Pilot Project Launch

 
 

Funds available for StFX students to display their work at the Art Gallery

The Students’ Union has  recently funded a part of the cost for hosting Nic Latulippe’s “Canadiana” exposition at the StFX Art Gallery from March 4 to 14, 2019. Latulippe convinced the Students’ Union to repay him $1100 for printing his artwork displayed at the exposition and renting the space.

The money came from the Council Initiatives Fund which also supported student-led projects such as The Xaverian Review this year. Part of Latulippe’s initiative is to have funding for art expositions more accessible to students on campus.

Latulippe learned about the Council Initiatives Fund while speaking with Tega Sefia, Vice-President of Finance and Operations of the Students’ Union. Sefia informed Latulippe that any student can request money from the Fund for a project at a council meeting.

Latulippe’s proposal,  according to the Council Minutes, included that he would get funding on the  condition that his artwork be displayed in the Brian Mulroney Hall Institute. However, Latulippe has been selling prints from “Canadiana” displayed at the exposition for personal profit. The Xaverian Weekly reached out to Latulippe inquiring about purchasing “Alone” and “Maritime Icon.” Latulippe replied that original prints     displayed at the “gallery” as well as “reprints” are available for purchase.

Photo: http://www2.mystfx.ca/art-gallery/exhibitions

Photo: http://www2.mystfx.ca/art-gallery/exhibitions

The idea of featuring StFX artists at the campus Art Gallery opens doors to showcase student art, yet there is little evidence that funding behind this new project is distributed fairly across all StFX artists. The amount of money allocated to fund Latulippe’s exhibition was substantial compared to the $500 he proposed to council that future artists receive for showcasing their work in the Art Gallery.

While the efforts of Latulippe, the Students’ Union, and the Art Gallery to promote   student artwork is  commendable, the execution of this project is flawed. Funding aside, Latulippe’s exposition was displayed for 10 days while Doumkos’ exposition was       displayed for nine days.  Latulippe’s full name appears on his promotional poster while the only identifier linking Doumkos to the exposition is her website doumkos.com.

Students’ Union executives are considering various strategies to ensure the long-term success and fairness of this pilot project. Latulippe is to be praised for putting forth this project rooted in the empowerment of student artists.

 

Patagonia Action Works

 
 

Clothing company integrates activism with business

Patagonia has announced that they will refuse to sell corporate logo vests to companies that do not prioritize the environment. The fleece vest has become a corporate wardrobe staple of Wall Street and Silicone Valley firms. The change in Patagonia’s distribution policy came to light when the CEO of the financial communication PR firm Vested applied for, ironically, branded vests. According to an email from an unidentified supplier:

“Patagonia has nothing against your client or the financial industry, it’s just not an area they are currently marketing through our co-brand division. While they have co-branded here in the past, the brand is really focused right now on only co-branding with a small collection of like-minded and brand aligned areas; outdoor sports that are relevant to the gear we design, regenerative organic farming, and environmental activism.... Due to their environmental activism, they are reluctant to co-brand with oil, drilling, mining, dam construction, etc. companies that they view to be ecologically damaging...”

Patagonia has a long history of environmental activism. In 2018, CEO Rose Marcario announced Patagonia was going to give back the $10 million tax cut to grassroots organizations focused on environmental conservation. Until recently, the company mission was “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” The slogan was changed in December, however, to something more akin to a call to action: “Patagonia is in the business to save our home planet.”

The change has impacted more than just the company letterhead, however. In an order to the company HR department, founder Yvon Chouinard requested that throughout company hirings - regardless of department - experience being equal, the candidate who is the most committed to environmental conservation should be hired. According to a report published by Fast Company, Chouinard has said the change has “made a huge difference in the people coming into the company.”

In addition to mottos and missions, Patagonia has a long history of supporting organizations dedicated to outdoor activities and environmental initiatives. The company has a history of awarding 900 grants per year to various organizations. Recently, the company has become much more selective in the grant allocation process, choosing to focus on three key areas: agriculture, politics, and protected lands. In an interview with Fast Company, Chouinard provided an example of this increased selectivity:

“We give out about 900 grants a year to different activist organizations… We’ve given money to an organization that repairs people’s bicycles. Well, they’re not going to get any money anymore.”

Chouinard has a long personal history of environmental activism, both within and outside the company. In 1986, Chouinard dedicated 1% of total Patagonia sales, or 10% of profits (whichever was higher) to environmental activism and initiatives. In the early 1990s, an environmental audit of the company revealed that the source of their cotton – although ethically farmed – had a large associated environmental footprint. The use of pesticides and insecticides were responsible for a vast amount of the environmental damage associated with cotton production. In response, Chouinard ordered the company to switch cotton sources to those that were certified organic. Although the move was valiant, it almost resulted in the bankruptcy of the company. Sales plummeted 20% due to supply chain issues, and it took Patagonia a total of three years to train and certify the cotton farmers. After the cotton supply issues were remedied, however, sales improved to a steady rate, and have been increasing ever since.

The action taken by Patagonia to not only combat ecological damage, but also enforce environmental proactivity through selective partnerships, is a wonderful example of using corporate influence for the betterment of society. Acta non verba. Social corporate responsibility is a topic too often tackled by words, rather than actions. 

Patagonia has taken corporate responsibility several orders of magnitude beyond the industry standard; hopefully firms will take after their lead, and alter their own internal policies accordingly.

 

Irony on the World Stage

 
 

Comedic relief in time for exams

As another year winds to a close here at StFX, and the heavy weight of exams come bearing down on us all, a good whimsical tale can help alleviate the pressure. Or better yet, two recent stories from across the globe which serve to remind us that sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction. Or at least more ironic.

Massimiliano Fedriga, of the League party in Italy, has been vocal in his opposition to Italy’s policy of mandatory vaccinations of children since its inception. The mandate was put into law following a Measles outbreak in 2017, and it requires vaccinations against twelve diseases.

According to the legislation, unvaccinated children would be barred from pre-school and daycare, and their parents would face heavy fines.

Fedriga argued that parents shouldn’t be obliged to vaccinate their children. He even went as far as to say on one occasion, that the larger part of the ruling coalition government at that time, the Democratic party, was being “Stalinist.”

Recently, rather unfortunately and somewhat comically, Fedriga contracted chicken-pox — one of the 12 diseases requiring vaccination in 2017’s legislation.

Many were quick to point out the brutal irony of the situation on Twitter. But, to be fair to Mr. Fedriga, he claims that he was never a supporter of the anti-vax movement. As reported by The Independent, Mr Fedriga recently posted on Twitter, “I have always said that I am in favour of vaccines, but to achieve the result it is necessary to have an alliance with families not imposition.”

A well known Italian doctor, and operator of the website MedicalFacts, Robert Burioni first wished Mr. Fedrigo a speedy recovery. But, afterwards, he took the opportunity to highlight the importance of vaccinations, “The only way we have to avoid such tragedies is to vaccinate us all to prevent the circulation of this dangerous virus, which could have hit a much more vulnerable person.”

If that story was not bizzare enough, don’t worry, there’s more. In a turn of events that one would expect in a piece by The Onion, an Egyptian singer by the name of Sherine Abdel-Wahab has recently barred from performing in Egypt for implying that the country doesn’t respect free speech.

According to the New York Post, at a concert in Bahrain in late March, Abdel-Wahab was recorded saying “Here I can say whatever I want. In Egypt, anyone who talks gets imprisoned.”

After this remark, a high-profile Egyptian lawyer, Samir Sabri, filed suit against Abdel-Wahab. The lawsuit accused the singer of using the music festival and foreign parties to speak ill of Egypt. The singer was then promptly banned from performing by the Egyptian Musicians Syndicate, which licenses musicians in the country.

The Emirates Woman magazine reports that the following week, Abdel-Wahab made a public appearance to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, saying, “I am very tired. I made a mistake. I am sorry. I appeal the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, who is our father. I feel that I was persecuted. I did nothing. I love Egypt.”

Despite the outlandish stories, we remind the reader that they are in fact reading The Xaverian Weekly, and they are not dreaming. Good luck with exams, until next time.

 

Patrolling the Policies of X-Patrol

 
 

A sit-down with Senior Lead John Comeau

During The Xaverian Weekly’s production night on March 11 2019, Two X-Patrol members were sitting down near the radio station. Of course, taking breaks is perfectly fine. However, more than three hours later, those same two individuals were sitting in the same spots. It was then when they got a message on the radio to take a break.

“Finally!” one exclaimed enthusiastically.

Why would those two be sitting down for three hours, hanging out on their phones?

I sat down with John Comeau, Senior Lead of X-Patrol, on March 22 to get some answers.

***

BA: How many current X-Patrol members are there?

JC: 78 and they’re all students

BA: What kind of screening happens for an application?

JC: We first make sure that the student is coming back for more than just their fourth year, so that we can retain high numbers of staff and we don’t have a turnover every year. So we’re looking for second and third year applicants, and sometimes we’ll make an exception if we are really short on staff. But, we make sure that they’re in good academic and conduct standing. We send it off to Residence Life and they tell us if they have any major conduct issues or like a 60 or 65 average I think. That’s kind of like the only screening and then we conduct interviews. They are pretty brief, and based on that we decide. We’re pretty open and we usually don’t turn many people away for this job because there is events that require 30 or so staff.

BA: What do walk-homes consist of, and what limits do officers have to their patrolling?

JC: The walk home system was created as a way of helping students get home safe after events. We always partner up a male and a female on patrol so that no matter who we’re walking home they feel safe, and approachable. Our parameters for where we can walk home is anywhere on campus. If somebody lives off-campus we can walk them right to the edge of campus, but our staff are told not to leave campus property. Oftentimes we’ll just even walk people back from like the KMC to Bloomfield so they can get a drive with Drive U to get home that way. Or even between the library after 8pm when it’s dark sometimes. We’ve had students call security and ask for just a walk home from the library to Governor’s or something like that.

BA: How many people per day patrol?

JC: On any given night we’ll have at least six, but on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday we have eight until 3am. But, on any other night of the week, it’s only until 12:30. But we have two people or one patrol pair stay after 12:30 and work in the Bloomfield until three, so that the building can remain open after hours.

BA: Do you think that there are too many patrols at some point?

JC: On weekends, it can honestly be not enough but I think that it’s finding that right balance because there are nights where it’s quiet and we’re not really needed. However, for example during exam period we still keep six staff on every day of the exam period right up until the end. But, you never know when something’s going to happen or when something’s going to come out of the blue. Outside of just walking people home and doing patrols like that, we also assist the officers in doing checks on apartment style because there’s no community advisors (CA) in those buildings. They do roundabouts throughout the floors to report damages or parties or anything like that. And they also do wall walks around the Oland Centre/Keating complex to make sure that there’s no high schoolers, because there’s a lot of space on campus that can’t be monitored by the three full time officers. So, I think that it’s an appropriate number. But in years past they didn’t have any patrols on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday nights. It was just a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday thing.

BA: When did that change happen?

JC: I think it was about five years ago with new management. They figured that with the new walk home program, that was something that they wanted to offer every night of the week.

BA: What are the responsibilities of the full-time security officers?

JC: They’re in charge of doing more lockouts of bedrooms and opening and closing classrooms and buildings, issuing temporary keys and those type of things. Usually when there’s a thing that X-Patrol deals with that gets escalated, they’ll be in charge of helping out before we get the RCMP involved. There’s only two of them so they’re pretty busy with their own duties, and a lot of things kind of fall on them if a student has problems with their faucet late at night, they could call security and they would go. Or if there’s a leak in a building, there’s a lot of small jobs that they’re tied up with so they often aren’t around on campus.

BA: Do X-Patrol Officers have the jurisdiction to ticket students?

JC: No, so we don’t write tickets. You have to go through a police appointment act to be able to act as an officer and write provincial tickets. We just deal with a lot of incident reporting and putting people through conduct that way. We do writeups but not like in a ticketing form and I know that the school used to give fines for certain things but that’s not really our business.

BA: Do you know how much students pay for the X-Patrol program?

JC: I’m not entirely sure how the financing of student goes. But, how X-Patrol is funded is, we have an account with the university that’s budgeted for these patrols and the same kind of thing that Drive U does is there’s an account that will do the daily kind of patrols. We’re in Meal Hall every single night of the week which is paid through by Sodexo. We’re kind of contracted out through lots of different departments on campus. For example, athletics will get us at their events, the Students’ Union will call us in for assistance managing The Inn line or an event in the Mackay room or even The Alumni Affairs will have us at a wine and cheese night if there’s a bar. So anytime there’s liquor served on campus, it’s more sensible for us to be the security enforcing liquor licenses than it is to have a full-time officer at their rate of pay because we get paid minimum wage for what our security work is. We’re kind of contracted out and I would say, 80% of the hours that are available to our staff, go through events and Residence Life and athletics and all these different departments that require us to be on campus for.

BA: The contracting work, do you guys get paid the same or different than the regular work?

JC: It’s all the same, they request a number of XP’s that they want at the events and we will confirm whether or not we think it's an appropriate number to staff that event. It’s kind of on a need basis based on what the event is and such.

BA: I know we have a safety and security fee at the start of they year and I am not sure how much of that is appointed to X-Patrol?

JC: Yeah, I don't particularly know the numbers. I know that the entire budget for the X-Patrol essential service, which includes campus patrol and all of the nightly work that we do, which is paid through by our department, is very minimal. We typically have six people working from eight until 12 (four hours), that's 24 hours at minimum wage. But for a house hockey cup as an example, we have 35 staff in the Keating Centre, and they're all paid for four hours and then we have like six per residence for an hour shift right, so there's a lot more money coming out from the events that is paid out through the departments. We're on an approved budget through the Board of Governors, as long as it stays within the kind of pre-approved parameters

BA: Do you think that the students payment prior to the addition of the all-day patrol under the old management cost more?

JC: You know, I don’t really know, but I do know that five years ago the full time officers were under a different contract, and some of the duties that they have done have increased and such they’ve worked out different arrangements for compensation, so their salary is significantly higher than what we get paid.They work full time hours so the majority of what the security fee would entitle is probably paid out through the full time staff. I would say that the whole money that cycles through this department is paid out through other people contracting us for events and such.

BA: What is the disciplinary process for the X-Patrol Officers, if they were caught doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing?

X-Patrol Senior Leads: Katrina, John and Dylan / Photo: Instagram @X_Patrol

X-Patrol Senior Leads: Katrina, John and Dylan / Photo: Instagram @X_Patrol

JC: What happens is if we get an email sent to us at X-Patrol (xpatrol@stfx.ca) by any outside person; me, Katrina or Dylan, one of the Senior Leads will read it. We have a performance management system in place where, if a staff will do something like be caught on their phone sitting down or any sort of reprimandable act. Then we go through a one two three strike system where the first strike is kind of an informal meeting where we talk to them about it. The whole idea of it is to not just dismiss staff but it’s a growth and development opportunity because ultimately what we want is our staff to leave X-Patrol with more leadership skills and good work ethic. The leveling system of X-Patrol; there’s level one level two and the Senior Lead. So, there’s a slight compensation grade with that but mainly the level two’s will lead the shifts and they bring a lot of the things to our attention. The Senior Leads are like the management of X-Patrol. If we see people on their phones or doing things like that then it’s kind of brought through a trickle down to us.

BA: How has X-Patrol responded to the recent off-campus case, of a drug-induced sexual assault? Do you guys have meetings where incidents like this are brought up?

JC: We have weekly meetings. So, a lot of issues like that and a lot of concerns are expressed every Sunday. But with sexual assault and with other touchy issues on campus that have been going around, especially if it’s off-campus then it’s not really our job or what we’re being paid to do so we kind of stick towards what we’ve been asked to do and our patrols and walk homes and such. We’re not ever off-campus so I do know that if there’s a time where a CA will call us into a building to help with a situation, a lot of our staff are trained in Mental Health First Aid. Because it was an issue that has been coming up more often than not dealing with cases where there may be situations that are hard to deal with and may leave longer lasting effects on our staff after they leave, so they need to know how to cope with it themselves and how to help other people cope with it.

BA: Do you guys have Bringing in the Bystander training?

JC: Yes, we have a lot of that same training that the CA’s get in September.

BA: What do you think X-Patrol can do better?

JC: You know, there are lots of concerns and we meet and we discuss things that are working well and things that are needed to change. I think one of the common things that’s pretty well known between us and the Students’ Union is the disconnect between the two security departments and how it’s not the most effective way of applying security on campus, when we have two separate departments, one in The Inn through the Students’ Union wearing the green shirts and us through X-Patrol. We have different protocols and we have different communication and a lot of the things, it would be a lot more effective if we were all fluid as one security department because then we would all have the same incident reporting, communication, radioing and first aid training. That’s kind of the one issue that we face and there’s a lot of gray zone and it’s been fixed a little bit this year as we are actually paid now to be in the second floor of the Bloomfield. In years past, I know that we weren’t paid and, The Inn lineup can often be an issue where a lot of things will happen, or when students leave The Inn they are storming out and they’re damaging things. So, our patrols were having to leave outside and come inside the second floor of the Bloomfield, and we resolved that issue with a discussion between us, Sean Ryan (The U Manager) and Cody McGregor (The Inn Manager) saying there's a need for us to be in the building and it's not fair when we can’t continue to do our job when we're having to clean up the mess of the Student Union. But there is an idea circulating about eventually having X-Patrol running the Inn security over the next couple years, they're going to try and transition into all having it under one security. In years past, safety and security campus police were paid and was a part of the Students Union the same way that Drive U is. So, only in the last couple of years it transferred management over into safety and security and there's kind of a disconnect between the two.

You can reach out to xpatrol@stfx.ca with any questions you may have.

 

Council Controversy of Students’ Union

 
 

Incoming president Cecil VanBuskirk wakes up dormant 1972 Act

During the 2016 U.S primaries, the Washington Post made an ominous change to their slogan: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” The message intended to provoke conversation surrounding the state of democracy in the United States. Without discourse, democratic institutions would certainly perish. Death, however, would not come swiftly; rather, the slow creep of apathy would inevitably lead to the erosion of democratic institutions. Discourse is the preserving light; without it, the roots of democracy atrophy, and darkness follows.

Today is a day for discourse.

Prior to debate, participants must have mutual understanding of the reality, principles and series of events that necessitate discussion. Contra principia negantem non est disputandem. The past few weeks have been full of debate lacking a common ground; therefore, an overview of recent events is in order.

As outlined in the SU Bylaws (the operational document for the Students’ Union), the hired (as opposed to elected) positions of the Students’ Union (SU) have historically (15+ years) been selected by a panel composed of the incoming SU President & Vice-President, outgoing Vice-President (for the position being hired), two councilors and the General Manager (GM) of the Students Union (advisory role, no vote on panel). This panel interviews applicants and then conducts a vote to hire the most competent candidate. A panel system was likely designed to avoid nepotism, especially given the relatively small size of this campus. Once a decision is made, the individual is appointed by the incoming president via an email with an offer of employment attached.

During the recent hiring of the VP Finance and Operations, two candidates were interviewed: Patrick Wallace and Brody Haskell. The panel voted 3-1-1 in favor of Mr. Wallace’s hiring. Following the decision, incoming president Cecil VanBuskirk sent an offer of employment to Mr. Wallace, who accepted the offer.

During the following days, VanBuskirk brought a discrepancy between the By-laws and the SU Act of Incorporation (The Act) to the attention of the GM and the Chair of Council. Within the By-Laws, a panel structure is described for the VP hiring process. In The Act, however, a line item states that the president shall appoint the VP Finance and Operations.

The Act has not been reviewed in decades and is not a document referenced to for day-to-day operations. With that said, legally, The Act is the superseding operational document for the Students’ Union. Up until this point, the line had been interpreted as the president offering the position to the candidate once the panel had voted. Under VanBuskirk’s interpretation, however, the statement provides the president with the unilateral authority to appoint whomever they chose to the position.

VanBuskirk then proceeded to act on this interpretation. Within 24 hours, the already-accepted offer of employment to Mr. Wallace was rescinded, and a new offer of employment was sent to Mr. Haskell. When the issue was brought before council, VanBuskirk referred to the discrepancy between the two documents. VanBuskirk also stated that he felt the panel’s decision to hire Mr. Wallace over Mr. Haskell was rooted in prejudice pertaining to the candidate’s race, gender, ethnicity, and political affiliations. It is worth noting that both candidates are straight, white, cisgender men from Nova Scotia. This leaves political affiliation, which was allegedly not discussed in the interview. When questioned about his comments, VanBuskirk stood by his original allegations of bias:

“Why did I do this then… The reason is that I witnessed some unethical behavior… I witnessed actions that caused concern that would impact the voting on the hiring panel. And then, as a counselor… I have a duty to act in accordance with the Students’ Union by-laws, policies, procedures. So, then I posed the question as to what qualifies this hiring panel, and what criteria makes it a hiring panel…”

A member of council prodded VanBuskirk further, requesting he elaborate on the specific unethical behavior he observed on the panel.

“To me, this boils down to fairness. And when I witnessed fairness not being properly practiced in the hiring panel, that’s when I raised a question to Happiness (International Student Representativa) … The procedure that was followed, I prefer not to directly comment on the circumstances around them, but I witnessed unfairness and I witnessed discrimination, what I perceived as discrimination under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act and under the [StFX] Code of Conduct.”

The alleged discrimination is not, however, VanBuskirk’s main concern. Again, and again, he reiterated that the issue at hand was not the selection of candidates, but the discrepancy between two major organizational documents.

“It’s not so much a matter of what was done. The bylaws need to be changed. And I understand that there will be a motion on the agenda to change that, and I couldn’t be in more support of that. But for right now, we need to uphold the bylaws and do the bylaws justice.”

The majority of council agreed that a discrepancy exists – that is, the way in which the Students’ Union had been conducting the VP Finance hiring process was not in line with the process outlined in The Act. Additionally, the lawyer retained by the SU has confirmed that The Act is the superseding organizational document.

In fact, several line items of The Act conflict with current SU electoral and operational practices. For instance, The Act states that the President and VP Academic are required to run as a slate; that is, as running mates. This discrepancy draws the validity of the past election, along with those of the past four years, into question. Vice President MacLennan and Incoming President VanBuskirk debated the issue in council:

MacLennan: “Why are you only choosing to follow one point, rather than the rest of the points in The Act of Incorporation… For example, if you want to actually follow The Act of Incorporation, then we should be talking about the election processes thus far. Within The Act of Incorporation, the President and Vice President should have been elected via slate.”

VanBuskirk: “I agree.”

MacLennan: “So why aren’t you contesting that point?”

VanBuskirk: “Because it has already happene- “

MacLennan: “Because it benefits you. But you also already hired someone for the VP Finance position.”

VanBuskirk: “Here’s the issue, O.K. The issue was around the hiring process. We seek out legal advice around the hiring process and after an expert guided us on what exactly to do, we followed that legal action. Not Cecil, The U.”

When VanBuskirk was asked in Council about his relationship with Mr. Haskell, he stated they were not close:

Sasha Paul, Gallery Member: “I have serious concerns based off of what everyone has been bringing up already, that the moment that you chose to bring up these discrepancies, was just when you didn’t feel like your friend had been given a fair chance. Because let’s be honest-“

Unknown Gallery member: “Friend?”

Paul: “He is your acquaintance, is he not?”

Cecil: “Ah, no he’s not, actually.”

Paul: Ok, if you want to go down that route that’s fine. But [inaudible] you are not proving yourself to be a trustworthy President… You’re not even in the position yet. And so, I think this really is going to impact how your team is going to move forward in the next year, and how people are going to view you, because you continue to refer to fairness and to ethics, but your actions are the complete opposite of that. What you are doing here is manipulating things that [inaudible] are at fault, rather than to actually genuinely fix them, you are using that fault to push forward your own agenda. And that’s not what the Students’ Union is about. The Students’ Union is about representing everybody in this room, because they pay Students’ Union fees. This is not free, right? And what you’re doing is taking away people’s voices. You, eliminating the other people’s voices from that panel, the five members that you chose to ignore, is really taking way their voices, and that demonstrates to me what you’re going to do next year, and I’m very concerned about that.

In response to the allegations that VanBuskirk is acquaintances with Haskell, a number of students directed The Xaverian Weekly to an Instagram photo of the two of them, posted to Mr. Haskell’s account. Additionally, two students noted that Haskell and VanBuskirk sit together in class and have presented a group presentation together.

Screen Shot 2019-03-24 at 4.43.42 PM.png

The Xaverian Weekly reached out to VanBuskirk to comment on his relationship with Mr. Haskell:

“I can say that he is someone I know from doing a group project with in the business faculty. I would argue that I have a similar relationship with both Paddy and Brody, they are both aquiantances (sic), nice guys and are both supporters of mine.”

The recent comments by VanBuskirk appear to contradict his previous statement made in front of council.

In response to the controversy surrounding his actions, VanBuskirk wrote a statement for The Xaverian Weekly that has since been published on his personal Facebook account. In summary, VanBuskirk states that the initial hiring process was unconstitutional. Additionally, he outlines why Mr. Haskell was the superior candidate, citing past experience in student government, leadership experience, and base-level Government of Canada Security Clearance, among others. The full list can be found in his statement, published to our website. In comparing Mr. Haskell to Mr. Wallace, the statement alleges that Mr. Wallace was only originally picked because of his popularity and reputation as a “nice guy”.

The posted statement has garnered a significant amount of controversy, with students posting comments both in favor of and against VanBuskirk’s actions. The Xaverian Weekly reached out to some of the vocal students for comment; their statements are included at the end of this article.

In summary, a disagreement between the By-Laws and The Act left VanBuskirk with the legal authority to circumvent the established hiring panel and appoint the candidate who was not chosen for the position. This required VanBuskirk to rescind the offer that had already been accepted by Mr. Wallace. While the legality of the move is no longer under significant dispute, the ethics of circumventing a hiring panel composed of democratically elected councilors and the incoming Vice President has been challenged. Additionally, the rationale behind selecting a single line item to pursue as contradictory, rather than the entire document, has raised questions regarding the intent behind VanBuskirk’s move.

For any readers wishing to follow this story, Council will be meeting to discuss the issue this Sunday at 3:00pm in Council Chambers, 4th Floor SUB.

Statements:

“I am incredibly disappointed in the initial response that was released by Cecil in regards to the VPFO selection process. He did not demonstrate an understanding of the concerns raised by the students towards the decision made, as most of his letter focused on justifying his actions. If he was truly listening to what students have been saying, he would be finding a solution to right perceived wrongdoing, rather than doubling down and blaming students for taking issue with the choices made. This is not acceptable conduct for the incoming student union president.” - Student, anonymous by request

“If it's broken, then it should be fixed. Cecil may have not addressed the situation as discrete as most of the U would have liked him to, but what Cecil did was address it in the most transparent way that he possibly could have. I'm proud to call Cecil a friend because of how real he is. His personality is contagious and he stays true to himself, which is very hard to find these days. To add to this, it takes a true leader to attach their name to a controversial subject and I applaud his passion for the StFX students. Instead of attacking his character or actions I personally think people need to accept that the U has not been following the correct rules and should now take action by correcting the mistakes that have been made. I am excited for Cecil and the rest of his team and to see what steps they can make towards a truly transparent Union.”

- Elizabeth Gushue, Student

“There are several things that, for me at least, don’t add up. Constitutionally, yes you are supposed to appoint the VP Finance, but why not appoint the VP finance that that was democratically chosen by a hiring panel within the U. As Emma already said, as students we put our faith in the hiring panels of the U, and clearly, they thought that Paddy was the better choice. I refuse to believe that

the hiring panel selected Paddy because he was the “nicest guy” and for you to say that is rude and disrespectful. Yes you may believe Brody to be the best candidate for the position, and I’m sure you fought for that, but you lost, and to go against the democratic decision of the hiring panel goes against the core values we have as StFX students and just as responsible citizens. Further, to now go and say “well I chose Will Fraser over him for a different position” is just ridiculous. Obviously you weren’t going to appoint Brody to a different position when you wanted him as VP finance. Arguing that you passed him over for something else is a weak and superficial argument argument at best. I have never felt this let down by the organization that is supposed to defend me as I do right now.”

But what do I know, I’m one of those people who “doesn’t have a brain” as per one of your former posts...

- John Walker, Student

“I know I’m not around anymore but I’m deeply saddened and frustrated by your actions, Cecil. The U has taken tremendous efforts over the last couple years to be more inclusive and dispel the belief that it is a clique. I can’t help but feel you’ve taken the step forward that was made towards that goal, two steps back.”

- Annie Sirois, StFX SU President 2017-2018.

 

Ethiopian Airlines Flight Tragedy

 
 

Another grim disaster, claiming 157 lives

On March 10, the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed, leaving all 157 people onboard dead.

The passengers were citizens from 35 countries. Kenyans were the most represented nationality, with 32 losing their lives. Canadians were the second largest group, with 18 fatalities.

The United Nations has stated that 21 people who lost their lives onboard Flight ET302 were affiliated with the organization.

It is likely that it will be months before the full investigative reports are made public. But, there are some leads.

The model of aircraft which crashed shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is known as a “737 Max 8.” It’s a new iteration of the Boeing 737, which is one of the most successful airliner series in the world active since 1968. The Max 8 is one of Boeing’s newest airliners, beginning service with Malaysia’s Malindo Air on May 22, 2017.

The new design includes improved aerodynamics, more efficient and powerful CFM LEAP engines, and an updated cabin which rides lower to the ground. The lower profile of the aircraft was included in the design to make the aircraft more suitable for smaller airports with limited ground equipment. While this may sound like a small design change, it wasn’t.

Because the aircraft sits lower to the ground, the position of its new, larger engines had to be adjusted. In response, Boeing moved the engines a little further forward and higher up on the underwing pylons. If the engines were too low, they could potentially intake rubbish from the runway, to catastrophic effect. The chosen design allowed Boeing to fit the new engines without necessitating an entire fuselage redesign.

But, it was not without its flaws. The changed position of the engines created a possible risk that the nose would pitch up during flight, which could cause stalling. To mitigate the risk, Boeing created a software called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. MCAS couples with a sensor on the fuselage that would detect if the nose is too high and automatically make corrections.

Back on October 29, Lion Air flight 610 crashed in the Java sea, killing 189 people, The circumstances were similar, crashing shortly after take off. The aircraft, also a 737 Max 8.

Examination into the Lion Air crash found that the pilots were unable to control the airspeed or altitude of the airliner and after each time they pulled up from a dive the system forced it down again.

According to the New York Times, a warning light which was intended to warn pilots of the faulty sensor was sold by Boeing as part of an optional instrument package. When CNET asked about the warning light a Boeing spokesman said:

“All Boeing airplanes are certified and delivered to the highest levels of safety consistent with industry standards. Airplanes are delivered with a baseline configuration, which includes a standard set of flight deck displays and alerts, crew procedures and training materials that meet industry safety norms and most customer requirements. Customers may choose additional options, such as alerts and indications, to customize their airplanes to support their individual operations or requirements.”

Questions were raised over the training of the pilot in the March 10 flight. But Ethiopian Airlines, which is regarded as likely the safest airline in Africa, has responded, claiming that it’s pilots completed the training recommended by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

Despite Boeing’s claims that the Max 8 is perfectly safe, the FAA has joined the list of more than 40 countries which have grounded the aircraft, citing similarities between ET302’s crash and that of Lion Air flight 610.

Boeing has been backlogged for orders of the Max 8 jet, but now many airlines are getting cold feet. One of the biggest developments being Garuda Indonesia’s sought cancellation of its order for 49 of Boeing’s 737 Max 8’s. A multi-billion dollar deal.

Boeing shares have dropped 14% since the Ethiopia Airlines crash.

The investigation remains ongoing.

 

Fraud Prevention Month

 
 

It pays to check your bank notes

Do you know how to check the security features of Canada’s polymer bank notes, including the vertical $10 note featuring Viola Desmond? If your answer is no, or you’re not entirely sure, read on!

All of Canada’s polymer notes have leading-edge security features, helping us to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats. These features are quick and easy to check by sight and touch.

You can check all your polymer notes in the same way—feel, look and flip:

* Feel the smooth, unique texture of the note. It is made from a single piece of polymer with some transparent areas.

* Feel the raised ink on the large number, the large portrait, and the words “Bank of Canada” and “Banque du Canada.”

* Look for transparency in the large window.

* Look at the detailed metallic images and symbols in the large transparent window.

* Flip the note to see the elements inside the large transparent window repeated in the same colours and detail on the other side.

Photo: Bank of Canada

Photo: Bank of Canada

By now you may have seen the new $10 note in your cash transactions. Did you know the new bill includes some enhanced security features compared with other polymer notes?

* A colour-shifting eagle feather that changes from gold to green

* A 3-D maple leaf that appears to be raised but is actually flat

* Three maple leaves above the portrait

You can learn about the vertical $10 and watch a video about its security features at https://www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes/vertical10/.

Photo: Bank of Canada

Photo: Bank of Canada

Did you know?

There are more than 2.2 billion genuine notes in circulation in Canada. Bank notes are a vital method of payment used in over 30 per cent of retail transactions.

The Bank of Canada works to keep counterfeit levels low in Canada by

* strengthening bank note security through ongoing research and development;

* working with retailers to increase bank note verification;

* working with law enforcement agencies to promote counterfeit deterrence; and,

* ensuring the quality of notes in circulation.

More tips

Whether you’re the clerk or the customer, you can help stop counterfeit notes from entering the cash flow. Check your notes, and you’ll be able to detect a counterfeit at a glance.

* Compare a suspicious note to one you know is genuine. Look for differences, not similarities.

* Check two or more security features.

* If you do not know how to check an older paper note, ask for a polymer note instead.

For more about Canada’s bank notes, security features and counterfeit prevention, go to www.bankofcanada.ca/banknotes.

 

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.