Canada, Fredericton, New Brunswick, News, Refugees, Saint Mary's University, Sports, St. Thomas University, Students

The Canadian way: SMU uses hockey to welcome refugees

Saint Mary’s University invited 60 Syrian newcomers to the Huskies’ first game at CIS Nationals to give them an authentic Canadian experience and make it “feel like home,” said vice president of student affairs Ossama Nasrallah.

“These refugees will soon become Canadians and stay in Canada,” Nasrallah said. “Refugees are thinking of the future here in Canada and how they will get used to the Canadian culture.”

Nasrallah said it’s important for Canadians to welcome the refugees and that these kind of events also build good student leadership skills for those who care about others and want to make a change in the world.

“A smile from a kid to those students means the world to them and makes them feel they can do better,” said Nasrallah.

St. Thomas’ athletics department could not be reached for comment on possible plans to do anything similar for the Syrian refugees, but men’s hockey team member Dillon Donnelley said it would be a great idea.

“[Hockey]’s our national sport, so in a way it gives the refugees a look at a part of our history and culture,” he said.  “I think it’s a good thing to do for sure.”

Nasrallah said SMU has no other plans to do anything else like this right now, but hopes that a football game could be used for something similar. He also hopes these kinds of events can help Syrian parents feel comfortable about their children’s future when they see the university in action.

“Sports really play a big role in getting people together, especially when you get people to a new game and teach them,” Nasrallah said. “This makes them feel really welcome and the atmosphere in the game makes them feel excited and happy.”

Aquinian, Canada, Feature, St. Thomas University

Are MOOCs the future of education?

Imagine if you could lay in bed all day, not have to talk to people, pick and choose what you want to learn, and still get an education at your own pace – for free.

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are kind of like that. They are online university courses open to the masses and accessible online. To some, MOOC sounds like the name of a goofy cartoon character, but to many, these are considered to be the future of higher education.

Full story here.

Canada, Lectures, News, St. Thomas University

Romeo Dallaire says Canada needs to become an ‘activist nation’

Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire urged the current generation to take on a leadership role and move the country towards becoming an activist nation at a lecture on Feb. 18.

Dallaire delivered the 2016 Lodhi Memorial Lecture at St. Thomas University, telling the overflowing audience of more than 400 people in Kinsella Auditorium “we’ve been sitting on our asses too long.”

“This body of humanity has a right to live,” Dallaire said. “It has a right to seek a lie, to see the opportunity to grow, to be positive, to permit their next generations, to have the intellectual vigour that you get in your universities so that you can understand the problems and solve them.”

Dallaire oversaw United Nations forces during the Rwanda genocide of 1994, refusing to pull out of the multinational mission despite orders from Secretary General Boutros-Ghali. He protected as many Tutus as he could until Troops arrived two months later, although hundreds of thousands were slaughtered in the meantime.

Dallaire said when a country massively abuses the rights of its people, it is in the self-interest of the rest of humanity has a responsibility to engage and protect those people.

“We had the capability of attenuating those conflicts in their embryo because we saw those governments moving to massively abuse the rights of their population,” he said. “That permitted us, through the U.N., to engage, to protect those citizens.”

Dallaire spoke of the right to protect, often referred to as R2P, which is a proposed U.N. norm that arose out of the Rwandan genocide. It was championed by Canada during the Paul Martin government and was cited by the U.N. when it intervened in Libya in 2011.

He said the bombing of the army of Mu’amme Gaddaffi, without putting any troops on the ground to prevent the resulting chaos, gave R2P a bad name it doesn’t deserve.

“We had the tools to do it, and we didn’t have the guts to put the boots on the ground,” Dallaire said.

He compared the situations in Rwanda and Libya to the current conflicts in Syria.

The Syrian War began as protests against authoritarian President Bashar al-Assad during the Arab Spring, but soon drifted into a civil war. Five years later, al-Qaeda and ISIS have gained a foothold. The country is in ruins and millions of refugees have fled, living in refugee camps and streaming into Europe.

Dallaire told the crowd that clips on TV and the internet don’t truly depict what is going on in those countries justice, and that people like him who have lived in the midst of it see the harsh reality.

“We can smell the horrible smells of death and decay, we can hear the kids crying, we can see the anguish in the parents, mothers,” he said. “We can see the fear of another bomb falling down, killing; we can see the elderly, laying by the road dying and wondering what the hell happened. We see it and live it.”

Dallaire stressed that is why he believes that today’s “generation without borders” should establish a sort of rite of passage from countries like ours that can take a leadership role because they have the capacity to do it.

“Go and see what’s happening with 80 per cent of humanity,” he said. “Go and see the reality of that humanity and come back after having touched, smelled and heard, tasted, felt – as human beings with others – what they’re going through. And influence this great nation to become an activist nation.”

Originally written for a class at St. Thomas University.

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

Athlete of the month looks forward to playoffs

Kelty Apperson said it’s a special feeling to be named St. Thomas University Coastal Graphics Athlete of the Month for January.

“It’s always nice to be recognized for the hard work,” she said. “But I only received this award due to my team. They are always pushing me to be improving, so their support has allowed me to find success on the ice.”

Apperson, a fourth-year student and captain of the women’s hockey team is second in the Atlantic University Sport scoring race with 22 points.

Full story here.

Canada, Climate change, Lectures, News, St. Thomas University

‘Canada needs to build a weather-ready nation,’ says expert

The wild storm on Wednesday night animated Blair Feltmate’s warning to an audience at St. Thomas University that Canada needs to build a weather-ready nation.

Feltmate, a professor at the University of Waterloo, spoke as part of the McKenna Centre for Communications and Public Policy Distinguished Speaker Series. He told the crowd of approximately 80 people that climate change is real and it would be nearly impossible to reverse its effects.

“We’ve removed an area of forest from the earth slightly larger than the United States of America,” Feltmate said. “That’s gone for good. Paved over.”

Specifically, Feltmate’s talk focused on floods because he called the “biggest monkey in the room” the fact that there is too much water.

He warned that Canadians will soon no longer be able to afford the effects of this, focusing on the property and home insurance sector.

“If any industry is on the forefront of addressing the challenges of climate change, it’s the insurance sector,” Feltmate said. “They’re not the canary in the coalmine – they’re the ostrich in the coalmine.”

Feltmate said the country needs to be thinking about adapting infrastructure on two scales if it continues to use fossil fuels.

“Maybe there’s not going to be water here now but there might be 25 or 50 years down the road,” he said. “Let’s adapt to the current challenges… but also we have to use models to forward project what the weather’s going to be like in the future and build that into our system.”

Feltmate proposed solutions to these natural disaster issues, including up-to-date flood plain maps, the concept of the Home Adaptation Assessment Program, and building codes and upgrades.

His lecture left the audience with the overall idea that not adapting to climate change is not an option. Feltmate stressed that it is time to forget the talk and act quickly.

“We need to build a weather-ready Canada right now,” Feltmate said. “Not 25 years from now, not 50 years from now, not 75 years from now. We have a formidable challenge on the table at this moment and we need to embrace adaptation currently.”

Originally written for a class at St. Thomas University.

Aquinian, Canada, News, Sports, St. Thomas University, Students

Track and field team prepares for Montreal

St. Thomas’ track and field team is headed to Montreal Jan. 29-30 for the annual McGill Team Challenge.

The regular indoor track meet will see a variety of events in the heptathlon and pentathlon categories, such as different-length runs and hurdles, pole vaults, relays and high jumps. Because it is an indoor meet, throw events will be restricted to weight throw and shot put.

But with pressure coming down on the team, each athlete from the men and woman’s team is finding their own way to cope with the stress and are looking to beat their personal bests.

Full story here.

Canada, New Brunswick, Thought scoop

Concerns about NB mental health triggered by refugees

New Brunswick’s mental health resources have been under criticism by citizens for the last several years, and the upcoming surge of Syrian refugees is triggering more concerns.

Graeme Dyck, a licensed psychologist in the Moncton area, said the questions about accommodating the refugees invite reflection about the province’s general capacity to provide resources.

“At this time, approximately one third of our provincially licensed psychologists work in public and community mental health,” he said. “That means fewer than 150 psychologists serve the mental health needs of more than 750,000 New Brunswickers.”

Canada has been more open with its mental health initiatives in recent years with campaigns such as Bell Let’s Talk, causing it to become a leader in such efforts.

The Canadian Mental Health Association has said that 20 per cent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness at some point in their life.

According to a 2011 study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the direct costs of mental illness in Canada amounted to $22,561.40. These costs included community and social services, income support, hospital care, prescription medication, medical care, and other services. Indirect costs amounted to over $6.4 billion.

The study showed that mental illness is costing the Canadian economy at least $48.7 billion in total per year.

Still, Lee Thomas, a former UNB student and mental health consultant, does not believe that there are enough mental health resources available in New Brunswick.

“I’d like to see an increase in [government] investment for resources,” she said. “Basically, without funding services, it’s impossible for more services to develop and function properly.”

Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has delayed his plans to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of the year, it is expected that 1,500 that will still arrive in N.B.

Joanne Owour-Larocque, settlement coordinator for the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, said these refugees are vulnerable to many mental health risks for a variety of reasons. This includes pre-migration, migration, and post-migration experiences.

“The arrival of Syrian families increases opportunities to strengthen cross-sectoral collaboration,” she said. “[This includes] welcoming newcomers to our community, the longer-settled community, cultural and linguistic interpreters, health services and professionals, and the settlement sector.”

Owour-Larocque said that these increased sectors will enhance N.B. communities’ existing capacity to provide culturally-appropriate mental and physical health resources, as well as support and intervention systems.

The Multicultural Association of Fredericton is one of three immigrant-serving agencies that has been designated by the province’s Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship’s Resettlement Assistance Program. It will act as a refugee-receiving centre to assist refugees throughout their resettlement process.

Christa Baldwin, executive director of N.B.’s branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said that there are many concerns in the community around the province’s mental health system and the time it may take to get service.

“I know that the Department of Health is working diligently in reviewing the system and looking for more efficiencies,” she said, stressing that different zones have different wait times.

Baldwin also said that there is a lot of pressure on the system, adding that “there are concerns for what that may mean when we add the number of refugees to the mix.”

The provincial government’s preliminary framework document for its plans to accommodate the Syrian refugees does not make note of any expected costs for health care or otherwise. It only states that there has been an acknowledgement for the need to assess mental health resources accordingly.

However, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has designated the Syrian refugees as a public policy group. Therefore, they will be eligible for Type 1 benefits under the Interim Federal Health Program, a program that pays for medical care for a short period of time after arriving in Canada.

These benefits include basic coverage, supplemental coverage, and coverage of prescription drugs for up to a year upon arrival.

Supplemental coverage will provide the refugees with access to psychotherapy or psychological counselling in a private clinic or addiction centre for a maximum of 10 sessions.

Dyck said that, when addressing the mental health needs of refugees, there should be no assumptions made about the challenges they are experiencing.

“There is no singular profile of a Syrian refugee,” he said. “Everyone will have their own experiences, history, personalities, cultural identification, family factors, and capacity for resilience… their own narrative, biological vulnerabilities and co-morbid medical conditions.”

He also stressed that making general claims about refugees’ mental health needs may be easy to do, but suggested that the most important needs are basic ones. This includes safety, security, health care, food and shelter.

“[Psychological needs] are highly impacted by more basic needs and often remit where effective demobilization measures exist,” he said. “Therefore, welcoming refugees, providing basic necessities, engaging them and ensuring basic provisions will be essential on an immediate basis.”

Originally written for a class at St. Thomas University.


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

Lauren Henman named athlete of the month

Lauren Henman said that it’s a huge honour for her to have been chosen as October’s Coors Light Athlete of the Month.

“I owe all of my success so far this season to my team and coaches,” she said. “I’m just really happy we’re doing so well this year.”

In October, Henman averaged one point per game with four goals and one assist in five regular season games. She is leading the team in scoring and is second in the conference with seven points.

Full story here.

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.

Canada, Fredericton, New Brunswick, News, Politics, St. Thomas University

Young Greens host rally to abolish student debt

The Fredericton Young Greens hosted a Green Party rally to abolish student tuition and debt at St. Thomas University on Oct. 7.

The rally drew approximately 60 students and professors to the lower courtyard to hear remarks from federal Green Party candidate Mary Lou Babineau on the issue.

Babineau said Canadians believe that hard work and education is the key to achieving dreams, but financial struggles are holding students back.

“I have been watching, over the last 20 years, government funding plummet,” she said. “As tuition goes up, student debt also rises… we have an entire generation of young people who are graduating and have so much student debt that it’s very difficult for them to move ahead and to engage in the economic and social fabric of their society.”

Babineau told the crowd that the Green Party has a plan to make tuition free for all post-secondary students by 2020.

The rally also included speeches from Fredericton Young Greens president Adam Mahoney, president of the Fredericton District Labour Council Alex Bailey, president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers and STU professor Robin Vose; Fredericton South MLA David Coon, as well as multiple high school and university students.

Emily Smith, a local high school student who attended the rally, said she believes abolishing student debt is important, possible and effects society as a whole.

“I would say that if they abolish student debt that more people would go to school and there would be more doctors, more nurses, more positions,” she said. “I do think [the Greens] can make it happen because they don’t just care about students. They care about everybody.”

In her closing remarks, Babineau said she and the Green Party believe that everyone deserves to have access to education regardless of financial status or family history.

“Education is one of the great opportunities we have to equalize the playing field for everyone,” she said. “Do not be convinced that this is unreasonable. It is reasonable and it is possible and we can have something better for your generation and for your children.”

Originally written for a class at St. Thomas University.