1. Report: Nova Scotia failing to meet its commitment to de-institutionalize people with disabilities

The Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Lower Sackville. Photo:

Jennifer Henderson looks at a report issued yesterday by the Disability Rights Coalition that says the pace of change for people with disabilities in institutions is “glacial.”

As Henderson writes:

Back in 2013, in response to Canada’s ratification of the United Nations Convention respecting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a government-community task force produced a report known as the Roadmap to bring Nova Scotia into compliance with the UN Convention. The McNeil government accepted recommendations to end the warehousing of disabled people in large institutions and commit to developing small options homes for four to six people in their home communities. 

But since then, not a single institution has closed and the “progress report” from the Disability Rights Coalition describes the pace of change as “glacial.”

“Contrary to its commitment to the Roadmap in October of 2013the Nova Scotia government through its Disability Supports Program, is assisting fewer people with disabilities in 2021 than in 2013/14 when it committed to the Roadmap, dropping from 5,184 to 5,033 people,” says the report.

At the same time, says the report, more people with disabilities face longer delays in accessing supports and services for Disability Supports Programs. 

Click here to read Henderson’s complete report.

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2. COVID update: zero new cases and a hiatus for the briefings

Photo: CDC/Unsplash

We started the week with no new cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are just seven active known cases of the virus. Tim Bousquet has the complete update here.  You can jump to sections, including  vaccination, demographics
testing and potential exposure advisories.

As Bousquet notes in his update, there won’t be any COVID briefings this week and no new numbers today because of a scheduled update to the province’s database.  

Here are the drop-in vaccination clinics open this week. You don’t need an appointment, but you do need a health card and ID. The vaccine is Moderna, so only those 18 and older can get a shot here. 

  • Rath Eastlink Community Centre (Drive-thru)
    East side parking lot
    625 Abenaki Rd., Truro
    Weekdays from 9am to 3:30pm 
  • Bayers Lake Community Vaccine Clinic
    41Washmill Lake Rd., Halifax
    (Located in the former Brick building next to Old Navy)
    Daily from 9am to 6pm until Tuesday, July 20 
  • Dartmouth General Drive-Thru Community Vaccine Clinic
    7 Mount Hope Avenue (behind Dartmouth General Hospital)
    Open daily from 9am to 5pm 
  • Berwick Fire Hall
    300 Commercial St., Berwick
    Monday to Friday starting July 16 and ending July 23 from 10am to 5:30pm 
  • Chester Area Middle School
    204 Duke Street
    Tuesday, July 20, 9:30am-4pm 

And you can still get tested. Here are the locations for rapid pop-up (antigen) testing. This testing is for is for asymptomatic people over 16 who have not been to the potential COVID exposure sites.  

Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Legion, noon-7pm
Larry O’Connell Park, 11am-5:30pm
Golden Age Social Centre Society (212 Herring Cove), 10am-3:30pm 

Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Cole Harbour Legion, noon-7pm
Centennial Arena, 3-8pm 

Click here to read Bousquet’s complete update.  

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3. Tell us your housing stories or ideas

The Examiner has a few ways for you to connect with us to share your housing stories, ideas, angles, or issues. As you may know, we’re working on a housing reporting project, and right now we want to hear from you. So, you can call or text us at 1-819-803-6215 or you can email us at

We want to hear how you’ve been affected by the housing crisis. Did you have to move out of your community because of rising rents? Are you looking to buy a house, but finding yourself priced out of the market? Whatever the story, we want to hear more, so let us know.

We’ll soon have more ways to connect, so stay tuned.

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4. Election outreach for Indigenous and African Nova Scotian communities

Photo: @bronwyn

Amber Fryday at Global reports on new initiatives Elections Nova Scotia will roll out to improve accessibility and inclusivity for First Nation and African Nova Scotian communities in the province.

The programs actually started during the 2017 provincial elections when election officers went to Mi’kmaw communities to talk about the election process. And in Acadian communities, election materials were provided in French.

Andrew Merilees with Elections Nova Scotia says there will be community relations officers in each of the 13 Mi’kmaw communities who will be the first point of contact for anyone wanting to know more about voting.

Fryday interviewed Miranda Cain, one of the outreach officers, who says the process is about educating others on the voting process and the importance of voting.

In the Black communities, elections and voting is not something that we ever really saw on our side. So, right now, we’re making baby steps and we’re trying to implement that.

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5. Mural to disappear

A mural on the side of a building on Barrington Street will soon disappear when a new development goes up next door. Photo: Google Street View

A mural on the side of Barrington Street’s candy store Freak Lunchbox will soon be covered up when a new nine-storey development goes up in the lot next door.

Bruce Frisko at CTV spoke with the artist who painted the work. Jason Botkin told Frisko he understands work like this mural have a shelf life.

The work that I do doesn’t always live that long. Sometimes it lives for a couple of weeks. In this case, it lived for a number of years. I’m proud of the work, but if the work disappears because life goes on, then that’s what it is, and I think that’s really fundamentally part of what I do.

The owner of Freak Lunchbox, Leighton Bearchell, said they worked to find a way to save the art, but all the options were too expensive or too challenging to do. So, the mural will be covered up with the new building. Says Bearchell:

It is definitely sad to see it being covered up, essentially, but also, the glass half-full approach to that is it’ll be nice to have something down here, a new, pretty development.

I remember the uproar over this mural, which was to cover up another mural. It was this one:

A photo of the Tall Ships mural as painted by Zeqirja Rexhepi. Photo by Jimmy Emerson, from Flickr.

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Honouring Lucasville’s ancestors

Irma Olivier Riley, left, and Debra Lucas of Lucasville worked to get provincial heritage status for the Lucasville-Sackville Black Baptist Memorial Cemetery on Old Sackville Road. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Back in 2018, I met with Debra Lucas and Irma Oliver Riley of Lucasville who were working to clean up an old cemetery on the back property of a church on Old Sackville Road, and get heritage status for the property. Lucas and Riley knew some of their relatives and ancestors were buried in a plot of land behind the current cemetery at Sackville United Baptist Church. At that point, we walked through the woods where headstones were buried under brush or turned over. Some of the graves were unmarked mounds.

Getting the heritage status was one of the first projects of the Lucasville Community Association. Says Lucas, the current chair of the association:

A relative said to me, Debra, we should go in here and document our relatives. So I brought that forward [to the association].

The association had meetings with the province, the HRM, and councillors. After a few years, Lucas connected with MLA Ben Jessome. They started an action plan and last year they sat down and in November filled out the paperwork for the status. Well, last week the pair got the news that the application for heritage status was approved. I met up with them both on Monday.

The status means that no one can go in and disturb the property. Lucas wants to look for a grant so they can get the property cleaned up, fenced off, and have a monument created and put in place to remember those who are buried there.

Some of the stones are unrecognizable and have to be restored. Lucas says some stones may have fallen down the back of the property because of erosion.

A cross marks one of the graves at the cemetery, although it’s not known who’s buried here. Photo: Suzanne Rent
Irma Riley holds up a list of relatives who are buried in the cemetery. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Some of the very first residents of Lucasville were buried here along with those residents of what was once called Maroon Hill in present-day Middle Sackville.

The only headstone that’s visible and accessible in the Black cemetery now is the one for John and Grace Parsons. John Parsons was the last person buried here in 1977. Lucas and Riley say at least 75 people are buried there.

This section of the cemetery is where white parishioners were buried. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Back in 2018, I spoke with Dave Peverill, one of the first people to start documenting the graves at the cemetery, which was built in 1832 when the church was constructed. Peverill started research on the property in the 1990s and wrote a paper called The Black Baptist Cemetery in 1994. He told me there were at least 80 graves there.

This isn’t the only cemetery in Nova Scotia with heritage status, of course. Properties registered under the Heritage Property Act can be found at Historic Places website.  There are other Black cemeteries on that list, including the African Bethal Cemetery in Greenville.

I emailed Steve Skafte who runs the Facebook group Abandoned Cemeteries of Nova Scotia and he says in his research, he found one Black cemetery — the Crow Harbour Cemetery in Granville, Annapolis County. Skafte says there’s only one stone left there, but the rest of the graves are marked with posts from a radar survey. (Skafte sent me a link to a Google map with the cemeteries, including Crow Harbour. You can find that map here).

As for Lucas and Riley, the heritage status means preserving the stories and memories of their loved ones. Says Riley:

These are my ancestors. I heard my mother and father talk about them. Even though I will never know them, but I know them through what I was told. My family have all depended on me for what I know.  They come to me for what I know and they appreciate that.

Lucas continues:

It’s heritage for the grandchildren, even for my mother, who is still alive. Her parents are buried in here. Her grandparents are buried in here. And uncles and aunts are in here.

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On the weekend, BuzzFeed Canada shared this video of a young couple, Luna and Sunny, who live in their van. According to the video, during the COVID lockdown, they decided against a big wedding and instead spent that money on renovating a van to live a “more free and creative life.” Now, this life isn’t for me, but I thought I’d check out how they pull this off.

I’ll admit the van is pretty cute and very organized and it includes a lot of thoughtful details to help them live in it comfortably. In the video, Luna demonstrates their daily routine. But there were a couple of bits that stood out for me. The couple live and work in the van year round. Luna says on a typical winter day, Sunny goes skiing while she stays behind and cleans the van, which she says, “is typically left a little bit messy after Sunny leaves.”

Now if that were me, I’d be dropping Sunny off at the ski hill and driving away in the van, mess and all, running over sexism and the patriarchy along the way.

To be fair, one segment shows Sunny helping with the dishes after dinner, although Luna made the dinner and lunch in an earlier part of the video.

The video ends with the “four most annoying things about living in a van.” They include

  1. having to empty and rearrange the tiny fridge to get any item in the back of that fridge.
  2. lack of personal space
  3. occasional and quick showers
  4. always on the hunt for a proper restroom. (They have a portable toilet in the van, but they don’t “go #2” in it).

A longer video and tour of their van, which they named Stella, is on their website here. Apparently, the van life was always Sunny’s dream (now I have the song in my head).

Oh, and according to this video, they keep their “poop scoop” in the same kitchen drawer with their wine, spices, and utensils. Sunny says he’ll explain what that scoop is for later in the video, but I must have missed that part.

Their website includes “affiliate links” to websites where they purchased some of the stuff for their van. Sunny and Luna make a commission from items purchased from those links. That money, they say, keeps their website and blog running.

The couple document their trips across the US on their Facebook page. It’s all very polished. If I was living van life, there’d be more chocolate bar wrappers everywhere and I’d wear pants less often. No one wants to see that. But at least I’d only have to pick up after myself.

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Committee of the Whole and Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — Committee of the Whole agenda, livestreamed on YouTube; Regional Council agenda, live streamed on YouTube and with captioning on a text-only site


Audit Committee and Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am) — Audit Committee agenda, livestreamed on YouTube; Finance Standing Committee agenda available here


No meetings

On campus


Strategies for Leading Change Post-Corona (Tuesday, 12pm) — a half-hour webinar

designed for organizational leaders, change leaders, change managers, and project managers who need to steer their organizations to safety, renewed growth and to the ability to stay proactive and ahead.

More info and registration here.

In the harbour

05:00: MOL Glide, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at anchorage from St. John’s
13:45: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Sydney
16:30: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
23:00: MOL Glide sails for Rotterdam

Cape Breton
09:00: Olympiysky Prospect, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
10:00: Eagle Hamilton, oil tanker, moves from Port Hawkesbury anchorage to Point Tupper
10:30: USCGC Alder, buoy tender, moves north to south through the causeway, heading from Duluth, Minnesota to Baltimore, Maryland
14:00: Marguerita, bulker, sails from Point Hawkesbury (paper mill) for sea


I’m taking a lead from Ethan Lycan-Lang whose footnotes are little lists. Here’s mine:

  • I thought I could retire my pandemic ponytail, but I forgot about summer humidity ponytail. I don’t know why I bother getting a haircut during these months.
  • On social media on Monday, I was involved in a battle over Cherry Blossoms, those chocolate-covered cherries wrapped in foil and stuffed into a little yellow box. People either love them or hate them. There’s no in-between. I love them. This is the most innocuous thing you could argue about on social media.
  • On Sunday, I went to Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash. I went last year,  but it was closed for inside visits because of COVID, so I had the chance to go inside this time and it’s now my favourite historical building in Nova Scotia. I recommend you visit.

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Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. Not directly related to this Morning File, but I really like this stable of Morning File writers.

  2. I love the Thinkers Lodge too. I remember the excitement when I was a kid and the Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin visited there.

  3. The scoop isn’t for poop it’s for digging – and subsequently covering – a “cathole” when pooping al fresco.

  4. I suppose it’s too late in the planning stages for the new nine-storey development beside Freak Lunchbox to incorporate windows and lighting that would allow the mural to “live on” for the occupants of that building?

    PS I love Cherry Blossoms too!