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Developing strong leaders and stronger communities

Queen’s OceanPath Fellows work with isolated communities to promote healing.

Queen's OceanPath 2018-19 Fellows
Current Queen's OceanPath Fellows Holly McCann, Harry Critchley, and Kaitlyn Gillelan.

Earlier this year, three Queen’s University graduates were named OceanPath Fellows, receiving $25,000 each in support of their proposed initiatives to promote healing and wellness in isolated communities. Annually, twelve university students graduating from McGill, University of Ottawa, Queen’s or St. Francis Xavier are eligible for these prestigious Coady Institute-facilitated fellowships that provide year-long funding in support of community-focused, experiential learning opportunities designed to foster sustainable and positive social change. 

Kaitlyn Gillelan (ArtSci’18), Holly McCann (ArtSci’18), and Harry Critchley (MA’18), were named OceanPath Fellows in 2018, awards that then saw them partner with organizations in Nunavut and Nova Scotia to start implementing the community initiatives they designed. 

“As part of my initiative, our idea is to use art as a medium of self-expression for young women, as a platform to go through the journey of (re)discovering their own individual voices.  Another aspect of this initiative will also be a cultural revitalization component which will aim to reconnect youth with historical art from within their own community,” says Ms. Gillelan, whose fellowship work is taking place in Pond Inlet, Nunavut. “The OceanPath Fellowship has given me the opportunity to be immersed in community, be in a state of constant learning, become reconnected to my own creative passions, and has inspired me to pursue a career in art therapy.” 

Ms. Gillelan had first connected with the high arctic community of Pond Inlet in 2015, when she volunteered as a peer health educator. "I am so extremely grateful to have been able to return to Pond Inlet, as it is a place I’ve come to hold close to my heart. The most rewarding aspect of my fellowship is being back in a community that has fundamentally shaped me into the person that I am today.” 

In the summer of 2017, Ms. McCann also served in the far north as a summer intern with the Arviat Hamlet Office’s Wellness Department, working to create a workshop series on self-care, coping skills, peer support, and healthy relationship skills to support the small community of 2,600 people on mainland Nunavut. She’s since returned to Arviat to pursue her proposed fellowship work. 

“The main focus of my fellowship work is to foster resilience through mentorship programs that bring community youth and elders together,” says Ms. McCann. “Ultimately, I hope we can work together toward lasting and meaningful change that will nurture and support the mental wellbeing of Arviat’s young people.” 

Mr. Critchley works with a community isolated less by geography, and more often by security walls and social stigma. Over the past five years, he has worked closely with several prisoner advocacy organizations in the Maritimes and co-founded the Burnside Prison Education Program – a registered non-profit that provides literacy tutoring, book clubs, art programs, and employment skills training to incarcerated people at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility.

“The OceanPath Fellowship has afforded me access to a wealth of resources, connections, and funds, which I have been able to leverage to support my partner organization, Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, in securing an additional $65,000 from the provincial government to develop and launch an employment readiness program for formerly incarcerated women,” says Mr. Critchley. “What has been most exciting about the Fellowship overall has been the opportunity to work alongside currently and formerly incarcerated Nova Scotians to develop meaningful bridges of solidarity across communities, institutions, and common struggles."

The next deadline for 2019-20 applications to the OceanPath Fellowship is Nov. 15, 2018. Fellowships are awarded to Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents who are graduating full-time students under 30 years of age, from one of the partner universities. Students interested in applying for the fellowship can contact Queen’s Experiential Learning Projects Coordinator, Katie Fizzell in Queen’s Career Services.