Athletics at St.FX is a point of pride for many Xaverian’s and those in our community. It is obvious every homecoming, when numerous Alumni return for football games, and more recently, as we championed the X-Women’s rugby team as the feature of homecoming following their AUS victory. On game day however, as we watch the athletes on the field, many of us take for granted the work that goes into ensuring these athletes remain safe in their sport.
It’s sometimes difficult to imagine where we all were just before the pandemic shut down our life routines. Perhaps you were at a bar dancing with your friends or jetting off to far away places. I know for many people, St. Patrick’s Day weekend marked the end of normalcy. For myself, last Valentine’s Day, I was sitting in an airport, about to journey to Germany for a Service Learning Trip. I remember the pandemic being a minor concern and the excitement of travelling being a newly discovered love.
Beginning in 2019, the McKenna Centre for Leadership began funding a one-week intensive residency each school year. The Scholar in Residence is able to host activities, and events to share their expertise, experience and knowledge. Last years Scholar in Residence was Dr. Adolph Reed Jr, who’s work concerning race and politics challenged students to think critically and engage in difficult topics.
As most of you will come to realize, if you have not already,St.Francis Xavier prides itself on being a community. Some jokingly call it a cult. Others fondly reference the people thatthey connect with here as family. In some literal families, the ties to St.FX run deep, and sometimes attendance runs generations. In searching for Xaverians with strong X-men ties, I got an email from a family that has more X-rings than one can count on both hands.
This month at X, we celebrate PRIDE. Unfortunately, many of the staple events that typically happen, like Priscilla Queen of the Highlands, are unable to be hosted in an in-person format due to COVID 19. Thankfully, the calendar of events compiled still has some fan favourites, and is offerIng plenty of online options.
One of the first projects to spur from the McKenna Centre for Leadership early on in the pandemic this year, was the Xaverian Pen Pal Project. Alyssa Spridgeon, who thought of the project, has been working to connect students, community members, and elders through written word.
With much uncertainty, I have been applying to post-graduate opportunities overseas and more locally. Originally planning to go away – preferably far far away – this year has made me unsure of those plans. I realized that some of you may also be feeling a lot of anxiety related to the pandemic, as well as applying for grad schools, so I went to someone who I knew would have a snippet of insight to give us all based on her own experiences that she endured this year.
If you don’t know Catherine personally, I am sure you’ve enjoyed reading an issue of the Xaverian Weekly, otherwise known as the Xav, at least once during your time here at St.FX. If that’s the case, then there’s a possibility you’ve read her work! Catherine is currently acting as one of the Editors-in-Chief for the 2020-2021 paper. Catherine of course, did not start out as Editor-in-Chief, but began her time at the paper last year as a columnist for the Arts and Community section.
Genevieve and I met several years ago at a Bootcamp I have mentioned before in my work. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the NS Sandbox Creativity and Innovation Bootcamp brings together people of various disciplines across all university and college campus’ over Nova Scotia for an intensive Design Thinking Workshop. During this Bootcamp, hosted in the stunning town of Wolfville, at– que the dread filled music here – Acadia University, the St.FX students in attendance became fast friends.
In light of COVID 19, many things at X will look different. Things will also look different to each individual. I have come to realize that perspective is something that remains very important in understanding these stories. A few weeks ago, I became aware that the sports teams at StFX may also begin to take a different approach given the health guidelines laid out for the province. So, I went to the man, the myth, the legend: Head Football Coach Gary Waterman for the latest.
Imagine yourself as a student here at X nearly 90 years ago. What would the world look like? Obviously, many of us never expected the world would look as it does now in 2020 – masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing and all. I often wonder how someone would have engaged with university in the context of having lived through other hardships like World War 1. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of talking with a woman named Maureen.
Many people are pulling together to create different programming for students given the new reality that comes with COVID-19. However, St.FX University has existing societies and groups in place, which makes these new programs more easily accessible, and possible to create. One group on campus that has been working hard this summer and that will continue throughout the year to deliver new and revamped programming to help students adapt, is CFXU Radio.
Very active on campus, I am sure many of you will recognize the name Will Fraser. Will has been studying History at St.FX, and is set to graduate in 2021. Will, being involved in many societies and groups in his time here at X, has a unique understanding of the way X runs.
Being an Arts major, I don’t hear much about departments in the Sciences. To get the low down on how COVID may be affecting those in Bachelor of Science programs, I went straight to the person whom I know to be one of the brightest science guys around – Aaron Mason. Aaron grew up in the small village of Charlos Cove, and attended High School at Guysborough Academy alongside yours truly. Aaron and I have not kept in touch since the Pandemic began, so it was great to catch up and hear his perspective on things.
As Summer sweeps by, we are faced with having to make difficult choices. Some of us may not be returning to school come September. Some of students may join our community through online course, and others may brave in-person classes. No matter the choice, or lack thereof, we all will be facing this journey together. As a history major, these stories feel necessary - your stories feel important.