KENTVILLE, NS - It’s not always easy making ends meet as a post-secondary student but the newly relaunched Kingstec Free Market aims to relieve some of the struggle.
A celebration was held at the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus in Kentville on April 4 for the relaunching of the market, which combines the campus food bank and the Students in Style space.
As part of the celebration, former student Ashley Anderson was presented with an award. Anderson first established Students in Style at Kingstec in 2006 when she was a Business Administration – Financial Services student. The student association inherited the initiative, which has grown and evolved over the years.
Anderson, who now resides in Herring Cove and works in Toronto, said she wanted to do a project around a need - something that would benefit Kingstec students. She thought along the lines of Dress for Success but wanted to help both men and women. This was the genesis of Students in Style, which provided free, dry-cleaned business attire to students in need.
Anderson said she was very proud to be there for the relaunch and is very proud of all the work the students who came after her have done to make the initiative a success, including current second-year Business Administration student Lesley McGill.
“The work is amazing and it’s so much in the right direction,” Anderson said.
She said the initiative has gone beyond supplying business clothes to students in need for a job interview. It’s about community and supporting students to be successful, whether that’s making sure they don’t go hungry or making sure that they have what they need for toiletry items.
“It really is a holistic, all-inclusive picture and it’s phenomenal to be a part of it, to see it 12 years later,” Anderson said.
She said the impact of an initiative such as this is huge. At the beginning of each school year, students have recognized it as a way they could help and as something they could be a part of.
“I think it’s an idea that should and likely will carry forward at other schools as well,” Anderson said.
Evolution of the idea
McGill, a Students Nova Scotia representative and Kingstec Student Association member, said they found through talking to students that the need went well beyond business attire. For example, for trades students, business attire is blue jeans and steel toed boots.
The Inglisville resident said every student who has been involved has added, changed, modified or helped grow the space. This has been in an effort to make the space more inclusive and reflective of the entire student body.
“Through that, we realized that some of the fellows on campus weren’t accessing because they saw ‘style’ and didn’t associate themselves and didn’t see themselves in that picture,” Anderson said.
She said they held a contest and decided through popular vote to re-christen the space the Kingstec Free Market.
McGill said it felt “incredible” to see the relaunch of the free market. She said she was going to go home that afternoon and “cry for sheer joy.” As people get ready to graduate, she hopes they will be the change makers for our communities, something she said is vital.
Where Anderson’s independent study project in 2006 was Students in Style, McGill’s was partnering with a woman who along with a group of volunteers provides soup made from unwanted produce to people in need through the Canadian Mental Health Association. McGill wanted to bring the initiative to Kingstec. She said a competition was held with Culinary Arts students who made soups to stock the free market freezer.
Celebrating the relaunch
Kingstec Student Association VP Services Penney Brown said she has listened to students about the struggles they face and what they need on campus. The relaunched free market will be all-inclusive in terms of serving the entire student body. She hopes students facing hardship will alleviate some struggles by visiting the space and taking what they need – for free.
“By doing so, let’s help Kingstec campus remove the stigma around food bank usage and any anxiety or fears when entering the space, all items in this room are free,” Brown said.
Student association advisor Stephen Brown said their hope is that making the food bank and Students in Style more accessible will also help students in need become aware of other supports available to them.
Kingstec Principal Jason Clark said the relaunched free market is a “fantastic initiative”, one of many by the student association this year.
“We always say NSCC is a community of learners supporting a community of learners and it makes me so proud that our student association has done so much this year to support other students,” Clark said.
NSCC President Don Bureaux, former Kingstec principal, said these kinds of legacy initiatives help put the “community” in Nova Scotia Community College.
“They build a sense of community that help people overcome barriers so they can be successful in pursuing their dreams and their wishes and their hopes in this province,” Bureaux said. “I just can’t think of a more important piece of work than the removal of barriers to help people succeed.”
The relaunch celebration featured an opportunity to have free head shot photos taken. There were seamstress services, shoe shining, makeovers, a performance by the Kingstec Indigenization Alliance and more.