Sansom Marchand

Communications Advisor

Bachelor of Arts (Hons), 2015

I got a scholarship to Dal so that was that. But I made a lot of friends at King’s and I really liked the look of the King's experience ... People seemed to really like each other, and the Quad was full of people reading and talking.

You could say that Sansom Marchand, BA(Hons)’15, kind of got it backwards. Rather than the customary draw of the Foundation Year Program, it was during their freshman year at Dalhousie that King’s came into focus. “I got a scholarship to Dal so that was that,” they explain. “But I made a lot of friends at King’s that year and I really liked the look of the King’s experience and everyone’s personal connection to the school. People seemed to really like each other, and the Quad was full of people reading and talking.” Marchand transferred to King’s for their second year. Now, nine years post-King’s, they have covered considerable ground in pursuit of professional passions and a solid career footing. Sansom’s is a story of a life built on both clear intentions and pragmatic adaptation to circumstances.

If you were at King’s with Sansom, you’d remember them from their dynamic work with the King’s Theatrical Society. A Dal theatre major with a focus on performance, they took full advantage of the fertile ground King’s has always offered where theatre is concerned. They performed with King’s Footlights, a comedy troupe, and performed in and directed a handful of productions as well. After graduating, they made some inroads in the city’s theatre scene, acting in fringe productions and directing, including a production of Neil Labute’s Reasons to be Pretty at The Living Room Theatre.

Halifax began to feel a bit small, so Sansom decided to give Toronto a shot. Witnessing fellow young actors from Halifax struggle in the highly competitive Toronto market, they decided to go back to school, enrolling in George Brown College’s esteemed conservatory acting program. “I wanted to get better,” they say, matter-of-factly. After three years in the program, and with summers spent gaining experience behind the scenes, they were auditioning widely. “I loved it, I loved everything about it. I wanted to be a theatre artist in any way I could.”

While living in Toronto, Sansom came out as nonbinary. “I had known [this] about myself for a long time but I didn’t have the language for it,” they explain. With their characteristic desire to make a difference, Sansom soon stepped into the issues nonbinary people face every day. “I had conversations at school where they were like, ‘if we misgender you it’s not our fault.’ There were a lot of preemptive assumptions. It felt like the work was being put into making sure people weren’t going to be upset rather than doing the work to properly gender or not misgender people.” From that came a side-gig as a Trans Inclusivity Mentor, which Sansom continues to do. “I did workshops at George Brown, Young People’s Theatre and a few other places teaching people how to become more inclusive, how to welcome people and not make them feel alienated.”

Then, as Sansom puts it, “A little thing called Covid happened. I had just landed an agent, school was almost finished and I was auditioning for theatres across the country. Covid hit in March and I lost a year and a half’s work in two days.”

Against this bleak backdrop, Instagram photos of friends in Halifax—hugging and happy—influenced them to move back. “I wanted to live in safety,” they said. A job offer and an apartment quickly fell into place as did, it seems, the realities of supporting themself as an actor in Halifax. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to live the quality of life I wanted supporting myself in the theatre here, so… back to school.” They did the Public Relations program at Nova Scotia Community College and now, two years later, they’re a Communications Advisor with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“I love the work,” Sansom says. Among their responsibilities, they do public communications.

“For a lot of people, climate change is frightening and, working in adaptation, I get to help people figure out how to prepare themselves. How do we set ourselves up for success? How do we work for a more resilient future? Do we build more dikes, more sustainable infrastructure…what are the ways we can help each other?”

And then, of course, there’s the theatre, which Sansom will likely never leave. “I perform with a Halifax burlesque troupe known as Atlantic Boylesque. It’s a great way to express myself artistically.”