1. COVID-19

The Nova Scotia government announced four new cases of COVID-19 yesterday (Wednesday, Dec. 22) — but two of those cases involve people who aren’t in the province.

A release from the Department of Health and Wellness says that two of the new cases are “in” Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone — one is a close contact with a previously announced case, and the other is still under investigation. Additionally, the release says there is one case “in” both the Western Zone and the Eastern Zone, and both are close contacts with previously announced cases. The release says that the case in the Eastern Zone is not related to the previously announced case on the Eskasoni First Nation.

However, the release continues:

Two of the cases being reported today are close contacts of previously reported cases in another province or territory. The people are not in Nova Scotia, but since they are Nova Scotia residents, they are included in our cumulative provincial data.

As reader Andrew Burke points out, this creates unneeded uncertainty with the public:

This is such a perfect example of process over practicality.

These numbers are only publicly useful if they show how many cases are IN Nova Scotia.

By this logic, could we have 100s of infected Ontarians here not showing in our stats because they’re only in Ontario’s stats?

— Andrew Burke (@ajlburke) December 23, 2020

That confusion aside, there are now 35 known active cases “in” the province, albeit two of them aren’t actually in the province. No one is currently in hospital with the disease.

Nova Scotia Health labs conducted 1,519 tests Tuesday.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

Here is the possible exposure map:

The Department of Health and Wellness will release today’s COVID numbers as usual, but then is taking a break over the holiday; regular updates will resume Monday.

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2. Homeless memorial service

About 80 people gathered for a socially-distanced, masked homeless memorial outside the former St. Patricks’s Alexandra School in Halifax on Wednesday. — Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

“With what one speaker called ‘fierce anger and courage, dozens of people gathered in the cold in Halifax on Wednesday for a solemn homeless memorial service, trying to find hope at the end of a dark year,” reports Zane Woodford:

About 80 people gathered on the property of the former St. Patrick’s Alexandra School, staying apart and wearing masks, to mark the annual memorial.

The event is usually organized by the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia and hosted by St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Brunswick Street.

Eric Jonsson, program coordinator with Navigator Street Outreach program, organized this year’s event with [executive director of the Out of the Cold Community Association Michelle] Malette.

“We were feeling like it has been a particularly hard year for a lot of folks and we thought that it was important that we try to do something and that outside would be OK,” Malette said.

“So we’re out here today in the empty, vacant yard of this building, which should be a vibrant part of this community and has just been sitting here for years.”

The location was no coincidence. The old school has been empty since 2011 as the municipality goes through the process to sell it to a developer. There was a public meeting last month to hear JONO Developments’ plans for two 20-storey towers on the site. Years ago, a coalition of community groups had plans for the now-rotting building, including housing, but lost in court trying to make them happen.

Instead, it still sits empty.

Click here to read “Dozens gather at homeless memorial in Halifax with ‘fierce anger and courage.’”

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Peter Paul (left). Photo: Nova Scotia Museum

Last week, I pointed readers to Martha Walls’ paper about Maliseet Chief William Saulis, who was instrumental in Indigenous peoples’ successful resistance to planned “centralization” — land theft — in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

While looking around for more information about Saulis, I came upon another article, “A Commercial Harvesting Prosecution in Context: The Peter Paul Case, 1946,” written by David G. Bell and published in the University of New Brunswick Law Journal in 2006.

The article is about the prosecution and conviction of Peter Paul, a Lower Woodstock Malecite, for theft of ash saplings from land owned by Harold Rogers.

This is a fascinating read, as the first half of the paper deals with how the Malecite were dispossessed of their land. Writes Bell:

In an earlier essay I showed how the dominant culture, having gained the long-sought Maritime peace treaties in the 18th century, proceeded to disregard their significance for Amerindians in the 19th century. The present offering takes the Peter Paul case as a context for extending this exploration of treaty knowledge into the mid 20th century. Paul’s conviction may be only an historical footnote but it brought into conjunction two ideas of great importance, Malecite dispossession and Malecite entitlement. By dispossession I mean that this 1946 case was the precise historical moment when the long process of dispossessing the Malecites became complete. For nearly 200 years the dominant society had used the machinery of the state to take things away from the Malecites. Prosecution and conviction of Peter Paul for something as trivial as harvest of ash saplings marked the final act of this taking process.

Bell provides the context of the 18th century treaties, and then how recognized rights to fish and hunt were taken away — because of the desire to promote tourism:

Although New Brunswick legislated to promote wildlife conservation as early as the 1780s, it was not until the mid 19th century that influential men began to regard game and fresh-water fish as resources that might be marketed to the larger world as part of the province’s identity. Stories that Moses Perley, the Indian Commissioner, wrote for the English market in the 1840s are an early example of this new depiction of New Brunswick as “sportsman’s Paradise”. Already by the 1850s it was becoming governmental policy both in New Brunswick and in the whole Maritime-New England region that fish and game be conserved so as to be available to sport hunters, especially tourist ‘sports’, who would bring economic stimulus. To this end New Brunswick began leasing stretches of the best salmon rivers to ‘clubs’ of wealthy anglers, most of them non­ residents, often Americans…

In the 1890s the Legislature consolidated fish and game laws in a way that completed a revolution in the chase. It did this by creating wardens and “guardians”, a means of specialized enforcement intended to imitate the success of wardens employed privately by the fishing clubs. Now many traditional harvest practices, in some cases long illegal in theory, were suppressed in practice, among them spearing (salmon), netting in fresh water or netting birds, gathering bird eggs, fishing or hunting at night or with lights, dogging, excessive catch and harvesting out of season, on the Sabbath or without licence. Government imposed these restrictions both to promote conservation and in the name of a new male value known as “good sportsmanship”. In the eyes of opinion-shapers, a practice such as jacking (hunting with a ‘jack’, ie, a light) was more than illegal; somehow it was disgraceful. It was as if these ‘sports’, who came from the “brainwork” of city jobs to renew masculinity in the forest, affected to view the chase as a sort of chivalry.

While the game laws and their enforcement were a hardship for all backwoods people, the most identifiable group on whom they fell heavily were New Brunswick’s Amerindians. After the Legislature imposed in 1888 a three-year moratorium on the taking of big game, Malecites petitioned for an exemption, protesting that they “now find it very hard indeed to subsist through the long and cold winters on being entirely deprived…of the privilege of killing deer or moose”. In plainer language “Old Margaret” of Tobique protested to Tappan Adney in 1887 that “Seems like that government down Fredericton try [to make] Injun starve”. “He make law cant ketch no salmon up here. … I think that government better send soldiers up here and shoot all the Injuns. Good deal better do that than let Injun starve…. Then we die quick – now we die slow.”

Bell eventually brings us to Peter Paul, who was a remarkable character even before the prosecution:

Peter Paul left reserve school at an early age to work with his maternal grandparents. His earliest commercial task was to assist in basket-making by pounding ash so as to separate it into strips for weaving. In the late 1920s, after a decade of summers in semi-pro baseball, he set himself up as a cooper on the Lower Woodstock reserve and for a time in Woodstock proper. Here he made and repaired potato barrels; with a truck he took his repair service into the potato fields directly. From jaundiced comments provoked by the “rights” assertion at his 1946 trial one infers that by the 1940s some members of the larger community saw him as making a good living, perhaps too good for someone enjoying the government-afforded advantages of Indian status.

Like the basket-making of Paul’s youth, potato barrel construction and repair required strips of ash. Saplings of about one-inch diameter would be split length-wise and the resultant strips used to hoop the barrels at the top, middle and bottom in order to hold the side panels together. In western New Brunswick, ash is a fairly common tree but it grows only here and there, not in large stands. Black ash, preferred for use in barrel-making, is less common than white ash. Despite its role in barrel and basket-making, ash was not a wood of especial commercial value. It was useful mostly for tool handles, baseball bats, paddles, hockey sticks and similar purposes. Accordingly, to landowners in the western New Brunswick of the first half of the 20th century, the market value of the saplings of such a tree was slight.

And so Paul came upon Rogers’s land and took a handful of ash saplings “valued at more than 25¢ and less than $5.”

I’ll let Bell walk you through the legal arguments — both pursued and not pursued — in the case. But in essence, Bell argues that there was an opportunity to assert treaty rights in Paul’s defence, and even though that defence certainly would have failed, it would have placed the treaties into the jurisprudence of the time.

The presiding magistrate, Kenneth MacLauchlan, found Paul guilty, but suspended his sentence.

Chief William Saulis commented:

So we Indians are now thieves and our fathers and grandfathers have been thieves when they went into the woods anywhere for the ash for our baskets, the bark for our canoes. Our fathers and grandfathers have told us that we have that right. We think we have been allowed to do this undisturbed because we are Indians. … It is not a right the white man has given us. It is the little that the Indian has left that the white man has not taken away from us. … We can’t prove it because the only record the Indian has is what our fathers and grandfathers tell us, and we know they are not liars.

Incidentally, along the way in Bell’s paper we are given the backstory of Tappan Adney, who I described last week as an “ally” to the Malecite:

Edwin Tappan Adney (1868-1950), the US-born writer, artist and linguist who spent much of the 1940s struggling to articulate a basis in law for traditional Malecite harvest practices, arrived in the Woodstock area of western New Brunswick for an initial visit as early as 1887. Here the teenage Adney became enthralled with the family of Francis Sharp, 19th-century Canada’s pioneering pomologist. Eventually he married Sharp’s daughter Minnie Bell, a music teacher known to history as the first Canadian female to stand for Parliament. Already the youthful Adney’sjournals reflect a fascination with Malecite technology, particularly traps and canoes. Decades later (and posthumously) his notes and models would become the basis for a definitive account of the Malecite canoe. By his late 20s Adney was in the Yukon, supporting himself as a writer for popular magazines. His oft-reprinted story of those exciting times, published under the title Klondike Stampede (1900), remains the classic firsthand account of a gold-rush. Thereafter the restless Adney engaged in entrepreneurial, artistic, and farming ventures at New York City, Montréal and the Sharp acreage in western New Brunswick, but without success to match either his early literary fame or his multifaceted talents. From 1933 until death in 1950 he lived in Upper Woodstock, apparently in quite reduced circumstances, devoting his time to a deep study of the Malecite language and related Algonkian dialects. In this work his principal informant was Peter Paul.

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Seriously? This is a pandemic. Maybe we should focus on how well our leaders and Nova Scotians in general are doing instead of picky, little points about whether 2 cases should be in the count of 4.