Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Make a difference in society -- StFX graduates encouraged to share their talents; StFX bestows honorary degree on alumnus Faisal Joseph

December 4th, 2022
L-r, honorary degree recipient Dr. Faisal Joseph and StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin

Celebration, achievement, and a bit of magic and promise for the future could be felt throughout the Keating Centre at St. Francis Xavier University on Dec. 4, 2022 as StFX graduated over 350 students, and bestowed an honorary degree upon one of its own, Faisal Joseph, an alumnus from the Class of 1982, a lawyer and an advocate for the Islamic community in Canada, during Fall Convocation.

StFX also bestowed two major honours during the ceremony. Yogesh Ghore, a senior program teaching staff member at Coady Institute, was honoured with the Outstanding Staff Teaching Award, and the StFX Outreach Award was presented to Dr. Maureen Coady ’76, a faculty member in StFX’s Department of Adult Education. 

Yogesh Ghore

Dr. Maureen Coady

As graduating students were congratulated for their achievements, they were also challenged to go out and make a difference, to help change society for better, to be the best they can be. 


In an inspiring address, Dr. Joseph, who received a standing ovation for his remarks, told graduates there are several themes he’d like them to take from today. The first is perseverance and overcoming obstacles in your life. “It’s important to keep swinging, no matter how difficult…Just keep swinging,” he said, noting that eventually you will hit your goal. 

Another is friendship. “I want you to take those friendships you made at StFX…and I want you to nurture them for the rest of your life. 

“I want you to think about making a difference. Because making a difference is what you should aspire to do.” Mr. Joseph said he doesn’t care about how big or small a difference, but that you contribute to improving the human condition.  

Dr. Joseph also left graduates with several tips. Respect people with less power than you, he said, and act accordingly with kindness. Don’t seek happiness, but try to make happiness for other people, he encouraged. “I promise happiness will find you.”

Be intellectually rigorous and honest. Identity your own biases and prejudices, be openminded, and don’t be judgemental. No matter your occupation, be a teacher. Share your ideas. 

“And finally, don’t rush, you don’t need to know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life today.”

Mr. Joseph also spoke about his student days at StFX, thanking the university for all it has given him. He told those gathered how impactful the experience, both good and bad, was to him. It was the foundation that he built his future. 

“None of this would have been possible without each and every experience that I had a StFX,” he said. 

He also told graduates how their X-Ring symbolizes so many different things, noting there is no place on earth he can go without something extraordinary happening. This included a three-day forum on issues of peace, security, and social justice in Vatican City, where he was received by Pope Benedict XVI. Conversation turned to Pope Benedict’s storied, famed ring. “You have a very attractive ring as well,” came the reply. When Mr. Joseph started to explain his X-Ring, he heard, “I know the ring.” 

“He knew the ring!” 


StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin encouraged the Class of 2022 to make a difference in the world, 

“Never stop asking questions and continue to make a difference to all of those around you. We place great faith in your ability to change society for the better,” he said in remarks that congratulated the students on their achievement and encouraged them to strive to make positive change in society.  

“What a special day this is, it’s a special day for everyone,” he said as he noted that for our graduates, it really is a point to celebrate achievement, as it is for all those who supported them on their journey.

“Education changes lives,” Dr. Hakin said.  

“Each person’s path is unique. But our hope is your experiences at this very special university has provided you with the knowledge, skills, and tools to fully engage with life and to make a difference.”

Your voices can, and will, bring the changes we desire. It will take courage, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence, he said. 

“You will have opportunity to change many lives. Be the best you can be. 

“Do not be a passenger. Sit in the driver seat. Look to make positive change to all around you,” Dr. Hakin said.  

This is a special day for all receiving your degrees or diplomas and being recognized today. It is also a special day for all who have supported you, University Chancellor John Peacock ’63 said as he opened Convocation.

The world is a rather messy place at the moment, and he encouraged graduates to use their skills and unbiased critical thinking to confront these problems. 

“Continue to work and to seek out ways you can improve your lives, your communities, and the world,” he advised.


“Every single one of us had to overcome challenges to get to where we are today. Close your eyes for a minute. Think about all of the people you met on this educational journey,” graduating class speaker MaryAnne MacKeigan ’99 ’22 of Whycocomagh, NS, told classmates. 

She encouraged fellow graduates to think about all those who came together to get them where they are today. 

“Open your eyes. Have a look around. This is your team. You are a part of their team,” she said. “This sense of community does not end with diplomas and degrees today. I challenge you: wherever you live become part of that community. Show up. Get involved.” 

Kathleen Sheridan ’15, president of the StFX Alumni Association, encouraged graduates to pause and reflect on this important milestone. She also welcomed them into the alumni community. “I have no doubt you will continue to do amazing things as you strive to be thoughtful citizens of the world.”

During the ceremony, Keigan Sack performed the Mi’kmaw Honour Song. Bishop Wayne Joseph Kirkpatrick, Vicar of the Founder of StFX, gave the benediction, University Chaplain Fr. Donald MacGillivray ’79 gave the invocation, and master of ceremonies was Rankin School of Nursing professor Dr. Britney Benoit ’10.


Honorary Degree recipient

Faisal Joseph 

Faisal Joseph was born in Truro, NS, and graduated from StFX in 1982. After earning his law degree from the University of New Brunswick in 1985, he began his legal career with Burchell, MacDougall and Gruchy, where he was promoted to partner in 1990. In 1994, he relocated to London, ON, where he joined Lerners Law Firm. Mr. Joseph has enjoyed a successful career in his adopted province, having been recognized by the Premier of Ontario in 2011 for his expertise in drafting hate-crime legislation, as well as for his views on security and international justice. In 2015, he was awarded the Law Society Medal, the highest honour bestowed by the Law Society of Ontario. In the aftermath of the events of September 2001, which precipitated a low point in relations between Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians, Mr. Joseph became a de facto spokesperson of the Islamic community in Canada. More than 20 years later, he is still a familiar and respected presence in the national media. Mr. Joseph’s expertise is also acknowledged internationally. In 2009, he participated in a three-day forum on issues of peace, security, and social justice in Vatican City, where he was received by Pope Benedict XVI. He continues to call for greater interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians, who together comprise half of the world’s population. Mr. Joseph is a particular hero of the Islamic community in his adopted city of London, ON (which boasts the highest per capita Muslim population in Canada), but he is also an inspiration to all Canadians as a respected champion of inclusion, dialogue and understanding.

Outstanding Staff Teaching Award

Yogesh Kumar Ghore

Yogesh Ghore started his teaching career at StFX’s Coady Institute in 2009. Mr. Ghore himself is a former Coady student who so impressed the Institute that he was offered a permanent teaching position at the Coady where he is a senior program teaching staff member and is the strategic partnership advisor. Mr. Ghore brought with him experience in the NGO sector in India, working in some of the most remote and marginalised rural communities on poverty reduction, enterprise development and market inclusion. He completed a master’s degree at Columbia University in New York through the highly competitive Ford Foundation Fellowship Program. Mr. Ghore is committed to ensuring his teaching is meaningful and impactful to students tackling some of the world’s most complicated problems, from some of the most vulnerable positions. Many have gone on to create vibrant social enterprises. Former students recognize the personal connections he makes. As one said, “You never end your class with Yogesh, you just start another chapter.” He has also leveraged his network of partnerships to benefit StFX students too, primarily in the Gerald Schwartz School of Business, enabling unique and impactful learning. Colleagues attest that courses Mr. Ghore has taught have consistently been among the highest rated each year. 

StFX Outreach Award

Dr. Maureen Coady

Dr. Maureen Coady has been a faculty member in StFX’s Department of Adult Education since 2007, where she has consistently brought her community-based experience to bear on the research and teaching of graduate students in this professional development program. Dr. Coady, the grandniece of Antigonish Movement pioneer Rt. Rev. Moses Coady, learned early that active involvement in the community is essential for long-term social, cultural, and economic development. The breadth, length, and duration of her community engagement spans decades. She has supported the Coady Institute and Extension and their ideals her entire life, from joining her family as a child in hosting Coady participants at the ancestral home of Moses Coady, to helping lead Extension conferences and the People’s School, and serving as an advisor to Coady students on independent projects. As a StFX student, she served as VP of the Students’ Union, and as a community person, Dr. Coady has filled multiple roles—as a participant, facilitator, director, chair, and advisor—and in many sectors, including community, youth, recreation, health, and development. With the Nova Scotia Volunteer Community Advisory Council, she supported advancing the cause of volunteerism. As a member of the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority Board of Directors, she promoted community engagement on health, including the development of Community Hearts in Motion. For many years, she has been vice chair of the Rural Communities Foundation, which last year provided more than a million dollars for innovative initiatives to strengthen rural communities’ capacity to thrive across Nova Scotia. Among many involvements, she has been a participant in the People Assessing Their Health (PATH) initiative; a director with the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre; advocated for a skateboard park for youth; and is a long-time volunteer at The Keppoch. Dr. Coady has been steadfast in acting on her belief in being present, being active, and being engaged.

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