Teachers and professors explore cultural connections

More than 300 social studies teachers from across the province were students for a day on October 25, during their annual professional development conference. Held for a fifth year at Saint Mary’s University, the event included more than 30 workshops around the theme Cultural Connections, some led by professors in the Faculty of Arts.  

“It is such an important and powerful connection that must be kept between our learning institutions, especially as students transition into colleges and universities,” said Dr. Benita Bunjun of Social Justice & Community Studies, whose session focused on cultural relations in the classroom. “I think it’s really important that every year, these workshops show a diversity of people sharing expertise, a multiplicity of people who are educators, transferrers of knowledge, keepers of knowledge.”

She and Dr. Rohini Bannerjee of the Modern Languages & Classics department have been involved in the conference for several years.

“I’m always a little bit nervous about teaching teachers, but it’s also a great privilege because it helps in reminding all of us why we do what we do,” said Bannerjee, who taught a session about the Jewish experience in Mauritius during the Second World War. “Why we find teaching so important, and why being in the classroom with diverse points of view is important. Maybe when they come to hear me speak, they might see that my own lived experience is pretty diverse and that cultural connections are part of my everyday. At the same time, as teachers, we need to help our students create their own stories.”

The conference also included an education trade exhibition and a keynote address by Weldon Boudreau, an Acadian singer and teacher at École Beaubassin. Several off-site sessions took place at the Africville National Historic Site, Ross Farm Museum and the Treaty Truckhouse at the Sipekne’katik (Shubenacadie) River, where participants met with the Grassroots Grandmothers and Water Protectors.

“We really wanted to focus on the role that teachers play in the lives of students when it comes to students’ own cultural identity and how we can effectively celebrate students’ identities by bringing it into classrooms,” said Maureen McNamara, President of the Social Studies Teachers Association of Nova Scotia. “That’s why we asked Weldon to be our keynote; he had a really important story to tell about what it means to be proud of who you are and where you come from, and to understand who you are as an individual. Individual identity is really integral in creating meaningful learning experiences for students.”

Other Saint Mary’s faculty members who led workshops were Prof. Shana McGuire of Modern Languages & Classics on teaching about francophone cultures through film, Philosophy Chair Dr. Shelagh Crooks on strategies for teaching critical thinking; Dr. Rosana Barbosa of History on music and soccer as cultural history teaching tools; and Dr. Min-Jung Kwak of Geography & Environmental Studies on international students in Canada and their families.

Dean's List key ceremony for Arts students

Every year, Saint Mary’s recognizes Arts students with high academic standing by placing them on the Dean’s List and presenting them with a symbolic pewter key. 

Dr. Margaret MacDonald, Dean of Arts, hosted this year’s key ceremony for about 200 students on October 30 in the McNally Theatre Auditorium. To qualify, students must have taken at least 30 credit hours during the past academic year, achieved a grade point average of at least 3.67, and received no failing grades.

“Dean’s list standing is noted on your transcript and it will always remain part of your record,” Dr. MacDonald told the students. “So it’s a very significant achievement and milestone ... you are an extraordinary group of students being recognized today.”

Noting that the key is a symbol of knowledge that will open doors, the Dean presented the first one to student Brona Higginbotham, who is majoring in Linguistics and English, with a minor in Psychology. Active in the university’s Drama Society, Higginbotham is currently directing Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, which runs on campus from November 6 to 8.   

The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Christopher Webb BA’97, who focused on “the idea of not failing” in his inspiring talk.

“My biggest regret was not making the Saint Mary’s basketball team,” he admitted. Other priorities soon kept him busy during his time as a Political Science major, such as serving on the Executive of SMUSA and ultimately as President of the Students’ Union of Nova Scotia, now known as Students Nova Scotia.

After he graduated, Webb’s career path was a winding road. He soon realized a government job was not his calling, so he quit to move to southern Italy to do some painting. He returned to Nova Scotia with thoughts of law school, but art was a strong pull – and so was coffee.

Eight years ago, he and his partner Victoria Foulger opened the Italian-inspired Pavia Gallery - Espresso Bar and Café in the small village of Herring Cove just outside Halifax. At the time, people expected them to fail in the remote location. Now it’s an award-winning business and the busiest of four locations, including one at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and two at the Halifax Central Library. The couple also leads annual art and culture excursions to Italy, which have grown in popularity through the years.  

“People are going to fail you. Don’t fail yourself before you even have the chance,” Webb told the students, urging them to be true to themselves and follow their dreams.


Interculturalism in focus this Week at Saint Mary’s

One of many International Education Week activities included The Day of the Dead community altar at the Patrick Power Library (Oct 29 - Nov 4), which celebrates the memory of departed loved ones and the continuity of life.

One of many International Education Week activities included The Day of the Dead community altar at the Patrick Power Library (Oct 29 - Nov 4), which celebrates the memory of departed loved ones and the continuity of life.

The important role of international education in fostering global citizenship is the focus of celebration this week as Saint Mary’s marks this year’s International Education Week.

“The enthusiastic reception of the cultural events and international opportunity sessions we are presenting this year speaks to the outward-looking ethos of our student, staff, and faculty community,” says Miyuki Arai of the Office of Global Learning and Intercultural Support at The Studio for Teaching and Learning who co-organizes the event each year. “Although many students are interested in study abroad opportunities, we’d like to see even more people take advantage of the more than 100 academic exchange agreements we have with partner universities in over 30 countries around the world.”

The power of international experiences and intercultural learning is a particular passion of University president Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, especially in his capacity as Board Chair of the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Intercultural learning is a strategic priority for the university, and Saint Mary’s strives to “foster deeper relations between cultures and provide our students with a distinct and global perspective,” he says. ”We continue our commitment to graduating students with global perspectives and intercultural competence, while working to ensure that we as faculty and staff live these values ourselves each day.”

This year’s celebration includes the International Opportunities Fair hosted by the Patrick Power Library, several study abroad information sessions, the always popular Korean Cultural Café, and a music recital hosted by the Confucius Institute. The week winds up on Friday with the showcase event, Stories from Overseas, where former and current exchange program participants reflect on how their educational journeys have been shaped by international study. 

For more information on international learning opportunities at Saint Mary’s University, contact the Global Learning and Intercultural Support office at gocentre@smu.ca.

Alumni win top honours for athletic achievements

Saint Mary’s has a long history of athletic excellence. This fall, three exceptional former student-athletes are being given top honours for their accomplishments.

Basketball legend Justine Colley-Leger BComm’14, powerlifter and Special Olympian Jackie Barrett BComm’98, and soccer star Suzanne Muir BComm’93will be inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame on November 15 in Halifax.

They are among five athletes to be celebrated not only for their outstanding contributions to Nova Scotia sport, but each rising to national acclaim.

A force to be reckoned with in the sport of powerlifting, highly decorated Special Olympics athlete Jackie Barrett will make history as the first Special Olympian joining the Hall of Fame this year.

Originally from Spryfield, Barrett has dominated Canadian Special Olympics powerlifting competitions throughout his career with 20 gold medals, and he has represented Canada well at the World Special Olympics competition with an incredible 13 first-place finishes. In his final year of competition (2015), he set three Special Olympics world records, lifting 277.5 kg, 297.5 kg and 697.5 kg in the squat, deadlift and triple combination events respectively. In the same year, he also became the first Special Olympics athlete to be nominated for the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s top athlete.

Justine Colley-Leger is the all-time leading scorer in the history of CIS women’s basketball. Her impressive play earned her two CIS National Player of the Year awards and she led the Saint Mary’s Huskies to four consecutive AUS championships and CIS silver and bronze medals. She was also a two-time AUS MVP, four-time All-Canadian and five-time AUS first team All-Star, while playing more than 40 games with the Canadian national team.

Suzanne Muir was named AUS Rookie of the Year during her time playing with the Saint Mary’s Huskies women’s soccer team. Her standout skills also earned her two AUS MVP awards, five-time AUS All-Star status and two-time All-Canadian honours. Twice named Athlete of the Year at Saint Mary’s University, Muir went on to play with Canada’s national women’s team from 1992 to 1999. She played with the national team at the 1995 and 1999 World Cups. She was inducted into the Saint Mary’s Sport Hall of Fame in 2014.

On a related note, Justin Palardy BA’11, geography major and former Husky, was a pro football player with CFL and now a coach for the Dalhousie Tigers. He is being inducted on Nov 1 to the Colchester County Sports Hall of Fame.

Tickets for the 2019 Induction Night are on sale now at the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame. Call 902-404-3343 to place your order.

MTEI grads win $75k in US business challenge

The Ashored founders: Aaron Stevenson, left, Ross Arsenault and Maxwell Poole. (Photo courtesy Peter Moreira, Entrevestor.com)

The Ashored founders: Aaron Stevenson, left, Ross Arsenault and Maxwell Poole. (Photo courtesy Peter Moreira, Entrevestor.com)

Saint Mary’s alumni Ross Arsenault (BComm'17, MTEI'18) and Aaron Stevenson (MTEI'19) along with partner Max Poole (BComm'17) on their company, Ashored, have won $75k USD Platinum win at the MassChallenge in Boston.

The company was selected back in May as the sole Canadian company to enter the well-recognized accelerator program, one of 100 start-ups competing for funding.

"Headquartered in the United States with locations in Boston, Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas, MassChallenge strengthens the global innovation ecosystem by accelerating high-potential startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world for zero-equity taken." - MassChallenge.org

The MassChallenge Boston program provides training, collaboration space, connections to experts and mentors and is zero cost. Cash prizes are for zero equity. This isn't Dragon's Den, this is money to drive business growth, free of obligations.

Ashored Innovations were one of 12 companies awarded on October 24. Over $1 million USD in zero-equity prizes were awarded, provided via partnerships MassChallenge has with Boeing and the International Space Station National Lab.

This competition plants another flag in the Boston startup ecosystem, which Sobey School's Venture Grade and MTEI have been making inroads into for the last several years.

Ashored adds the winnings to their growing funding pool, including a recent $30,000 investment from Sobey School's Venture Grade group.

Read more: Ashored in Top 3 at MassChallenge

— Charlene Boyce, Sobey School of Business

Faculty of Arts seeks applicants for two new Indigenous Fellowships

The Mi’kmaq Grand Council flag flies alongside the Canadian and provincial flags in front of the McNally Building.

The Mi’kmaq Grand Council flag flies alongside the Canadian and provincial flags in front of the McNally Building.

Two new Indigenous Fellowships in the Faculty of Arts will have a broad impact for everyone in the Saint Mary’s community. The university continues to seek applicants for:

·        a 12-month Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship, starting either January 1 or September 1, 2020, and

·        a four-month Indigenous Visiting Fellowship, starting either January 1, May 1 or September 1, 2020.

“What I think will emerge is the full potential of integrating Indigenous knowledge in so many areas, so everyone will benefit,” says Dr. John Reid, Professor of History and Senior Research Fellow at the Gorsebrook Research Institute.

The new positions will build on the university’s ongoing initiatives to engage with Indigenous communities and strengthen intercultural research and curriculum. They will continue SMU’s work to respond to the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and our own university task force.

“It’s going to be very enriching for the university,” Dr. Reid said when the fellowships were first announced in March. “The successful candidates will make a vital contribution to the intellectual and cultural life of the university, and the ability of Saint Mary’s to be culturally welcoming to Indigenous students.”

The qualification of ‘lived experience’ is crucial for both positions. The Visiting Fellowship is geared toward scholars at early to middle stages of their careers, but also to community leaders and individuals in fields related to the social sciences, humanities and environmental studies. The Postdoctoral Fellowship is designed for scholars in the initial stages of their academic careers. Along with research, the Postdoctoral Fellow will teach one course each term and develop public presentations and outreach activities in consultation with Indigenous communities.

Find out more about the Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Indigenous Visiting Fellowship, and please share with your networks. The next review of applications will begin on November 15, 2019 and will continue until the positions are filled.

Announcing the opening of the Dr. Hari Das Commons

Saint Mary’s students now have access to a newly renovated space to study, connect, and relax - the Dr. Hari Das Commons. 

Completed at the end of September, the 1,725 square foot area, located on the second floor of the Loyola Residence building, is named after the late professor, Dr. Hari Das. The commons honours his connection with Saint Mary’s and was made possible by the family of Dr. Hari Das.  

Dr. Hari Das

Dr. Hari Das

“Dr. Das had a special connection to Saint Mary’s and it’s wonderful to see him recognized in this manner. His relationship with students and faculty, along with his contributions in the Sobey School of Business, make the naming of this space especially fitting,” said Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray.  

Sustainably designed, the Dr. Hari Das Commons was conceived as a hub of student activity. The modern, bright space includes 50 seats and a large meeting table for learning, socializing, and collaboration and features new comfortable furniture, a higher ceiling, new lighting and finishes.

Overlooking the quad, track, and athletics field, the Dr. Hari Das Commons is ideally located to bring students together from across all faculties, creating a sense of community in the space.

“The Dr. Hari Das Commons is a beautiful addition to our network of learning commons which are emerging across campus,” said Saint Mary’s Vice-President, Finance and Administration Gabe Morrison. “It reflects Dr. Das’s commitment to students and leading-edge scholarship. The renovation reflects the concept and design standards established for the adjacent and upcoming Sobeys Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub.” 

A professor in the Sobey School of Business for 32 years, Dr. Das was deeply connected to students, faculty, and staff. While at Saint Mary’s, he taught several graduate and doctoral courses and continued his research in understanding human behaviour. His memory lives on at the university through the guidance and direction he provided for many business students. 

“Dr. Das had a tremendous impact on me and also influenced my own teaching,” says Saint Mary’s alumnus Dr. Scott MacMillan, Associate Professor in Management at Mount Saint Vincent University. “He was a brilliant teacher who knew what he wanted his students to know. He had very high standards, always worked hard, and demanded the same of others.” 

An eminent national and international scholar, Dr. Das received his MSc and PhD from the University of British Columbia and published several journal articles and text books. Dr. Das’s interest in human resources led him to co-author the best-selling textbook, Canadian Human Resource Management. Now in its 12th edition, with almost 300,000 copies sold, it is one of the most successful textbooks published in Canada and is used in over 70 universities in the country.

In addition to his work as a scholar, Dr. Das published two novels and several short stories; however, his passion was filmmaking. Active in the Atlantic Filmmakers’ Cooperative, he wrote, directed, and produced a number of documentaries and commercial films. His short films on child labour and female infanticide received recognition and won awards.

Dr. Hari Das passed away in 2010. In honour of his memory and relationship with Saint Mary’s, the family of Dr. Hari Das has funded several philanthropic investments at the university. “We are very grateful to the family of Dr. Hari Das. Their generous support of the university through the Dr. Hari Das Commons, Dr. Hari Das Conference Room, Dr. Hari Das Global Scholars Award, and Dr. Hari Das Memorial MBA Scholarship is extraordinary,” said Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “Dr. Das’s legacy will live on in this space, bringing students together to make important interdisciplinary connections.” 

   — Margaret Page, Office of Advancement


Student-athlete Bhreagh Burke finishes 8K run barefoot

It’s certainly not the way she planned to race, but cross country runner Bhreagh Burke finished the women’s 8k race at the AUS Championship in her bare feet.

The championships were hosted by the UNB Reds at Kingswood Resort in Hanwell, N.B. on Saturday, October 26.

It was a remarkable finish for 2nd year Arts student. Burke lost one of her shoes during the first kilometre of the race.  She stopped to put it back on, only to have it fall off again, leaving her in 25th position.


Determined to continue, Burke removed the other shoe, racing in sock feet for the second kilometre before stopping again to remove her socks and run the rest of the race barefoot. Bhreagh finished 10th and was SMU’s first female runner to cross the finish line in 31:58.   

“This was, without doubt, one of the gutsiest performances that I have witnessed over my years of coaching cross country,” said Head Coach Kevin Heisler.

Bhreagh, along with first-place finisher Andrew Peverill, will compete in the upcoming USport Championships in Kingston, Ontario on November 9th.

Diversity and equity scholar Dr. Malinda Smith shares knowledge  

Saint Mary’s was very pleased to welcome Dr. Malinda S. Smith of the University of Alberta to campus last week. Along with her work as Provost Fellow Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Policy, she is a professor of political science who teaches in the areas of international and comparative politics, critical race theory, and gender and politics.

On October 24, she delivered a lecture titled, “Why Diversity, Decolonization and Intersectional Equity Matter in Canadian Universities” in Burke Theatre B. Organized by the Department of Social Justice & Community Studies, the event was co-presented by Saint Mary's and Dalhousie Universities.

Among other publications, Dr. Smith is co-author of The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities (2017) and co-editor of States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century (2010), and the popular e-book, Beyond the Queer Alphabet: Conversations on Gender, Sexuality and Intersectionality (2012). She is also co-editor of the forthcoming book, Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy (2020).

Dr. Smith currently serves as President of the International Studies Association (ISA)-Canada, and on the Canada Research Chair Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. Follow her on Twitter at @MalindaSmith

Two Planks and a Passion Theatre coming to The Oaks (Saturday, Oct. 26)  


Elapultiek (ehl-ah-bool-dee-egg) - "we are looking towards" - marks the first time Two Planks and a Passion Theatre commissioned an Indigenous playwright from Nova Scotia to create a new work for the company. The show was a great success during the 2018 summer season and returned this year for two special fireside shows and a provincial tour that reaches Saint Mary's for a performance on October 26.  

Playwright shalan joudry is an oral storyteller, hand-drum singer and poet the traditional district of Kespukwitk (southwest Nova Scotia). Following years of raising children, performing, writing and ecology work, shalan now lives and works in her community of Bear River First Nation, sharing messages of reconnecting to both land and culture.   

“We are thrilled to bring shalan’s play to a broader audience. The response to our first production in 2018 was overwhelmingly positive -- the play has been so important to so many people, and it is clear that we need to bring this story to as many Nova Scotians as possible,” says Artistic Director Ken Schwartz. It's presented at Saint Mary's by the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Science, and Student Affairs & Services.

Find out more about the play at www.artscentre.ca/elapultiek.html


Celebrating Ursula Johnson’s work at the Art Gallery

On Wednesday, October 16, an eager crowd gathered at Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery for the launch of the catalogue Ursula Johnson: Mi’kwite’tmn (Do You Remember).

First presented at Saint Mary’s in 2014, it toured Canada from 2014 to 2018. Mi’kwite’tmn examines ideas of ancestry, identity and cultural practice. Johnson deconstructs and manipulates the function and image of Mi’kmaw basketry, using traditional techniques to build non-functional forms.

The catalogue includes essays and interviews about the work. It is a trilingual publication – with texts provided in Mi’kmaw, French and English.

The launch included a ceremonial welcome and a discussion between Diane Mitchell (Mi'kmaw translator), artist Ursula Johnson and Director/Curator Robin Metcalfe on the intricacies and challenges of translating text into Mi'kmaw.

The Saint Mary’s University Art gallery has been a leader in working with contemporary Indigenous artists and curators. Over the past decade, it has presented five major Indigenous exhibitions.

Ursula Johnson is a performance and installation artist of Mi’kmaw First Nation ancestry. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally since graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design with a BFA in Interdisciplinary studies in 2006.

Her performances are often place-based and employ cooperative didactic intervention. Recent works include various mediums of sculpture that create consideration from her audience about aspects of intangible cultural heritage as it pertains to the consumption of traditional knowledge within the context of colonial institutions. Johnson has been shortlisted for the Salt Spring National Art Prize and the Nova Scotia Masterworks Award. In 2017, she was the first Indigenous artist from Atlantic Canada to be honoured with the Sobey Art Award, the pre-eminent prize for young Canadian artists.

Saint Mary’s launches Career Week

Career Conference Facebook.png

Student Affairs and Services is pleased to announce the first-ever SMU Career Week 2019, from October 28th - November 1st.

The free conference is curated for 3rd and 4th-year students, recent graduates, and alumni.

Over the course of five days, participants will have the opportunity to attend fun interactive sessions, networking opportunities, social events, skill-developing workshops and more. There are also career fairs for Indigenous students and students wanting to pursue international opportunities.

Session topics include:

  • Resume and cover letter help

  • New and emerging careers

  • The impact of AI and what this means for entry-level positions

  • Government-funded employment initiatives and how to access them

  • The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project and the best path for permanent residence

Students can sign up at career360.smu.ca. For more information see the schedule below or visit smu.ca/careerconference

Career Week 2019 Schedule

Career Week Schedule.png

Sobeys Executive Panel Offers Exclusive Glimpse

On October 10, over 100 graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members attended a special panel discussion by executives from Sobeys Inc. in celebration of Retail Month. The event was hosted by the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services.

Liam Sobey, Vice President, Merchandising , Lorne MacLean, Senior Vice President, Retail Operations, and Vivek Sood MBA’98, Executive Vice President, Related Business, each presented on facets of the Sobeys operation and their own career paths, offering students an unprecedented glimpse inside the workings of the successful national company. The three described current innovation initiatives in areas of marketing, merchandising, operations, and strategy that impact the company at all levels. For instance, they talked about the importance of “assortment” (the variety of products offered) and how technology has helped the company be more nimble and evidence-based in choosing what products to sell. They also talked about Project Sunrise,their much-praised efforts to restructure and reduce costs.

Students were urged to reconsider careers in retail. Lorne shared that the salary of an average store manager is about $85k plus a bonus of up to 60% -- a fact, he noted, that most students don’t realize when they are selecting the industry they want to work in.

Each of the panelists praised the variety of roles open to them, opportunities to learn and daily challenges. Students left with a more informed idea of the real state of today’s retail industry, and lots to chew on as they consider their futures.

— Charlene Boyce, SSB

A riveting presentation by renowned artist Kent Monkman

A full house burst into rapturous applause after Kent Monkman’s presentation on October 9, organized by the Saint Mary’s Department of Anthropology. There were two standing ovations: one for the artist himself, another for his two-spirit alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, a time-travelling central figure in many of his paintings, videos and performance art pieces.

Held in the Paul O’Regan Hall at Halifax Central Library, the “Making Miss Chief” event was presented in partnership with the Office of the Indigenous Student Advisor, Saint Mary's University Art Gallery and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs (CCEPA).

Monkman treated the crowd of nearly 300 to the first “test run” of a few chapters from his forthcoming book of Miss Chief’s memoirs, to be published in 2020 by McClelland & Stewart. Written with his longtime collaborator Gisèle Gordon, the book emerged from his solo exhibition Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, which was on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) last fall and is now in Winnipeg before heading to Vancouver in the spring.

In the exhibition and the book, Miss Chief serves as the guide on a journey to unpack North American art history “as it’s told through settler culture,” focusing on themes of resilience, sexuality, loss and perceived notions of Indigenous experiences. Among the highlights Monkman shared with his Halifax audience was Miss Chief’s origin story, as depicted in his 2018 artwork Being Legendary.

“I created Miss Chief in 2004 to be this really badass character to reverse the colonial gaze,” he said. Using a broad spectrum of tools ranging from humour to serious critique, the larger goal is to “decolonize Canada … Miss Chief has just become this force.”

The character’s wardrobe took some inspiration from the singer Cher, said Monkman, a fan since his childhood in Winnipeg, where he was the youngest of three brothers who played hockey. “I was terrible at hockey. My act of rebellion was to ask for a Cher wig for my 10th birthday. I got a hockey jersey,” he recalled.

Monkman wrapped up his talk with a screening of Another Feather In Her Bonnet | Miss Chief Eagle Testickle & Jean Paul Gaultier. The short video captures Miss Chief’s faux wedding ceremony to the famous fashion designer, September 8, 2017 at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. The museum had taken some heat for a headdress piece in an exhibition by Gaultier, which was seen as cultural appropriation, and so invited Monkman to develop an artistic response. 

A member of the Fisher River Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba, Monkman currently lives and works in Toronto. He has achieved international recognition, with many solo exhibitions at museums and galleries in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and screenings at international film festivals. Miss Chief has been at centre stage for site-specific performances at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Compton Verney and the Denver Art Museum.

Find out more about Monkman and get a closer look at his artworks online at www.kentmonkman.com. If you haven’t seen his painting Miss Chief’s Wet Dream, be sure to visit AGNS, which purchased the monumental artwork in 2018. His newest projects include mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People), commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, to hang in its Great Hall starting on December 19, 2019.

— Marla Cranston, Faculty of Arts

Time to get your flu shot!


The Student Health Clinic will hold three influenza clinics this year:

October 23, 2019, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

November 19, 2019, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

November 29, 2019, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

To book an appointment, please call 902 420 5611 or drop into the clinic to book an appointment. 

You do not need to be a current patient in the clinic to get a flu shot. Appointments are mandatory.

Please complete this form prior to arriving at the clinic, to expedite the process, but there will be forms at the clinic to fill out in case you are unable to complete one beforehand.

If you are unable to attend one of the three clinics, you can book an appointment with a physician at a time that works best for you to get an influenza vaccination.

If you have any questions related to receiving an influenza vaccination, please contact the Clinic's Nurse Manager, Ashlee McLeod at ashlee.mcleod@smu.ca.

Students study mass grave of shipwreck victims in Terence Bay

Students from Saint Mary's University conduct fieldwork at the burial site of victims of the sinking of the SS Atlantic.

Students from Saint Mary's University conduct fieldwork at the burial site of victims of the sinking of the SS Atlantic.

Archaeology professor Johnathan Fowler and a group of his students are investigating the final resting place of the victims of a tragic shipwreck that happened more than a century ago.

In 1873, the SS Atlantic was en route to New York when it ran aground off the coast of Nova Scotia,costing hundreds of passengers their lives.

Many of the victims were buried in a mass grave near Terence Bay. The students are assessing the size and dimensions of the burial spot.

Learn more in this story by CBC reporter Frances Willick: Students sleuthing boundaries of mass grave of 1873 shipwreck victims

Hundreds of alumni attend 2019 Homecoming

Hundreds of alumni and friends came back to campus to celebrate Homecoming earlier this month!

More than 150 former hockey players gathered for a reunion and had the chance to visit The Dauphinee Centre for hockey games and an open skate.

Dr. Margaret McKee moderated a thought-provoking panel discussion on Canadian Women and Philanthropy, presented by TD.

A number of milestones in sport were celebrated, including the first jersey retirement for former football star Chris Flynn, and the Sport Hall of Fame ceremony which inducted former Women’s Hockey Coach Lisa Haley, the 2001-02 Men’s Hockey team, and football player Noah Cantor. Chancellor Mike Durland was on hand for the occasion, celebrating our Alumni Award recipients at the One World Alumni Awards Gala and the Class of 1969 at the Golden Grad Luncheon.

Retail roads lead back to campus: Irish Studies grad returns to help manage the Bookstore

Sometimes our various paths in life combine, intertwine and come around full circle, in a way that makes perfect sense. That’s how it feels for Kathleen Higgins BA’11, whose retail career path brought her back in March to be assistant manager of the Saint Mary’s University Bookstore.

“It’s really neat to be back on campus,” says Higgins, who majored in Irish Studies. She is delighted to reconnect with her former professors and to soak up opportunities like the D’Arcy McGee public lectures, which highlight fresh research perspectives on Ireland and the Irish experience.

During her time as a student, Higgins was juggling a lot of priorities. She completed her degree over a seven-year stretch, working full time the whole way through as an assistant manager with a chain of pet supply stores.

“It was right at a time when I was in my competitive prime with highland dancing as well; I was competing nationally and internationally,” she says, adding she had a chance in 2008 to perform in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Dance remains a huge part of her daily life as an entrepreneur who runs her own school in Dartmouth, the Higgins School of Highland Dance. Last year, she and her students were invited by Ottawa’s Sons of Scotland Pipe Band to take part in a tour of Scotland – including a private performance for Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle!

“It was a rather large deal,” says Higgins. “I don’t think I’ve fully processed it yet. I retired from competing and performing a couple of years ago, but I came out of retirement for that performance.”

It was surreal to dance with the Queen watching from just a few metres away; after the performance, Prince Edward chatted at length with the dance group.

Here on campus, it’s a daily thrill for Higgins to see students and alumni wearing Saint Mary’s hoodies and other items that she has ordered. She understands the strong sense of school spirit, and why there is such pride in the university.

“I really loved my time as a student at Saint Mary’s,” she says. “I love the culture here. I loved not being a number. Students really have the opportunity to get to know their professors, and it makes for a much more enjoyable educational experience.”

She also highly recommends the Irish Studies Program for its broad outlook on Irish and Irish-Canadian culture, with courses in language, history, literature, political science, geography, folklore and more.

“For a small program, it certainly makes a large footprint,” she says, adding “we have very strong Celtic roots in my family. My mom’s side is all from Cape Breton. So the Irish Studies program really made sense, it felt like a good fit.”

In recent years, Higgins had been working with the PetSmart retail chain as an operations / assistant manager. With 17 years of retail and management experience under her belt, the SMU Bookstore job jumped out at her when it became available. The store carries a wide range of products beyond books and clothing, from residence supplies to giftware and an increasing array of technology items. Higgins particularly enjoys the creative aspects, such as working with staff on seasonal arrangements, and designing fun displays to boost sales.

She once considered pursuing a master’s degree in Irish language and spending time overseas. In her last year of studies, she met her future husband and the plan changed. The couple lives in Dartmouth with a brood of three dogs, two rats and an albino axolotl, which is a type of aquatic lizard.

“Marriage seemed more important in the long term but it’s neat, because life throws different things at you,” says Higgins. “So I stuck it out in the retail world, because that’s what I had known and that’s where my experience was. And then this came up at Saint Mary’s, so it just kind of came full circle.”

— Marla Cranston, Faculty of Arts

Sobey School invites community input for upcoming Strategic Planning process


The Sobey School of Business has adapted the Blue Ocean Strategy process for developing its Strategic Plan (2020-2025) and is inviting the community to participate.

In their classic book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne coined the terms ’red ocean’ and ‘blue ocean’ to describe the market universe.

Red oceans are all the industries in existence today – the known market space. In red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known.

Here, companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of existing demand. As the market space gets crowded, profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities, leading to cutthroat or ‘bloody’ competition. Hence the term red oceans.

Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today – the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid.

In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. A blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential to be found in unexplored market space. A blue ocean is vast, deep, and powerful in terms of profitable growth.

The SSB (under the leadership of Dr. Harjeet Bhabra) has adapted the Blue Ocean Strategy process for our use. In our sector, higher education, market boundaries are quite firm and the structure of the industry is extremely well-defined. However, there is ample opportunity for growth and we have the potential to create new demand. The Blue Ocean process outlines principles and tools that we can use to create and capture market share.

Two of those tools are the strategy canvas and the four actions framework. The Sobey School will be using both of these methods as the basis of our consultations.

Strategy Canvas is a diagnostic tool and action framework that graphically captures the current strategic landscape and the future prospects for an organization. It:

•        Depicts the factors that organizations within the sector  invest in and compete on

•        Illustrates the strategic profile of competitors by identifying the factors in which they invest. 

•        Reveals an organization's relative performance across the factors of competition

 Faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to develop Strategy Canvases on the topics of research, teaching & learning and community engagement.


 These sessions will be held in the Private Dining Room in the Loyola Building of Saint Mary’s University (Loyola 298). The sessions will bring together participants with different perspectives to build strategy canvasses for the Sobey School that will help us better understand the factors of competition and the strategic landscape.


 The Four Actions Framework allows us to focus attention on those factors which should be adjusted to improve performance. Using this method, the groups will create ERRC grids that will:

•        Depict the factors that organizations within the sector  invest in and compete on

•        Contrast the current performance on the factors with the desired performance 

•        Surface the strategic actions necessary to move the organization to a more favourable position

Some of the strengths of this approach are that it helps us recognize that resources constraints exist and trade-offs may be necessary. It confronts the range of assumptions that we are making about the nature and importance of the factors of competition. It pushes us to pursue differentiation.

 Faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to participate in using the Four Actions Framework on the topics of research, teaching & learning and community engagement.


 These sessions will also be held in the Private Dining Room in the Loyola Building of Saint Mary’s University (Loyola 298).

Participants are invited to attend both of the Strategy Canvas and the Four Actions Framework sessions but can also choose to attend one or the other.

The sessions are designed to be extremely engaging and productive. The output of the sessions will be analyzed and the synthesis will inform the strategy of the School to be shared at a Town Hall on January 10th, 2020 at 10:00 AM in the Scotiabank Theatre (Sobey Building).

To participate in the strategy consultations, please register at: