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Different Tongues: Patrick A. McCarthy, BA’88, BEd’91, has Written a Book on Raising Bilingual Children

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, July 24, 2018
When Patrick A. McCarthy and his wife Laurie-Ann were expecting their first child, he began to worry about how he could teach his child his culture and language.

McCarthy was raised in an English-speaking family in New Brunswick; his wife is a francophone from Quebec. Although both are bilingual, they live in Quebec City where English is seldom heard or spoken.

McCarthy is an English Second Language teacher with an interest in sociolinguistics, so he knew better than most that teaching a child English in Quebec would be challenging — especially when he understood the province’s unique sociocultural and historical relationship with language.

“We have two cultures in our life together, and a baby was arriving. You would expect that linguistically speaking, our child would do as her parents, speak two languages, but it was not that easy,” he explained. “I was truly perplexed on how I should communicate with my daughter.”

He began researching how to learn a second language in a family context and quickly saw how multilingual families are omnipresent in many nations around the world.

“I started to learn how to successfully raise fluently bilingual individuals. I learned the tricks to overcome obstacles of teaching children languages that a lot of parents experience and give up. I was determined to be different.”

Nine months later, his daughter Rosalie was born and as the doctor laid her in his wife’s arms, his mother tongue spilled out of him naturally.

“I was standing behind them both, and I finally bit the bullet, I said (in English), “Hi, how are you?” and magically my daughter turned her head completely back and looked me straight in the eye with a loving curiosity. I finally knew in my heart that I had made the right decision.”

Since that day, two other children have entered his life: Julia and Kamille. All three speak English with their father and French with their mother.

McCarthy’s passion for linguistics and language learning spreads farther than the walls of his home. He completed his Master’s in Linguistics from Laval University and teaches English as a Second Language at the CÉGEP and university level. His master’s thesis focused on teaching children two languages.

Hoping to inspire other parents who are raising bilingual children, he recently released a version of his thesis as a book, Different Tongues: Why Children Code Switch; (why children change languages when they speak).

“My thesis allowed me to apply strategies for learning languages at certain ages in the growing years and I was able to witness that they worked on my own children. My children only communicated with me in English because I was the only person in their world for the first five years to speak English to them.”

McCarthy’s interest in second language learning began when he was still in high school and he wanted to learn French. The next few years were spent learning as much French as he could, through immersion programs in Quebec, taking a minor in French at STU, and spending a year living in France.

When he was still a student at STU, McCarthy got a job as a monitor in the English Language Program on campus. That’s when he fell in love with the idea of teaching English as a second language.

“This decision to start teaching at STU in the summer turned into a career choice for me. I literally fell into teaching.” •

Different Tongues is available on as an e-book and in paperback.

This story originally appeared in Connections. To read the full issue, please click HERE.

Finding the Words: A Mi’kmaq Language App Helps Oscar Baker III, BA’16, Reconnect

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, July 24, 2018
By Oscar Baker III, BA’16

I’m at my mother’s wake.

My heart still feels shattered; I’m a shell of myself with no time to mourn. I’m trying to make sure all the guests are taken care of and that the elders don’t slip on the icy driveway and steps.

My sogi Vina (aunt) says a bunch of words. I stare at her blankly. I know in my heart those words should mean something. They are my mother tongue, but even reading her lips gives no hint. My mouth is agape hoping someone would relieve me from drowning in the embarrassment of not knowing Mi’kmaq, maybe at least one English clue. Instead I’m left guessing.
I remember at least understanding the language as a small child. Maybe because my mother and migijto Dora spoke it at home. Now it’s as foreign to me as Mandarin. I think my seven-year-old niece knows more than me. I’m determined to learn, and there’s an app for that.

I’ve always been tempted to learn Spanish. I took Latin in high school because I figured if I knew the roots of Romantic languages I could learn more languages. Ten years later I only know one. But now I have a renewed commitment to focus and discipline, so I searched for a Spanish language app, and a voice inside me asked, “Why not your own language?”

So now I’ve been working with L’nui’suti, a Mi’kmaq language app, to learn my language. It was developed by Yolanda Denny, Gerald Gloade, Faye Googoo, J.R. Isadore, Jane Meader and Blaire Goulde of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, which advocates educational and language rights for Mi’kmaw people.

Goulde said the team felt compelled to create the app because the language is threatened.

“Languages are suffering and declining in our nations. Part of the blame is technology — so we want to use technology to revitalize language through private users who download our apps,” said Goulde in an email.

The Catalogue of Endangered Languages Project lists the Mi’kmaq language as threatened. It lists 8,145 Mi’kmaq speakers out of 20,000 Mi’kmaw people. The data was collected by the University of Hawaii and the First Peoples Cultural Council, with the help of other universities, and it maintains a comprehensive list of threatened or endangered languages throughout the world.

Most linguists say the best way to learn a language is to totally immerse oneself. That’s not an option for me.

The best I can do is dedicate an hour a day to read the language and speak it to myself. I failed at a lot, but I feel in my heart that by trying this, I’m already succeeding.

I’ve always heard language is a part of us Mi’kmaw people. I never felt that way. Maybe because I never understood it. There were times when hearing my mother saying she loved me in our language felt more sincere. I think as I head down the road of understanding, maybe I’ll grow a little closer to myself. Nmultis. •

Oscar Baker III, BA’16, is an award-winning multimedia reporter from Elsipogtog First Nation and St. Augustine, Fla. “Finding the Words” originally appeared on It is also in the Summer 2018 issue of Connections. Read the full issue of the magazine HERE.

Mentally Ready to Serve and Protect: Sgt. Bobbi Simmons-Beauchamp, BA'91, Helps First Responders Cope with Mental Health Issues

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Sgt. Bobbi Simmons-Beauchamp, BA’91, says first responders need to take care of their mental health so they can best take care of others.

That’s why she and her former staff sergeant brought the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Road to Mental Readiness Program to the Fredericton Police Force.

Originally developed by the Department of National Defence, the Road to Mental Readiness program supports the mental health and wellbeing of first responders.

“We’re trying to make the conversation around mental illness part of our normal conversation,” she says. “We’re trying to reduce the stigma around it, because that stigma is a major barrier to care. If people are afraid to talk about it or admit how they’re feeling, they are less likely to get care.”

The program is course-based and uses best practices from sport psychology and neuroscience. Simmons-Beauchamp says the program helps officers build resiliency. It has been used by the Canadian Armed Forces, US Navy Seals, and many first responders.

“We teach skills like goal setting, visualization, positive self-talk, and tactical breathing,” she says. “Breathing is a natural calming mechanism in our body so once we’ve calmed our body, our minds naturally follow. We teach these skills to our members and we ask them to not only think about the skills, but also to practice them and to build them, so they become automatic. When they are in those high stress situations, they are able to access these tools that will help them better manage the situations.”

Although first responders may be more at risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Simmons-Beauchamp says PTSD is not the most prevalent mental health illness in policing.

“We have this trauma and stress that we face at work but sometimes people forget that we’re people too. We also have the stress in our personal lives: what’s going on in our family, finances, kids, everything… that gets added on to the stress from work. So what we see is that there is more prevalence in things like depression and anxiety in policing than PTSD.”

Simmons-Beauchamp, who has spent 21 years working as a police officer, is now also a Master Trainer with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. She has taught others to teach the program. She has worked in Edmonton with the CN Police, with Edmonton Fire, and with other first responder organizations in Alberta. She worked with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and has worked with all of the police forces in NB to teach others how to deliver this in their own organizations.

The Fredericton Police Force was part of the research phase for implementing this program in a police environment in 2015 and they will periodically do refresher courses to get re-certified.

She says delivering this program is one of the best things an organization can do for its employees.

“It’s great that the Fredericton Police Force recognizes that it needs to take care of its people so we can take care of others,” she says.

“The nature of our work is not going to change. The ways that we do it, our approaches to it, our ideologies around it, that may change.

But at the heart of it, we are here to serve and protect people. And in doing that, we see people at their worst, we go to terrible situations, we see trauma, we see a lot of great things too, but the reality is that we are faced with that stuff. That’s what we’re here for.” •

This story originally appeared in Connections. To read the full issue, please click HERE.

The Canada C3 Expedition: Alumna Khairunnisa (Inda) Intiar, BA’13, Finds Home Aboard an Icebreaker

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, July 24, 2018
By Khairunnisa (Inda) Intiar, BA’13

I remember standing on board an icebreaker, watching the sunset sky turn orange and purple, and then dark blue where it meets the water of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I was with fellow participants of the Canada C3 expedition. And I’ve never felt more at home.

Growing up in various countries, I’ve been looking for a place to fit in. Canada has been home since I came to STU as an international student in 2009. It has allowed me to create a self from all the identities and cultural influences that intersect within. But I wanted to know Canada better. Last summer, I had the opportunity to do that.

I was among roughly 300 people chosen to take part in the Canada C3 expedition organized by the Students on Ice Foundation to commemorate Canada 150.

Around 5,000 people from across the country applied to live on an icebreaker for one of the 15 legs of the journey as it sailed around Canada’s three coasts for 150 days. The journey started in Toronto on June 1 and ended in Victoria on October 28. It focused on four themes: Reconciliation, Diversity and Inclusion, the Environment, and Youth Engagement.

I was on the Polar Prince for Leg 3 of the expedition. For 10 days, I joined journalists, musicians, scientists, activists, youth leaders, educators, chefs, artists, and fellow residents of Canada to sail from Baie Comeau to Charlottetown.

Along the way, we celebrated Aboriginal Day with the Innu community in Pessamit. It was the first time I heard the Innu language spoken. We learned how to make dream catchers and Bannock bread (using hot sand) with the Innu community in Ekuanitshit.

We also visited the Mingan Archipelago, including the unique Anticosti Island, where there are more deer than people! We experienced French-Canadian culture in Petite-Vallee and Havre St. Pierre, we learned about the seal-hunting tradition and the impact of climate change on the Magdalen Islands, and we celebrated Multiculturalism Day at Petit Rocher, NB. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited us when the ship was docked in Charlottetown.

On the ship, we reflected on the things we learned from our activities. We’d have discussion during breakfast or in the Legacy Room, a room filled with gifts from Indigenous Chiefs the C3 team met along the way, or in the Knot, a living room where we often played music together.

We learned about Indigenous history through a role-play activity called the Blanket Exercise. This was powerful and emotional, as many of us didn’t understand the extent of oppression the Indigenous peoples of Canada experienced, nor that injustices continue even today. I understood through discussions with my Indigenous friends on board why many didn’t see Canada 150 as a celebration.

I also celebrated Eid, a feast that marks the end of the Islamic holy month, with my friends on the ship. We shared a meal and held hands to express gratitude for our togetherness and bond we shared, despite all the differences that could keep us apart.

Today, I continue to learn and ask questions, particularly when it comes to the treatment and the cultures of Indigenous peoples. I continue to advocate for diversity and inclusion, now with a broader understanding that multiculturalism must include the diverse cultures, languages and voices of the first peoples of the land.

I learned that there’s a Canada I aspire to help build — one that is diverse, inclusive, engaged and caring for the environment. •

Khairunnisa (Inda) Intiar, BA’13, is an Indonesian national who graduated from St. Thomas with a major in journalism and an honours in international relations. She is now the Moncton reporter for business-focused digital media company Huddle Today, which is based out of Saint John. She has written about
her Canada C3 experience on her Medium page.

This story originally appeared in Connections. To read the full issue, please click HERE.

The Sleep Kit: Eve Baird, BA'16, Studies Sleep Disturbances in People Living with Dementia

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Eve Baird hopes her new study will help individuals with dementia sleep more soundly.

The Recreational Therapist at the York Care Centre is launching a study in Fredericton this summer to measure how establishing a bedtime routine focused on one-on-one interactions and alternative sleep therapies can improve sleep in individuals living with dementia.

Although studies estimate that between 25% and 50% of people with dementia suffer from sleep disturbances, Baird found little research offering solutions other than more traditional ones like diet, exercise, melatonin, or sleep medications. In her research, she discovered a study that linked social interactions throughout the day to better sleep. This gave her the idea for The Sleep Kit.

The Sleep Kit is a small box of alternative sleep therapies and items caregivers can use to spend quality time with individuals living with dementia during the bedtime routine. It includes items such as playing cards, a book, a CD of relaxing music, a colouring book and markers, a hair brush, essential oils and lotions.

“The Sleep Kit is a tool for caregivers, and it contains different items that promote the idea of spending one-on-one time with your loved one before bed and providing them with meaningful engagement. Each item was handpicked and appeals to the five senses. I also wanted to make it something that could be modified for different stages of the dementia journey. It is also an opportunity for the caregiver to take some time for themselves at the end of a stressful day.”

Baird first got the idea for The Sleep Kit during a project for a class with STU professor Dr. Janet Durkee-Lloyd, who encouraged her to pursue the idea. She eventually pitched The Sleep Kit to the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation and received $50,000 to conduct a study. The New Brunswick Health Research Foundation matched those funds, bringing her total funding to $100,000.

Baird will be conducting two studies: one for community members living with dementia who still live in their own homes, and one for the residents of the Birch Grove unit at the York Care Centre.

There will be a control group, so half of the participants will receive The Sleep Kit while the other half won’t. Everyone will be given a Fitbit to track their sleep, allowing Baird to digitally collect the data. Caregivers will also write notes in a sleep diary and respond to questionnaires, so Baird can collect qualitative data.

“I am hoping that their sleep improves, but I am also hoping that the caregivers see it as something that is helpful to them,” she says.

Baird recruited fellow STU alumna Claire Hargrove, BA’13, to act as her research assistant, and help her with the community portion of the study. Hargrove is an Adult Day Program Coordinator at the York Care Centre.

“Dementia can severely disrupt normal sleep patterns, and this has a negative impact on overall health,” Hargrove says. “Eve’s creation of The Sleep Kit offers a therapeutic tool to a group of people that have very few products which are specifically designed for their circumstances. While the world has seen tremendous technological advancement in recent years, contemporary society often feels as if it has been stripped of simplicity and basic human connection.”

Because of this, she says, The Sleep Kit was designed to enhance basic principles such as one-on-one interaction with the intent of improving sleep habits which would benefit the individual living with dementia as well as their caregiver.

“Working with individuals living with dementia, one finds it impossible to ignore the lack of tools available to enhance their quality of life,” Hargrove adds. “This drives me to change this and I feel my experience working in a frontline situation will bring a depth of knowledge and experience to the team. With Eve’s leadership, determination, and deep understanding of the impact of dementia, I am confident that we will make The Sleep Kit an invaluable resource for individuals and their caregivers along the dementia journey and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the team.”

Changing the Narrative on Aging and Dementia

Baird discovered her passion for working with older adults during her time as a student in the Gerontology Department at St. Thomas University. She fell in love with narrative care after interviewing the painter Molly Bobak and writing her life story for a class project.

She had a close relationship with her own grandparents and appreciated any time she could spend speaking with older adults about their lives.

Unfortunately, she says, many people fear the aging process. She hopes society can learn to embrace it instead.

“Aging is a natural process that should be embraced, not something that we need to dread or avoid,” she says. “Companies are always promoting “anti-aging” products. But the narrative must change, and we need to accept that we are all aging, and instead of avoiding it, we need to think of how we can make it better for people — especially for individuals who are living with dementia. There is such a stigma around dementia. People don’t know a lot about it. People are terrified of it, which I understand. Of course, I am not trying to downplay the disease, but I do still believe there is plenty of room for these individuals to enjoy life.”

Hargrove agrees that society needs to learn more about dementia. She is thankful for what she has been able to learn from those living with the disease.

“I consider myself so privileged to work with these individuals and their caregivers and families. They’ve become some of my greatest teachers, and their spirit of camaraderie truly enhances my perspectives on life.”

This story originally appeared in Connections. To read the full issue, please click HERE.

Vanessa Paesani, BEd’10 is Amplifying the Voices of the Countless Inspiring Women in Atlantic Canada

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, July 24, 2018
by Vanessa Paesani, BEd’10

I believe we can change culture by giving people tools to talk about it — to be intentional about what values are being amplified through our words and behaviours.

Culture’s one of those things that’s hard to put your finger on, though people can feel its impacts — at its simplest, it’s how people interact with one another, reflecting the values of that particular group.

One of the most frustrating experiences of my life has been being a woman in the professional world — and hearing other women’s experiences in the working world. Some of it is absolutely shocking.

In reflecting on my core values over the last little while, I realized my deepest core value is justice. When I look back on all of my decisions, I see that they’ve all been filtered through that lens and I’m working to fully embrace it now that I see it. That realization, along with my experience, has led me to creating Amplify East.

The goal of this project is to amplify the voices of the countless inspiring women in Atlantic Canada — to showcase to women and men how many there are and what they’re up to. It’s not a supply problem — it’s a mindset problem. We start to shift our mindsets by first being aware of them — and the values underlying them — and then talking and acting differently.

Amplify’s 2018 goal is to profile 100 women and we’ve featured 30 already — all through a nomination process. 100 women is barely the tip of the iceberg.

We’ll also have a podcast series coming out this year — more details to come!

While being a woman in the professional world has been frustrating, it’s also been the most rewarding experience of my life — to find female role models, peers and mentors to build each other up and make a lot of change together.

My hope is that’s there’s no excuse at any regional conference in 2018 or beyond for not having a diversity of perspectives on a panel (and not just gender diversity). That we move faster towards 50% of elected seats at all level of government being held by women. That we have 50% of board positions being held by women. One project like this isn’t enough to change all of that. But we all have a role to play, and I hope that this project will be one contributing factor in a cultural sea change that really got its legs last year.

To be clear, I have nothing against men. A lot of my mentors and influential role models have been men and I’m incredibly grateful for them. Part of this cultural change has to come from men — from unpacking notions of gender identity, to recognizing privilege, and to dismantling the  ‘old boys club’. I’m not sure how much of that we’ll be able to take on with Amplify. There’s loads of room to affect positive change and part of my hope is that men also engage with this project —
by telling us about the inspiring women they know and sharing their stories with others in their networks.

I don’t quite know how it will all play out, but I’m excited to keep this going.•

Vanessa Paesani, BEd’10, launched the website Amplify East earlier this year. You can read inspiring profiles or nominate a woman today at


This article appeared in the 2018 summer issue of Connections Magazine. To read the full issue, please click HERE.