“Human”

 
 

An interview with Natalie Doumkos

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: www.doumkos.com

Photo: www.doumkos.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Under 9000

 
 

Spotlighting some artists that’re <9000 on Spotify

Pet Library

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

Fox Wound

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

Cultdreams

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

Coast to Coast

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

Palm Reader

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

Palm Reader

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

Fluxion

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

Modern Rituals

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

 

Canadian Accent Mosaic

 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Teresa Young Interview

 
 

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

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

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

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

***

YG: How did you get into art?

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

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

YG: What is the artist’s eye?

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

Photo: teresayoungartist.ca/digital-paintings

Photo: teresayoungartist.ca/digital-paintings

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

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

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

YG: How so?

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

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

YG: That’s a powerful message.

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

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

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

YG: You’re well-travelled across Canada.

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

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

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

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

YG: Are you familiar with petroglyphs?

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

YG: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

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

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

 

An Evening of Music with Scott Helman

 
 

Toronto-born artist rocks StFX and Atlantic provinces

On March 23, 2019 Scott Helman graced StFX with his presence and his music. I’ll be honest I was not that familiar with Helman’s music prior to learning that he was coming to StFX to perform.

Once I took the time to research who he was, I was able to recognize his songs “Bungalow” and “Hang-Ups,” you can hear these songs frequently being played on CBC radio 2 and might I add they are very catchy tunes that you can easily dance around in your kitchen. Besides having these two highly recognized songs, Helman has a full discography of music that is worth checking out.

Helman was born in Toronto and started playing music by the age of 10 and by 15 he had already signed with Warner Music Canada. Since then, Helman has gone on to release his first studio album, Hôtel de Ville, and other EP’s. Helman was greeted with much success upon the release of his music and has received countless Juno nominations for his music, and rightfully so. He’s also toured and opened for musicians such as, Vance Joy, Matthew Good, and Ria Mae.

Who doesn’t love a Canadian singer- songwriter am I right?

Even though I was not that familiar with Helman’s music I can honestly say I had some of the most fun that I’ve ever had at a concert. He’s such a talented musician and really knows how to put on a performance. Everything from the lights, the way he engaged with audience, his dancing around the stage and his personality really made the show come together.

It wasn’t a massive crowd in attendance, which in my opinion made the night better. You had all the room to dance, and it felt like more an intimate concert with Helman and his band, who are also very talented musicians and made the night one to remember. Everyone who was there was laughing, dancing, cheering and singing along, the whole room was filled with love.

I must give a huge shout out to the student’s union for putting off such a fun night. By bringing Canadian musicians to StFX it gives students a different option of what to do on the weekend instead of just having the pub to get your dancing quota filled for the week. It also gives you the opportunity to be exposed to new musicians! As well, since it was a wet/dry event it allowed for students who are not 19 to enjoy the night and not have to stay cooped up in residence all weekend.

I’m such a sucker for live music and supporting local (whether that being your own community or in a wider Canadian context) musicians. Even if you are not that familiar with an artist’s work whether that being music, visual arts, or theatre, check out their work and support them! It’s your support that allows for artists to keep doing what they love to continue to grow. 

I hardly knew Helman’s music and I had an absolute blast at his show. Step out of your comfort zone and explore the arts!

Cheers Scott Helman, you sure know how to pull off a show.

 

Singer, Writer, and Actor Buffy Sainte-Marie Honoured

 
 

Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame inducts Buffy

On April 1, 2019 Canadian singer, songwriter, social activist, and educator, Buffy Sainte-Marie will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, a non-profit organization whose goal is to “honour and celebrate songwriters” born in Canada and has done so since 1998. Notable inductees already include Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Rush. Technically, this is not Sainte-Marie’s first recognition by the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, her song, “Universal Soldier,” was inducted in 2005. The song, written in 1963, is notable for having been covered by The Highwaymen, Donovan, the Scruggs, and others. The song, about the individual responsibilities of people and soldiers to engage in war, was written after hearing rumours that American advisors were involved in combat. Although popular and widely covered, it’s certainly not Sainte-Marie’s only claim to musical fame. Other songs have also garnered some significant attention, “Until It’s Time for You to Go,” being covered by Elvis Presley, her “Up Where We Belong,” winning an Academy Award in 1982 for Best Original Song, and her album Illuminations being a pioneering work in electronic and synthesized music. So, if Buffy Sainte-Marie is so accomplished, what’s taken the Hall of Fame so long to recognize her? It’s not like singing and songwriting are her only talents.

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s career isn’t just defined by a 50-year span of making popular music, she’s also been an advocate for indigenous people through her music. Her songs, “Now That The Buffalo’s Gone,” and “My Country ’Tis of Thy People You’re Dying,” are about the mistreatment of indigenous people in North America. The outspokenness of Sainte-Marie led her to be allegedly blacklisted from radio stations in America, purportedly by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Despite the blacklisting, Sainte-Marie continued to experiment with music and technologies, using an early synthesizer to record her 1969 album, Illuminations, and again later using Apple II and Macintosh computers in the 80s to record songs and collaborate with her producer over an early version of the Internet and to experiment with digital visual art. She also performed at the Kennedy Space Centre in honour of John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut, in 2002.

In the 1970s, Sainte-Marie was offered time to appear on Sesame Street. At First she declined, but reconsidered when realizing the lack of Native American representation on television. Initially slotted as a one-time guest to do a segment about the alphabet, Sainte-Marie turned her appearance into a five-year regular occurrence hoping to let children know that Indigenous people still existed and weren’t something from history books or movies. Sainte-Marie’s appearance on Sesame Street is also notable for the first time a breastfeeding was ever aired on television, when she breastfed her son, Cody, during an episode. Initially worried that her recent pregnancy would derail her appearance on the show, instead she devised a way to incorporate the pregnancy and educate children and viewers at the same time, revolutionary not just for women and TV audiences, but also for indigenous women across North America who still lived with the stigma that they were incapable parents (a pretense used against many indigenous women who lost children to residential schools and the Sixties Scoop). After her time on Sesame Street as a regular came to an end in 1981, Sainte-Marie continued to create; writing and producing the music for Where the Spirit Lives, a film about children abducted into residential schools, voicing a character in a made-for-TV movie, and appearing in the film The Broken Chain featuring the story of Iroquois warrior Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant).

Sainte-Marie has continued to record music, with only a sixteen year break from 1976 to 1992, into the present day. Her last album, Medicine Songs, was recorded recently in 2017. She has amassed several very influential and affective albums, despite infrequently breaking through to the top 100. Perhaps, this explains why Sainte-Marie’s song was inducted into the Hall of Fame before she herself was. It wasn’t an oversight, or lack of notability, Sainte-Marie’s contributions to the cultural milieu of this nature has been recognized many times; from a French award for Best International Artist in 1993, to a Gemini Award for her live performance of “Up Where We Belong,” to the appointment of Officer of the Order of Canada, and a 2009 Juno Award for Aboriginal Recording of the Year for Running for the Drum, and a Polaris Prize in 2015 for Power in the Blood, Buffy Sainte-Marie has not lead a quiet life and it almost goes without saying that her award for her talents in songwriting will be long overdue when she is inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame this upcoming Monday. Congratulations, Buffy, you’ve earned it.

 

To Members of the Xaverian Community

 
 

StFX president Kent MacDonald announces that he will leave position after five-year term

StFX is a place I consider home. My parents walked this campus in the 1950s. I met my wife, Mary-Ellen, here in the 1980s, and all four of our children have had the privilege of attending StFX over the past decade. In 2014, then Board Chair, Mr. Mark Wallace and the Board of Governors offered me a five-year contract, and the honour of returning to my alma mater as its 18th president, something I can only define as my dream job.

Over the past five years, I have been fortunate to work alongside many committed colleagues while serving an incredibly dedicated volunteer Board of Governors. Together, we have significantly advanced the academic mission of this wonderful institution in a relatively short period of time. I am very proud to have been president during a time when we launched new and exciting academic programs -- the lifeblood of any educational institution -- and have raised millions of dollars to help underwrite critical university priorities.

There have been many personal highlights during my time as president; too many to mention all of them. I will forever carry with me the experience of witnessing the first cohort of students to receive scholarships and bursaries from the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Fund. I was honoured to have helped our nursing faculty and staff move into the Elizabeth and Tom Rankin School of Nursing, and to work closely with donors and our student union to begin the creation of the Amelia and Lino Saputo Centre for Healthy Living for the benefit of our community. The opportunity to host our President’s Colloquium series in our residences opened our eyes to new opportunities to extend the academic experience into our residences, making them more than just places to sleep. Perhaps most importantly, after years of effort, we were able to secure a multi-million annual increase to our operating budget from the Province of Nova Scotia. This annual increase in funding is equivalent to a $100 million endowment, and has allowed us to balance our budget for the first time in many years. StFX is now on solid footing as it moves closer to its 175th anniversary.

However, my proudest achievement during my time at StFX was the creation of the Xaverian Fund, a $50 million endowment for StFX student scholarships and bursaries. Five years ago, that goal was unimaginable. Yet we dared ourselves to dream big. Today, we have almost achieved our goal. Many have given in support of our students, yet I hope more will continue to do so; access to StFX’s quality education and outstanding learning environment changes lives and communities.

The best news is that these milestones are just the beginning. The $110 million Xaverian Commons project is well underway. This project is the result of many generous donors and to each of them, I say thank you for supporting St. Francis Xavier University. This fall, the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall will officially open on campus, offering new classrooms, labs, offices and gathering places for our community. I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to publicly thank the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney ’59, for all of his contributions to this project – a magnificent addition to the post-secondary landscape in Canada, and a differentiator for StFX. The Xaverian Community will be forever grateful to Prime Minister Mulroney and his family. With all of these successes, over the past several months I have taken the time to reflect upon what it would mean if I were to commit to another multi-year term to serve our university. As many of you know, my area of research interest is presidential leadership. In this regard, I know how critical it is for a university president to be aware of when the time has come to pass the torch to the next leader. To that end, after many conversations with Mary-Ellen over the past several months, and many nights of deep personal reflection, I have concluded that this is exactly the right time for someone else to step forward and lead our university. Earlier this month I informed StFX Board of Governors Chair, Mike Boyd, that now is the right time for a new leader for our beloved university. This was perhaps the most difficult decision I have ever made, yet I believe it is the correct one to help propel St. Francis Xavier University into the next phase of growth. While we have collectively accomplished much over five years, I believe it is now time for a new president to build on our momentum, bringing innovation and fresh perspectives to the discussions. It has been an honour to serve the Board of Governors, the students, staff and faculty of my alma mater. I want to thank all members of the Xaverian community for your kindness and support over the past five years. I am grateful to the members of the university executive, president’s council and leadership council. It was never lost on me that you are the ones who continue to lead the university forward. I could not have worked with a more professional and competent group of colleagues. To the faculty who proudly support StFX and who put the university first in all they do, I offer a most sincere thanks. Throughout my time at StFX I have continuously shared many stories of your deep commitment to our students and to your professional practice. I have always admired how you are able to remain active researchers, ensuring our students learn new knowledge and perspectives, while balancing busy teaching and service schedules. To our incredibly dedicated staff, I am humbled by your commitment to our students. Your dedication to the Xaverian experience is simply unmatched. In the years ahead, I will think back fondly of your continuous efforts to go beyond the call of duty in support of our students. You are the bedrock of the university and I admire you greatly.

To our students, you are an incredible lot. You are academically-focused and sociallyengaged; exactly what I believe society needs in a university graduate. As our current students, you represent the same values of the thousands who have come before you, in that you think beyond yourselves and look outward on our community. Over my time at StFX, I have witnessed your commitment to making a difference in the world. I welcomed the opportunity to shake your hand on your first day on campus. To the graduating class, I look forward to shaking it once more at graduation and welcoming you into the alumni family. Speaking of alumni, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to meet thousands of you during my time at StFX. As I leave the presidency, I am reminded that StFX relies on all of us to attract the best students and to help provide resources to the university to support our faculty and staff. Please continue to give back to the university whether it be your time, talent or treasure. I am forever grateful for the unwavering support and wise counsel of the Hon. Frank McKenna, ‘70 and also, of our Chancellor, John Peacock ‘63. I will miss working closely with John and his wife Adrienne ‘63, yet I know the university is in wonderful hands under his leadership and generosity. StFX is a historic and humble university. Its foundation was built by the priests and nuns who led us in our early days. Over the years, those dedicated individuals were joined by lay faculty and staff who continued to reflect the 2000-year-old Catholic intellectual tradition in the classroom, across the campus and through the community. Today, StFX is a modern university that continues to instill the same values as those who have come before us; a belief in the value of the liberal arts tradition, a commitment to inclusion, service to others and the development of reflective, discerning students. I want to recognize Bishop Brian Dunn, Vicar of the Founder, and thank him for his commitment to support StFX in a time of tremendous change. Finally, I wish to specifically thank our current Board Chair, my friend and colleague, Mr. Mike Boyd ‘85. Mike is one of the country’s most respected financial leaders. His leadership and guidance have provided a tremendous resource to me during my tenure and his counsel over the past several weeks are deeply appreciated. I have made this decision to leave StFX as president with a sense of pride, knowing I have done my very best to serve my alma mater to the best of my abilities. I look forward to exploring new challenges in the future, but for now there is much work to finish before my departure this summer. Today, my message is a simple one. I want to say thank you to the entire Xaverian community. 

Hail and Health, 

Kent MacDonald ‘86 President and Vice Chancellor

 

Nic Latulippe Interview

 
 

“Canadiana” exposition at the Art Gallery

March 2019 stands as a historic month for the StFX Bloomfield Gallery as it saw its first two student artists host the gallery. From March 4th-14th the gallery featured “Canadiana” by Nic Latulippe, a third year Politics, Ethics and Law student. Immediately following Latulippe’s exhibit, a second student artist showcased her art in “Human” by Natalie Doumkos. I had the opportunity to sit down to interview each of these talented artists to ask them about their journey’s leading up to their gallery features. This is the first of a two part piece delving deeper into the minds of the two trailblazing artists who have opened the doors for other students to host their own gallery in the future. 

Latulippe started experimenting with photography around the age of 11-12 years old when his father bought him a disposable camera when on vacation in Hawaii. At first photography was mostly a hobby Latulippe  had when on vacation, but slowly he began to take more photos and appreciate the art of photography. Prior to his family going on vacation in India, Latulippe had saved up the money to purchase his first digital camera which allowed him to shoot more consistently.

Creating is an essential part of Latulippe’s life and he is an advocate for others to pursue art as well. As far as photography goes, Latulippe  writes that “each image tells a story and in combination creates associations” in his accompanying written component to his gallery. Latulippe also experiments with many other forms of art to inspire his creativity and work with photography, he encourages anyone to experiment with multiple forms of art and to always think creatively.

Along with photography, Latulippe plays a plethora of musical instruments including acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and both soprano and tenor saxophone. Latulippe also has dabbled in painting and interestingly has helped friends back home modify their cars, which is its own form of art. He also frequently watches movies and listens to countless hours of music to inspire his creativity as well as routinely proving his superb sense of fashion in his day to day outfits. Each form of art Latulippe creates and consumes inspires his creative endeavours in his practice of photography.

Latulippe takes great pride in his work, and it shows when he detailed to me all the work that went in to making “Canadiana” a reality. Of course the process began in the years of travelling and taking the photos featured in the gallery. Then it came to narrowing down which photos represented Latulippe’s quintessential vision of Canada, editing them to his precise specifications, and designing the floor plan for the gallery (of which he made 20 versions). From his Instagram account Latulippe posted videos in which he was personally washing the walls and sweeping the floors prior to the gallery’s opening, showing his true dedication to detail. To get the prints of his photos made, Latulippe reached out to a total of 8 different suppliers and ended up going significantly in debt to get the prints. In fact, on the day of the opening celebration for his gallery, Latulippe  met with members of the Students’ Union to pitch for them to cover the costs of the prints. Every detail of the gallery had to be perfect for Latulippe, everything from the height of the prints on the walls, the spaces between them, the paper used to print the accompanying guide, and the 100+ promotional posters placed around campus which were designed for others to take after the exhibit as a piece of memorabilia. On the opening night, Latulippe had created a playlist of songs that inspired him on his journey in creating the art that adorned the walls of the gallery as well as having an in house bar for students to enjoy a drink with friends while enjoying the artwork and atmosphere of the exhibit. Latulippe had two goals with his work done to host the gallery, firstly the opportunity to share his work in a formal setting for all students to enjoy, and secondly to pave the way for other creators to do the same in the future. Setting a precedent for other student artists and creators to showcase their work on campus is arguably Latulippe’s greatest motivator for “Canadiana.” In fact, Latulippe is currently working with the Students’ Union to develop a program so that other students may have a more streamlined process to host their own galleries in the future.

Having worked on his photography talents for many years, the StFX Gallery was not the first time Latulippe has had his work featured publicly outside of his social media accounts and website. At age 16, Latulippe had a selection of three of his shots featured at the Whyte Museum in Banff. The gallery director was so impressed by Latulippe’s work that he had chosen his photo to be the cover shot for the gallery. Being the cover feature for the Whyte Museum stood out as the highlight for Latulippe in his career as a photographer thus far. This moment made him realize that he had the talent to pursue photography further and develop his creative skills. Being the cover feature for the Whyte Museum stood out as the highlight for Latulippe in his career as a photographer thus far. This moment made him realize that he had the talent to pursue photography further and develop his creative skills 

As always, an artist creates for himself first, and for Latulippe this is certainly true. His photographs are his main creative outlet to share the stories he sees and tell their narrative. Latulippe is particularly interested in revealing the unseen, for “Canadiana” this included the path less travelled across the country and all the secrets Latulippe could unearth behind the lens. A potential career as a freelance photo journalist in the Middle East is a possibility for Latulippe in the future as he believes there is so much potential to be shown in that region. A dream job for Latulippe would be to document the life of one of his favourite music artists, some notable artists are Brock Hampton or Frank Ocean.

The theme of “Canadiana” represents the landscapes of Canada. As someone who has driven across the country five times, Latulippe aims to present Canada in its purest form with the experiences he has captured in his photos. Latulippe appreciates all forms of photography and videography as he experiments with many different styles of photography including portraits, landscapes, astro, sports, and his personal favourite being film which is raw, untouched, and authentic.

Latulippe believes that there is no “perfect shot,” he works with his environment and adapts to what is around him to find the subjects for his shots. Having the contrast of west coast and east coast, Latulippe has the opportunity to constantly changes with his environment in search for his next picture perfect moment.

“Learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortable” says Latulippe, pushing the boundaries of creativity is often where the best shots are born. He also recommends using other forms of art to inspire your main practice. Latulippe warns aspiring creators, “don’t let social media dictate your arts worth,” likes and shares are not a true measure of an artist’s ability and talent. Lastly, Latulippe urges artists that “it’s important to create opportunities for yourself.”

“Canadiana was season one, get ready for season two,”    Latulippe affirmed. 

 

Learning Lodge: Honouring Indigenous Women

 
 

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

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

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

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

Photo: Yanik Gallie

Photo: Yanik Gallie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Antigonish Craft Beer Festival 2019

 
 

Gathering of Atlantic brewers

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

Confirmed brewers to date include:

The Townhouse - Antigonish

Half Cocked - Antigonish

Propeller Brewing - Halifax

9 Zero 2 - Antigonish

Big Spruce - Nyanza

Meander River - Newport

Maybee - Fredericton

Garrison Brewing - Halifax

Sober Island - Sheet Harbour

Upstreet - Dartmouth

Tatamagouche Brewing Co. – Tatamagouche

Off Track Brewing - Dartmouth

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Festival Antigonish

Photo: Festival Antigonish

 

This Is What A Feminist Looks Like

Looking back on International Women’s Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Managing the Mundanity of March

 
 

Tips and tricks on combatting the lethargy before exam season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Villages”

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

Some parents will tell you

it takes a village to raise a child. 

To teach her how to say please 

and thank you

how to apologize when

she’s done something wrong

and mean it

how to apologize when she hasn’t 

and sound like she means it.

They’ll tell you it takes a village 

to teach her how to add.

One plus one is two,

two plus two is four,

Girl plus life is beautiful,

and don’t you ever forget that.

They’ll tell you it takes a village 

to teach her to subtract  —

the bad from a good day, 

herself from a bad day,

the lies from the things 

they will try and tell her.

It takes a village to raise a child 

they say.

To teach her that good things 

come in threes,

but not to believe in superstitions 

and that her thoughts

are only worth a penny

if she doesn’t market them for more.

To teach her that the sky is blue, 

except sometimes it’s not  — 

and maybe not knowing is okay 

but she’ll ask anyway,

because it takes a village

to raise a child who asks questions, 

just like it takes a village

to raise a child who won’t.

But sometimes,

a village will fall apart  —

rooftops turning to dust

as walls fall down around her

and so sometimes

she’ll have to build her own. 

She’ll build lopsided skyscrapers 

with no stairs

out of the lego bricks she’s saved, 

then fill them with women

who bend themselves into ladders 

to help each other up.

Or, she’ll build long, low houses

with no roofs

so that she can imagine she’s flying 

when she lies down to sleep each night.

She will collect people 

like postage stamps 

and fill her lego houses 

with the ones that stick.

The red house on the corner

will be for the first boy

to ever take her out for coffee.

Next door, her first best friend,

and in her village you will find teachers  — 

the good ones

who taught her how to love herself

and how to make 5’2” look tall  —

but also those who told her not to speak, 

that her voice wasn’t worthy  —

because it was through rebellion

that she learned to shout.

Some parents will tell you

it takes a village to raise a child, 

but sometimes

the village you’re given

isn’t the one that you need.

Visiting Tragedy

 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

International Women’s Week Events For March

 
 

Standing together: women organizing for justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reeny Smith: Nova Scotian Artist, World-Class Talent

 
 

The best I’ve seen in person, no question 

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

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

“Is that hers?”

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

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

“Oh yeah?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hit Scottish Musical Coming to Theatre Antigonish

 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Innocence and Experience

 
 

Collected Poems

“I to E”

When did I become afraid of acting differently?    

When did I want the attention you had?

When did my childhood freedom stain?

When did I change?

My voice changed from conformity to maturity.

Self serving and energetic, I was just dying loudly. 

Now I keep my peace.

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

Change.

Change did occur for me, 

from place I to E.

Yet, I’m still growing;

I’m living quietly on this journey.

“Living”

The beat of the soul thumping again and again.

Seeking to burst out of today’s oppression. 

The freedom song. 

The story breathes until the novel is shut. 

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

Still developing its plot line: intro, climax.

Lastly, resolution.

“The Bridge”

Between us is a gap

made by myself

forming a vast space between you                          and I.

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

closing that man-made hole.

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

                                                                                                  ment

                                                                                                            ally 

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

And that’s alright.

 

My Hair is Not Your Playground

 
 

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

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

an unwanted invasion on a Monday afternoon.

 

Not too long after, come the questions.

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

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

or even when I walked into our shared workspace.

 

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

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

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

and only more questions come.

 

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

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

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

“Where did all of your hair go today?”

 

I wish you knew your questions were exhausting.

That, although asked innocently (I presume), 

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

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

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

camouflage.

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

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

perhaps you would consider my peace before you spoke.

 

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

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

I too, have had my own questions about it.

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

patterns,

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

 

But this kinky mess is my kinky mess.

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

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

crown

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

its own standards of beauty.

It defies gravity and stands up for what it believes.

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

 

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

asking,

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

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

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