Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Helping others: StFX students send school supplies to Nunavut

May 19th, 2021

After seeing a viral social media tweet from a mother in Iqaluit, Nunavut, exposing the high prices of school supplies, two StFX students decided to see if they could do something about it. 

Brennah Agnew and Emily Matthews, who both graduated in May (Ms. Agnew with a BA in aquatic resources, public policy and social research and Ms. Matthews with an honours BA in philosophy) collected over $800 worth of school supplies they shipped to Iqaluit. 

“This tweet caused us to reflect on the differences of our upbringing,” say the two. 

Ms. Agnew grew up in Ottawa, ON, and Ms. Matthews, who now lives in Whitehorse, grew up in Iqaluit and saw and struggled firsthand with the high prices of school supplies. 

Emily Matthews (top photo) and Brennah Agnew collecting school supplies

“We spoke a lot about the inequalities and the major differences of the prices and inaccessibility of basic necessities like school supplies. Having prices that high meant Emily could not always have the things she wanted or needed growing up. We both decided we needed to take action,” Ms. Agnew says. 

“As students in Nova Scotia, we knew how easy it was to access school supplies here, so we wanted to share the wealth.”

She says since they were already sending a box of school supplies to Iqaluit, they decided to reach out to family and friends within the community to see if anyone would like to extend their support or donate supplies as well.   

The supplies were divided into three boxes. They sent one box to Nakasuk Elementary School, one to Aqsarniit Middle School and the last to Inuksuk High School as Ms. Matthews had attended all three of these schools during her time in Nunavut and they wanted to give back to those schools.  

Both StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership and the Students’ Union helped with shipping costs. 

“After we fundraised for the school supplies, we calculated shipping costs and they were extremely high. We reached out to the Students’ Union and applied for the Council Initiative Fund. We then got the opportunity to present our proposal to Student Council, where we received positive feedback and we were granted the amount we had requested,” Ms. Agnew and Ms. Matthews say.  

The Students’ Union also generously donated boxes of tampons that the two placed in the packages to the middle school and high school.  

The two students then reached out to McKenna Centre Director Dr. Mathias Nilges and presented him with their proposal. “Since over half of the funding was already covered through the Students’ Union grant, the McKenna Centre offered to cover the remaining shipping costs.”

Both Ms. Agnew and Ms. Matthews say they learned a lot from the experience. 

“We learned the importance of community as this project would not have been successful without the many people who got involved, including the support from the StFX community. We learned organizational skills, presentation skills, and how to write a proposal. We learned about the power of social media; first by highlighting the high northern costs and second, by allowing us to reach out into our networks of friends, families and peers during a pandemic to make this happen. We developed a strong appreciation for being able to access basic necessities at reasonable costs in Nova Scotia.” 

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