1. Dwayne Provo appointed as Associate Deputy Minister
In a letter released just yesterday, Dwayne Provo, who is Black, announced he has been appointed as the new Associate Deputy Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.
“As a long-time provincial regional education officer serving African Nova Scotian learners, I’ve had the opportunity to work in communities across the province, and I’m looking forward to taking on this role and doing my best to bring community voices to the table at the senior government level,” Provo said in the letter.
Provo’s appointment comes after a meeting last week between Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Pat Dunn, and a team of prominent organizers within the Black community. CBC reported on that meeting here.
The team of organizers included former Lt. Gov. Mayann Francis, David Provo, the moderator of the African United Baptist Association, Danielle Hodges of the Association of Black Social Workers, Sharon Davis-Murdoch of the Health Association of African Canadians, Robert Wright of the Decade for People of African Descent, and Carolann Wright, who served as a spokesperson for the group.
The meeting stemmed from the appointment of Pat Dunn, who is white, as both Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs and minister of the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, followed by the dismissals of Dr. Késa Munroe-Anderson from her position as deputy minister of communities, culture and heritage, and Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, from the Nova Scotia Health board.
Despite the negative reaction among many Black Nova Scotians that led to a series of virtual meetings, speaking with The Examiner, Wright said that Houston claimed he hadn’t heard of much backlash from the Black community.
“It did surprise me that he talked about not hearing from the community because there were Blacks that ran for the PCs. So, I was a little surprised that his response was ‘I haven’t heard from the community’ or ‘It’s only a few people that are concerned about that,’” she said.
“From the Black family meetings we took the concerns of the community because it was clear from early reporting that the premier hadn’t heard from the community, or he didn’t understand that the community was upset about the dismissal of Dr. Anderson and the appointment of Dr. Dunn.”
“People were highly upset, disgusted, all those things. So it was really important that he knew over 300 people were on a call for two meetings and were really pissed off and needed to be able to have this addressed.”
Houston said there would be some sort of action taken within two weeks. In the media last week, Wright held back judgement about what might happen next. Though she didn’t necessarily express optimism, Wright said, “You always kind of have to wait and see. You can’t really be in your feelings about a first meeting, you really don’t know where that’s gonna go. A lot of things can be said, but as we know, actions speak louder than words.”
““If he’s talking about listening and learning, we provided a really good context for why the community responded the way it did and why this is important, and so we hope there was listening.”
Provo once ran unsuccessfully as the PC candidate in the Preston riding in the 2009 provincial election.
2. Glasgow family of East Preston gets the good answers
Nova Scotia was represented on TV game show Family Feud Canada last week when the Glasgow Family from East Preston joined the competition.
Episode six aired on Wednesday as the Glasgow family challenged defending champions the Maracle Family from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and First Nations reserve in Ontario. The show, which is hosted by Gerry Dee, is now in its third season.
Though it was not mentioned in the show, coincidentally, Maracle Family team captain Kimberlee’s father is a Black man who grew up in the Black community of Gibson Woods near Kentville, Nova Scotia. Ironically, for me, he and my maternal grandmother are siblings, making Kimberlee and my mother first cousins.
Glasgow Family team captain, Gemini Award winner, and former Trailer Park Boys guest star, Garry (James), introduced his teammates: “Today Jerry, all the way from East Preston, Nova Scotia, I got my amazing sister Adriene; I got my incredible mother, the matriarch, Connie; I got my cousin Ruby over there; and last but not least I got big dog Kevin up here. Yes sir.”
The Glasgow family took an early lead, winning the first round. The Maracle Family evened things up by winning the second round, then pulled ahead by winning the third. In the fourth round, which was worth triple the points, the host asked: “Name something you associate with the word ‘maple.’”
The Maracle family hit the buzzer first and guessed ‘syrup,’ which was the number one answer. They decided to play. With only three answers left on the board, it was now their game to lose.
After getting a first strike by incorrectly guessing ‘sugar,’ they followed up with back-to-back correct responses of ‘tree’ and ‘Canadian flag’. With one answer left on the board, the game on the line, and the Maracle family now with two strikes by incorrectly guessing ‘candy,’ the Glasgow family waited with anticipation of the Maracle family’s final response: “pancakes.”
“We have to go with The Maple Leafs,” said Glasgow family team captain, Garry, in what seemed like an obvious response. The bell rung and “Leafs” was revealed to be the number two answer, giving the Glasgows 302 points, sending them to the ‘Quick Money’ round where they ended up winning $10,000.
In the next episode, the Glasgows defended their crown against challengers The Gallant family from Brockton, PEI. Team captain, Tyler, introduced the family by singing an opening theme song about themselves to the melody of a ukulele as the Glasgows bopped along.
After four rounds, the Glasgows were ahead, but where neither team had reached 300 points, the game now went to a sudden death round where only a single number one answer would win the game.
“We surveyed a hundred Canadians,” Dee said. “Name something that would have a gap.”
The Gallant family was first to hit the buzzer and correctly guessed “teeth,” eliminating the Glasgow family.
One of the key players for the Glasgow Family was cousin Ruby who guessed three number one answers in the first episode, and a fourth in the second episode. Her son, Mikey Williams, who is also from East Preston, spoke to The Examiner about what it was like watching his family while away living out of province.
“My mother, my auntie, my cousin, my cousin, my uncle, they all went on Family Feud … they did a hell of a job man,” he said. “I was very proud of them. I couldn’t have been more proud. My mother was killing it, my family was killing it. It was really, really nice to see some Black people being represented the right way on there. It felt good.”
In case you missed it, Family Feud Canada is available to stream on CBC Gem.
You can watch the episode here:
3. Diggstown Season 3 premieres
In other television news, CBC’s Diggstown, the drama series set in, and filmed out of Halifax, returned to television last week for its third season
The Tideline, a Halifax Examiner original podcast, hosted by Tara Thorne, welcomed show creator, Floyd Kane, and the show’s lead actress, Vinessa Antoine in two separate one-on-one interviews last week.
Kane said that COVID halted the writing of the third season by 14 months. When he and the other writers did return to the writing room, he said that the new COVID dynamics, coupled with the Nova Scotia mass shooting meant that original plans for the third season ended up being nixed.
Though he says COVID isn’t the main theme throughout the course of the season, the dynamics that played out locally such as early COVID outbreaks in Nova Scotia long-term care facilities, North Preston being labelled a hotspot for COVID, and how the two were connected played into the theme of the season premiere.
The third season is a total of eight episodes whereas the previous two seasons were just six episodes. Kane talked at length about the creative process behind producing each season, and while being careful not to share spoilers, he set a high expectation of what’s to come.
“We don’t wanna play it safe, in terms of the topics that we get into. … I mean this season we took a risk,” Kane said. “I definitely think by the time that you get to the end of the season, season three, you’re going to see something happens in the show that I don’t think you’re going see coming or that you’re going to expect from our show. … It’s a tough one, that’s all I can say.”
Kane went on to proudly talk about how the cast of this season was about 70% local actors. He talked proudly about being able to give so many talented BIPOC actors a national platform and how it saved time and costs from not having to fly in as many actors from away (a process exasperated this season by new COVID policies).
Vinessa Antoine is the first Black female lead actor in a Canadian drama TV series. Originally from Toronto, she said she lived in Los Angeles up until the summer of last year. With a combination of high COVID numbers, the US election campaign, Donald Trump, and the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, she says she decided to move her family back “home” to Canada, and bounced from Vancouver to Toronto until she came to Nova Scotia this past spring to film Diggstown.
“It’s a beautiful thing to see films and television productions coming back to Nova Scotia, not only because aesthetically its so beautiful, but the people are just so great to work with,” she said.
“Soon as we start shooting, within less than a week later, Nova Scotia went back into a bit of a lockdown. So we had to kind of shuffle and shift a lot of things, in terms of script, in terms of actors flying in, when they were being quarantined, where they were being quarantined, and how we were shooting. It was pretty difficult actually. But we got through it.”
Early in the interview, Antoine talked about the importance of representation of Black couples on TV, though it’s not usually what Canadian audiences are use to watching.
“I sort of planted a seed in [Kane’s] brain last season about the importance of showing 30-something, young, Black, successful, happy couples on Canadian television. On television period,” she said early in her interview about the current season.
She went on to talk about some of the themes around COVID in the season premiere. Antoine also she spoke openly about her mental health, relaying intimate details about recent therapy. And she plugged a local Black-owned business, R&B Kitchen, who she says held her down during production of Diggstown this past season.
Season three of Diggstown is now airing Wednesday nights at 9pm on CBC. Past episodes are available to stream on CBC Gem.
Click here to listen to the episode of The Tideline with Antoine and Kane.
4. Dawgfather files $240,000 lawsuit
Last week, Examiner editor Tim Bousquet wrote about a $240,000 lawsuit filed against the province and a Halifax sheriff deputy at the courthouse on Spring Garden Road, Kevin Hurst.
The suit was filed by the man known as Dawgfather PHD, formerly Jerry Reddick, the famous Halifax hotdog vendor who used to set up shop outside of the Student Union Building at Dalhousie University.
In October 2019, Dawgfather was scheduled to attend court for a traffic matter. Bousquet reported that, according to Dawgfather’s claim:
“Officer Hurst required a lady in front of [Dawgfather] in line to remove her baby from a stroller and put the stroller through the metal detector,” reads the claim. Dawgfather “questioned out loud whether this was really necessary and commented” to Hurst, “You guys are too much.”
Hurst allegedly said “This has nothing to do with you.” To which Dawgfather replied, “Go fuck yourself.”
“Hurst immediately walked around the screening station, grabbed [Dawgfather’s] arm, cranked it behind his back” and arrested Dawgfather “for causing a disturbance.”
With the help of two Halifax cops who happened to be in the building, Dawgfather was placed in a cell in the courthouse basement for two hours and then brought to the police station, charged, and released on his own recognizance.
At some later point, Dawgfather asked for the video of the incident but was told that it hadn’t been saved.
In his claim, Dawgfather says “there was no disturbance caused” by Dawgfather telling Hurst to go fuck himself, but rather the disturbance was caused by Hurst himself.
I attempted to reach Dawgfather’s lawyer, Jeremiah Rainingbird to see what came of his charges stemming fom the incident, but I was unable to make contact.
As for his civil claim, Dawgfather is seeking, $100,000 for assault and battery, false arrest, and false imprisonment; $40,000 for an unstated Charter violation; and $100,000 in “punitive damages … for the high-handed and oppressive conduct” of Hurst.
Rainingbird is said to be also representing Dawgfather in this matter. Neither the province nor Hurst have yet to file a defence.
You can read the story here.
5. Charges against doctor dropped
Dr. Oluwarotimi (Tim) Fashoranti, a Black doctor in Springhill, was acquitted on a single count of sexual assault last Thursday when his charges were abruptly dropped in an Amherst court, as reported by Blair Rhodes at CBC.
The trial had started just the day before and saw testimony by Fashoranti’s accuser. The prosecution, however, called for the acquittal after “new information came to light pretty much at the 11th hour.”
“In my view, the new evidence really casts further doubt on the credibility of the complainant’s allegation and lent considerable credence to the defence position that the allegation was motivated by money,” Fashoranti’s lawyer told the judge.
“I find you not guilty and you’re acquitted of the offence. You’re free to go,” said Judge Rosalind Michie.
The prosecution did not reveal the nature of the newly discovered evidence.
The charge stemmed from an accusation made by a female patient at Fashoranti’s family clinic who said he fondled her breast during a medical appointment. At the time, Fashoranti had a condition imposed on him by The College of Physicians and Surgeons that said he needed to have a chaperone present when he performed exams, which he did not. This stemmed from a previous conviction on a similar charge from 2010.
Fashoranti is currently facing three additional charges of sexual assault later this month by three different women who say he sexually assaulted them between 1998 and 2004 in Springhill and Pugwash. Those allegations came to light after the revelation of this most recent allegation that, again, was dismissed in court last week.
6. Children in care
Last week, I reported about a woman’s story of her, her husband, and their children being evicted from their home in Springhill before seven of her nine children were apprehended into the care of Child Protective Services (CPS)/Community Services.
Shirley (not her real name) claims there has been negligence and a lack of transparency on the part of Community Services that, she says, has led to her children being abused, injured, neglected, separated from one another, shipped around to different foster homes, and placed in various culturally inappropriate homes, all while in the province’s care.
I contacted the Department of Community Services to inquire about the claims, the department’s process in dealing with complaints of that nature, and their policies as it relates to the care provided to racialized children in their custody. They provided a lengthy response which was included in my report. You can read the whole story here.