Lectures, News, St. Thomas University

2016 Dalton Camp Lecture: Lyse Doucet and the power of words

BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet addressed the power of words and journalism during conflicts such as the Syrian refugee crisis at this year’s Dalton Camp Lecture.

“I think all of us here today want to believe that words – our words that we write – can make a difference, can make meaning, can even change lives,” she said last Tuesday.

Doucet, a native of Bathurst and also a presenter for the BBC, told the full audience in St. Thomas University’s Kinsella Auditorium that the way the stories of the refugees’ struggles are written is important. The words, the detail and the faces of these stories determine the message that is being sent out.

“Facts matter, language matters, words matter,” she said.

Doucet used the photo of 3-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi washed up on the shores of Turkey as an example of how a photo can be worth a million words.

“Our big world suddenly became smaller, more connected… international news is no longer foreign – it’s all local news now.”

Doucet’s lecture connected today’s refugee crisis with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline.” Doucet said that it is also a story about “how words and images can make a difference.”

The poem, “a story of great love and loss,” tells of a young couple who are separated by the Acadian expulsion of 1755. The Acadians were forced out of their homeland, becoming refugees. Doucet explained that the Acadians later adopted the story as their own as they began to search for their own narrative.

“It is a very human story. A story all of us can understand, and it stays with us today because it is a story of our time.”

Doucet said that even though these stories have changed so much, we aren’t hearing nearly all of the ones today. Groups like ISIS and events like the recent attacks in Paris are overwhelming the governments and have dramatically flipped the stories that are being reported.

“Now the narrative has shifted from providing shelter to tightening security,” she said.

Doucet stressed that there are more than just sentimental issues within the crisis, and it is the job of journalists to cover them, stay with the story, and find answers.

“I began my tribute to [Dalton Camp] with that poem from Lord Byron… ‘A small drop of ink makes thousands, perhaps millions, think,’” she said. “Write bravely, live boldly, and make everyone pause to think.”

Originally written for a class at St. Thomas University.

Aquinian, New Brunswick, News

Storm Chips just in time for winter

Covered Bridge Potato Chip Company’s newest product, Storm Chips, are reportedly selling out after only a couple of days of being on the shelf.

Jamie Nevers, marketing manager for the Hartland-based company, said the item is selling well after its first ever launch this year.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” Nevers said. “[We] are hoping for a snowy winter.”

The product, which was inspired by the Twitter hashtag #stormchips going viral last year, combines four of Covered Bridge’s top-selling “flurry of flavours”: BBQ, Creamy Dill, Sea Salt & Vinegar, and Ketchup.

Full story here.

Local business, Minto, New Brunswick, Profile

Queen of Minto’s castle refuses to give up

Pauline Johnson, owner of medieval-themed pub La-Kassa-We in Minto, says that her dreams of owning a castle are slowly coming true.

Johnson, who has dedicated the last two and a half years to designing and building the castle-replica restaurant in her hometown, said that she remembers telling a friend as a teenage that she would someday own a castle.

“Sometimes you just jokingly say things like that,” she said. “I think if it’s something that stays in your subconscious all these year, you tend to build those things.”

La-Kassa-We, which has yet to open officially, was crafted entirely by hand by Johnson, her father and friends. The building resembles a castle of the 1800s, featuring hand-painted designs by Fredericton-based muralist Ron Sajack. The inside is furnished with logs from Johnson’s father’s property, real rock from a gravel pit in Minto, and locally and personally-made items that have a style which Johnson refers to as being “stuck between the Flinstones and the Munsters.”

“People need a place like this,” she said. “It’s depicted in the 1800s because back then it was a very simple-living kind of way and that’s what I wanted to bring back… I believe in things that are from the earth. People had longevity [back then]. Now, I question that. I’m trying to keep my place as natural as possible to keep my patrons as healthy as possible and hopefully they have longevity, as well as I, to enjoy this place. This place is built out of heart.”

La-Kassa-We’s menu items are simple and not necessarily medievally-themed themselves. What inspired Johnson’s menu is the different foods she has tasted while travelling and playing music since she was 14, and the fact that she does not believe in foods cooked with grease.

“There’s no deep-fryers in my kitchen. You’re going to get Cornish hens, ribs, homemade baked beans and baguettes and things like that,” she said. “Your tummy’s just going to be full. It’s good healthy food.”

Johnson said that she has experience some struggles during the two years she’s been building the nearly-finished restaurant. Recently, La-Kassa-We fell victim to a series of thefts from local business in the village. She said that $2500-worth of cooking equipment was stolen, but she has chosen to move on and look beyond it all.

“The truth will come out someday, and if it doesn’t, so be it,” she said. “I don’t want to see that fear and disappointment inflicted onto this castle.”

To make a positive situation out of a negative one and do greater good for the community, Johnson hosted a meeting to organize a neighbourhood watch committee after the thefts and has hosted weekly jam sessions at the pub.

“This place really does belong to the community… If it can be used in a positive way – which it always will be, because I won’t allow any negativity to inflict this place – then so be it, because the people in this town need to be a aware of things go around in their town.”

Alton Morell, a close friend and supporter of Johnson, says that she has done nothing but good for the small village and its surrounding areas.

“Pauline has created something beautiful during hard times,” he said. “She puts a smile on everyone’s face and she has forced us to talk about important issues. She’s a true persevering leader and her business is a staple of that.”

Despite the setbacks, Johnson said that she will not give up and that the “little kicks in the pants” only force her to keep going. She plans to finally get her castle open for business very soon and make a landmark out of it that will promote growth in the community.

“Yeah, it’s been a bit of a struggle,” she said. “But we’re built with a big heart and so much strength and courage. We just need to dig deep inside because it’s there. If you truly believe in your idea, you truly believe that it’s good for the animal kingdom and humanity… how can it be wrong?”

Originally written for a class at St. Thomas University.

Aquinian, Fredericton, News, Profile, Sports, St. Thomas University

Coach of the year at STU

Meghan MacAfee was voted by her peers as Coach of the Year at the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association women’s rugby banquet.

“I was really happy to get (the award) because it was voted by the other coaches in our league which was really, really, kind and generous of them,” MacAfee said. “We hear a lot from the teams we play that we play hard rugby, they always know it’s going to be a good game… When it comes down to it, from the start of the game, I’m on the sidelines. It’s the girls who really made that impression.”

MacAfee, who has been head coach of the St. Thomas University’s women’s rugby team for the last two years, successfully lead the women Tommies to an ACAA silver-medal finish both years. Despite the loss, the team went to this year’s championship game in first place, being undefeated before losing to the UNB Varsity Reds.

Full story here.

Aquinian, Fredericton, New Brunswick, News

Family violence training for cosmetologists

The Cosmetology Association of New Brunswick, who liscences cosmetologists in the province, hopes to expand its employee training in identifying family violence to Fredericton schools.

The association’s executive director Gaye Cail, said they began their relationship with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre, a research centre on family violence on UNB’s campus, in 2010.

“By 2011, the MMFC developed the training program and the first one was established in Fredericton,” she said. “We have since provided training in Saint John, Miramichi and back to Saint John [last Monday]. We proudly state that we were the first province to initiate this program.”

Full story here.

Christmas, Feature, Holidays, News, Remembrance Day, Thought scoop

Christmas fever: where do we draw the line?

Halloween has crept by and poppies are in full bloom for Remembrance Day, but some shoppers in rural New Brunswick are noticing something that does not belong – signs of Christmas.

Megan Fila, a daycare worker in Minto, says that she has already seen signs of Christmas in her hometown.

“From Christmas decorations to Christmas wrapping paper, the stores have them right by the Halloween decorations and costumes,” she said. “I feel that Christmas fever always starts with the months that end in ‘-ber’ – September, October, November, December. Christmas is a huge holiday that everyone loves.”

Christmas fever is something that many holiday-fanatics experience. The emotion is named after its characteristic of an intense or excessive need to get into the holiday spirit ahead of time, whether by decorating or buying presents months in advance, or listening to Christmas music, among other activities.

The debate about how early is too early to decorate and play Christmas music is an unsettling one for many people. This is especially true when “too early” means getting festive before Halloween or Remembrance Day goes by.

Colleen Mooren, a flower shop owner in Chipman, says that she disagrees with decorating before Remembrance Day.

“After a visit to Holland and all the war memorial sites and veterans cemeteries, I think our veterans deserve their [own] day,” she said. “[At my business] I emphasize decorating for the holidays, but I will wait until after November 11.”

Though the debate continues, so does the premature decorating and buying. The Christmas fever that so many people experience is becoming a question of whether it is more than just a few arguably disrespectful decorating choices. Many believe it is driven by consumerism and the commercialization of the holiday season.

Ronna Gauthier, a teacher at Minto Memorial High School, said that consumerism is something she believes creates a lot of anxiety and guilt in people.

“[It creates] anxiety over getting started, ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’, it creates the ‘I wants…’ in children and guilt over doing ‘enough’ for your family,” she said.

She agrees with Helen Powers, a resident of both Minto and Fredericton, who said that most people who begin their shopping months in advance do it to get their shopping done early. She says that when she does it, she feels so proud that she’s done, but it gets worse from there.

“You can’t help yourself. It’s this Christmas thingy,” she said. “It keeps you buying right up until Christmas Eve. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s the Christmas spirit – so you end up spending more than you planned to.”

Mynra Brideau, marketing manager for the Regent Mall, said that even though the holidays are their biggest retail season, Santa always arrives the Sunday after Remembrance Day.

“This gives us approximately five weeks of Christmas,” she said. “It takes two to three weeks for our small team to set up our elaborate Christmas décor.  Our décor is set up by our in-house Operations Team. In addition to preparing for Christmas, they have to continue with their daily obligations.”

Brideau said that one important thing to note is that the mall never turns their Christmas music on until after Nov. 11, although she cannot speak for specific stores.

Taylor MacIntyre, a former employee of Kent Building Supplies in Fredericton, said that the holidays were a stressful time to work in retail.

“Most customers don’t realize how much time and effort it takes to pack away all the summer stock and reorganize the shelves to start planning for Christmas,” said MacIntyre. “It takes months of planning, and I know at Kent’s that’s why we bring out Christmas decorations early – it’s such a headache to wait so close to Christmas.”

MacIntyre said that the opinions of customers would vary per person about whether the holiday items should be out months in advance or not.

“Some would come in and be excited to see the Christmas spirit start so early,” she said. “Others would come in and be extremely upset because we were decorating and ornaments were out before Remembrance Day. They often believed it was disrespectful.”

After working in retail for four years, MacIntyre said that she believes Christmas fever is a real emotion that many experience, but admits that even she herself gets it. Though she believes that the commercialization of Christmas pulls people in, she believes it is a means to an end of something greater.

“I believe people go crazy with gifts because it gives them the sense of love, hope and happiness,” she said. “Love, because they are surrounded by family and friends; hope, because everyone has to have a little hope or faith; and happiness, because who isn’t happy when they are getting gifts and having awesome food for Christmas?”

Though she believes that consumerism is a driving factor in it all, Gauthier added that Christmas fever isn’t something that should be condemned out of fear of being disrespectful.

“Anyone who is keen spirited enough to decorate is obviously doing it out of spirit of the season and not out of disrespect for our veterans,” she said. “It’s okay to wear a poppy and a snowman pin on your jacket together. It’s okay to spend November 11 honouring our veterans and putting up your artificial tree.”

Gauthier also said she doesn’t think that anyone who decorates or shops early has any disregard for our veterans.

“On the contrary, I bet they are some of our most grateful and respectful Canadians… thankful for the freedoms earned for us by our military forces.”

Originally written for a class at St. Thomas University.

Aquinian, Canada, Fredericton, New Brunswick, News, Sports, St. Thomas University, Students, University of New Brunswick

STU loses battle of the hill

The University of New Brunswick Reds beat previous undefeated St. Thomas University Tommies 14-5 during the ACAA Women’s Rugby Championship at the Scotia Bank Park Field on Nov. 1.

STU’s head coach Meghan McAfee said that she believes the game ended the way it did because the Tommies didn’t adjust to what UNB was doing.

Full story here.

Fredericton, New Brunswick, News, St. Thomas University, Students

Students who live at home compromise independence?

An editorial published in the Oct. 13 issue of The Aquinian suggested that learning to budget can help students step into adulthood, but many have disagreed.

Those who have made the decision to stay at home while attending university have said their convenient budgeting plans have only made them more dependent.

Lyle Robichaud and Becky Morrell are second-year students at St. Thomas University who travel together. Robichaud says that while he’s been able to save money, living with his parents has kept him from being completely independent.

“We’re still pretty independent, we can come and go as we please,” he said. “But if we want to do something up here, we have to find a place to stay, where we’re going – it is difficult.”

A 2012 study conducted by Sallie Mae, an American financial services firm specializing in student loans, reported that about half of college students lived at home in that academic year to cut education costs, an increase over the previous two years.

Similar statistics don’t exist for Canada, but an Ipsos Reid poll for ABC Life Literary Canada found that 55 percent of Canadian parents agree that without government savings their child would not be able to pursue post-secondary studies at all.

Robichaud said that his decision to live at home primarily based around saving money.

“For me, it wasn’t necessarily having the money, but it was the fact that I don’t want to have any debt when I get out of here,” he said. “For me, [it’s been effective] because I’ve got no debt… It’s worked so far.”

Morrell agreed, saying that, more than anything, living at home is inconvenient.

“I’m in the process of trying to move out,” she said. “It didn’t bother me until this year – last year I was fine [living at home], but now I just want to be on my own and be totally independent.”

Robichaud said he doesn’t regret living at home either, but currently has no desire to move out.

“The pros weigh out the cons,” he said. “Like, yeah, I’ve got to plan a little bit before I come up here, but it’s only a half an hour drive… So, for me, I don’t regret living at home, I just wish there was another way to get through university without debt and not have to live at home.”

Originally written for a class at St. Thomas University.