Archive for AHA!

Arts Health Month – November 2019 Playshops

November Global Arts & Health Month

AHA! has two great November playshops lined up for you on the last weekend of the month:

Friday, Nov. 29, 6-8: Holiday Baking with 4th year StFX students and staff (at least one student is a pastry chef!): $10 at the door – you’ll be taking home your goodies! Please preregister as numbers are limited.


Saturday, Nov 30: Imagine all the Stories! With story facilitator Susan Walsh, Creating stories with people living with dementia can be great fun! Learn how Susan does it…….preregistration not necessary.

Art Care Facilitator at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital – Job Posting

Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) is seeking an artist to facilitate Art Care at St Martha’s Regional Hospital beginning in January 2020 for 12 months. Art Care supports healing for those in hospital through alleviating anxiety and loneliness. This position is a contract position for 20 hour/week, with at least 12 hours spent in direct contact with those staying in hospital. Remaining hours are spent in preparation, reporting and giving presentations.

Major Responsibilities and Commitments:

  • Create and implement Art Care programming, both individual and group, using creativity as a tool to alleviate anxiety and loneliness
  • Liaise with care staff to identify needs of those in hospital
  • Evaluate programming ongoing, report regularly to AHA! and position funders
  • Available 20 hours/week, of which at least 12 must be in daytime hours, Monday-Friday.


  • Trained artist; experience in caregiving will be considered an asset
  • Ability to articulate the health-related benefits of engagement with art
  • Demonstrated oral and written communication skills, demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills
  • Ability to maintain accurate records and reflections of practice and to submit records in a timely manner
  • Understand and respect participant confidentiality
  • Able to work independently and with a team
  • Responsibility and accountability for actions and decisions
  • Criminal Record Check and Child Abuse Registration Check required prior to beginning employment; other requirements, as needed, for all hospital volunteers

Email letter of interest, resume and contact information for two references to: by Friday, November 15, 2019.




Arts Canopy – Branching Out Artist Workshops

Are you an artist interested in facilitating arts based programs for people living with dementia?

You are invited to our free workshop:

  • Tuesday October 15 : 4 8 pm RK MacDonald Nursing Home, Antigonish
  • Saturday October 19: 10am 2pm Museum of Industry, New Glasgow
  • Tuesday October 22: 10am 2pm Inverary Manor Inverness

Space is limited, so preregister to:  Please include your name, workshop location, art form (visual, musical, performing, narritive, etc.) and the reason for your interest in dementia care.

We look forward to meeting you!

The AHA! Arts Canopy Team

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program

Spellbound by Nature Program Facilitator

Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) is hiring!
Spellbound by Nature Program Facilitator

AHA! is seeking an enthusiastic artist who loves the outdoors, to facilitate ½ day nature-based ‘playshops’ with youth. Taking place at various Antigonish outdoor locations, this position will support 12-18 hours weekly during the summer, with the possibility of more hours later in the summer and into the fall. Based on ‘The Lost Words’, AHA! hopes to foster a love of nature through encouraging keen observation and descriptive reflection to ‘conjure’ the natural world.

This position is supported by AHA! in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.


  • Prepare and facilitate about 13-15 ‘playshops’ over the summer of 2019, for youth of all ages and groups of varying sizes
  • Evaluate the playshops, making adjustments as necessary throughout the summer; coordinate evaluations from participants, parents, volunteers, support staff
  • Report regularly to AHA!
  • Coordinate with AHA! a celebration of the artwork created
  • Available Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings throughout the summer, last Tuesday in July and first Tuesday in August. Preparation and evaluation hours will be required and compensated, but can be at applicant’s convenience.
  • Prepare a final report with best practices learned from this pilot project


  • Experience working with groups of children from diverse backgrounds, having unique individual needs
  • Must have Criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Check; documentation required
  • Artist of any genre is preferred for this position
  • Experience in outdoor education, nature knowledge, biomimicry, indigenous knowledge of the land, other related fields, will be considered assets
  • Demonstrated oral and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills
  • Ability to maintain accurate reflections of practice and to submit records in a timely manner
  • Able to work independently and with a team
  • Responsibility and accountability for actions and decisions
  • Access to reliable transportation

Email letter of interest, resume and contact information for one reference to: by noon on Friday, June 28th.




Arts Canopy Branching Out

Arts Canopy Branching Out. A workshop for artists in facilitating arts-based programs for people living with dementia.

Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) invites artists of all expressions to join us in a FREE afternoon workshop exploring how the arts can be transformative in dementia care.

See poster for dates and locations.  Please preregister by June 30 to and include details as listed on the poster.

Download Arts Canopy-BranchingOut

We look forward to meeting you!

The AHA! Arts Canopy Team

Join us for AHA Updates

Join us for an AHA! get together to hear about “Sharing our experience: Arts in Medicine Summer Intensive” and other AHA! updates.

Come and share ideas and enjoy a summer evening.

The Arts House
145 Church Street, Antigonish. Nova Scotia
(Behind Sobey’s and next to Boston Pizza)

June 25, 2019.   7PM


All are welcome.

Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) 2018 Report

Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) 2018 Report
February 27, 2019

Early 2018 marked five years of AHA! bringing arts for health programming to the Antigonish Community. When we began in 2013, we decided to stay informal, to explore the need for such a movement in our community. Now six years later, we know there is a need. Our programs have time and again, shown that engagement in the arts can make us healthier, both individually and as a community. Therefore, in 2018, we decided to become more formal and registered as a not for profit society.

In 2018, we hosted 7 different programs, hiring 20 artists for part time or contractual work, reaching 750-1000 folks across the lifespan. About 25-30 volunteers supported our work. We brought $75,000 in grant funding and donations to the community, most of that going directly to our artists. 

2018 saw us take our programs farther afield, with Musical Pathways in Richmond County, Sherbrooke and Paq’tnkek, and Arts Canopy in care facilities in New Glasgow as well as locally. We embarked on our first collaborative project with a national organization, The Shoe Project, which is also our first project with immigrant women. We shared our Arts Canopy learnings at the Provincial Alzheimer’s Society Conference in October. John and Dorothy began their own publishing endeavour, HARP publishing, creating and publishing ‘The People’s Photo Album’. Janette wrote an article about AHA! for the Muse Magazine, an interprofessional publication of McMaster University. Our research project with St.F.X. in 2017 led to a publication in 2018 in the Canadian Journal of Adult Education.

We continued to offer Art Care at St Martha’s and created a program of local photographers’ work for televisions at the hospital. Musical Pathways, offering music to youth out of school time, showed the immense value of music to learning, especially to social and emotional skill development. During November, Arts Health Month, we offered a series of AHA! workshops to the community.

Thanks to the Federal Government’s New Horizons for Seniors Grant, we were able to continue and expand Arts Canopy, taking it to different venues and trying new art forms: storytelling, movement, dance, improv. Story booklets were created for participants and an improv show celebrated that program. A sound installation is in development, sharing the joy these programs bring to those living with dementia.  We are creating a book for caregivers based on Arts Canopy programs.

Further details of these programs are in the reports of those so effectively created, coordinated and facilitated them. But as you can see, our year was full, rich and rewarding!  Read more in the links to individual program reports:

In celebration of Arts Health Month in November, 2018, AHA! hosted a series of participatory workshops, entitled AHA! Tuesdays.

My heartfelt gratitude to all those who participated in AHA! programs in any way: participants, facilitators, coordinators, volunteers. And a sincere thank you to the AHA! team, who behind the scenes helped with logistics, payroll, grant writing, communications, and the myriad of other ways you supported this vital movement. I am deeply grateful to you all.

Chair, AHA!

Arts Canopy Report

Arts Canopy 2018: March, 2018 – February, 2019

Spring 2018

  1. Story, Movement and Song at Highland Crest Home

Artist facilitator: Olivia Rossong, 10 participants, 1 site staff person and 2 volunteers

  1. Music at Parkland

Artist facilitator: Tom Curry, 11 participants, 1 site staff person

  1. Story writing at RK MacDonald Nursing Home

Artist facilitator: Susan Walsh, 10 participants, I staff person and 2 volunteers

  1. Music at Valley View Villa

Artist facilitator: Heather Leeder, 8 participants, 1 staff and 1 volunteer

Summer 2018

  1. Story writing at RK MacDonald Nursing Home

Artist facilitator: Susan Walsh, 10 participants, I staff person and 1 volunteer

Fall 2018

  1. Story writing at RK MacDonald Nursing Home

Artist facilitator: Susan Walsh, 9 participants, I staff person and 2 volunteers

  1. Story writing at Highland Crest Home

Artist facilitator: Susan Walsh, 14 participants, I staff person and 1 volunteer

  1. Poetry at Parkland

Artist Facilitator: Janette Fecteau, 5 participants, 1 staff person and 2 volunteers

  1. Improv Theatre at RK MacDonald Nursing Home

Artist facilitator: Justin Gregg, 10 participants, 1 staff, 5 volunteers

Winter 2019

  1. Music at Parkland

Artist facilitator: Heather Leeder, 8 participants, 1 staff and 1 volunteer

  1. Music at High Crest – New Glasgow

Artist facilitator: Heather Leeder, 8-10 participants, 1 staff and 1 volunteer

Arts Canopy 2018 offered 11 10-week programs in story, improv, music, poetry and mixed media at 5 different sites in Antigonish and New Glasgow, facilitated by 6 different artists.  Staff at all 4 sites provide support during programming. Volunteer support by both community volunteers and StFX students (including StFX Service Learning students) was present in each program. Student comments on the value of volunteering with Arts Canopy have included: being their favourite day of the week, a great learning experience and influencing their plans for future studies.

The multimedia program at Highland Crest was celebrated with a booklet of the art created during their time together. The story writing program at the RK culminated in a book launch, at which all participants received a copy of the collected stories composed over the course of the programs held there. A copy of the book was donated to the library at the participants’ request. The improv program at the RK finished with a performance where residents, staff, families and community members were invited to participate.

The music program at Valley View Villa was the first Arts Canopy program held outside the Antigonish area. Heather, the music therapist facilitating the program, had facilitated programs at three Antigonish sites previously. The program was well received by residents, staff, and families. Heather is facilitating another New Glasgow program at High Crest this winter.

As a celebration of all programs, AHA! embarked on the creation of a sound installation during late 2018- early 2019. The intent is to capture the joy, the social engagement, the laughter, the stories, the poems and songs of participants during Arts Canopy sessions. Although still in draft form, we are excited to share it with you in the coming months!

In October of 2018, AHA! was invited to share our Arts Canopy program with the Alzheimer’s Society of NS at their annual conference. We were thrilled with the excitement our presentation generated and realized that what we are doing is new and exciting! As a result of this, we are in the process of crafting a book for caregivers that outlines our approach to using the arts in dementia care. This, too, should be available later this spring.

AHA! would like to extend our gratitude to the New Horizons for Seniors Program and the RK Foundation for funding Arts Canopy 2018. Many thanks to all artist facilitators, volunteers and staff supporting this program.

The Shoe Project Antigonish: Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories

The Shoe Project Antigonish
Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories

Press Release      Antigonish—January 16, 2019

Something amazing is afoot in Antigonish! Immigrant women are telling their stories and letting us walk a mile in their shoes. This group of women, led by Anne Simpson and Laura Teasdale, are joining in a movement that is sweeping across Canada, called The Shoe Project. But what is it?

Initiated by novelist Katherine Govier, the Shoe Project began in Toronto as a way to assist immigrant women in telling their stories. It started with Katherine facilitating ten-week writing workshops followed by a drama expert organizing and leading the women in a performance at the Bata Shoe Museum. Since then, immigrant women across Canada – from Vancouver to Halifax – have been involved in Shoe Projects in their communities, with professional writers and drama specialists helping to bring the stories to the stage.

The Shoe Project Antigonish, funded by the Shoe Project and Nova Scotia’s Culture Innovation Fund, marks the first time the project has been offered in a small, rural community, yet immigrant women have inspiring stories to tell here, too. Locally sponsored by Arts Health Antigonish, in partnership with Theatre Antigonish and Antigonish County Adult Learning Association, The Shoe Project Antigonish began with a small group of women who came together for writing workshops with Simpson throughout the fall of 2018 and it will culminate in a performance at the Bauer Theatre on February 8 & 9, 2019.

When asked about the impact of the project, local coordinator and writing facilitator Simpson says, “When I went to see the Shoe Project performance in Fredericton last spring, I watched, entranced, as the women told their stories. I knew it could be done in Antigonish. It has been great: AHA! has been a wonderful sponsor and ACALA has been supportive from the beginning. We also have a theatre that brings really good community projects to the stage—Theatre Antigonish. Most of all, at the heart of this project is a group of women who wanted to explore their own stories. They’ve told me they don’t want it to end.”

It was not easy to find people brave enough to want to write and present their stories in front of an audience, but with much help from Jyotsna Jain at ACALA, a perfect group was formed. Diverse in age, experience, and native land, they were united in their trust of Simpson, a writer herself. Together they explored their voice and style of writing, while having fun and really supporting each other. The resulting stories to be presented on the Theatre Antigonish stage are touching, wise, funny and smart. Their immigration is a central theme, and each chose a pair of shoes as a jumping off point in their writing, but that is where the similarities end. The narratives are as diverse as this group of women.

To highlight the stories of these fascinating women, Laura Teasdale was brought on board as a theatre consultant. She was tasked with putting the stories together in a creative way and coaching the participants in feeling comfortable on stage and allowing their personality to shine through. Thanks to partners at Theatre Antigonish, the show will be a visual feast as well.

Andrea Boyd, Artistic Director for Theatre Antigonish says, “We are so happy to be able to include The Shoe Project in this year’s Theatre Antigonish season. This project is a powerful symbol of what community theatre is all about, and it is also a wonderful chance to celebrate and embrace our rich diversity. When Anne brought this project to our attention, I knew right away that it would be the perfect fit for us. I cannot wait to watch the show and hear all the stories by these amazing women. The show is being presented free of charge, so I hope we have a packed theatre. Come early to get your seat – It will be worth it!”

Teasdale adds, “The women range in age from 25 to 75 and hail from India, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the Netherlands. These eight women have a unique perspective on life in Canada and why they love to call it home.” The participants are Karen Bissonnette, Renée Romero Brown, Willie Duykers, Almudena Garcia-Garcia, Anu Joshi, Jyotsna Jain, Soo Kyeong Lee, and Yen Ngoc Nguyen. And as a special treat, Simpson also engaged dancer and choreographer Liliona Quarmyne, whose dance will be her way of telling her own story of immigration from Ghana.

Yen Ngoc Nguyen, one of the participants, points out, “The project has given me an opportunity to pause, look back and re-think my whole journey to Canada. It serves as a point of reflection, enabling me to appreciate more of my effort, my growth, and my appreciation for the beauty of living in this country. I treasure the time I spent with other immigrants in this project as it has widened my understanding and perspective.”

The Shoe Project Antigonish takes place on Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9 at 7:30 pm at the Bauer Theatre. Admission is free. The line up will begin at 6:30, doors open at 7. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis. For information call (902) 867-3333 or email


AHA! AGM Invitation

Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!)
is delighted to invite you to our first AGM
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 5-6 pm
Rhubarb Patch, RK MacDonald Nursing Home
64 Pleasant Street, Antigonish,
Nova Scotia B2G 1W7
Please join us. All are welcome!
The AHA! Council
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