SNC-Lavalin Controversy

 
 

Trudeau’s fatal flaw?

Over the past few weeks, a significant scandal has emerged in Canadian politics. That scandal is the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin and the possible interference in it by the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Before approaching the scandal, a brief overview of SNC-Lavalin’s history is necessary.

Based in Montreal, SNC-Lavalin is a large construction and engineering firm which operates in many regions of the world. Within Canada, SNC-Lavalin employs roughly 9 000 people, globally that figure is closer to 50 000. The company has been and continues to be involved in major infrastructure projects in Canada.

Despite this, SNC-Lavalin’s reputation is not untarnished. Both within and outside of Canada, the company has been linked with many allegations of corruption in the past.

What brings SNC-Lavalin into the crosshairs of Canadian media as of late, is the company’s prosecution by Canada’s former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The issue first came into the public sphere in early February, when the Globe and Mail reported that aides close to the Prime Minister tried to stop Wilson-Raybould’s prosecution and requested the company be given a “deferred prosecution agreement” instead. This is a relatively new avenue for dealing with corporate fraud, that was written into law in 2018 and it would allow SNC-Lavalin in this case to face fines rather than a trial. This would be preferable for the firm, as a conviction could result in a 10-year ban from bidding on government contracts.

Back in 2018, SNC-Lavalin was among the companies who lobbied for the deferred prosecution agreement to become law.

On Friday, the Federal Court rejected a bid by SNC-Lavalin that challenged prosecutors who insisted the company face trial over corruption charges which accuse the company of bribing Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011 in order to get contracts. The only hope for SNC-Lavalin to avoid trial now is to get the deferred prosecution agreement granted by the new Attorney General,    David Lametti, who replaced Wilson-Raybould following her demotion by Trudeau in January.

The true crux of the matter is the implication of Prime  Minister Trudeau and other top officials, which exploded onto the front pages of newspapers when Wilson-Raybould gave her testimony to the House of Commons Justice Committee on February 27, 2019.

In Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, she gave a detailed account of the many attempts by Trudeau and his top aides to dissuade her from pursuing prosecution against SNC-Lavalin. She has stated that she does not believe the actions of Trudeau or his aides to be illegal, but inappropriate.

Photo: Toronto Star

Photo: Toronto Star

Regardless of legality, the reputation of the Trudeau government has taken a significant hit. Political opponents are highlighting the stark contrast between Trudeau’s campaign speeches and his recent actions, with many calling into question his promise of a transparent government. Some have even questioned his claimed support of feminism following the testimony and resignation of Wilson-Raybould, and the resignation of Treasury Board President Jane Philpott.

The most outspoken critic has been Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, who called for the Prime Minister to step down. The Guardian quotes Scheer, “He (Trudeau) can no longer, with a clear conscience, continue to lead this nation.”

SNC-Lavalin is viewed by many as the feather in the cap of Quebec. Of the company’s     9,000 Canadian employees, 3,400 are in Québec alone. This is important – the Liberals are leading in the polls in Québec – but they will require more seats in order to win the upcoming October election. If SNC-Lavalin is convicted and cuts jobs in Québec, it is possible that voters will hold Trudeau and the Liberals accountable.

Prime Minister Trudeau reflects his awareness of this crucial point by emphasizing that his pressures on Wilson-Raybould were based in his concern for Canadian jobs. His stance being that “our government will always focus on jobs and our economy,”  as reported in Chicago Tribune.

On March 7, Prime Minister Trudeau called a news conference in which he offered no apology but said that, “we considered she was still open to hearing different arguments, different approaches on what her decision could be. As we now learn ... that was not the case,” according to Reuters.Scheer called the speech “a completely phony act of fake sincerity” in the same article.

In addition to the resignations of two prominent female cabinet members, Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, Trudeau’s closest political aide, Gerald Butts has also resigned.

With the federal election on the not-so-distant horizon, the SNC-Lavalin scandal may prove to be the fatal flaw in Trudeau’s governance.

 

HIV Patient in London Cured

 
 

Breakthrough leads to the second successful eradication of HIV from a patient

Researchers in London may have cured a man of HIV in the second documented case of prolonged HIV remission. The patient - called “the London patient” for confidentiality - was diagnosed with HIV in 2003, and began retroviral therapy in 2012; shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is often resistant to chemotherapy, necessitating a complete bone marrow transplant. The transplant procedure involves radiation therapy to destroy the patient’s cancerous immune cells, followed by the regeneration of the immune system from the bone marrow tissue of a compatible donor. The treatment is toxic, and     often fails to result in complete remission; however, for many, it is the last line of defence against a ruthless disease. Once the transplant was complete and the London  patient had recovered, they  appeared to be HIV free.

HIV infects the immune cells of the host, entering through receptors present on the cell surface. In the early 2000’s, researchers discovered that some individuals were resistant to the disease due to the presence of a mutation in the cell surface receptor CCR5. After further investigation, it was revealed that some strains of the viral subtype HIV-1 exploit the CCR5 receptor for cell entry; the mutation resulted in the production of defective     receptors, preventing the virus from entering the immune cells. Researchers hypothesized that this receptor may someday be useful for the  treatment of HIV.

Fast-forward a decade, and their idea for a treatment has finally come to fruition - albeit not in the way they imagined. In an article published in 2009, a team of researchers reported that they had driven HIV into remission via a bone marrow transplant. The research team were treating a patient with both leukaemia and HIV when they proposed treating both diseases with a bone marrow transplant from a donor with the CCR5 mutation. The recipient, dubbed “the Berlin patient,” underwent complete bone marrow irradiation followed by the mutated bone marrow transplant. It appears as though the CCR5 mutant  immune cells completely replaced the patient’s original cells, thereby conferring resistance to the disease. The patient has remained in both cancerous and HIV remission since treatment.

The treatment has been attempted multiple times since the original publication without success. Researchers in London recently published results indicating they had  successfully eradicated both diseases in a second patient  using a similar method to that which was performed on the Berlin patient. The London patient arrested antiretroviral therapy 16 months post-op and has been in confirmed HIV remission for the past 18 months.

The results of both studies have demonstrated that the elimination of HIV – once thought to be incurable – is indeed possible. The risks of treatment for otherwise healthy individuals, however, almost certainly outweighs the benefits. As mentioned, the irradiation of an HIV patient’s bone marrow is toxic. Successful destruction of all host immune cells is usually tough to achieve, and the risk of secondary infection post-irradiation is high. Additionally, finding a matching bone marrow donor is a difficult endeavour under the best of circumstances; locating a matching donor with a CCR5 mutation is exponentially more troublesome. Unfortunately, the combination of risk and donor match rarity likely relegates this treatment to the realm of experimental medicine, and nothing more. For those patients who are concurrently infected with HIV and a cancer necessitating bone marrow transplantation, this treatment may be an option; however, the availability of donors with a mutated CCR5 gene may inhibit widespread application across HIV and cancer patients. For other HIV  patients, until a viable cure is discovered that involves less risk than bone marrow transplantation, antiretroviral      therapy will likely remain the prescribed course of treatment. Antiretrovirals are effective, inducing nominal side effects in the majority of patients while reducing HIV in the blood to undetectable levels.

Although the London and Berlin patients are not the blinding beacon of hope that some media outlets have described, they are important actors in the conversation    surrounding HIV, and medicine in a broader sense. 

A cure is generally touted as the goal of most disease research. When the cure risks causing symptoms far more severe than the pharmaceutically treated disease, however, our conversation requires a  recalibration. Cures are a  reductionist’s dream, eliminating the need for treatment beyond initial delivery. When the cure exists on the precipice between the experimental and the extreme, however, careful consideration must be used in determining the appropriate trade-off between risk and reward.

 

Leanna Braid Interview

 
 

Owner of Pachamama talks nutrition

Leanna Braid was interviewed by Hannah Burrows on March 4, 2019. Braid is the owner of Pachamama, a chocolaterie, tea and espresso bar, & whole-food emporium, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Her business features specialty vegan food and drink, which  reflects respect for Pachamama (or Mother Earth), “a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes for her ability to sustain life.” Braid makes her business decisions based on a strong ethical foundation that surrounds sustainability, both environmentally and socially. Through her passion for consumption of whole and plant-rich foods, she addresses the barriers that individuals face due to accessibility and the actions we can take on an  individual level to transform our relationship with food.

***

HB: What initially sparked your interest in consuming and promoting a vegan diet consisting of whole and plant-rich foods?

LB: I have been interested in food my whole life but became more interested in plant-based eating when I was pregnant with my daughter. It was also during this time that I began working on the vision that would eventually become Pachamama.

HB: Can you tell us about your journey of opening Pachamama and how you turned your personal interests and beliefs into a business?

LB: My journey to opening Pachamama is perhaps less  traditional than most business startups. Pachamama was borne out of both passion and necessity. After an almost 10-year career in environmental education and strategic planning with Parks Canada, I lost my “secure” government position during the large-scale downsizing that took place under Stephen Harper. At this time, I had put down some roots in Antigonish and realized that if I wanted to stay here, I would have to create my own job. I had been working on a business vision for some time that would combine my love of healthy food with my passion for sustainability and community.

Shortly after my daughter was born, my husband was badly injured and it became necessary to start the business. The timing was not ideal -  building a business from scratch and becoming a mother meant that life was extremely busy, stressful and exhausting. But it was also an exciting time.

I have always made decisions about my business based on a strong ethical foundation. Maximizing profits has never been at the core of Pachamama - I have built my own business model that incorporates and maintains a strong ethic of sustainability (environmentally and socially). To do this, I had to build my own supply chains because those available did not satisfy the ethical requirements I wanted in place. In essence, I have become my own supplier, distributor and retailer. This allows me to build relationships directly with growers and other suppliers, to maintain better pricing and to stand behind all the products that have become part of the Pachamama brand.

Photo: @pachamamafoods on Facebook

Photo: @pachamamafoods on Facebook

HB: How did you initially form the relationships that you now have with farmers that supply your business (both locally and worldwide)?

LB: Initially, this meant doing a lot of research, making a lot of phone calls, meeting face to face with local growers and organizations that support them. Countless hours were spent reading and researching supply lines and digging through layers of “middlemen” to find direct sources of products. In short, hard work, persistence and a dedication to thinking outside the box.

HB: What do you think is the biggest issue that the farming and food production world is facing at the moment?

LB: There is no simple answer to this question, in part because food production and the problems we currently face regarding food security are so interlinked with other large-scale problems such as climate change, globalization, the industrialization of food, the breakdown of community, etc. However, if I had to highlight one issue it would be the increasing fragility of our food system due to many of the factors mentioned above. Food security is declining as the impacts of long term food industrialization, societal disconnection from food, and availability of “empty” foods in the form of highly processed goods continue the rise.

HB: Studies have shown that exposure to poor quality food environments amplify individual risk factors for obesity such as low income, absence of transport, and poor cooking skills or knowledge. How can individuals combat these risk factors and find ways to purchase and consume more whole foods?

LB: This is a challenging question because it is impossible to answer without examining the reasons for these limiting factors: poverty, mental and physical illness, lack of food education, etc. In the current system of food production and distribution, the barriers to accessing whole foods are often  insurmountable. The existence of food deserts in urban areas, the astronomical cost of whole foods in northern/isolated  communities or the lack of publicly funded healthy food school programs are just a few examples of this.

I believe that it will take more than simply the actions of individuals to make change and combat these risk factors. More public education and funding regarding healthy eating and whole foods is needed so that some of these barriers can be removed, or at least reduced. The new Canada Food Guide is a step in the right direction and will hopefully begin to guide policy, programs and education. All schools should have gardens and teach the basics of growing and preparing food. Governments should tax           unhealthy/processed foods and subsidize whole foods and local food productions.

HB: Studies have revealed that there is a direct link between soil health and human health, and that the chemicals used in industrial agriculture are among the causes of modern illness. What is your take on this? Do you agree with this statement?

LB: I cannot articulate it better than Jane Goodall when she said, “Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poison?”

HB: Indigenous people see the Earth as something to be nurtured and nourished. How can we develop such empathy for the Earth and change our current relationship with it? Additionally, how may we inspire people to change the way we farm, eat, and think about food?

LB: I wish I had answers to these questions. In my opinion, it is difficult to foster this empathy without changing the capitalist system that currently dictates food production education, economy, etc. Until corporations and governments are held accountable for their actions and their impacts in the planet, it will be difficult to address these larger issues.

However, this does not mean we cannot take action on an individual level to transform our relationship with food. Choosing local and whole food options, when possible, is important but it’s also important not to judge those who are not able and to examine why this option has become a privilege and not a right. In terms of inspiring others, I try to live by the following: Make changes where possible, whether big or small; Take more time to prepare food from whole ingredients; Have gratitude for the food you eat and for the planet that produced it; Learn about how to grow your own food, even if it’s just one plant to start; Enjoy simple foods because nutritious, delicious food does not need to be complicated; Don’t be afraid to experiment with and try new whole foods; Resist the temptation to eat fast food, processed food, junk food etc., because your body will thank you; Whenever possible, vote with your dollar; Share your love of food with others; Resist judgements about the food choices of others, and instead, examine what might be the    reasons for their choices and decisions.

Remember that in the current system, there is no perfect way forward, only your ability to make the best choices you can based on the information to have. Strive to seek out this information and small changes will lead to changed habits.

HB: Charles Massy, a farmer and scientist, believes that if people ate truly nutrient-rich food out of healthy soil, the national health bill would be slashed right away. He claims that the big chemical companies and big food companies know exactly what they are   doing and, therefore, he sees this as a form of genocide. Do you agree with this statement?

LB: I completely agree that spending on public health would be greatly reduced if people had reasonable access to healthy, whole foods. I think large chemical and food companies, which are often connected to pharmaceutical companies, are driven by profit and greed and this leads to producing, processing and packaging food in the cheapest possible way to maximize shareholder profits. A convenient side effect, from the perspective of these companies is the consumer addiction that arises from eating foods packed with salt, sugar, preservatives, processed fats, etc. used to both cheapen the cost of the good and to increase the stability of foods for transportation and display on shelves.

 

Xaverian Review Issue 2 Launch on March 14, 2019

Literary launch of chapbook featuring StFX artwork

On March 14, 2019 the Xaverian Review launches its second yearly edition. The chapbook is a showcase of art by StFX students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

The second-issue launch is scheduled to happen from six to nine this evening in Bloomfield Centre.. Featured performer Natashia Gushue, whose works are recently published in Xaverian Review issue 1 and The Xaverian Weekly issue 9 of volume 127, is scheduled for an appearance among artists and authors including professors Chris Fraser and Robert Zecker.

Xaverian Review was first published last year as the result of a two-year project brought to life through the efforts of Rachel Revoy, Savannah MacDonald, Sloane Ryan, Rebecca Charnock and Evan Curley who published a 40-page chapbook.

The executive member of this year’s team are Natalie Chicoine, Alexandrea Guye, and Jade Fulton. Chicoine and team are keeping the vision to allow creative mediums to be celebrated, to grow, and for collaborative multi-platformed opportunities to become facilitated this year.

“It’s been an honour to work with my best friends on this project. It was started by female students and continued by female students this year,” said Chicoine. The Xaverian Review executive members are strong-minded, smart, independent women who have powerful vision.

The publication, sponsored by the Students’ Union, is printed locally. Artworks published in the Xaverian Review include paintings, drawings, poems, short stories, photography, and other creative works.

Admission to the Xaverian Review issue 2 launch is gratis. This event is open to the public.

The Golden X Inn will be open until 1 a.m. for patrons who want service during the intermission scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and after the event.

Reflecting on her experience this year, Chicoine said, “I’m blessed. We’ve got so much support from everyone for a project still in its infancy.”

CFXU is in charge of sound engineering for the event happening in Bloomfield Café.

A limited amount of issue 1 and 2 copies will be available at the launch for free.

Discrimination at Parliament

 
 

Private apology from Justin Trudeau to a group of African Nova Scotians

During a recent trip to the Black Cultural Centre in Cherrybrook, Nova Scotia, a group of African Nova Scotians have received a private apology from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about being racially profiled earlier in February at Parliament Hill.

Approximately 150 people attended the Black Voices on the Hill, a coalition of black, youth, human rights, and labour groups meant to raise awareness of black Canadians among politicians, where they were to meet with a number of cabinet ministers.

Before meeting with cabinet ministers, a group of the visitors waited in the cafeteria. While there, an employee reportedly took pictures of the group and complained to Parliamentary Protective Services (PPS) about “dark-skinned” people. PPS then asked the group, waiting to meet with cabinet members, to leave despite having valid parliamentary passes.

The reaction to the incident has been swift, however. The chief of the PPS has launched an internal investigation, telling the CBC that there is “zero tolerance for any type of discrimination,” and offering an apology to the group visiting parliament to visit with cabinet members.

One among the group, Trayvone Clayton, a 20-year old criminology student at St. Mary’s University, told CBC that he received a phone call from Halifax MP, Andy Fillmore, about meeting the Prime Minister to receive an apology before the official apology.

Clayton reported that while the group was waiting in the cafeteria, there were complaints allegedly about noise the group was making. Clayton, however, responded that the group he was with was not making unreasonable amounts of noise, and that regardless,  “you’re obviously going to hear talking in the cafeteria anywhere you go.”

While Fillmore said the discrimination was “deeply troubling,” other members of the group have called the experience, “not isolated… but part of a broader systemic problem. It shows how at the highest levels of Canada’s public institutions, anti-black racism can flourish embedded within public institutions, how law enforcement can disproportionately criminalize black youth, and how there is an urgent need for more robust measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination from society.”

Trudeau, who was in Cherrybrook on February 21, took the time to apologize privately to the African Nova Scotians who were discriminated against at Parliament Hill, and to speak publicly about the shameful event in Ottawa. Trudeau was given a tour of the cultural centre, and remarked about the changes and progress that has yet to be made and progress that is ongoing in Canada regarding racism, prejudice, and discrimination.

The discrimination takes on special significance due to the fact that it takes place during Black History Month, and the fact that those who were visiting were there specifically to raise issues about black Canadians and the issues that they face. 

The disturbing irony of their purpose for being on Parliament Hill and their experience is hopefully not lost on members of parliament, senators and other Canadians. Trudeau acknowledged that Parliament Hill is meant to be accessible for all Canadians and they must work hard to prevent this incident from happening again, not just in Ottawa, but all of Canada.

It must be equally disheartening for the coalition attending Black Voices on the Hill as it was only two months previously that a black Nova Scotian and president of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, Elizabeth Cromwell, was awarded the Order of Canada for her tireless work in preserving the history of black Nova Scotians.

Cromwell co-founded the Black Loyalists Heritage Society in Birchtown, Nova Scotia in the 1980s, which has documented the history of black Nova Scotians as far back as the 1780s. The Society rebuilt their museum after a  devastating 2006 arson attack, finishing construction and opening on June 6, 2015.

 

Tragic Fire in Halifax

 
 

Pray for Syrian refugee family

Last Tuesday at roughly one in the morning, firefighters were called to the scene of one of the deadliest house fires Halifax has ever had.

The fire claimed the lives of seven children, who have been identified as: Abdullah, Rana, Hala, Ola, Mohamad, Rola, and Ahmed Barho. Their ages range from three months to 14 years.

The family had moved to the Spryfield area in October. Prior to that, the family had arrived in Canada as refugees only in September 2017.

The mother and father of the children survived the event, though not unscathed. Ebraheim and Kawthar were taken to the hospital during the night. Kawthar’s injuries are non-life-threatening, but Ebraheim, who went back into the blaze in an attempt to save his children, is in critical condition.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. Damage to the home is extensive, but especially prominent in the back and upper floor. According to Spryfield area city councilor, Steve Adams, most of the homes in the area were built between two and five years ago.

With Ebraheim in the hospital, Kawthar is without any family to turn to. Among the many pressuring the federal government to bring Barho’s family members to Nova Scotia is Halifax MP Andy Fillmore.

On Wednesday, a vigil was held for the family in Halifax’s main square. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a pre-planned party event which brought him to the Halifax area, and was able to stand among the hundreds who arrived to pay their respects. The prime minister did not speak at the vigil but stated that he was encouraged “to see so many people come out to share their love, to share their support for this family that most of them didn’t know and to say, ‘We’re there for you.’”

In an act of charity, a fundraiser was established for the Barho family through GoFundMe. The original goal of which was $300 000. It surpassed $398 000 within one day.

The Barho family had reportedly moved from Elmsdale to the Halifax suburb to take advantage of language training and immigration services in the area. A spokesperson from the Hants East Assisting Refugee Team Society, the group that sponsored the Barho family, said the family was planning to move back to Elmsdale next month.

Burials have not yet been planned for the children, as Kawthar and family friends await the release of bodies from the medical examiner.

 

Gerard Francis Donoghue (Gerry Dee) Interview

 
 

StFX alumnus plans return to campus for 25th anniversary

Gerard Francis Donoghue (Gerry Dee) was interviewed by Yanik Gallie on February 7, 2019. Donoghue’s work in comedy includes being a sports reporter with The Score, an actor in Trailer Park Boys: The Movie and a co-creator of the tv-series Mr. D. The humorist from Scarborough, Ontario is going on a tour across Canada starting March 1 in celebration of his 20th stand-up anniversary. 

Donoghue is about to perform stand-up on the road again and his creative writing process still happens without the audience in mind. “If it sounds funny to me, that’s my starting point. Hopefully it will translate to the audience,” Donoghue affirmed.

The cross-country tour is scheduled a few months after Mr. D’s season finale on December 19, 2018. After filming eight seasons of Mr. D, Donoghue said “the success speaks for itself. We had a great team over eight seasons. One of the challenges was writing fresh and funny scripts. I had a great group of writers that were equally a part of the project. Without them, it doesn’t go eight seasons.” 

The episode workshop was one of the more fun parts of the tv-series. Donoghue recalled, “we would sit in a room about six or seven of us and throw out ideas. We would think about what characters were doing in their own stories. Everyone would discuss around the table, it was a very collaborative effort. Someone would jump on one of the ideas and slowly start to build a story from there.” 

Donoghue cherishes his relationship with co-creator Michael Volpe, “he was someone who believed in me right out of the gate. We’re lifelong friends now. He was a great collaborator and equal partner on the show. We still keep in touch, so we might do something down the road.” 

Getting to know the Volpe family was “one of the best parts of that show” for Donoghue. He attributes networking with Volpe and comedians Mark Forward, Jonathan Torrens and Emma Hunter as a reason for the longevity of Mr. D’s comedic success.

A couple of winters ago, I saw Donoghue perform stand-up in Saint John, New-Brunswick. Donoghue made a hilarious entrance on-stage wearing a Sea Dogs jersey and was quick on his feet the rest of the show. By “trusting my instincts as a writer and actor,” Donoghue swiftly moved his audience to humility and laughter. 

Donoghue is a graduate of Physical Education with honours at StFX. He completed the degree as a concurrent program with Education in 1994. “It was a great time for me, I miss it dearly. My 25th anniversary is coming up this year so I’m going to get out there soon,” he hinted. 

Donoghue will perform stand-up at Halifax, Nova Scotia in the superb Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on April 23. It is his only scheduled tour appearance in the province so far. Additional Canadian cities for the tour have yet to be announced. Follow Donoghue on social media for more information on his whereabouts and projects.

Tickets to the Halifax show are now available for purchase at gerrydee.ca. A ticket for the performance on April 23 costs from $49.50 to $79.50 depending on the proximity of seat to stage. Celebrate the last day of exams with friends at this  timely stand-up performance.

Gerry Dee Tour Poster.jpg
 

StFX’s Dr. Christopher Byrne is PROSE Finalist

 
 

Aristotle’s Science of Matter and Motion is one of three finalists in philosophy section

Beginning in 1976, the Professional and Scholarly Excellence awards, or PROSE awards for short, have been presented annually. The purpose of the awards is to give acknowledgement to outstanding scholarly books, journals, and other academic works in many fields.

The judges of the awards come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including academia, publishing, and editing, among others. In 2019, the judges reviewed over 500 entries in 49 categories. To earn a place as a finalist is quite the achievement.

Now, among those honoured few is StFX’s own professor of philosophy, Dr. Christopher Byrne.

About the honour, Byrne says he was “Surprised and elated. I didn’t realize it had been nominated in the first place.”

Byrne’s work, Aristotle’s Science of Matter and Motion, placed as one of three finalists in the philosophy section. This accomplishment is made even more impressive when the relatively niche nature of its subject matter is taken into account. Byrne himself noted, “I was quite gratified to receive this award, as the topic of my book is not exactly on everyone’s lips.”

The aim of Aristotle’s Science of Matter and Motion is to re-examine the understanding of physics of one of history’s most prominent thinkers. Byrne stated, “I was moved to write this book because there is a curious view of Aristotle that is still quite widespread: on the one hand, he is considered one of the most important figures in the history of philosophy, indeed, in many fields, having made important contributions to biology, ethics, political philosophy, logic, metaphysics, rhetoric, and the theory of tragedy; on the other hand, he is held by many philosophers and historians of science to have failed so badly at physics that he held back its development until the seventeenth century when the Scientific Revolution finally overthrew Aristotelianism.”

Photo: stfx.ca

Photo: stfx.ca

Aside from the international recognition given to Byrne and his work by the PROSE awards, the book also earned an $8 000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Aid to Scholarly Publications through the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences. The process is highly selective and earning it comes with high esteem.

Byrne found in his study of Aristotle that the man’s approach to science was not so foolish as some academics today insist. He notes that Aristotle created a systematic, logical method of understanding matter, motion, and change in the physical world. Considering the lack of previous science at his time to build off of, Aristotle’s worldview is not such a blunder.

Byrne stated that he learned of his placement as a finalist in the PROSE awards at the same time that he learned he was nominated, in a congratulatory message from his editor.

Although he didn’t win the category, he says “It’s an honour just to get on the list.”

 

Finland Wraps Up Universal Basic Income Trial

 
 

Results give way to more questions than answers

Once confined to the ranks of socialist and far left-leaning politicians, Universal Basic Income is gaining traction in mainstream political and economic circles. While conservatives disparage social income programs as infeasible and irresponsible, many-–such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates-–see it as an inevitability of the future, given the rise of automation and artificial intelligence. The argument posits a future society in which the majority of labour-intensive jobs are performed by automated machines. As computational power accelerates in development over time, machine performance eventually spills over into the realm of general intelligence. 

Proponents of this theory state that the job reduction brought about by the rise of AI will result in an employment deficit that will require a fundamental shift in the world economic systems. Critiques of this Star Trek-esque theory state that its proponents are nothing more than modern day luddites, a call-out dating back to the days of the industrial revolution. Others state that the level of automation required to displace a majority of the worldwide job market is still a minimum of several decades away and does not warrant any sort of social or economic experimentation until those effects are felt. Regardless, countries around the world are beginning to seriously investigate the administration of a national social income strategy.

Recently, Finland concluded their two-year long trial of Universal Basic Income. Beginning in 2016, the center-right government began the program in the hopes that a supplemental stream of income would lead to higher employment rates amongst the unemployed participants. 

Prior to the trial, the government reviewed several basic income models, including a full basic income scheme, partial basic income scheme, and a negative income tax. The government decided to pursue a partial basic income scheme amounting to €560 per month (equivalent to the current unemployment benefit issued by the Social Insurance Institute in Finland). Two thousand unemployed individuals were selected to participate in the two-year study.

Although it is quite rare in the western world for a right-leaning party to favour social economic programs such as UBI, the Nordic countries have traditionally been left-leaning economically, albeit socially conservative. According to the recently released results, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government called for the experimental investigation in order to determine whether the introduction of UBI would result in an increased supply of labour. The projected national economic surplus resulting from UBI stands in contrast to the more common argument for UBI originating from the left, grounded in economic humanitarianism. 

Since the recession of the 1990s, the government of Finland has recognized that there were major flaws in its social security systems. Abound in bureaucracy, the simplification of social security has been an objective of most Finnish governments. 

It is not unusual for the Finish government to run policy experiments prior to their installation; rather, the nation prides itself on the use of real-world policy trials, which leads to implementation based on evidence rather than intuition. The results of the trial, however, have given way to more questions than answers.

Based on the published results, UBI did not result in increased rates of employment amongst the participant; in fact, the UBI treatment group saw an average decrease of 0.17 days at work per month (editor’s note: this is not statistically significant). Employment was not, however, the only metric being assessed. Self-reported values of wellbeing and happiness were ranked in interviews among participants and were elevated by a significant margin amongst the UBI group. This is likely due to the increase in freedom and decrease in fiscal anxiety mediated by the additional income.

Trust and satisfaction in life were also assessed by the scoring of: Trust in Other People, Trust in the Legal System and Trust in Politicians. Interestingly, each of these values were elevated in the UBI treatment group as well. According to multiple polling institutes, institutional trust has been eroded over the past decade across multiple western nations, with many citing the rise of populism as a direct product of this mistrust. If nothing else, instituting a bundled UBI payment may result in a partial restoration of trust in those nations that have experienced the degradation of faith in institutions. In the meantime, it remains unclear how the government of Finland plans to act on the newly published results. A conservative government is unlikely to favour a UBI program that does not appear to provide reciprocal economic benefit to the state. That being said, UBI would replace the current Finnish unemployment benefit, resulting in a slight reduction in the net cost of the program.

 

African Heritage Month Preface

 
 
 

 A note from the Students’ Union president

When I was first asked to write the foreword to the African Heritage Month edition of The Xaverian Weekly, I was excited but simultaneously anxious. In a book, the foreword often decides whether the reader will turn the page or not. I am hoping that what I write will encourage you not only to look to the next page, but also to read the whole edition of this paper. The special contributors for this month are students that you see and interact with everyday and we all share a special characteristic. We are black. Not only are we black, but we go to school at a historically white university. 

You might notice that students of African descent stick out at StFX, this is because we do. By the colour of our skin, by how we express ourselves, by our culture, and most significantly, by the oppression we face by virtue of our existence. I do not point out the last because I am attempting to be controversial, but because experiencing oppression is embedded in the lived experience of being black in Canada. In this country, it is impossible to talk about the experience of blackness without talking about racism. In that same vein, talking about racism is also part of the natural discourse of the black people on this campus; we talk about it all the time. If you are not black/person of colour, do not have black friends, or perhaps have black friends who do not talk about racism around you, this may come as a surprise. Nonetheless, it is true. When you read through the pages of this newspaper, the student contributors will talk about what it means to be black, why we are proud of our heritage, what it is to be from a different country, the identity of our people’s heroes and sheroes, and why we continue to celebrate African Heritage Month and dedicate newspaper editions in its honour. My hope then for you, the reader, is to open your mind, heart, and soul to the possibility of reading something that makes you uncomfortable. When you get that weird twinge, ask yourself why you are feeling that way. If you can answer that question honestly, my hope is that you do not sit idly by with your gut churning, but instead you stand up and do something. A whole group of students are opening up about what its like to be them. Use this edition as an opportunity, as a moment to learn, but more importantly as a chance to change. 

Wormholes and UFOs

 
 

Freedom of Information request exposes CIA projects

A recently released Freedom of Information (FOI) request has unearthed a number of interesting research projects undertaken by the CIA as part of a program known as Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Though no stranger to bizarre and unusual projects, the CIA and other branches of the American government have investigated phenomena more likely to be a plot twist from the Twilight Zone than any legitimate cosmic origin.

The documents released include projects in unknown states of research and funding. Some of the projects are more typical of military research with titles like, “Field Effects on Biological Tissues,” and some more cryptic like, “Space Access.”, What has captured imaginations, however, are the projects titled “Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy,” and “Warp Drive, Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions,” among others with equally science fiction like concepts and titles. Though they may sound like technobabble in the style of Star Trek engineer Jeordie LaForge, each of these projects is attached to a legitimate author, representing either a company or a university. Some of these authors have a history of publishing work in reputable science journals, such as Nature. Interestingly, the author of the research about warp drives was cited by Gizmodo in 2009 about his “scientifically accurate” design for a ship with a warp drive. Whether these projects ever produce viable science is unknown and unlikely to be released any time soon, if ever.

In 2017, the Washington Post and the New York Times reported on a $22 million-dollar project buried inside the $600 billion-dollar Defense Department budget. The $22 million-dollar figure was the budget for AATIP, which has been cataloguing and collecting unusual incidents involving unidentified objects encountered by fighter pilots. Videos of the encounters were released and made their way across the internet and lit up paranormal and conspiracy forums and social media sites alike. 

While little else was revealed at that time, it follows on previous paranormal work by the CIA and other branches of the American government. In the 1950s a similar program, called Blue Book, recorded and tracked phenomena that fighter pilots encountered. Although the vast majority of it was explained by unusual, but natural, cloud and weather patterns, more than 700 remained unexplained at the time of the program’s closure. The CIA also investigated the potential psychic powers of people, training men to kill goats with just their thoughts.

Although these projects have been widely derided both before and after becoming public, there were very real concerns throughout the Cold War that American and Soviet agencies were falling behind one another and losing an imagined arms race in unlikely scientific domains. Each super power leaked information in hopes that the other would waste time and resources on either useless data or technological dead ends. 

Perhaps, most famously, American agencies spent time researching psionic and psychic powers and abilities after hearing that Soviet scientists had been successful in harnessing psychic abilities in test subjects. American researchers attempted to have their own subjects succeed in clairvoyance and other paranormal and parapsychological activities. By 1995, after 20 years of study, the project was closed with the conclusion that the study had “dubious value,” and that the test subjects who reported some ability in remote viewing had “substantially more background information than might otherwise be apparent,” a stunning rebuke to a such a long running study.

Soviet scientists were also the target of rumour and false data. American scientists, having exhausted research into a potential nerve agent, and hoping to encourage Soviet researchers into wasting time and resources, purposefully leaked 4000 documents on, what the American scientists believed, was non-weaponizable chemical agents as part of Operation Shocker. The documents led the Soviets to expand their research and may have led to the production of notorious nerve agent, Novichok, which was used on and led to the death of former Russian GRU officer Sergei Skripal, Charlie Rowley, and Dawn Sturgess in March and June 2018.

 

Stella Bowles Interview

 
 

Recipient of Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada visits campus

Stella Bowles was interviewed by Yanik Gallie in The Xaverian Weekly newsroom on February 5, 2019. Bowles was on campus hosting an address to Bachelor of Education students with a focus in Business. Bowles was invited to speak of her entrepreneurial skills and how to support non-traditional student learning. My River: Cleaning up the LaHave River is a book by Bowles written with Anne Laurel Carter available for purchase at Chapters, Amazon, and local bookshops across Canada.

***

YG: How did you meet Carter?

SB: She presented herself as an author wanting to write a book about my work. She came over for a cup of tea, we had tea and talked. We decided it would be a good idea to write the first couple chapters and see if a publisher picks up the book. Formac Publishing Company Limited picked up the book, so she wrote the rest. 

YG: Describe a typical workshop for the book with Carter. 

SB: Anne wrote the book from my perspective. There was a lot of sending notes back and forth to change things. Because she lives in Toronto, we had to FaceTime to talk. Sometimes it would be talking about my day because she needed to become me to write the book. She was in Hawaii once when we were FaceTiming. She was asking about how I would structure my sentences. When I proofread the drafts, I recognized things I said. There’s a lot of proofreading involved. Even if you read a page, you have to go back and read it again. Sending emails is a big part of the work too. She captured my voice. 

YG: What’s your advice to  students? 

SB: You can make a difference no matter your age. Your age shouldn’t define what you can and cannot do. If you talk to your parents or a mentor, you can get somebody to help you. You can accomplish just about anything. 

YG: What’s your advice to teachers?

SB: I think classrooms need more hands-on learning. I don’t like traditional school. It’s boring. If you do an activity or workshop, students retain more information than they would if they were reading from a textbook. Science is fun; I learned that with my project. 

YG: How can teachers better support students?

SB: Care. Any kind of acknowledgement is nice. They don’t have to throw a party but saying something positive with constructive advice is important to students. Don’t shut down questions if students are interested in an unfamiliar topic either. Guide students and help them find a resource, teacher or mentor to engage with their interest.

YG: Can you share the story about your sign?

SB: I’m a little stubborn (chuckles). My sign was up to show that the river was contaminated with fecal bacteria and the municipality called me asking to take the sign down. I said, “No.” They called again and asked, “When are you going to take it down?” I said, “As soon as the program starts and the first hole is done for a septic system, I’ll take it down.” They called me again later and invited me to the digging ceremony for the septic system where we took some pictures then I took my sign down. 

YG: You recently announced a partnership with Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation. How did it happen?

SB: It happened through the prize money I was winning from different organizations. We decided to have a partnership and create kits that provide students with equipment for them to test their own  waterways.

This partnership is showing that kids can make a difference and science can be fun. The kits are about $600 each, and that provides equipment to test for about a year. I have a few groups in Nova Scotia and three groups in Sweden who are using the kits. 

YG: What is your message to communities in Canada that have straight pipes dumping into waterways?

SB: Straight pipes are 100% illegal in Canada. They are not grandfathered in by law and that should be enforced. I don’t see how it’s right to be putting sewage and toilet paper down the toilet directly into our waterways. When I was getting a sample, we found needles along the shore. Anything being flushed ends up in our waterways. If someone steps on a needle, it’s dangerous.

YG: Mayor Rachel Bailey of Lunenburg questioned the validity of your Lunenburg water results.

SB: I was curious. I wanted to know what Lunenburg’s contamination level was and it was bad. I posted the results and the mayor was not happy. She questioned the validity of my results. I went to Acadia university and we did tests with variables to validate my experiment. Half of my samples are tested by me and half are tested by an accredited laboratory. The results turned out to be accurate. 

YG: How do you modify your presentation for a specific audience?

SB: I present to people in primary and secondary classes, university, and nursing homes. It’s interesting because I’m always presenting in a different way and adapting my speech. If I talk to little kids, I’ll say, “There’s poop in the river.” They’ll react by trying to fix the problem. When people get older, it’s all about tax money going towards fixing the problem and funding. It’s fascinating how people’s perspectives change as they get older. 

YG: How did you get in touch with researchers in Sweden?

SB: Jennie Larsson came to work with Coastal Action for a month over the summer. We got in contact with her and we went to one of her conferences in Halifax. She said it would be great to have a partnership with us. 

I went to Sweden this  December right after the Walk of Fame. It was a cool experience being in the classrooms in Sweden. All the kids get fed healthy meals at the schools. They were eating cream fish and food that nobody would ever go near at my school. 

YG: Considering how Sweden is running their education system, how can we improve our system?

SB: Technology in the classroom is not going away. It   bothers me when teachers lock      everything down on a Chromebook. Have a little more trust in students. We need to have a conversation in the classroom about how to properly respect the internet and use the technology. 

YG: What’s your takeaway from being the first recipient of Canada’s Walk of Fame          Community Hero Award?

SB: I think it’s a good opportunity to spread my message    further. It really gets the message out that our waters aren’t clean, and we need to step up our game on that situation. It’s great to be winning, but I’m not doing it for the awards. 

YG: During your acceptance speech you mention Dr. David Maxwell is a mentor. How is he an exemplary teacher?

SB: He provided me with testing equipment. I was able to publish my results. Being an 11-year-old kid testing water and saying it’s dirty, a lot of people would question what I was talking about. Dr. Maxwell helped to validate my work. 

He likes to ask me a lot of questions and makes me think critically. He still goes back to things I didn’t know when I was 11 and asks me to explain it to him now. 

YG: What was a most memorable moment from Canada’s Walk of Fame?

SB: They cut out the best part of Canada’s Walk of Fame from airtime. I didn’t know who Kurt Browning was and I was told to walk fast to my seat because I had gone to the bathroom during a commercial break when Kurt said, “Are you Stella Bowles?” I said, “Yep.” I kept walking to my seat. He got on stage and made a joke that I am the most intimidating person he ever met and that I could get any politician’s money (chuckles). 

Also, because my award was associated with the Toronto Maple Leafs, they gave me a jersey signed by the whole team with my name embroidered on the back. In a few weeks, they’re flying the family to see a Toronto Maple Leafs game which I’m excited to attend. 

 

Dr. Leslie Jane McMillan Interview

 
 

Book Launch: Truth and Conviction: Donald Marshall Jr. and the Mi’kmaw Quest for Justice

Dr. Leslie Jane McMillan was interviewed by Yanik Gallie in her office on January 28, 2019. McMillan’s book launch on February 1 at the Antigonish public library brought together a roomful of people beyond seating capacity. The book sold out before guest speakers Laurel J. Halfpenny-MacQuarrie and Kerry Prosper introduced McMillan. Truth and Conviction: Donald Marshall Jr. and the Mi’kmaw Quest for Justice is available for purchase at Chapters, Amazon, and local bookshops across Canada.

***

YG: Looking back at the wrongful conviction and fishing cases, how does it feel to continue fighting for social justice?

JM: September 17, 1999 is the 20th anniversary of the Marshall decision. This year also marks the completion of the commission on Donald Marshall Junior prosecution for the time he spent in jail for a murder he did not commit. It’s the 30th anniversary of that report which technically was released on January 26, 1990 but the commission concluded its work in 1989. Having been involved in that work for a long time, my passion is constantly fueled and restocked by the outrages that continue to happen in terms of justice and equality with examples of systemic racism and discrimination. There’s no shortage, unfortunately, of situations that point to the need for systemic change. Hopefully the work we do now in collaboration with community is picking up some momentum. It’s starting to drive not just surface changes, but substantive changes in the way relationships recognize and honour Indigenous treaty rights, human rights and Mi’kmaw vision for governance over all things that affect their lives. It’s taken a long time to address systemic racism and discrimination because they require systemic change. There are increasingly more and more people getting involved in positions of power who are recognizing what happens when they exclude Mi’kmaq people from decision making that impacts their lives. 

YG: What are your favorite memories with Donald Marshall Junior?

JM: We had a lot of very happy times when we lived up in Cape Breton in Aberdeen at a place we called Junior’s farm. I think some of the happiest moments were when his brothers, sisters, mother, the extended family, the kids and their kids would all come over to the farmhouse. We’d have a big bonfire with lots of food. The day he woke up from his transplant was also one of the happiest days. When he recognized he had survived that ordeal, it was a special moment. Most of the time, happy moments were sitting around up in Aberdeen playing cribbage at the kitchen table with the windows wide open, smelling the cedar, and being out in the country.

YG: How is the title and cover artwork significant to you?

JM: It took a long time to get to that title. It certainly wasn’t the original title. It’s commonplace that the press has an idea, the author has an idea, and sometimes it takes a while to negotiate something that everybody’s comfortable publishing. The book was originally called Unsettling Justice and then colon with another caption. 

Truth and Conviction are powerful terms. As an anthropologist, I think there are multiple truths. I also think there are many forms of conviction. Whether it’s conviction to make change or conviction in the sense of the justice system, we constantly construct these ideas of truth and conviction. It’s a metaphor for many paths that are in the book. 

It’s the legacy of Donald Marshall Junior that I’m pointing to in terms of narrating these very important points like what are the truths for Mi’kmaq people? What is the history and the consequences of colonization of their legal principles? What are their convictions about the restoration and revitalization of those legal principles today? That’s very much part of Donald Marshall Junior’s legacy outlined in the quest for justice.

The artwork is one of my favorite pictures. I thought we would go with more abstract art or an artist’s rendition, but they wanted to use this photo. It’s a beautiful photo of him fly fishing and he looks extremely peaceful. Fly fishing was one of his favorite things to do. 

YG: Having been a defendant for Marshall’s decision on Indigenous fishing rights, can you describe the atmosphere during the proceeding?

JM: There was a lot of tension. The court was first heard at the provincial level here in Antigonish because the charges were near Paq’tnkek at Pomquet Harbour. There was a lot of media attention to the case because it was Donald Marshall Junior. It’s interesting whenever you’re dealing with somebody who’s in the public gaze, you deal with a lot of unwanted attention. You’ve got strangers approaching you about strange things too. There’s a certain vulnerability of being in the public gaze that made me very uneasy and made Donald even more uneasy. 

He wanted to avoid that after the wrongful conviction when it was just non-stop. All he wanted to do was exercise his treaty rights in a calm and peaceful way, a right that he knew he had. Generationally, these rights were known by the Mi’kmaq to be active and alive. The gaze of the public, again, caused a lot of stress and tension. His health declined more rapidly than I think it would have otherwise hadn’t he experienced that.Then, we lost at the court here. The late judge John D. Embree did everything he could to give the fairest judgement and open it up for further investigation which we are always grateful that we were given leave to appeal. It was hard work. 

YG: Kerry Prosper was talking with me earlier today about the preparation for court and the collaborative effort of the team.

JM: There was a huge team of researchers. A lot of new Mi’kmaq lawyers who had just graduated from the Indigenous Blacks and Mi’kmaq law program that had started at Dalhousie University as a result of the commission of inquiry into the wrongful conviction helped with the case. It was a beautiful synergy that was happening. Many of these Mi’kmaq lawyers at that time are now in leadership positions like chief P.J. Prosper, Doug Brown who is president of Union of Nova Scotia Indians, and Jimbo Michael. A lot of strong Mi’kmaq women lawyers were also part of the research team. 

There was an awful lot of preparation. I have seven or eight volumes of historical archival work. William Wicken who was one of the historical experts for the Mi’kmaq worked tirelessly. This was a very important treaty test case because it was testing 1760-1761 treaties which were different than the 1752 treaty. This had the addition of commerciality and the livelihood trade part that was critical to the nation. Bruce Wildsmith and Eric Zscheile led the legal team with exemplary care.

YG: You were with Donald Marshall Junior in Pomquet Harbour fishing. Can you describe the environment the day DFO met you on the water?

JM: A beautiful sunny day. It was one of those days when you’re happy to be on the water. A slight breeze, I remember the water sparkling. Donald’s back was really sore, so I was driving the boat most of the day and I was hauling the nets. In Pomquet, the eels are big. The eels were slapping around the boat. 

We were in a good mood, then we see a boat coming. Normally it’s quiet down there. Sometimes there would be a fisherman or two around, but it was quiet that day. The DFO came over in their boat and asked to see what was in our boat. I thought they were looking for by-catch like if you’re fishing salmon when it’s out of season. They asked to see our license and JR said, “I don’t need a license.” The officer said, “Everybody needs a license.” JR said, “I’ve got a treaty right.” I didn’t have a license either. None of the people we fished eel with had them or talked about them. Mi’kmaq didn’t need licenses is how we understood the land to be. 

The officers were very polite. They wanted our names and address. We were reluctant to engage with the officers. Donald’s not that comfortable around people in uniform, and rightly so. They asked to take one of our nets for evidence. We asked them to take an empty net, which they did. We wanted it back, but we didn’t ever get it back. Then, they drove away and hit a sand bar. We laughed because we thought, they don’t even know the water. What are they doing down here?  We had no idea what was going on. When we called asking to get the net back, things started to progress from there. Things got quite political quickly. It was a nice sunny day and we were quite bewildered. 

YG: What are your thoughts on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action?

JM: There are 94 Calls to Action. Two of the most critical ones from my perspective are numbers 42 and 50 which talk about building Indigenous justice systems and institutes to learn about Indigenous legal principles and put them into practice. We are a long way from those Calls to Action. I think they offer such an exciting opportunity to engage, develop, and apply Indigenous legal principles. 

Other Calls to Action talk about the reduction of incarceration of Indigenous people. There are lots of opportunities to build programs and facilities for wellness and healing that are really grounded in Indigenous cultures and teachings. If the government follows through on their commitment to implement all Calls to Action, there can be some beautiful programs and opportunities to help break cycles of intergenerational trauma, recidivism, and young people going to jail because there aren’t opportunities for education, employment or getting grounded in cultural teachings. 

I’m optimistic. There’s lots of mobilization around Indigenous intelligence. There’s lots of scholars, legal scholars, but there must be more collaboration with the legal justice system and the courts, with society in general. What does a pluralistic justice system look like? Community building and fostering community to legitimize their own justice systems and programming in ways that are meaningful. It takes a long time to unpack the horrors of colonization and rejuvenate pride and belief in the principles of ways of being. 

YG: Land-based education is important in schools.

JM: We just came from a three-day conference on land-based education as the conduit to healing dispute and dispute management as well. People get disconnected when they make a dispute within a community. They break a relationship not only with the individual they’ve harmed but with the families and networks of families that create a community. How do you fix that? Sending them to jail isn’t the answer. The answer is reintegration back into the fold of what it means to be a whole new person. By creating opportunities, we help an individual who’s in crisis to address their prideness demon, addiction, or cycles of abuse that they need help to facilitate. Giving the space, having the communities create spaces, and having them supported consistently not with programs or pilot projects but with real systemic resources to make change. It’s generative, but we are a long way from seeing substantial results. We’ve been talking for a long time. More people talk now but I want to see more action. 

YG: What is your philosophy as an anthropologist?

JM: Anthropology as a discipline is well-positioned in terms of community engagement. In terms of working with Indigenous communities and as a professor of Anthropology, I try to leverage my position of privilege and power to advocate for changes the community tells me they want. 

I’m very fortunate. I was up in community today and I was up in community for the last three days of last week with the Marshall family and a gathering of elders. They are so generous in the knowledge they share. The experiences that I have are rich. 

A lot of times, it’s really painful and difficult work. You’re working with people’s pain and suffering trying to find solutions so that it doesn’t continue, so that we don’t perpetuate colonial relationships, and so that we don’t allow laws or policies that infringe on people’s wellbeing. 

We fight for equity and my job is a great one in that I get to meet people from around the world who are so wise and resilient. It keeps reaffirming that cultural attributes are phenomenal, and they tell us a lot about humanity. 

 

Ending the Stigma

 
 

Bell Let’s Talk Day sparks more conversation for the ninth year

After 2019’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell reported a record 145 442 699 interactions, translating into $7 272 134.95 in donations towards mental health initiatives across Canada. This will be the ninth year that Bell commits more money to mental health, and initiates more conversation to create a Canada that is stigma-free.

Stigma, according to the Oxford Dictionary is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” To be more general, stigma is a negative stereotype. With regards to mental health, the biggest barrier between those suffering from problems or illnesses and recovery is the stigma they face.

About one fifth of Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year, yet according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “despite how common it is, mental illness continues to be met with widespread stigma: in hospitals, workplaces, and schools; in rural and urban communities; even among close friends and families.”

Bell Canada notes the 5 simple ways to end the stigma and start a conversation. It is important to note mental health is an extremely complex matter that is unique to each and every person. Bell’s five points are aimed at ending stigma, and not intending to take authority on fixing mental illnesses. The five points are as follows:

Language Matters. Words make a difference. Worlds help, but they can also hurt. We must make a conscientious effort to use the right language with others. For example, one who suffers from a mental illness is not “crazy.”

Educate Yourself. This is extremely important. Mental health is a concept that continually gets researched and studied, and our understanding of it is constantly evolving. Having the right tools and knowing the right language makes a massive difference. Supporting those experiencing mental illnesses can also be ameliorated by knowing how to correctly speak and address their struggles.

Be Kind. Kindness is the most simple and effective way to make a difference in the world. Caring for others in gestures big and small can remind them of their worth and remind them that you are there for them. By offering to speak to someone over coffee, or simply passing a smile, you could unknowingly turn someone’s whole day around.

Listen and Ask. Mental illness is a very common form of human pain and suffering. Being a good listener and asking how you can help or simply being there for people you care about can be an essential step in their recovery.

Talk About It. Breaking the silence is everything Bell set out to do when it began the Bell Let’s Talk initiative. According to Bell’s statistics, two out of three people suffer in silence in fear of judgement, rejection, or burdening others. Being open to a conversation and sparking conversation helps to eliminate the stigma.

Here at StFX there are many events and groups that aim to end the stigma during Bell Let’s Talk and throughout the entire year. During the week of January 28 to February 1, StFX Athletics dedicated their home games to mental health awareness, with athletes sporting the BellLet’sTalk blue toques, and holding posters to support the conversation. The hashtag #oneteamformentalhealth was used prominently on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. The Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) was also present throughout the week, hosting events like a coffee house at local business, Tall & Small, Photo Booths at sporting events, and mindfulness and yoga sessions!

Residence Life also hosted a number of events throughout residences. On January 29, the Residence Life team also held a Health Promotions booth in the Student Union Building, where they distributed blue BellLet’sTalk Toques and other helpful resources.

On January 30, Flourish @ X, a program dedicated to students making the best of their university experience, promoted Bell Let’s Talk on its Facebook page, stating “Mental Health is something that should be nourished like physical health and no one should suffer in silence.”

In our small StFX and Antigonish communities, in our country we’re proud to call home, and across the world, mental health is something we must all be mindful of. Mental illness affects many, and eliminating the stigma will make a massive difference for everyone. Taking actions and making a difference, big or small, is what is needed to make progress.

 

Bre O’Handley Interview

 
 

Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor

Bre O’Handley was interviewed by Addy Strickland on January 26, 2019.

O’Handley is a StFX graduate from Guysborough, Nova Scotia with a B.Sc. Honours in Psychology.

A paper based on her Honours thesis research was published online by Psychology and Sexuality on May 22, 2017. 

O’Handley is the Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor at StFX. Her goal is to create a queer community that is celebrated.

***

AS: Can you give me a little bit of history on pride at StFX?

BO: Chris Frazer would probably be the person to go to when it comes to Pride at StFX! I started as a student at X in 2012, and while I remember Pride Week happening each year and there always being a Pride Week issue of the Xaverian, I actually wasn’t very involved as a student with the happenings of Pride during my undergrad! Chris Frazer has been at StFX since 2004 and has really been the person to spearhead much of what now happens as Pride Month at X, along with the help of the X Pride student society of course! Chris spent about 15 years working as the LGBTQ advisor on a volunteer basis, my position, of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor at StFX, was just created in 2017. Before then, different faculty members, particularly Dr. Chris Frazer and Dr. Rachel Hurst, did the heavy lifting when it came to supporting LGBTQ+ issues and students at StFX!

AS: Have you noticed any changes in what pride month looks like since you started working here?

BO: Absolutely! As I mentioned above, before my position was created Pride happened every year, but often took the form of “Pride Week.” One of my main goals my first year on the job was to expand that into a Pride Month, so 2018 was the first time (to my knowledge) that StFX had a full month of Pride events! In the past, when it was Pride Week, many of the events were primarily student centred and happened at the Inn, which was a fantastic way to celebrate! But now that we have a whole month to jampack with events, X Pride and I have been able to organize quite a variety of events. We kick off the month with the Pride Flag Raising, as a way to think about how far the queer community here at X, and everywhere, has come but also to acknowledge how far we have to go. Then the month is peppered with engagements like lectures, panels, coffeehouses, film screenings, games nights, LGBTQ+ inclusive church services, Sex Toy Bingo and we always finish off with the always incredible Priscilla: Queen of the Highlands drag show.

Photo: X-Pride

Photo: X-Pride

 AS: Why is pride month so important? What does pride month do for the StFX and Antigonish community?

BO: Pride Month is important anywhere, but especially on the StFX campus because the campus climate here is so heteronormative and cis-normative. During my time as an undergrad, I found it really hard to find the LGBTQ+ community at StFX and really wish that I had had more of that support as a student. When you’re LGBTQ+ at StFX, a school that does still lack diversity and has a long history of homophobia, in part due to the rural context, it’s easy to feel like an outsider. While I met so many incredible people and learned so much during my time as an undergrad, it always felt like I was missing something when it came to engaging with and celebrating my queer identity. Having a month where we celebrate and actively engage in queer culture is so important for LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty as it sends a signal that we’re here, we’re queer and everyone else is going to have to get used to it. I think Pride Month also offers a space to the Antigonish community of LGBTQ+ folks. While I will admit that our events are mostly catered towards StFX students, staff and faculty, community members are always very welcome at any of the events that X Pride and I host and we love to have community members come and engage with us! Again, the rural context of Antigonish can make for a difficult time as a queer person, as there is still homophobia, biphobia and transphobia on this campus and in this town, and not as many resources as you would find in a place like Halifax.

AS: There have been so many great events this month - do you have a favourite? Why?

BO: I think my favorite new event this Pride Month would have to be the What I Love About Being Queer film screening and panel discussion. I first discovered the What I Love About Being Queer book and film by Vivek Shraya last year when I was shopping for resources for my office at Venus Envy in Halifax. I had never seen a book like it before and instantly knew I needed to have it in my office. The purpose of What I Love About Being Queer is to focus on the positive narratives of being queer, something that too often we overlook as we still have many struggles and discrimination that we must focus on. The book and film contains answers from a diverse group of queer Canadians to the question, “what do you love about being queer?” The first time that I read the book was in a café in Halifax right after I bought it, my partner and I started reading and blew through the book within half an hour. I’m not a big public crier, but there was no way I could hold back the tears while reading this book, not because it’s sad but because it was so incredibly moving to see so many people celebrating being queer and it was content that I, like the author, can attest to having needed so many times before in my life. So being able to share this message and film with the StFX queer community and allies at the screening was really special for me, and to have the incredible panel of queer professors and community members was so refreshing and fascinating. Even at StFX, the queer community proves to be more diverse than you might think.

 But, I think my all-time favorite Pride Month event has to be Priscilla. I know I sing its praise every year but it’s true when Dr. Frazer says that it’s the best drag show east of Montreal and it is just such an engaging and wildly fun event every single year. We’ve already sold over a third of tickets for this year’s Priscilla, so if you want to make it to the show this year (and trust me, YOU DO) you’re going to want to snag a ticket ASAP! They are being sold in the third floor SUB Lobby 9am-3pm, Monday-Friday until Feb 1st!

AS: Pride month is, obviously, just one month. What suggestions do you have to help the StFX community celebrate pride all year round?

BO: There are lots of events that folks can go to celebrate pride all year round! My office and X-Pride organize events every month, like the X Pride Coffeehouses and Spill the Tea sessions! X Pride coffeehouses happen at the Tall and Small café and are a chance for folks to perform music, spoken word, whatever they want, Sadie Goering organizes those so if anyone ever wants to perform, they can contact them to get involved! Spill the Tea sessions happen monthly which I organize with X Pride, it’s an informal discussion group and we pick a topic each month, like coming out or gender identity, and just talk it out with each other. I run an annual lecture series: The Gender and Sexual Diversity lecture series, so there will be talks monthly for the rest of the year that folks can attend! February 26th, spoken word artist, Kavi Ade, will be performing on campus! X Pride releases a calendar of events each term, so if you want to stay up to date on ways to celebrate pride year-round, definitely get involved with them or join the Facebook group “X-Pride 2018-2019” to stay in the loop!

AS: Evidently, representation is really important - do you have any thoughts on what needs to be done to ensure that the queer community is fairly represented by student government?

BO: I believe there is a possibility that an LGBTQ+ Representative will be added to Council this upcoming academic year, although I’m not 100% sure, and I think that that would help to ensure the queer community is fairly represented by student government. We’ve been lucky the past two years to have a union that was fairly educated and cared about issues of equity, at least with regards to the LGBTQ+ community, and so I hope to see the same in coming years. I think that having members of student government complete training around LGBTQ+ issues and gender inclusivity is a fantastic way to move towards being more aware of how decisions may impact LGBTQ+ students, so I would certainly recommend members of student government to seek out Positive Space training and similar programs to stay informed.

 

Charging Stations on Campus for Electric Vehicles

 
 

Electric vehicles’ charging stations $1 per hour now functioning

Two electric vehicle charging stations in the Bloomfield Centre rear parking lot and one in the J. Bruce Brown Hall parking lot installed on November 20, 2018 are now functioning. 

Faculty Management’s Energy & Utilities Supervisor Kevin Latimer, leader of these installments, said the stations are part of the Mulroney Hall project. The charging stations earned Mulroney Hall points to qualify as a Gold building on the LEAD (Leadership Energy and Environmental Design) ranking. 

At the cost of $1 per hour, an electric vehicle hooked at a charging station on campus will get its battery charging and the payment is easily processed through the FLO app. 

When asked about profitability, Latimer commented “It isn’t profitable at a buck an hour. A buck an hour will recover our energy cost. Three units cost close to $25 000.”

“I was talking to Kevin Latimer about stations since I got the car. Some charging stations are free,” Frank Comeau said referring to the stations at Halifax Library, Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University. “I was arguing with Latimer to make them free.”

Comeau added, “There’s no point in charging my car here because it costs me two to three times more than it costs at home. For that reason, I don’t use them that much.”

Comeau was the first user of the charging station at J. Bruce Brown Hall. Comeau and I did the math to compare the charging and fueling costs between our vehicles. Comeau’s Volt travels 60 kilometers for $1.5 to $2.5 while my Grand Prix travels the same distance for $8 to $8.25. 

As part of the Maritime Link Project, Nova Scotia is shifting from 28% renewable energy to 40% renewable energy. Latimer notes, “Nova Scotia Power has promised to have 40% renewables by 2020. When that happens, electricity will be more environmentally friendly than gas. Right now, electricity in Nova Scotia is close to breaking even with gas in terms of carbon footprint.” 

Latimer started fidgeting with his safety glasses when he mentioned, “We could easily go to 50% renewable energy, but Nova Scotia is going to sell 10% for profit to the States where energy will go at a much higher rate.” 

Comeau, electrical engineer and professor at StFX, questioned the research that concludes electric vehicles have a similar carbon footprint as gas vehicles, “Studies have shown that electric vehicles in Nova Scotia emit the same carbon footprint as gas cars and other studies have shown that it’s about half of the carbon footprint. I can’t seem to get to the bottom of this. If we had 100% renewables, it’d be better.” 

Comeau has been fascinated with renewable energy since he was a youngster, “I’ve been interested in electric cars since the oil crisis in the 1970s. There were big, long, lineups at gas stations and people started thinking about renewables then is what I remember.”

 “I have plans to put solar power on my house to charge my car,” Comeau asserted. Solutions to the carbon footprint issue seem to be generating electricity with renewable energy sources like solar panels, windmills, or hydropower instead of mining lithium. 

Comeau is one of two professors at StFX who have electric vehicles. Few students, if any, have electric vehicles. Latimer hopes that tourists visiting campus with electric vehicles this summer will increase the use of charging stations. 

Electric vehicles will have to be actively charging at the station on campus or they will get a ticket, and they can stay charging in the station for up to four hours per parking session. Electric vehicle charging symbols will be painted in the designated parking spots this spring. 

 

2019 Class Presidents Interview

 
 

Sarah Comandante and Carl Miller discuss the legacy project

Bowen Assman interviewed Sarah Comandante and Carl Miller on January 24, 2019.

***

BA: Can you explain to me what the bursary is and how much money is involved in it as of right now?

SC: The emergency mental health fund is essentially a bursary that can be accessible to students in every year concerning mental health problems or mental health difficulties. It’s going to be distributed under the purview of the Health and Counseling Center. This isn’t going to be a bursary that people apply for and we’re trying to eliminate that third party in there because one of the biggest problems with mental health is breaking down that stigma. For a lot of people just applying for something to say, “I’m having a hard time” is something that’s going to deter them from even wanting to go and get help. This is something that the psychologists, the doctors and the nurses can distribute as they see fit within the Health and Counseling Center. The bursary is intentionally very open-ended, and we purposefully did not put strict stipulations on it so that it has the potential to reach as many students as possible. We’re kind of using the same examples. They’re very arbitrary but it could range from someone who is having a really hard time and isn’t able to work so they’re having to take some time off of work and this money is giving them a grocery card because they’re not able to pay for their groceries right now or if someone experiences a death in the family and needs to fly home, it could potentially cover the cost of a flight. It’s something that we’re really trying to make very open-ended. We got off to a bit of a slow start around X Ring and the Day of Giving but just in the past week and a half we’ve gotten some pretty substantial private donors and we’re speaking to all of the local businesses in town, as well as Bell Alliant, so I don’t have a number right now because there’s so much in limbo.

BA: How will the Health and Counseling Center distribute money?

CM: Yeah, so it is tough because you say, “What is mental health?” With an emergency fund, people immediately think, oh it is for counselling or therapy sessions. What it is intended for is, let’s say you broke your leg, or something really serious happened physically, ok, we have resources for that. If somebody dies in your family or you get into a really tough situation which you know everybody does, this isn’t going to fix it but it could be one more support for people who find themselves in a situation where it’s just not going to work. If income is limited in a specific time span or something you know personal happens and they just need a hand, the councilors will have access to that funding.

SC: The money is going to go into an endowment fund, and it is going to be paid out on the interest rate. The money that’s going to be given to the Counseling Center every year is going to be the fixed amount from the interest coming out of that endowment fund, and that will be the money that they can work with for the year. Essentially, they can use it on one student or they can use it on ten. If there is a rollover from year to year, then maybe the next year will have some more money. The intent is that all the money going in right now is going to go into that  endowment fund and the money coming off annually is going to be from that interest rate so that the bursary is sustainable for itself.

BA: And you don’t have to specifically ask for it? Is it given out?

SC: It’s a tricky thing that when we were discussing the terms and conditions with the Health and Counselling Center, one of the hardest things was how do we assess who to give this money to and we kind of came to the conclusion that physicians and psychiatrists and psychologists are going to be the people that are going to be best able to assess the need of individuals and so we’re hoping that by people knowing that this is a potential support for them, it can also encourage people to go get some help and to go in there. We don’t know yet if it’s going to be people going in and saying that they think they need help, but a lot of times, things that get disclosed in counseling sessions can be a trigger for a counselor to say maybe this is something where I could help make this person’s life easier. It is tricky because you really have to be careful that people aren’t going to go in and ask for this money and take advantage of it. But because it’s not going to be done by an application basis, it’s not like anyone can write themselves up a story.

BA: It’s kind of tough to balance?

CM: Yes, it is broad enough but not enough to abuse it.

SC: Yeah, this was really the best way that we could find that it was going to be distributed appropriately under these professionals. If you had a committee for bursaries and scholarships where there’s a committee of people who decide who gets what, we didn’t think it would be appropriate to have people have to disclose personal details of their life and then who are those people on the committee to decide whether or not they deserve the money right?

BA: Yes, so why the focus on mental health, especially in 2019 today?

SC: Over our last four years at least here, I think we really spoke about how this campus has seen a lot of change. There’s been a lot of major events that have happened here, and we wanted this legacy project for the class of 2019 to be something that really encompassed what we’ve experienced. Breaking the stigma around mental health as well as sexual violence has been a huge thing that’s plagued our class. We wanted to find a way to kind of bring those two things together and really work towards it, because as much as there are a lot of efforts towards breaking down the stigma of mental health, it’s something that is constantly prevalent and no matter what everyone has mental health and everyone will experience a mental health problem in their life whether or not that be a mental illness but that is how statistics are shown. If it’s not you, it’s your roommate or it’s your best friend. It really can be applied to everyone.

CM: Yeah. I think the strong point is if you’re lucky enough to get to university without it happening to you directly, it is happening to one of your friends who have found themselves in a situation where there isn’t really a noticeable change in behavior so you just hope they can kind of tough it out. I think it resonates with a lot of people, if not on the personal scale then definitely somebody close to you.

SC: Yeah, we were talking about for X-Ring is that the idea of students contributing to this bursary is a way for students to directly give to other students and to show their support to other people. So, how much more positively we can affect others when they’re going through something like this is to show that our community is behind them and that money coming from the students is going directly back to the students. So, it’s a way to keep it within where it matters.

BA: Branching on that, the decision to start the mental health bursary was from whom?

SC: It was from us, we made the idea. There was a lot of just like trying to bounce off ideas and we had a couple ideas for the bursary. This was the way we could meld them all together. Then, we put out a poll and we put out a form asking, “this is an idea we have right now. Do you support it or not support it or do you have another idea?” So that was like our best way to grasp it and we had almost unanimously people support it. We probably got around ten responses of people that had other ideas, but it was like nine out of the ten other ideas were actually for this. It was just that we hadn’t explained the bursary well enough or we weren’t able to explain it well enough in those stages. So, it was kind of a common theme.

CM: Yeah, and I think one of the good things about me and Sarah’s presence is that we had the two perspectives of a student who lives far away and a student who comes from here. I think this was a good center point and something that everyone understands because if not, it’s kind of like focused towards one or the other, but I think this really applies for everybody

SC: We found that we wanted to make a bursary for literally everyone because a lot of the scholarships or the bursaries, there is such specific criteria that it’s almost like some groups are just always not able to access it. We were like, how do we make something that has the potential for everybody to actually access?

BA: Last year’s was for refugee students?

SC: Yeah, and that was with WUSC (World University Service of Canada).

BA: Does that one continue on and then this one will continue as well so there’ll be numerous bursaries?

SC: Yeah, so this is the fourth year of the legacy project and it’s basically like they’re all always there. So, the whole point of the endowment is that in 30 years there will be 30 bursaries for 30 different things. This got started by the class presidents I think four years ago and they had the idea of leaving a legacy project. The idea was that you could do a capital project or you can do like a bursary and it’s just happened that all of the classes have found that the bursaries are most successful. They’re still even fundraising for last year’s bursary. The amount of money that bursary is providing every year is going specifically to that bursary and then when people donate, they can direct their donation. When you go to the StFX website, you can direct it to a certain year’s bursary.

BA: How long are these bursaries expected to last for?

CM: If you take the interest year-by-year it’ll always be there.

SC: The whole goal is to have as much in that endowment fund as possible so that the yearly payout is as high as it possibly can be.

BA: What are your other roles as class presidents?

CM: Right now, that was kind of the big thing (bursary), that and X-Ring really had been the first semester of, “Whoa, okay let’s get these things under control.” But now, second semester we are really trying to plan some activities for the senior class to come together one last time and meet some new people.

SC: We are having a grad fair, it’s going to happen hopefully at the end of March. We’re working it out with Alumni Affairs right now. We are doing a grad fair that’s going to be just a little thing probably in the McKay room one afternoon and it’ll be things like getting fitted for your gowns, photos, selling tickets and stuff for all the events for the weekend. Another thing we’re working on is the time capsule. All of the classes have a time capsule. We’re going to put it out pretty soon, but we were going to enlist the help of hopefully some seniors to create the physical box because it is a cool artsy project, but we’re both science students so that’s not going to work (laughs). We need people to do that. 

We’re also working on developing a digital time capsule where every senior has a chance to put in a 30- second video or some pictures or something of themselves. We’re working on that and the time capsule is like a whole event during Xaverian farewell. We’ve raised some money from first semester from some different events like one-month raffle tickets and X-Ring tickets. We’re really trying to find ideas for stuff that people would be interested in doing and planning events, but essentially from here on out there will be new senior class presidents in like a month and we will have to help plan grad. Grad is pretty low key compared to X-Ring.

BA: I hear that it is not a big deal (grad).

SC: It’s just that it happens after the fact but there’s some really cool events happening. I had no idea there was like a lobster dinner. They put on a big lobster dinner, as it is hard to get dinner reservations. If we can put some money towards subsidizing the ticket, everyone can go to that and there’s like three nights at the Inn. The last night of grad you stay up all night at the Inn as the party doesn’t even start until late and then they serve breakfast at 4am there. There’s actually a lot of cool events. The hard thing is that it happens after we have all left. The only reason I know this stuff is because I work at the Inn, so we worked grad weekend and it has the potential for a lot of cool stuff.

Anyone interested in donating to this year’s bursary can visit the website stfx.ca/class0f2019.

 

Calling All Beer Connoisseurs

 
 

10.3% brew is local company’s first bottled beer

Half Cocked Brewing Company released its first bottled beer Tapped and Feathered on December 22, 2018 and it’s flavourful. With an alcohol by volume of 10.3%, the new maple batch is a warm buzz in a bottle with a hint of vanilla and chocolate flavour.

The beer is a maple sap imperial stout with quality ingredients sourced from North Grant in Antigonish County. After aging in a Glenora whiskey barrel for 6 months, the beer is bottled. Sap from Haveracre maple farm in Antigonish is slightly noticeable. The beer’s vanilla flavor comes from the oak wood of the barrel used for aging. 

On a shelf in the staff room sits a small jar of the whiskey that was absorbed in the wood of the barrel when the beer was aged. It smells powerful and smooth. Co-owner Greg Oicle commented on the beer’s high alcohol by volume, “The high gravity makes it safer to age. For barrel-aging beer, you want the gravity higher because you have less likelihood of bacteria and yeast or other contaminants over time. It went into the barrel at 8.5% and it came back from Glenora at 10.3%.”

The warm feeling one gets from drinking whiskey is a unique feature of Tapped and Feathered. 

A bottle of 650ml sells for $17. Of the 286 bottles made, half of them are already sold.

Photo: Facebook @Half Cocked Brewing Company

Photo: Facebook @Half Cocked Brewing Company

In addition to sourcing local ingredients, Half Cocked Brewing Company supports local business. Luc Boudreau is the artist from the Maritimes, creator of Maritime Grime, responsible for the top-notch label design on the Tapped and Feathered bottle. 

Boudreau is also the designer of the company’s logo symbolic of the family’s chicken farm that was built by Oicle’s grandfather and partners in the 1960s.

Oicle’s parents bought the farm in the 1980s. As the oldest boy growing up on a farm raising 24 000 chickens, Oicle is familiar with a strong work ethic. In the summer of 1999 before he started his Geology degree at StFX, Oicle worked on building an additional barn where Half Cocked Brewing Company is now located.

The bottling gear for Tapped and Feathered is provided by Big Spruce Brewing, a company from Nyanza, Nova Scotia. Big Spruce Brewing has been supporting Oicle since the early days when they delivered growlers to The Townhouse Brewpub & Eatery for sale. The business model quickly evolved and Oicle now does growler fillings and pints weekly on Thursday evenings at their location.

Oicle is the head brewer and majority shareholder of Half Cocked Brewing Company. His passion for home brewing started in 2014 when Oicle and his brother experimented with recipes. 

The inspiration came from walking into the NSLC and   noticing only a handful of beers were made in Nova Scotia. He remembered, “A year before we opened, we were refining our recipes by brewing for friends and family.”

Founded in August of 2017, Oicle is already looking at brewing equipment to expand the business, “In the course of a month I make 800 to 1000 litres of beer. With a new system, I can be making that much in a day.”

StFX students confirm that the Half Cocked Brewing Company honors its mission to brew delectable, yet down to earth beer. After tasting Tapped and Feathered, Joseph Goodwin wrote, “The variety of flavours create an experience unlike any other beer and despite its robustness and high alcohol content, it is unbelievably smooth.” 

Julia McKaig described Tapped and Feathered, “The first dark beer to ever perk my ears up. Perfect for an uplifting night. Heed warning, it may keep things lively until morning.”

Stop by the brewery on Thursdays from four to seven for excellent service and       quality products at 1290 off the old Highway 245 in Antigonish. 

 

Canadian Man Sentenced to Death in China

 
 

Feud sparked by Huawei CFO’s arrest in Canada continues to rage on

Tensions between Beijing and Ottawa continue to escalate, as a Canadian man was sentenced to death on Monday in China’s northeast province of Liaoning. In November, The Dalian Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to 15 years in prison on charges of mass drug smuggling. Earlier this month, prosecutors appealed the decision, stating that the sentence was too lenient due to evidence of Schellenberg’s involvement in international organized drug crime. Within 20 minutes of Schellenberg’s second appearance, the court decided to send the case to a retrial. 

In a blog post, George Washington University’s Chinese law expert Donald Clarke stated that the speed at which the court decided to retry the case was highly suspicious, and indicated that the decision had been made prior to Schellenberg’s court appearance. He also stated that the extraordinary speed with which the retrial was scheduled is indicative of the case being used as diplomatic retaliation. 

“Schellenberg’s retrial has been scheduled for January 14, a mere 16 days after the appeal decision. This is barely time for the minimum 10 days’ notice of trial required by China’s Criminal Procedure Law (Art. 187), and it is not clear that notice was in fact provided on or before January 4 as required. Given that the prosecution apparently plans to make new allegations that would justify the imposition of a death sentence, such a brief time is utterly inadequate for the preparation of a meaningful defence.”

All of this comes only a month after the Canadian arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co. After the arrest, the Chinese Embassy in Canada issued the following statement, “At the request of the U.S. side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen not violating any American or Canadian law. The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim. 

The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the U.S. and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Wanzhou. We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.

The request from the U.S. to extradite Wanzhou came after the U.S. uncovered evidence that she purposefully buried Huawei’s connections to a firm that attempted to sell equipment to Iran, despite international sanctions. 

The original warrant was issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York; after the arrest, Canadian officials  confirmed Wanzhou was charged with “conspiracy to defraud multiple international institutions.” The charges of fraud include using a shell company over five years to avoid international American sanctions. Skycom, the company in question, was used to provide telecommunication services to Iran. While Wanzhou asserts that Skycom and Huawei are separate entities, U.S. officials disagree. In addition to the fraud charges, U.S. attorneys state that Wanzhou was actively attempting to avoid prosecution by the U.S., as she was found in possession of “no fewer than seven passports from both China and Hong Kong.” 

When questioned by reporters, Trudeau felt that the arrest would have little impact on diplomatic relations with Beijing, stating that the two countries had a very good relationship. The following day, the Chinese government issued a warning to Canadian ambassador John McCallum, stating that the arrest “severely violated the Chinese citizen’s legal and legitimate rights and interests, it is lawless, reasonless and ruthless, and it is extremely vicious.” The government also warned of “serious consequences” if the actions by North American officials were not remedied.  Shortly after the warning was issued, former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in Beijing, for “endangered Chinese security.” The unspecific allegations were not followed with charges laid by the Chinese government, and Prime Minister Trudeau has referred to the detention as arbitrary and unacceptable. 

A second Canadian has also gone missing in China. Michael Spavor, a Canadian business consultant with ties to North Korea, shared his itinerary on December 10 over Facebook for a lecture series in Seoul. Spavor’s plane was set to depart from China that day; however, he never arrived in South Korea. 

In a statement referring to both Spavor and Kovrig, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang again accused the pair of being “suspected of engaging in activities endangering national security,” without specific charges being laid. Clarke also referred to the pair in his blog post regarding Schellenberg’s death sentence. 

“The case appears to reinforce the message, previously suggested by the detentions of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, that China views the holding of human hostages as an acceptable way to conduct diplomacy.” 

The diplomatic tensions between Canada and China show no signs of easing during the coming weeks, and several former foreign officials have predicted that it will take approximately a year to resolve. President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau have both appealed to the government of China to refrain from utilizing their judicial powers as weapons in the diplomatic spat, though their pleas remain unanswered. Meanwhile, Schellenberg has 10 days to appeal the court decision, although due process has notably been missing from many of the aforementioned court proceedings.

 

There’s a Hot New Bar in Town

 
 

Welcome to the Furnace

January 5 saw the opening of the newest nightclub in Antigonish, The Furnace Nightclub. After launching to great success (max capacity at 10:30pm) I caught up with the owner to discuss his plans and hopes for his business.

Timothy Peters is the 28-year-old entrepreneur at the helm of The Furnace. Growing up in Cape Breton, Tim lived around big fields and farmland all his life, which inspired his interest in creating incredible parties. The year he held his first annual field party titled “Beats in a Field,” a music festival including 5 DJs, a hay wagon for a stage, and a formidable 400 person attendance.

Fast forward to its third year and the event had an attendance of 1000 people who enjoyed food trucks, various entertainers, and a great party overall. The sheer size of the event became too much to handle for a one-man operation, so Tim rented the space previously occupied by the Oriental Lounge to begin his newest business endeavour. One year of preparation later, The Furnace is ready to go and things are just starting to heat up. 

After hearing a brief history, I asked Tim what his goals for The Furnace are, and what his plans are to differentiate himself from other bars in town. Tim elaborated on his target audience being you, the students, and what he thinks will attract students to the new spot. 

The building itself is rather small, but features a good mix of seating space and dance floor to appeal to all in attendance. The dance floor itself has the stage front and centre, where DJs and live bands will keep the nights going for all to see. Interestingly, there is a pool table in the seating area, further increasing the diversity in the environment and creating a unique vibe compared to other bars in town. Aside from the building layout, some key features to look out for are cheap drinks during happy hour (9pm-11pm), various live performers, and several female bouncers, which Tim attributes to creating the comforting and welcoming environment felt on opening night, a trend which will surely continue.

I had some concern over the location of the bar, being above a local restaurant, however Tim easily cleared any doubts I had. He explained that he rents the room from the restaurant owner, and that their businesses work parallel to each other to operate as smoothly as possible. For instance, The Furnace opens just as the restaurant closes, avoiding any noise issues that may be had. Also, with the stairway to access the building being rather narrow, the line begins at the door, allowing for easy access both in and out of bar. Lastly, the bar is inherently not accessible to persons with physical disabilities due to it being on the second floor, and there is no official means to alleviate this issue as of now. 

Each bar in town creates its own unique atmosphere which largely attracts or alienates certain people. Being the new club in town, The Furnace is in the position to create a name for itself and establish a unique atmosphere when compared to its competitors. Tim wants The Furnace to be an inclusive, welcoming, and modern nightclub for all people to come and enjoy. A great example of getting off to the right foot is an event taking place February 2, X-Pride’s “Rainbow Party.” This event concludes the month’s events put on by X-Pride. By hosting this event, The Furnace already cements itself as the welcoming and inclusive location it strives to be. But of course, we can’t forget about the entertainment. From his experience in hosting “Beats in a Field” Tim has many connections which will inevitably lead to talented DJs and live bands to rival some of the best entertainment in town.

Being the new bar in town, there is considerable competition to attract an audience when the competitors have such established experiences. So, here’s the kicker for all us students to enjoy: no cover. That’s right, well, at least most of the time. 

Tim went on to explain that most often there will be no cover to enter the bar as he feels everyone should be able to enjoy the night without paying for admittance. With that said though, of course there will be a cover charge to help pay for a particular entertainer for special events. But Tim wants his customers to receive value for their cover charge, and from the cheap drinks, diverse environment, and great entertainment, it will certainly be worth the price. 

From the environment, to the atmosphere, and entertainment, The Furnace’s future looks bright and is sure to be an interesting new place to visit and enjoy.

Lastly, Tim has a quick message for the students: “Come out and try something new at The Furnace!”