Acadia celebrates International Women’s Day


International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates women without divisions, while also bringing to attention ongoing injustices. Dating back to a fateful march that took place in 1911 of over 1 million women demanding the right to vote, hold public office, and fight against discrimination in the workplace, IWD now belongs to women and allies everywhere.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Acadia is recognizing inspiring women who have had an important impact on our University and surrounding community.

Dr. Claudine Bonner

Dr. Claudine Bonner

In 2022, Dr. Claudine Bonner became Acadia’s first Vice-Provost of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Dr. Bonner is leading transformational change and brings a wealth of experience teaching and researching gender, equity, and social justice, focusing on African Diaspora migration and identity issues.

“Dr. Bonner has been leading the work in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at this institution for a very long time. At one point in Acadia’s history, she was the only PhD holding female professor of African Descent. Throughout her years at Acadia, she has dedicated her time to creating an Acadia that is more inclusive.

My favourite thing about Dr. Bonner is not only is she not afraid to make noise about the social inequalities that individuals face, but that when she does make noise, she does it with grace, kindness, understanding and from a place where she seeks to continuously educate others on how to practice EDI as a lifestyle. Dr. Bonner is Black Joy and Black Excellence, and we are very lucky to have her with us at Acadia University.” – Janique Ellis, Coordinator, African Descent and Indigenous Student Opportunity and Success

Dr. Leslie Frank

Dr. Lesley Frank

Dr. Lesley Frank, a Tier II Canada Research Chair, is researching the barriers mothers and infants face in terms of food insecurity, and in January was also awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award for exceptional qualities and outstanding service to the province in academics and research.

“Dr. Frank is an excellent example of a woman who exemplifies the attitude and characteristics that we wish to highlight on International Women’s Day. She is a leader in advocating for removing social inequities around poverty, access to food, access to day care, and maternal health.” – Rebecca Casey, Acting Head & Assistant Professor, Sociology

“Dr. Frank constantly advocates and fights for a better world and she encourages and supports us to do the same. She is a role model for all. Her constant support and encouragement are influential in helping us become the best possible researchers, teachers, and advocates.” – Karleigh Huskins, Dr. Frank’s honours student

Nancy Handrigan

Nancy Handrigan

In December, Nancy was appointed Acadia’s Vice-President of Advancement. She plays a key role in leading Acadia’s fundraising and alumni relations efforts. Nancy was instrumental in implementing the launch of Campaign for Acadia, the University’s most successful campaign to date that earned awards both nationally and internationally.

“I am very grateful to have begun my professional career with such an exceptional leader and fundraiser as Nancy; her tremendous commitment to Acadia and her skillful and sincere relationship-building foster an encouraging and inspiring environment for her colleagues and with the Acadia community.” – Amy Robinson, Development Officer

Haley McDonald

Haley McDonald

In October, basketball star Haley McDonald, who is in her final year at Acadia, became the highest-scoring player in the program’s history. Haley also holds the U Sports record for the most points scored by a woman in one game.

“Haley’s impact on female basketball can be measured in so many ways. As a player, her unapologetic passion and dedication to her craft has her in the books as one of the most prolific scorers in University basketball history.

What really separates Haley from others however, is the authenticity, vulnerability and love that she brings to everything she does. Haley is always willing to share her time, experiences and knowledge with young female basketball players and understands the importance of that responsibility. For her teammates, Haley provides a strong source of leadership and security both on and off the court.

A true hometown hero, the packed stands of Acadia home games demonstrates the love and support the community so effusively gives back to her in return. Having done so much already, we know Haley still has an amazingly bright future ahead. Her impact on females through basketball will continue to be felt for many years to come, and we can’t wait to see it.” – Lindsay Harris & Beth Detienne, Assistant Coaches, Acadia Women’s Basketball

Jasmine Parent

Jasmine Parent

Acadia alumna Jasmine Parent is an inspirational entrepreneur and coach, working with people across North America to provide mental health, fitness and nutrition support with self-compassion at the core.

“I have known Jasmine Parent for about ten years, and have watched her grow and blossom into an incredible force. From her work on the basketball court, to her wellness programming through her own entrepreneurial endeavours as well as, as a social worker, she is a consummate professional. Her ability to practice what she preaches, to put in the work, to be reflective in her practice and most importantly, to be open to change, are at the heart of what makes her inspiring.” – Dr. Claudine Bonner, Vice-Provost of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Michelle Wood

Michelle Wood

Last month, Acadia women’s volleyball head coach Michelle Wood was chosen by her peers as the AUS coach of the year, which she also won following the 2017-18 and 2019-20 seasons. In January, Michelle was also awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award for her contributions to athletics in Nova Scotia.

“Through her many coaching accolades and the success of the program in recent years, Michelle’s positive impact on Acadia women’s volleyball and its athletes is easy to see and I have been fortunate to witness many of these successes firsthand. It is not surprising that the words ‘People First’ are written on a note above her desk, and I truly believe that Michelle leads in a way that is centered around that principle.

Moreover, this past season she showed yet again what is possible by succeeding (greatly!) in balancing motherhood and coaching - and she did so with grace and humility, while allowing her athletes and colleagues to witness and experience the challenges and benefits of juggling it all. She is a superhero!

Michelle is a true advocate for women in all areas of sport and she champions our core values of discipline, work ethic, compete, resilience, and passion through respect for others, respect for the game, and most importantly respect for yourself.” – Vanessa Chorkawy, Assistant Coach, Acadia Women’s Volleyball

“I can confidently classify Michelle as one of the best female role models for young women. She embodies admirable qualities of strength, determination, and leadership, while also being personable and empathetic. I am beyond lucky to be surrounded by such an inspiring woman, who challenges me to be the best version of myself everyday.” – Sydney Zakutney, 4th year Outside Hitter, Acadia Women’s Volleyball


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