A New Approach to Mental Health

 
 

Flourish @ X

When the discipline of psychology began, it was much closer to philosophy than a hard science. Early critics of the field stressed the importance of objectivity, for psychology to ever be taken seriously as a science. Of course, this was a positive change in many ways, as understanding the human mind requires rigorous and replicable study. Yet, there is something profound in the writings of the psychological pioneers like Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow and Viktor Frankl. It is worth questioning where the old approach to psychology may have had merit, and whether anything is being overlooked in the current approach.

In many ways, the relatively new subfield of psychology, Positive Psychology returns to the disciplines roots while maintaining scientific rigor. Though much of modern psychology is focused on retroactively treating those with mental illnesses and disorders, Positive Psychology takes a proactive approach to mental well-being. The study is concerned with identifying what it takes to lead a happy and fulfilled life.

In recent years, some universities across Canada have initiated programs which apply the findings of Positive Psychology to help the general student population maintain mental well-being. Now, StFX has launched a new concept which follows in that spirit. So, I sat down with Ivan Drouin, clinical psychologist here at StFX, to get the low-down about his exciting new project on campus this semester.

The program is called Flourish @ X, and it’s a large-scale approach to self-actualization. It is made up of a variety of events, workshops and informative talks - for students, for free. In Ivan’s words, “Just like we try to have activities to promote a good physical health, we’re trying to now have activities on campus to promote a good mental health.” Currently, the first of many workshops for Flourish @ X are underway focused on mindfulness, stress, and procrastination management. Anyone interested should not delay!

At the core of Flourish @ X is a Positive Psychology literature review of world philosophies and religions which has described 6 “cardinal virtues,” comprised of 24-character strengths which span cross-culturally, and which have direct impact on one’s happiness. Flourish @ X is aimed at helping students identify and develop these character strengths within themselves.

As mentioned previously, workshops are only one small piece to Flourish @ X. In addition, there will be Ted Talk style presentations by students, for students, meeting on the second floor of Mini Moe’s cafe. Ivan elaborates, “That’s kind of the basic of the flourishing program, offering exercises, workshops and events, to promote a better mental health for the students.”

These talks will take place on Tuesdays from five to six o’clock, on February 5, March 5, and April 2. Conversations will revolve around three main topics as of now: 1) Healthy lifestyles, 2) Healthy relationships and 3) Success at X. Presenters will be current students and recent graduates. Anyone interested in giving a talk is encouraged to contact Ivan Druin at idrouin@stfx.ca with a short, half page summary of what they would like to speak about.

Flourish @ X is in practice, but it is still developing. Down the road there may be other offerings like a collective art project, among other things. Ivan recommends that those interested visit the Facebook page, Flourish at StFX, and drop-in on an upcoming workshop. Dates for which include: January 31, February 7 and 14 from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. in Bloomfield 427.

 

Where’s Our Flag?

 
 

It’s time for StFX to permanently install the Pride flag & the Pan-African flag 

Back in September of 2015 StFX permanently installed the Mi’kmaq flag, which was long overdue. This land was and still is the traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq people. StFX made the move forward for helping the process of reconciliation and indigenizing this campus with this act. 

On January 7, 2019 the pride flag was raised outside of Morrison hall to celebrate the beginning of pride month here at StFX. It was a very blustery cold day, but still people showed up to show their support and celebrate diversity. Alongside the pride flag sits, the Mi’kmaq, Nova Scotia, and Canadian flag. All of which are permanently installed. I think we can all agree that it’s time for StFX to permanently install the pride flag and Pan-African flag here on campus. 

Bre O’Handley is the Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor here at StFX. O’Handley is such an important figure on this campus and works tirelessly to make a positive difference on this campus, this university is lucky to have her working here. I asked O’Handley about the pride flag being permanently installed and what it would mean to the LGBTQ+ here on campus and she had this to say, “In the case of the flag at StFX, now that the Mi’kmaq flag is permanently installed, I definitely think the flag flown during African Heritage month should be permanently installed next as StFX has a long history of oppression with those communities. If StFX chose to fly the three flags (including the Pride flag), this would be a sign of respect and support for these communities which still experience discrimination. Flying the pride flag would indicate to students within the LGBTQ+ community that StFX is a space for them and that StFX as an institution acknowledges their presence on campus and welcomes them here. It’s really simple yet a powerful way that StFX can work towards being a more inclusive and welcoming campus to students who have historically been marginalized on campus.” 

O’Handley made a very important point in her statement, the flag flown during African Heritage month should also be permanently installed. 

February 1 will mark the beginning of African heritage month here at StFX, in which the Pan-African flag will also be raised for the month. I spoke with Summer-joy Upshaw, who is the Representative of Student of African Descent and asked her the similar question of why the Pan-African flag needs to be permanently installed at StFX. 

“The importance of representation across our campus lies solely in the diversity of the people we represent. Being situated on a campus that is the home to many diverse backgrounds and cultures means that it is important to devote the utmost effort into accurately representing these cultures in an equitable and prosperous way.” 

“The celebration of any group of individuals holds such a powerful impact that can only strengthen bonds of solidarity amongst social and cultural groups. Given that we are experiencing a time of extreme advocacy, on the behalf of many marginalized, stigmatized and oppressed groups, it only seems appropriate that our campus do its due diligence and continue creating an inclusive and culturally enriched environment for all that study here. The installment of a Pan-African flag holds extreme importance to me as I, myself, self-identify as African-Nova Scotian. Being the Representative for Students of African Descent on this campus, I witness many instances of injustice that still continue to affect our people.” 

“I find it extremely crucial to continue advocating on behalf of my constituents, as equitable outcomes for all, on all planes, is a basic human right. With the installment of a Pan-African flag comes triumph and satisfaction. This flag not only symbolizes the great obstacles that our people have overcome, but it also gives acknowledgement to the point that regardless of the hardships we have been faced as a people, we have overcome it, and for that, we are resilient. The Pan-African flag is an emblem of strength and courage and deserves nothing more than to be flown high above our campus grounds in recognition of all of our African peoples.” 

This institution prides itself and always expressed how it’s a very inclusive campus and a positive space for everyone no matter their race, sexuality, gender or religion. It does not take much to install these flags, but what they mean to the individuals that identity with these flags means everything. 

It does not matter how much the university advertise words about inclusivity, words do not mean anything if no action is taken. University is hard, no matter what year of study you are in, or what one’s program is. The last thing that anyone would want to feel is not supported or the feeling of not being welcome. These flags represent parts of people identities, and how far they’ve had to come in life to get where they are today. 

It’s 2019 and it’s time for StFX to make room for the Pride flag and the Pan-African flag outside of Morrison hall permanently. 

 

Karen Nembhard Interview

 
 

Co-coordinator of B.L.A.C.C. invites students to get involved with their society

Karen Nembhard was interviewed by Yanik Gallie on January 25, 2019. 

Nembhard is a fourth-year international student who is pursuing a B.A. in Psychology (Concentration in Forensic Psychology) and a minor in Development Studies. Nembhard  is one of the coordinators for the B.L.A.C.C. Students Society. Nembhard is passionate about social justice issues. She believes it is important that we all consider the role we play in making our university a more equitable social environment to live, learn and work.

***

YG: Tell me about yourself and your philosophy as a leader. 

KN: I am in my fourth-year major in Forensic Psychology concentration as well as a minor in Development Studies. I do as many courses on Women and Gender as possible because my area of interest is social justice. I’m super passionate about it. I love seeing people do the work to get to a more equitable society. It’s very important and valuable work. Hopefully we get to a day where we don’t have to do that anymore, but for right now it’s good to be aware of it. That ties into my philosophy. As a leader, it’s about improving the conditions and understanding that words like diversity, inclusion, and equality have become buzzwords. We have to be realistic and set goals that are attainable. I believe in equity. Saying we’re equal and the same denies me of my individuality and experience as well as another person who might have a physical disability or be from the LGBTQ+ communities. I think we need to allow people to be individuals by seeing them as full people and helping them in that way. 

YG: What have been successes and challenges of your society?

KN: The successes are that we were able to get this thing off the ground and have people come out and like it, support it, and have a good time as well as having tough conversations sometimes. Tough conversations are required for growth. The process of growing isn’t easy, there can growing pains; In anything, they’re inevitable. I would say challenges would be that we tried to have a B.L.A.C.C. society of some sort a few years ago and it didn’t really work out because not everyone felt like they were being included and represented in the way they wanted to be. Meaning, there is a lot of diversity within the African descent society. I’m of African descent, but I’m from the Caribbean. My experience will not be the same as someone who’s of African descent from Canada. If you’re African as opposed to African descent, there are also differences. I would say it has been a little bit challenging to really deal with and showcase that. A lot of the time when you look at someone of color, you just kind of tag past it. When you describe someone of color, it tends to be “Oh, I know that person’s Black.” If I am a person of dark skin, but I am from an African country I might not view the world as a Canadian would. From the outside, we’re seen as one. If I am of African descent and do something bad like having a bad conversation with a police officer and everyone gets painted in the same light, that’s not fair to our community. We don’t get to have the same individuality as everyone else. There is a lot more diversity within cultures, but we tend to focus on “Well, we have some Black people in this picture,” “Asians in this picture,” and “LGBTQ+ people in this picture” but there are so many layers beyond that which we don’t look at. It has a been a challenge in terms of getting people to understand and acknowledge that. At the same time, there is strength in numbers. It’s better to be seen as a community for certain efforts. If you’re rallying for something like a representative of the Students’ Union, we want to do that and hold onto our individual identities. 

YG: Describe your vision for the society’s future.

KN: My vision is increasing in its reach. By reach, I mean not just StFX but reaching out to students at Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University because there is more strength in greater numbers. I want for it to always remain true in that the first and foremost important thing is to be a safe space for students of color and to be representative of the diversity within the community. I definitely want it to be an advocacy platform too. 

The name of the society is pronounced “Black” but it’s spelt B.L.A.C.C. and “B” is biracial, “L” is the Latinx community, “A” is African, “C” is Canadian, and the other “C” is Caribbean because they are the different backgrounds and cultures that we come from. I’m sure we can add way more letters because it can be more diverse. I think it should stay true to being diverse and hopefully it will be a place where people go to for help and resources. I hope it can improve the race relations at StFX and improve people’s understanding of diversity and those buzzwords by creating a real meaning for them. It’s one thing to say, “We’re diverse and working on being diverse,” but people just don’t get up and go. Antigonish is a predominately white community. Saying to somebody from Antigonish, “Hey, you should be more diverse.” How? You just stop at saying it should. People could use some help in understanding what that means. 

Photo: Tega Sefia

Photo: Tega Sefia


YG: How is Agnes Calliste’s vision and pathway here at StFX meaningful to your society?

KN: It’s badass. She was the first person to create the African Student Descent office that Kelsey Jones occupies. I think that was the first step in creating a safe space for students of color who attend StFX because they have someone that I can go to for advice or help in a particular area. Even our society now relies on that office a lot. For students who might not be aware of what the office does, we try to connect students. If you’re a student of African descent and you need help or you’re facing a particular issue on campus, B.L.A.C.C. might not have all the answers because we’re students but you can go to the office to get more help. That office is instrumental and very important. I think we need to pay attention to the work that’s being done there. Calliste did that years ago, and here we are now being grateful for it. It’s important to value that moment and the things that have come since. I think she’s an inspirational badass. 

YG: Do you think the Pan-African flag should be permanently installed on campus?

KN: Absolutely. I’m not Black for a month. I’m Black 365 days a year. If it’s a leap year, add an extra day (chuckles). I think it should be there at all times as a symbol that this university is committed to working towards better relations on that front. I’m not saying they aren’t, they definitely have made improvements, and I support and salute changes that are made outside of the Black community like the Indigenous and Pride communities. They’re not mutually exclusive, because the system of oppression doesn’t decide, “I’m only going to work against this group.” It’s shared. I think raising the flag is a perfect next step for the university. The flag is a symbol that the university is committed. It’s not just let’s do this for a month. We’re Black students for the entire time we’re here and the rest of our lives. It would serve as a reminder. Let’s say we put up a flag. We can’t say that everything’s great now; The flag should be a reminder of more work to do. 

YG: What is your message to students about your society?

KN: I know that some students think I’m not necessarily Black, I would want to know more, and I don’t know if I can participate. You absolutely can. We’ll add another “A” for allyship to the name. I think it’s important to have more voices looking at these issues and learning about culture. The general StFX community consumes Black music, culture, and art. How cool would it be to learn more about it appropriately? It’s one of the best spaces on campus to come, ask questions, and learn. We’re open to all students who want to join our society. 

 

St. Ninian’s Development and Revival

 
 

Nine saints await restoration to former glory

In five years, St  Ninian’s Cathedral will reach the venerable age of 150 years old. In that time, the cathedral has seen many changes; renovations, restorations, and additions. For that 150th anniversary, retired StFX computer science professor, Ernst Schuegraf, is hoping that the most recent restoration will be finished in time. Schuegraf is a passionate advocate for the return of the work of the original artist, Ozias Leduc, a lauded Québecois artist, whose work in St  Ninian’s has been altered, covered over, and almost forgotten even in the time before his death 1955. Schuegraf has been deeply involved in the research, restoration advocacy, and funding drives in hopes that the public will be able to see the illustrious artwork of Leduc in time for the anniversary.

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Though lauded and celebrated in Québec, where his skill can still be seen in a number of Catholic churches across the province, Leduc’s work at St  Ninian’s is only now being restored to some of its former glory. When originally completed, the cathedral had a rear, semi-circular space with a large stain glass window, the apse, which poured light into the length of the cathedral. Leduc utilised this central source of light and painted the twelve apostles (plus St.  John the Baptist and St. Cecilia) down the length of the main space, the nave, ensconcing them in painted faux-stonework niches, and painted shadows and highlights into the faux stone niches as if light from the apse was pouring in at early morning.  Originally, each of the niches were connected to each other with elaborate lines of faux stonework painting, but this was all painted over and forgotten sometime after the 1930s.

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

The cathedral is the result of a move of the diocese from Arichat to Antigonish. Built to improve a smaller church on main street, of which only the cemetery still remains, which can be found behind the gas station and the Royal Canadian Legion building. The men of the time were expected by the bishop to provide one day of unpaid labour a week to help build, move, and quarry limestone and sandstone from North Grant. The unpaid labour was in addition to the charge of 89¢ a head, no small fee in the 1860s, levied on the parishioners to help pay for the cathedral. The cathedral still retains some of the hidden mementoes of Antigonish’s important maritime past; the church rests on timbers salvaged from a shipwreck at the time of construction, and the glass prisms that directed light into the lower decks of the ship are still in place directing sunlight into crawlspaces below the cathedral. Even with some attempts to control costs the diocese was left in debt to the tune of $40 000 (more than a million dollars in 2019), including the efforts made to move the fledgling university to Antigonish from Cape Breton. The cathedral also boasts the original organ that was installed during its construction, a manual organ than Father Donald MacGillivray says is of such quality that “it will last another 500 years.” Once St. Ninian’s was completed it was the largest stone building east of Montréal for some time and a good example of Romanesque architecture, which was rather in vogue across North America and Western Europe.

Finished and consecrated in 1874, it would be almost 30 years before the interior would be Leduc would be hired to paint the nave, the ceiling, and the stations of the cross. 

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Although some of his artwork would have been painted in Montréal on canvas and transported to Antigonish (to be glued into placed in a process called merouflage), while in town, Leduc painted a number of landscapes and portraits, some of which can still be seen around the university. However, much of his artwork has been painted over, destroyed or, like his works in Xavier Hall, lost during renovations in the 1930s and 1950s, the niches and the apostles were completely painted over, only now to be painstakingly restored. A large painting over the altar of God carrying a book inscribed with the alpha and omega symbols, has been so badly painted over that only the beard remains and the cost to restore the rest is staggering, and no less made worse by steam leaks, moisture, and soot damage from decades past.

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

Photo Source: Ernst Schuegraf

The work of raising money to restore the cathedral is considerable. The annual repairs to the church and a 2012 settlement to victims of former Nova Scotia priest, Hugh Vincent MacDonald, have left the Diocese with few available resources to restore the saints, each with a $20 000 price tag. It has only been through the generosity of the parishioners of St. Ninian’s that Father Donald MacGillivray and Ersnt Schuegraf have been able to restore five of the fourteen saints to the original glory of Ozias Leduc.

Anyone interested in learning about St. Ninian’s cathedral or donating to restoration efforts can visit saintninian.ca.

 

Death of the New Year’s Resolution

 
 

Is it time to change the yearly routine?

There is a long-standing tradition to profess your new year’s resolutions on the first day of every year. 

Usually, these resolutions are pretty simple – go on a diet; exercise more; focus more on school. It makes sense that new year’s resolutions are a thing...after all, a new year means a new start, and people always get inspired to put the past behind them or better themselves in some way once January kicks in. 

But do these resolutions mean anything?

Based on personal experience and the experience of those around me, new year’s resolutions typically don’t last very long. 

Once you get back into the swing of things and life starts getting in the way, it’s likely that you will forget all about that one resolution you made to fix your sleep schedule (and we all know how well that resolution was going to go). All of that energy is put into, at most, a couple of weeks of genuine intention to change for the better. While having a new year’s resolution and good intentions might be fine, it feels a little futile. 

New year’s resolutions make us feel good for a short period, and they are always about ourselves. Little things we need to fix in our life that we could fix any time of the year! 

With a day as important as new year’s, shouldn’t the opportunity be used for something bigger than that? Or should we get rid of new year’s resolutions altogether and instead try to make a more conscious effort to help our communities year-round? 

January can be a boring month. For us Canadians, the weather can be frigid, and nobody feels like doing anything. Pretty bad combination for trying to make a resolution happen. 

Perhaps we can use that extra time January seems to bring us to look into charities,  volunteer projects and opportunities that benefit our community. 

For example, there are opportunities for volunteer student mentorship for those of us who are soon to become StFX Alumni. Within the Antigonish town, there are volunteer positions at valuable places such as the Women’s Resource Centre.

New year’s could be more than just a one-week stint at the gym. January can be the month that reminds you that you have an entire year ahead of you to make some time to give back. 

Recently, a friend of mine decided to embark on an AIDS LifeCycle ride. This means that he will be riding his bicycle 900km for seven days to raise money to fight HIV/AIDS. 

It is an amazing cause, and so my new year’s resolution    actually is a reminder – a         reminder to donate as much as a broke university student can to a friend who is fundraising for something really important. 

This is another change that we could make to the way we approach new years to come. We do not have to do charity or volunteer work all alone! Ask around to people you know if they already have plans to volunteer this year. Try and help as much as you can with fundraising or even just getting the word out there. 

If you do not think you can contribute to a community project, then don’t force it. We all have our own lives and things we have the head space to achieve every year. 

Yet, just making the effort to simply find out if you know people who can contribute is just as commendable! Instead of new year’s resolutions, let’s start a new trend of new year’s reminders. 

Remind yourself in January to do something that will not only make you feel better but might also help people around you. Whether it be community volunteer work or helping a friend in their charitable  project, get involved.

 

Post-Grad Panic

 
 

Choosing a path after graduation

As convocation looms ever closer, there’s one question that senior students ponder that’s as unavoidable as encountering that one incredibly annoying relative at family gatherings. That dreaded question being: What are you doing after graduation?

We all know someone that already has their post-grad life planned out and ready to go for the day they receive their degree. However, for many, choosing what to do after convocation involves a lot of confusion, some panic, and perhaps an existential crisis or two. So, for those senior students still contemplating their future, here’s a guide for some of the options open to you after you leave StFX.

Many students are currently opting to continue on with graduate studies after receiving their first degree. For many seniors, the process of applying to graduate school is already done, besides waiting for acceptance letters or funding. It’s not an easy process, with having to gather references, writing statements of interest, and taking standardized tests, among other things. So, to all those who have already applied to medical school, law school, or any other graduate program, good luck and congratulations on getting through the application process.

For those who are still looking at applying to graduate school in the future, you should consider some things first. Ask yourself if you are ready for several more years of education, going into debt, and have what’s necessary to get in. Going to graduate school is an important decision, as the program, the supervisor, and the university you choose can have a long-lasting influence on your career and future. If you have any lingering doubts about grad school, ask yourself if that’s what you really want to do before applying.

Another option after graduation is to find a job, potentially in your field. There’s nothing wrong with polishing your resume and applying to jobs after convocation. However, it’s a good idea to take the time to consider what type of job you want, if you’re willing to relocate, and how long you want to be working somewhere before sending out any applications. Don’t be afraid to ask people already working in your ideal job field what it’s like and for tips as well, as that can help orient where you apply. So long as you are open-minded to opportunities during the job hunting process, there’s bound to be a job for you out there.

Travelling is another great option to pursue after convocation since you have the time to do so. Whether you decide to travel to relax, to learn about new cultures, or for fun, it can be a valuable life experience. You can also opt for programs like Au Pairs that allows for travel and work at the same time, although make sure you’re willing to look after children and live with a host family first. While travelling can be invaluable post-graduation, make sure you can afford to take a trip and are being safe before jumping on the first plane to a distant country.

If you’re still uncertain about any of the above options and what you’ll do post-graduation, don’t worry. After all, you have time to figure out where to go next, and you can always change your mind if a career or graduate school isn’t for you. Even if you have to find work immediately after graduation to pay off debt, there’s always an opportunity to take a step back and ask what you want out of life. You’re not a failure if you don’t have all the answers right now, but taking the time to ask yourself the daunting questions about the future can help.

Life after formal education is scary, no matter if you have a game plan or are making things up as you go along. So, as convocation gets closer, remember that you are not alone in any doubts and worries you have about the future, and choosing where to go next.

 

Books that Aren’t Textbooks

 
 

The power of minimalism

Perhaps you were one of the fortunate people who had too much time during the break to relax. If you were, maybe you picked up a book that wasn’t a textbook. 

If you did, I’m happy for you. It can be challenging to make time to read for pleasure, especially while studying. A lot of times we don’t turn to reading as a downtime activity or as something to do to unwind. Maybe one of your new year’s goals is to finish that book you picked up in the summer that’s been hiding underneath last semester’s study notes. Or maybe you’ve promised yourself just to read more in general. 

Many of us read more than we think: there’s an infinite amount to read as we scroll through our newsfeeds, the blackholes of forums and posts to catch up on in Instagram. If you don’t like reading, maybe it’s because you haven’t found something of interest to read. But there is something about picking up a book, even just for a few minutes every day, that is enjoyable. 

We also sometimes forget about how much is out there. Here is a short list of suggestions for readings this year.

Cal Newport - Digital Minimalism 

For the past year or so, there has been a lot of talk about the practice of minimalism. There are several books about getting rid of your junk, packing your little backpack and going on a wild expedition. There are Youtube channels and TV shows about experts going into peoples’ lives to coach them in the art of being a minimalist. In Digital Minimalist, Newport speaks to how minimalism is about more than just throwing out all of your stuff. In short, minimalism is about knowing how much is enough. This goes for our physical belongings as well as our personal technology. In our tech-savvy and digital world, we are losing out on the many other real-time satisfactions in our lives. 

Tanya Talaga - All Our Relations

Given the recent arrests in Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia, it is no surprise that the new year posesses the same conflicts and injustices. Resistance, resilience and reconciliation. These are a few buzzwords, important ones at that, that we all have the responsibility to understand. Talaga, author of Seven Fallen Feathers, a novel that highlights the silencing of the missing and murdered indigenous children of Thunder Bay, speaks to the national and international crises that is the continuing oppression of Indigenous peoples and their families. This is a non-fiction read with personal accounts and a lengthy list of cited academic works regarding justice and power – just a start to learning more about this local and global issue.

Michael Lewis - The Fifth Risk 

There is quite a bit of noise surrounding American politics. Having trouble following it all? Maybe it is not beneficial to listen and read the headlines. Quite frankly, it is a lot of words (or the same words over and over from President Trump). Underneath all of the mess and confusion are many other individuals, some destructive and others heroes, who are lost in the mayhem. Lewis brings these folks’ voices to the forefront to examine everyone’s question: What is going on? Read it, my dad said so.

Mira Jacob - Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations 

If you like graphic novels, this visually-appealing read is coming out in March. In this compilation of works, Jacob touches on the subjects of colour, race, religion, sexuality and love. Her writing stems from her own conversations with her son. This book is a collection of how she has gone about these “tough subjects.” All the while, she uses artful humour to convey her messages – something perhaps we can learn from in these times of noise, powerful opinions and ongoing social unrest.

Richard Louv - Last Child in the Woods

This book is not a recent release but it is an important one. Louv speaks to the modern-day problem in children: nature-deficit disorder. As the digital world continues to develop, children are missing out on what perhaps a lot of us are learning is very important to our wellness as adults. Going outside. 

The outdoors has an unequivocal effect on our brains and it is, as Louv puts it, our responsibility to preserve it, relish its beauty and educate each other on its importance for our upcoming generations and ourselves.

Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie - Americanah

You’ve likely heard of this author before. She is the face of a memorable TedTalk, “The danger of a single story.” Her voice, ever-captivating, provides a clear picture of the differences that exist in our world. Americanah is a fictional novel about a young girl named Ifemelu and her boyfriend, Obinze. As the setting in the book shifts, the subjects of race and identity are unpacked in an interwoven and complex story. This book is  available for purchase in the bookstore on campus conveniently enough. 

 

Bachelor of Education Students Host Music Recital

 

I entered to drying coats, I left to drying eyes

After Danielle Richard and Jessica MacLean closed out the Bachelor of Education music recital with “Musical Theatre Boys,” I left and dug for a cigarette - whatever’d calm my nerves. I understand speed-walking out of St. James United Church a little after 8pm while fumbling with a lighter isn’t a good look. So, I decided against it. But after an hour straight with my hairs standing up, I needed a comedown.

The setting made sense. A cold and wet November 3, we huddled in the pews to keep us warm. Bunches of Education students mixed with family and friends. A few sniffles, mumbled chatter, jackets unzipping, awkward half-smiles to strangers.

“When’s it going to start? Isn’t it at 7?”

They appeared almost on cue, single file and well-dressed. Silence, a single sniff. Joseph Goodwin stood while the other three took their seats in the front row. Pianist sits, everyone’s silent. A stifled cough, “Oh jeez, I’m so sorry.” Silence again. Goodwin began.

Goodwin opened with Handel’s “Lascia ch’io pianga.” I’ve run out of adjectives for his baritone or the control he has over it. Jaw-dropping’s cliche, but accurate. And I sat full mouth mouth-breathing, everything about his work with the National Youth Choir of Canada and garnered acclaim made sense. As he hits notes beyond us, we just sit breathless.

Second, Lauren Siteman. Her frankness refreshes us. Siteman introduces her first piece simply, “It’s a love song.” Siteman’s talent too, is direct. Every note hit perfectly, every dynamic switched on a dime. I need to address something. Siteman, whether she knows it or not, sings honestly. I’m not sure how to describe it yet, but everything she sings I believe. It was a love song. Because for three minutes I somehow knew who and how she loved.

Third, Danielle Richard. In her second year of education, this was her first performance. Her voice control was absolutely terrifying. Goodwin and Siteman had each of us nodding, smiling, and gasping, but Richard had us looking around at one another with an awed, “Are you seeing this?” sort of face. 

Nothing surprises me about her background in musical theatre. The way she carries herself on a stage speaks for itself. I should note here as well that Danielle’s performance of “I’ll Be Here” brought a few people to tears. But not me though… absolutely not… not a chance. We’d always been told Danielle is incredible, then we heard her for ourselves and know it to be true.

Fourth, Jessica MacLean. Her stage presence is an extension of herself. Most of us cling onto some drab sense of self importance. Jess tosses all that trash out. She moves around the stage with intent one second, vulnerability the next. Whatever the piece calls for, she clicks into her performative nature and disappears. 

MacLean only returns after she’s sung the last lines of “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” once the applause begins, there she is. How she stays so expressive and fluid while hitting even the hardest notes perfectly, I’ll never understand.

A fifth member of the Education Recital, Stacia Findlay, was slated to perform but unfortunately pulled out due to an illness. Rumours are she’s an internationally renowned monster in her own right. I’m looking forward to her performance.

Another recital is in the works. Go see it. Whether it’s an email or poster, plan around the date you read. I entered to drying coats, I left to drying eyes.

 
 

The Spirit of Ovid Looms over Bauer Theatre

 

Theatre Antigonish presents an excellent production of Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses

The spirit of Ovid loomed in Bauer Theatre starting November 8, the opening night of Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses. A six-inch deep center-stage pool is host of Narcissus’ self-gaze, Phaethon’s hilarious conversation with a therapist and the powerful scenes involving Midas among Zimmerman’s nine myths inspired from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and others who wrote about Metamorphoses such as Rainer Maria Rilke. About a hundred people in attendance rose for a standing ovation after the surprise ending on opening night. 

There is no doubt that changing a work from poetry to theatre changes the experience of it. Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses is not a staging of Ovid’s literary triumph, as she goes beyond changing the medium through which Ovid’s saga is enjoyed. Rather, Zimmerman’s production borrows characters and stories from Ovid to create a more focused story about the changing power of love.

The tale unfolded on stage by Zimmerman is far from the one riddled by Ovid, though they are not entirely disconnected. In both fables, King Midas’ judgement is clouded by his desire for wealth. He similarly encounters a follower of Bacchus, takes care of the man, and is rewarded by the god with the power to turn all things to gold. This however, is where the two depictions part ways. There are many minor differences. As an example, Ovid’s Midas is an old drinking friend of Silenus, “When Midas saw the old man was Silenus - They had been filthy drunken good old friends - He ordered up a dozen rounds of drinks - Then more and more, and drank ten days and nights” (Ovid, 290). Zimmerman’s Midas does not know Silenus, but only speaks with him out of the possible prospect of profiting on the key to immortality, “Go on. Is it an animal? Even better if it’s an animal, we could breed them here. My god, the millions!” 

What is more important though, is how tragedy strikes. In Ovid’s version, Midas uses his wealth to order a feast but comes to the sad realization that he is unable to satisfy his most basic need to eat, “The feast laid out before him, he went hungry - And though his throat burned dry, no drink could wet it - By his own choice gold had become his torture” (Ovid, 291). Zimmerman morphs the misfortune entirely. Midas is surprised by his daughter who leaps into his arms and is, as his new power demands, turned to gold. Ovid’s honeyed words never even make mention of a daughter, or any family of the king for that matter, excluding a reference to Bacchus as, “His foster child in drink” (Ovid, 290). After their respective tribulations, the two writers similarly display a remorseful Midas who appeals to Bacchus’ pity and asks that he be freed of his once-desired condition. 

In each case, Midas is granted this wish by washing his hands in faraway waters. Ovid, not often being one to end a story on a happy note, ensures that the once-greedy king’s luck soon runs out. The next punishment Ovid envisions for Midas, Apollo changing the king’s ears into those of an ass, is entirely absent from Zimmerman’s interpretation. She opts to end the story of the king, and indeed the entire play, on a hopeful note. After a long absence from the stage, Midas returns to the spotlight. The king arrives at the faraway waters in the pool, and after washing his hands as instructed, he is freed from his gift-turned-curse and reunited with his daughter.

For Zimmerman, the story of the greedy king is the alpha and the omega. The far greater length of Ovid’s work allows him to explore a vast number of themes, love being one of many. Zimmerman finds ample space to express several ideas within love such as chaos and order, justice versus injustice, theology, and rebirth. 

Each of her stories represents some form of love. For examples, the beginnings of romantic love with Pomona and Vertumnus, the loss of love between Orpheus and Eurydice, the paternal love of Apollo and Phaeton, the forbidden love of Myrrha and king Cinyras, the self-love of Narcissus and of Erysichthon, and the different forms of undying love in Alcyone and Ceyx, Eros and Psyche, and Baucis and Philemon.

Salome Barker, an outstanding actress in the play, says, “The biggest take away that I have from performing the different characters within the play Metamorphoses would be the idea of change and transformation. The best way I can describe this is when I played the character of Eurydice. The opening part is the classic tale, on Eurydice and Orpheus’ wedding day, Eurydice is killed by a snake and must go to the underworld. In this version of the tale, she is devastated and wants to be with her husband. However, in the Zimmerman version she tells two stories, the second one being from Rilke. In this tale, death is so new to Eurydice that she forgets about Orpheus, and she does not need him anymore. She’s content with this new life. It was very challenging for me to portray this, going from loving Orpheus to then changing and realizing that she was okay without him.”

One who attends the play expecting to see a faithful representation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses will undoubtedly be sorely disappointed. Zimmerman’s play simply isn’t that, and it doesn’t try to be. Instead, Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses rents Ovid’s myths and interprets them in unexpected new ways, to create a theatrical parable about the transformative power of love. For those with a soft-spot for happy endings, and a stomach for tragedy, Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses is sure to delight. 

 
 

Dr. Phyne dives into urban renewal within Canada

 

StFX member Dr. John Phyne co-authoring a manuscript for publication in 2019 or 2020

Dr. John Phyne is a member of the StFX Sociology Department. He has worked here since 1989. 

Phyne has recently published an article looking at the Canadian housing authority during the urban renewal programs in the 1950s and 60s. His research for most of his career has been on the global political economy of the salmon aquaculture industry which he was involved in from 1992 to 2010. 

A short time ago, he collaborated with Christine Knott of Memorial University on an academic article titled “Rehousing Good Citizens: Gender, Class, and Family Ideals in the St. John’s Housing Authority Survey of the Inner City of St. John’s, 1951 and 1952” which was published in the journal Acadiensis. This article investigates how middle-class family ideals were used to relocate administratively defined “good citizens” from a multidimensional “slum” neighbourhood in St. John’s in the 1950s and 1960s.

I sat down with Dr. Phyne to discuss his personal connection to the article and his intrinsic motivation behind writing the article. During Celtic Week in 2011, Dr. Phyne delivered a talk about growing up in a largely Catholic neighbourhood. He stated that he grew up in a neighbourhood just west of the “central slum” in St. John’s and family on his father’s mother’s side lived in the “central slum” dating back to the 19th century. Most homes within this area lacked water or sewer facilities and many city centre households collected water from public tanks. Phyne was moved to investigate the area after his talk in 2011. 

In 2012 and 2013 he travelled to St. John’s where he collected archival and census data. As Phyne outlines in his article, the “central slum” was cleared in the 1950s and early 1960s as part of urban renewal programs that were sweeping Canada at the time. The goal of these programs was to match social housing with appropriate families and to commercialize areas that once contained housing. I asked Phyne about the relevance of studying an urban renewal program that took place over half a century ago to today’s understanding of affordable housing. He indicated that there is “Definitely!” a connection between then and now. For example, within the article he and his co-author discuss how state officials made their assessments concerning who was most suited for public housing. Similar to issues related to affordable housing today, in the 1950s and 60s there was not enough housing available to meet those in need. 

Many Western nations, including Canada, have a bias that favours individual home ownership. This accelerated after WW2 and is still strong today. 

Phyne made the observation during our conversation that while the majority of Canadians (about 65 to 70%) own the homes they live in, we still have a shortage of affordable housing in this country. Phyne suggested that public sector investment is necessary in order to solve Canada’s existing challenges in affordable housing. If the public sector were to step up at this time to fill this need, it would be the first major investment in this type of housing within Canada since the 1990s.

The “Rehousing Good Citizens” article is a great piece of investigative work and proves the power of passion behind great research and writing! This article is the second one published from Phyne’s research project. Prior to receiving funding for this research project (from the Social Sciences Research Council in 2014), Phyne published an article on the “central slum” that appeared in the interdisciplinary journal Newfoundland Studies in the spring of 2014. 

Phyne and his partner are also working on a book manuscript that they hope to complete by late 2019 or early 2020, so stay tuned!

 
 

There’s No Community in Extra X-Ring Tickets

 

What ever happened to generosity?

It’s hard to believe that it is somehow the end of November already. Wasn’t it just frosh week last week? You know what this means, X-Ring is less than two weeks away! It’s such an exciting time of year. All those countless nights in the library, submitting the assignment two minutes before the deadlines and crying on the phone with parents about how dropping out is imminent, have all paid off.

In less than a couple days, this year’s graduates will march up to the front of the KMC stage and pick up their coveted X-Ring.

However, the few weeks leading up to X-Ring are often some of the most stressful weeks of the year. 

On top of completing endless papers and assignments due by December 3, students have the additional stress of finding X-Ring tickets.

Each graduating each student is guaranteed two supersub X-Ring tickets, which might I add are not cheap considering the other costs that come along with X-Ring weekend, like the ring itself.

Once students have purchased their limit of two tickets, they have the option to purchase an extra ticket from students who have extras.

For the students who promised six of their family members a ticket to supersub, they are in for a costly road ahead of them.

Not only is it hard to come by a sacred X-Ring ticket, but if you do happen to find one you now must be willing to pay big bucks for it. 

The tickets are originally $25, yet I’ve heard of some people selling their tickets for more than $200. At this point in the semester, I do not know many students who have $200 lying around ready to fork out. Yet, desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ve seen people posting on social media that they will sell their first-born child, or an ovary, to get a ticket. These are jokes of course, but the desperation is evident.

It’s disappointing to see students who make it essentially impossible for their fellow classmates the chance to have their loved ones spend the day, if they cannot afford the ticket.

Some people will say it’s really smart and business savvy to up-sell the tickets, but if I’m being honest students who up-sell are jerks.

If you’re going to make it a competition and give the ticket to the highest bidder, at least make it interesting.

I mean come on, get creative, how about a race? Or a scavenger hunt for the ticket? A pie eating contest? 

Not only would it make this ticket frenzy way more entertaining, it would also save some students from a financial burden. 

Being a great human and selling the ticket for the original cost is a viable option as well.

To my fellow fourth-year friends, with only only a couple days left until X-Ring, I sincerely hope that all of you can get your hands on the X-Ring tickets that you need and celebrate the very special day with your loved ones close. May the odds be ever in your favour.

 
 

How to Survive a Wi-Fi Free Weekend

 

Just in case the StFX internet blackout happens again, here’s a guide to keep yourself occupied

In case you live under a rock, let me fill you in on what happened to StFX’s internet recently. Two weeks ago, StFX’s Wi-Fi and all services (Moodle, Mes Amis, etc.) stopped working. For four painful days, we were forced to avoid school work, instead of just avoiding it on our own free will. 

Despite the guilt-free procrastination, it was a pretty stressful situation that happened at a horrible time. The first weekend of November is often a busy time for students and teachers alike. All of us use the StFX services and do research on the internet. 

From research to streaming, if you don’t have Wi-Fi and have run out of data 24 hours after the blackout began (like me), you are going to be bored. 

Now that I’ve been through the long weekend of torture, here’s a list of four things to keep yourself occupied when living without internet.

One: Go through your built-in laptop games or phone apps. Do you remember when everyone was obsessed with playing 3D Space Cadet Pinball on the good old Windows XP desktop computers? Though that game isn’t likely to be in your current laptop, there’s always solitaire. You’d be surprised to find some of the simple, yet fun games that Windows still includes in their new laptops. We spend so much time using Wi-Fi that our computers without internet are full of untapped potential!

Two: Do some readings. I know I just said that no internet equals forced procrastination; yet, everyone has a textbook from a class that they have never opened once. If you lost track of where you’re supposed to be and can’t access the course outline on Moodle, just read the entire textbook. Read your textbook until your brain can’t process any more info dumping. Will binge-reading your textbook really be a productive way to get caught up in your class? Probably not, since close reading, reflection and rereading are essential for a critical understanding of the textbook content. With that being said, reading will make you feel better when not being able to do any online-based reading or research.

Three: Play some board games! And when I say “play” board games, what I really mean is ask your roommates and friends to get together. Since they most likely won’t have any board games, it’s pretty entertaining to just talk to your roommates/friends about all of their favourite board games that they, “wished they played more often.” Share campfire stories about how you ruined your relationship with your aunt due to a particularly competitive game of Monopoly. If you have no board games, then maybe someone has a pack of cards lying around. If nobody can remember the rules to any card games without looking them up on Google, there’s always the easiest card game – Go Fish.

Four: Stare at your wall and feel bad for all the work you haven’t done. No internet means that you have lots of time to think about all of those things your really should have done earlier. All those papers you should have started. All of that research you could have done but didn’t, because you were taking the Wi-Fi for granted. It’s not the most entertaining thing do to, but it’s probably the most realistic thing you’d be doing during an internet blackout.

If you do these four things, I guarantee you’ll waste your weekend, but at least it, “wasn’t your fault.”

 
 

Podcasts for Everyone

 

If you don’t have time to listen to a podcast, you’re lying to yourself

Do you find yourself unloading trucks in a warehouse on backshift? Do you go for long-numbing walks on the beach? Walking back to the apartment after evening class? Picking a friend up at the airport? Are podcasts still cool? Too many questions?

Here is a short introduction to an assortment of podcasts and shows. If you’re new to the podcast scene, don’t worry too much. Everyone may be talking about what episode of Spittin’ Chiclets they just listened to or what Joe Rogan last said on his show the other day. Material we hear on podcasts is becoming the latest “You know what I saw the other day on Facebook?” Listening to a show is our modern-day filler. If you have a spare 11-48 minutes on hand, why not subscribe to a new show or take a crack at a random episode on Audioboom, Soundcloud, Spotify or that purple-coloured app on your iPhone you may be neglecting.

New to this? Try your mom’s house. The podcast “Your Mom’s House” is hosted by comedians Tom Segura and Christina Pazsitzky. The couple will start a conversation on literally anything. Start here if you’re looking for a good prolonged laugh. There are over 300 episodes dating back to 2012, you should get to it.

If you like spewing interesting facts or if you’re looking for conversation starters at the kitchen table for the holiday season, have a crack at “Hidden Brain.” With topics ranging from North America’s Opioid Crisis to understanding the psychological forces of the #MeToo Movement, to the subject of compassion,to the evaluation process of personality test like the Myers-Briggs, you could learn about a range of topics.

If you’re checking your banking on the daily, trying to make a budget, afraid of your credit card bill, and spend a few too many bucks at the Pub more times than you’d like to admit, perhaps “Bad with Money with Gaby Dunn” or “Optimal Finance Daily” may tickle your fancies. Each episode narrows in on money talk and makes finances more understandable and more real. These shows break it down into digestible chunks for 20-something-year-olds to understand and appreciate. Finances are a real issue, and if you’re looking to take it seriously, allow yourself to listen to the podcast. That X-ring isn’t paying for itself.

Want more comedy? Stone two birds at once by listening in to the following two hilarious and simultaneously educational shows: “Red Man Laughing” by Ryan McMahon and “Métis in Space” with Molly Swain and Chelsea Vowel. The latter describe the show as “unapologetically indigenous, unabashedly female and unblinkingly nerdy,” and their statement is true. While sharing a bottle of wine, the two Métis women examine and exploit the misrepresentations, and the accuracies, of indignity in historical and contemporary science-fiction. Does Lilo & Stitch mirror some modern-day indigenous socio-political issues? Let’s pick apart Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a little while.

Ryan McMahon, also a host of the Canadian Documentary Colonization Road, sheds a light on the living-breathing cultural erasure that still exists today and the conflicts of the past, all the while making his audience keel over laughing. Maybe comedy is one of the many gateways to understanding the true meaning of reconciliation.

Lastly, though there are thousands more to mention, if you’re human, you may find this one particularly relatable. “Invisibilia” speaks to human behaviour and the many means we use to communicate, feel and think. What does it take for a community to organize a riot? How does one realize that they’ve been living in a bubble in society? How do social norms come to be? Some questions we never question until we take a few moments to hear more about them.

If you don’t have time to listen to a podcast, you’re lying to yourself.

 
 

Meet Kelly Ann Farrell

 

Farrell’s artwork for sale at the Tall and Small

If you find yourself rushing into 342 Main Street before morning class or if you have time to sip on a coffee while you study, be sure to take a moment to look at the walls. The ordinary warm cherry interior of the coffee shop is beautifully decorated with a smattering of colourful paintings. From beach scenes to portraits to depictions of houses around town, artist Kelly Farrell has taken over the Tall and Small with her dozens of canvases. 

Born and raised in Antigonish, Farrell has, for a while now, become a well-known artist and icon in her community. She is an active member of the L’Arche community in town and is currently featured on the artists’ page of the L’Arche International website. Farrell has undoubtedly made an impression with her work in her home community – and she certainly has our attention. 

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A member of Hearts & Hands in Antigonish, Farrell is a workhorse in the art studio on the corner of West Street and Highland Drive. Mentors Tina Angustia and Glen Mattie at the Studio can attest to Farrell’s work ethic and ability to motivate herself when it comes to her work. Angustia commented, “Kelly is always looking for what to paint next”. Smeared across the upstairs walls where Farrell creates her work are blown-up photographs of her subjects. These photos are strewn on her workspace, hanging on the door frame by her desk and serve as her primary perspective when she begins her projects. Along with painting, Farrell also enjoys photography and drawing.

When asked about her favourite part of working at the Studio, Farrell answered, “The people.” Farrell shares space upstairs with several of her friends and fellow artists. She signed, “The people are silly… there was a Halloween party where people made funny faces in a Photo Booth and people danced. Glam (her nickname for Glen) had a lemonhead.” It goes without saying, the everyday events in Farrell’s involved life are worth documenting. And that is what she does - so brilliantly well. 

Farrell’s art isn’t solely a vehicle for her talent in visual arts. It is also a means of communication. Her paintings are all snapshots of the beautiful memories she has, the people who mean the most to her, and the unforgettable places she’s been. While at the Tall and Small on October 25th for her artist’s Meet and Greet, Kelly signed about her variety of canvases on display. She picked up a couple paintings leaning on the west-most wall and signed, “When I was with my sister in Orlando, Florida, with palm trees… and kayaking.” Several of her paintings reflect her other interests and hobbies outside of making master pieces. “I like summer. I enjoy taking pictures, boats, biking, kayaking, the cottage, and spending time with my sister.” Farrell also enjoys some of the finer things like the rest of us. “I like pizza, playing pool, drinking wine and having tea (Twinning’s especially!) … [with friends and family].”

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Candidly, coming into the Studio to check out Farrell’s work felt like an interruption. Immersed in her work in progress, a painting of her brother’s new car, it almost didn’t feel right to take her out of her zone. However, as soon as she was asked to explain her love for creating, the list of reasons went on. As Farrell explained why painting makes her happy, she wrote out and drew her reasons. She paints a clear picture. Farrell’s constant running dialogue, in the form of fine art, will not be stopped. It is her way of consolidating communication, fond memories and emotion for others. Her art is a universal language we can all understand and enjoy on different levels. It is clear to everyone around her that more than anything, Farrell loves what she does, and this message is conveyed in each of her canvases.

 
 

X-Pride and Coffeehouses

 

Robert Chatterton on the LGBTQIA2S+ community in Antigonish

X-Pride’s very own Robert Chatterton generously took the time to be interviewed by Bailey DeEll. During this interview, we discuss his recent work with X-Pride and how he hopes it will affect the community of Antigonish. 

***

BD: How long have you been involved with the X-Pride society? 

RC: Since 2016, I began as a general member helping out with the events which lead me to have a leadership role. Later I became the president of the society in the 2017-18 year and have held the position since. 

BD: What lead you to join the society?

RC: Early on in my time at StFX I was physically assaulted because of me being gay. From this I realised the lack of supports available to those a part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, as well as a lack of community identity in general. My goal was to create a visible community for all students and to educate all students, especially those in first year, about the LGBTQIA2S+ and how to be an ally. 

BD: What kinds of events do you currently hold to promote education and community at StFX?

RC: Sex Toy Bingo is hosted at the Inn once per semester, it is designed to be a sex positive and queer inclusive space to educate people on sex, especially sex outside the heterosexual couple. Spill the Tea is a workshop based educational discussion around different topics that effect the queer community specifically, this year we have covered sexualized violence and coming out narratives. In future Spill the Tea’s we plan to cover gender and Queer Intersectionality’s: How you can be privileged and oppressed at the same time, among others. We also held National Coming out Day organized by Bre O’Handley, the Gender and Sexuality Diversity Adviser. We gave students the opportunity to fill out a message on various posters, each with their own writing prompt to support and identify with the queer community. We have also had two Awareness weeks, one for bisexuality and the other for asexuality. These two identities are not necessarily recognized and validated so we wanted to highlight them and publicly show our support for these communities. Also we hold community building events, such as Homoween Bowling, movie nights, board gaymes’ nights. We also host coffeehouses at the Tall and Small each month where it is open to everyone in the community, including those in high school and older generations, to have an intergenerational mingling of queer folk.  

BD: With the coffeehouses being held so regularly, how do you feel they are beneficial for the community?

RC: I think they are beneficial because they provide an assessable queer positive representation that I think this town needs. Being someone from a rural Nova Scotian town, I had no queer positive representation in my life, until I came to StFX. Because of this, I had internalized homophobia and didn’t come out until I was 20. With the coffeehouses, my goal was to create a visible queer positive space that anyone can attend, from high school students to senior citizens, that will build intergenerational community and shift the town to be more queer inclusive as a whole. Hosting these coffeehouses at one of our local coffee shops bridges the gap between the university and the town. 

BD: What are some of your future plans for X Pride this year that students and community members can look forward to? 

RC: On November 20 we are holding a vigil for our Trans Day of remembrance, in which we remember and honour all those who have died because of transphobia. January contains the events I am most excited to tell you about, it is our Pride Month at StFX and we will have different events to celebrate the multifaceted interests of the community. Some of these events include a queer X Talks, drag queen hosted Sex Toy Bingo, and the Nova Scotia renowned drag show “Priscilla, Queen of the Highlands.” While these three are the highlights of the month, we still host our regular events like the coffeehouse and Spill the Tea, but also events exclusive to this month like rainbow party, art night, among others. Lastly we organize a trip to the Halifax pride parade in July to have local Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) students experience a celebration of queer identity. 

For more on X-Pride check them out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and for other resources pertaining to the LGBTQIA2S+ community look for Bre O’Handley in the new offices on the fourth floor of the Bloomfield Centre, or contact her at bohandle@stfx.ca

 
 

Visible @ X Halloween Posters

 

Successful campaign or scary slip-up?

Students passing through the Bloomfield Centre in the past few months will have paid witness to the new Visible @ X advertising strategy: eight foot tall pieces of cardboard plastered with posters about consent. The first round of posters, put out for homecoming weekend, took to re-imagining popular StFX cheers to champion consent, boasting slogans such as “sex is dynamite, but only if there is consent” and “Go X Go, Go Sex Go.” 

From the Visible @ X webpage, “Visible @ X means zero tolerance for sexual violence of any kind” and that “consent is not optional.” The goal behind the posters follows that philosophy - to impress the importance of consent on StFX students, and to get students talking about consent by connecting it to relevant events and popular slogans on campus. To achieve this, Visible @ X has designed a series of different posters for different holidays and events on campus. The most recent round of posters features zombies, bats, and a haunted house for Halloween; but are zombies the only scary thing about these posters?

Despite the good intentions behind the campaign, feminist students and faculty are shocked and disappointed at the choice of slogan: “too drunk to consent, or zombie?” Comparing someone who can’t consent to a fictional monster makes light of an extremely important issue, and is particularly ignorant in wake of recent events on campus. 

First year student and activist Jenny Li is one of the many students to voice concern, and states that “in their attempts to lighten the subject matter, the posters trivialized sexual violence and did little to advance the education and awareness so vital to its prevention.” Jasmine Cormier, who has spoken up about the campaign on Twitter, agrees, “trying to make light of such a serious issue that students face every day isn’t what’s needed right now... comparing someone who’s heavily intoxicated/possibly drugged to a zombie just sends a message that this problem isn’t real or meaningful.” 

Other students, Grace Tompkins among them, don’t feel comfortable being in a space where posters such as this are being displayed. “The language used in them was extremely insensitive, and seeing 20+ of them plastered on a board in the SUB made me feel uneasy,” shares Tompkins.

Perhaps a bright side to this slip-up is that it has succeeded in sparking conversation about the importance of language in talking about sexualized violence and assault, as is evident, for example, on Twitter. Li adds, as well, that “it is heartening to see any effort made, by student or staff, toward the prevention of sexualized violence.” Progress isn’t a flawless process, but what is important is that we learn from our mistakes moving forward, and ensure that they aren’t repeated. 

 
 

Musicians in the Spotlight

 

Female musicians who hone their craft

St. Vincent - Actor

ilovestvincent.com

ilovestvincent.com

Annie Clark’s Annie Clark, but St.Vincent changes. St. Vincent is her vehicle. Her 2007 debut Marry Me and 2017 release Masseduction polarize from one another in every way: tone, musicality, lyrical content, promotional material, general aesthetic, whatever you’d like. Marry Me’s off-beat brand of quiet, self-aware, and soft-spoken feminine energy acts as a warm hug from someone who smells interesting - I can’t quite pin down the spice or if I like it, but it’s warm and it has my attention. Masseduction drops the “good girl,” amps up the aggression and angularity. It smells like sex (check out the title track). 

So, I’d like to bring something in the middle, 2009’s Actor. Annie Clark spent much of the writing process listening to Disney scores. “The Strangers” opens Actor, beginning with the soft, whispered deliver that featured so heavily on Marry Me. I can see the dark Paris nights from The Aristocats, but it’s subtle. Two-thirds into Track One the pulse turns to a stomp, elephants begin to play trumpets announcing Prince John’s parade through Sherwood Forest. And then we’re done. 

Actor is a hallucinogenic trip wrapped in anything you’ve ever loved about Disney. While St.Vincent’s art changes drastically from album to album, this album may be the easiest to hold and the easiest to digest. The cozy nostalgia will catch you, but her sense of edge and danger may be more memorable in the end. After all, villains usually get the best songs.

Oathbreaker - Rheia

deathwishinc.com

deathwishinc.com

This will be the most difficult listening experience you’ve ever had, no question. Oathbreaker’s 2016 LP, Rheia is an album of contradictions - one of my favourite recordings ever and I can barely survive the whole record. Caro Tanghe’s vocal performance is one of the best I’ve ever heard, and I hated every second of it. This record’s a behemoth, I’ll try to make sense of it.

Genre’s the hardest question. Oathbreaker combines delicate but haunting folk-inspired breaks that act as a short breather between white-hot blasts of black metal. Halfway through the first bits of black metal, the first of Caro’s shrieks, any self-respecting person would pause the album, turn it off, and never listen to it again. After all, black metal has traditionally been understood as male-dominated, brutally heavy, unrelenting and impenetrable. With Rheia, we’re left with some of the second, a bit of the third, a whole lot of the fourth, and absolutely none of the first. Her anger and aggression are uncompromisingly feminine. Her calm moments, while quieter, sound cold. She delivers her lyrics as a figure who after screaming in frustration begins to quietly mumble: “I’m just disappointed.” 

With Rheia, Oathbreaker gives a listening experience you’ll never forget. You, like me, will have difficulty sitting through it. And you, like me, will be left exhausted and smiling because it happened - smiling too because it’s over.

Pronoun - itty bitty discography (the whole discography’s gold)

Ever catch yourself thinking “Bleed American was music’s peak?” No? Just me? Alright. Alyse Vellturo of pronoun loves emo as much as she hates capitalization, and it shows. 

I’m a walking cliché for this one - I found pronoun through Audiotree sessions. Once they stop introducing me to half-decent music, I’ll stop paying attention. First things first, Alyse’s voice takes most of my attention. There’s a quiver in her live vocal that comes off less nervous and more intentional. It’s as though she’s giving the impression of a shaky singer just happening on every note perfectly, an accidental artist. 

But maybe I’m using flowery gobbley-guk and missing the point. After all, her story implies introversion and stage fright. Alyse wrote most of pronoun’s lo-fi sound in her bedroom, whisper-singing her vulnerable lyrics. Rather than slotting into “Audiotree band with a mumbling front person, awful moustaches that smell of cheap IPAs, clothing caught somewhere between ’97 and ’02, the bassist just outside camera view, the drummer who keeps losing time, and the keyboardist who keeps mean-mugging”, pronoun sneaks a smile on your face. Go to your Spotify right now, listen to Pronoun’s most recent single “Run”. There it is, there’s that goofy-ass smile. Pronoun doesn’t bring nostalgia in some heavy-handed sledgehammer like vapourware. You’re taken to better times, wherever or whenever they were - though, the clothes just might be baggier.

While the pronoun discography lasts for now as long as a sneeze, Alyse Vellturo hasn’t made a single duff note.

 
 

Frank Landry Preserves Acadian Phonetics in Writing

 

An unpublished interview with legendary Acadian author

Yanik Gallie interviews Frank Landry at the Starbucks coffee house in Chapters at the location in Dieppe, New-Brunswick during the summer of 2015. 

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YG : Comment sta commencer par écrire dans les journaux?

FL : J’ai écrit pour 3 journaux. J’ai mis 25 ans pour le Moniteur, ptête moins. En total, 33 ans ‘going on’ 34, ce qui inclue la vie de Delphine. Avant ça, j’écrivais un autre caractère qui s’appelait Old Josh. J’ai une fascination pour la phonetic, pi j’aime d’être un raconteux d’histoire. J’ai un background en sociologie. Sociologie veut dire tu fais beaucoup d’recherche. J’ai aussi pris des cours d’anthropologie. Ça ne me met pas plus intéressant, j’dis ink que y’avait des affaires importantes que j’avais été appris quansse tu fais d’la recherche, comme y faut que tu préserves des tels moments dans une histoire. 

Quand j’ai arrivé à Halifax, j’avais écrit Old Josh, les phonetics d’un Cap Bretonner. J’tais un gars de Shédiac pi phonétique cer toute que j’faisais. J’ai pensé pourquoi n’pas préserver la phonétique de cosse qué le chiac? 

J’ai commencé à faire du théâtre itou quand j’ai back arrivé de Halifax. Cer vraiment un journaliste par le nom de Daniel Chrétien qui travaillait pour un journal qu’est arrivé a moi. Pour qaziment un an de temps, on allait au Pizza Delight à Shédiac. J’enseignais des cours d’art le jour, pi le soir on s’flaquait tute là, la gang, pi on parlait pi on cacossait over une bière chaque jeudi pour quasiment un an de temps. Daniel disait, “pi Frank tu devrais p’tête bin commencer à écrire des histouaires.” Pi moi chavais pas si j’voulais faire ça. Jusqu’à temps que quelqu’un nous a dit voulez-vous vous taire parce que vraiment cecitte cer rendu tannant pi j’veux pas back vous entendre parce que sois que vous l’faites ou taissez-vous. Cecitte cer le mois d’Octobre. J’noublirais jamais, tout d’un coup j’ai dit j’va essayer d’écrire. J’ai écrit. J’ai introduit mon caractère dans le journal pi j’ai dit j’va écrire jusqu’à noël. Trois mois, j’ai pensé, ça ne lastera pas… chavais pas cossé jm’embarquais dedans. So, j’ai arrêté à Noël, j’ai même dit mes goodbyes. Tout d’un coup, le premier mercredi du mois de Février j’ai la phone call du newspaper qui dit, “pourrais-tu mnir au bureau du journal faut tu viennes ramonsser ton courriel?” Moi, j’mattendais d’avoir tête bin une lettre, deux lettres. Tu sais les gros sacs de garbage orange? Ceux d’Halloween, yen avait trois et demi à craquer de lettres: Delphine faut q’tu viennes back on t’trouve comique pi dadada... Moi chu overwhelmed at this point because j’avais toutemps ma joie de vivre comme un artiste. Peinturer, dessiner, animer parce que j’ai un background en arts visuel, c’étaient mon plaisir. 

J’aimais écrire pour le journal but j’écrivais déjà des lettres funny à mes friends. C’nétait pas les histouaires, c’tait plutôt parler about moi. Comme faire amine té au collège pi j’tenvois une lettre qui dit “Le chien à manger la jambe de bois à mon père.” J’aurais pu t’écrire des niaiseries d’même but c’tait jamais Delphine. C’tait toutemps Frank avec des jokes pi j’tarrais même écrit su du papier de toilette pour dire. Ju endjablé comme sa, ju un joueur de tours. 

Après ça, le journal appartenait à Irving at the time, L’Express. L’Express n’a pas duré plus qu’un an et demi avant de fermer ces portes. Daniel Chrétien qui travaillait pour eux, lui a starter à travailler pour l’Acadie Nouvelle. Daniel a vendu l’idée à l’Acadie Nouvelle qu’on devrait experimenter. J’va être vraiment honnête, je l’enjoyais pi je l’enjoyais pas parceque ça qu’arrive cer que l’journal allait dans l’nord pi beaucoup d’monde n’appréciait pas ce genre de writing. Y’a du monde qui croiait c’était un language pas vrai que j’inventais. À moment donné, j’ai venu à un point ousser que moi j’voulais vraiment arrêter. J’en avais déjà parlé avec un Monsieur qu’était là pi j’ai dit, “jpense pas. I don’t think its gonna work anymore.” Lui ma appelé pi y’a dit p’tête bin c’est une bonne idée qu’on arrêterait, mais tu sais que tu peux faire autres choses. J’navais pas été firer, on avait parlé pi c’était alright so j’ai arrêté. J’navais pas le tchoeur de cassé. J’était comme, cer fine. 

Eventuellement, Le Moniteur vient me chercher. But, ça prit du temps avant que j’ai dit oui au Moniteur. J’était assis dans l’mall à Shédiac, au restaurant, pi j’ai dit, “j’va y penser.” Y’a dit, “ben non, ben y faut.” J’ai dit, “jva y penser.” Pi j’étais vraiment right là pi j’ai dit la vraie vérité de cosse jpensais. Parce que, à moment donné quansse j’écrivais dans l’Express, le Moniteur, whoever qui travaillait là à l’époque, attackait Delphine. J’ai encore les chroniques anti-Delphine publiées par le Moniteur de sauvé. So, ej n’voulais pas vraiment aller travailler pour l’enemie at the time. Le monde de par chenous me connaissait comme quelqun qui fsait des fundraiser d’la communauté, eux ont été au Moniteur pour dire “wowow! Sais-tu quissse que t’attaques icitte?”

Gisèle qui travail au Moniteur, bless her soul, j’la connaissait ben. Elle m’appel pi elle dit,  “Frank, I hope tu mind pas…tatata…”  J’ai dit, “j’va l’essayer.” J’lai essayé pi it’s been like a big family ever since. C’était pu les mêmes personnes qu’étions là, c’était une nouvelle dynamique avec Gisèle pi Betty qui travaillent au Moniteur. Betty est vraiment une personne fantastique. Le monde là, y fsont du cheering on. C’est eux qui m’appellent défois pour me laisser sawaire cossé quer la feel des tels affaires. Une joke c’est la fois qui voulions faire une nudist beach à Shediac. J’avais entendu ça pi j’ai dit, “c’tu vrai?” Yon dit, “ouaille.” J’ai dit, “ben moi j’croix j’va explorer l’histoire.” J’ai parlé que Delphine s’avait décidé qu’elle allait aller faire du bird watching parceque cer intéressant ouaire les oiseaux. Elle a arrivé à la fin pi elle a dit, “Imaginez-vous si y’aurrait des grous signs en sortant d’la beach qui met: Bienvenues d’avoir nues par chenous.” Parceque on n’dit pas, “venu.” Nous autes on dit, “t’as nues chenous ein?” It was a play on word. Ça quej fait cer qu’ej joue avec les mots. J’amène aussi des vieilles expressions dans mes écritures.

YG : Parle-moi de la naissance de Delphine.

FL : Delphine est née hors de rien. It came out of nothingness. On f’sait des carnivals d’hivers et des soirées amateurs. So, tout d’un coup moi j’utais cosse t’appelles un character performer. Ça veut dire, n’importe quoi tu m’aurais donné comme prop, j’peux improviser avec comme le best of the best. Jutais d’le backroom au carnaval d’hivers pis j’utais censé être un cowboy. J’allais sortir dehors pi j’savais pas cosse j’allais m’appeler. Tout d’un coup, y’ont dit,  ‘la suit de cowboy n’te fit pas!’ Y’ont amener une peruque verte de Marywitch. Y’ont amener un gros chapeau de Cowboy en foam de Calgary Stampedes. Pi la, y mon flaqué une robe. J’ai dit ‘vous êtes pas bin j’veux pas porter cecitte!’ J’ai fait la joke en sortant, j’ai dit ‘si jamais que j’suis discoveré comme cecitte j’va vous suer.’ J’ai sorti su l’stage pi chavais pas cosse j’allais faire. J’pouvais pas même jouer la guitare, j’avais ink une guitare avec une corde dedsu. J’ai sorti en avant pis j’mai introduit. J’ai dit, “ser moi la reine du carnival. J’u la reine, j’viens juste de gagné un concours de Countré. J’viens d’haute-aboujagane pi mon nom cer Delphine BB Bosse!” Cer toute j’ai dit pis j’ai fessé su la guitare. J’savais pas comment jouer but le monde dansait. Cer ste temps là j’ai pensé à moi-même le monde sont pas trop bright parce qui sont entrain de danser à cosse j’chante. J’men rappel des premières paroles que j’ai chanté, “chanter du countré cer po mal aisé, chanter du countré cer chanté du nez.” Pis lmonde sa dansais pi sa s’garochait. 

Normally, moi j’faisais jamais back les caractères à deux fois. So, j’va faire comme les Golden Girls su l’TV la vieille-là. Picture this : L’année suivante, j’arrive pi moi j’avais l’intention de faire d’autres caractères pi le président du carnaval d’hivers Mr. Raymond Leblanc avait parlé t’au monde pi y’avais dit tu devrais dire à Frank qui refasse ce caractère-là. Y’on dit “tu vas aoir un argument avec lui si tu plan ça.” Pi dans l’temps j’nécrivais pas encore, c’était ink des monologues en Chiac. J’arrive là pi j’wois l’grous chapeau de cowboy. J’ai dit, “Non! Cossé qué ça?” Y’ont dit, “ah, non, on va juste te faire picker d’quoi d’autre.” Come to find out, j’tais back Delphine. J’ai sorti avec Delphine pi les Poutines parce que y’aviont trouvé deux personnes pour être des chanteuses en arrière. Une des chansons qu’on avait jouée c’était “Hey Hey Good Looking” jl’ai chanté à la Delphine. Delphine chante mal vraiment, but Delphine dans sa brain elle est une légende. You have to remember, she’s bigger than life. Elle a la permission de dire ça qu’à veut. Ousse que moi, Frank Landry, j’noserais pas dire la motché des affaires qu’à dirait. Elle est devenue comme la reincarnation, ou ptête, l’influence de toutes les femmes fortes que moi j’ai connu dans ma famille. 

YG : Cossé qué ton writing process?

FL : J’écris d’avance. J’écris, j’mets la date. J’dit, “Ok, ça parrait ben… J’l’envois. J’ai des souvenirs de jokes but pour te dire spécifiquement cosse qu’était toute dans l’histoire : chepas. Moi j’nécris pas pour m’assir pi composer. J’m’assis là pour être un raconteur d’histoire. C’est là ousque creative writing rentre en jeux. Ça veut dire que faut que j’trust les fantômes du gernier. Tous les samedi matin, j’massis à l’ordinateur avec aucune conception vraiment de cosse j’écris: j’m’assis là. Ça sonne esoteric cosse j’va dire, but it’s not meant to be like weird la, c’est que j’m’ai appris à m’truster moi-même. J’m’ai appris à truster que j’peux écrire, que j’peux raconter n’importe quoi. J’peux picker anything. J’pourrais parler about ton chapeau right now. J’composerais dequoi à la Delphine, qui peut être super hilarious. Si j’m’aperçois qu’ton chapeau n’fit pas dans l’histoire de Delphine, ben ça peut aller ptête bin à Hen-Henri ou jpeux l’fitter cheque part… pi c’est ça qu’a été le gros, gros défis: de jamais me répéter. Toutemps essayer d’garder la fraicheur d’un écrivain. Pi c’pas d’la great literature que j’fais. J’me oit comme Jane Goodall, elle qu’a fait les grosses recherches de singes. Tu vas t’moquer d’cosse j’va dire. C’est que moi j’u un follower de Jane Goodall. J’veux dire que ju dans une société pi j’observe, j’écoute. So, les singes sont vraiment le monde qui viennent de Shédiac. J’les appel pas des singes, j’dit ink que moi j’les observe pi je suis devenue cosse t’appelle une réflexion de quisse qu’eux sont. 

YG : Cosser que cer du chiac, des acadiens pi acadiennes?

FL : La naissance du chiac a mnu de la nécessité de survie au travail. Sé l’affaire la plus importante, pi l’monde ne te dit pas ça. Y ton dit que y’ont fusés parce qu’ils viviont ensemble, but la vraie nécessité de l’assimilation était pour survivre au travail. La plupart du monde qui gérait les entreprises à l’époque, c’tait les Anglais. Honestly, c’pas dire “les maudits Anglais aviont tute comme qu’à été les années d’acadie.” C’est, “Par chance aux Anglais que l’monde de Shediac a pu faire vivre leurs familles. Moi j’veux célébrer ça.”

J’veut t’dire une affaire qu’a influencé Delphine plus tard. C’est durant les années d’acadie, acadie, pi ya du monde qui va pas believer cossé j’vas dire. Quansse everybody avait dropper une tête de cochon, whatever qu’était l’histoire, c’était, “Les maudits Anglais.” Moi pi mon bon sens de ptit jeune, j’avais appris que tu peux bagueler tute qu’tu veux mais à moment donné, l’monde nt’écoute pu. J’ai appris de thinking outside the box jeune, vraiment jeune, que moi j’voulais être le future dans toute cecitte. J’ai rencontré des personnes d’influence à l’époque, qu’ont vraiment des grosses jobs de decision makers dans la province steur. Y’ont vraiment travaillé pour pi y’ont maintenu la philosophie qu’était à nous autres. Moi jviens d’se gang là oussé qu’y’ont dit ‘On arrête de bagueller. À la place de bagueller, why not si vous mettez une gang ensemble, une bunch de français pi pooler tute vos argents ensemble, pi startez-vous une business! Engager some of your own people, comme du monde de votre backyard. 

 

 
 

The Best Stories Live in Hell

Tips on how to write good drama and more from Lawrence Hill

Renowned novelist and screenwriter Lawrence Hill spoke in Schwartz auditorium on Friday, October 19. Hill opened by speaking of the latest novel the professor of creative writing at Guelph University is currently writing. The release date of his book, announced to be titled Midnight Men at the event, has yet to be made official.

Hill was warmly welcomed to the stage by Kalista Desmond and the Strait Regional Drummers band. Desmond performed some new spoken word. A particularly moving line was “#powerfulnotpowerless”       encouraging women to own their empowerment. 

The drum group led by Morgan Gero performed three songs. Gero left her seat to distribute instruments to colleagues in the audience for a collaborative performance while her skilled drummers held the rhythm. Drummer Isaiah Williams spoke with The Xaverian Weekly post-show. Williams spoke about his favorite moment on Friday night, “I liked when I played the drums to welcome him here. One of the songs we played tonight was ‘Fonga’.” 

Hill made the point of showing his appreciation for the drumming performance. Williams, who has been drumming for two years, remembers how after their performance, “Lawrence said it reminded him of drumming he heard when he was in West Africa and being welcomed to villages.” 

 During his time at the lectern, Hill read excerpts from The Book of Negroes and spoke in detail about imagery and other realistic or fictional literary elements in the novel. One thing he mentioned was that the novel is not about slavery; it is about the resilience of a woman. 

During the question and answer period, Hill said that while his parents were not thrilled he desired to become a writer, they were instrumental in his upbringing as an author. 

Referring to some of the nonsense poetry that his mother read to him as a child, Lawrence recited from memory the first verse of “Disobedience” by A. A. Milne to a laughing audience.

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Williams asked Hill how long it took to write The Book of Negroes. Hill answered, “It took me five years. I rewrote the book eight times. That’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. To spend the time researching, writing, and rewriting, editing, rereading, and publishing over five years before I was satisfied. 

“I wrote some other books along the way, it wasn’t the only one I did. Most writers have to do two or three different kinds of writing at a time to get money. Sometimes things you really care about that are really difficult take time. You have to let them gestate. Let them have the time that they need and they will take over from there. You are ill-advised to rush something if it’s coming along well. If you give it some time, it has a chance to get better. 

By the way, unless you’re born with the genius of Mozart, chances are the first time you write something it’ll stink. That means you have to write it again, again, and again until it’s good. One of the reasons The Book of Negroes took five years is because it was so bad the first time. You have to keep working on it. Thank you for your question and your drumming.” 

Emcees Addy Strickland and Rebecca Mesay brought the event to a close by asking Williams to come back on stage for the presentation of a gift to Hill. 

The author stuck around post-show to meet the audience and sign everything from books to a case for glasses. 

Prior to speaking publicly at StFX in the evening, Hill spoke privately at Dr. John Hugh Gillis high school with 80 students from neighbouring high schools in the morning. The intimate student-led discussion was held with students who had read and researched a novel of his in the classroom. 

Even though Hill has travelled back home to Ontario, his authenticity and wisdom remain cherished in the community.

Jeremy Dutcher is a Leader of Indigenous Renaissance

Tobique First Nation brings the prestigious Polaris Music Prize home

Jeremy Dutcher takes home the 2018 Polaris Music Prize award and declares the nation is in the middle of an Indigenous renaissance. The musician, who grew up in Tobique First Nation, is at the forefront of this renaissance having contributed what is arguably the most notable Canadian album of the year. 

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa is the name of the album that has swept the nation off its feet. The album preserves and revitalizes a fragment of Indigenous culture in the voice and piano playing of a classically trained operatic tenor. 

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The name of Dutcher’s album translates to Our Maliseet Songs. The vocals and melodies feature Dutcher’s singing and musical interpretation of wax cylinder recordings from over a century ago.  

Dutcher studied 110-year-old wax cylinder recordings of his ancestors that were kept at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Québec. The recordings were preserved by anthropologist William H. Mechling who lived with the community for seven years between 1907 and 1914. On top of recording songs, jokes, dialogues and various social interactions between the Wolastoq people in wax phonograph cylinders, the following photograph was taken by Mechling at Tobique in 1911. 

While speaking with Exclaim!, Dutcher admits that more than 20 percent of 100 songs had deteriorated to the point of being indecipherable. Most had been forgotten by his community, due to lack of access to the materials since the Indian Act of 1876.

The language of the Wolastoqiyik, whose ancestral territory is all along what is now known as the Saint John River in New Brunswick, is now spoken by fewer than a hundred fluent speakers. 

Dutcher is a graduate of Dalhousie University with a BA in Music and Social Anthropology. Research for Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa had begun long before graduation from the program in 2012. Respected elder Maggie Paul inspired Dutcher to pursue the transcription of these cylinders which eventually developed into the studio album.

Chief of Tobique First Nation, Ross Pearle, commended Jeremy for preserving the language of the Wolastoqiyik, “The chief, council and community of Neqotkuk are very proud of Jeremy receiving the Polaris award. Taking wax recordings in our maliseet language that survived the years of forced assimilation of our people and adding his musical talent to showcase internationally is very admirable. Jeremy deserves this recognition for all his hard work.”

Dutcher’s talent is reaching audiences all over the globe. After the traveling musician played the Halifax Pop Explosion at The Marquee Ballroom in Halifax on October 17, Dutcher took flight to Las Palmas, Spain to play at The World Music Expo (WOMEX). 

WOMEX is the biggest conference of the global music scene attended by thousands of professionals in the field. There is a trade fair, talks, films, a showcase festival at each annual conference. 

Over 2,600 professionals (including 303 performing artists) come together every October from more than 90 countries, making WOMEX not only the number one networking platform for the world music industry, but also the most diverse music meeting worldwide.

A collaboration with pop artist Casey MQ led to the “Pomok Naka Poktoinskwes” remix of Dutcher’s water rights’ anthem. MQ’s spin on the tune has a much faster electronic beat. While it honours the precedent, it strays away from the mellow distinguished piano and powerful vocals of Dutcher. 

The Polaris Music Prize was last won in 2016 by Colombian-Canadian electronic musician Lido Pimienta and in 2017 by Louis Kevin Celestin who is a Haitian-Canadian DJ and record producer. Dutcher’s victory harkens back to the 2015 Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power In The Blood win. Dutcher’s album is up to par with the albums of these greats and available for purchase at Sunrise Records, iTunes and Spotify.