1. More people speak out against increase in police budget

Halifax Regional Police cruisers lined up behind headquarters on Gottingen Street in June 2021. They're so shiny and white.
Halifax Regional Police cruisers lined up behind headquarters on Gottingen Street in June 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Halifax’s police board heard from another group of people, most of them opposed to an increase in the police budget, at a meeting Monday evening,” reports Zane Woodford.

The Board of Police Commissioners held a virtual meeting to gather feedback on the proposed 2023-2024 Halifax Regional Police budget, along with a requested increase in RCMP officers in the municipality. More than two dozen people at last week’s in-person meeting told the board they were opposed to any increase in police spending.

The trend continued Monday, with nine of 15 speakers telling the board they were opposed to an increase. Of the remaining six, four were either retired RCMP officers or affiliated with the union representing officers. One person offered no strong opinion either way, and the remaining person lost their connection with the Zoom meeting.

No one spoke in favour of an increased Halifax Regional Police budget.

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2. Mayor, councillors get a pay hike

People are seen in a beige room, with four televisions on the wall and a coat of arms in the back. There are a row of empty desks in the front, and perpendicular rows behind.
Council Chambers at Halifax City Hall in October 2021, before the first in-person meeting of council since March 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Halifax councillors and the mayor are getting a 3.6% pay increase,” reports Zane Woodford.

Mayor Mike Savage will move from $190,072.43 to $196,915.03. Deputy Mayor Sam Austin will move from $101,483.89 to $105,137.31. And councillors will move from $92,258.09 to $95,579.38.

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3. ‘Hallway medicine’

Ambulances line up outside the QE2 in January 2022. Credit: Tim Bousquet

Megan King and Rebecca Lau at Global Halifax had this story about a Nova Scotia paramedic who is speaking out about “hallway medicine” and the strain he and his colleagues are under in treating patients.

Scott Sturgeon, an advanced care paramedic, has been with Nova Scotia Emergency Health Services for 23 years. In that time, he’s seen dramatic changes to the job, including a growing problem with offload delays at the province’s emergency rooms.

“I’ve seen colleagues and done it myself where I’ve gone in (to the ER) with my first patient on a run of a 12-hour shift and stayed in the hallway with them for 12 hours,” he said.

What’s even more shocking, he says in some cases, is that he’ll “hand off” the patient to a night crew and then “sometimes inherit that very same patient again 12 hours after that.”

Sturgeon told King and Lau that these working conditions are leaving him and his colleages with a “moral injury.”

Of course, last week there were changes announced for emergency departments services, which Jennifer Henderson covered here. Those changes include physician-first triage, patient advocates, and more training for paramedics. How quickly that will change emergency care remains to be seen.

Sturgeon told Global paramedics are filling in roles for which they’re not trained:

“But the reality is that the ambulance is being used by a large portion of the population to fill in gaps for primary care,” he said.

“So we’re being used kind of like a physician, and we’re not physicians … and we’re being asked to do that with regularity.”

Last spring, when my father was in the hospital, I saw this hallway medicine first hand. I remember at one point stepping outside his room at the emergency department where there were a number of patients lying in beds in the hallway.

What made me especially uncomfortable was that I could easily overhear what paramedics, nurses, and doctors were discussing with patients. There was no privacy at all. At one point, a woman visiting a relative was escorted out by security, yelling and threatening to sue the hospital.

This is no way for patients to receive care or for health care workers to work.

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4. Fishing gear

Two man in winter hats and gear collect old lobster traps and other fishing items.
Some of the lost fishing gear collected by Coastal Action during its cleanups in 2022. Credit: Coastal Action

The environmental non-profit Coastal Action collected 32 tonnes of lost fishing gear from across the province in 2022. According to this story from CBC, most of that gear was lost during Hurricane Fiona:

Project co-ordinator Zora McGinnis said the majority of the traps and rope — just under 18 tonnes — were recovered from waters off South Shore communities in the province’s largest and most lucrative lobster fishing zone.

The group also collected just under four tonnes of gear along the shoreline between Chester and Digby, and nearly 11 tonnes along the shoreline of Cape Breton Island.

In total, the group found 437 lobster traps and 3.7 kilometres of rope in Cape Breton, with four tonnes gathered in a couple of coves near Louisbourg.

Just over 2.4 tonnes of gear was collected in the northern Cape Breton community of Neils Harbour alone.

“They were really, really hard hit by Fiona, so we weren’t surprised that there was so much to be found there,” McGinnis told Information Morning Cape Breton on Monday.

McGinnis said one of the lobster traps they found dated to the 1980s. And the cleanup also recovered lots of trap tags, including tags from traps set in Newfoundland, showing just how far trash can travel in the water.

Coastal Action is now applying for more funding to do more cleanups.

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Remembering the good old days may get us through these bad days, but it’s not all good

A collage of three photos: from left, a vintage drawing of a smiling housewife; centre a photo of a man and a woman holding a cat and a dog; and to the right, an old two-storey house with grey shingles on a wintry day

I’ve been thinking about nostalgia lately. Nostalgic about nostalgia, if you will. 

First, there was the announcement last week that Zellers is making a comeback in Canada. The former department store, which closed locations in 2013, will set up shop in a couple dozen locations of Hudson’s Bay store, including at the big mall in Dartmouth and Mayflower Mall in Sydney.  

People who loved Zellers are beyond excited about this. Friends of mine are excited about this. Now, I don’t really get all the hype over the news and am convinced people just want the return of The Skillet, the family restaurant in Zellers stores that served such favourites as hot hamburger sandwiches, fries and gravy, and those Jell-O parfaits with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Oh, and maybe they want prices offered at Zellers, whose motto was “where the lowest price is the law,” especially now that we’re living in a time where the highest prices are the reality.  

The nostalgia for the Zellers of yore is strong, but as someone pointed out, these new Zellers stores will likely just be small sections set up in Bay stores designed to turn your nostalgia into sales of more expensive products offered by the Bay. And with no menu from The Skillet.

Nostalgia can be fun, though. Take this photographer in Dartmouth who is bringing back 80s-style photography of people with their pets.  

A woman in a lack and red floral dress holds a collie dog while a man wearing a blue, purple, and black sweater with geometric patterns holds a fluffy tabby cat. On the left side of the photo are close ups of the cat and dog's heads looking off into the distance, unsure why they hell they agreed to take part in this photo shoot.
Claire Fraser, a photographer in Dartmouth, is bringing back 80s-style glamour photos with pets. Credit: Claire Fraser

Claire Fraser spoke with CTV Atlantic about the 80s-style pet photography, which started with an idea from her partner. “It’s so absurd that people love it,” Fraser said.

A friend of mine sent me the story about Fraser’s work. I suggested I get a portrait done with my two cats. She said, “do it!” We went on to remember the 80s, the bad photography, the clothes, the hair, lots of big, hairsprayed hair. “What a decade, man,” my friend said. Absurd, indeed.

And we decided we didn’t really want to go back to the 80s after all, even though the pet photography gave us a chuckle.

Nostalgia for cafeteria fries and gravy and absurd pet photography have their place. The world, if you haven’t noticed, is kind of a mess now and looking back at simple things from seemingly simpler times makes us happy, and even helps us deal with everything. Here’s a bit from Science News in October 2021:

Nostalgia may even help people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. In a study published September 8 in Social, Psychological and Personality Science, researchers found when some lonely, unhappy people reminisced about better, pre-pandemic moments, they felt happier. The results suggest that nostalgia can serve as an antidote to loneliness during the pandemic, the researchers conclude.

“A good analogy is the immune system,” says social psychologist Tim Wildschut of the University of Southampton in England. “A viral infection may make you ill, but it also activates your immune system and your immune system makes you better. Loneliness reduces happiness but also triggers nostalgia, and nostalgia increases happiness.”

In the new study, Wildschut and colleagues first surveyed over 3,700 participants in the United States, United Kingdom and China to assess people’s levels of loneliness, nostalgia and happiness during the early days of the pandemic. Surveys varied slightly by country, but for most questions or statements, participants responded on a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 for “not at all” and 7 for “very much.” For instance, participants in the United States rated how isolated they felt from the rest of the world in the week prior to the survey, how happy they felt compared with their peers and their overall feelings of nostalgia.

The researchers found that across the three countries, people who scored relatively high in loneliness also, not surprisingly, scored lower in happiness. But when the team drilled down on the role nostalgia plays, they found people who didn’t indulge in those memories were the least happy.

“Loneliness [triggers] unhappiness and nostalgia. Then unhappiness and nostalgia fight with each other,” says coauthor Constantine Sedikides, a social psychologist also at the University of Southampton.

It’s good to have a look back and have a laugh and smile about what we loved and what we endured in past days. But there are some folks out there just picking and choosing stories and ideas from the past that are now entire movements.

I somehow missed this trend, although I saw hints of it a few months ago when I wrote about the romanticizing of the lives of 1950’s housewives. It’s the “traditional wife” movement or “tradwife” for short.

An illustration of a white woman in a green dress in a kitchen, smiling as she demonstrates her new oven. Text says "why I'd be delighted to put my needs last again"
The tradwife movement promotes traditional values and submitting to your husband.

The BBC did a story on one tradwife, Alena Kate Petitt, who writes about femininity, etiquette, and being a traditional housewife at her blog, The Darling Academy. For Petitt, being a tradwife means, “homemakers of our generation who are happy to submit to, keep house, and spoil their husbands like it’s 1959.”

“It’s almost harnessing the best of what made Britain great during that time where you could leave your front door open and know that you were safe and you knew your neighbours in the street. We can have that again. I mean times are changing so fast and we don’t even know the identity of our country right now.”

Hmmm …

Petitt goes on to say as a girl she dreamed of being a mother and a wife and looked up to the TV shows of the 50s and 60s such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. But she also said as a young woman, it was shows like Sex and the City and the Real Housewives series that were giving her advice on how to have a successful career while still being in touch with her sexual side. Petitt did have a career when she was in her 20s. When she met her husband, who wanted a wife in a more traditional role, Petitt said it was a “fairytale.”

Listen, the aesthetic of the 50s can be nice with its floral dresses and perfect makeup and hair. And if women want to be stay at home wives and mothers, that’s great. But I don’t know any career woman, myself included, whose life looks anything like Sex and the City or the Real Housewives of any city. And shows from the 50s or 60s about women living in bottles shouldn’t be the model for how to live either.

Some of these tradwives who are selling their lifestyles online must be making money from creating and sharing that content. Petitt, for example, says she gets an allowance from her husband, who controls the family finances, yet she has two books and a blog promoting the tradwife lifestyle and her Darling Academy that must turn some sort of profit. I certainly hope she’s not working for exposure.

But the tradwife movement has a darker side; like the women’s wellness movement, which I wrote about a year ago, the tradwife movement is being used by the alt-right as a recruitment tool.

Mariel Cooksey at The Public Eye took a close look at the tradwife movement, its connection to the alt-right, and why the movement is so attractive to Gen Z women:

While not all tradwives associate with White supremacist politics—and not all are Christian fundamentalists—the movement offers an elegant solution for women seeking acceptance in White nationalist factions. Some popular tradwife influencers are explicit in their connection to far-right ideas, using their platforms to disseminate White supremacist propaganda. Social media personalities Ayla Stewart (aka “Wife With A Purpose”)[12] and Caitlin Huber (aka “Mrs. Midwest”)[13] both follow and interact with White nationalist accounts online. Stewart in particular has spread White supremacist ideas such as “replacement theory,” the conspiratorial belief that White people are being systematically replaced by non-White immigrants.[14] More prominent influencers, including Huber, are more circumspect in their political associations, following White supremacist and neonazi accounts on Instagram but not explicitly repeating pro-White propaganda.[15]

But with the rise of new social platforms like TikTok, which generally appeal to a younger demographic, the movement is poised to spread as a new generation of girls are introduced to #tradlife. Generation Z—those born after 1996[16] and colloquially known as “Zoomers”[17]—is a cohort of internet natives. Scarcely aware of a pre-internet reality, they were raised in the “Lean In” era of feminism and are immersed in a constant stream of web information. They also statistically skew more progressive, are less intent on fixed gender roles,[18] and are more ethnically diverse[19] and queerer[20] than most generations before them. But amid this overall trend of greater progressivism, a subsection of far-right Gen Z women is mounting its own social media backlash. Within this world, women and girls, sometimes as young as 16, are amassing tens of thousands of views on TikTok by presenting themselves as aspiring tradwives, lip-syncing or dancing to trending rap or pop music as they disparage women’s rights, quote the Bible, and muse about the modest outfits they’ll wear and the meals they’ll cook once they’ve married.[21]

Earlier this month, Sharon Fraser was feeling nostalgic, too. Fraser and I are friends on Facebook and she shared a post about an old house she and her husband, Dan, lived in when they were a young couple just starting out.

The house, which was in Black River Bridge, New Brunswick, was about 100 feet from where the river flows into the Miramichi. It was drafty and very cold and Fraser kept a rolled up blanket at the bottom of the front door, yet snow still blew in overnight. Every morning, water in glasses on the nightstand or in the kettle was frozen solid, until the fire got started.

An old two-storey farm house with grey shingles sits along a rural road covered in snow. A power line stretches over the road connected to power poles on either side.
The house in Black River Bridge where Sharon Fraser and her husband, Dan, lived in the 1970s. Credit: Sharon Fraser

In her blog, Fraser wrote about one day in February 1976 when she was doing the laundry in that old house. Here’s a paragraph about how she did the wash:

I almost froze my fingers getting my big washtubs in from the shed. My hands were a little damp and when I reached up to lift the first tub off the hook where it hangs, my fingers stuck to the surface. I peeled them off; no permanent damage but I went and put my gloves on before I dragged the tubs in.

The two tubs sit side by side in the middle of the kitchen floor, one filled with hot soapy water, the other with less hot clear water for rinsing. The steam rises into the still-cold air of the kitchen like you see from those hot springs in Iceland. I sit on a cushion. I have a washboard for scrubbing and a hand-operated wringer that clamps on the side of the tub for wringing. A little shelf at the bottom of the wringer moves back and forth to keep the soapy water draining into the soapy tub and the clear water back into the clear tub. It’s very efficient.

But Fraser has a healthy perspective on nostalgia about her old house. She continues: 

The stories I tell about living in the cold old house on the shore are not about poverty or hardship. They’re credentials. I tell them because it’s fun to tell them. I tell them so I don’t feel I have to explain why I love my washing machine. 

But I tell them carefully and never with a suggestion of deprivation. Every day I lived in the old house, I thought of the woman who had lived there first, whose husband had built the house in the early part of the century. She had eleven children, most of them born in those very rooms. She had no electricity, no car to take her to town for shopping, no fridge to keep her food from freezing. And her water pump, unlike mine, which was conveniently located in the kitchen, was outdoors. 

These are the stories I think about, too, when I hear people longing for the good old days. Those days weren’t good for everyone, including the wives that current tradwives believe they’re imitating.

When it’s time, I wonder what we’ll long for from these days?

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Tiny home movement

CBC’s Land and Sea had this show recently on the tiny home movement, focusing on people in Nova Scotia who are choosing to build and live in their own tiny homes.

The people CBC interviewed had several reasons for choosing the tiny home life, including wanting to downsize and live a rural lifestyle or wanting more independence.

In a few of the cases, the people interviewed for the show are young, in their 20s and 30s, and say they’ve been priced out of the market or could never get a mortgage for a typical home.

Amber d’Entremont and Anthony Poulin live in a tiny home on wheels in Clare. Their home looks like a shed on wheels, but they’re building a new and larger tiny home because d’Entremont is pregnant. Now, tiny babies get much bigger, so it would be interesting to learn how their family grows into the tiny space.

Nera Pettipas’ tiny home doesn’t look like the others. She’s converting an old bus into a tiny home. Right now, the bus sits in the backyard at her parents’ home near New Glasgow, but Pettipas says she likes the idea of being able to move her home to wherever she’d like. The project is still in the works and she expect it’ll be ready by spring.

“It was desperation that first got me here, but now this is a choice for me now,” Pettipas said. “If I ended up getting enough money to live in a house, I would probably prefer my bus… this is the most exciting thing for me in my life right now because I’ve never had my own place and this bus offers me freedom that, normally, people don’t get.”

CBC also spoke with Carolyn Hocquard, who keeps track of the tiny home movement via her Facebook group, Nova Scotia Tiny House People (it’s a private group, so you have to be accepted to join).

Hocquard says the market is growing in Nova Scotia for tiny homes. There are tiny home builders and designers in the province now and other companies that make trailers for tiny homes.

“This looks like a really accessible option for many people who don’t qualify for a mortgage, will never be able to afford a typical house,” she said.

“It started with people who were really interested in downsizing and sort of maybe getting under the radar of regulations, and wanted to reduce their carbon footprint, maybe. But now with the housing crisis and housing prices, it has become a lot more a necessity for a lot more people.”

Pettipas said she gets a lot of advice about tiny home living and building tiny homes from social media and other online resources. That’s what I learned from Terri Smith-Fraser, a full-time continuing care assistant, who’s living the van life in Halifax. I interviewed her back in October. She has her own TikTok account where she shares stories about van life living.

What I also wanted to know about living in these tiny homes is how the owners dealt with winter. This episode was filmed in summer, so the owners of the tiny homes spent much of their time outside in their gardens, near the beach, in a lot they own in the forest, in their lush backyards.

One of the couples, Steph and Heidi, were prepping to spend their second winter in their tiny home in Cape Breton, but there was no mention of the particular issues of living in a tiny home in bad weather. Another tiny home owner mentions her home is insulated with sheep’s wool. Still, I want to know more about life in a tiny home during the colder months.

What does cabin fever look like while living in a tiny home?

Tiny home living isn’t an option for everyone, of course. And I’m sure if you have a partner, you really have to like them and learn to compromise in this way of living. It’ll be interesting to see how this movement grows across the province. You can watch the show here.

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Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda


Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall and online) — agenda



Natural Resources and Economic Development (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — The Success and Future of Nova Scotia’s Climate Change Fund; with representatives from the Department of Environment and Climate Change, EfficiencyOne, and Clean Foundation


Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place and online) — 2023 Report of the Auditor General – Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority: Examination of Service Contract Awards; with Paul LaFleche, Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing

House of Assembly Management Commission (Wednesday, 4pm, One Government Place) — info here

On campus



Medicine in Africa: Afrophobia & Colonial Medicine Across Time & Space (Tuesday, 5pm, online) — OmiSoore Dryden joins Eli Manning in the second of a 3-part lecture series

How can we ensure governments keep their promises on climate and biodiversity? (Tuesday, 6pm, Room 105, Schulich School of Law) — Elizabeth May will talk, Q&A to follow

The Myth of the Lost Torah (Tuesday, 7pm, McInnes Room, Dal Student Union Building) — inaugural lectureby the Simon and Riva Spatz Chair in Jewish Studies, Eva Mroczek


Sport Concussion (Wednesday, 7pm, online) — 17th Dalhousie Mini Medical School



The Display of a Haudenosaunee Silk Patchwork Quilt at the Caughnawaga Grand Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition (Tuesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall, New Academic Building) — Lisa Binkley from Dalhousie University will talk


Book Launch: Tender (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall, New Academic Building) — by Sylvia Hamilton


In the harbour

09:00: AlgoTitan, oil tanker, moves from Pier 27 to Imperial Oil
12:00: Hyundai Faith, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
14:00: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
15:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, sails from Dockyard for sea
16:30: Vistula Maersk, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
18:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
23:00: Iver Ambition, asphalt tanker, sails from Pier 26 for sea

Cape Breton
No arrivals or departures.



Maybe I could build a Golden Girls compound of tiny homes.






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Three tiny houses on a grass location under a blue sky. In the distance you can see water while trees hang overhead near the houses. A bicycle with a basket leans against one of the houses.


Will tiny homes and other small dwellings help with the housing crisis?

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

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  1. If you travel through the back roads in many places in NS you will see the last trend of the ‘tiny home movement’…it was called ‘what you lived in to keep from being sent to the poor house’ or ‘crippling poverty’ or what you could build and maintain while only having access to EI and seasonal work.
    Lots of houses that are only just over a hundred square feet or whatever size you could build without needing a building permit. You can still see many people living in them today with a piece or two tacked on over the years to add up to a few hundred square feet.
    Maude Lewis lived the ‘tiny home lifestyle’.

  2. “Maybe I could build a Golden Girls compound of tiny homes.”

    I’d move in tomorrow – as long as there was cheesecake. 🙂