1. Pat Dunn “didn’t exactly anticipate” backlash his appointment would cause
Matthew Byard interviews African Nova Scotian Affairs minister Pat Dunn, almost a year after his appointment. Dunn says he was surprised by the backlash that followed his naming to the post:
Dunn told the Examiner he was appointed as minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs because of his role in and connection to the Black community in New Glasgow before he entered politics in 2006. At that time, Dunn was the administrator at the North Nova Education Centre where Black students in New Glasgow attend…
“I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t exactly anticipate the backlash. I understood why, and the reasons that some people felt that way. A lot of people where the backlash was coming from certainly didn’t know me. They had no experience meeting me, talking to me, didn’t have the opportunity to talk to people from my area who could perhaps vouch for me, what type of individual I was, and so on.”
Dunn was appointed shortly after the dismissal of Dr. Késa Munroe-Anderson, who is Black, from the position of deputy minister of the Department of Communities, Culture, and Heritage. Munroe-Anderson was replaced by a white man, Justin Huston. Byard tried to ask Dunn about this, but without great success:
The Examiner also asked Dunn about the dismissal of Munroe-Anderson.
“This all occurred [prior to my appointment],” Dunn said. I wasn’t privy to it; it was an HR issue, I believe. And I never had an opportunity to meet her prior to and haven’t spoken to her afterwards.”
When the Examiner asked Dunn why he didn’t reach out to Munroe-Anderson after her dismissal, Dunn’s communications advisor, Amelia Jarvis, who is Black, said that the interview time was up and that Dunn had left the call.
2. Highlights from the annual Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute Report to the Community
The Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute’s (DBDLI) presented its Report to the Community, last Thursday night at the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia in Cherry Brook, Matthew Byard reports.
The evening, emceed by DBDLI board chair Randy Headley, touched on the organization’s role as a publisher of Africentric resources, under-representation of Black journalists in Canadian newsrooms and senior media leadership roles, and the organization’s flagship event, the African Nova Scotian History Challenges.
Sylvia Parris-Drummond, CEO of the institute had this to say at the event:
Our institute’s commitment to being a leading publisher of Africentric resources is evidenced through growth of our programming and resources. We were excited to do second printings of three of our published works and launched the second book in our African Nova Scotian (ANS) Community Voices series, A Child of East Preston by Wanda Thomas Bernard.
The institute also publishes a textbook on Black history:
The Black history textbook published by the institute is called Black History: Africa, The Caribbean, and the Americas. Kevin Harrison, the community engagement and public relations coordinator for DBDLI, said the institute wants the book added to high school curriculums across the country.
“We have the textbook that we primarily try to promote through high schools and also universities to some degree,” he said. “It’s available through us; you don’t have to be a high school teacher or a student. Anybody can buy it. But we also have an online version, too.”
3. Peter Kelly fined (a tiny amount) for altering a watercourse on his South Shore property
“The devastation is extreme,” said Cathie Mourre in a press release. “The sea grass is gone. The sand is being moved about and trucked away. The ponds are being infilled. The wildlife is being displaced. And the beach is forever changed.”
Now, Alex Cooke at Global reports that the work on the property has led to a fine. Before we get to that, here’s Cooke on local reaction to Kelly’s er, development project:
As first reported last week by the Halifax Examiner, those living near the land he bought say the development is harming sensitive wildlife and the environment, as well as blocking public access to Eagle Head Beach.
“I’m heartbroken,” said Talla Corkum, an area resident who attended a protest at the beach Monday afternoon.
“I’ve shed many tears since this has started, and there’s been many people who have shed tears in the community. It’s been such an important place for so many people in the town.”
Bousquet noted that local residents worry that Kelly has government connections, “and so may be able to continue his construction despite the community concerns.”
Well, the government showed them! Cooke writes:
A pond on the property — which is part of a larger network of ponds used by fish to get to the ocean — has been partially infilled.
Members of Protecting Eagle Head Beach have complained to the Department of Environment, and on Monday, department spokesperson Tracy Barron confirmed that a summary offence ticket was issued to the owner of the property for altering a watercourse without department approval. The ticket carries a fine of $687.50.
(This, by the way, is $10 less than the fine drivers pay for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.)
A construction company was also fined for placing rocks in a wetland:
A summary offence ticket was also given to a company for knowingly altering a watercourse at the same location and a directive was issued to the company to remove material by July 8, Barron said. The ticket carries a fine of $1,157.50.
Bousquet’s got a photo of what I assume is this aspect of the construction project:
It will be interesting to see what else — if anything — comes out of investigations into the construction on the property.
4. Government considers exempting itself from Court of Appeal ruling on housing discrimination
Keith Doucette of the Canadian Press reports on the latest in the Houston government’s efforts to not abide by a Court of Appeal ruling on housing discrimination against people with disabilities. The government has previously mused about taking the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Doucette has the latest:
The Court of Appeal ruled last year that the government’s failure to offer “meaningful” access to housing for people with disabilities amounted to a violation of their basic rights. But under Section 6 of Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act, the province can exempt itself from that ruling if it can prove the discrimination is justified in a free and democratic society.
Government lawyer Kevin Kindred told a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry that the province won’t seek an exemption, as long as it can offer housing for disabled people in a “pragmatic” way.
For example, Kindred said, the province wouldn’t be able to offer housing to people within days of it being asked, nor would it be able to relocate people into areas where housing isn’t available.
Claire McNeil, a lawyer for the Disability Rights Coalition of Nova Scotia — which launched the original case — said she didn’t see Kindred’s concerns as a potential problem.
On Twitter, lawyer David Fraser of McInnes Cooper offered his commentary on the story:
Every single thing I’ve read about how the NS government has opposed this case makes me cringe.
5. Prince Andrew High School renamed
Prince Andrew’s name will no longer grace a Dartmouth High School. Instead, the school will be called Woodlawn High School.
One thing I like about name changes in the Halifax Regional Centre for Education is that they publish fairly comprehensive reports on the name change process, including the names that didn’t make the final cut (and often are more interesting).
The renaming report starts with the rationale for the name change, which is a little odd:
The PAHS School Advisory Council and Renaming Committee, acknowledge that our school must feel safe for everybody. Having it named after a person who is portrayed negatively in the media produces a school climate and culture that is not safe and inclusive for our students.
Leaving aside the unnecessary comma, the issue is not that Prince Andrew “is portrayed negatively in the media” but that he appears to be what the British call a sex pest.
Woodlawn High School was the overwhelming favourite among the proposed names, with 137 people suggesting it. After that, it’s a very steep drop off. There were 39 votes for Lake City/City of Lakes, and 24 for Heidi Stevenson. Alexa McDonough got multiple votes, as did Reverend Dr. Donald Douglas Skier, “Maryann” Francis (people want to name a school after her but don’t know how to spell her name?) and Maxine Tynes. Joel Plaskett and John Dunsworth each garnered a vote. Dr. Strang got one and so did his alternate universe doppelganger, Dr. Stang. Two Mi’kmaw names — Pjila’si Academy and Ponamogoatitjg — got multiple votes.
Several of the proposed names are clearly aimed in part at keeping the same initials:
Pacemakers Academy High School
Pacific Academy High School
Paqtaset Academy or Parsons Academy
Paths Ahead High School
Patron Academy High
Penhorn Area High School
Port Anchor High School
Pretty Awesome High School
Prince Academy High School
Prince Albert High School
Princess Anne High School
Public Address High School
The five finalists were City of Lakes High School, Commodore High, Ponamogoatitjg Academy, The Lakes High School, and, of course, Woodlawn.
Ponamogoatitjg, the document explains, is “the original settlement name of the Dartmouth area by the Miꞌkmaq [sic] people. They referred to it as Ponamogoatitjg (Boonamoogwaddy), which has been varyingly translated as ‘Tomcod Ground’ or ‘Salmon Place.'”
Woodlawn was by far the favourite among the five finalists, with nearly 50% of the votes from staff and students.
One weird memory hole aspect of Google’s having replaced the name of the school already: if you read Google reviews of the school, some from eight years ago, all the mentions of the school’s name in the reviews say Woodlawn. It’s as though the school didn’t just change its name, but the old name never existed.
6. More Halifax Infirmary redevelopment troubles
Construction firm EllisDon has pulled out of the Halifax Infirmary redevelopment project, Michael Gorman reports for CBC. This leaves only one bidder, Plenary PCL Health. In a statement, EllisDon says they pulled out because of “unprecedented cost escalation, supply chain and labour productivity issues impacting the construction industry that is exasperated by the size and magnitude of the Halifax Infirmary project.”
EllisDon says it suggested a joint venture with PCL, but says the province rejected it.
Liberal public works critic Braedon Clark said having only one bidder on the massive redevelopment, which includes more beds, operating rooms and a new cancer centre, is “a huge problem.”
“There’s no competitive bidding at this point,” he said…
NDP Health critic Susan Leblanc said the government finds itself in the difficult position of trying to continue the process with only one bidder and risk an uncompetitive bid, or hit pause on the project to get more bidders involved and risk major delays to a vital infrastructure project.
Neither Premier Tim Houston nor Public Works minister Kim Masland of the “fix health care” government would agree to an interview with CBC.
The casual ableism of cooking snobbery
I want to draw your attention to two excellent recent essays on cooking and disability by one-time Nova Scotian and former Coast writer Gabrielle Drolet. (I should disclose here that I am the editor of a magazine called Write, which is published by the Writers’ Union of Canada, and I commissioned Drolet to write a feature for the summer 2022 issue.)
Drolet loves to cook. She also has thoracic outlet syndrome, which, she writes in an essay for Catapult, “made pain swell across my upper body, searing through my hands, wrists, chest, and neck. The pain was accompanied by numbness too: I often couldn’t (and still can’t) feel my fingers at all, making it hard to do anything that requires mobility or fine motor skills.”
The Catapult essay, published in May, is called “Unlearning the ableism of cookbooks and kitchen wisdom.”
When disability is the subject of mainstream conversation, people have a tendency to prioritize the big picture — how health impacts work, school, and maybe hobbies…
I am not a cookbook writer, but my book on fermentation does offer recipes. One of the testers for my sauerkraut recipe reported back that squeezing and mashing the shredded cabbage to get the liquid out was too difficult for her, because she did not have the hand strength for it. As a guy with decent (if not great) hand strength, this had, I confess, never occurred to me. I added an alternative technique to the recipe. It should not have taken someone else to point this out to me.
I’ve also looked at all those garlic hacks and thought what gives? How hard is it to peel garlic? Well, it can be quite hard.
In her essay for the Walrus, “In Defence of Garlic in a Jar: How Food Snobs Almost Ruined My Love of Cooking,” Drolet writes about how, as a novice cook, she used pre-minced garlic — until a snooty roommate made her feel inadequate:
I’d been in the habit of buying jarred garlic — the kind that comes minced and suspended in oil — because it was easy to use. I was still getting accustomed to the patience and time that cooking required, and the jarred stuff seemed like a no-brainer: a way to save a few minutes. But, after that day, I stopped buying it. I’m not sure I even finished that container — it likely sat half-empty in the fridge for the rest of the semester. As I started to pride myself on my cooking, I also became hyperaware of wanting to do things the right way, and I noticed all the recipes and cooking shows I followed only ever used fresh ingredients.
This was the first of many haughty ideas I’d hear about cooking and how selective we should be with our food. Who would buy a bottle of lemon juice when you could buy fresh lemons? Shredded cheese when you could grate your own? Pre-sliced mushrooms when they were apparently cheaper and better whole? An image of pre-peeled oranges from Whole Foods caused so much outrage in 2016 that the product was pulled from stores. Then there was the notion that those who opted for these packaged foods or ingredients weren’t just lazy — they were wreaking havoc on the environment with all that unnecessary plastic. Under all of this criticism, there was always a minority voice telling people they were being ableist. Those voices reminded us that disabled people rely on these shortcuts — that not everyone can chop and peel and slice. Over and over again, those voices were drowned out by the majority.
And then Drolet became disabled herself. After suffering through the pain of mincing garlic for too long, she realized using adaptations didn’t make her less than. They allowed her to enjoy cooking again:
As my symptoms became chronic, I learned to accept that being disabled meant navigating the world a little differently and that reaching for tools to make my life easier wasn’t a personal failing.
Eventually, I stocked my kitchen with all the things I simply needed: ground pepper, shredded cheese, a bright yellow bottle of lemon juice. Hesitant to leave fresh garlic behind, I bought pre-peeled cloves before eventually relenting, reaching for a little jar of the pre-minced stuff. And, as cooking became easier, it also became fun again.
I am fascinated by the links between food and culture, in the broadest possible sense of the term. Food is bound up with so much: history, memory, prescriptiveness, aspirations, innovation, romanticism. Several years ago, I took an Indian cooking class in the North End. The teacher talked about garlic-ginger paste and its many uses, and how it was helpful to keep a jar of it around. Someone in the class asked about making it. “Oh, you can just by it at Walmart,” the teacher said, to the seeming horror of the person who asked the question. Is it as good as making it yourself? Probably not. Would it be helpful if you’re short on time and trying to put together a meal? Yes.
I’ll give the final word to Drolet:
[D]ismissing ingredients and disparaging anyone who uses them means not thinking of who, exactly, that might be. In reality, it doesn’t take much critical thinking to get there.
Who needs to use a quicker, less-labour-intensive method in the kitchen? Maybe it’s someone short on time. Maybe it’s someone who can’t afford to keep topping up the fresh stuff before it goes bad. Maybe it’s someone with mobility issues or chronic pain, or it’s a neurodivergent person who struggles with long, multistep tasks. Maybe it’s someone who loves fresh garlic but is, for whatever reason, not able to chop it themselves.
Writing in the Seattle Times, columnist Danny Westneat says if Microsoft is any indication, it may be a long time before offices are at full capacity — if, indeed they ever will be.
Microsoft has had a policy for three months now that employees should be in the physical office 50% of the time.
They aren’t. The company now suggests it may not meet even this 50% goal until 2023.
While offices in downtown Seattle remain largely unoccupied, hotels are at near full capacity. The conclusion Westneat draws from that is it’s not necessarily fear of COVID keeping people out of their cubicles. Microsoft, he says, has been tracking the effects of work-from-home using a wide range of metrics, including measuring the brainwaves of people in Zoom meetings.
Westneat corroborates what Rent said:
Workers love work from home. Bosses don’t.
Up to 80% of workers want either remote or hybrid arrangements (some office, some remote, with flexibility desired to switch between the two). Meanwhile managers by and large want you back at your desks.
Some workers are flatly refusing to take jobs now if they have to physically appear in an office…
The Microsoft report notes that workers are so enamored with remote that they’ll even pay to get it. One study found “employees willing to forgo over $4,300” per year in salary to be able to work from home full-time.
It’s not all wonderful. Westneat says working from home can feel like “living at work” and that while people working remotely do maintain productivity it tends to come at the cost of longer hours, and even longer meetings.
I have spent almost my entire working life working for myself, from home, so I’m about the furthest thing from an expert on this topic. Although I work at home, I don’t work alone. Many projects are collaborative.
One thing that strikes me is how many of the tools I use — Google Docs (which I hate, but has its utility), Trint, Slack — keep adding feature to push more collaboration, or sharing, calling and so on. Anything to get me away from boring old writing and encouraging that feeling of being together with my teammates, I suppose.
There’s a shiny new icon urging me to “join a call” at the top right of my Google Doc. In Slack, I keep inadvertently hovering over the “record video clip” and “record audio clip” features whenever I want to send a message to, say, Suzanne Rent, who is editing today’s Morning File. No thanks! Why would Suzanne want to watch a video of me talking to her about how I think rigid rules about having to be in the office are stupid?
I would think part of the allure of working from home would be not having to hang out with your irritating colleagues. (To be clear: Examiner colleagues are far from irritating, but if we all had to be in an office with each other every day, I imagine tensions would arise over, I don’t know, Matthew Byard and I spending too much time talking about professional wrestling or something.)
Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 9am, City Hall) — also via video
District Boundary Resident Review Panel (Wednesday, 3:30pm, City Hall) — agenda
Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Strategies to Prevent Workplace Injuries, with representatives from the Dept. of Labour, Skills and Immigration, and Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia; also agency, board, and commission appointments
Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — Nova Scotia Park System, with representatives from the Dept. of Natural Resources and Renewables
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — 2022 Report of the Auditor General – Oversight and Management of Government Owned Public Housing: Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing, with Paul LaFleche – Deputy Minister
Meet SuperNOVA (Tuesday, 10am) — virtual session
PhD Defence, Health and Human Performance (Wednesday, 11am) — Myles O’Brien will defend “The Impact of Cardiorespiratory Fitness on Peripheral Vascular Function in Older Adults”
The Nature-Based Infrastructure Research Expo (Wednesday, 4pm, McNally Auditorium) — will showcase nature-based climate adaptation work being conducted regionally and nationally
In the harbour
05:30: Elektra, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:00: MSC Veronique, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Sines, Portugal
06:45: HMS Protector, British ice patrol ship, arrives at Dockyard from sea
08:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
11:30: NYK Meteor, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Southampton, England
12:00: One Helsinki, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
16:00: ZIM Qingdao, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain
16:00: MSC Veronique sails for sea
23:00: Dee4 Dogwood, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
02:30 (Wednesday): ZIM Qingdao sails for New York
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
16:00: Ionic Anax, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from Mongstad, Norway
16:00: Polar Prince, tender, sails from Liberty Pier (Sydney) for sea
17:30: Zaandam sails for Charlottetown
I am going to be on CBC Radio’s Maritime Noon phone-in on Thursday, so call with your fermentation questions, or to share your success stories. I want to hear about your kimchi, sauerkraut, fruit vinegar, homemade beer, bread, or whatever else you have going on or want to try.