1. Muskrat Falls power delivery delayed again
This item is written by Tim Bousquet.
One day, power from the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador will provide a big chunk of Nova Scotia’s renewably generated electricity. But that day keeps getting pushed into the future.
The latest delay comes thanks to a glitch in the GE software that controls the Labrador-Island Link (LIL). The LIL will deliver power from Muskrat Falls to the system grid on the island of Newfoundland. From there, the power will cross to Nova Scotia via the Maritime Link, a subsea cable that is already operating.
The software issue is spelled out in a letter from Nalcor, the firm constructing the Muskrat Falls project, to the Public Utilities Board of Nova Scotia. The letter relates that the software glitch is expected to be resolved by the middle of November, but “Due to the further delays by GE, the overall Project completion date of November 26, 2021, is not achievable. A revised date will be provided when the LCP receives a detailed schedule from GE.”
So, Nova Scotia continues to wait.
Three of the four generating units at Muskrat Falls have been commissioned and are ready to generate power. The fourth is scheduled to be commissioned at the end of this month.
2. Dwayne Provo appointed as Associate Deputy Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs
Matthew Byard reports on the announcement Tuesday that Dwayne Provo was appointed as the Associate Deputy Minister of African Nova Scotia Affairs. Provo made the announcement in a letter:
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.
This is the first time that government has appointed a dedicated Associate Deputy to focus solely on the work of ANSA, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to support and champion this important work. I will work with Deputy Ministers and Associate Deputy Ministers across government to advance community issues and priorities and find solutions.
3. Health care makes the throne speech, but housing crisis neglected
Zane Woodford covered the speech from the throne and the first full, in-person sitting of the Nova Scotia Legislature since the pandemic began. The throne speech, delivered by Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc, included mentions of health care and universal mental health care. But the speech neglected housing. Woodford writes:
Another campaign pledge, the speech committed to waiving income tax on the first $50,000 for tradespeople aged 30 and under.
That same section of the speech includes the one and only use of the word ‘housing,’ with the government suggesting bringing in more tradespeople and increasing supply is central to its plan.
“There is a housing crisis in Nova Scotia. We have a plan to address this crisis — and attracting and training more trades people is critical to its success,” the speech said.
There’s no specific housing-related commitment in the speech.
4. Demand is up for flu shots
Flu season is on the way and pharmacies across the province have wait lists for Nova Scotians looking to get flu shots. I talked with Diane Harpell, the owner/pharmacist of the Medicine Shoppe in Dartmouth and the chair of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia (PANS), who told me demand for flu shots was big last flu season. Pharmacies give about half of the flu shots in the province. Last year, that figure was about 204,000 shots. Harpell told me:
There are huge opportunities for that to be even higher. Right now, the way the allotment is split is pharmacies are half and other providers are half. Obviously, our capability to provide vaccine for flu is more.
And it looks like more people will want the shot this season. In September, the Canadian Pharmacists Association completed a survey on the demand for them at pharmacies. That survey found that 56% of Canadians say they intend to get the flu shot this year. Compare that figure to the 47% of Canadians who said they got a flu shot last year.
Now I have to book an appointment for my flu shot.
5. COVID update: 99 new cases over four days
Tim Bousquet had the first COVID update after the Thanksgiving long weekend in which 99 new cases of the virus were announced. That total is for four days, Friday to Monday. Here’s the breakdown by Nova Scotia Health Zone:
• 86 Central Zone
• 6 Western Zone
• 4 Northern Zone
• 3 cases Eastern Zone
There are a total of 197 known case of the virus in Nova Scotia.
As always, Bousquet’s update includes details on vaccination, testing, demographics, and potential exposures advisories.
6. Homeowners want to ID woman’s photo found in walls
I found this so interesting: Sarah Warford and her husband were renovating their home in the Hydrostone when they found all sorts of old photos and documents in the walls. They found Christmas cards, a copy of the Canadian Railway Employees monthly magazine, a Simpson’s catalogue, 2½ cent coupons for Acadia Stores Ltd., and a rent receipt from 1924 from the Halifax Relief Commission. Rent was $25 a month.
Warford also found a portrait of a woman she is now trying to identify. She was on Maritime Noon talking about the finds, and Cassidy Chisholm wrote this story for CBC about the photo. Here’s what Warford said about it:
I’m not a historian really and I’m not a fashion expert by any stretch, but when I look at the clothing that she’s wearing, my guess is that the photo was taken in the late 1800s or very early 1900s.
This [photo] was planned. Her hair is perfect. Her makeup is done. There’s not a detail missed in her look, so a lot of intention went into the photograph.
The photograph was taken in Halifax by photographer Harry J. Moss. Warford said they’d like to give the photo to family, but for now that picture and the other documents are on display in the house, which is also up for sale.
Pandemics past and present
Yesterday, I went to the Chase Gallery at the Nova Scotia Archives to see an exhibit of photos by Len Wagg. The photos capture people we’ve come to know more throughout the last 19 months, but also others, including health care workers behind the scenes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wagg’s photos are displayed on the walls of the gallery, among copies of newspaper clippings and other historical documents that tell the stories of pandemics past such as the influenza of 1918-19.
After I saw the exhibit, I talked with Wagg about his photos. Last year, during the second lockdown, Wagg published a book of photos related to the pandemic called Stay the Blazes Home: Dispatches from Nova Scotia during the COVID-19 Pandemic. After that book was published, he said, “it never felt like it was over.”
“I’ve done 11 books now and I’ve never got as much feedback and people reaching out to me as I did with that book.”
He said through the spring he saw health care workers playing their part in the pandemic. At the same time, he was looking at images at the archives and thought he could do something with that material. He approached the archives about working on the exhibit (in 2015, Wagg did an exhibit with the archives that included his photos and those of Wallace MacAskill).
Wagg said he wanted to share photos of a broad range of people who we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, like chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang and Dr. Lisa Barrett. There are also photos of other health care workers, like Jennifer Turcot, the LPN who delivered the first COVID-19 vaccine on December 16, 2020; Charles Heinstein, the technical manager for the microbiology lab for the central zone, which analyzed all the COVID tests from around the province; Liette Williams, an RN from East Preston, at a vaccine clinic in her community; and Allison Flemming, RN, who was the team lead at the drive-thru vaccine clinic in Truro (that’s where I got my second shot!). Other photos capture teams of workers at testing clinics set up in arenas and community centres across Nova Scotia.
Then there’s a photo of Athanasius “Tanas” Sylliboy, a nurse pracitioner who wrote posters in Mi’kmaw to encourage people to get vaccinated. Others were more behind the scenes.
This isn’t just health care workers — included are Richard Martell and Debbie Johnson-Powell, the ASL team that provided the sign language interpretation during the COVID briefings. I wrote about that duo back in 2020; while Martell is who we see on screen, the two work as a team. Johnson-Powell listens to the people at the briefings and signs to Martell, who then interprets for viewers.
They became such a little beacon for so many people. Richard became a star, but it was always Richard and Debbie who [sign] together. People really gravitated toward them.
Wagg also included photos of Paul Brothers, anchor and host of The Morning News on Global Halifax, and his wife and two children, all of whom got COVID-19. Wagg managed to get a photo of his daughter Jodi and her husband Brett, during their scaled-down wedding in which they were only permitted five guests because of COVID restrictions. Another photo shows people socially distanced on Citadel Hill displayed next to a much older black-and-white photo of workers providing pandemic relief on Citadel Hill about 100 years ago.
All of Wagg’s photos are in beautiful frames made by Tim L’esperance from reclaimed wood he found around the province.
The exhibit is quite moving, and also a reminder that pandemics have played out the same over history. This exhibit talks about the influenza of 1918-19, of course, but there are also articles and posters about smallpox and tuberculosis. You’d recognize the language: restrictions, masks, closures of churches, theatres, and schools, proper hygiene, and vaccination certifications. There’s even one article on how to keep busy on those evenings at home when everything is shut down because. How we’ve responded to pandemics really has been the same for a long time — but of course there was no social media back then.
Wagg said one of his favourite parts was the century-old posters that shared influenza information in French, English, Gaelic, and Mi’kmaq.
What they did was 100 years ago, they realized they have to reach the people in the language they understand. I remember thinking that was so innovative — and that was 100 years ago.
Wagg also said the exhibit taught him about why he thinks the pandemic response worked so well here. He said it can best be captured in the word “apoqonmatimg,” which means “we are working together.” The word is in the caption that goes with Wagg’s portrait of Athanasius “Tanas” Sylliboy.
What seems to kind of stand out, from all the people I talked to collectively — there is a sense you want to take care of yourself so you can take care of other people in your community. That was the attitude 100 years ago. What I came away thinking is that the province, almost being an island, shaped us. Did the land shape us to who we are in that we care about each other? We seem to want to do collectively better. I really felt a lot of hope after I finished.
You really should go see this exhibit if you can. Wagg told me he hopes visitors get an appreciation of every single person and health care worker involved in helping out.
All those individual choices people made and they don’t see it as a big deal. The health care heroes and stuff? That doesn’t come into their minds at all. They collectively said it’s the most meaningful work they’ve ever done in their lives.
The exhibit is open until October 31 and it’s free to visit, although Wagg is encouraging visitors to bring a donation for Shelter Nova Scotia. And you have to show your proof of vaccination and photo ID.
I noticed a couple of podcasts that I wanted to share here. This first is Somebody Must Say These Things, an eight-part series from the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, which investigates violence against women in the province. In the podcast, survivors and workers helping women experiencing violence share their story. Stephen Cooke at Saltwire wrote about the podcast and spoke with Ginger MacPhee, executive director at Chrysalis House in Kentville, who is a survivor of domestic violence and shares her story in the first episode of the podcast. Cooke writes:
Now that she’s in a position to help other women in similar circumstances, MacPhee says she’s decided to share her story after being approached about it by those she’s counseled at Chrysalis House. But she says it’s still difficult to talk about, especially in a widespread medium like podcasting.
“One, in particular, asked me, ‘Why aren’t you talking about it? It is so powerful to hear that you have changed your life in that way, and it gives me hope to know that my life can change and I can have a different life.’ That was very meaningful to me,” says MacPhee, who says one of the main goals of Somebody Must Say These Things is to challenge the stigma and shame felt by survivors of their partners’ violent behaviour, and empower them to talk about their experiences and be heard.
Cooke also talked with Shiva Nourpanah, the coordinator at THANS, who said the podcast is a way to get the word out ab0ut domestic violence. Cooke writes:
“We brainstormed with our board and a podcast seemed like a way to amplify survivor voices, to have those voices directly heard, and pitched to communities and societies with a wide reach,” says Nourpana from her Halifax office.
She cites statistics from 2019 that show there were more than 22,000 police-reported incidents of family violence reported in Canada, a number that has grown since the arrival of COVID-19.
“The same source, Statistics Canada, reports there’s been a 33 per cent increase since 2016 of family violence,” says Nourpanah. “And we know that the police-reported incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. Most of these incidents remain unreported and unknown.”
You can listen to Somebody Must Say These Things here.
The second podcast is called Traffik Report, which looks at sex and labour trafficking in Canada. So far only the pilot episode is out and that one covers “speaking truth to power on sex and labour trafficking.” Like Somebody Must Say These Things, Traffik Report talks with survivors and workers on the frontlines. The first episode, which is hosted by Elvira Truglia and Fay Faraday, includes workers and advocates like Thunder Shanti Narooz van Egteren who works with YWCA Halifax, who talked about their work and role:
I identify as a former sex worker. So really, this is also a space for me to come and bring my lived experience in addition to my professional experience, in a way that I think really can add to it. Because what I like to say sometimes in some of the training that we do, you know, you’re not part of that club, until you’re part of that club. It’s something else to understand what the sex trade is, and what some of the realities are, but until you are in the sex trade, and you’re working in that capacity, or if there’s been a force, or coercion, or manipulation, but even just the act of exchanging sex or sexual acts for money, or for something of value, that really — it’s difficult to understand that until you’ve experienced that. So for myself, this is a place and a time to also bring all those things together, and even use it as as a way to come to terms with it. So that is you know, even till a recent time, the shame, the blame, the guilt that existed with that experience, have been really real, whether coming from within or coming from other people, right? And so I think being able to bring that together and move the work forward with both of those pieces is really important to me.
This first-voice experience is really important in these stories and it’s good to hear them shared in these podcasts. Again, you can listen to The Traffik Report here.
Bullshit and bafflegab, part 2
Last week, I wrote this piece about Bullshit and Bafflegab on all that nonsense language in the coaching and self-help industries. I got a lot of feedback on it, including private emails from people who always felt uncomfortable with the marketing from industries, but don’t want to say so publicly. Someone joked I should do a bullshit language column each week. I don’t have the time or patience for that, but after that Morning File was published, it occurred to me there’s another group that uses this language: Anti-vaxxers.
A couple of weeks ago, I was looking at the photos from that “freedom” rally on Citadel Hill and noticed one protestor’s sign that said “Choose Love.” Later in that day after that rally, we learned a group of people went to The Wooden Monkey and harassed servers about mask mandates until those servers were in tears.
I rolled my eyes at that “Choose Love” sign, but that language can be a powerful draw for some people who want a place to belong. Unfortunately, it’s being used by a group disguising what they’re actually selling (just like self-help industries).
And then the next day, I saw this conversation on Twitter that included ob/gyn Dr. Jennifer Gunter and Timothy Caulfield, a professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta. The response was to an anti-vaxxer who asked that Gunter “be kind.” The tweet is no longer there, but I like Caulfield’s response:
I never like that slogan Be Kind because I think kindness should be our default. That we have to keep telling people to be kind in the most common of interactions tells us it’s not our default. But in many cases, like this one above, when someone says Be Kind, what they really want is for you to Be Quiet.
Maybe I should write that weekly column …
Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am) — virtual meeting
Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm) — virtual meeting
Dalhousie’s 11th Annual Mawio’mi (Wednesday, 10am, Studley Quad, rain location McInnes Room, SUB) — cultural celebration with Indigenous-inspired lunch, Powwow, Indigenous arts and crafts
Moral injury and the biology of intergenerational trauma (Wednesday, 2:30pm) — session four of the Moral Courage: Dallaire Cleveringa Critical Conversation Series
The Repair of Moral Injury (Thursday, 2:30pm) — session five of the Moral Courage: Dallaire Cleveringa Critical Conversation Series
“To hell with the people in Preston”: A History of Space and Race at Graham Creighton High School, Cherry Brook, Nova Scotia (Thursday, 2:30pm) — Stephanie Slaunwhite will talk:
Her talk is based on some of the research conducted for her M.A. thesis, entitled “The Intricacies of Integration: The Case of Graham Creighton High School.” The school, located in Cherry Brook, served as the integrating space where students from the surrounding Black and adjacent white communities were brought together to adhere to “a policy of school integration” established by the Municipal School Board. The interrelationships between space and race, as well as history and geography are highlighted in this exploration of spatial inequality.
On the Corruption of Academic Freedom in Hong Kong: Comparisons and Contrasts with the Western University Experience (Thursday, 6pm, in the conference theatre named after a bank) — Peter Baehr will talk
Jungle Flower Workshop (Thursday, 6pm) — online workshop where people who have experienced abuse and sexual violence can share their stories
In the harbour
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
08:00: Thunder Bay, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
10:10: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
10:30: MOL Emissary, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Southampton, England
16:00: New England, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
20:00: Conti Contessa, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
20:30: Atlantic Star sails for New York
This morning, another truck got stuck in the tolls at the MacKay Bridge.
Unless I missed one in the last week, this truck is the 19th truck to get stuck in those tolls so far this year. I spoke with Steve Snider at the Halifax Harbour Bridges about this phenomenon last week. I am so fascinated with why this seems to be happening more often. I also don’t want to see anyone get hurt.