Sisters of St. Martha’s gift $500 to StFX to support Indigenous students

by ahnationtalk on October 7, 2022281 Views

October 6th, 2022

ANTIGONISH, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA – Sisters of St. Martha’s congregation in Antigonish showed their incredible generosity by announcing substantial gifts to St. Francis Xavier University and Cape Breton University to honour Sister Dorothy Moore and Sister Veronica Matthews.

The Sisters of St. Martha have donated $250,000 to each StFX and CBU, which received matching funding at each institution, resulting in a total $1 million towards supporting Indigenous students.

This gift will establish scholarships at both at StFX and CBU, one for an Indigenous student in nursing and one for an Indigenous student in the education program. The scholarships will be awarded to a first-year Indigenous student from one of the seven eastern Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia, including Membertou, Eskasoni, Wagmatcook, We’koqma’q, Potlotek, Paqtnkek and Pictou Landing.

“As a community that aspires to be inclusive, fair, and equitable, today is another step forward in reconciliation,” said StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin. “This generous gift by the Sisters of St. Martha, matched by the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment, will support Indigenous people in their chosen field. A half a million dollars in new scholarships will impact generations of Indigenous people to come,” said StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin. “Our work will continue for Truth and Reconciliation.”

Beginning in September of 2023, students from Indigenous communities in eastern Nova Scotia who are enrolled in the Nursing or Education programs at StFX and CBU are eligible for a $10,000 renewable scholarship, making the path to postsecondary education a bit clearer.

“We are thrilled to be the recipients of this gift to support Indigenous learners at Cape Breton University,” says David Dingwall, President & Vice-Chancellor. “CBU has a strong 40-year history with Indigenous communities in Cape Breton/Unama’ki, and CBU proudly offers an environment that embraces the knowledge, wisdom and traditions of the Mi’kmaq people. This gift will allow us to continue on our journey of truth and reconciliation through the growth of Indigenous culture, language and education at CBU.”

Sister Dorothy Moore, an Honorary Degree recipient of CBU, knows what it’s like to yearn for an education. Born in Membertou in 1933, she attended multiple schools in her youth, including two years at the residential school in Shubenacadie, where it was forbidden to speak the Mi’kmaq language. Against her parent’s wishes, she enrolled at St. Joseph’s school in Sydney – the first Mi’kmaw person to “jump the Membertou fence,” as she says.

It was one of her many ‘firsts’ after graduating from Holy Angels High School (as its first Mi’kmaw student), she became the first Mi’kmaw person to enter a Roman Catholic order when she made her vows as a Martha in 1956. Her staunch belief in the power of education led her to embark on a lifelong career as a teacher, administrator, and later, faculty member at Cape Breton University. Sister Dorothy has been particularly influential in advocacy to preserve First Nations languages, and has been recognized with the Order of Nova Scotia, the Order of Canada, and three honorary degrees.

Sister Dorothy is one of the founders of Indigenous education at CBU, dating back to 1984 when she first advocated for the Mi’kmaw Resource Centre, which would eventually become Unama’ki College. Sister Dorothy worked effortlessly to encourage and support Mi’kmaw students, often being referred to as a Den Mother.

Although Sister Dorothy was the first Mi’kmaw person to become a Catholic nun, she was soon joined by Sister Veronica Matthews, in whose honour the second scholarship has been created.

Sister Veronica was also born in 1933, down the road in Eskasoni. She entered the Sisters of St. Martha in 1955 and made her vows in 1957. She graduated from the St. Martha’s School of Nursing and completed her BScN at Dalhousie.  Her work in Indigenous health care made her a very deserving recipient of an Honorary Doctorate degree from StFX in 2015.

Sister Veronica’s family has many medical practitioners, including paramedics, a midwife, and a doctor. Her grandfather was a great medicine man in their community and passed along his love for and devotion to the people to his granddaughter. Recognizing the debilitating effects of diabetes on people in First Nations, Sister Veronica started the first certified Indigenous diabetic clinic in Atlantic Canada, in 1997.

She has worked closely with StFX faculty and staff over the years, as they collaborated on community health initiatives and sought solutions to common problems. She’s mentored and encouraged countless young people to pursue education in health care fields.

Since the early 1900s, the Sisters of St. Martha has had a profound impact on people and communities throughout Nova Scotia, Canada, and around the world.

About St. Francis Xavier University (StFX)

Established in 1853, St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) is consistently recognized as one of the best universities in Canada. StFX exceeds the needs of today’s undergraduates through providing the very best academic experience — outstanding teaching, exceptional hands-on research opportunities, and global exchanges — all within Canada’s most vibrant and inspiring residential campus. Here, the focus is on the academic and the personal development of every student, making community and social engagement a large part of the learning experience. Our students are academically strong and highly engaged in every aspect of life, determined to make a positive impact on the world.

In 2022, Maclean’s annual university rankings put StFX #1 in student satisfaction and #2 in reputation across Canada in the primarily undergraduate category.

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