News

1. Pediatric physicians: “ATV use by children and teens is not safe”

Photo: Elievan Junior/Unsplash

This item was written by Yvette d’Entremont

On Tuesday, a group of 15 pediatric physicians sent an open letter throughout the Maritimes expressing their concerns about the “extreme risks” and “potentially dire” consequences associated with the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATV) by children and teens.

“We are a group of doctors who care deeply about children’s health. We are writing to express our concern over the frequency and severity of the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trauma that we saw at IWK Health last year,” the letter begins.

“As we enter another season of recreational vehicle use we want families, the public, and our legislators to be aware of the extreme risks and potentially dire consequences associated with ATV use (including UTVs and side by sides).”

The letter was signed by pediatric physicians (including those working in pediatric palliative care) and surgeons from the IWK Health Centre, EHS LifeFlight Pediatric Care, and New Brunswick’s Horizon Health Network.

The doctors noted that in 2021, ATV injuries were the number one trauma-related reason for admission to the only pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in the Maritimes, located at the IWK.

Both passengers and drivers — from babies to teens — required intensive care.

“To our group of physicians providing care to the children and their parents, the numbers were alarmingly high,” the doctors wrote. “These numbers do not include children who died before reaching our hospital.”

The physicians said each child admitted to the PICU required life support and had severe injuries that were serious enough to lead to potential life-long complications and/or death.

While recognizing that ATVs are a “favoured recreational pastime” for many families in the Maritimes, the doctors said children can’t adequately control motorized vehicles and are also vulnerable as passengers.

“ATV use by children and teens is not safe,” they wrote.

They urged parents to be aware of their children’s ATV access and of the risks associated with children using off-highway vehicles, adding that injuries and deaths associated with ATV use are preventable.

“We are passionate about the health of children. We want to see your children outside having fun. We do not want them to need our services,” the letter concluded.

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2. Halifax’s auditor general concerned about risks for big projects

Halifax auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd speaks to reporters at Halifax City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Photo: Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford was at a virtual meeting of Halifax regional council’s Audit and Finance Standing Committee on Wednesday where Halifax’s auditor general Evangeline Colman-Sadd presented a follow-up report that looked at HRM’s progress in implementing 11 recommendations from three audits in fiscal 2019-2020. Woodford writes:

Of those 11 recommendations, seven were implemented — 64%.

“This is below the level that we expect for audits that were released two years ago,” Colman-Sadd told councillors, noting its the second report with a similar percentage after a June 2021 follow-up revealed recommendations were 63% complete.

“We have heard from management in their responses to both that June 2021 follow-up and today’s that COVID has contributed to challenges in completing recommendations. We understand certainly that COVID obviously has an impact on operations. However, at times when staff are at home, not able to necessarily be in the office, potentially having all of the additional pressures that came along with the first two years of the pandemic in our lives, controls and having strong policies in place can be even more important in organizations.”

The three audits covered the municipality’s LED streetlight conversion project (zero of two recommendations implemented); its new website project (one of one recommendations implemented); and fleet vehicle use (four of four Halifax Water recommendations implemented, two of four HRM recommendations implemented).

As Woodford reported, Colman-Sadd was especially concerned about the recommendations from the LED streetlight conversion audit.

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3. Taking back the stage for the Singing Miner

Maurice Ruddick (left). The LIFE magazine caption of the photo read: “COLORED MAIN EVENT of the Canadian miners’ trip to Georgia was gathering in Brunswick where Negro miner Maurice Ruddick (left) was introduced. He entertained by singing Aren’t You Sorry Now.”

Evelyn C. White has this amazing story about Maurice Ruddick, the Black miner who became known for keeping up the spirits of his mining colleagues with song, jokes, and prayers after they were all trapped underground after the Springhill mining disaster in October 23, 1958. White wrote about Ruddick back in 2018, the 60th anniversary of the mining disaster. And more recently, she joined Jeremiah Sparks on stage for a “Talk Back” session after his show, Beneath Springhill. Then, White writes, this happened:

Sparks and I were discussing the racial implications of the Ruddick saga when a white man in the audience interrupted our conversation. Clearly irritated by the topic, he bellowed from his seat: “Can I ask a question?” Stunned by the man’s outburst, I turned to Sparks (seemingly equally astounded), and with the actor’s tacit approval, gave the man the floor.

With that, the man put his (apparently) urgent question to Sparks. “Jeremiah, what other shows have you been doing?” The consummate professional, Sparks spoke about the projects that have kept him afloat since the onset of COVID-19.  But the “interrupter” had effectively put a pall over the event. Think Will Smith’s slap at the Oscars.

After that incident, White went on to interview Ruddick’s daughter, Valerie Ruddick MacDonald, who lives in New Brunswick. MacDonald shares what she would have said to that white man in the audience at Neptune that night. I won’t share it here, because you should just read the full story.

White also notes that there’s a historic marker honouring Ruddick on Jekyll Island, Georgia, yet no memorial exists in Ruddick’s hometown of Springhill.

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4. The Tideline, Episode 76: OutFest

OutFest starts on April 26, so Tara Thorne decided she wanted to learn more about the first dedicated queer theatre festival in the city for a few years.

Here’s more of the description of the show:

Produced by Page1 Theatre, the event’s goal is to “provide a platform for multi-disciplinary artists to create stories that reflect our community, both past and present.” Page1’s artistic director Isaac Mulè stops by to give an overview of this year’s program and chat about the festival’s origins in Kitchener ON. Theatre maker Katie Clarke is also on board to dig into Can You Remember How We Got Here, the one-person show they wrote and are starring in (maybe).

Click here to listen to the episode.

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Views

1. Tell me about yourself: the limits of job interviews

Photo: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexel

One of the best pieces of advice I got in journalism school in Toronto 20 years ago, besides all that journalism knowledge, was from the instructor of my first-year newspaper writing class. She was telling us about looking for journalism jobs and said, “never go to HR to get a job. HR’s job is to get rid of you.”

Now, before all the human resources people start emailing me, what she meant was that if you want to get a job, find the person you’ll actually be working with, like a managing editor or news director, send them your resume, ask for a meeting, and don’t contact HR, where your resume will be just another one in a pile of resumes.

I used that advice when I moved back to Halifax and I found work just about every time. Not all of it was great or long-term work, but it was better than sending your resume to an unnamed HR person, and waiting for a phone call. I am even still in touch with some of the bosses who hired me on contracts.

I’ve written before about all the shitty job postings out there with crappy pay, like here and here, but I never really wrote about how awful the job hunting experience can be. I was chatting with some friends recently about their own job hunts. They told me about the multiple interviews they had to do, cover letters and resumes they had to write, hours of preparation for questions you might get asked, and the nerve-wracking stress of it all. Does anyone like doing job interviews?

I am not sure how interviews have evolved over the last number of years. In many ways they still seem the same, with the same questions: tell me about your weakness? Tell me about your strengths? Tell me about a time that this happened and how did you handle that situation? And, of course, tell me more about yourself. I am not convinced interviews are the best way to find a candidate for a job. Someone can be great in an interview, but terrible in the workplace. And interviewers have biases of their own that may leave out good candidates.

One interview trend I am seeing — and I am not sure how new it is, to be honest — is that of working interviews. That is, a candidate is given a task or an assignment that might be typical in the job for which they’re interviewing. This sounds like an easy enough solution, including for those who might be nervous doing interviews, especially those panel interviews in which you’re being bombarded by questions from a few interviewers.

But working interviews take hours to complete. I had one years ago in which I had to design an annual report, and some other communication product. It took me hours. And I didn’t get the job (I wasn’t upset about it). These working interviews are a lot like “working for exposure.” But it looks like at least some organizations are paying candidates for that work. Here’s a tweet from Paul Taylor at FoodShareTO, where he says not only do they pay candidates for the work done in those working interviews, but they compensate them for the basic interview itself.

Another downside of these working interviews is that interviewers simply can not hire you for the job, but still steal your work. That happens often, it seems. And it’s very scammy.

But any evolution of the interview process, many interviewers still hire who they know or who they identify with. In other words, the job interviewing process isn’t very inclusive. That even starts before someone gets an interview. While so much of the job hunting advice seems obvious ⁠— dress professionally, for example ⁠— in many ways it leaves people out. What does “dress professionally” mean anymore? It used to mean a white guy in a suit. Now, dressing for a job interview can mean many things, and it really depends on what the job is. I guess now that a lot of interviews take place over Zoom, you still have to wear real pants.

One thing I noticed about meetings I set up with bosses — without HR involved — is that potential bosses are incredibly honest; far more honest than they’d be in a typical job interview. I remember meeting with one person who told me they hired their own kids for summer gigs because they were the best for the job. I remember thinking, “WTF? I don’t want to work with this person.” Two weeks later, they posted on their LinkedIn profile that, effective immediately, they were no longer with that organization. Fortunately, many others I met with were far more decent.

Oh, I have my own red flags for job hunting, starting with the job postings themselves. Avoid ads that include phrases like “we’re looking for a rockstar” or a “superstar.” This is just bullshit language and likely a sign the boss is full of shit, too. If you see the same job posting over and over, that could mean there’s a high turnover in that organization, which is a sign of a potential toxic workplace.

And why won’t employers include salaries in job postings? So many people wouldn’t apply for jobs if the salary was included. This would save everyone time. And I’m up for hearing actual reasons why employers don’t include salaries in postings.

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2. Higher consciousness and other nonsense

What’s your aura? Mine is bad. Photo: Mikhail Nilov/Pexel

Okay, people are just messing with me now.

Saltwire had this article on Wednesday about “ways to obtain a higher consciousness right now.” And no, it wasn’t about 420 Day, which was yesterday.

In the article, two “experts” on matters of higher consciousness in P.E.I., including one who is a “certified angel practitioner,” talk about people’s spirits, vibrational shifts, energy levels, and auras. Here’s what the angel practitioner says about working on your spirits, physical, and emotional needs to “raise one’s vibrations.”

Many normal changes that will occur in your physical, mental, and emotional world when you work on increasing your vibrational frequency. As your vibration shifts for the better, you will become more sensitive on every level. Having this information, first, will greatly help the elevating lightworker to manage these shifts and changes.

If people want to practice this stuff, they can fill their boots. Some of these people are true grifters, but this stuff appeals to a lot of vulnerable people, who need practical, tangible, and science-based support like therapy (and more) that no certified angel practitioner can provide.

I also think when women get pushed out of the workforce, for whatever reason, or if they’re in some other life crisis, they’re more susceptible to this stuff. And social media plays a huge part in spreading this stuff around and reeling people in.

My aura is saying, “what the hell?”

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Noticed

A house on Carleton Street that’s one of the homes featured in Before It’s Gone Halifax project. Photo: Hayley Frail

Hayley Frail is a student at University of King’s College who is working on a project called Before It’s Gone Halifax where she’ll share via Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, photos of heritage buildings in the city that are being torn down.

“I want it to act fundamentally as a catalogue for people to find out about these things and be able to share that information in a space where people can actually see it,” Frail told me in an interview on Wednesday. “The goal is to make sure that these fundamental spaces of community still exist because that’s really what these buildings are.”

Frail, who is a European studies major at University of King’s College and eventually wants to work in museums or in the heritage field, is taking a course taught by Jerry Bannister. That course is an intro to heritage studies that Frail says give students without any background in the heritage world a “first foot in the door.” Before It’s Gone Halifax is one of the projects she’s working on for that class.

Frail is originally from Caledonia on the South Shore, and has lived in Halifax for the last five years. She says she grew up in a house that is at least 200 years old, and she’s worked in museums since she was 16, so she has an appreciation for old buildings and architecture. Frail said she always heard that heritage buildings were one of the most important parts of history that we don’t think about until they’re gone.

Hayley Frail. Photo contributed.

Frail says Bannister wanted students to create an accessible digital space for their projects. Frail is also a freelance photographer, and always enjoyed taking photos of the city. Then one night while on Twitter, she saw a tweet that said the colourful row houses on Queen Street were coming down to make space for another high-rise.

“I immediately was angry, was heartbroken,” Frail said. “For me, like many other students in Halifax or anyone who’s lived in the city for any amount of time, one of the best things of living here is walking around and seeing spaces like the row houses and popping into places like Your Neighbourhood Witch or Lemon Tree, when it used to be there.”

“That put this little spark in me of both anger and despair of how many other properties like this are we going to lose? In the five years I’ve been in the city, it’s countless the amount of places we’ve lost that, in my opinion, have so much important heritage weight or significance that are being demolished.”

Frail says many of these older buildings are where a lot of students or other low-income earners often live. And that presents a problem for many people living in a city experiencing a housing crisis.

Frail is still working on adding photos of buildings at risk to the social media accounts, so you may not find a lot of pics on those sites yet. Besides the photos, Frail will include some information about why the houses are at risk, and what people can do about saving those buildings. Frail’s giving a talk with Heritage Trust tonight where she will explain all the details of the project.

“I do intend to keep this going as long as people seem to be interested, and probably even after that,” Frail said. “Of course, the goal with something like this is that you don’t have to keep posting, but unfortunately it’s clear that’s not the case.”

Frail said she’d also like the social media accounts to be community spaces where followers can also share photos and information about heritage buildings at risk. She says she can then respond with any information she knows about the status of the building. And she hope others can pitch in with information, too.

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Government

City

Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — also virtual

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm) — virtual meeting

Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm) — virtual meeting

Province

Thursday

Legislature sits (Friday, 1pm, Province House)

Friday

Legislature sits (Friday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Optogenetic engineering of calcium channels and immune cells with tailored function (Thursday, 11am, Room 3H1, Tupper Building) — also online; Yubin Zhou from Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology will talk

3 Minute Thesis finals (Thursday, 6pm) — online competition for research-based master’s and doctoral students competing for $4,000 in prizes and a place in the regional version of the competition; register in advance

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

No events

Friday

Coloniality and Racial (In)Justice in the University: Counting for Nothing? (Friday, 1pm) — online pre-conference book launch, in advance of tomorrow’s 5th Annual Critical Indigenous, Race, and Feminist Studies Student Conference (CIRFS). Info and registration here.

Saturday

5th Annual Critical Indigenous, Race, and Feminist Studies Student Conference (CIRFS) Theme: Race, Space and Environment (Saturday, 9:30am) — online event; from the listing:

After the success of the four previous CIRFS student conferences, the annual event returns with a focus this time on environmental and institutional racism / exclusion. Specifically, the conference will be a site for the examination, engagement, and interrogation of the multiple spaces / environments including the reproduction and contestation of (1) environmental racism / disasters (land, water, air, animals) (2) institutional racism/hostility (organizations, academia, and workplaces).

Registration required, more info here


In the harbour

Halifax
14:30: MSC Tianjin, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
15:00: NYK Delphinus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Caucedo, Dominican Republic
17:30: ZIM Monaco, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
18:00: Oceanex Avalon, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from St. John’s

Cape Breton
No arrivals or departures.


Footnotes

My new kitten, a ginger boy we named Stewart, was eating the pussy willows I got while out horseback riding on Monday night. This was after he got onto the counter and into the slow cooker and tossed the leftover Easter ham onto the floor. He’s trouble.


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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. Re the role of HR in job interviews. They are organzational gate gate keepers to be avoided if possible. As a journalist, I see PR communications depts. also as gate keepers to be avoided if possibe. I usuallty want to talk to people who actual make decisions, not those who massage them.

    A truth about organizations not always fully appreciated by outsiders: Turf wars between HR departments on the one hand and PR communications on the other. Each plays a gate keeping role for organizations. Each claims a key role in cultivating/minipulating employee morale.

    1. HR departments exist to hire connected friends and relatives masked by a very thin veneer of corporate speak. PR department exist to make that veneer as opaque as possible..