News

1. HRP releases policies on extra-duty

A Halifax Regional Police officer posted in the produce section of the Braemar Superstore in August 2022. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Policies made public ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners shed more light on the cops’ so-called extra-duty assignments,” reports Zane Woodford.

The extra-duty policies indicate HRP officers can add their names to a list for extra-duty assignments annually. They can have their name removed from the list throughout the year, but can only have it added at the beginning. Officers are paid through their normal paycheques, with the money flowing from the business or group hiring the extra-duty work through the municipality.

Officers, “wherever possible,” are supposed to be on their second or third days off (of four) to work extra duty. Officers can’t transfer extra-duty work among themselves, and risk getting their names removed from the list for breaking with policy. Officers off on suspension, injury, or medical leave or who are on modified duties are ineligible for extra work.

Unless they’re directed to be in plain clothes, officers are required to be in full uniform for extra work, and they typically sign out portable radios.

When officers are working on “liquor establishment details,” they are not to “become doormen or bouncers.” They’re only to go inside “with specific cause or in the process of a complaint investigation.”

Also at the board’s meeting on Wednesday, El Jones gave a presentation on the collection of race-based data and use of force data by cops. And Harry Critchley, the board’s new vice chair, got some pushback on his motion to make Victim Services separate from police operations.

Click here to read Woodford’s story.

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2. Province keeping details of hospital bid under wraps

The Victoria General Hospital. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

“It will be sometime next year before Nova Scotians learn how much a new hospital complex may cost to replace the crumbling Victoria General. That’s what members of the legislature’s Public Accounts Committee were told on Wednesday by the senior government managers negotiating with the one remaining bidder,” Jennifer Henderson reports.

PCL Construction is currently revising its estimate of what it will cost to design, finance, build, and operate the new complex if it is awarded a 30-year contract by the Houston government. The deadline for PCL’s financial submission is Oct. 27, after which officials from Public Works and the Department of Health and Wellness will review the submission and negotiate with the bidder.

Until the contract is signed and the procurement period is closed, the government cannot talk publicly about what is being discussed, according to Gerard Jessome, chief executive of engineering and building infrastructure for Public Works. So, until the deal is signed, sealed, and delivered, Nova Scotians will have to wait.

Henderson also reports on what Karen Oldfield, interim CEO of Nova Scotia Health, had to say about the terrible conditions at the VG.

Click here to read Henderson’s story.

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3. Committee approves additions to Waverley Inn

A rendering of the proposed addition to the Waverley Inn. — Screenshot/HRM/Zzap Consulting

A couple more stories from Woodford today. In this one, Woodford writes that the Design Review Committee is all in favour of a proposed addition to the Waverley Inn:

Council’s Design Review Committee was tasked with approval of the addition itself, and met virtually on Wednesday to debate the proposal.

Planner Meaghan Maund wrote the report to the committee and made a presentation, recommending in favour of three variances to the Downtown Halifax Land-use Bylaw.

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4. Committee recommends heritage status for Dal-owned building

1322 Robie St. in July 2019. — Photo: Google Streetview

Woodford was also at the virtual meeting of the Heritage Advisory Committee on Wednesday. The committee is recommending heritage status for a Dalhousie-owned house on Robie Street, giving the property a score of 78 out of 100. The house was home to some notable residents, including its first owner, George Maclean, the founding cashier of the first Merchant’s Bank, and Methodist minister and abolitionist, Reverend Thomas Watson Smith, who was also the editor of the bi-weekly religious newspaper The Wesleyan. Woodford writes:

The McAlpine family were the next owners, known for publishing the McAlpine’s Nova Scotia Directory.

“The value of the McAlpine’s Directories for historical research in Nova Scotia (and elsewhere in the Maritimes) cannot be overstated, as these directories indicate home addresses, names, and occupations, as well as advertising from local businesses, informing on both residential and commercial history,” Lugar wrote.

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Get back to the earth with green burials

The Sunrise Park Interfaith Cemetery in Hatchet Lake. Photo: Wayne Hatcher

On the last Wednesday of every month, Dawn Carson hosts a Green Burial Cafe. Carson, who is a death doula, community deathcaring educator, and funeral coordinator, operates Death Matters with Deborah Luscomb, who hosts Halifax Death Café and Final Curtain Films. At Death Matters, Carson and Luscomb offer workshops on end of life, coordination of funerals, and green burials. They also are the women behind the Green Burial Society Nova Scotia.

Now, I had no clue what a green burial was until I spoke with Carson on Wednesday, but it turns out it’s an old idea making a comeback because it’s better for the environment. Carson and Luscomb are working to get people more comfortable talking about matters of death, including green burials.

“I think when people start to ask questions and look into what’s happening, they’re more likely to head toward natural or green burials themselves,” Carson said. “Most people haven’t given it much thought. Death, dying, and disposition fall to the bottom of the to-do list and they’re not conversations that happen at the dinner table.” 

There are a number of factors that make a burial a green one. The first requirement is that the body isn’t embalmed, a process Carson said is toxic to the embalmers and the earth.

Interestingly, Carson said embalming was first used during the Civil War when soldiers’ bodies were being transported back to their families. President Abraham Lincoln was the first public figure to be embalmed before his body was put on view for the three weeks.

“Those are the kind of things that popularize new practices,” Carson said. “Then everybody wanted to have that process. It’s not necessary to embalm someone and have a three-day wake. You just need to keep the body cold. And [the bodies] look more like themselves in those situations, too, then they do when they are embalmed and done up with makeup they may or may not have worn traditionally.” 

 Green burials also don’t use steel-lined exotic wood caskets or concrete liners in the graves.

“Quite often, the materials — the glue, nails, and the wood — that go into making a casket or a coffin are from all over the world, and just shipping them in creates a carbon footprint,” Carson said. 

Instead, green burials typically use a shroud to wrap the body or a simple hand-planed box for the body, although Carson said boxes made from wicker or cardboard, or rough boxes can be used, too.  

Graves for green burials also tend to be shallower — not six-feet deep — but rather two to four feet deep because that allows the oxygen to work faster on the decomposition of body. 

“Originally, this was the way everyone was buried,” Carson said. “I think we hear it mostly about the Irish. People died in their homes, they had ritual bathing and dressing in the home. They were waked in the home. And the men of the community went to the graveyard and dug the grave by hand. After a day or two of waking, they carried the body through the community in a coffin that was made by local craftsperson, and then buried the person in the ground. Perfectly natural and green.” 

The Sunrise Park Interfaith Cemetery in Hatchet Lake. Photo: Wayne Hatcher

There’s one cemetery in Nova Scotia called Sunrise Interfaith Park in Hatchet Lake that is a certified green burial cemetery. Carson said most cemeteries are hybrids, so they offer conventional burials, but have a designated section that is for green burials. Pleasant Hill in Lower Sackville accepts green burials as does the Burlington Cemetery Society in Burlington near Berwick. Carson said that recently a few of the cemeteries in Halifax and Dartmouth that do have space open for burials have announced they will allow green burials. 

“That’s fairly new, so that’s a big step forward. We’re grateful for that,” Carson said.  

Carson said the Green Burial Society of Canada set up a certification program for cemeteries wanting to do green burials. And then there are conservation burial grounds, which according to the Green Burial Council, use minimal burial density, manage the land with defined conservation goals, and operate on protected land connected with a land trust or other conservation entity.

Carson said there are lots of conservation burial grounds in the UK and the US, but the concept hasn’t completely caught on here yet. Not in a big way, at least. Some groups now are working through the process of opening cemeteries that are only for green burials. And some are opening conservation burial grounds. Carson said conservation burial grounds are like “multipurpose centres” and may have a hobby farm and offer a place for people to have funerals. So far there is only one conservation burial ground in Canada on Denman Island, British Columbia. 

“We’re encouraging people as they’re making their plans to start asking for it,” Carson said. “The only thing that prevents a cemetery from offering a green burial are their cemetery bylaws, which may be they may want to continue to mow the field. In a green burial, the field is not mowed. Usually, people scatter wildflowers. It’s more of a field. And typically, there are no monuments either.” 

People are moving away from burial all together and Carson said most Canadians are cremated, but that’s not environmentally friendly either because of the emissions created from the cremation and the fossil fuels used to combust the body in the retort, the chamber where the cremation takes place.

But Carson said there is a greener form of cremation called aquamation that uses water and a non-toxic lye solution. She said Archbishop Desmond Tutu was cremated using aquamation. 

“Blessings to him. He was teaching all the way through to his burial,” Carson said. “We’re hoping eventually folks that are doing fire cremation will move over to water cremation.”  

The Green Burial Cafes are held the last Wednesday of the month at noon (the next one is on Oct. 26. You can check out the calendar here). Carson said when they took the cafes online during the pandemic, they got a lot more people signing on. She said as far as she knows, theirs is the only green burial café. They have attendees from all over the world joining them.

At each café session, they may talk about new products, like shrouds or caskets like those made by Jeremy Burrill at Fiddlehead Casket Company in New Brunswick. Burrill makes a casket kit that he can ship out to clients. The casket can be set up as a coffee table or bookshelf until you need it as a casket. The kit is complete with instructions on how to put it together. Think of it as an IKEA for death.

“People are finding us,” Carson said, “Folks who have not necessarily approached us before for any end-of-life matters. Now, people are starting to just arrive and ask questions.” 

Besides the Green Burial Cafes, the Death Matters website offers details on green burials.  Carson said with all of their work, they’re trying to create a “culture of openness” about death.

“We are all going to die,” Carson said. “Everyone of us. Nothing else is guaranteed in life, but this is. So, why are we so hesitant to talk about it. The more we can make friends with it, the more we can come to understand that we have choices in it, the easier it is for everybody.” 

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Noticed

A relative of this couple in Brazil was fined for dying a waterfall blue for a gender reveal party. Photo: Screenshot/Twitter

Oh, another gender reveal gone wrong. This time the gender reveal took place in Mato Grosso, Brazil where a relative of a couple that hosted the party was fined for dying the Queima-Pé waterfall with a blue chemical. That waterfall is an important source of fresh water for the city, which has been struggling with drought the last few years.

Fortunately, the blue dye didn’t alter the water or harm any fish. Still, an official with SEMA, Mato Grosso’s environmental protection agency, told the Washington Post putting the blue dye into the water is an environmental infraction.

There have been a number of these reveals in the news in recent years. This week, Emily McDonald at Today’s Parent details nine gender reveals gone wrong:

  • A couple in Fort McMurray was fined $800 for starting a fire that burned half a hectare of forest after they shot at a target that was supposed to release coloured smoke, but cause an explosion instead.
  • In 2021, a father-to-be was killed after the explosive device he and his brother were making for a gender reveal malfunctioned.
  • In Mexico, a pilot and co-pilot were killed after the plane they were flying with a flag announcing “it’s a girl” crashed into the ocean.
  • A couple in California each face a charge of involuntary manslaughter after the pyrotechnic device for their gender reveal party set off a fire that killed a firefighter and destroyed 22,000 acres of forest in El Dorado in 2020.
  • In 2018, a father-to-be was ordered to pay $8 million for damages after the bomb he built for a gender reveal caused a fire that destroyed 45,000 acres of land.
  • A guest at a gender reveal in Iowa was killed by shrapnel when the device a couple built exploded and sent metal pieces flying everywhere.
  • And in Australia’s Gold Coast, the driver of a car escaped after the vehicle that was emitting blue smoke caught fire.

Then there are the parents, like this guy or this guy, who are disappointed or angry when they find out from these reveals that the child is a girl.

These gender reveals are a specific kind of parental narcissism. Do these people even like their kids or do they just like the idea of having kids? Sure, just have a cake, I guess, but these over-the-top and often destructive parties just to find out the biological sex of your child say something about the parents themselves. I bet they have a blog or an Instaglam account where they plan on sharing every personal detail of their child’s life.

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Government

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Poppy Pin Beading Workshop (Thursday, 10:30am, Ko’jua Okuom, 1st floor, Killam Memorial Library) — two-part workshop led by Michelle McDonald, a beader originally from Sipekne’katik. More info here.

Geophysics…the future is so bright, we have to wear shades (Thursday, 11:30am, Milligan Room, Life Sciences Centre) — 2022-2023 Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG) Distinguished Lecture Tour, with Rachel Newrick; from the listing:

The world is facing many global challenges: poverty, insufficient clean water supply, hunger and a lack of energy security amongst others. To tackle them, the world needs critical thinkers, who are curious and inventive. Utilizing a variety of skills and technologies, geophysicists play a significant role in helping the world meet the 2030 UN sustainable development goals.

Geophysicists interrogate the subsurface to locate oil, gas, minerals, water, brine, subsurface reservoirs for carbon sequestration, and to improve our understanding of hazards, earthquakes etc.

The thought process that we use in exploration can be used as we look forward to the future, progressing oddities to leads and prospects. The future is bright for geophysicists, and for the world because geophysicists are helping address many global challenges.

Friday

Exploring and Exploiting Reactive Intermediates in Aminocatalysis (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Rebecca Davis from the University of Manitoba will talk.

Moving in Mi’kma’ki (Friday, 2:30pm, Studio 2, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — workshop with Sarah Prosper:

Moving in Mi’kma’ki invites you, a mover, artist, dancer, and person who wants to learn about the land we live from in Mi’kma’ki. The Mi’kmaq language, elder relation teachings, and Indigenous based movement will be an integral component of our welcoming learning space for ALL.

Vaping and the Adolescent Brain: Long-term effects on behaviour and neural connectivity (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 5260, Life Sciences Centre) — Jibran Khokhar from Western University will talk

My Past and Thoughts (with Apologies to Alexander Herzen) (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building and online) — Norman Pereira will talk. More info here; MS Teams link here.


In the harbour

Halifax
06:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairvie Saint-Pierre
06:30: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Pier 30 from Sydney, on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
06:45: Adventure of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,058 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John, on a nine-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
07:15: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
09:30: Ocean Explorer, cruise ship with up to 162 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Pictou, on a 15-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
09:45: Enchanted Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,402 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:00: Tulane, car carrier, arrives at Pier 9 from Southampton, England
10:00: One Helsinki, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
11:30: Global Sealine, LNG tanker, arrives at Berth TBD from the Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana
11;30: Hyundai Force, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
12:30: MSC Odessa, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
15:30: Caribbean Princess sails for Bar Harbor
16:30: Tulane moves to Autoport
17:00: Adventure of the Seas sails for New York
19:30: Enchanted Princess sails for New York
21:30: Tulane sails for sea
22:30: Ocean Explorer sails for Lunenburg

Cape Breton
06:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, moves from Government Wharf (Sydney) to anchorage
07:00: Silver Whisper, cruise ship with up to 466 passengers, arrives at Sydney anchorage from Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone), Magdalen Islands, on an 11-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
07:15: Aurora, cruise ship with up to 2,258 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Halifax, on a 24-day roundtrip cruise out of Southampton, England
09:30: Insignia, cruise ship with up to 800 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier (Sydney) from Lunbenburg, on a 10-day cruise from New York to Montreal
14:30: Silver Whisper sails for Halifax
15:00: CSL Tarantau, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
17:00: SLNC Severn, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Rotterdam
17:30: Aurora sails for Southampton, England
18:30: AlgoScotia moves back to Government Wharf
18:30: Insignia sails for Corner Brook
18:30: Homeric, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
21:00: AlgoScotia sails for sea


Footnotes

Going apple picking this weekend, if the rain holds off. I’ll get enough to make apple crisp for weeks.


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Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Islamic burials have been green for centuries. Often in unmarked graves.

    Just as described above. A ceremonial washing of the body. A funeral shrowd and a plain wood box, or sometimes not even depending where one passes from this life. Buried within 24 hours of death almost always in the place of death.

  2. I am glad you mention the narcissistic aspect of gender reveal parties. Then spouse and I could have found out what ours was, those many years ago, but really didn’t care–just wanted a healthy baby. *I* knew I was carrying a son, and I was right when the giant pumpkin came out!