney Van De Wiel

Feminism to me is more than equality of the genders. Yes, it primarily encompasses the dismantling of the patriarchy and eradicating sexism. Yet further, it includes ridding the world of all forms of oppression. Feminism should be thinking about race, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, ability, age, religion, class and how individuals can be oppressed on these fronts. Feminists need to ensure that they are not just advancing gender equality but looking out for those who have historically been marginalized, at risk and kept down. - Hannah Moore 

In the past when someone has asked me, “What does feminism mean to you?” I often times have taken much longer to answer them than any other question I’ve been asked before. This isn’t because I am unsure of my answer, but rather I take a few seconds to ponder why the answer to this question has become so complex. I am now wondering exactly what the term feminism means to them and whether or not they are looking for me to tell them exactly what they want to hear, or if they’ll look at me funny when I tell them, “Feminism is advocating for women and their rights and ensuring that they are equal among all sexes.” To further elaborate on this brief and very concise definition of feminism, I want to explain to you what I believe feminism is not. Let’s think back to our times in middle school when it was ‘Track & Field Day’ and we were all getting ready for our races. Feminism is not women wishing to cut everyone out of the race just so they can come in first. It is simply women stating, that if you truly want to be considered the best at something, you’re going to have to compete against everyone, including women. Feminism is not women asking for a head start in the race, but rather for all of us to have our feet begin behind the same white line. Feminism is not asking for anybody to slow down, or wait for women to catch up. Although we do believe it's unfair when everyone is running the normal 100 metre relay, and women are running the 100 metre relay with the addition of hurdles. Lastly, feminism is not asking for anybody to pity women and give them something they don't deserve. Rather it is letting women know where they placed in the race instead of just handing them a participation ribbon. You see women are capable of doing everything that a man can do but those unnecessary hurdles that women face are a problem. No woman is incapable. Unfortunately, most women are deprived of the opportunity to prove this statement. Feminism to me isn’t hard to understand. It's looking at the world as if we were all in middle school and we are all running the same exact race. No funny business. That's it. – Rebecca Charnock

To me feminism is a mindset. Feminism is the idea of lifting the female gender up in order to enable and empower them to be able to do anything. It is helping to lift the restrictions society places on females, in all aspects of society. It is confronting the stereotypes of women in the media and changing them. It is enabling females in the workplace to be paid the same as their male counterparts and treated equally. It is about challenging sexual harassment in workplace and the culture that allows these transgressions to thrive. It is advocating for women’s rights in all aspects of life: from education and employment to sexual health and medical care. It is about teaching girls from day one that they deserve respect no matter what, and they should fight for it. It is about fighting for those who suffered before us to get women’s rights to where they are today and continuing their fight. To me, feminism is more than a social movement, it is a mindset that females are equally as important as men and it is fighting for what women deserve. – Shannon Hundt