Our History

“If we are wise, we will help the people everywhere to get the good and abundant life… to become masters of their own destiny.” – Moses M. Coady

The Antigonish Movement

St. Francis Xavier University has long recognized that its knowledge and resources must be made available to the community at large and, in particular, those dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged people.

The Antigonish Movement evolved from the pioneering work of Rev. Dr. Moses Coady and Rev. Jimmy Tompkins in the 1920s. The local community development movement originated as a response to the poverty afflicting farmers, fishers, miners and other disadvantaged groups in Eastern Canada. Dr. Coady and his associates used a practical and successful strategy of adult education and group action that began with the immediate economic needs of the local people. In 1928, the StFX board of governors asked Dr. Coady to establish the university’s Extension Department and appointed him its first director. Over the next two decades, the unique and successful extension work of StFX became known worldwide as the Antigonish Movement.

The philosophic principles of the Antigonish Movement were well established as guidelines for the work of the Movement beginning in the 1930s. However, it was a decade later that they were articulated. In 1944, in a lecture to students at Acadia University, Professor Harry Johnson defined six principles that, on reflection, he claimed had been the defining, critical principles of the original Antigonish Movement.

The Creation of the Coady International Institute

Following World War II, global attention began to focus on the plight of newly emerging nations. Men and women from these countries came to StFX University to study and examine the approach and methods that had been so successful in the region. In 1959, the University established the Coady International Institute, named after Rev. Dr. Moses Coady, and gave it the mandate to train leaders from around the world in the principles and practice of this people-based approach to development.

Building on the experience of the Antigonish Movement and on contemporary development practice, the Institute continues to provide programs that promote education, innovation, group action and sustainable economic activities for disadvantaged groups. Through the work of the Coady Institute, the impact of the Antigonish Movement continues to increase with the cooperation and networking of community-based organizations and educational institutions around the world.

Explore Dr. Rev.  Moses Coady’s seminal work, Masters Of Their Own Destiny, and the Coady Story in Canada and around the world, in digital form through our digital archives. These digital archives contain images, audio, and video of the people who helped to spread the message of the Antigonish Movement around the globe.