Message from the Vice-President Academic

Black History Month – featuring Albertan poet Bertrand Bickersteth

A few years ago, a talented instructor by the name of Bertrand Bickersteth shared his passion for poetry with the class of Humanities 101, a radical humanities program that St. Mary’s University offers to adult Calgarians living in poverty. I was delighted, then, to learn that Bertrand’s debut poetry collection, The Response of Weeds, has been named one of the best poetry books of 2020. Check out a brief biography below and a link to Bertrand talking about his new collection The Response of Weeds, which is inspired by his experiences as a Black man in Alberta.

Bertrand Bickersteth

Born in Sierra Leone, raised in Alberta, and formerly resided in the U.K. and the U.S., Bertrand Bickersteth is an educator who also writes plays and poems. (Nathan Elson Photography)

Bertrand Bickersteth is a poet, author and educator who was born in Sierra Leone, raised in Alberta, and has lived in the U.K. and the U.S. Bickersteth was on the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for the poem Wakanda, Oklahoma​.

“Storied soil” is the phrase Bickersteth uses to describe his home province of Alberta in his debut poetry collection The Response of Weeds. The collection, named one of the best poetry books of 2020 by CBC Books, brings to life the experience of early Black settlers in Western Canada, including his own experience growing up as a Black Albertan. Bickersteth’s poetry features themes of displacement, history and belonging within the African diaspora.

Poet Bertrand Bickersteth talks about his new collection The Response of Weeds, which is inspired by his experiences as a Black man in Alberta. 13:08

Dr. Georgette Hardy DeJesus: Language that cuts

StMU’s Student Legislative Council organized a public lecture with Dr. Georgette Hardy DeJesus last night. Rooting her discussion of the N-word in an exploration of its origins in slavery and its usage into contemporary time, Dr. DeJesus called all of us within the academic world – and broader society – to interrogate our own biases and prejudices and, with compassion and courage, resist and counter micro-aggressions and the weaponized use of language, such as the use of the N word.

Black History Month 2021

As Dionne Brand calls out in her poem of the same name, No Language is Neutral.

Thank you to our students for bringing this conversation into the public spaces of StMU. We collectively have some work to do. A good place to start is the 4-part series starting next week through StMU’s Extension Studies:

Coming to the Fire

How do we create honest conversations about racism with those around us?
How do we speak our truth while being an instrument of healing for others?

This 4-part series explores the roots of racism, colonial violence and power and oppression, and seeks to guide participants to come to a greater understanding of the impacts of racism on an individual, institutional, and societal level. Participants will learn about critical race theory and practices of anti-racism across different aspects of their lives.

Our facilitators will guide you compassionately through the series, allowing participants to build upon their existing experiences and knowledge, and find personal and professional applications for the material at the same time providing opportunities to place themselves at the fire of this crucial conversation.

Learn how to engage, sustain, and deepen the difficult conversations about racism in our society. You can create racial equality, one conversation at a time.

The Anti-Racism Series is a signature offering of St. Mary’s Extension Studies and we are proud to deliver this important course.


Michelle Scott
Michelle is a Ktaqmkuk Mi’kmaw woman, the Director of Indigenous Initiatives at St. Mary’s University, and a doctoral candidate at Werklund School of Education focusing on decolonizing curriculum.

Suhail Panjwani
Suhail is a Desi educator at the Edge School in Calgary, and a doctoral candidate at Werklund School of Education focusing on anti-racist education.

Cost: $150 + GST
4-Part Series: March 9, 16, 23, 30
Tuesday Evenings from 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Follow link to register:

Sp/Su Courses

So, this week we heard from a number of you who want an update on this spring and summer’s course delivery. Given that vaccines are just starting to roll out, most of our courses will be offered remotely through D2L but some will be offered in person on campus. Below are the detailed lists. Please check them carefully. There are still a few courses we are waiting on for confirmation. I will update the list again next Friday.

Course Instructor Delivery
CEED 902 M. Scott Blended
CEED 903 M. Scott Blended
CLAS 315/HIST 3 B. Natali In Person
ENGL 363 L. Day In Person
INST 301 M. Scott Blended
ITAL 201 M. Oss-Cech Chiacchia In Person
PHIL 351-3 S. Smith In Person
ASTR 205 L. Braverman Remote
CEMA 301 D. Khurana Remote
ENGL 200A L. Arciniega Remote
ENGL 200B J. Wilcke Remote
HIST 200A P. Corbeil Remote
HIST 301 P. Corbeil Remote
MGST 303 S. Johnston Remote
MGST 331 S. Johnston Remote
PHIL 351-1 D. Kary Remote
PHIL 351-2 D. Kary Remote
PSYC 201 M. Kalathil Remote
PSYC 365 M. Kalathil Remote
PSYC 385 M. Colp Remote
PSYC 407 A.Ireland Remote
PSYC 413 S. Cook Remote
SOCI 325 N. Pagnucco Remote
SOCI 343 N. Pagnucco Remote

Spring Clearance Sale at the StMU Bookstore
The Spring clearance sale start next week at the StMU Bookstore. Take advantage of great prices to pick up that sweatshirt you’ve been wanting! Check out the details at the campus store website.

Important Student Surveys!

Over the next month, we will be asking you to complete some surveys to help us better support your mental health, understand your academic experience, and improve our program delivery. As you may have heard in the budget, some of our future government funding will also be tied to performance metrics, some of which are measured by these surveys.

Please help us continue to build on our academic excellence and student support by taking a few minutes to respond to the surveys – Thank you!

NCHA – Closes March 5
The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) is a national research survey organized by the American College Health Association to assist college health service providers, health educators, counsellors, and administrators in collecting data about their students’ habits, behaviours, and perceptions on prevalent health topics.

Why is it important that I fill out the survey?
The information collected from the surveys helps St. Mary’s learn more about student health and wellness and your expectations of, and reactions to, health-related programs and services. The results allow us to compare the experiences of students at StMU with those of students at other Canadian universities. More importantly, they show us what we’re doing right and what we need to improve upon.

Visit the NCHA website for more information about the survey.

Please check your email for access to the survey!

Upcoming Surveys

  • March 8 to March 14 – English and Biology Cyclical Program Reviews
  • March 8 to March 19 – Survey of StMU Graduating Students
  • March 15 to March 26 – Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC) Survey of Graduating Students

Have a great weekend!

Until next week,

Tara Hyland-Russell
Vice-President Academic