Faculty of Arts

Ancient vapours are helping researchers identify gold deposits in Nova Scotia

Kevin Neyedley, left, and Dr. Jacob Hanley of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are doing research supported by Nova Scotia’s Mineral Resources Development Fund. (Photo: Kelly Clark/Communications Nova Scotia)

Kevin Neyedley, left, and Dr. Jacob Hanley of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are doing research supported by Nova Scotia’s Mineral Resources Development Fund. (Photo: Kelly Clark/Communications Nova Scotia)

Vapour trails from an ancient volcano may point the way to an economic opportunity in modern-day Nova Scotia.

Researchers at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are using the composition of ancient volcanic vapours, trapped in tiny fragments in rocks, and other geological features, to learn more about a type of precious metal deposit called epithermal gold. Their work over the past year was supported by the province’s Mineral Resources Development Fund.

Geology professor Dr. Jacob Hanley said the project’s goal is to gather information on how and when the gold deposits formed, and to generate exploration criteria that may predict where the highest concentrations of gold may be found in the province. Giving companies a better idea where to explore has financial and environmental benefits.

“The more information we gain about where the deposits are sitting in this vast array of rocks which we have in the province, the better off the environment will be. The overall footprint is smaller in terms of that activity.”

Hanley and PhD student Kevin Neyedley received a $47,500 grant from the development fund in 2018 for their project, which focuses on deposits in the Eastern Cobequid Highlands. The area is about 50 kilometres north of Truro, Nova Scotia.

Continue reading the full article from the Department of Energy and Mines.

Mineral Resources Development Fund expansion announced at Saint Mary’s University

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

Dr. Jacob Hanley and Kevin Neyedley chat with Sean Kirby, left, executive director of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia, and Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. (Photo: Kelly Clark/CNS)

Businesses, prospectors and researchers now have more support for innovative projects in the mining sector as the result of a provincial government announcement at Saint Mary’s University.

As part of Budget 2019-20, the province is increasing the Mineral Resources Development Fund by $800,000 to a total of $1.5 million. Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette opened the fund to applications in an event at Saint Mary’s on April 9.

“Mining is a globally competitive sector that creates career opportunities for our young people, while generating revenue for programs and services that benefit all Nova Scotians,” said Minister Mombourquette. “These investments make connections and develop new ideas that help our companies stay at the forefront of technology and environmental protection.”

Saint Mary’s University Professor Dr. Jacob Hanley and PhD student Kevin Neyedley received $47,500 from the fund in 2018. They are working on research and gathering geological information about how strategic minerals formed. This will help identify where deposits may be located and then extracted with minimal environmental impact.

“It is vitally important for Nova Scotians to have access to the most current scientific knowledge, gathered using cutting edge research tools,” said Dr. Hanley.

“Our research can help attract companies by reducing exploration costs for industry and reduce the impact that grass-roots exploration has on the environment through narrowing the size of mineral deposit targets,” said Mr. Neyedley.

Last year, the province supported 28 projects including mineral exploration programs, professional development, innovation, university research and training opportunities for young people.

Together again: CODCO is back, for one night only at SMU


Thirty years ago, the legendary cast of CODCO paved the way for a renaissance in Canadian comedy writing and performance. Often controversial, occasionally furious, but always hilarious, CODCO took gleeful pleasure in lampooning the hypocrisies of the powerful.

Saint Mary’s University will host an unforgettable evening on Friday, March 15th as Andy Jones, Cathy Jones, Greg Malone and Mary Walsh come together again to revisit their best work in a panel discussion on the art and politics of satire. They are the featured guest speakers for the 2019 Cyril J. Byrne Memorial Lecture, in the McNally Theatre Auditorium.

The public event begins at 6:30 pm with a live performance by the Evan Mahaney Jazz Trio. Starting at 7:00 pm, the four comedians will review their favourite sketches from CODCO’s television run, and reflect on the lasting significance of their work. The panel discussion is followed by an audience Q&A and a reception.

CODCO’s writing and many of its audacious performances continue to be studied today. Originally founded in St. John’s as a theatre company, CODCO aired nationally on CBC from 1988-1993 as a weekly sketch comedy television program. Far ahead of their time, Walsh, Jones, Jones and Malone – along with their beloved co-performer Tommy Sexton – were masters of social satire. With The Kids in the Hall, they pushed Canadian comedy, and Canadian culture as a whole, into new territory by tackling many previously taboo subjects relating to gender, sexuality, religion, economic development, colonialism and corporate / political power.

The annual Cyril J. Byrne Memorial Lecture celebrates the life and the fun-loving spirit of literature professor Cyril Byrne, who passed away in 2006. Throughout his 35-year career at Saint Mary’s, Dr. Byrne played a major role in establishing our Atlantic Canada Studies Program and the D’Arcy McGee Chair in Irish Studies. The lecture has welcomed many of the world’s best writers to Halifax, such as Yann Martel, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Alistair MacLeod, Anne Carson, Colm Tóibín, Dionne Brand, David Adams Richards and Wayne Johnston.

As always, the lecture is free and all are welcome, but seating is limited. Online registrations are now closed and early arrival is recommended for all who submitted RSVPs online. An overflow seating area with a video link has been arranged in Scotiabank Auditorium.

Saint Mary's hosts public panel on international institutions

Saint Mary's University's recently hosted an engaging public panel discussion, that serviced as a precursor to the Halifax International Security Forum three-day annual conference.

The panel, entitled Discord, Disruptions, Disorder: A World Without International Institutions, took place on November 15th in the McNally Theatre Auditorium. The event is the result of a partnership between the Halifax International Security Forum, Dalhousie University and Saint Mary's.

“The goal of the Forum is to start conversations between decision-makers and opinion-leaders from around the world that help shape foreign policy,” said Peter Van Praagh, President of the Halifax International Security Forum. “Our partnership with Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s ensures that tomorrow’s leaders have a voice in those discussions.”

Mercedes Stephenson, host of The West Block on Global News, moderated the discussion.

Panellists included:

  • Kenan Rahmani, an advisor to Syrian civil society organizations, most notably The White Helmets;

  • Ayman Mhanna, Executive Director of the Samir Kassir Foundation in Beruit;

  • Antonio Ramalho da Roche, Professor of International Relations at the University of Brasilia; and

  • Daouda Sembene, former Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund.

“As a city with a truly global outlook, Halifax is a fitting site for this esteemed gathering of thinkers and problem solvers,” said Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, President and Vice-Chancellor of Saint Mary’s University. “We are extremely proud to host this year’s very timely public debate over the future of our global institutions.

The Halifax International Security Forum is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC.

We’re all in this together: Collaborating on social studies education

More than 300 social studies teachers took part in “Calling All Citizens”, their annual provincial conference hosted October 26 for a fourth year at Saint Mary’s University. 

“I think we would all agree that social studies education is more important now than ever,” said Maureen McNamara, a Cape Breton teacher and president of the Nova Scotia Social Studies Teachers Association (SSTA). “We must continue to help our students not just to understand our rapidly changing world but their role as citizens. In doing so, we must create safe spaces for discussion and debate, not argument and polarization.”

The event included a trade exhibition, 30 workshops – including 10 led by Saint Mary’s professors and staff – an AGM and several off-site sessions at locations such as the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre. The day began with a spirited keynote on fostering ‘civic competence’ and community service in Canadian schools, by Dr. Alan Sears, Professor of Social Studies Education at the University of New Brunswick.

Dr. Margaret MacDonald, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, welcomed the teachers to campus and highlighted the sessions led by Saint Mary’s professors and staff: “We're talking about Mi'kmaq music and art, human resilience in the face of mental health challenges, competencies related to intercultural learning, strategies for accommodating racial and religious differences, field schools in The Gambia, and even sessions off-campus such as the hands-on archaeology at Grand Pré National Historic Site,” she said.

Nova Scotia teachers, museums and educational organizations lead the other workshops.  

“Together, this roster offers teachers of all grades a rich professional learning day that can only benefit our students in the end,” said Wendy Driscoll, conference co-chair. “The SSTA is proud of our partnership with Saint Mary's University because it brings together teachers and professors for the common purpose of student achievement.”

These connections are a highlight of the annual event for Joe Bellefontaine. The Grade 9 teacher at Riverview High in Sydney has also taught with the Chignecto and Annapolis Valley school boards, and has a SMU Bachelor of Arts degree in geography and geology.

“People in universities are leaders in their field, so it's great to see their ideas and what they’re working on,” he said. “They have access to different resources, and they're really willing to talk to teachers and to make those connections with public school systems.”

For more highlights, see
@NSSSTA on Twitter and the conference agenda

Peaceful Schools International launches new books to help children navigate conflict

Resolving conflict can be tricky enough for adults, but a new series of books published by Saint Mary’s University aims to help children better understand and resolve conflicts respectfully and peacefully.

Peaceful Schools International launched the trio of books on October 19, in conjunction with the university and the Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association (SMUSA). All three were written by Amelia Penney-Crocker, a Grade 8 student at Oxford School, while her two best friends Ruby Jangaard and Marin DeWolfe created the engaging illustrations.

Amelia first got involved with Peaceful Schools when the charitable organization – housed and supported at SMU – gave a presentation to her elementary school, which later participated in a Peace Conference here on campus.

“Then I was lucky enough to go to Belfast with the Peaceful Schools team from Saint Mary’s,” said the budding author, who also won the 2016 Woozles writing contest and co-wrote an article about Syrian refugees for Our Children magazine. “It was interesting to see the way kids from other places have a different experience with conflict.”

The idea emerged to create a fun educational resource written by children for children, and “I hope that me writing them and me being a kid will help to connect to other kids in a better way,” she said.

The books are Animal School, The Enchantress from Canada and The Fairy Ring. They examine ways to peacefully de-escalate conflict, address hurtful insults, share difficult feedback, and reach out to adults for guidance on standing up for yourself.

The stories were created for local elementary schools and the Northern Ireland Conflict Resolution Program, now in its 14th year of providing conflict resolution training to SMU students in the faculties of Arts, Science and Commerce. Through the program, the books – and skits based on them – will be shared with children in HRM and more than 100 classrooms throughout Northern Ireland, explained Patrick Guerra, SMU’s student coordinator for Peaceful Schools International. The next trip overseas is scheduled for this February.

 Commending the book’s creators as “our next generation of scholars,” President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray said “we want to celebrate their work particularly as it relates to peaceful schools, and the idea that education around conflict resolution and understanding peace is important for all of us, at all levels of our educational institutions.”

The launch event also acknowledged inspiration and support from Dr. Hetty van Gurp, founder of Peaceful Schools International. She was recently appointed to the newly established Provincial Advisory Council on Education, which replaces the seven dissolved regional school boards.

“What this means is at a provincial level, we will now have the input of Peaceful Schools International promoting the definitive inclusion of peace education in the curriculum, and this has been one of the central goals of the organization all along. So we are very grateful for everything Dr. van Gurp has done to make this a reality going forward,” said Bridget Brownlow, SMU’s Conflict Resolution Advisor and President of Peaceful Schools International.

Saint Mary’s to offer archaeology field school in Cuba to the general public

What began as the archaeological opportunity of a lifetime for students, is now being offered to the general public.

Saint Mary’s University is looking for twelve people with a keen interest in archaeology to participate in excavating historical artifacts at Angerona, a Cuban national historic site and former slave plantation, 80 kilometres west of Havana.

“This expedition builds on the great research partnership we have established over the past two years with Havana’s Cabinet of Archaeology and the College of San Geronimo,” said Aaron Taylor, an alumnus of Saint Mary’s and the program’s instructor. “Sharing this opportunity with people who want to take part but aren’t current students is a big part of this. This field school offers the opportunity for community members to share their passion for archaeology and participate in field research.”

The expedition will be examining the ruins of a previously unknown building behind the plantation’s mansion house and also exploring the walled barracks compound to learn more about the daily lives of the people who were enslaved at Angerona. During the 19th century, Angerona was one of the largest slave plantations in the Americas—yet little is known about the day-to-day lives of the people who lived there.

This project is a non-credit course to introduce participants to archaeological field methods, Cuban history, and life beyond the resort. The course is offered by the Studio for Teaching and Learning at Saint Mary’s as part of the university’s Open Archaeology Initiative. Open Archaeology engages members of the public in archaeology through short courses and community-engaged research.

The field school runs from Feb.17 to March 3, 2019. For more information or to express interest in participating visit digatsmu.ca.         

"Fake it until you make it" not a good plan for job interviews

Adapted with permission from the University of Calgary.

Dr. Nicolas Roulin

Dr. Nicolas Roulin

Researchers study impression management in job interviews, suggest honesty is best policy when talking about yourself

Honesty is the best policy in a job interview, but not everyone is comfortable being truthful about their skills, psychology researchers have found in an extensive study published in Personnel Psychology

Dr. Nicolas Roulin, associate professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, and Dr. Joshua Bourdage, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts at University of Calgary, studied the behaviour of 1,470 North American job applicants during interviews — a field called ‘impression management.’

Much research has explored how people promote themselves in job interviews and try to ingratiate themselves with the organization that’s hiring. Bourdage and Roulin advanced this work by studying the differences between people who engage in honest versus deceptive practices during a job interview.

“Someone who is more extroverted will be more likely to engage in more of the honest tactics and less in the deceptive tactics. Someone who is more conscientious will also engage in more honest tactics,” says Roulin of the findings. “The people who are extroverted are more able to be honest, they have the ability to sell themselves and ingratiate themselves with the interviewer or the organization. Those who are less extroverted may be a bit shy and may not know to promote themselves.”

Further, applicants who use deceptive practices in a job interview — embellishing their qualifications or offering fake compliments about the organization — may be younger, have less work experience and fewer qualifications to talk about. They may also be less conscientious and therefore haven’t put in the time to prepare for the interview. 

“Faking in an interview tends to be someone making up for something,” says Bourdage. “It’s not that you go in and say ‘I’m going to fake my way through this interview,’ it’s an adaptive response to ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t have the experience, I am uncomfortable in this situation and this interview is very difficult.’”

The researchers suggest job applicants do their homework before an interview so they can speak truthfully about themselves and the organization. They found that people who took some training on how to nail an interview tended to use more honest impression management. 

“The key going into an interview is to really prepare so that you can speak honestly about the skills that you have and your high points — what are your strengths and how do they relate to the job?” says Bourdage. “And, find genuine ways that you fit with that organization as opposed to making up things that you think the organization would want to hear.” 

People who sell themselves in an honest way tend to receive a job offer whereas those who fake it are often “found out” in reference checks and other verification processes. The researchers also found that the interviewer can encourage more honesty from an applicant by having a longer interview and asking specific questions about past behaviour or job-related situations.

Government of Canada partners with Saint Mary’s to create new coastal habitat and combat climate change

Nova Scotia will soon be home to more coastal habitat and defences against flooding and erosion as the result of a $1.8 million partnership between the Government of Canada and Saint Mary’s University.

“This support from the federal government is crucial. We will use it to create new salt marsh habitat around the Bay of Fundy and beyond, addressing the impact of climate change on our region and tackling a global problem,” said Dr.  Danika van Proosdij, the project lead and a professor at Saint Mary’s University. “Using nature-based strategies and restructuring dyke systems, we will create new vibrant ecosystems for marine life to prosper and new marshes that can absorb rising sea levels and storm surges.”

The new project, Making Room for Wetlands: Implementation of Managed Realignment for Salt Marsh Restoration and Climate Change Adaptation in Nova Scotia, seeks to restore over 75 hectares of tidal wetland (i.e., salt marsh) habitat through the realignment and decommissioning of dyke infrastructure at multiple sites in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. The project will also help to build the Atlantic region’s scientific and technical capacity to manage future realignment and restoration projects.

“At Saint Mary's, community is at the heart of what we do, and that extends to our research,” said Saint Mary’s University president Robert Summerby-Murray. “Dr. van Proosdij’s project shows our commitment to using our knowledge and expertise to address challenges facing our region and the world. I want to thank the Government of Canada for supporting Atlantic Canadian researchers who are at the forefront of combating climate change.”

This project will be undertaken through a well-established partnership between Saint Mary’s University and CB Wetlands & Environmental Specialists (CBWES) Inc. using innovative and proven techniques with a comprehensive monitoring program.

Aspects of the project will also be conducted in consultation with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and in collaboration with Queen’s University Department of Civil Engineering, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Dalhousie University’s School of Planning and School of Resource and Environmental Studies.

This project was announced on Monday, June 25, 2018, as part of the Coastal Restoration announcement made by the Honourable Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board Canada, M.P. for Kings-Hants on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. It was announced that four organizations will receive together over $7 million over 5 years for projects to help restore coastal habitats in Nova Scotia and in the Arctic.


“I am proud to support these Coastal Restoration Fund projects that will restore and rehabilitate important coastal habitats in Nova Scotia and Nunavut. Our funding will encourage and build local community capacity to maintain and restore aquatic habitats.”

- The Honourable Scott Brison, President of Treasury Board Canada

From the announcement event

Saint Mary’s new Department of Criminology hosts ground-breaking national conference on harm-reduction in the justice system


More than 200 scholars, corrections workers, and social-justice experts from Canada and beyond came together for a fruitful exchange of ideas on harm reduction in the criminal-justice system at Saint Mary’s this past Thursday and Friday.

Criminology graduate student Omotimilehin Idris presenting during the “Transnational Perspectives” session

Criminology graduate student Omotimilehin Idris presenting during the “Transnational Perspectives” session

For the past eight years, the National Conference on Critical Perspectives: Criminology and Social Justice has been held in Ottawa, and focused on scholarly participants. This year marks the first in which the conference will begin visiting communities across Canada, and also the first in which it substantially moves outside the university’s walls to holistically address issues around crime and justice.

Besides scholars, professionals and employees within the Canadian corrections system, social-justice experts, and non-profit workers came together to discuss new ideas around harm reduction.

“The classic idea of harm reduction is around drug use,” says Diane Crocker, chair of Saint Mary’s Department of Criminology. “And that’s being addressed here, but we’re also expanding the scope to look at how the criminal-justice system at large can harm people, or even how larger social structures cause harm, and exploring how that can be recognized.”

Represented at the conference were universities in Canada, New Zealand, and the UK; criminal-justice experts from the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, and the Halifax Regional Police; representatives from First Nations across Canada; and several levels of government.

Government representatives included Karen Hudson, QC, Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Nova Scotia; Denise Perret, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness; Tracey Taweel, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage; Lynn Hartwell, Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services; and Karen Gatien, Associate Deputy Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Dr. Crocker hopes that the conference’s success will be replicated in coming years.

“We’ve set a high bar in terms of having an integrated conference of academics, community members, and criminal-justice professionals coming together to share ideas,” she says. “This has been an incredibly valuable two days.”

The conference was a joint effort between the newly formed Department of Criminology of Saint Mary’s University, and the Nova Scotia Criminal Justice Association.

Intercultural success at SMU

From June 14 - 16, Saint Mary’s hosted distinguished academics from around the world for the International Conference in Intercultural Studies: Immigration, the Dynamics of Identity and Policies for Managing Diversity.

The main goal of the bilingual conference—a collaboration between Modern Languages & Classics professor Dr. Jean-Jacques Defert, Psychology professor Dr. David Bourgeois, and Université Laval faculty member Dr. Jean Ramdé—was to build bridges between researchers and professionals in the public and private sectors.

“We had representatives and employees from the federal and provincial governments, as well teachers, civil servants, and social workers from YMCA and the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, and many others,” said Defert. “They gave very positive feedback, especially around the variety of themes we tackled.”

Variety was a keystone of the conference: more than 40 workshops, panels, and keynote presentations covered subjects ranging from child soldiers to international-student retention to immigrant entrepreneurs.

“The workshops given by community organizations pointed at really concrete ways of dealing with diversity,” said Defert. “For example, we had 45 people from the Conseil acadien scolaire provincial, the Acadian school board in Nova Scotia, attend a workshop by Marie McAndrew of the Université de Montreal on equity and diversity in education, and at the end invited her to continue the discussion.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Ather Akbari, Chair of the Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity, gave a talk entitled “In-Migration and Out-Migration: Atlantic Canada at a Crossroad.” In an interview with Star Metro Halifax, he said “whatever focus groups I have done, I found…if people were given a choice to live either in Nova Scotia to go to another province, if they have a job offer, then they would prefer to stay in Nova Scotia.”

Gatherings of academics and public and private-sector workers like this are critical, says Defert, to build intercultural competence in the province and ensure those immigrants do remain here.

“Nova Scotia is relatively new to having significant levels of diversity,” he said, “so it’s important to exchange ideas and practices.”

The conference was structured around some of the main themes of intercultural studies—education, health, social services, and the workforce—which are also the pillars of a new Intercultural Studies degree program offered by Saint Mary’s.

“This was really the strength of the conference and the program,” says Defert: “bringing together people of all backgrounds to discuss how they deal with, and support, diversity in their own ways.”