News

1. Police union says cops can’t do their job without beating up Black people

Police Chief Dan Kinsella. Photo: Halifax Examiner

El Jones wrote yesterday that the head of the police union wrote an email complaining about how morale amongst officers is the “lowest he’s seen in 30 years,” because of the decisions of chief Dan Kinsella.

Those decisions include one that put two officers on administrative leave after the arrest of a Black teen in Bedford a couple of weeks ago.

Says Jones:

They are not telling us that they take racial profiling seriously, and that they’re worried about their relationship of trust with the community. They are not telling us that it is their priority to eliminate racial bias from policing. They are not telling us that the responsibility to use force is a serious one and that they do everything to de-escalate situations. They are not telling us that beating up Black people is, at the very least, a bad PR move.

Instead, they are telling us that their priority when it comes to dealing with Black people is to continue to be able to use as much violence as they want without being held accountable. Not by the chief, as little as he is doing, and not by the public. If we refuse to let them brutalize us freely, then they tell us that they can no longer do their jobs.

They are telling us that they consider it their job to brutalize Black people.

All you police apologists, please let that sink in.

Jones also asks why media didn’t interview members of the Black community about the email and included a list of questions they could have asked.

2. Schools cancel kids’ international trips

Zach Churchill

Yesterday, education minister Zach Churchill announced all school-sanctioned international trips would be cancelled over concerns about COVID-19. Graeme Benjamin and Jeremy Keefe at Global report that while Churchill made the announcement, the decision was actually made by the regional directors of education.

That is an important distinction, particularly for insurance coverage purposes. It was decided at their level, which is a decision I do support, that they were going to cancel all international travel, even in areas that aren’t deemed to be high risk right now.

Churchill says the decision is “fluid” and will be looked at again April 30.

This message from Elwin LeRoux, regional executive director of education with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, was sent out to parents yesterday:

Dear Families,

We recognize that international travel provides a valuable educational experience for students. However, we also know that the public health situation involving COVID-19 is evolving at a rapid pace.

Given the importance of the well-being and safety of our students and chaperones, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education has made the difficult decision to cancel all school-organized student trips to international destinations between now and the end of April.

Based on discussions with Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, we decided the best approach is a low-risk one, given that students are involved.

I appreciate how disappointing this decision is for everyone. If you were participating in a school-organized international trip in March or April, your school will be in touch with you with more information.

If you are participating in a school-organized trip to an international destination in May or June, no decision has been made related to cancellation. Our Regional Centre for Education will continue to monitor the situation and, after consulting with public health officials, we will provide further direction by April 9.

For those families travelling during March Break, we encourage you to monitor existing Government of Canada travel advisories – https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html – to guide your decision-making.

Public Health officials also recommend you follow prevention tips for the cold and flu season, which include the following:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue (throw the tissue away)
  • limit contact with others when you’re sick
  • limit touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • don’t share items that may have saliva on them like utensils and bottles/glasses

More information about COVID-19 is also available on the Government of Nova Scotia website at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/

We appreciate that this situation is evolving. Our commitment is to keep you informed throughout the school year.

Sincerely,

Elwin LeRoux,
Regional Executive Director of Education

I checked the HRCE Twitter account for reaction from parents, and it was mixed. Some said not all trips needed to be cancelled, while others asked what would happen with the money that was raised to pay for those trips.

3. Adoption records could be open this fall

Community services minister Kelly Regan

Adoption records could be open in the province as early as this fall, reports Michael Gorman with CBC. Says community services minister Kelly Regan:

It is my intention to ask permission to do legislation on this particular issue, but there are steps I have to follow, as you’ll understand

Nova Scotia is one of the last provinces to have closed adoption records. Regan launched a consultation on the issue in November and feedback showed people wanted open records. Regan says the department needs to have the technology in place for when people ask for records or register a veto on releasing the records.

Right now, when a birth parent or adult who was adopted as a child wants to find someone, they need the permission of the other party first. Other provinces use a presumptive consent approach to adoption records.

4. Province will repeal Bill 203

Justice Minister Mark Furey. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Justice minister Mark Furey says Bill 203 could be repealed as early as today. That’s the bill that prompted the province’s crown attorneys to briefly go on strike last fall.

The Canadian Press reports that the announcement comes after the signing of a new contract that will give prosecutors a 7% pay increase over four years, retroactive to April 1, 2019. Furey says the contract fits what was offered to other public servants.

There were very productive discussions that led to the outcome so we are quite pleased.

Bill 203, which was introduced in the legislature in October, removed the crown attorneys’ negotiated right to binding arbitration. They were asking for a 17% salary increase over four years.

5. IMP to bid on new fighter jets

IMP Group is part of a consortium putting a bid together to assemble and maintain 88 Saab Gripen fighter jets that his company’s hangar near the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

The Chronicle Herald spoke with Ken Rowe, IMP’s founder and executive chairman, about the bid.

It wouldn’t make sense to set up a factory here to build less than 100 Gripens.

But a lot of the parts will be made here in our shops, where it makes sense, and the whole aircraft assembled here.

The feds will choose the winning bid in 2022. The jets will be ready around 2025.

Rowe tells the Herald he wasn’t sure how many people would be hired for the project. The current workforce at IMP is 2,000 people.

In 2015, during his election campaign, Justin Trudeau said his government wouldn’t purchase the F-35s, but they later changed their minds about freezing out the jet. Those aircraft are now seen as the front runner in the competition. Says Rowe:

I like our position because we don’t need a stealth aircraft in Canada. The F-35 is a stealth aircraft. You pay a lot for that. It’s a bigger aircraft and it’s not what Canada really needs. We defend our country. We don’t go out attacking other countries with stealth aircraft. … We’re a quiet country that minds our own business.

6. Blackburn, Nicoll talk about being a woman in politics

Lisa Blackburn. Photo: Halifax Examiner.                          Lorelei Nicoll

Caora McKenna at The Coast has a very good piece on councillors Lisa Blackburn and Lorelei Nicoll who talk about their experiences being on council and their advice to women who want to run for office.

Blackburn and Nicoll are the only women on regional council. And that’s not unusual compared to the rest of the country. Say McKenna:

Halifax is on trend with the rest of Canada in that only 27 percent of MPs are women and in 2018, only 33 percent of Nova Scotian MLAs were women. In Halifax, there have only been three women deputy mayors, no woman mayors and, according to records from Halifax Regional Municipality — since amalgamation in 1996 — 426 people have run for a seat on Halifax Regional Council, and only 23.2 percent were women. A total number of 133 seats have been won, but only 27 percent were won by women.

McKenna gets some really good insights from Blackburn and Nicoll that really apply to women in any male-dominated space. Nicoll recalls what she told Blackburn when she was elected in 2016:

You know this, that you will say something and it will be very on point and, you know, a really good point to drive home and then someone else will get up and say the same thing and won’t acknowledge that you said it at all.

Oh, so many women have experienced this in the workplace!

Blackburn talks about her time working in radio and how she had to carry herself like Pat, the Saturday Night Live character no one knew was a man or a woman, concerned about how she’d take up space.

Reflecting, Blackburn says “I wonder if I did myself a great disservice or did women in general a great disservice…by going the Pat route. In an effort to fit in and for everybody to be comfortable so the product on-air sounded good.”

I didn’t want anybody to ever be afraid that they would offend me. And, so it’s funny. I think I’ve sort of taken that and carried it along through into my career now.

Nicoll shares how she felt she didn’t get the respect she deserved until seven years after she was elected.

They don’t cut me off when I’m speaking. I can actually notice that they’re listening to me, instead of rolling their eyes.

The two councillors were also a big part in creating the Women’s Advisory Committee, one of a few to help make up for the lack of diversity on council. As Blackburn tells McKenna, the committee is a way to counteract the “white-male lens.”

The municipal election is in another seven months, so we’ll see how many women step up and run. So far, there are lots of men who’ve declared their candidacies. You can find the list here.


Views

How the whales wish they were in Sherbrooke now

Last week, we learned the Whale Sanctuary Project is coming to Port Hilford, outside of Sherbrooke. In 2016, The Examiner broke the story about the project eyeing locations in Nova Scotia.

The community of Sherbrooke on the Eastern Shore have been big supporters of the Whale Sanctuary Project, which announced nearby Port Hilford as its location for the home for belugas. Photo: The Whale Sanctuary/Facebook

News that the sanctuary was heading to the Eastern Shore was a big deal for Sherbrooke, the community of about 450 that really rallied around the idea from the get go. Yesterday, I spoke with Stephen Flemming, executive director of the Sherbrooke Village, the living museum where costumed interpreters now guide visitors through what was once a boom town and big part of the province’s shipbuilding industry in the 1860s. Flemming was one of three local residents that formed a committee after The Whale Sanctuary Project folks came to the community to talk. Flemming, along with James Andrews and Amy Simon, each brought a specific skill set to the committee: Flemming was the negotiator and planner; Anderson had the rapport with the local fishing industry; and Simon is a professional artist and whale enthusiast. Flemming says some residents were skeptical at first, but they got to learn about who was behind the project.

It sounds off the wall, doesn’t it? When this opportunity emerged, it was a long shot, but we threw it in all the way. I knew the community would get behind it. I knew it.

Once they knew who they were dealing with, it didn’t take people long to say, ‘Oh, this is real.’

The Whale Sanctuary Project started in 2016 with the goal of building  a sanctuary where captive whales could be rehabilitated and live in a natural environment. Its team are scientists from around the world who specialize in the study of whales, including those in captivity. The cost is estimated at $20 million with money coming from donations, endowments, and revenue from educational materials and programming. By the end of 2017, the non-profit had about a dozen sites narrowed down for selection.

There were a number of communities along the Eastern Shore that were identified as potential locations for the sanctuary, including Sheet Harbour and Mushaboom. On the South Shore, Shelburne was in the running, too. But the harbour at Port Hilford won out in the end.

Port Hilford is the largest of three harbours between Sherbrooke and Port Bickerton. The cone-shaped harbour here works for the sanctuary because of its depth, ice-free conditions, and lots of shelter from the prevailing winds.

The harbour at Port Hilford Photo: Sherbrooke Village

Flemming says the local fishers were also willing to speak with the project organizers to see how the sanctuary and local fishery could work together.

You don’t see that kind of receptivity everywhere.

Flemming says every public meeting on the project had a packed house. The community has gone all out to promote the sanctuary. During Sherbrooke Village’s Old-Fashioned Christmas event in November, one of the houses was designated the Beluga House (it was created by Simon from the whale committee). Inside, visitors got to learn more about the whales, including through a story about Santa meeting belugas under the sea. More than 1,200 people visited that house.

Inside the Beluga House, which artist Amy Simon created for Sherbrooke Village’s Old-Fashioned Christmas. Simon was on a committee organized to promote the area as a home to the whale sanctuary. Photo: Sherbrooke Village
Belugas have become part of the decor at Sherbrooke Village. Photo: Sherbrooke Village/Facebook

The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s passed a resolution giving the project written endorsement. Local fishermen took scientists out to do depth sounds in the harbour. Other local fishing families were on board to learn how the sanctuary could be part of the community while not harming the fishery. Flemming says they gathered much of the scientific information themselves, using nautical charts and other documents to learn the biophysical features of harbours in the area, including Port Hilford.

The community of Sherbrooke celebrates the announcement that nearby Port Hilford will be home to a whale sanctuary. Photo: Sherbrooke Village

Charles Vinick, executive director of The Whale Sanctuary, says after considering all the communities, the final decision to choose Port Hilford was a unanimous one.

There was a spirit about the idea that was contagious in the community and a willingness to work with us. That’s a special environment to have a sanctuary in.

The sanctuary will include an interpretive centre where visitors can bring their binoculars and watch the whales. Cameras above and below the surface will help see the whales in action. Flemming says there will also be ways to hear the sounds of the very vocal belugas, which are known as the canaries of the sea. Vinick says there may be boat tours, too, outside of the net that would get visitors about 30 to 40 metres away from the whales. He says that’s still closer than a typical whale watching tour. Say Flemming:

Being at the interpretive centre will be a very visceral experience for people but it won’t harm the whales because it will be managed so well.

While people will be able to visit the sanctuary, it’s not an entertainment facility and the priority of the project is the protection of the whales. Photo: The Whale Sanctuary

Looking ahead, Vinick says they still have to consider some infrastructure for the project, like water, electricity, and the construction of a few buildings in the area. The land around Port Hilford is a mix of Crown and private lands. Flemming says the roads are good here.

Vinick says there are about 300 belugas and about 57 orcas in captivity around the globe. As for how many will live in the harbour at Port Hilford, that’s yet to be determined, although Vinick says about eight belugas can live comfortably in a 40-hectare area. The exact number will require more analysis and input from the community.

The goal is to get whales in the sanctuary in 2021, although Flemming says there will certainly be whales there by 2022. Vinick says they will be in communication with aquariums where some of the whales now live. It’s quite an undertaking to transport whales to sanctuaries. The animals are flown by planes equipped with water tanks and then moved to sanctuaries by truck or barge. The animal trainers at the aquariums are part of the process of moving the whales, helping ease the whales through the process, which includes them being in a sling during transport. Vinick says the whales need to get used to their new home and the design will be done with the welfare of the whales as the priority.

The whales are used to living in a small space and are very cautious.

Flemming lives in Isaac’s Harbour, a short drive and ferry trip away from Sherbrooke. He drives by Port Hilford every day and says he’s looking forward to maybe seeing the occasional whale surface during his commute back and forth from the museum. The sanctuary will also mean more visitors to Sherbrooke Village, which sees about 32,000 guests per season between Victoria Day weekend and Thanksgiving. Flemming says the sanctuary is also a natural fit with its Rural Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Sustainability (RICHES). One goal of that centre is to work on partnerships to promote the tourism sector on the Eastern Shore. He says they are working with other local tourism organizations to see how the sanctuary will fit into a regional plan.

This is so consistent with what how so many people here want tourism to go.

While people can visit, the sanctuary is for the whales. Says Vinick:

You’ll have the opportunity to learn about them in a natural environment. [Visitors] will join in with us to relate to these animals in their way.


Noticed

I haven’t done a roundup of terrible-paying jobs lately, but this caught my attention this week.

I contacted Sarah Riley Rosen, the director of strategy at R&G, to see how the search was going. She told me since this tweet, they had more resumes come in with a more even balance of female and male candidates. She says she wasn’t sure if the tweet inspired that or just time. She told me they now feel they have a good spectrum of candidates to choose from.

Still, this is pretty interesting that men are just applying for jobs they aren’t even remotely qualified for. They must be learning something from Kevin Cormier, the guy who was hired as the executive director of the New Brunswick Public Library Service, who was recently hired for that gig without any library experience or even a degree in anything, even though a library degree was listed as “essential” in the job posting. (There’s lots of noise being made in New Brunswick over the hiring of Cormier, including this piece from Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon at CBC who spoke with a former employee of Cormier’s at Kings Landing Library who says Cormier trashed $60,000 worth of books while he was the CEO there).

I always hear that statistic that says men will apply for a job if they have 60 per cent of the qualifications, while women only apply when they meet 100 per cent of the criteria. Clearly, men are just applying for anything, regardless of the qualifications. And, in some cases, they’re getting hired.

Oh, no word on how much this job pays, though, although Rosen says they have a range in mind.


Government

City

Thursday

The Nature Trust purchase are the lots outlined in red. Map: Nature Trust of Nova Sotia

Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — Allison Thome and Ross Firth, who are with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, are asking the city to contribute $750,000 towards the Nature Trust’s $2.4 million acquisition costs of a 575 acre parcel in Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes wilderness. Tim wrote about the purchase here.

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5:30pm, City Hall) — there are no action items on the agenda.

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, Old School Gathering Place, Musquodoboit Harbour) — a public hearing on a proposal to change two ground floor commercial spaces to five residential units, in a single building at #8005 Highway 7. Which is all well and good except the building owner started the renovation without the required permits.

Friday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings Thursday or Friday.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

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.

Sounds of Strength and Songs of Woe: Making Quechua Music in the Peruvian Andes (Thursday, 12pm, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with Joshua Tucker from Brown University.

The Impossible Museum Opening Reception (Thursday, 5pm, Thomas McCulloch Museum, Life Sciences Centre) — artists D’Arcy Wilson and Amy Malbeuf “reimagined” the museum. More info here.

Picturing Place and the Writing of History: The Lens and Legacy of Frederick Dally (Thursday, 7pm, Room 127, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Joan M. Schwartz from Queen’s University will talk. More info here.

Emerging from Emergency: From Local to Global (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — Caroline Merner will talk. More info here.

Friday

SHIFT EQUITY (Friday, 8:30am, Alderney Landing) — day 1 of a free public conference dedicated to advancing conversations about themes on (in)equity and accessibility. Speakers include Houssam Elokda and Lezlie Lowe; there’s a youth panel and a panel on accessibility, and a free showing of There’s Something in the Water. More info and registration here.

Woodwinds Recital (Friday, 11:45am, MacAloney Room, Dal Arts Centre)

Science and the Sacred (Friday, 12pm, Chase Gallery, Nova Scotia Archives) — More info here.

OmiSoore Dryden. Photo: omisooredryden.com

Black Feminist Health Studies | Dalhousie Feminist Seminar Series (Friday, 12pm, Room 2021, Marion McCain Building) — OmiSoore Dryden will talk. More info here.

Structure, Properties, and Biomedical Opportunities for Borophosphate Glasses (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Richard K. Brow from Missouri University of Science and Technology will talk.

An Introduction to Vocal Pedagogy (Friday, 3pm, Room 121, Dal Arts Centre) — with Glen Nowell.

The Gift of Erasmus (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — William Barker will talk.

IDEA Speaker Series (Friday, 4:30pm, in the auditorium named for a fossil fuel company, Richard Murray Design Building) — the listing babbles on something crazy; attend at your own risk!:

Join us for the IDEA Speaker Series to learn from two inspiring keynotes who are innovative and resilient leaders. Through grit and determination, these pioneering engineers have catapulted their companies to new heights.

We’re excited to welcome Dr. Giovana Celli and Veronica Merryfield to share their stories of innovation and success.

These leaders are thinkers and problems solvers with the power to innovate in times of rapid change. Their courage to take risks helped launch their inspiring careers. Harnessing the ability to operate in complexity and often challenging fields, these engineers saw barriers as temporary setbacks, and through creativity and positivity, have propelled their careers to success.

More buzzwordy info here.

Birth of a Family (Friday, 5:30pm, Room 1108, Mona Campbell Building) — free screening of documentary and conversation with the director, Tasha Hubbard, and Raven Sinclair. More info here.

The Impossible Museum Curator’s Tour (Friday, 6pm, Thomas McCulloch Museum, Life Sciences Centre) — artists D’Arcy Wilson and Amy Malbeuf “reimagined” the museum. More info here. More info here.

Saturday

4th Annual NS Open Data Contest (Saturday 8:30am, Room 1020, Rowe management Building) — data will save civilization. More info here.

SHIFT EQUITY (Saturday, 9am, Halifax North Memorial Public Library) — day 2 of a free public conference. Ted Rutland, David Wachsmith, Ingrid Waldron, Irvine Carvery, Claudia Jahn, and others will talk about Inequity and Exclusion, Airbnb Effects on Affordable Housing, and Housing Affordability. Registration and schedule here.

Saint Mary’s

Friday

Research Expo (Friday, 1pm, Loyola Conference Hall) — three-minute Research Presentations and over 35 displays from Faculties in Science, Business, and Arts. Register here.

“Why do you write in Irish?” (Friday, 7pm, Room 260 in the building named after a grocery store) — Biddy Jenkinson, an Irish-language writer, explains why she prefers not to translate her work into English, in the D’Arcy McGee Lecture in Irish Studies.

King’s

Thursday

Will You Taste Our Blood? (Thursday, 8pm, The Pit) — Katie Clark’s play explores themes of violence, consent and hook-up culture while re-imagining the Dionysus-worshipping Maenads. Continues to Saturday. More info and tickets here.

Friday

Media Ecology: Television and Animation (Friday, 5:35pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — Thomas Lamarr from McGill University will talk.

Will You Taste Our Blood? (Friday, 8pm, The Pit)


In the harbour

03:00: Sarah Desgagnes, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
04:00: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York (itinerary)
07:00: Pictor J, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11:00: Pictor J sails for Portland
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
16:00: X-Press Makalu, container ship, moves from Pier 42 to anchorage
16:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Coe from Liverpool, England
23:00: Atlantic Sky sails for New York


Footnotes

When I was researching the Whale Sanctuary Project, I remembered Danger Bay, that 1980s CBC show set at the Vancouver Aquarium. There seemed to be a lot of drama going on for an aquarium. I quite liked Donnelly Rhodes, who played Grant “Doc” Roberts. He was also on the Golden Girls once.

I am really showing my age here.

Suzanne Rent

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

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