Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

For a sustainable future: StFX, partners, hosting Climate and Democracy Week

September 17th, 2019
L-r, Climate and Democracy Week co-organizers Dr. Corrine Cash and Dr. Riley Chisholm

StFX University is teaming with the broader community, including the town and county of Antigonish and Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, to create a plan for a sustainable future when it comes to climate change. 

From Nov. 14-21, StFX will host Climate and Democracy Week, a week-long series of events, open to all, that will feature local and international renowned climate leaders who will host talks, workshops and facilitate activities.  

A major highlight is planned for the Nov. 14th opening ceremony when StFX President Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Chief PJ Prosper of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher, and Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron launch the Climate Strategy Working Group, formally establishing a strategic plan on how to become climate ready in the region.

“This is a big deal. It’s going to be momentous,” says StFX sociology professor Dr. Riley Chisholm, who with Dr. Corrine Cash, Coady Institute senior program staff and facilitator of StFX’s Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate and Environment Program, is co-organizing the event.  

PEOPLE COMING TOGETHER

Dr. Chisholm says StFX reached out to its partners to initiate the event in the belief that together the capacity for addressing this crisis increases markedly. Good work is already happening, she says, but sometimes it’s in parallel, rather than complementary. 

“This is people coming together, taking down those walls. The academy is reaching out. It’s about how we can learn from each other, how can we explore and develop solutions together.”

“We can’t not work together on this issue,” says Dr. Cash. 

“Hopefully this is the beginning of bringing people together on this issue in an attempt to create cooperation and collaboration and to build on that and to try to do good things.”

Dr. Cash says a lot of people are passionate about climate, but they don’t necessarily understand it or understand what can be done or how it can be done. 

The week is offering people the opportunity to become engaged. 

“What excites me is the extraordinary enthusiasm we’re getting from all sectors. There’s a real want for engagement,” Dr. Chisholm says. 

She says she’s particularly excited about the diversity of participants, who range from international students to local farmers, young children to Catholic nuns to health practitioners. 

“It weaves all those voices together.” 

HOTTER, WETTER WILDER 

Following the launch of the working group, Dr. Blair Feltmate, Chair of the Government of Canada Climate Adaptation Plan, will deliver the opening keynote address on Nov. 14, entitled, “Hotter, Wetter, Wilder: Is Canada moving fast enough to keep up with a changing climate?” The talk takes place at 7 p.m. in Mulroney Hall Auditorium. 

On Friday, Nov. 15, a climate week panel, A People’s School on Climate Change takes place in Dennis Hall at the Coady from 6-8 p.m.

Panelists include Kerry Prosper,  Paqtnkek Elder and Knowledge Keeper; Dr. Romeo Bertoloni, Deputy Director of Country Engagement for the National Determined Contributions Partnership Support Unit, World Resources Institute; Dr. Cash; Jolene Andrews, Gitxsan-Witsuwiten Nation Indigenous Community Developer Private Consultant and artist; and Dr. Simon Addison, Principal Researcher for Climate Change, Public Policy and Resiliency, International Institute for Environment and Development.

Local community groups will also be set up in Dennis Hall that evening giving people opportunity to discuss initiatives happening in Nova Scotia as well as the kind of actions they can take. 

The next day, Saturday, Nov. 16th, a Weekend People’s School takes place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the People’s Place Library on Main Street. A number of concurrent sessions will take place with topics running the gamut from ecology and faith to a children’s art house, from climate and public health, to soil carbon sequestration in Nova Scotia, to the experience of international students from the Bahamas on being climate refugees.  

Everyone can take part, and Dr. Cash says it’s exciting to see the revival of the People’s School movement—started by her granduncle Tom Boyle, and others, including Moses Coady—and that it’s once again helping bridge the gap between the community and the university, bringing knowledge to the people, and knowledge back to the university from people who live in the community.

Other highlights from the week will include the second screening in Canada of The Biggest Little Farm on Nov. 20 from 5-7 p.m. at Cineplex Theatre. The film is receiving rave reviews, and is offered free of charge. 

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo of the Labrador Institute at Memorial University will present the closing talk on Thursday, Nov. 21, entitled “Mourning Nature.”

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