St. Mary’s “Students for Social Justice Club”, known as S4SJ, is recognized on campus for the many initiatives that they have supported since their inception in 2011. The club’s membership is made up of like-minded students who are passionate about giving back to their community through volunteerism, as well as raising awareness surrounding social issues.
Over the past four years, the club has raised funds for various community initiatives. In their first year, S4SJ focused on the theme of water. Their goal was to create a water-bottle free campus. S4SJ worked for two years with the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) and successfully installed filtered water fountains and bottle filling stations around campus. This initiative has helped to reduce the number of plastic water bottles utilized on campus by encouraging the use of reusable water containers. St. Mary’s has remained a water-bottle free zone since this initiative. In their third year the club took on the theme of air and worked to promote a scent-free campus. As many students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus are sensitive to scent, the club felt that this initiative would help to make St. Mary’s a safe and welcoming space for all.
For the past two years the club has also focused on the theme of land and has been working with Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) and the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area. Longtime club member Jasmine Siqueira said “our focus was on celebrating how people come from different lands [and] that we need to treasure the land around us.” The club has held fundraisers and events such as cultural potlucks and nature walks to raise awareness of these issues and initiatives, and most recently a bake sale to raise funds for the Syrian refugee crisis.
The bake sale hosted by S4SJ took place during the last week of October. The club raised an astounding $819.00 in just two days. This wonderful achievement is made even more impactful through a matching program, where the club’s donation will be matched dollar for dollar by the Alberta Government. All funds raised were donated to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and will be directed to their Syrian refugee crisis efforts. On Wednesday, November 25, the club invited Carol Hollywood to campus to accept their donation on behalf of the Development and Peace organization. Ms. Hollywood gave a short presentation about her organization’s efforts to raise awareness surrounding climate change and poverty, with their ultimate aim being to promote sustainable development and peace globally.
The Students for Social Justice Club has made an incredibly positive impact on St. Mary’s Campus by promoting social awareness and community involvement. Their efforts support St. Mary’s mission to prepare its students to become engaged citizens and compassionate members of society. In the New Year the club plans to raise awareness surrounding the issue of homelessness in Calgary, as well as host a cultural event to once again raise funds for the Syrian refugee crisis. Siqueira reminds the St. Mary’s community that “the club is always looking for new members and is open to all students at St. Mary’s who are passionate about helping others.” For more information and to get involved with S4SJ you can contact Nancy Quan, Director of Campus Ministry, or visit their Facebook page “StMU Students 4 Social Justice Club.”