If you haven’t been to South House (located on Seymour St.) in the past couple of weeks or seen us recently tabling at Dalhousie and the University of King’s College’s society fairs, you may not have had the opportunity to meet our new Outreach and Education Coordinator.
At the end of August our beloved past coordinator, Jude, made their way to Toronto to begin a Masters in Social Work at York University. Though we miss Jude dearly, we are ecstatic to have Rebecca Stuckey at South House as our new Outreach and Education Coordinator.
Stuckey, hailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland, has been involved in anti-oppressive work and learning for years. She’s been at the forefront of the student movement locally and nationally for the better part of five years with the Canadian Federation of Students, in addition to working with a number of grassroots organizations in St. John’s.
Allie (SoHo Board member) sat down with Stuckey to learn more about the issues she’s most passionate about and the work she plans to pursue at South House this year:
So you’re from Newfoundland?
Yeah! I grew up in a really tiny, rural part of Newfoundland, about five hours outside of the city. I moved to St. John’s after graduating high school. I did my undergrad at Memorial, and then I moved to Ottawa for a bit.
What are you up to when you’re not working?
I do roller derby! I’ve been doing it for three years and I love it. For me, like, I’ve always been into sports but roller derby has this unique environment that lets me mold my abilities– like, I love to skate but there are also some super progressive people involved, so there’s that too.
Sorry, did you say ‘aggressive’?
[Laughing] No! Progressive, but there’s aggression as well. I find it’s a really good space to let out stress that we have doing this kind of work.
What had you heard about Halifax (unrelated to South House) prior to moving here that you were excited or nervous about?
Hmm. The main things that I’ve heard about Halifax are related to its political culture— I guess the struggle with the current government. I’m a pretty big political buff and have just gone through a big struggle in Newfoundland… I knew that Halifax wasn’t going to be much better, so I guess I’ve sort of prepared myself for that, in a sense?
But, like, any city you go to– it’s all about finding your space, no matter what good or bad things are happening, you’re always going to find a part of it that you love that can be your space, you know?
Yes, completely. So, more related to South House— what are some projects that have been done in the past or that are on the go that you’re excited about?
I really like the idea of the campaign school that [South House] did for people in politics. That’s something that really interests me and that I’d want to continue, as someone who’s been involved in student politics for a long time.
Also, [having done] a lot of work around Indigenous issues, I don’t see that a whole lot in South House and that’s something that I want to bring, and get Indigenous issues brought forward out of there—also, some disability campaigns; I have a form of arthritis and that’s something that I’ve really been working with through disability issues, for a long time.
What are relationships that you really want to build through South House?
I think [building relationships with] Friendship Centres is a really big goal. Coming from St. John’s, those were the strongest connections we had there. There are so many people doing such diverse work, there’s always going to be someone there that you can collaborate on projects with. There are so many people in those spaces who hold so many different knowledges, which I think is fabulous and it’s definitely something that I really want to bring into South House.
“I have two dogs and I love them, they’re my babies. I have a beagle that’s 12 and a greyhound that’s four. Their names are Duke and Watson—I call them Mr. Duke and Dr. Watson [laughing], I don’t know why but it just became a thing,” says Stuckey.
So you’ll be working with and alongside Dalhousie University. Could you speak to some challenges and opportunities that you think may present themselves, specifically with the new Indigenous Minor and Elders in Residence program in mind?
Working with administration within these institutions is always really difficult. I’ve worked for many years with them in Newfoundland, but the main thing is looking for allies and there are people in offices—like the Elder in Residence program is a really good program that the university is supporting, and finding people there who can really assist you. And like, yeah, the university is doing some good things with that program, but like there are a lot of things that need to change within the institution. Mainly right now, the Sexual Assault and Harassment Phone Line is not being funded, and that’s the huge issue right now. I was talking to the coordinator today and they had to cut her hours.
It astonishes me that after everything that has happened, on this campus alone in the last couple of years, you’d think that this would be such a priority for the administration—
Even for them to look good. I just don’t understand, but at the same time, it’s like of course. I mean, there are always going to be a majority group of old white guys that are just trying to make money from institutions, which are not the reason universities exist! We’re not here to make you money.
In addition to building a relationship/partnership with the Friendship Centre, what are ways that you hope to engage more students and those who are currently engaged?
I think building better connections to the two student unions (Dal and King’s) and really working with them to let students know that we exist and that we’re a resource for students to come to. Like, if any student comes in and they have an idea for a project or campaign, we’ll be there to provide resources to help them do [it]—even as staff people, we are resources for students to use and hopefully make their campuses be what they want them to be.
Since you’ve done a lot of work with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), and also have a graduate degree—with accessibility in mind—how do you think we can make South House more welcoming and inclusive?
That’s actually something I think about all of the time and really care about. The approach I take to work like this is everyone should have the same opportunity to learn. I’ve been privileged and have been able to get a really good education and learn about all of these things and how they affect others. I realize that not everyone has that opportunity, and even in post secondary, there are certain programs that don’t address [social and political issues].
It may be as simple as running a campaign where we provide those basic learning opportunities for students, like different terminology and stuff. I think a lot of people would actually be very interested in that. Yeah, so letting people know that South House is a safe space for them to come and ask those questions and learn—it’s okay if you don’t know everything. Like, as long as you’re willing to learn and grow you are always welcome.
[…] We do use a lot of academic terminology in the way that we speak. If you’re, say, someone in your late 20s and you haven’t had that type of education and just worked straight of school, you may not feel welcome in that space at all. Our spaces should be super welcoming–Those are voices that are super necessary.
You can swing by South House anytime from 10am – 4pm during the week to access sexual health resources, our book and zine library, or just say Hi to Rebecca & Carmella! Keep up with South House on Facebook and Twitter.