1. Alexander Thomas’ murder not a random act, police say

Police confirmed early this week the murder of 35-year-old Alexander Joseph Frederick Thomas of East Preston was not a random act.

Thomas was facing charges of sexual assault and forcible confinement in a May 2018 incident and he was set to go to trial next year. Those charges against Thomas were dismissed on Tuesday.

Speaking with CTV News, Emma Halpern, a lawyer representing the complainant, Carrie Low, in a separate civil case against Halifax Regional Police, called the murder “a very challenging and quite shocking turn of events for Carrie and our legal team.”

“On top of that,” she said, “a human life was lost. And we recognize this is someone who had family and community and friends, and, you know, that despite what he was accused of, he was a human being.”

Thomas’ lawyer, Mark Bailey, spoke to Global news on behalf of the family and said, “They’re struggling right now. It came as a very big shock to them,” he said. “The family is hopeful that this is dealt with expeditiously. They want to find out what happened and have this matter resolved.”

A GoFundMe has been launched in support of Thomas wife and his four young children.

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2. Police seek info into the murder of Terrance Izzard

Halifax Regional Police put out a call over the weekend for information into the murder of Terrance Patrick Izzard, who was murdered in Uniacke Square five years ago this past Sunday.

A police press release read:

Investigators believe there are people who have information that could help solve Terrance’s murder. We hope that the passage of time encourages them to do the right thing and share what they know with police. It is never too late to come forward and the smallest piece of information may be just what is needed to progress the investigation into Terrance’s murder. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 902-490-5016.

The case is part of the province’s Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes Program that “offers cash rewards of up to $150,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible.”

Callers must contact the Rewards Program at 1-888-710-9090, provide their name and contact information, and may be called to testify in court. “All calls will be recorded,” the release said.

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3. Dennis Mbelenzi wins Blue Nose Marathon

Dennis Mbelenzi finishes first at the 2021 Blue Nose Marathon under a minute shy of two and a half hours, and 15 minutes ahead of the second place runner. Photo: Blue Nose Marathon / Facebook.

Halifax runner Dennis Mbelenzi finished first place — nearly 15 minutes ahead of the second place winner — in the recent Blue Nose Marathon, according to CBC. Mbelenzi’s time was 2:29:12.

“For a long time I was trying to break 2:30 and I kept coming close but not quite doing it,” he told CBC. “Really the reason I do it is just to challenge myself and if I can inspire anybody out there, that’s great.”

Mbelenzi is originally from Kenya. This was his third marathon this fall where he previously ran in marathons in New Brunswick, and in PEI where he set a course record. He says he also plans to compete next year in both the Boston Marathon in April and the Chicago Marathon in October.

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4. Dr. Chad Williams speaks on COVID in the Black community

Dr. Chad Williams of East Preston, who is a gastroenterologist and chief of internal medicine at the Dartmouth General, spoke to Information Morning’s Portia Clark last week about COVID 19, particularly as it relates to Black community.

Williams spoke of vaccine hesitancy, the spread of misinformation being a “virus in itself,” and the various roles of religion and the church in the issue.

Clark asked, “Dr. Williams, you’re speaking up out of concern, what is your sense of the toll that COVID-19 is taking on African Nova Scotian communities, particularly in the Prestons where you’re from?”

Williams responded:

What we do know about COVID-19 globally is that it’s hit racialized groups such as the Black community harder for a multitude of reasons. It stands to reason, through extrapolation anyway, that the same would be true here in Nova Scotia.

One of the challenges is we don’t actually have that race-based data at our fingertips yet. I am cognizant and aware that these types of information are being collected, but we don’t have that.

And certainly when we get the rollout of the numbers of infections and comorbidities, it’s not broken down into a race-based structure.

What I will say is that anecdotally — because I still have friends in the community and most of my family members are still working and living out of the Preston townships — I do hear a lot of stories and experiences about infections, bad infections, hospitalizations, even deaths, in both young and old people with and without comorbidities.

It’s a real issue for the African Nova Scotian community and one that the community needs to be aware of moving forward as we try to push this back and make it a thing of the past.

To read a transcript or to hear the interview in its entirety, click here.

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5. Viola Desmond honoured on 75th anniversary of her arrest

Last week marked the 75th anniversary of Viola Desmond refusing to be arrested for refusing to leave the whites-only section at New Glasgow movie theatre. She was later convicted, in a sham trial, of tax evasion where the ticket she paid for cost less than that of the whites-only section where she sat.

A series of articles about Desmond’s plight, written by African Nova Scotian journalist Sherri Borden Colley, prompted former Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter to issue Desmond the province’s first-ever posthumous pardon on April 15, 2010.

Over the years there have been many tributes to Desmond including artwork, songs, a children’s book, a Canadian Heritage Minute, a Halifax Harbour ferry named in her honour, and her image featured on Canada’s official $10 bill.

To honour Desmond, in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of her arrest, she was recently inducted as the 100th inductee into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame. Last week, on the very day she was arrested, her younger sister Wanda Robson unveiled a bust of Viola Desmond at the Buddy Daye Learning Institute. Lindsay Ruck, a program coordinator at the institute spoke with CBC about the bust and the legacy of Viola Desmond.

Also, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission unveiled an exhibit at 122 Portland Street to celebrate and promote “Black Beauty Culture and the life and work of Viola Desmond, one of her cohorts and a few of her protégés.”

The exhibit was created by master hairstylist Samantha Dixon Slawter, who Suzanne Rent interviewed last week about carrying on Desmond’s legacy in the beauty industry.

“Through November, there will be a Watch and Learn display on Sundays at the Alderney Gate Market from 11am-3pm. (Nov 14 – watch and learn to braid; Nov 21 – watch and learn to make a wig; Nov 28 – straight back competition, games, & merchandise sales),” the commission said in a news release.

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6. Tracey Crawley this month’s featured business owner in BBI newsletter

Tracey Crawley is the latest business owner featured in this month’s BBI (Black Business Initiative) newsletter. Rawley is the owner of Crowning Glory Hair Studio Plus Inc. in Dartmouth.

“I was four years old when I first learned how to cornrow on the long grass on my grandmother’s property,” she told BBI Magazine. “From there I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

The article goes on to talk about Crawley’s first clients — her grandmother and Christmas dolls from her mother — her journey as an entrepreneur, and challenges she faced coming out of last year’s COVID lockdown where she forced to shut her business down for three months. She currently serves as a board member for the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia.

To sign up for BBIs monthly newsletter, click here.

To read this month’s featured article, click here.

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7. Len Paris speaks on the legacy of Black Canadian soldiers on Remembrance Day

Left Photo: Len Paris (present day). Right photo: Len Paris, following in his father’s military footsteps “shortly after joining the RCAF in 1966. Wearing the summer uniform for the RCAF.” Photos: Len Paris / Facebook

As part of Remembrance Day last week, Len Paris, the author of ‘Jim Crow also Lived Here: Growing Up Black in New Glasgow Nova Scotia’ spoke to CBC Radio’s Metro Morning with Ismaila Alfa about his father Lenard Arthur Paris, about his return to Canada from the second World War and the racism he endured upon his return.

“My Dad, during the war, was what was called a gunner, and these were the soldiers that staffed the heavy anti-aircraft artillery. And during the war, he had service in Italy, France, and Germany, and then up into the Netherlands through Belgium. And his troop was actually one of the leading forces that helped liberate Holland.”

Paris talked about Blacks being previously being denied the right to serve in the Canadian Military up until World War One when the No. 2 Construction Battalion was formed, though he noted that even it was given a necessary yet non-combative role in the war effort.

“A similar scenario started to play out when the second World War started, Black citizens were told ‘It’s a white man’s war,’ and that no white man would ever fight alongside a Black soldier. So, again they petitioned the government and in 1941, 1942, in that era the Canadian army started accepting Black soldiers in combat roles in non-segregated units,” Paris told Alfa.

Paris said that Black soldiers faced additional barriers with respect to employment and poverty upon returning to Canada, as did First Nations and Asian soldiers, and how his father’s undiagnosed PTSD and alcoholism affected his family.

“I’m going to keep his legacy going, I constantly talk about my dad, I write about my dad, and I make sure our family members know the sacrifices that he did for freedom. I think it’s generally accepted that Black citizens have always fought on the side of freedom and, in fact, have fought for their freedom.”

Click here to hear the interview in its entirety.

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Matthew Byard, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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