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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!

Multimedia Duets: The World Family Photo Album

“We want to collect photographs of babies and young children from anyone who has a definite link to Antigonish town and county. Our goal is to publish a collection of such photos in a book we are provisionally calling A World Family Photo Album of Multimedia Duets. We are primarily looking for pictures of babies showing a very early “artful” connection with someone else in the picture – this might be singing, cooing, dancing, miming, winking, patting, peekaboo, patty cake, etc, etc…!

Our incentive comes from reading the work of anthropologists, who have shown that we humans are “hard-wired” for art-making from the earliest moments of our lives, and that art is essential for our well-being and the very survival of our human species!  Studies of infant-mother responses across cultures presents such evidence of this biological endowment for art-making in our first interactions, which has been termed  “Multimedia Duets.”

Our primary criteria for selecting the photos for this album are: (1) someone included in the picture has a definite link with our community; (2) the baby is interacting/connecting with someone also in the pic, eg, mother, father, siblings, aunty, grandmom, etc; and (3) the picture evokes an immediate Ahhhhhhhhh response from the viewer!

So please send us your photos to include! You can do this by scanning (if necessary) and emailing as a JPEG, or by allowing us to have a hard copy for us to do the same… We want to stress that we will treasure these brief gifts to you as you clearly do yourselves. A limited text should accompany the photo(s) – Who? When? Where – and any short story you want to add.

One other thing we have quickly come to recognize – going over possible photos may well evoke not only happy moments but also some poignant and even sad ones… So we offer you our deepest thanks and any support you might feel in need of for your very generous participation.

Warm regards and thank you!

Dorothy and John

Dorothy Lander
John Graham-Pole


Arts Canopy Project Update

Arts Canopy

Since October of 2016, Arts Canopy has been providing arts based programming in music, visual arts, dance/movement, and poetry for people with dementia. It addresses the mental wellbeing of this growing population by providing meaningful ways for them to remain active, to retain their dignity, to encourage social engagement, to discover other ways of remembering, along with offering opportunities for creative expression. A team of professional artists and therapeutic artists from the local area facilitate Arts Canopy programming and offer creative spaces to enjoy the moment with others. Programs run once a week for ten weeks.

Arts Canopy is funded through a Positive Aging grant from NS Department of Seniors, the RK Foundation and a private donation. In the fall, another set of programs will begin. Location and registration details will be made available through the website.

Research Assistant – Job Posting

 St FX


AHA! Logo Colour

 Arts Health Antigonish!

Research Assistant

St. Francis Xavier University, in partnership with Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) is seeking a Research Assistant to support a project exploring the relationship between community-based arts and health initiatives and the social determinants of health (SDH). This position is for 35 hours/week for 5 weeks during June through August. Distribution of hours during that time -period is flexible.

Position Summary

The primary responsibilities of the Research Assistant are to:

  • Complete a literature review of research exploring the relationship of community-based arts programming to social determinants of health
  • Liaise with project partners to establish scope of review
  • Compile values mapping data and existing evaluation findings from AHA! to identify the nature of data available to use for mapping
  • Map known outcomes onto the Public Health Agency of Canada Health Equity Tool.
  • Assist project team in identifying research gaps and opportunities
  • Compile summary report


The position requires the following skills and experience:

  • Minimum of an undergraduate degree
  • Research experience related to evaluation of community health initiatives
  • Understanding of the value of arts to health and well-being
  • Familiarity with the social determinants of health
  • Experience completing literature reviews
  • Ability to work independently and be accountable for project tasks and meeting deadlines
  • Strong organization and oral and written communication skills
  • Creative and innovative thinker

Applicants should include a letter of interest, curriculum vitae and the names and contact information of three references to:

Ann Fox, ( Department of Human Nutrition St. Francis Xavier University

Review of applications will begin on June 12 and will continue until the position is filled.

Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.  All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.  StFX respects diversity and welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities and members of a sexual minority group.

Nova Scotia Centre on Aging – Creative Aging

Nova Scotia Centre on Aging – Creative Aging

25th Anniversary
Our Future is Aging: Community Outreach Series

Creative Aging

Speakers: AHA! Artists

Discussion about the various ways the arts can support positive aging

Thursday, May 25.  7 – 8:30PM
Antigonish Town and County Library, The People’s Place

All welcome. Free. Light refreshments provided.

NS Centre on Aging

AHA! Celebrates 2016!


Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) enjoyed another remarkable year of exploring the arts-health relationship through projects, workshops, guest speakers and performances. In 2016, we employed 12 artists in part time work and for the third year in a row, brought close to $100,000 in funding to the local arts community.

See the full report at

Project Sandbox December Podcast

“Hello Hello! We return to outer-space for this 8th and final episode of Project Sandbox. Within the Galaxy there are billions of stars, and living on each and every one of those stars are Beings which exist only to gather information from across the universe and share it with other interstellar beings like them and also planetary life. Information is good for its own sake (it literally nourishes these Star Beings), but it can also re-direct a civilization’s trajectory in moments of crisis, so long as there are individuals who are tuned into the Star-Being’s frequency. Check this out!”

Project Sandbox was a youth podcast series from June – December 2016. Two monthly recording sessions were conducted with youth participants usually between the ages of 13 and 14 at the People’s Place Public Library in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  Brendan Ahearn conducted the sessions of Project Sandbox.

Click here to see more about Project Sandbox

NS Flag CCH LogoArts Health Antigonish (AHA!) recognizes the support of the Province of Nova Scotia.We are pleased to work in partnership with the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage to develop and promote our cultural resources for all Nova Scotians.

Jill Sonke Arts and Health and Dance for Life

St. Francis Xavier University and Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) are pleased to host guest lecturer Jill Sonke, Director of the Center for Arts in Medicine, University of Florida, on November 17 and 18, for a series of presentations and dialogue on campus and in the community.  Jill is an internationally recognized scholar and dynamic presenter, as well as a professional dancer. We would like to welcome the Antigonish community to two art-filled events.

Jill Sonke

Jill Sonke

The Arts and Health

Jill Sonke, Public  lecture

Thursday, Nov. 17, 7:00 p.m.
Schwartz Auditorium, StFX.

Jill Sonke’s talk will recount stories of the pioneering program at University of Florida. Now 20 years old, the Center for Arts in Medicine boasts a staff of 19 professional Artists-in-Residence, 3 arts therapists, along with 120 volunteer artists, who respond to clinical referrals and run daily programs in the visual, literary, and performance arts for patients, visitors, and caregivers at two hospitals, numerous clinics, and in community settings.

Dance for Life

Dance for Life

 Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, 7:00 p.m.

 Immaculata Auditorium, StFX

Dance for Life will showcase the multi-cultural Antigonish Dance Community and will unfold as a dialogue on the healing power of dance. Performers will include First Nations, Antigonish Creative Dance Association, Maureen Fraser Dance Studio, L’Arche, Ecstatic Dance Community, Scotia Highland Dancers, and  StFX/Coady students and community participants representing  Ukraine, India, Pakistan, and Egypt as well as Celtic, American and Acadian cultures. After each brief dance number, the performers will speak to how dance contributes to health and well-being. Jill herself will demonstrate a dance class for people living with Parkinson’s. The evening will culminate with a One World Dance, led by Sally Clark when we will invite the audience to partner with our featured dancers.

Arts Canopy Project

Living with dementia? You’re invited to join us in Arts Canopy!

Arts Canopy will offer creative spaces to enjoy the moment and socialize with others. No arts, music or writing experience necessary! Small groups will gather with trained arts facilitators to explore music, poetry or visual arts. Caregivers are welcome to join in the fun!

Programs are beginning the week of
October 3, 2016
Registration is ongoing.
For more information on Arts Canopy and to register,

Mary Partridge, Arts Canopy
(902) 863-2578 (ext 266)

Arts Canopy Project

Arts Canopy Project

Arts Canopy Project

Arts Canopy Project

Arts Canopy Project - Brochure inside

Arts Canopy Project – Brochure inside

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