News

1. Stacey Gomez

Stacey Gomez holding a copy of the decision from Residential Tenancies. Photo: Suzanne Rent

On Monday, Stacey Gomez got the decision from Residential Tenancies that told her she could stay in her apartment. Zane Woodford was at the tenancy hearing last week where Gomez and her landlord, Marcus Ranjbar, were presenting their cases about his application to have Gomez renovicted from her apartment on Church Street in Halifax.

Yesterday I went to the press conference Gomez organized for near her south-end apartment where she talked about what Monday’s decision means not only to her, but other tenants in Nova Scotia.

There are so many people who are in similar situations like myself, and who maybe don’t know what their rights are and don’t feel confident to challenge when a landlord is trying to get them renovicted,” she said. “I think this is pretty huge in terms of tenant rights in the province. And it’s a relief because I have felt all along that what he’s doing is not right, he’s not following the rules, and just that his case was not very strong. To have that upheld by residential tenancy does feel good.

The decision also ordered the landlord to pay Gomez $837.91 for compensation/expenses relating to the loss of “some enjoyment of her unit.”

According to the decision, the board rejected Ranjbar’s application to renovict because there wasn’t enough evidence regarding the presence of mold in the apartment. The board awarded Gomez compensation because the landlord didn’t give her notice about the removal of her patio, and for the landlord’s failure to investigate and fix issues with the toilet and plumbing in the unit.

Gomez said she’d like to see the province provide more support for tenants facing renoviction, including a legal fund they can access to help them fight their cases. She also reminded tenants not to sign any documents until they got legal advice.

If you’re facing a renoviction or have any other housing questions, check out our PRICED OUT resource page for the list of housing organizations in your region.

Click here to read my story. 

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2. FIN Atlantic International Film Festival

A scene from Tara Thorne’s film, Compulsis, which is screening at Atlantic Film Fest.

Evelyn C. White takes a look at the movies screening at FIN Atlantic Film Festival, which opens on Thursday night. That night’s gala events include screen adaptations of Brother and Women Talking by Canadian novelists David Chariandy and Miriam Toews, and directed, respectively, by Canadian filmmakers Clement Virgo and Sarah Polley.

White details the films of two local filmmakers, Koumbie and Tara Thorne, who hosts The Tideline here at the Examiner (Thorne interviewed Koumbie for the most recent episode of The Tideline).

White writes:

Local luminaries Tara Thorne and Koumbie address gender relations in their respective debut features, Compulsis and Bystanders. Watching Thorne’s trenchant (and at times, hilarious) take on sexual predators, my mind wafted to Hard Candy, the 2005 psychological thriller in which Elliott Page proved that payback (cue: James Brown) is a mother.

The film also earns props as a lesbian twist on Thelma and Louise. Ditto for its evocation of Uma Thurman, “the deadliest woman in the world,” in Kill Bill. Infused with monologues written by the poet laureate of Halifax, Sue Goyette, Compulsis is an unapologetically ballsy “Take Back the Night” romp.

Koumbie chooses a more subtle approach to male exploitation of women in Bystanders. The scene: a diverse group of friends who have gathered at a waterfront cottage for a getaway. Spirited card-playing, tequila-drinking, and skinny-dipping ensues. As the “vacay” progresses, viewers learn that a member of the group is grappling with the possibility that he might have engaged in non-consensual sex with a woman who is not at the cottage. However, she is known to several of his friends.

Offering their various interpretations of “consent,” the group (some queer and/or questioning) straddles a line between supporting their friend and holding him accountable for a drunken encounter, the details of which he claims not to remember. The release is noteworthy for its cinéma verité styling and analysis of a topic that the “Me Too” movement has rightly elevated. Koumbie’s use, in the film, of a reel of “home movies,” resonates profoundly in today’s fraught racial climate.

Click here to read White’s story.

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3. Looking for the workers

Work harder? Maybe for the right boss. Photo: Jordan Whitefield/Unsplash

Philip Moscovitch wrote this piece for Unravel about where all the workers went and learns it’s an employees’ market (I am here for it).

Moscovitch interviewed Kevin Kelloway, a psychology professor at Saint Mary’s University who said employers aren’t “calling the shots anymore.”

You’re going to see employees start to flex their muscle. They’re going to do that as individuals by choosing not to work at certain places, or just quitting jobs if they’re treated poorly. And you’re going to see it collectively through more unionization.

Moscovitch also chatted with two workers about finding new jobs in a pandemic. Katherine Hillman received CERB in the spring of 2020 when the lockdowns meant she couldn’t work at her retail job. That gave her some time to find a new gig in customer service that allows her to work from home.

And Willow Raven was working remotely, but quit her job when her boss wanted her to go back to the office. She decided to take on a new career as a sex worker. She started an OnlyFans page and while she often works evenings and weekends, it’s on her own terms.

It’s a good story that shows the labour shortage isn’t because “no one wants to work anymore” it’s that they don’t want to work for crappy bosses. You can read it here. 

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4. Overemployment

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

And here’s another story about workers from Pete Evans at CBC. This one is about workers, most of them in the tech sector, who are working two jobs without their bosses knowing. Evans interviewed “Mary,” who thanks to working remotely at one full-time job, took up a second full-time job. So did her partner. Evans writes:

Working exclusively from home is almost always key to the entire operation. Mary’s partner, an engineer, was the first to dip his toe into the overemployment pool, signing up for a second full-time engineering job paying $90,000 a year back in January 2021. Mary decided to follow suit last fall by getting two jobs — one in finance, and one in accounting, each paying $60,000 a year for full-time work.

“We just looked at the budgets and we thought we definitely need this,” she says of their four jobs, which doubled their household income to $300,000. That’s a large income by any definition, but Mary says they need the cash to stay afloat. “It wasn’t about whether we can or not … we have to,” she said.

It makes for some long hours, as Mary says they each average 12-14 hours of work every day, and some on weekends. Others online say they’re able to swing it without putting in much more than 40 hours a week. And the pandemic is what made it all possible, because of the widespread acceptance of remote work.

Mary and her partner were mindful of only seeking out jobs that could be done from home for the entire time, because the day any of their bosses call them into the office, the jig is up. If and when that happens, “I would quit,” she said.

Apparently there’s a website, overemployed.com, that teaches remote workers how to do this. The site was started by Isaac Price, who in 2020 suspected he’d get laid off from his job, so he started looking for another one. He found a new gig, but the layoff from his other job never happened, so he decided to work both. Now he gives others advice on how to do the same.

Working two full-time jobs isn’t sustainable, of course, and Mary tells Evans she and her partner are already feeling the burnout. She said she knows if their bosses found out, they’d likely be fired.

Each day you’re like, is this going to be the day that I get fired? Or one calls us back to the office; every single day you’re on high alert. As soon as we can stop working two jobs, we will. It’s not recommended. It’s not desirable.

I’ll point out that low-wage workers have been working more than one job for a long time …

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Views

Stop romanticizing the lives of 1950s housewives

Last week, I watched a TikTok video in my Twitter feed that almost made my head explode.

The video is called “1950’s woman meets the future,” and shows a back-and-forth between two women: a young woman in a purple wig (the modern woman), and another woman in a floral apron (the 1950’s housewife).

The modern woman tells the 1950’s woman about all the exciting things to look forward to in the future. “Welcome to 2022, where you can do anything a man can do!” she says.

The two talk about going to work (in a cubicle staring at a computer), about housework (do I finally have a butler? the housewife asks,) and about preventing pregnancy (there’s a magic pill for that, says the 2022 woman). There’s more talk of magic pills, too, notably anti-depressants if you need to cope.

The video is the latest trend in longing for the good old days that weren’t so good for everyone, including housewives.

I mentioned this horrid and misleading TikTok video on Twitter, and someone shared this brilliant takedown of just about every detail mentioned it in. For example, women couldn’t get loans or credit cards without their husbands’ permission, and domestic violence was considered a private family matter.

One of the most interesting details in that thread documents the use of alcohol and drugs by those housewives, including a psychotropic drug called Miltown that was popular.

(This all reminded me of the wine mommy culture that’s now pushed onto overwhelmed mothers today).

Several women in my Twitter thread pointed out that their mothers worked in the 1950s or earlier. My grandmothers did, too. The 1950s housewife was a role for a limited number of women, who, in many cases, weren’t so happy about it — think “the problem that has no name.” And these women had other women, primarily Black women and women of colour, working in their homes.

I decided to look for more details about the lives of Canadian women around the 1950s and found this list. And while I knew many of these bits, it’s good to have a reminder of what rights women didn’t have and what we did accomplish even in my lifetime (I was born in 1970). Here are some highlights:

1955:  Restrictions on married women holding federal civil service jobs were finally abolished.

1955: Women from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries are recruited as domestics and received immigrant status.

1956:  Legislation was enacted guaranteeing equal pay for equal work within federal jurisdiction.

1959:  All provinces except Quebec and Newfoundland had equal pay for equal work legislation.

How did the 1960s look?

1960’s: The start of the Women’s Liberation Movement.  It consisted largely of white, well educated women who fought for reforms such as paid maternity leave, rape crisis centres, and changes to abortion laws.

1960:  Aboriginal women won the right to vote in federal elections (a right which had been granted to many other Canadian women in 1918) without having to abandon their Indian status.

1964:  Married women allowed to be jury members.

1964:  Women allowed to open a bank account without obtaining their husband’s signature.

1969:  The notion of “head of the family” is removed from the Québec Civil Code.

What about the 1970s, when I was a kid?

1970:   Jeannette Vivian Corbiere Lavell began a 15-year struggle to change the Indian Act to restore status and band membership rights to Indigenous women who had lost those rights through marriage to non-Indigenous men; the Indian Act was finally amended in 1985.

1970: Release of the Report from the Royal Commission on the Status of Women which reveals disturbing findings on the discrimination faced by women.

1971: Manitoba no longer fires women municipal employees who marry.

1975:  Women earn 60 cents for every dollar earned by men.

1978:  The Canada Labour Code was amended to eliminate pregnancy as a basis for lay-off or dismissal.

1978: Airline flight attendants gain the right to work after marriage and after they reach the age of 32.

Let’s keep going. Here’s the 1980s:

1983: Rape laws are modified in order to include sexual aggression and to make illegal the rape of a wife by her husband.

1983:   The CHRA was amended to prohibit sexual harassment and to ban discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and family or marital status.

1988: The Supreme Court of Canada invalidates the Criminal Code sections which deal with abortion (I remember this as I was in high school at the time)

Oh, here’s a bit from 1990 (I was 20). 

In 1990 male managers earned an average salary of $48,137 while women managers earned an average salary of $27,707; men in teaching earned an average of $38,663 while women in teaching earned an average of $24,767;  men in sales earned an average of $27,825 while women in sales earned an average of $13,405;

I’d say every generation has a group that tries to tell us that feminism lied to us. For me as a teenager in the 198os, that group was REAL Women Canada, which was founded in 1983 and is still around today. They’re a “pro-family women’s movement” — who in the heck is anti-family? — that promotes “traditional family values.”

I went on its website so you don’t have to, and it seems the group is very anti-LGBTQ, and has blogs on topics like how Disney is moving away from producing “wholesome” family entertainment and instead are being pushed to promote LGBTQ agendas.

How about instead of longing for the days that didn’t exist, we support women where they are and in what they want to do. We’re failing them in many ways. Certainly, the pandemic showed us women need more support, including child care (not the organic kind) and better wages. As the living wage report showed last week, the median hourly wage in Nova Scotia, as of June, is $22.80, but women earn $21.75, which is still less than what men earn at $24.04.

Now, where’s that TikTok?

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Noticed

Freelance writer Shayla Martin has this story in the New York Times this week about her visit to Nova Scotia to learn about Black history in the province and how some grassroots initiatives are bringing that history to more visitors.

René Boudreau, founder of Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia

Martin starts her story talking with René Boudreau, founder of Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia. (Matthew Byard profiled Boudreau and her work in this story from last year). Boudreau, who started her business in 2019, told Martin she noticed that many of her own family and friends hadn’t visited some of the province’s most important Black cultural sites, so she decided to focus on that:

“I realized it’s the local people here that have yet to experience a lot of these cultural sites in their own city,” she told me over coffee in Halifax. “When you don’t see yourself represented somewhere, you’re not going to think that place will be welcoming to you.”

Martin headed out of the city and took a tour of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown (Evelyn C. White wrote about the centre in this story from 2018). The centre, which opened in 2015, is located in what was the largest settlement of free Blacks in the world outside of Africa in 1783. On its windows, walls, and floor are the names of the Black loyalists who came here. Martin writes that she had “conflicting emotions” visiting the centre:

I had a shared sense of pride that the names and stories of these 3,000-plus ancestors were known and could be celebrated by Black Canadians today, yet I was jealous that for so many Americans like myself, we will never know the names of our ancestors. It felt like yet another distinct cruelty of American slavery, where names were infrequently recorded (usually only as property records), if at all.

Here, visitors are encouraged to search for the names of their ancestors and learn what became of them after arriving in Nova Scotia. With advance notice, the Black Loyalist Heritage Society staff members offer genealogical research services to the public, a service that members themselves have utilized.
Replica of the Seaview United Baptist Church that now serves as a museum to the historic community of Africville. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang
Martin wraps up her story with her visit to Africville. This visit, she said, filled her with apprehension, but after she saw the church where the Africville Museum is house, she got an invitation to the Africville Reunion.

Now in its 39th year, the annual homecoming is celebrated at the end of July by former residents who park their campers where their homes would have been, cooking, singing, dancing and reliving memories. I made my way into the camp and immediately a woman so strikingly similar to my own aunties waved me over to chat. Forced from Africville at the age of 15 and now in her late 60s, Paula Grant-Smith took a deep sigh when recalling that traumatic experience.

“Growing up here was wonderful. If I fell and skinned my knee, I could go into any house and they’d patch me right up,” said Ms. Grant-Smith. “If I needed a snack, I could go stop by my neighbors and they’d feed me. I get very sad when I think about Africville, especially as I get older because we had so much freedom to play but also feel protected.”

As she regaled me with memories of her childhood and past reunions, I felt that strange phenomenon of how alike so many Black communities are. Her description of Africville could have been my mother’s Black neighborhood in southwest Louisiana, or my father’s in Montgomery, Ala.: neighborhoods that have seen their share of destruction because of racist government policies, yet have somehow maintained a spirit of love, family and hope.

“We have a saying as Africville folk: The spirit lives on,” Ms. Grant-Smith said. “And when we come back here, the spirits of all of those folks that have gone on before us are right here with us.”

You can read Martin’s story here.

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Government

City

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — agenda

Wednesday

Transportation Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, online) — special meeting

District Boundary Resident Review Panel (Wednesday, 3:30pm, City Hall) — agenda

Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, online) — agenda

Province

No meetings this week


On campus

King’s

Alumni Association AGM (Tuesday, 4:30pm, online) — more info here


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: One Houston, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
06:00: Lagrafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
06:30: Norwegian Pearl, cruise ship with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Quebec City to Boston
09:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
09:50: Enchantment of the seas, cruise ship with up to 2,741 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Portland, on an eight-day roundtrip cruise out of Baltimore
10:00: Viking Star, cruise ship with up to 930 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a 12-day cruise from Montreal to New York
11:00: Gotland, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from Moa, Cuba
11:30: Lagrafoss sails for Portland
11:30: MSC Angela, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
11:30: CMA CGM Navegantes, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Montreal
13:00: John J. Carrick, barge, moves from McAsphalt to Cherubini
16:30: Norwegian Pearl sails for Portland
19:45: Viking Star sails for Boston
20:00: Enchantment of the seas sails for Baltimore
22:00: Contship Leo, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea

Cape Breton
07:00: AlgoNova, oil tanker, sails from Government Dock (Sydney) for sea
07:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Halifax, on a seven-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
08:00: Nieuw Statendam, cruise ship with up to 3,214 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier from Charlottetown, on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to Boston
08:30: Mein Schiff 1, cruise ship with up to 2.894 passengers, arrives at Sydney anchorage from Boston, on a 14-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
13:00: Mein Schiff 1, cruise ship sails for Saguenay, Quebec
16:00: Donald M. James, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
16:45: Zaandam sails for Charlottetown
17:30: Nieuw Statendam sails for Bar Harbor
23:30: Majestic, superyacht owned by Miami Marlins owner Bruce Sherman, transits through the causeway north to south, en route from Montreal to Halifax


Footnotes

I had a weird craving for hot dogs last night and went to buy some when I noticed some of the brands of weiners are selling for $8.


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Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Lord knows the Rolling Stones have never exactly been bastions of feminism, but even they noticed that something was badly awry with Miltown and its ilk, and their effects on women. Mother’s Little Helper, anyone? https://youtu.be/x-zxBNz3XbM

    (By the way, I grew up in a middle class household; my mum always worked.)

  2. One of the directors of the Africvile Museum,Carmelita Robertson, was featured in a National Film Board documentary “LOYALTIES” which was honoured with The Canada Award in 1999. The film follows the path she took from Nova Scotia to locate her ancestors in South Carolina, and she travels this thorny route with the descendant of the people who enslaved them: https://www.nfb.ca/film/loyalties/

    1. Additionally, Carm Robertson’s fellow traveler in the making of the film LOYALTIES was a women whose great great great etc grandfather was the Banker to the Confederacy, and it was her ancestors who owned Robertsons’ family as slaves … that person is well known Nova Scotia historian and author, Ruth Holmes Whitehead.

  3. Destiny Liberty http://destinationliberty.org/ is a guide to ~36 Black historic travel destinations in Nova Scotia. The project by Carm Robertson (also web developer Liz MacDougall ) is ~15 years old but really stands the test of interest and time.

    “Presented by the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, this site guides you through 400 years of African Nova Scotian history. Visit the many captivating historic places throughout our province including early settlments, lively communities, archives museums and monuments.

    Come walk the roads and meet the people; hear stories that no history book could ever tell and get ready for a taste of real ‘down-home’ hospitality!”