1. Death in custody
“The Halifax Examiner yesterday received a report that a prisoner at the Burnside jail has died,” Tim Bousquet reported this morning.
Via email late yesterday afternoon, Department of Justice spokesperson Deborah Bayer confirmed the death:
We can confirm that an individual in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth was found unresponsive in their cell early Monday morning. First aid was immediately rendered but unfortunately the individual had passed. Halifax Regional Police and the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner’s Service were notified; the cause of death has not yet been determined by the medical examiner.
2. Paper Excellence
This item is written by Joan Baxter.
Earlier this week, we reported that Jackson Wijaya, “founder and owner” of Paper Excellence had, for a second time, declined an invitation to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources in Ottawa. NDP MP and natural resources critic Charlie Angus described the refusal to appear as “absolute disrespect and a slap in the face.”
Angus told the Examiner he would be putting forward a motion that the committee issue a summons to Wijaya, which, if passed, would be “actionable” if and when Wijaya enters Canada.
Wijaya, an Indonesia citizen, is a Hong Kong resident, with houses in Shanghai and Newport Beach, California, according to this CBC article by Elizabeth Thompson.
In an email to the Examiner, Angus said:
In the past we have dealt with a very small group of individuals who refused to testify. If Mr. Wijaya opts to become part of this group, it would raise questions about whether or not he is afraid to answer the legitimate questions that have come forward about his family’s control of vast swathes of the world’s forests and his connections to Sinar Mas and Asia Pulp and Paper. Mr. Wijaya could appear virtually if he so chose. The committee has bent over backwards to accommodate him.
We have requested access to corporate documents which will be available to the committee to view next week. We agreed to keep the information in confidence because we wanted Mr. Wijaya to know that our committee was committed to a fair process.
At the beginning of September his staff invited our committee members to the Metropolitan restaurant near Parliament. I thought that it was highly inappropriate that we participate until Mr. Wijaya had made a committee appearance. Otherwise it would look like we were being played.
As we reported on Tuesday, the Examiner did send an email to Paper Excellence asking whether Wijaya visits Canada from time to time, and why he had declined the latest invitation to appear before the committee, given that he heads a corporation that is headquartered here and has such enormous assets in the country.
Those assets include mills, fibre allocations and woodlands in five provinces. Paper Excellence now owns Catalyst Paper, Domtar, and Resolute Forest Products, and manages 22 million hectares of Canadian woodlands — an area four times the size of Nova Scotia. It also owns the Northern Pulp mill and 420,000 acres of land in the province, and it has filed a lawsuit for $450 million against Nova Scotia for losses it says it incurred because of the closure of the Pictou mill.
Paper Excellence hadn’t replied by publication time on Tuesday morning.
However, on Wednesday October 11, Brenda Martin, manager Public Affairs, sent the following response to our questions:
Mr. Wijaya has declined the Committee’s invitation — both in person and via remote link. He believes his Canadian leadership team who run the businesses here are very well suited to represent Paper Excellence. They have accountability for operations and strategy in Canada.
Mr. Wijaya travels extensively and does travel to Canada. Mr. Wijaya meets with and stays in touch with his teams both in person and remotely.
The invitations to Wijaya to appear before parliament’s natural resources committee stem from the recent Deforestation Inc. project, led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Deforestation Inc. involved a months-long investigation by the Halifax Examiner, CBC, Glacier Media, Le Monde, and Radio France into Paper Excellence. The investigation delved into links between Paper Excellence and the Sinar Mas Group and Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which has a poor environmental and financial record. It followed up on the findings of the October 2022 report, “Papering over corporate control” by the Environmental Paper Network, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and Woods & Wayside International.
“At least 100 protesters rallied in front of Province House on Thursday, demanding the Houston government address the housing crisis, as MLAs headed into the fall session of the legislature,” I reported on Thursday.
Hannah Wood, chair of the Halifax peninsula chapter of ACORN, a tenancy union that advocates on behalf of low- and moderate-income people across the country, led the crowd in a chant.
As Wood yelled, “What do we want?” the crowd yelled back, “Affordable housing.” Wood then yelled, “When do we want it?” And the protesters responded with, “Now!”
In an interview, Wood spoke about ACORN’s list of demands for the Houston government to address the housing crisis. It is a long list.
Among ACORN’s demands are permanent rent control tied to the housing unit and not the tenant, changes to the loophole on fixed-term leases, a watchdog and policy around landlord retaliation against tenants, a system that keeps tabs on leases being ended for renovictions (to ensure the work being done is actually enough to evict a tenant), investigations on no-fault evictions, improved conditions in social housing, and much more affordable housing..
“I believe there are somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people on the list for affordable housing, waiting now for housing,” Wood told the Halifax Examiner. “The amount [of housing] they’re putting out now is not enough to meet the need of people waiting right now, let alone the amount people will continue to need.”
The federal government and HRM reached an agreement through the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), which will provide over $79 million to Halifax to build more than 2,600 homes in three years, and almost 9,000 over the next 10 years.
Here are more details on the agreement, from an email sent to the Examiner by Matthew Dillon-Leitch, director of communications for the federal ministry of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities:
- HAF funding will support the city in updating residential zoning to increase density via greater height, reduced parking requirements, increased as-of-right development approvals, and reduced barriers to housing construction;
- Federal HAF funding is subject to conditions outlined in the agreement, including council’s approval of additional zoning changes.
- Initiatives in Halifax’s Action Plan include:
- Streamline operational processes and customer support services for permitting;
- Reduce upfront cost for permit application;
- Encourage conversion of non-residential buildings to residential units;
- Encourage higher-density developments along bus rapid transit corridors;
- Make it easier to include housing in heritage redevelopment projects;
- Work with partners to offer incentives that encourage additional density in residential neighbourhoods;
- Partner with the private sector to develop pre-approved building plans to speed up the pace of approvals;
- Expand Affordable Housing Grant program;
- Make surplus land available for affordable housing through a new program.
- Halifax will also implement additional measures that will allow for more density across the city, including:
- Increasing height in Established Residential 3 Zones;
- Increasing height in Higher Order Residential and Corridor Zones;
- Increasing height, and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) increases in Centre Zones;
- Increasing density near universities;
- Removing more minimum parking requirements;
- Increasing as-of-right development approvals; and
- Working with the province to enable universal discharge of development agreements.
The province had housing news of its own on Thursday, during the opening of the fall session of the legislature, announcing it was making amendments to the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter. With the new Halifax Regional Municipality Act, development approvals will be sped up, density increased, and barriers reduced to building housing in HRM.
All of the details of the new act are in a news release here.
Mayor Mike Savage wasn’t too pleased with the news, telling Jean Laroche at CBC the new act was a “direct intrusion” on HRM. Savage also said Housing Minister John Lohr wouldn’t give him any details on the new act when they spoke on Wednesday:
“This isn’t the way you do politics, especially when you’ve misidentified the problem and said it’s somebody else’s fault. People are tired of pointing fingers, right?” Savage told reporters at city hall on Thursday afternoon…
Savage said the bill “ignores” the real issues slowing down housing projects across the country, which are high interest rates, lack of labour and supply chain issues.
Right now, Savage said the city has 11,000 units under permit while there is “development-ready land” for over 200,000 units thanks to zoning changes the municipality has made under various land-use plans…
Although Savage said the proposed legislation does nothing to get more housing built, it does do a lot to possibly “erode public accountability by consolidating power in the office of the minister.”
5. Tiny houses
On Wednesday, we published this story about a tiny home community that will be built in Lower Sackville to house people in HRM who are currently experiencing homelessness.
When I looked at the rendering for that new community, I noticed the “surplus” land donated by HRM where the tiny homes will be built is currently a sanctioned site for people living in tents. We had this story about the site last year and spoke to residents and the volunteers who work with them.
On Thursday, we asked the Department of Community Services what would happen to people currently living at the site. We were told outreach workers would support those tent residents to find new housing. The nonprofit established to run the tiny home community will use the HRM by-name list to determine who will get a tiny home; it’s not a first-come, first-served process.
On Thursday, Skye Bryden-Blom with Global spoke with some of the 40 people who live in those tents to find out their thoughts about the tiny home community.
One of them was Jacob Hicks, who’s lived at the site for about a month now:
“The government says it’s going to do a lot of things. I’ll see it when I see it — if it happens,” Hicks says. “They’ve got to do right by the people who are already down here and not displace us.”
He’s hoping to get back on his feet soon so he can lend an even bigger helping hand to the site.
Bryden-Blom also spoke with volunteers who support the residents. Those volunteers, including Samantha Banks and Michelle Calder, are concerned about the future too:
“I took a second look at the picture and saw that it’s going to be built in this field. Instantly my heart stopped,” Banks says. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, how is this going to work?’”
Fellow volunteer Michelle Calder feels the same way.
“They’re just saying ‘Well, we’re putting something in, but you might not get it,’” Calder says. “There’s no guarantee the people living here are actually going to have access to those tiny homes.”
She says members are worried about losing the supports available at the site if they need to relocate. Currently, there are porta potties and power on site along with water delivery and garbage pickup.
I’ve seen some comments about the tiny homes themselves, and what they will include. I’ll have to look into this, but have read they will not have their own kitchen or washroom. Apparently, washrooms and a dining hall will be in another building.
There is a tiny home community in Frederiction called 12 Neighbours Community, and those residences do include washrooms and kitchens. The 12 Neighbours Community Facebook page has videos with residents who gave tours of their homes as well as this video below:
Fundraisers and harassment: donor codes of conduct, and the responsibility of employers
On Tuesday, I reported this story about former IWK fundraiser Liz LeClair who is suing Colin MacDonald, co-founder of Clearwater Seafood, alleging sexual assault and mental distress.
There were several pieces of LeClair’s allegations that popped out to me when I was reviewing the statement of claim, including this bit:
LeClair filed a complaint with the IWK Foundation on April 1, 2019, Hnatiw and Gordon wrote, in connect to the sexual misconduct she allegedly suffered by MacDonald while she was an employee with that organization. The foundation hired an investigator to look into LeClair’s allegations, although LeClair said she never learned the outcome of that investigation or received a final report, even though she fully cooperated with the investigation, the claim said.
“Instead, she was told by a board member that the Foundation had a fiduciary duty to the women and children who receive care at the IWK and, therefore, the Foundation planned to continue working with MacDonald. The board member also suggested the good done by MacDonald’s donations outweighed any harm he caused her personally,” Hnatiw and Gordon wrote.
Let’s read this line again: “The board member also suggested the good done by MacDonald’s donations outweighed any harm he caused her personally.“
So, an organization that works to support women may be sacrificing other women for the good of its cause?
That line got me thinking about how organizations are protecting — or not protecting — their fundraisers against harassment from donors. Because it does happen.
In January 2020, Frances Willick at CBC wrote this story about another fundraiser with the IWK Foundation named Carly Butler, who talked about her experiences working an event for the foundation at a high-end resort:
As she and her co-workers arrived at the resort, one charity staffer joked to the crew, “OK, ladies, lock up your vaginas!” Soon after, Butler had an experience she would later describe as “a general disrespect” of her professionalism.
Her job as a fundraiser for the IWK Foundation — the charitable organization that supports the women and children’s hospital in Halifax — required her to drum up $1.5 million in donations the year she was employed there.
During the event, a potential donor asked her to meet him outside in 10 minutes so they could drive his luxury car down a nearby private runway, even though he was drunk. When she said no, he told her she could drive — that there were no police around, and what happened at the resort would stay at the resort.
She didn’t get in the car that day nearly five years ago. But she worries that younger or more vulnerable women starting out their fundraising career may have.
The IWK declined to answer any of CBC’s questions about that event, saying it couldn’t comment specifically on allegations by former staff.
Willick also included details from a survey on sexual harassment conducted in 2018 by the Harris Poll for the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. That survey found about one-quarter of female fundraisers experienced sexual harassment doing their jobs, while seven percent of men who took the survey experienced sexual harassment. Willick writes:
The survey involved about 1,000 fundraisers, including about 900 people living in the U.S. and 100 living in Canada.
In nearly two-thirds of the incidents, a donor was the perpetrator.
But less than half of those who were harassed told their organization about the incident.
This article from The Conversation includes its own survey results, that say three out of four fundraisers have been sexually harassed on the job, including inappropriate conduct by donors (although that data is from a U.S. survey).
Earlier this week, I contacted a couple of umbrella organizations that represent non-profits and fundraisers to find out what, if anything, they are doing about this issue.
I sent a message to the Impact Organizations Association of Nova Scotia (IONS) asking for an interview to learn about their policies around donor harassment of fundraisers, how such harassment can be reported, and if they had any demographic breakdowns of who the fundraisers are in the sector.
IONS, which was previously known as the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia, says on its website that it “advocates for, supports and amplifies the shared voice and work of the community impact sector.”
I got a response from director of communications Diane Connors, who declined an interview request with their executive director, Annika Voltan, but said IONS is “developing some areas of work around workplace best practices that intersect with justice and equity.”
I also contacted the Association of Professional Fundraisers (APF) asking the same questions, and got responses from Todd McLaughlin, vice president, marketing and communications. McLaughlin told me that of its Canadian members, 76% of fundraisers are female, 21% are male, and 3% didn’t identify a gender.
About its policies on cases of harassment, training for fundraisers, and support for fundraisers who may report harassment, here’s what McLaughlin had to say:
Earlier this year, AFP Global began the review and revision of existing foundational policies such as the AFP Code of Ethical Standards and the Member Fair Behavior Policy. This review is being conducted by our standing AFP Ethics Committee, with significant input from the AFP membership.
In conjunction with the revision of these policies, we are updating AFP’s complaints process, formalizing an equitable and accessible pathway for all 27,000+ AFP members to safely report unacceptable behavior.
The decision to make these updates is grounded in research that AFP conducted related to harassment, which confirmed the prevalence of this problem within the industry. This research, done in conjunction with the University of Ohio, is published and available as a resource to members in the Speaking Truth to Power Toolkit, which also includes sample scenarios, assessments, and training materials to help leaders address harassment.
This research, as well as other material AFP has published exposing the prevalence of harassment, are part of a broader effort, the Women’s Impact Initiative, which is a key pillar of AFP’s inclusion, diversity, equity, and access work, focused on providing support and facilitating connections between women in fundraising.
But what about the donors?
In July, Rasheeda Childress at The Chronicle of Philanthropy, wrote about how donor codes of conduct are becoming more common in charitable organizations.
Childress interviewed Sandra Hawken, the current CEO of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation in Toronto, who experienced harassment by donors when she started out as a fundraiser. That harassment included donors trying to undress in front of her, asking her out on dates, and bringing her gifts. Childress writes:
All of which was inappropriate, yet when [Hawken] complained to her bosses, she seldom got support.
“As a young female fundraiser, I was told, ‘OK, well, next time, just make sure you don’t go alone’ or ‘Next time, just be aware of your body language,’” Hawken says. “So classic victim blaming.”
Now, as a CEO, Hawken has a donor code of conduct in place at her organization. Childress writes since not many organizations have donor codes of conduct, it can be tricky knowing where to start. Childress mentions a sample code that “covers issues of sexual harassment and attempts at donor influence and control.”
Hawken and her organization, however, went another route, crafting and testing a donor code for about a year. And she told Childress she has other organizations asking about the code:
When other nonprofit leaders ask Hawken about implementing a donor code, she says a couple of questions invariably pop up: “What if my board thinks I’m being too radical? What if my board thinks we’re going to turn off funders?”
Hawken says the group has had zero complaints from donors about the policy. She also said her board fully backed the initiative. During discussions to approve the policy, some board members showed unwavering support.
“Someone asked, ‘What if a donor sees this and is offended?’” Hawken says. “I didn’t even have to answer that question because the chair of my governance committee quickly said, ‘Well, there’s nothing offensive about this. We don’t want money from people who are going to be harassing or oppressing our staff in any way.’ They felt really proud as a board that they were early adopters.”
It is a thoughtful article on donor codes of conduct, and other charitable organizations should read it and take lots of notes.
Hawken told Childress about how they enforce the code:
“Our promise to our staff is that if something happens that would be in conflict with our donor code of conduct that you, as a staff person who is on the receiving end of harm, have control over what happens next,” Hawken says. “You have a voice in your story, so that you’re not exploited and that you can feel safe in the sharing.”
Since adopting the policy, the organization has had to enforce it twice. “Neither has resulted in going all the way to removing someone’s name off the building,” she says. “But in both instances, what having a donor code of conduct did was give an additional layer of confidence to our staff team. So people were coming forward with things that they might not have come forward with before and said, ‘This feels like a donor code of conduct issue. Let’s talk about it.’”
There is a power imbalance baked into relationships between charitable organizations and donors. One needs money and one often has a lot of money. The one needing the money is often raising it for marginalized and vulnerable people. And someone needs to keep a watch on all of this.
No fundraiser should have to endure any harassment to do their job, and the good for the organization and who is represents doesn’t outweigh the bad done to that fundraiser. Employers have a responsibility to staff, and donors don’t have a right to do whatever they please because they have money.
This Noticed bit is just for fun.
Colin J. Muise has another costume out.
I wrote about Muise and his costumes inspired by Nova Scotia landmarks before. Muise has created costumes of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, the red-and-white smokestacks at Tuft’s Cove, the wave on the waterfront, and others. You can read that story here.
Muise will be at Nocturne on Saturday night where he will do a fashion show of his costumes.
Legislature sits — 9am
Saxophone Noon Hour (Friday, 11:45am, Strug Concert Hall) — free performance by students from the Fountain School of Performing Arts
Mental Health and Academic Performance in Post-secondary Education: Sociodemographic Risk Factors and Links to Childhood Adversity (Friday, 3:30pm, Life Sciences Centre, Room 5260) — Dr. Rick Ezekiel, Vice-Provost, Student Affairs, Dalhousie University will talk
The Jewish Atlantic: Colonization, Circulation, and ‘Emancipation’, 1650-1830 (Friday, 6pm, Alumni Hall, New Academic Building, University of King’s College) — Prof. Dana Rabin will talk; more info here
Indigenous Knowledges and Western Astronomy: Indigenizing the Drake Equation (Friday, 3pm, Atrium 101) — Dr. Hilding Neilson will talk
In the harbour
No details on ships right now, but they’re out there.
I didn’t wake up until 7:30am. That is sleeping in for me.