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Nova Scotia university apologizes for Mulroney plaque encouraging people to get an education

The plaque was installed at the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and quoted the former prime minister’s father saying: “The only way out of a paper mill town is through a university door.”

St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) has apologized to one former student who got offended over a quote from Brian Mulroney’s father encouraging people to attend university. 

The plaque was installed at the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and quoted the former prime minister’s father saying: “The only way out of a paper mill town is through a university door.” 

The quote was referenced by Mulroney, who is a former graduate of St. Francis Xavier, in several speeches. According to Mulroney, his father said those words to him as a response to him indicating he wanted to get an apprenticeship at a mill in Quebec. 

The university released an apology regarding the quote after former university student Meaghan Marie Landry expressed outrage over the plaque on social media. 

“I’m sure you are aware that a ton of your students hail from paper mill families, and I bet you the majority of them feel 100% no shame in that … Instead of encouraging people to leave their hometowns, why don’t you teach them valuable tools that make them want to stay?” wrote Landry. 

StFX president, Kevin Wamsley, posted a public apology claiming that the words were not meant to deride tradespeople. 

“To those of you that we have offended, please accept my sincere apology on behalf of St. Francis Xavier University. In no way did we intend to degrade the reputation of those or any industries or occupations that have played a foundational role in building those communities of which we are so proud,” said Wamsley. 

Others on social supported Landry, claiming that the university’s choice to display the plaque was shameful and “demeaning.”

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