1. Union leaders ask for pay equity for LPNs
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Tim Bousquet was at a press conference on Wednesday where five unions representing licensed practical nurses (LPNs) called for pay equity for those nurses across Nova Scotia.
About a month ago, an adjudicator awarded LPNs working at the former Capital District Health Authority a 12% pay increase, which was retroactive to 2014. But only nurses working at QE2 in Halifax, and hospitals and health centres in Dartmouth, Sackville, Windsor, and Musquodoboit got that raise, leaving LPNs at the IWK and other facilities out.
The unions say back in 1998, the provincial government said all nurses should be paid the same, regardless of where they work. But the McNeil government won’t apply the recent 12% award across the province. Says Jason MacLean, president of the NSGEU:
So what we’re asking is for everybody to be paid the same wage across the province. Nurses in the IWK that are considering leaving the IWK to go work in the former capital district health board because they pay more than they do in the IWK. So this is a problem. It’s a problem that employers actually have acknowledged, and it’s a problem that government has acknowledged but will not address. So we’re calling on this government to address this and to start paying LPNs the fair wages that they deserve.
MacLean also told Bousquet he’s been asked to speak with the committee conducting the in-house government review of the COVID-19 deaths at Northwood, but MacLean says he won’t speak because of the penalty for speaking publicly after speaking with the committee. MacLean says any information on Northwood will be shared on the NSGEU website.
Read Bousquet’s story here.
2. Family, friends of mass murder victims march to demand public inquiry
Yvette d’Entremont was at a march in Bible Hill on Wednesday attended by 300 family members and friends of the victims of the mass murders in April. The march was organized by Darcy Dobson, whose mother and VON nurse Heather O’Brien was killed the morning of April 19, and Nick Beaton, whose fiancee, Heather Beaton, a VON continuing care assistant, was also killed.
Dobson said families expected to hear an announcement on a public inquiry a month ago, adding “RCMP has things to learn.”
Beaton, meanwhile, says the families want a full public inquiry, not a restorative justice approach.
With a public inquiry there are officers out there who are off on PTSD that are affected by that day that can’t handle what they’ve seen and what happened, which I don’t blame them one bit. This is just crazy.
It gives them the chance to come forward and speak and not be punished for it or not be scared of their employer. We need a public inquiry for that. There are people out there who want to speak.
Tom Webber, whose son Joey was killed, says he know exactly what he’d ask Premier Stephen McNeil.
I’d ask him to look into things and what went wrong. And there are lots of places to look, I think.
Read d’Entremont’s full story here.
3. It’s back to class in the fall, but with changes and plans
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The province announced the back-to-school plan for September and there are three scenarios: Full Reopening, a “blended” model, and At Home Learning.
Tim Bousquet got all the details on Wednesday when Education Minister Zach Churchill and chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang released the plan.
School will start in class on Sept. 8, but with changes. For example, students and drivers on buses will have to wear masks, but students won’t have to wear them in the classrooms.
Strang says if schools are ordered to go into a blended model, most high school students will do remote learning. Those students will particular needs will continue to go to school. That extra space in high schools will be used for primary classes to create more social distancing.
And schools could go into full at-home learning. Those 7% of students in the province without Internet access will be given USB sticks and other tools to help with learning.
Dr. Andrew Lynk, the chief of paediatrics at the IWK, who signed on to the plan says:
Nova Scotians are smart people, they have good will and common sense. The virus is going to be with us for the next year or two or three at least, so we have to learn to live safely with it.
Read Bousquet’s story here.
4. Walker won’t run in District 10 this fall
Zane Woodford reports that District 10 councillor Russell Walker decided he won’t run in this October’s municipal election. Walker has served on council for seven terms, first winning in a by-election in the former District 15 — Fairview-Clayton Park in January 1994.
In a news release on Wednesday, Walker says his late wife Cheryl played a vital role in his job as councillor. Cheryl died last fall.
Being accessible to residents was important to me as a Councillor and Cheryl was often the first point of contact for residents when they would call our home to talk about various issues.
Five candidates — Andrew Curran, Mohammad Ehsan, Sherry Hassanali, Debbie MacKinnon, and Kyle Morton — have declared they are running for the district in the election on Oct. 17.
Read Woodford’s story here.
From South Carolina to Nova Scotia: The Big Family Search
Pamela Bailey has been researching her family history for the last 10 years, but Bailey is not just searching back a couple of generations. Two years ago, she started the Slavery Descendants Reunification Project called The Big Family Search. Bailey lives in Texas, but was born in South Carolina where her ancestors were primarily enslaved and eventually forcibly migrated across the U.S. until the end of the Civil War. While she started her research closer to home, more recently her work has connected her with family in Nova Scotia. Her research has included visiting the plantations in the American south where many of her ancestors were enslaved.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster because I’m excited to learn this history and walk in the places they’ve walked. Just to be in the places and spaces where my family cooked and cleaned and walked or loved their families. It’s so overwhelming and amazing. At times, it can be emotional heavy and heartbreaking, but that only motivates me to continue to do this.
Bailey’s interest in her family history started when she was young. She says her parents taught her and her siblings about Black history, culture, and music. In her research, someone sent her a photo of her great-great grandmother, Laura Adkinson Campbell Singletary, who was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was enslaved on a farm in Marion County, South Carolina.
I had heard stories before, but I never imagined I would see her, what she looked like. I could see my face in her face. That was a deciding factor. I have to do this.
Her aunt Lucy was 98 when she shared some of the family’s stories with her.
Even at her age, her mind was incredibly sharp that she knew where all the bodies were buried. That just woke up the curiosity in me.
In 2017, Bailey took a DNA test and found 350 biological cousins, but she only knew one. She has family connections in several countries.
How she found family connections in Nova Scotia was a bit of an accident. She says she figured she’d have family in Ontario, but through those DNA databases Nova Scotia connections popped up. She started doing the research to learn about the places where her ancestors ended up, like Port Royal and Guysborough, which were some of the places where Black Loyalists were relocated. She found connections in Halifax, too.
I knew that some of my ancestral family was enslaved by Revolutionary War soldier, Major Pierce Butler, so I began reading books about him. I learned that twice, once during the Revolutionary War and again during the War of 1812, the British targeted his plantation, freed many enslaved people, and gave them passage to Nova Scotia.
South Carolina was very significant during the Revolutionary War, so it’s quite possible that enslaved people from all over the state made their way to Nova Scotia.
Enslaved people living on South Carolina seacoast islands spoke a language called Gullah Geechee that is very different from traditional English. Their descendants still speak the language today. Their descendants have also become renowned around the world for their sweetgrass basket artistry. I am curious about what, if any, of these things made their way to Nova Scotia.
She connected with one person in the province who is a direct descendant of Andrew Izzard, a Black Loyalist who came to Nova Scotia from South Carolina. She connected with another young woman whose family have been in Nova Scotia since 1796.
For myself and for many other South Carolinians who come from this legacy, this history was negated. We didn’t get that. Now that I found that connection, it sparked a whole new fire in me.
Bailey is working on a documentary about the forced migration of 2.5 million American-born enslaved people, who were located locally and across state lines, all throughout the United States during the antebellum era. She also hosts a podcast called The Big Family Search on SoundCloud, where she interviews her newly-discovered family members.
She also shares some of her research on Twitter.
Bailey, who was a professor at a private university in Dallas, is a singer-songwriter, and her children are also accomplished musicians. She says she’d like to learn what musical connections she shares with family in Nova Scotia.
Bailey plans on visiting Nova Scotia when travel is permitted again. While she wants to find more family connections, she has a bigger plan for her work.
I want to be a bridge. I want to be a resource for folks who want to connect with their American family but the other side of that, so many people in my hometown, who were not familiar with this history, they didn’t know much about this history, it just wasn’t taught to us. They are so incredibly excited.
As I’ve been trying to read more and learn more about the struggles for Nova Scotians, which are very similar to what we’ve gone through here, it’s important for us to have that history and know we are still family. We are still closely aligned. I want to know my family. I want them to experience all those amazing things in spite of the experience we went through in slavery and some of the issues we still face. Let’s do that in solidarity. We are still fighting for the same human rights. I don’t want to feel like we are a silo anymore. We are family and we’re going to support each other and do the right thing.
On Wednesday, I was driving from Fredericton to Saint John and was listening to the rock station 105.3 The Fox. The host, Dean Tripp, was celebrating a year at the station and shared some of the things he learned about Fredericton since moving there. Like, the city is divided into two sides: the north side and the south side. The city is nicknamed Freddy Beach, even though there’s no beach. Tripp also says he can’t find bubble tea on a Sunday. And finally, he says the local economy depends on a food known as the donair. Says Tripp:
Here [the donair] is worshiped by the half pound. You might think Donairs are eaten everywhere… Here’s a test! Open a word document and type the word Donair. That red line that shows up beneath it means it’s not a recognized word in the English language, and that’s because most places have never heard of it lol.
I guess Tripp hasn’t been to Halifax or anywhere else in the Maritimes. Does Halifax’s local economy depend on the donair, too? Has Fredericton made the donair its official food like Halifax did?
In the harbour
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
06:00: Taipei Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
11:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
16:30: Taipei Trader sails for sea
16:30: Atlantic Star sails for Liverpool, England
17:00: Maersk Cutter, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
I’m on Campobello Island this week working on a podcast on the history of the island. It’s very quiet here, like everywhere else this summer. I’m staying close to Roosevelt International Park, which is open, but Roosevelt Cottage is not (too much to clean after all those visitors). The island is connected to Lubec, Maine via a bridge, which is also closed. The clerk at the inn where I’m staying says about 85% of the residents on the island have dual citizenship.
Campobello is so close to the U.S. border that when I was on the ferry at Deer Island — one of two ferries you have to take to get here — my phone changed to Eastern Standard Time and my provider texted to suggest I get a package to save on roaming charges.
The tourism industry here relies on American tourists, who can’t visit this year, of course. Not many New Brunswickers visit here, but apparently that’s changed a bit this summer. I know some people are anxious to travel, so this is a good time to discover what’s in our own Atlantic bubble.