1. Hospital parking garage

Redering: Marcel Tarnogorski

Councillor Waye Mason says he’s “optimistic” that a “win-win” compromise over the parking garage for the new QEII hospital is possible after the city and province met on Friday afternoon.

Yesterday, council voted to start the process of closing a part of the west side of Summer Street to co-locate the parking garage and the hospital’s power plant.

Although as Jennifer Henderson reports, the location for the garage and power plant are not a done deal.

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2. Police Commission

Writes El Jones:

On the agenda for Monday was a survey commissioned by the police to canvas the attitudes and perceptions of diverse communities towards the police. These are the moments where you wish you were too short to board the rides at Neoliberal World. It’s a theme park that costs too much, and all the games are rigged. In this focus-grouped, branded, consultant-heavy world, it seems to make perfect sense to people that even though there were surveys in 2014 and 2018 about attitudes towards the police, and even though the Wortley report comprehensively canvassed the African Nova Scotian community, and even though the media also ran multiple polls, it is extremely important that we do another survey to really figure out how people perceive the police.

Click here to read “Police commissioners wonder if they should “read the manual,” and other adventures in police oversight.”

3. Old library is now a heritage site


This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

The former Halifax Memorial Public Library and the grounds surrounding it on the corner of Spring Garden Road and Brunswick Street have been officially designated a heritage site by HRM Council and cannot be sold to developers.

The statue of Winston Churchill is a reminder the library was built after the second World War. It graces the green space known as “Grafton Park” today but which was noted on a 1762 map as a burial ground across from the Halifax Poorhouse on Brunswick Street.

A report from HRM staff says it’s estimated 4,500 dead bodies may be buried there, including the writer of Canada’s first novel, Philippe Aubert deGaspé.

David Gough with the Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society said the landmark site was used as both a mass grave for paupers from the Poorhouse as well as for British soldiers stationed at the nearby Fort Cornwallis, where the Royal Artillery Parks sits today.

The application to make the vacant building and Grafton Park a heritage site was made by David Bentley, the former editor and a co-owner of The Daily News. Ironically, the decision to preserve an important part of the city’s past was made on the twelfth anniversary of the loss and closure of that feisty newspaper. Bentley was not in attendance.

What happens next with the heritage site once again depends on co-operation between the municipality and the province. Technically, based on an 1882 document signed by the province which deeded the property to the City of Halifax, the lands were to revert to the province if the building was no longer used as a library. The library has been closed for more than four years but city CAO Jacques Dubé said the province is “conditionally” supportive of the city’s plan to make the site a heritage destination “if we engage publicly and consult with First Nations.” Dubé said that work is underway, as well as discussions with the Schools of Architecture and Planning at Dalhousie University. The purpose of those discussions with Dal remain murky.

Before the CAO reports back to Council, he wants “an actual archaeological survey done to prove what’s there beyond a doubt.” That may be because of the unexpected finding of more than 200 bodies near St. David’s Church that cost the municipality more than $1 million some years ago. This time, however, archaeological research has already confirmed the presence of mass graves.

4. Protesters rally at Ceres terminal in support of Wet’suset’en

More than 140 protesters were at the Ceres Container Terminal in Fairview yesterday in support of Wet’suwet’en over the building of a gas pipeline in their traditional territory in B.C., reports CBC’s Jack Julian.

The Halifax protest was one of several that have taken place across the country this week. Rebecca Moore, a member of the Pictou Landing First Nation, was part of the protest.

As a First Nations woman … we have an inherent duty to protect this water and to protect this land. It’s like a job, it’s more serious than a job.

A long line of trucks waited to get in the terminal, although disruption was minimal.

5. Pre-primary now in all elementary schools

Premier Stephen McNeil will not be attending pre-primary this September, but another 7,000 students will. The program is now available in every elementary school in Nova Scotia. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Every elementary school in the province now has a pre-primary program, reports Jean Laroche with CBC. The remaining 48 of the province’s 253 elementary schools will offer the program this September. The pre-primary programs started in schools in 2017.

The addition of the 48 schools will up enrolment to about 7,000 kids.

The provincial spring budget will include $17.5 million that will pay for this expansion and the hiring of 250 more early childhood educators

I hope they will be paid at least a living wage.


“We own beautiful.” The story of Black hair care in Nova Scotia

Samantha Dixon Slawter has been teaching about Black hair care at sessions around Nova Scotia. She’s also one of the founders of the Black Beauty Culture Association. She’s pictured here with two of her clients, Martha Grant, left, and Donalda MacIsaac. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Last night, I attended The Black Hair-Story of Nova Scotia: What’s Your Hair Story? at the Sackville Public Library. The session, which is part of African History Month celebrations at the Halifax Public Libraries, was hosted by Samantha Dixon Slawter, who I met and wrote about before. One of her clients, Donalda MacIsaac, is a good friend of mine and always told me about her visits to Dixon Slawter’s salon, Styles by SD, on Portland Street in Dartmouth. I went to the salon in May to interview Dixon Slawter. Donalda was there, as was Martha Grant. Dixon Slawter calls them Miss Donalda and Miss Martha. Donalda always says Dixon Slawter’s salon is like getting your hair done at home and she was right. We all had quite the time.

Dixon Slawter started her career when she was 19, learning from her aunt and uncle. She’s the first Black Nova Scotia to receive Red Seal certification in Hairdressing from the East Preston Church’s Empowerment Academy. She’s also one of several co-founders of The Black Beauty Culture Association, which was started in 2016 and whose goal is to fight the injustices, inequality, and inequity in the beauty industry in the province.

For Dixon Slawter, hair is more than beauty.

Hair has soul, hair has spirit. It lives.

It’s cultural, but it’s spiritual, too. Black hair wasn’t celebrated at one time. When we were brought here, we weren’t celebrated. Our beauty wasn’t celebrated. Our hair wasn’t celebrated. We were good for making money. So, taking care of us wasn’t on the list of things to do.

Last night, Dixon Slawter talked about Black hair care and handed out booklets that shared the history of Black hair care in Nova Scotia. Before the 1800s, Black hair care was non-existent. In Nova Scotia, much of the styling took place at home by those in the community who learned the skills. Products for Black hair care were brought here by relatives living in or visiting the U.S. At the session last night, Dixon Slawter showed the animated short, Hair Love, about a Black father who learns how to style his young daughter’s hair. The film, which was written and directed by Matthew A. Cherry, and co-produced with Karen Rupert Toliver, won the Oscar for the Best Short Film. You can watch it here. 

Dixon Slawter comes from a long line of pioneers in the industry in Nova Scotia.

Of course, there was Viola Desmond who owned her own studio, the Desmond School of Beauty Culture, and trained students in the 1940s (on the walls of Dixon Slawter’s salon, there are photos of Desmond and a framed $10 bill that now features the civil rights activist). But Dixon Slawter has written about the others, too. Verna Skinner was one of the first graduates of the Desmond School of Beauty Culture and did hair in her own home. Skinner was a mentor to Dixon Slawter, too, teaching her about Desmond’s legacy. Skinner gave her a set of Marcel irons and taught her how to use them. Lillian Patterson trained in the U.S., but practised in Halifax at her own salon. Barbara Bowen, otherwise known as Mrs. B., is the only surviving student of Desmond’s school. She started her own salon, B.B.’s Hair Salon, and taught students around the province. She’s the only African Nova Scotia to hold the title of vice-president of the Hairdressing Association of Nova Scotia, now the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia.

Beverley Mascoll was born in Fall River and moved to Toronto where she owned and operated a chain of beauty supply stores called Toronto Mascoll Beauty Supply. Mascoll also hosted one of the first Black beauty shows in Nova Scotia. LaVernia Hill was born in Digby and moved to Saint John, N. B. where she practised hairstyling. She convinced her boyfriend, David Bailey, also of Digby, to study hairstyling, too. He eventually encouraged other men to take up the trade. Carrie Parris Khan worked as a stylist from 1969 to 1985. Natherine Willis was the first Black Nova Scotian to hold a master cosmetology instructor license and, at one point, was one of the only Black cosmetologists licensed to instruct in Black hair care. She and her brother, C. Downey, opened Soul Clippers in the north end in the 1970s. She opened her own franchise in the 1980s. Soul Clippers was the longest-running owned and operated Black hair salon in Nova Scotia. Downey trained all the apprentices in Black hair care in the 1980s. Verna Colley operated her own salon in East Preston. Joan Beals opened a salon in North Preston after she retired from her job at the Halifax Rehabilitation Centre. Jack Wongus was from Maryland, but eventually settled in Halifax, opening Mahogany’s, one of the first Black-owned beauty supply stores in the 1980s.

Viola Desmond, second from left, with graduates from the Desmond School of Beauty Culture in 1947. Photo: Beaton Institute/Canadian Encyclopedia

Last night, Dixon Slawter had several of the guests share their own hair story. Matthew started growing out his hair last year. Joyce recalled having her hair straightened by a Mrs. Parsons, who also took care of the hair of the children the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. Joyce used peroxide on her own hair when she was 17, but eventually became a client of Dixon Slawter’s. Debra shared that her sister did her hair after their mother died. Then when she was eight years old, she did her own hair, clipping too much and leaving bald spots on the sides. She met Enid Parsons, who styled hair for clients in Hammonds Plains and Lucasville. A number of women at the session remembered Parsons well.

Dixon Slawter says everyone has a hair story. Her story is that her mother always did her hair, until she was a teenager and could style it herself.

I think for us, our story wasn’t recognized. For you, it was always recognized. You could always go to a hairdresser. Whenever you could afford to go to a hairdresser, you could go. Not me. There was no one out there who could do my hair.

Dixon Slawter’s legacy to the industry is already well underway. In October, she and a few members of the Black Beauty Cultural Association went to Cape Breton where she hosted Black Hair Story sessions and heard more hair stories. She also met Wanda Robson, Viola Desmond’s sister. In November, she was part of the Viola Desmond Sit-In at the Woodlawn Public Library where the movie, The Dark Mirror, was shown. That’s the film Desmond was watching in the New Glasgow theatre when she was arrested on Nov. 8, 1946.

And she’s been working for years to get an apprenticeship program for students to train in Black hair care. Last year, she applied to the province for an apprenticeship program, The Black Beauty Culture Hair Innovator, which would not only train stylists on how to do Black hair, but also create jobs and bring recognition to the study and history of Black beauty culture in Nova Scotia. She’s hoping to hear about the application this spring.

I think we need to be recognized and we’ve not been, especially in Nova Scotia. Not just Black stylists, but the consumer. The Black consumer has been devalued, too. For me, I want people to know we are beautiful, too. We own beautiful, too. That’s what I want people to know.

Dixon Slawter is hosting another session of The Black Hair-Story of Nova Scotia: What’s Your Hair Story? at the Africville Heritage Museum on Feb. 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Earlier this week, I was searching job boards for potential freelance work (this is an ongoing battle). I didn’t find anything but I have noticed recently how many volunteer roles are showing up on job boards. On one site, Charity Village, most of the listings were for volunteer roles. Sure, this is a site dedicated to non-profits and there are actually paid jobs advertised, but some of the listings were looking for people to do more than help out at the occasional event. The roles were varied and included cleaners, administrative support, writers, editors, graphic designers, director of communications, and vice-president of social media. (Here are the listings for Nova Scotia).

There are NEVER any ads for volunteer CEOs.

Volunteer roles don’t belong on job boards. People visit job boards to look for paid work — at least I do.

At the very least, the word volunteer should be in the title. While some of the listings had the word volunteer in the title, many others didn’t. But other job boards post volunteer roles, too, including Career Beacon and Indeed, where there are listings for volunteer roles with the Halifax Regional Police. A FULL-TIME volunteer with citizen patrol? I hope that’s a typo.

Why are organizations now expecting people just to work for free? And what I also notice is the long list of requirements including in the postings. Many of the organizations looking for volunteer want people with degrees and a particular set of skills and experiences. All of these listings look just like job postings except there’s no salary listed. I don’t know when this trend started, but it’s a disturbing one. I do volunteer work, but I have never applied for a volunteer role via a job board nor was I expected to do an interview to get that role.

These roles are aimed at women and young people looking for experience in their fields. (I’d argue that men go for and are offered the more prestigious volunteer roles that actually help them in their paid careers, while women are expected to do the volunteer work no one really notices and gets them nowhere in their careers). For young people, instead of a salary, the organizations will offer reference letters or hint to possible paid work if they stick it out long enough (many of these organizations ask for a year-long commitment). But how much experience does a young person have to gain with no pay before they are qualified enough to earn a good salary? Volunteering is not a full-time career. Many of these roles should be paid jobs.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this. While volunteering is important to the community, these postings are really undervaluing people’s skills and contributions. There’s a big difference being volunteering and working for free.




Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9am, City Hall) — agenda here.

Public Information Meeting – Case 22670 (Wednesday, 6pm, Port Wallis United Church, Dartmouth) — application by Halifax Regional Municipality to consider amendments to applicable secondary municipal planning strategies and land use by-laws to enable industrial and highway commercial development on the Conrad Quarry Lands, identified as PIDs 41168279, 00276188, 00276105, 0027596 and 40174286, located to the north of the Montague Mines Rd./Hwy. 107 interchange in Waverley. More info here.


Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda here.

Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — agenda here.

Regional Watershed Advisory Boards (Thursday, 5pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — agenda here.



Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Nova Scotia Health Authority –
Brendan Carr, President and CEO; Cybersecurity and Fraud Risks – October 2019 Report of the Auditor General
Committee page here.


No public meetings Thursday or Friday.

On campus



Saxophone Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, MacAloney Room, Dal Arts Centre) — more info here.


Dalhousie Reading Circle (Thursday, 9:30am, Indigenous Student Centre Community Room, 1321 Edward Street) — weekly meeting for “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” More info here.

The Top 5 Population-Based Research Questions Facing Cancer (Thursday, 12:30pm, Theatre C, Tupper Link) — Winson Y. Cheung from the University of Calgary and Cancer Control Alberta will

delve into the important area of population-based research including the increasing role of using health outcomes studies and real-world evidence to inform treatment decision-making in the context of cancer care. While clinical trials remain the gold standard for the evaluation of efficacy of novel therapies and interventions, there is a need to assess their effectiveness in routine clinical care. This encompasses a spectrum of topics, such as adoption and dissemination of new treatments, survivorship and end-of-life care. There is also growing recognition that clinical trials only represent a fraction of the population that clinicians encounter; therefore, population-based research is increasing being used to measure patterns of care and outcomes in the marginalized subsets of our population that are frequently excluded from trials. This presentation will highlight recent examples of real-world evidence and the future direction of this important field of research.

More info here.

World’s Challenge Challenge Competition: Dalhousie SemiFinals (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — from the listing:

Global issues such as poverty, food security, public health, inequality and environmental degradation are the product of global relations in which we as global citizens bear some responsibility. The ​World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) — a global initiative of Western University — encourage​s young minds from different disciplines to come together to address a global issue, offering solutions to implement in partnership with communities. The WCC frames global issues through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

More info here.

Love is in the Stars (Thursday, 7:15pm, Halifax Planetarium, Dunn Building) — show for Valentine’s Day. Adults only, $5 at the door, reserve here, and more info here.

Concerto Night (Thursday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre, Dal Arts Centre) — with Fountain School of Performing Arts students. $15/$10 at Dal Arts Centre Box Office or online.

Saint Mary’s


No public events.


13th (Thursday, 7pm, AT 101) — screening of Ava DuVernay’s documentary, as part of African Heritage Month. More info here.

Hard Questions, Emerging Answers: Why Gaelic in Nova Scotia Matters (Thursday, 7pm, Room 265 in the building named after a grocery store) — John Shaw from the University of Edinburgh will talk. More info here.



Annick MacAskill and Nolan Natasha (Wednesday, 8pm, Senior Common Room, Arts and Administration Building) — local poets will read, followed by a reception. More info here.


Book Launch – The Skin We’re In (Thursday, 7pm, Alumni Hall, New Academic Building) — Desmond Cole in conversation with El Jones. From the listing:

Puncturing the bubble of Canadian smugness and naive assumptions of a post-racial nation, Cole chronicles just one year—2017—in the struggle against racism in this country. It was a year that saw calls for tighter borders when Black refugees braved frigid temperatures to cross into Manitoba from the States, Indigenous land and water protectors resisting the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, police across the country rallying around an officer accused of murder, and more.

More info here.

In the harbour

05:30: Primrose Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
07:00: Onego Rio, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from Szczecin, Poland
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
10:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11:00: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Portland
15:30: Primrose Ace sails for sea
16:30: Atlantic Sea sails for Liverpool, England
17:00: Skogafoss sails for Argentia, Newfoundland


Someone will throw snowballs at me for saying this, but we’ve had a pretty decent winter so far. Winter is not my favourite season (it’s autumn), but this winter hasn’t been bad at all. I had a couple of lovely road trips. I haven’t even minded shovelling my driveway, which I have to do right now.

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

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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  1. I think this should be the rule of thumb for determining whether or not a role should be classified as a volunteer position or a paid position:

    If your organization can perform its day-to-day tasks and keep the organization functioning without this role, then that role can be a volunteer position. It’s a position that provides something in addition to the organization’s necessary duties and helps things run more smoothly.

    If the organization cannot reasonably function without this role, then that role should be a PAID POSITION.

    1. Precisely. The exploitation needs to stop. It turns my stomach; when I was an executive director I would NEVER have had the gall to expect people to work for free.

  2. There’s a sign on the door of the old library referring to times for night court. If the provincial court needs to spread out, wouldn’t that be a perfect place for it?

  3. Volunteering used to be to fill the gaps, often one on one – I’ll shovel my neighbour’s driveway, I’ll pick up the groceries for the old couple down the street. The concept of volunteers doing work that should be paid is just the next step in the lean management book of tricks.

  4. I volunteered on a HRM Committee, which was to meet once a month, that became twice a month and then weekly. I looked around the room and realized that almost everyone else was there as a representative of an organization and was being paid and they had no objections to more meetings.