2018 StFXAUT Book Prize Awards

This article, written by StFXAUT Executive Assistant Susan MacKay, appears in the Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon.

The StFXAUT would like to congratulate the 2018 Book Prize Award recipients Corrina Degen (Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Development Studies) and Kelsey Fahie (Bachelor of Arts in Human Kinetics).

(from left to right) Dr. Mary Oxner, Kelsey Fahie, and Dr. Charlene Weaving (Human Kinetics)
Photo credit: Susan MacKay

Dr. Mary Oxner, Corrina Degen, and Dr. Susan Vincent (Anthropology)
Photo credit: Susan MacKay

Each student was presented with a cash award of $200 and Canada Reads 2018 “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline and “The Big Picture: The Antigonish Movement of Eastern Nova Scotia” by StFXAUT Member Dr. Santo Dodaro and Leonard Pluta.

The StFXAUT Book Prize is awarded at Spring Convocation to two graduating students who demonstrate a commitment to social justice advocacy and community development on campus or in the community. Please visit this page to learn more about the StFXAUT Book Prize Award.

Congratulations Corrina and Kelsey! We wish you the very best in your future endeavours!

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Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)’s Communications and Membership Engagement Workshop

This article, written by Philip Girvan, StFXAUT Communications Officer, appears in the Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon.

On May 10, 2018 two StFXAUT Communications Committee members, Susan MacKay, StFXAUT Executive Assistant and Philip Girvan, StFXAUT Communications Officer, attended the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)’s Communications and Membership Engagement Workshop.

The workshop, organized by the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), was held on the Mount Saint Vincent University campus. Other Faculty Associations (FA) present included the Faculty Union of Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (FUNSCAD), the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union (SMUFU), the Mount Saint Vincent University Faculty Association (MSVUFA), and the Cape Breton University Faculty Association (CBUFA).

The day began with a visioning exercise. Participants shared who they were, the history of their respective Faculty Association, its purpose and values, how FAs are perceived by membership (and others), and how this perception aligns or contrasts with how they would like it to be seen. Facilitators asked questions concerning the respective identities of the FAs, and who created this identity? Was it membership? If so, do they feel a sense of ownership towards it or is there an entity outside of the Union influencing this identity? This prompted a spirited discussion and segued into a conversation regarding issue-based campaigns, particularly the challenges of engaging membership in between bargaining years. (more…)

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Remembering Dr. Ann Sherman’s Legacy in the StFX Faculty of Education

This article, written by Joanne Tompkins, Faculty of Education, appears in the Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon.

Photo of Dr. Ann Sherman; photographer unknown

Dr. Ann Sherman joined the Faculty of Education in 1997, having spent almost 20 years in teaching and leadership roles in public education. Ann’s early teaching experiences were in a small First Nations community in Northern Alberta and this experience greatly influenced her sense of social justice in education. When Ann joined the Faculty of Education, StFX had just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mi’kmaw Chiefs of Nova Scotia in which the University committed itself to prepare teachers to teach in band operated and provincial schools in the province. Ann was an ardent supporter of many initiatives supporting Mi’kmaw education during this period. She played a lead role in the development of L’nui’sulti’nej -a biannual conference that brought together people working on Mi’kmaw language revitalization from around Atlantic Canada and this conference has subsequently played a major role in mobilizing support for Mi’kmaw language in schools and communities. Ann also helped facilitate the creation of the Mi’kmaw Language Foundation document to frame Mi’kmaw language curriculum in the province. Ann helped in the creation of two important committees on campus to support African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaw communities, both underrepresented and underserved in public education. These two committees were visionary and well ahead of their time. They helped to provide direction to the work the wider university needed to do to redress historical injustices.

On a day-to-day level Ann enjoyed working directly with Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian students to support their learning and to ensure they had the supports they needed to succeed in a welcoming environment. She made sure that students felt a sense of belonging and she worked to create visible recognition of Mi’kmaw culture in Xavier Hall. Ann never missed an opportunity to travel to these communities as a Faculty Member at StFX. (more…)

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Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network (BTS)

This article, written by Janette Fecteau, BTS Member and Part-time Academic Instructor in Fine Arts, appears in the Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon.

The StFXAUT has had a rewarding connection with the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network (BTS) for close to 20 years. Members of our Union have invited speakers from Guatemala into our classrooms, have acted as Faculty Leaders for the Immersion Service Learning Guatemala experience, and have organized films, speakers, and other events in the Antigonish community. (For a more in-depth look at this history, see Philip Girvan’s article “The StFXAUT Breaking the Silence (BTS) Connection” in the Spring 2017 issue of The Beacon.) This past May, I had the privilege of participating in the 2018 BTS delegation to Guatemala, an annual learning tour that visits grassroots organizations working on human rights, social justice, Indigenous land rights and education, feminism, and more. The 14-day itinerary was packed! Rather than offer a diary of all our meetings and experiences, I will reflect on three topics dear to the hearts of StFXAUT members: education, research, and—coffee.

Focus on Indigenous Education

The New Hope Foundation school, in the highlands town of Rabinal, is one of BTS’s oldest partners and has operated since 2003 with an impressive curriculum grounded in Maya Achí culture. The Maya Achí are one of 23 separate Indigenous groups in this Central American country, and their region was intensely affected by the internal armed conflict (1954-1996). A violent scorched-earth program perpetrated by state forces and state-authorized paramilitaries disproportionately focused on areas with high Indigenous populations. Jesús Tecú Osorio, 2008 StFX honorary doctorate recipient, is a survivor of the 1983 massacre in Rio Negro, one of six that occurred in the area during the early 1980s. He founded the school with funds from the John F. Kennedy Foundation’s Reebok human rights award granted him in 1996. (more…)

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These reminders appear in the Summer 2018 issue of The Beacon.

The next deadline to submit the StFXAUT Sponsorship Policy and Application Form is Monday, October 1. Please note that applications can be submitted any time before this deadline. The StFXAUT invites sponsorship requests from organizations committed to education, labour, social justice, and community development.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) offers Health and Dental Benefits for Retirees. To learn more about monthly premiums for residents of Nova Scotia, please click here.

StFXAUT social media activity is ongoing: follow @StFXAUT on Twitter and like our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/StFXAUT, to monitor goings-on.

Please remember to send your event notices and campus updates to the StFXAUT list serve to keep all Members informed.

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History of the StFX Observatory

This article, written by Philip Girvan, StFXAUT Communications Officer, appears in the Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon.

Plaque acknowledging the opening of the StFX Observatory; photo credit: Philip Girvan

Maintaining a permanent public observatory on the StFX University campus has been a challenge. The first to attempt to get one established was the Reverend Doctor E.M. Clarke, credited with initiating the physics research program at StFX under the guidance of the then President, the Right Reverend Monsignor Doctor P. J. Nicholson, who was also a physicist. Dr. Michael Steinitz, Professor Emeritus with the Physics Department, told The Beacon that Clarke purchased telescopic equipment and a dome out of his own pocket, but could not convince StFX University administration to allow an observatory to be built on campus, and the equipment sat, unused, in an attic in the science building for years.

Reverend Dr. Ernest M Clarke; source: StFX Archives

Permission to build an observatory was finally granted following Steinitz’s appointment as Chair of the Physics Department. As Steinitz tells it, this was secured only after a heated confrontation with the then University Academic Vice-President J. J. MacDonald. University administration finally agreed to provide space and allocate the funds necessary to construct an observatory. This work was performed by carpenters with StFX Facilities Management. The Clarke Observatory, built on the roof of the old Science Building, the current Schwartz School of Business, opened during the 1979-80 academic year. While the observatory was being built, Dr. Clarke was receiving care for his terminal cancer in the infirmary, then located on the top floor of Morrison Hall. Though Clarke was never able to visit the observatory, he watched the observatory’s progress from his bed, and saw most of it completed just before he died. In addition to training students, the Clarke Observatory held weekly public viewing sessions throughout the academic year. These attracted significant interest. Jamie Powell, Senior Lab Instructor with the StFX University Physics Department, took over the operation of the observatory in 1990. The observatory was well used. For example, around a hundred people queued to view Comet Hyakutake in 1996 and Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997.

Free, public rooftop observations came to an end once StFX began transforming the science building into The Schwartz School of Business. Telescopic equipment was moved to the Physical Sciences Centre in 2004, and lugged out to be set up whenever a significant stellar event would take place. Since the dismantling of the Clarke Observatory, there has been a decade-long community effort to re-establish a public observatory. Powell has been the driving force behind this.

“That has occupied a lot of my time,” Powell admitted, “trying to get the observatory back”. (more…)

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Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS)

This article, published in the Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon, was written by Joanne Tompkins, Faculty of Education.

Community Building Community

In 2014 the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS) became a registered Canadian charity with a vision towards creating sufficient environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable community-supported affordable housing for the residents of Antigonish Town and County. The mission of the AAHS is to research and develop opportunities to create better affordable housing through either building new units or renovating existing ones and provide social support for the residents of its developments. A working board of directors made up of volunteers with skills in community development, communications, building development and management and accounting guides the work of AAHS.

The first initiative of the Society, Riverside Estates, began in the summer of 2016 and was completed in April 2017 with the first four-unit building opened for occupancy. Two of the four units are barrier free, responding to needs of people living with disabilities. Construction of Phase II of Riverside Estates began in Winter 2018 and another 10 units (two of which are barrier free) will open in September 2018. (more…)

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Alumni Shout-out: Marc Champoux

This interview, written by Philip Girvan, StFXAUT Communications Officer, appears in the Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon.

The Beacon regularly features interviews with StFX University Alumni on the topic of their relationships with StFXAUT Members who challenged, inspired, or helped in some way. This issue’s interview is with Marc Champoux (BBA ’88).

Marc works as the Managing Director, Private Client Division, with BMO Wealth Management Inc. Marc also served as Co-Chair of the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games Organizing Committee which took place in Antigonish from July 31 to August 4.

The Beacon: Thanks for doing this, Marc. Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

Marc Champoux: Graduated from StFX with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Class of ‘88. I came to StFX from a small town in Quebec, just east of Montreal. I had never really been in Nova Scotia. I’ve never really left.

The Beacon: You’re one of these X grads that didn’t hit the road.

Marc: We stayed in the province and lived in Halifax for a number of years, but have lived in Antigonish for about 20 years. We’re lifers. (more…)

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September 2018 President’s Message

This message, published in the Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon, was written by StFXAUT President Mary Oxner.

Dear Members,

The summer in Antigonish was uncharacteristically hot and many of our colleagues were displaced out of their offices for the summer months. Our campus welcomed Special Olympians, coaches, family and friends from across Canada. The Special Olympians provided examples of real joy, comradery and persistence. Hopefully your summer had elements of joy, productivity, relaxation and adventure.

As the days get darker earlier and the students arrive on campus and in the community, we are reminded that the beginning of another academic year has arrived. In this academic year we will engage in processes to gauge your priorities for collective bargaining. Our Collective Agreement expires June 30, 2019 but preparation for negotiations will begin as the term begins.

I am looking forward to welcoming our new Members and in hearing your thoughts about our progress going forward.

Mary O.
StFXAUT President

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Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games

This article, written by StFXAUT Communications Officer Philip Girvan, will appear in the Spring-Summer 2018 edition of The Beacon .

The Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games are taking place in Antigonish from July 31 to August 4. These games are a qualifying event for athletes to represent Canada at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games. While these are the first national games hosted by Antigonish, and only the second to be held in Nova Scotia, Antigonish has hosted several Special Olympics Nova Scotia Summer Games.

In addition to hosting a number of sport events, StFX University is serving as host of the athlete’s village. A number of people aligned with StFX, including AUT members, students, alumni, and other StFX personnel, have already volunteered hundreds of hours to get to this point, and, during the games, hundreds of volunteers will volunteer even more hours.

The Beacon had opportunity recently to speak with two StFX alumni volunteering with the Games: Marc Champoux, co-chair of the Games Organizing Committee, and Alison Sampson, who is staffing the family services booth. Champoux had no prior involvement with the Special Olympics before being contacted by his friend, Dr. Bill Stanish, who, as Champoux, put it, “approached me one day and said, ‘I need to ask something of you and I need you to say yes’”.

Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games office located on St. Mary’s Street


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