Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX celebrates 240 graduates, honours Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie during Fall Convocation 2020

December 5th, 2020
Tiffany Gould '20 addressed convocation on behalf of the graduates

StFX celebrated achievement on Dec. 5, 2020 as the university graduated 240 students—conferring undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas, and certificates from across StFX’s four faculties—and honoured renowned judge, lawyer, volunteer and social activist Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie with the degree Doctor of Laws honoris causa

It was a day of double celebration as StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin was formally installed as StFX’s 19th President and Vice-Chancellor in a ceremony immediately preceding Convocation. Both ceremonies were celebrated virtually with a small, in-person stage party present in the MacKay Room, Bloomfield Centre. 

“I’m grateful to you, our graduates, and your families, for your patience,” Dr. Hakin said as he offered sincere congratulations, “and to our staff who worked so hard (on the virtual ceremony) for what is a very special occasion.

“I wish you the best in all you choose to do. We are here for you,” he said. 

While this year is not the way anyone envisioned it, Dr. Hakin said while we cannot control the world, we can work to change it and StFX graduates are well equipped to make their mark on the world. 

“It’s truly an honour to receive an honorary degree from this university, which I cherish,” said Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie, who has made significant contributions to the legal and Indigenous communities, and has been an active social advocate, in Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, and beyond. 

Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie (centre) pictured with StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin (left) and Academic Vice-President & Provost Dr. Kevin Wamsley

At StFX, she says, “you gain much more than an education. You gain the value of the human spirit.”

Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie urged graduates to remember to take time for themselves in a busy world, to make sure their own self needs are met, and to be cognizant and remember that everyone has story, and we may only be privy to one small part of that story. 

During the ceremony, several significant university awards were presented. 

Education faculty Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden receives the university Outreach Award

StFX education professor Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden was honoured with the university’s Outreach Award. Adam Baden-Clay, manager-youth programs at the Coady Institute, received the Outstanding Staff Teaching Award.

As well, Venceremos Development Consult, which has worked with StFX Service Learning since 2015 providing learning experiences in Ghana, was presented with the Community Partner Recognition Award.

StFX Chancellor John Peacock virtually opened convocation, and officially admitted graduates to the degrees and diplomas to which they have qualified. 

Tiffany Gould addressed convocation on behalf of the graduates, offering her address in both Mi’kmaw and English. 

Jared Bowles ’07 brought greetings on behalf of the StFX Alumni Association, encouraging graduates to seek out their local alumni chapter and connect with them. “We’ll be there.” 

The Vicar of the Founder, Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick, offered both words of support and the closing benediction.

Anyone wishing to extend well-wishes to the graduating class, is encouraged to post a message on their virtual convocation “wall” at

Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie 

Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie has made significant contributions to the justice system and to communities and has been a tireless advocate for social justice in Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, and beyond. She is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University – with a BA (1984) in political science, and a BEd (1985) – and of the University of New Brunswick (LLB, 1989). She was called to the bar in 1990 and, after serving several years as a crown attorney, was appointed to the bench in 2003. Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie has been instrumental in setting up the Wellness Court in Port Hawkesbury, NS, and the Aboriginal Wellness and Gladue Court in Wagmatcook First Nation, and she currently presides over the courts in both locations. Wellness Courts seek to identify and address the root causes of the behaviour of offenders, and use a team approach to develop a recovery support plan. Gladue courts emerged in the aftermath of the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision that highlighted concerns about the discrimination against, and over-representation of, Indigenous people in the justice system. Gladue courts take into account broader issues facing Indigenous peoples, such as the intergenerational trauma of residential schools and colonialism. Through the work of many members of the local communities, in which Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie had a central role, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to open a superior court on a reserve that incorporates Indigenous restorative justice traditions and customs. Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie has also made important contributions to educating others on restorative justice and law, locally and nationally. She has presented talks to the National Judicial Institute, the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges, Schulich School of Law, Nova Scotia Correctional Services, and the Nova Scotia Provincial Court Judges Association. She has also served as an Executive Board Member, Aboriginal Justice Chair, and President of the Nova Scotia Provincial Judges' Association and as a Member and a Director of the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges. In addition to her contributions to the legal and Indigenous communities, she has been an active volunteer in her home community of Port Hawkesbury, serving as a board member and chair of Leeside Transition House, as a member of the School Advisory Committee for the Port Hawkesbury Family of Schools, as president of Canadian Parents for French (Port Hawkesbury Chapter), as a board member and president of the Port Hawkesbury Highland Dance Association, as a National Championship Organizing Committee Member for ScotDance Canada, and as a board member, coach/manager, vice-president, and president for the Strait Area Soccer Club. Judge Halfpenny MacQuarrie is a prominent professional in the community and has contributed moral and just action for the betterment of society.

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