Short story by SMU professor receives prestigious O. Henry Prize 

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“If a rabbit doesn’t like you, you will know it,” says Professor Alexander MacLeod.

If people like your short story featuring a rabbit as a central character, you will also know it. On May 16, his story “Lagomorph” was announced as a 2019 winner of the O. Henry Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious awards for short fiction.

“I’m super thrilled,” says Dr. MacLeod, who teaches English and Atlantic Canada Studies at Saint Mary’s. He first heard the news while driving to Mabou for a SMU Emerging Researchers session with Cape Breton high school students.

It’s a particularly special year to win – the prize is celebrating its centenary, so “Lagomorph” will appear in The O. Henry Prize Stories 100th Anniversary Edition, to be published in September by Anchor Books. Past winners include such literary masters as Flannery O’Conner, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, Eudora Welty and William Faulkner.  

“It’s unreal company,” says MacLeod. “If you look at the past winners, those are all the people that I love. The writers I’ve admired the most in my life have won this prize.”

“Lagomorph”, available for reading online, was originally published in Granta 141: Canada, the British magazine’s fall 2017 edition to recognize Canadian writers during the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

When the special edition came out, it made an international splash. In this review in Macleans magazine, Brian Bethune singled out MacLeod’s “brilliant” contribution as “suspenseful, moving and … hilarious.” Granta brought MacLeod and several other writers on a road show that season to events in Scotland, Canada House in London, and the renowned Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris.

“I have travelled a great distance via rabbit,” says MacLeod. He admits he lacked faith in “this most stubborn of stories” during the writing process, and nearly abandoned it four or five times.

“It taught me that sometimes you just have to stick at it. I owe a great debt of gratitude to the editors at Granta, who were patient with me.”

The story is about much more than a rabbit named Gunther, of course – it’s about time and change, the quagmire of intimacy vs. autonomy, and the mysteries of care and affection.

“The way we love animals differently from people is fascinating to me. Are we loving animals for what they need or for what we need? It’s tricky business,” says MacLeod. 

Born in Inverness, Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ontario, MacLeod resides in Dartmouth with his family and their dog. They once had a pet rabbit too, but “our rabbit expressed a preference for country life, and he’s living out his last years on a farm.”

MacLeod is currently working on two short stories that are competing for his attention, toward publication of his next collection. His first book, Light Lifting, was named a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Book Prize, and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The collection was also recognized as a ‘Book of the Year’ by the American Library Association, The Globe and Mail, and

—Submitted by Marla Cranston, Faculty of Arts

2019 Spring Convocation

A total of 842 beaming students will make their way across the stage at McNally Main Auditorium in front of friends, family and the Saint Mary’s community during the 2019 spring convocation ceremonies.

This year saw the installation of Dr. Mike Durland as the new Chancellor of Saint Mary’s. He addressed the graduands at the morning ceremony on Weds, May 15.

“I give a lot of credit for my success in life to St Mary’s — this place, and its people, all of the extraordinary faculty members — that for some reason took an interest in me, gave their time and energy to me, inspired me and mentored me,” he said. “It’s an honor to be able to come back and to say thank you”.

He urged graduands to build on their Saint Mary’s education and make learning a life-long pursuit, to develop a healthy career by focusing on doing the things they love, to give back to community and to remember that Saint Mary’s would always be “home”.

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SMU entrepreneur named national champion, wins $10,000

Ross Arsenault, owner of Ashored Inc. and full-time student at Saint Mary’s University, has won $10,000 and has been named 2019 Student Entrepreneur National Champion by this country’s largest student leadership development organization, Enactus Canada, and proud program supporter, HSBC Bank Canada.

His business, Ashored is focused on improving the sustainability of the commercial fishery through the development of user-friendly and purpose-built innovations.

“At HSBC, we aim to help communities and businesses thrive, supporting the inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit that drives success,” said Kim Flood, Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, HSBC Bank Canada.  “We couldn’t be more pleased to recognize these outstanding young entrepreneurs who are the future of Canada!”

Ross Arsenault received the title of Student Entrepreneur National Champion after beating hundreds of other student entrepreneurs from across Canada. After successfully making it through the Student Entrepreneur Opening Round of Competition, Ross went head to head with two other student entrepreneurs, pitching his business to a panel of business executives. They received the national title at the Enactus Canada National Exposition in Vancouver.

“At Enactus, our core mission is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders,” said Enactus Canada president, Nicole Almond. “Ross exemplifies the qualities we hope to inspire in our future leaders so we are proud to celebrate his achievements and help propel Ashored Inc. through this financial award and recognition.”

See the full story:

Celebrating top Arts grads, and the 1st BNUZ Arts cohort

The Faculty of Arts held a special celebration on May 15 for some 70 students who are graduating with awards, honours and distinctions this spring.

“I know it’s been a wonderful journey for you,” said Dr. Margaret MacDonald, Dean of Arts, in proposing a toast to the group of top students assembled in the Courtside Lounge. “I’m a Saint Mary’s grad myself, and I think back to my own convocation ... You have something to be really proud of, so I congratulate you on behalf of the Faculty of Arts and the University.”

A number of the students’ parents also joined in the celebration along with Arts faculty members, Associate Deans Dr. Madine VanderPlaat and Dr. Peter Twohig, President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President Academic & Research.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet,” admitted Madysen Wright of Innisville, Ontario, who is graduating with a magna cum laude distinction for her Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree. “It’s nice to be graduating but I’m pretty sad to leave.”

Her mother Tana recalled first dropping her daughter off at the university four years ago. “I remember thinking I hope Saint Mary’s is as good in person as it is on paper. We got out of the cab and she said, ‘yes, this is it, Mom.’ She knew!”

The convocation for the Faculty of Arts will take place in two ceremonies on May 17. The morning ceremony will also feature the first major cohort of Chinese graduates from the 2+2 program with Beijing Normal University – Zhuhai (BNUZ).

In 2018, Saint Mary’s became the first university in Canada to implement a 2+2 program in Arts as a result of a longstanding and unique partnership with BNUZ. Under the program, BNUZ students complete the final two years of their undergraduate degrees at SMU.

Computing & Data Analytics students shine in international competition

Students from the MSc in Computing and Data Analytics program are putting their advanced technical skills to work tackling issues like food insecurity, immigration, poverty and environmental sustainability - and are earning accolades in the process.

This spring, two teams from the the Saint Mary’s MSc CDA program took home 2 out of 5 available awards from the prestigious International Business Analytics (IBA) Challenge, the largest competition of its kind in the world. The Saint Mary’s teams competed against 25 other university teams from across the globe, including competitors from Hong Kong, Belgium, and Spain.

The challenge asks students to use data mining techniques to benefit a non-for-profit organization. This year’s challenge was to develop a more effective digital online platform for AIESEC, a global non-profit that fosters leadership in young people through cross-cultural internships and volunteer experiences.

MSc CDA students Sonam Vadsaria, Narasimha Rao Durgam, Sri Akhil Reddy Kovvuri, Sreeraj Punnoli, and Ravneet Singh Oberoi worked. The CDA team’s business recommendations and data-driven solutions were awarded 3rd place and presented with a $7,500 prize by a jury composed of industry leaders, the Global President of AIESEC, and members of academia. 

Another MSc CDA team, Vinay Govindan, Sunil Padikar, Diven Sambhwani, Caner Irfanoglu, and Gaganpreet Singh finished in 5th place in the global Challenge.

Enactus Saint Mary's takes home 7 awards from national competition

The Enactus Saint Mary’s team swept up a total of 7 awards at the Enactus Canada National Exposition held May 7-8., making them a stand-out among the 69 competing teams from across the country.

The team took home the following:

 ·    Enactus National Competition – National Runner Up
·     Student Entrepreneur of the Year – National Champion (Ross Arsenault, MTEI – Ashored Innovations)
·     TD Entrepreneurship Challenge – National Runner Up
·      Hellmann’s Real Food Challenge – National Runner Up
·      CWB Financial Education Challenge – National Second Runner Up
·      Capital One Digital for Good Challenge – Top 6 in Canada
·      Scotiabank Environmental Challenge – Top 6 in Canada

The Enactus Saint Mary’s team has consistently reached the final round of national competition (top four teams) for the past eight years. The team has attracted 135 students from across all faculties - 42% are not in business majors.

The team’s key project is Square Roots, which works to redirect locally grown, “imperfect” produce into the hands of communities, addressing the issues of food waste and food insecurity. In 2017 Square Roots launched a Token Program that reduces food waste in restaurants.

This year, Square Roots partnered with a local craft brewery, Boxing Rock Brewing Company, to produce 14 Carrot Gold, a pale ale made using imperfect, locally grown carrots. With every bottle sold, $0.50 went towards the purchase of Square Roots tokens to be be handed out to those in need.

The idea is catching on: teams from Sheridan College, Flemming College and Medicine Hat University are planning to launch their own Square Root franchises.

“All of the success the team has achieved would not be possible without the support of everyone here in the University and community, “ says Acting Director, SMUEC Michael Sanderson. “Whether taking time to meet with students to give them advice, supporting their projects and travel or just coming out to an event, it is extremely appreciated.”

 About Enactus Canada

Enactus Canada, a national charity and the country’s largest post-secondary experiential learning platform, is shaping entrepreneurial leaders who are passionate about advancing the economic, social and environmental health of Canada. Guided by academic advisors and business experts, more than 3,400 post-secondary students led 275 community empowerment projects and business ventures last year in communities coast to coast, positively impacting over 28,000 lives. As a global network of 36 countries, Enactus uses the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world. For more information, visit

Colourful exhibition Oblique Choreography opening at Art Gallery


The Art Gallery will bursting with colour this June with a lively exhibition of work by artist Jaime Angelopolous.

Oblique Choreography pairs sculptural and drawings in bold, playful and organic forms.

“Known for her spirited explorations of form and colour,” guest curator Ivan Jurakic writes, “Jaime Angelopoulos’ sculptures and drawings share a complementary yet complicated relationship…. The works exhibit a kind of joyful exuberance, but they also operate on a deeper social and psychological level.”

Based in Toronto, Jaime Angelopoulos has exhibited widely in Canada and the United States. She received her MFA from York University and studied sculpture at Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas. Awarded the inaugural Hazelton Sculpture Prize in 2013, she has participated in numerous artist residencies, including at the KulttuuriKauppila Art Centre in Finland. Her work can be found in numerous collections in Canada and internationally.

Oblique Choreography opens with a public reception on Friday evening, May 31, and runs until the fourth of August. The exhibition is organised in cooperation with McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, and the Musée regional de Rimouski.

Construction notice: Dauphinee Centre

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As the weather gets warmer, work on the Dauphinee Centre build site is ramping up and will impact some pedestrian routes on campus.

Effective May 13 to July 31, the area between the Student Centre building and the Homburg Centre will be closed off due to construction needs. Here are some alternate routes for accessing the Homburg Centre and the field:

Coming to Homburg

From Inglis Street lot: Enter around the Student Centre building to the northwest field entrance, use track to traverse to southeast field entrance and follow pathway to Homburg Centre.

From across campus: Enter to the northwest field entrance, use track to traverse to south.

East field entrance: Follow pathway to Homburg Centre entrance.

Entrance to field

Both the southeast gate in the back parking lot and the northwest gate will be available for user groups to gain access to the field. These two entry points will be opened by staff in the morning and closed at the end of day.

Summer Camp Drop Off/Pick Up

Camp pick up/drop off will happen in both the Tower Road and Inglis Street lots with signage leading to the Homburg Centre.

Call for External Governors

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The Board of Governors of Saint Mary’s University is recruiting for external governors!

If you know someone with a passion for higher education and a desire to enrich their association with the University, board service may be for them. 

Candidates interested in serving on the Board should have board experience and skills and competencies that meet our current needs.

These include (but are not limited to) technology sector, public relations, or human resources experience at leadership and strategic levels. Ideal candidates will have deep experience dealing with issues and challenges facing a complex institution.

We are also committed to diversity, and welcome applications from individuals who would contribute to the further diversification of our University community.

 Want to learn more about this exciting opportunity?  Visit the Board of Governors webpage and review our Recruitment Notice.  You can also contact the University Secretary at  or 902-491-6565.

Saint Mary’s newest honorary degree recipients

Above, l-r: Al MacPhee, Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, Padraig O’Malley, and Senator Dan Christmas

Above, l-r: Al MacPhee, Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, Padraig O’Malley, and Senator Dan Christmas

Community building and philanthropy are being celebrated by Saint Mary’s University this May, as the university recognizes the achievements of four new honorary degree recipients.   

The university is pleased to recognize the extraordinary achievements of:

  • Senator Dan Christmas, a Mi’kmaw leader and Independent Senator for Nova Scotia. Mr. Christmas has served in numerous leadership positions in the Mi’kmaw Nation of Nova Scotia. His work has ranged across a variety of fields including aboriginal and treaty rights, justice, policing, education, health care, human rights, adult training, business development and the environment. 

  • Padraig O’Malley, an award-winning author and peacemaker. Mr. O’Malley is an expert on democratic transitions and divided societies, with special expertise on Northern Ireland, South Africa, Iraq, Israel and Palestine. He has earned a global reputation for breaking deadlocks by bringing together parties in intractable conflicts and opening the way to dialogue.

  • Her Excellency Lady Sandra Williams BA’86, a charity founder and philanthropist. A Saint Mary’s alumna, Lady Williams is currently the president of the Antigua and Barbuda China Friendship Association. She is also the president and founder of The Halo Foundation, an umbrella charity established in December 2014 that addresses the needs of 32 charities under the patronage of the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda.

  • Al MacPhee, an auto industry mogul and philanthropist. Mr. MacPhee has been in the auto industry for decades and was recently recognized by Ford Motor Company for his tremendous efforts and contributions to his community. He and his wife Mary are very involved with the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning,  a not-for-profit charitable organization whose vision is to provide an alternative education model for youth in marginalized and disadvantaged circumstances.

“Saint Mary’s is known for academic excellence in arts, business and science and for our commitment to community engagement which serves as a foundation for all that we do,” said Saint Mary’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “We are proud to recognize the accomplishments of four exemplary people who share our Santamarian values, and grant them the highest honour that we can bestow, an honorary degree.”

The honorary degree recipients will receive their degrees later this May at Spring Convocation 2019, which runs from May 15 to May 17.

Entrepreneurship for Everyone: SMUEC annual report released


The Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre (SMUEC) released it’s 2018-19 annual report, aptly named Entrepreneurship for Everyone.

Since re-launching last year under a new name, SMUEC has been working toward its mandate of intergrating and supporting entrepreneurship across all faculties within the university.

The report covers the impressive array of entrepreneurial programming undertaken over the past year, all with a focus to ignite entrepreneurial mindsets and help student entrepreneurs and local businesses thrive.

Some highlights:

  • The new ENbassadors Program saw a team of 13 students working across faculties to encourage student involvement in entrepreneurial activities, reaching 3198 students!.

  • The Runway kiosk allowed selected entrepreneurs to showcase products, conduct market research and engage with consumers at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport

  • The New Product Competition awarded $10,000 in prize money to student teams who developed products to solve a specific retail pain point and presents an opportunity for commercialization.

See an interactive version of the report online:

A closer look at conflict resolution


In honour of North American Occupational Safety & Health (NAOSH) week (May 5-11), the university community will have an opportunity to get an closer look at the history of conflict resolution at Saint Mary’s and how it has lead to successful programming in peace education.

Bridget Brownlow, Conflict Resolution Advisor and president of Peaceful Schools International, will present “A History of Conflict Management and Peace Education at Saint Mary's University”.

Her talk will include a review of conflict resolution within the university community, specific case studies as well as the introduction and development of peace education programming locally and internationally through Peaceful Schools International.

Event details:

“A History of Conflict Management and Peace Education at Saint Mary's University”.
May 7, 2019 - 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. — Loyola 176
Refreshments and prizes!

To register, please email:

MTEI student attends UN Youth Forum in New York


MTEI student Olusegun Osunrinde joined other youth leaders from around the world at The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York early in April.

"The Economic and Social Youth Forum is a platform for young leaders around the world to engage in a dialogue with United Nations Member States as well as regional and global actors to share ideas for advancing the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development,” he writes in his LinkedIn profile. “My group pushed for a review of Sustatinable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education. We recommended the development of educational programs on the UN Values such as Climate Change and SDGs at school level & equipping youth with the necessary skills for the 21st century. It was indeed a great experience."

Student launches "sports-matching" app to help people stay active

BComm student Abdullah “Mubdu” Alali

BComm student Abdullah “Mubdu” Alali

Say goodbye to endless group chats and juggling conflicting schedules while trying to coordinate sports games.

Now, you can simply join a game of your choice with only a few clicks. Saint Mary’s University student, Abdullah “Mubdu” Alali, is the founder of Bloxo, a sport-matching app designed to make organizing, finding, and joining pickup sports games effortless.

Bloxo helps you discover playing opportunities, make new friends, and stay active by getting you involved with sports in your local communities.

Alali is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Entrepreneurship. In addition to launching the Bloxo app, he created a new Toastmasters Club on campus..

Today, the Bloxo app is available to iPhone users and can be downloaded at the Apple App Store.

This free-to-download app not only connects you to your favourite sports games but also connect you with players that match your skill level. Within the first 24 hours of launching, Bloxo has gained over 60 users and filled up two organized sports games, locally.

For more information, visit

— Valerie Caswell, SMUEC

Research with Indigenous communities: engaging respectfully  

Building meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities is the only way to conduct respectful research in and with those communities, a group of 40 Saint Mary’s faculty members and graduate students heard at a workshop on May 1. 

“I get three to four calls a week from people who want to do research within our community,” said guest speaker Pamela Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax. “My gut reaction is always, ‘What do you really want, and what’s the benefit to my community?’”

Some researchers expect to get results with a quick email or phone call but that’s not going to work. In sifting through hundreds of research requests per year, “the ones I tend to accept are from the people who show up, who come to our community events, who remain in contact,” said Glode-Desrochers, who is also a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Affairs at Saint Mary’s.

“We have to have a real relationship, not just a fly-by-night thing. We have to know you’ll be there for the long term.”   

Professor Dr. Trudy Sable facilitated the half-day workshop. It opened with a ceremony and prayers led by Elders Mary Rebecca Julian and Gary Joseph, to acknowledge the importance of connectedness and creating community in doing research. The panel also included Roger Lewis, Curator of Ethnology at the Nova Scotia Museum; and Raymond Sewell, SMU’s Indigenous Student Advisor. The session focused on ethics and practice for appropriate and respectful engagement on research projects with Indigenous communities, particularly First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada.

In working with university students at the museum, Lewis impresses upon them that not all education happens in an academic setting. “I tell them there’s a new type of learning happening here. It’s important to try and understand the perspectives of the people you’re looking at,” he said.   

Language and technology can pose barriers to effective communication in research, added Sewell: “It’s important to try to get beyond the context of academia, and understand us in our own language. Some of our words and concepts don’t actually exist in the English language.”

When reading a final research report, people can sometimes feel misrepresented or “that ‘I didn’t say that.’ Our words can have a different meaning, we have a different way of thinking,” said Sewell.

University research continues to be vitally important but goes much farther when it’s conducted in a true partnership with Indigenous communities, said Glode-Desrochers. That means the community actively participates in setting the research priorities, in shaping the research proposals, and in framing the research questions.

“What will change things is when communities are holding their own research dollars. That’s when you’ll see a really big shift,” she said.

“We are finding our way through research. It’s an opportunity to find our own way, and that’s really important for us.”

An example of a collaborative research partnership is the making of the film Nakatuenita: Respect, which was a production of the Innu Nation with the Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN). The documentary was produced by Dr. Sable and Richard Nuna. Released last fall, it is now available to watch online and is worthwhile viewing for all researchers who work with Indigenous communities.

—Marla Cranston, Faculty of Arts


Be a part of the Alumni Honour Guard!

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It's almost time for Spring Convocation, and the Alumni Office is looking for staff, faculty, and alumni to join us for one or more of the Convocation ceremonies in May.

Alumni Honour Guards welcome students to the alumni family by walking with them during the ceremony; leading them in and out of the McNally Main Theatre Auditorium.


This is a great chance to celebrate the achievements of students you've taught, mentored, or connected with throughout their time at Saint Mary's, and to help show them that they are not saying goodbye to the Santamarian community, but rather starting a new life-long connection as alumni. 

Here are the dates and times, along with faculties: 

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

10:00 AM: Sobey School of Business – Bachelor of Commerce (Surnames A-L)

2:00 PM: Sobey School of Business – Bachelor of Commerce (Surnames M-Z) & Certificates in Commerce.

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

10:00 AM: Faculty of Science – Bachelor of Science & Diplomas & Certificates in Science

2:00 PM: Faculty of Graduates Studies and Research

Friday, May 17th, 2019

10:00 AM: Faculty of Arts – Bachelor of Arts (Surnames A-L)

2:00 PM: Faculty of Arts – Bachelor of Arts (Surnames M-Z)

               Bachelor of Environmental Studies & Certificates in Arts

Please contact if you're available for any of the above dates & times and interested in taking part in the Alumni Honour Guard. We greatly appreciate any time you can give to join us for this exciting time in our students' lives.

Explore 18th century walls, Chinese history in Halifax with guided walks  

Albert Lee

Albert Lee

Jane's Walk Halifax is presenting guided walks throughout the city this weekend, including two with Saint Mary’s University connections.

Well-known local photographer Albert Lee will celebrate Asian Heritage Month tomorrow (Saturday, May 4) with his tour of highlights from 130 years of Chinese-Canadian history in Halifax. Albert is a research associate with the Gorsebrook Research Institute for Atlantic Canada Studies.

On Albert's Wok N Talk, he’ll dish out many untold stories of early Chinese cafés, laundries and other businesses in downtown Halifax locations. Mandarin interpretation will be provided.

All are welcome to join his walk by meeting at 12:30 pm at the corner of Sackville and Brunswick Streets.

The tour winds up by 2:00 pm at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, where Albert will give a presentation titled "Early Chinese History in the Maritimes." He developed the presentation as part of a project funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, through education funds from the Head Tax Redress. For more information, see Albert’s Wok N Talk on Facebook. Rain date: Saturday, May 11, 12:30-2:00 pm.

David Jones BA’14

David Jones BA’14

On Sunday, join SMU graduate David Jones (BA '14, Anthropology and History) for the Halifax Town Wall Walking Tour, which will highlight the original palisade (wooden wall) and corner forts of downtown Halifax. This walk runs from 1:30 to 3:00 pm, rain or shine, and includes hilly terrain. Meet at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica on Spring Garden Road.

For more details, see the Halifax Town Wall Walking Tour on Facebook, and this April 30 coverage on CTV Atlantic, Discovering the secret city from the 1700s under Halifax.

A member of the Board of Directors for both the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society and the Dartmouth Heritage Museum, David is a passionate advocate for history, archaeology and community. Follow him on Twitter at @DJonesDartmouth for updates on his future walking tours and presentations.

Jane’s Walk is a festival of free, citizen-led walking conversations inspired by Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), a writer and advocate who championed the voices of everyday people in urban planning. Held on the first weekend of May, this annual celebration of people and cities began in Toronto in 2007 and has grown to more than 500 walks around the world. Jane’s Walks encourage people to swap stories and discover unseen aspects of their communities, and use walking as a way to connect with their neighbours.

 See Jane's Walk Halifax on Facebook for details on all nine walks happening this weekend in Halifax and Dartmouth.

 — Marla Cranston, Faculty of Arts

Sharing the sacred fire: Ceremonial sweat lodge on campus

 Participating in the first sweat lodge ceremony on campus at Saint Mary’s was an unforgettable way to wrap up the school year for a small group of students.

“It’s a really special experience, that’s for sure,” said John Morrison, an Anthropology major, shortly after emerging from the two-hour ceremony on Monday, April 15.

The sweat lodge structure was built the day before on the lawn behind The Oaks, using wood and rocks gathered in the area. For several hours prior to the ceremony, rocks were heated in the sacred fire pit, then moved into the lodge, where water was poured onto them to create steam. 

“It was a very calming experience being in there,” Criminology major Mary Rice said during a group lunch afterwards. “It was really hot but I was just focusing on putting my energy into the praying and healing. What helped me get through the heat was the people I was praying for; they’re going through a hard time so I can go through the heat for a little while to send them healing thoughts.”  

Raymond Sewell, SMU’s Indigenous Student Advisor, said students have long been inquiring about having a sweat lodge on campus so it was nice to see it become a reality this week.

Over the past term in the Indigenous Peoples of Canada course, students had been learning about cultural and historical challenges for Indigenous Peoples The course is taught by Professors Trudy Sable and Roger Lewis and one of their guest speakers was NSCC’s Indigenous Student Advisor Gary Joseph, a Cree Elder married to a Mi’kmaw woman from Shubenacadie. During his class presentation, Joseph guided students through a mock sweat lodge experience.

“The students really liked it and felt it showed the resilience of Indigenous cultures healing and moving forward given the painful and often unrecognized history they had been learning and discussing in class,” said Dr. Sable. Students expressed an interest in trying the real thing, which took some advance coordination but it came together with help from Sewell and his father, as well as Joseph., plus funding from the Office of the Vice-President Academic & Research.

“This just seemed like an opportune time and an experiential continuation of our class. There is a lot of interest to do more of them,” said Dr. Sable. The sweat lodge will remain on campus for a year and Sewell looks forward to coordinating future events.

Joseph provided some context around the elements of Monday’s ceremony: “Some of our ancestors a long time ago who signed agreements with other nations, one of the comments that often came of that treaty process was ‘we’re doing this for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow’. When we make the sacred fire, we’re making a connection with the fire of your spirit and the fire of the sun. When you make these ceremony lodges, the grass is also part of the ribs of Mother Earth, so we’re acknowledging Mother Earth. And the water of course, we’re born from water, we’re breathing water, and water is 80 per cent of our body, so we share the water.”

Stephanie Dionne, an Anthropology major, strongly encouraged other students to try out the sweat lodge when the opportunity arises again. It’s an important addition to the campus as a welcoming space for Indigenous students, but also as a helpful gateway to intercultural study for other students, she said.

“It’s a starting point to broader understanding. I feel like it’s giving us a window into the life of other people,” said Dionne. 

Submitted by Marla Cranston, Faculty of Arts















Mineral Resources Development Fund expansion announced at Saint Mary’s University

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

Businesses, prospectors and researchers now have more support for innovative projects in the mining sector as the result of a provincial government announcement at Saint Mary’s University.

 As part of Budget 2019-20, the province is increasing the Mineral Resources Development Fund by $800,000 to a total of $1.5 million. Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette opened the fund to applications in an event at Saint Mary’s on April 9.

 “Mining is a globally competitive sector that creates career opportunities for our young people, while generating revenue for programs and services that benefit all Nova Scotians,” said Minister Mombourquette. “These investments make connections and develop new ideas that help our companies stay at the forefront of technology and environmental protection.”

 Saint Mary’s University Professor Dr. Jacob Hanley and PhD student Kevin Neyedley received $47,500 from the fund in 2018. They are working on research and gathering geological information about how strategic minerals formed. This will help identify where deposits may be located and then extracted with minimal environmental impact.

“It is vitally important for Nova Scotians to have access to the most current scientific knowledge, gathered using cutting edge research tools,” said Dr. Hanley.

“Our research can help attract companies by reducing exploration costs for industry and reduce the impact that grass-roots exploration has on the environment through narrowing the size of mineral deposit targets,” said Mr. Neyedley.

Last year, the province supported 28 projects including mineral exploration programs, professional development, innovation, university research and training opportunities for young people.