Massive Success at Relay for Life


Students reflect on a night of remembrance, hope, and community

On March 15, members of StFX and its surrounding communities gathered for a night of hope, support, and celebration of life. Relay for Life had taken over the Oland Centre and hosted hundreds of participants all working towards an excellent cause; bring awareness to the effect’s cancer has on the lives of Canadians.

An international event, Relay for Life has been the Canadian Cancer Society’s primary fundraising event for 20 years. Typically, at Relay, you will find participants walking around a designated track for the entirety of the night. At least one member of each team must be walking the track at all times. This symbolizes how in more ways than one, we are all affected by cancer in our lifetime.

Relay for Life throughout the years has successfully conveyed across the world the idea that no battle should be faced alone. Wherever you are and whoever you are, by participating in Relay for Life you are following in the footsteps of thousands of others who have walked them before. Relay for Life is a key player in bringing change to the future of cancer research and awareness.

StFX’s Relay for Life was organized this year by students Hannah Greene and Elizabeth Talbot. Elizabeth can also be noted as the top participant of the event, who brought more than one thousand dollars of donations to the event. Another noteworthy contributor to the event was the team “Kids Against Cancer.” This team brought in an incredible $2,208.65 to 2019’s Relay for Life event. These kids shared a heartfelt speech at the beginning of the event and showed tremendous amounts of poise, courage, and wisdom. 

A number of participants had many positive comments to make about this year’s event, including third year finance student, Clare Ross. “I think the success of the night was based on the people that came out to the event and all had someone they were thinking about! It’s so important to notice that every luminary that lined the track was for someone that is battling cancer or someone that lost the battle!” Clare, who has volunteered at the event for her three years at StFX, continued to explain the importance of uniting as a community for a good purpose. “In theory it’s sad but at the end of it all we’re all coming together to take a step towards decreasing the amount of individuals losing their own battle!”

“Relay went really well this year and we reached our goal as a school. Personally, Relay means a lot to me because it’s a time to honour the memory of my grandfather and my uncle who both passed away from cancer. This year especially meant a lot because my boyfriend Lucas cut his hair in honour of my uncle,” Said Reed Wigglesworth, a fourth year marketing student. “In my first year after I did Relay, Lucas told me that was his plan and it seemed so far away. For it to finally come about and happen feels surreal really.”

Reed’s boyfriend, Lucas Restrepo, cut and donated over one foot of his hair. “I always get very emotional at Relay but this year it was amazing to have Lucas with me and a team of amazing friends. It’s such an important event and I’m so proud that StFX hosts it on campus.”

Other members of Reed’s team cared to comment further about the experience. “This was the first year I had participated in Relay for Life at StFX and I was blown away by how many people were there, how much money was raised, and the overall enthusiasm that lasted the entire event!” said Claire Keenan, fourth year forensic psychology student. “It was evident that this event was close to many hearts and the luminary ceremony was very touching to witness. Another highlight was seeing just how many people were willing to donate their hair, and even go so far as to shave their heads, all in the name of raising money for cancer research!”

Another volunteer at this year’s Relay for Life was Sam Bardwell, as third year science student. She began by explaining the event’s importance to her. “Relay for Life is an event that is very important to me and always has been. I think everyone has been impacted by cancer in some way or another, so I know this is an event meaningful to so many more people than just me.” She echoed Claire Keenan’s sentiments regarding the success of the night. “It was amazing to see so many people from StFX come out to show their support. We had about 250 participants and ended up raising over $31,000! We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout and I know the rest of the committee is equally as proud of what was                         accomplished.”


Mount Everest Base Camp Expedition


Alumnus of ‘94 is raising scholarship funds for African students

Joseph Odhiambo is a StFX alumnus who is a former Senior Class President and member of 1993 StFX University Basketball team that won a national championship was    inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. Odhiambo also led efforts to fund and nominate Agnes McLennan as the first honorary recipient of an X-ring, based on their meeting during summer classes at StFX when McLennan returned to complete her studies in her late 60s.

Odhiambo will lead an expedition to the Mount Everest Base Camp Expedition to raise awareness and $5 000 in scholarship funds for secondary and post-secondary students in the Mathere slum of Nairobi, Kenya through the Canada-Mathare Education Trust (CMETrust), a registered Canadian charity.

Mathare is one of the largest slums in Africa and residents lack access to basic necessities such as water, electricity, roads, and waste disposal. Unemployment and precarious employment is common, with the result that most families struggle to meet their basic needs.

Education is a key step in addressing these challenges. However, in Kenya, education is not free after the primary level and many families cannot afford to send their children to secondary school due to high tuition fees and the cost of uniforms, textbooks, school supplies, and transportation.

CMETrust scholarships   cover the annual costs of secondary education and are renewed annually based on progress reports. In addition, CMETrust provides support to graduates who achieve high enough marks on their school leaving exams to obtain direct entry to a university in Kenya, helping them to pursue post-secondary studies.

Odhiambo was also born in Nairobi, and he has always been grateful for the opportunities that Canada provided for his family since immigrating in the 1970s. The purpose for this trip is to support, in some small way, Kenyan children and youth who are trying to build better lives under difficult     conditions.

The expedition is a hike at elevations ranging from 9 318 feet to a maximum of 18 192 feet. As a sub-objective, the expedition will is also to draw attention to the accumulation of waste and garbage that has built up on the trail leading to the base camp and summit by participating in efforts to remove the build-up of non-recyclable and recyclable products that has accumulated annually since the 1990s.

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SAFE launches new $60 000 fundraiser


Refugee resettlement thrives in Antigonish

Syrian-Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE) has set a new fundraising goal of $60 000 to be raised by September 31st. The new initiative will be driven by their "100 for 100" campaign, which encourages members of the StFX and Antigonish community to donate $100 to SAFE, while challenging their friends to do the same. SAFE hopes that the fresh injection of cash will enable them to resettle two more Syrian families in Antigonish. In an email to SAFE volunteers, founding member Lucille Harper issued a rallying cry to members of the community:
"With the support of people in our community and our province, we have helped 5 families start new lives in Antigonish. We can do more. The war in Syria is entering its 8th year with over 465 000 Syrians killed in the conflict, over a million injured, and over 12 million - half the country’s pre-war population - displaced from their homes. Please help us bring 2 more families to safety."

SAFE was founded by a small group of community members in May 2015, in direct response to the ongoing conflict plaguing Syria. Their mission was simple: gather funds and community support with the hopes of eventually resettling a Syrian refugee family in Antigonish. The group set an initial fundraising target of $30 000, and began raising funds by setting up jars in local stores, and organizing town halls & community events. Word of mouth and coverage in the local paper then prompted members of the StFX community to join the movement. At a special meeting in November 2015, StFX faculty members, representatives of the StFX Students’ Union, three Employee Unions, the Association of University Teachers, and Senior administration voted on a motion to create StFX for SAFE. The goal of this newly founded fundraising body was to raise $10 000 in sponsorship money for SAFE to aid in their resettlement efforts.

Throughout the following year, StFX for SAFE and the associated student society organized various fundraising events such as the Peace for Syria Walk, two Pause for the Cause campaigns, Hair Today/Gone Tomorrow, and the special presentation of a play co-authored by StFX alumnus Brendan Ahern and Majd Al Zhouri, a 22 year old StFX student from Syria. Within 18 months, StFX for SAFE raised tenfold their initial goal, collecting a total of $100 000 in donations.

St. FX Ad 2018.jpg

Word of SAFE and StFX for SAFE's efforts spread throughout the community, prompting Class of 2018 co-presidents Alex Corrigan and Rachel LeBlanc to establish a bursary aimed at providing financial support for individuals who have claimed refugee status at some in their life. Fundraising for the bursary is ongoing, however, the Class of 2018 was able to raise nearly $40 000 over the course of the past academic year.

“At StFX, graduating classes have a rich history of giving back to the community and by the spring of 2017, it became apparent that the Class of 2018 also wanted to leave its mark. Rachel LeBlanc and I heard many wonderful ideas, but were most inspired by StFX for SAFE who had in the previous two years, raised more than $100 000 to support refugees in Antigonish. We were floored by their dedication and knew that if the community was so incredibly supportive of their cause, then our class would be too.” says Corrigan.

As of today, there are five SAFE-sponsored families from Syria living in Antigonish, with a sixth having recently relocated from Newfoundland; if the "100 for 100" campaign proves successful, that number could increase to eight.

Photo: Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace

Photo: Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace