A smiling Black woman with reddish square frame glasses. Her hair is pulled back in bun and she is wearing a black, red, yellow, and green necklace and a black t-shirt. There is a black-and-white drawing of a man in a frame on the purple wall behind her.
Samantha Dixon Slawter. Credit: Samantha Dixon Slawter.


1. Archibald Lake

A green forested point of land juts out into blue water.
Aerial view of Archibald Lake, looking northwest Credit: Province of Nova Scotia

“A newly created wilderness area kills the possibility that a Nova Scotia lake will be used for gold mining,” reports Tim Bousquet.

Today, the province of Nova Scotia has created a 684-hectare Archibald Lake Wilderness Area. The press release announcing the new wilderness area notes that:

The new wilderness area includes three lakes: Archibald, McDonald and Rocky, which feed Archibald Brook, a tributary of St. Marys River. Nearly 300 hectares of the protected area is old hardwood forest, as defined by the Old-Growth Forest Policy for Nova Scotia.

The wilderness area was first proposed in January 2020. As Joan Baxter reported at the time, Atlantic Gold wanted to use Archibald Lake as a water supply for its proposed Cochrane Hill gold mining project. The province noted at the time that “the company’s proposed use of Archibald Lake cannot be permitted within a wilderness area.”

The wilderness area designation puts an end to Atlantic Gold’s Cochrane Hill plans, at least as proposed. Atlantic Gold is now owned by St Barbara, an Australian firm.

Click here to read “Newly created Archibald Lake Wilderness Area kills Cochrane Hill gold mine proposal.”

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2. Sunshine list

A white man with grey hair wearing glasses speaks.
Jacques Dubé speaks during a meeting of Halifax regional council in 2018. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Former chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé tops Halifax’s sunshine list for the previous year after leaving the job at the end of 2022,” reports Zane Woodford.

Former chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé tops Halifax’s sunshine list for the previous year after leaving the job at the end of 2022.

The municipality posted its statement of compensation on Monday, its list of the more than 1,200 municipal employees making more than $100,000 in the fiscal year ending March 31.

Dubé was the city’s top ranking bureaucrat from September 2016 until the end of 2022, when he retired. He worked nine months of the fiscal year, and made $276,780.90. He made $313,225.08 in 2021-2022, which was a 5% raise.

Click here to read “Former chief administrative officer tops Halifax sunshine list.”

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3. RCMP and MCC

Three people sitting at a dais in front of a crowd.
From left to right, commissioners Leanne Fitch, Michael MacDonald, chair, and Kim Stanton deliver the final report of the Mass Casualty Commission inquiry into the mass murders in rural Nova Scotia in Truro, N.S. on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

“There are renewed calls for the RCMP to formally apologize for its actions – and inactions – during Nova Scotia’s mass shooting, and a newly-released internal memo says top officials wanted it to happen shortly after the Mass Casualty Commission released its final report back in the spring,” reports Bruce Frisko with CTV Atlantic.

The force has come close to saying the words, but hasn’t done so, and experts say there’s a number of reasons for that.

The long-awaited report didn’t formally recommend an apology from Canada’s national police force, but did acknowledge a series of mistakes and missteps during the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, and recommended police adopt a policy of admitting its mistakes.

That night, on CTV News, the assistant commissioner got close to the line, but never quite crossed it.

“Our members and employees did the best they could,” said Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley.

“However, and we’ve apologized to family members that the response wasn’t what they particularly needed, and for that, I am truly sorry,” he said.

But it seems there were pressures for more, even inside the force.

As Frisko notes, the Globe and Mail published an internal memo from RCMP Assistant Commissioner Sorab Rupa.

“It is imperative that the RCMP acknowledge its failures and display a willingness to be accountable for them,” the Globe reported the memo saying, adding it should happen in a “timely and decisive” manner.

CTV News has not independently confirmed the veracity of the memo.

CTV reported it contacted the RCMP to find out if an apology would be made, but they didn’t hear back before the deadline for the story.

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4. University tuition

A stone Dalhousie University sign on a grassy median.
Dalhousie University campus near Robie Street in Halifax in July, 2021. Credit: Yvette d'Entremont

“A new report has found Nova Scotia has the highest tuition costs in the country, and they’re increasing at a faster rate,” reports Skye Bryden-Blom with Global.

It warns there are many barriers that might keep some university students out of the classroom as the cost of living continues to rise.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking. I’m not going to lie,” says environmental sciences student Sophia Murphy who was walking along Dalhousie University’s campus on Monday.

She’s one of many undergraduates who say they’re worried about rising costs.

In a recent report, advocacy group Students Nova Scotia has found the average tuition for domestic undergrads in Canada has increased three per cent over the last six years to $6,8341.

In Nova Scotia, however, it has seen a 20-per cent jump from $7,718 to $9,328 over the same time period.

That’s 36.5 per cent above the national average.

“It’s really hard because you work all summer,” says Murphy. “No matter how hard you work you still can’t afford housing — and tuition on top of that, it’s nearly impossible.”

Matt Doyle, the chair of Students Nova Scotia, told Global students are facing all kinds of financial challenges, including the cost of groceries and textbooks as well. He said Students Nova Scotia wants the province to cap tuition at a 1% increase, not 3%. As Bryden-Blom notes, Nova Scotia is now negotiating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the 10 universities in the province. The current MOU is set to expire in March next year.

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5. Tensions in lobster fishery

Cheryl Maloney holds up her aunt's copy of the Treaty of 1752 in front of Province House in Halifax on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
Credit: Zane Woodford

“Tensions are rising in southwest Nova Scotia over unauthorized lobster fishing this summer in St. Marys Bay near Digby, with commercial fishermen and local MPs likening the situation to 2020 — when violence erupted over unauthorized Indigenous harvesting,” reports Paul Withers for CBC.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said in social media posts it is monitoring lobster fishing in the area and has seized 321 lobster traps this summer. The commercial season there is closed. DFO did not respond when asked if anyone had been charged.

Lobsters were released live back in the ocean, but the number of traps seized is a fraction of what is being harvested illegally, says Colin Sproul of Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance, which represents some commercial fishermen.

“As sad as it is to say, we’re fast approaching the situation of 2020 in advance of the fishery crisis. There’s uncontrolled industrial-scale fishing in St. Marys Bay and in adjacent waters with little to no enforcement effort,” Sproul said.

A small-scale food, social and ceremonial (FSC) fishery in St. Marys Bay is permitted, but the most prominent First Nation fishing in the area, the Sipekne’katik, has rejected its 2023 FSC limit of 45,000 pounds allowed by DFO.

In a May letter to DFO, the band said the FSC limit was made without adequate consultation and is an infringement of their rights, which also include the treaty right to earn a moderate living from fishing.

As Withers reports, Sipekne’katik band council sued when DFO started seizing traps in July. Meanwhile, DFO says it doesn’t permit harvesting for purposes of moderate livelihood outside of the commercial seasons.

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Black Hair 101, Braid Day, and celebrating Black beauty, history, and Black women in Nova Scotia

A smiling Black woman with reddish square frame glasses. Her hair is pulled back in bun and she is wearing a black, red, yellow, and green necklace and a black t-shirt. There is a black-and-white drawing of a man in a frame on the purple wall behind her.
Samantha Dixon Slawter. Credit: Samantha Dixon Slawter.

Today, Samantha Dixon Slawter is heading to Amherst to teach a session called Black Hair 101: Exploring the Essence of our Roots at the Cumberland County Museum and Archives. I wrote about Dixon Slawter’s work before here and here. Today’s session in Amherst is a continuation of her work to travel across Nova Scotia to hear more stories about Black hair care and the history of Black beauty in Nova Scotia.

On Monday, I spoke with Dixon Slawter about today’s session. She said Amherst is the first stop on a tour that she will continue until the end of September. She wants to visit Truro, Yarmouth, and Weymouth as well.

Dixon Slawter said these sessions in Nova Scotia are about much more than Black hair care, though. She said she’s learning about women in communities across the province who are now in their 90s, but were leaders in teaching others about Black hair care.

It’s almost like hitting the jackpot when you find something out, even about my ancestry. It’s an accomplishment, it’s fulfilling when I find out about Black beauty culture in Nova Scotia. It tells you about how Black people took care of themselves and how they took care of one another. We take that for granted that Black people made a way out of no way to take care of themselves and each other.

A poster in black, white, and pink that says "Black Hair 1010, Exploring the Essence of our Roots, Tuesday, August 29, 2023, 2pm at 150 Church St., Amherst, Nova Scotia. Join us at the Cumberland County Museum and Archives for an information session presented by Samantha Dixon Slawter of the Black Beauty and Culture Association and Styles by SD Ltd. This event is made possible by the Crown of Beauty Institute and the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. Honouring the Legacy of the Legendary Lena Blanche Halfkenny Lucas, 1887- 1966 "We don't natural. We return. Natural is where it began. - Unknown." The poster includes a photo of a smiling Black woman in a wide brimmed hat.
Credit: Samantha Dixon Slawter

One of the women Dixon Slawter will be talking about in Amherst is Lena Halfkenny Lucas, who was born in Dorchester, N.B. Her family moved to Amherst in the early 1900s during the town’s economic boom. Halfkenny Lucas attended the Amherst Academy and later learned the craft of wig making.

Halfkenny Lucas married Osborn Nathan Lucas of Lucasville, but when he died of yellow fever, Halfkenny Lucas and her children moved to Washington, D.C. She was one of the first Black women to work in a white salon in that city, and one of her clients included Edith Wilson, wife of president Woodrow Wilson. Halfkenny Lucas also traveled with jazz and classic singer and pianist Hazel Dorothy Scott, the first Black American to host her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show.

Four women sit on chairs on a lush green lawn while four other people stand behind them braiding their hair.
Participants have their hair braided during Braid Day at the Cumberland County Museum and Archives in June 2023. Credit: Cumberland County Museum and Archives

Dixon Slawter’s session in Amherst today turns out to be a beautiful full circle for everyone involved. She was invited to Amherst by Lisette Sumbu, who is the collections assistant at the Cumberland County Museum and Archives, and the fourth great niece of Lena Halfkenny Lucas.

Sumbu met Dixon Slawter when Sumbu’s aunt, Theresa Halfkenny, was presented with an award from Dixon Slawter’s Black Beauty Culture Association. The Halfkenny family have a long line of women who did Black hair care in Amherst and beyond. Sumbu said today’s Black Hair 101 session is an extension of an event called Braid Day that she hosted at the museum in June.

I think it’s important to share our culture and the things that we’ve done, especially what Black women have done to advance the community. As Black women, Black hair is a billion dollar industry. For her (Lena Halfkenny Lucas) to be involved at such a high level in the early 1900s is kind of unbelievable to think about.

Really, we’re all so connected with what they are doing in the States. What are they doing over there in Ontario? We have our own rich, Black history here and it kind of gets lost and people forget how we got here. For me, I am the eighth generation. It’s an opportunity for anyone who is interested in hair to come out and learn about their culture, learn about their hair.

Sumbu told me she organized Braid Day in June as a “cross-cultural that would be open to people of all age demographics.” Sumbu said there was everyone from children to seniors having their hair done in cornrows and other styles, but the event was also an opportunity to teach others about Black culture, too.

It was a nice opportunity for people to participate and to tip the hat off cultural appropriation. They struggle with “who is allowed to wear braids?” “who is allowed to wear their hair this way?” I thought if we did it in a way that was educational it would be more meaningful, so moving forward, hopefully the men and women who participated can share that history. To me, if you can understand the history and then if you want to represent it, I am okay with that. You want people to celebrate all hairstyles and all cultures. I thought it was a good way to bridge the gap.

Dixon Slawter said she is working on a book that focuses on the history and culture around Black beauty in Nova Scotia. The research she learns during these sessions she’s hosting across the province will be in that book. She said one of the books she’s read as part of her research is called Styling Jim Crow: African American Beauty Training during Segregation by Julia Kirk Blackwelder, which tells the story of Black beauty education in the U.S. from the First World War to the 1960s. The book focuses on two Black women, Marjorie Stewart Joyner of the Madam C. J. Walker beauty chain and James H. Jemison of the Franklin School of Beauty.

It’s a story that’s very similar to Black beauty education in Nova Scotia that includes Dixon Slawter, Lena Halfkenny Lucas, Viola Desmond, and many others.

In May 2022, the Black Beauty Culture Hair Innovator, which Dixon Slawter created, became a voluntary trade under the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act. That was a program Dixon Slawter had worked on for years.

In late September, Dixon Slawter said she is hosting a Black hair care session in Cape Breton, but she also has other plans while she’s there. She said she wants to learn about who it was Viola Desmond wanted to meet in 1946 when she travelled across the province and stopped at that cinema in New Glasgow where she was arrested for refusing to leave a whites-only section of the Rosland Theatre.

When we visited her sister (Wanda Robson) in 2019, one of the things she said to me, and I will never forget it, she said “Samantha, you are going to carry on my sister’s work.” Then (Robson) came and visited my salon, saying, “Samantha, whatever you do concerning my sister and leading her work, I will support.”

I am doing it spiritually. It’s something in my heart.

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Halifax Regional Centre for Education and evacuation plans

The front doors of a school with the name in all caps.
Madeline Symonds Middle School is seen on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. Credit: Zane Woodford

Last week, Zane Woodford reported on parents’ concerns about the lack of fire evacuation plans for Madeline Symonds Middle School (MSMS) in Hammonds Plains. Of course, that’s one of the communities affected by the wildfires in late May, early June. Julianna Davies’ daughter attends that school. Davies said she asked the school principal about an evacuation plan in the event of a wildfire, and he didn’t share one. From Woodford’s story:

“I don’t believe there is one,” Davies said. “But if there is a plan, what is it and how can you have a viable evacuation plan in a situation like this, without another exit at the back of the subdivision?”

Woodford contacted the Halifax Regional Centre for Education about the evacuation plans and got a response from spokesperson Lindsey Bunin:

“Safety is priority for HRCE. Each school in HRCE has an Emergency Management Plan that is reviewed, updated and utilized annually. Fire evacuation procedures are practiced in the form of fire drills to ensure each school community is prepared in the event of an emergency,” Bunin said.

Those fire drills, Davies said, only cover fires inside the school. What she wants to know, and what the Examiner asked about, is the plan for fires outside the school

“They aren’t going to send the kids out to the soccer field in the middle of a wildfire and leave it at that, surely?” Davies said.

The Examiner asked for the Emergency Management Plan for MSMS.

“We cannot share the EMP for MSMS publicly for a variety of confidentiality and privacy reasons. The internal plans are comprehensive and pertinent details are shared annually with families,” Bunin replied.

Well, it seems there are many parents rightfully concerned about the same issue. On Monday, Ben Jessome, the MLA for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville, posted this message on his Facebook account:

In response to inquiries regarding school evacuation plans, I contacted HRCE’s Superintendent.

Their transportation team is undertaking a system wide plan involving the use of central relocation sites. This work is underway and we should expect to see a final plan by mid-late September. This will be shared once it is complete.

Thank you to those of you who have reached out to advocate for your young students. I know that many have similar inquiries regarding evacuation planning for childcare operations. I will endeavour to advance this issue and report back ASAP.

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No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:45: Norwegian Escape, cruise ship with up to 5,218 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York 
07:00: Norwegian Pearl, cruise ship with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a seven-day, roundtrip cruise out of Boston
07:30: USS Oscar Austin, destroyer, arrives at Dockyard
10:00: Midnight Glory, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Houston
10:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
15:30: One Blue Jay, container ship (145,251 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka 
16:00: MSC Bejing, container ship sails from Pier 42 for sea
16:30: Norwegian Escape sails for Saint John
16:30: Norwegian Pearl sails for Portland
16:30: Contship Art, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for sea
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Fairview Cove
17:30: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from St. John’s
18:00: Valeria, bulker, sails from Pier 27 for sea

Cape Breton
06:00: Speedway, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
06:00: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from New York
06:30: Le Bellot, cruise ship with up to 264 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier (Sydney) from Saint-Pierre, on a 15-day cruise from Reykjavik, Iceland to Toronto
09:30: Le Bellot sails for Cap-aux Meules (Magdalen Islands)
09:30: Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Halifax, on a seven-day cruise from Boston to Quebec City 
11:15: Blue Moon, Dead Dick Duchossois’s yacht, moves from Baddeck to Marble Mountain
17:00: Zuiderdam sails for Charlottetown
21:15: CSL Metis, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Punta Rincon, Panama


I have a couple of interviews later today for a profile in my series about women over 50. I’m looking forward to these interviews and writing the story.

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

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