1. Manuments

Yesterday, Tim covered Sarah Toye and the Halifax Women’s History Society’s project to highlight the lack of diversity in Halifax’s monuments and in public space.

This seems like a good time remind us of the days when felt vulvas began appearing on Halifax statues:

Image from crushable.com
Image from crushable.com

The article notes that “the vagina greatly improved his appearance.”

Searching for that led me to a reddit thread where people hoped Winston Churchill had received similar treatment. Someone else complained that vulvas are “kind of funny and clever. Big spraypainted words saying ‘I LOVE MY TRANS BODY’ all over Gottigen are not.” That comment in itself demonstrates the point about representation in public spaces: even words acknowledging Trans bodies are discomfiting.

That led me to think about whether there actually were any statues representing Trans bodies, and it turns out that Fox News (naturally) is panicked over the possibility that the model for the Statue of Liberty was actually a man. Headline at the link: “The French ‘Tricked Us’ and Sent Trans Statue of Liberty.”

“Is it possible the Statue of Liberty transcends both masculinity and femininity?” co-host Anna Kooiman asked. “That it’s just a symbol of liberty?”

“I think there’s no question she’s a woman,” Berenson replied. “But she’s very powerful woman.”


On the Halifax Women’s History Society’s instagram, along with the image of Cornwallis, the Samuel Cunard statue is also highlighted.

Image from cunardsteamshipsociety.com
Image from cunardsteamshipsociety.com

Last year (second story), I wrote about Frederick Douglass’ history with the Cunard line, in a famous 1845 incident where Douglass was asked by passengers to give a speech about slavery. The Southern slaveholders on the ship attempted to shout down Douglass, screaming that he was lying and threatening to throw him overboard. This incident outraged people in England, and particularly Irish abolitionists.

Despite the sympathetic captain on this occasion, Cunard’s ships were by no means diverse and progressive spaces. As W. Caleb McDaniel recounts, in 1847, when Douglass booked a return passage, he was initially sold a first-class ticket. But when he boarded the ship, he found his berth occupied, and when he complained he was informed that he could have the same service as white passengers but he would have to be isolated in his stateroom and was not allowed to enter the saloon. The Cunard agent explained that the 1845 incident had generated ill-feeling among American passengers, endangering their customer base. This incident again generated outrage among the British public, prompting Cunard himself (after an imposter published a racist screed) to intervene and assure people that “nothing of the kind would again take place.”


In reality, though, as McDaniel points out, passengers of colour would continue to face discrimination. Cunard agents repeatedly bowed to American pressure and minimized contact between white passengers and Blacks.

The financial imperative of keeping white American customers happy motivated agents and captains to seek arrangements whereby the most intimate spaces on the crowded ship — like the dining table — could be kept segregated without turning paying black customers away.

As the Black Canadian abolitionist Samuel Ringgold Ward observed in his memoir, the concessions to American prejudice showed that the Cunard Line was willing to make all questions of “right and wrong” simply “subservient to business considerations.”

In Ward’s account of his encounter with Edward Cunard, Samuel’s son, “Mr. Cunard objected to my taking a passage on any other terms — in a British steamer, be it remembered; and Mr. Cunard is an Englishman — than that I should not offend Americans by presenting myself at the cabin table d’hôte.” This is taking place after the abolition of slavery in England (and Canada), and so slavery is illegal at the same time as Cunard is bowing to American slaveholders:

Lewis Tappan, Esq., in procuring a passage for me, had, with his characteristic straightforward manliness, told the agents that I was a black man. For this I was grateful: it saved me much inconvenience. They sold Mr. T. a ticket upon the back of which was the following indorsement: — “This gentleman’s passage is taken with the distinct understanding that he shall have his meals in his state room. — E. C.”
Mr. Tappan, both as my personal friend and as a Christian man, remonstrated; but it was of no avail. As if this were not enough, so soon almost as I touched the deck of the ship, a fine gentlemanly-appearing Englishman accosted me — 
“Mr. Ward, I believe?”

“The same.”

“You are going out to Liverpool?”

“I am.”

“When Mr. Tappan took your passage, I was obliged to say to him, that you would take your meals in your state room; for you know, Mr. Ward, what are the prevalent feelings in this country in respect to coloured people, and if you eat at the cabin table Americans will complain. We cannot allow our ship to be the arena of constant quarrels on this subject; we avoid the difficulty by making the rule that coloured passengers shall eat in their state rooms, or we can’t take them.”

I replied, “I desire, Mr. Cunard, to be in London by the 4th of May. If I wait for another steamer, I shall be too late. For that reason I submit to that to which, I wish you to understand, I do not consent.”

“I am an Englishman,” said Mr. C.: “I entertain no such feelings; but I must see to the comfort of the passengers. I will see that you have a comfortable state room; and indeed, you shall have a room, if possible, on deck, which will be more pleasant for you; and the steward shall have directions to make you as comfortable as possible; and I wish you a pleasant voyage, sir.”

Well, thought I, here is an Englishman perverted, according to his own showing — like the Yankee, making the dollar come before right, law, or anything. He does not “share” Yankee feeling — he only accommodates, panders to it! that is all! His passengers must be made “comfortable”; that is, if they be white. If not, why, the ship must not be “an arena for public discussion,” &c.!

McDaniel’s essay is fascinating about some of the details of space on Cunard ships, as well as for his argument about the ways that the conditions of steam travel both contributed to and constrained abolitionist activity.

Speaking of Samuel Ringgold Ward, his memoir includes commentary on Thomas Chandler Haliburton, celebrated in the Haliburton House Museum, the Haliburton room at King’s College, etc. Invited to a meeting about “Negro education in the West Indies,” Ward recounts Haliburton’s remarks:

One of the speeches was made by this gentleman. In the course of his remarks the learned Judge said, that inasmuch as the Bishop of New Brunswick approved the plan, and as he had the highest confidence in the judgment of that right reverend Prelate, he felt pleasure in giving it encouragement and wishing it success. But he ridiculed the idea of a college for Negroes. A school of an ordinary sort would have met his approval, but a college was generally understood to be a place for the education of a gentleman — a gentleman, among that race, was entirely out of the question. He was neither an Englishman nor an American, having been born “along shore,” in Nova Scotia: but he was free on that occasion to say, that he shared in the prejudices generally entertained by Americans in regard to Negroes; and could not regard such feelings as unnatural or unjustifiable, but as inevitable. The idea of mixing with Negroes was naturally, to a white man, altogether and unconquerably repulsive.

I do not profess to give Judge Haliburton’s words, but I think those who heard them will admit that I give his ideas. He made another point, about the ruin of the West India planters by emancipation, which showed but too plainly that, to the heart’s core, he was entirely with and for slavery, and that it was next to impossible to find a more malignant enemy to the Negro than the Honourable C. S. Haliburton. 

Hmmm, weird how “malignant enemy to the Negro” isn’t anywhere on the website for the museum.

Ward continues with a burn on Haliburton:

We are sometimes amused, if not disgusted, by vulgar persons trying to put on genteel manners, for the sake of inducing the belief that they belong to genteel classes, while their airs and assumptions betray them. So Judge Haliburton, on the occasion referred to, in speaking contemptuously of a class whom his superiors on that platform were seeking to benefit — by the very effort to demonstrate that the Negro could not possibly be a gentleman, proved that, of all things, he himself most needed the qualities of a gentleman.

damn cat

Ward ain’t done yet, and he goes in on Haliburton for about five more pages (“His Honour only illustrates the fact that, in the North American colonies in former days, judges were made rather hastily, and of rather singular materials”).

Here’s Ward rebuking Haliburton for ignorance of Black history:

What lamentable ignorance, to use no harsher term, does such an assertion as Judge Haliburton’s betray, in respect to the historical Negro! Euclid had a black face, woolly hair, thick lips, flat nose, and crooked ankles. He was the father of geometry, but Judge Haliburton had never heard of him, or he could not have said that “the idea of a black gentleman is out of the question.” One of the objects of Berkeley College is to teach modern Negroes the science whereof the Negro Euclid was father. To this Judge Haliburton objected. To his learned vision, it was perfectly absurd! Was Terence, the black poet, a gentleman? Were Tertullian, Augustin, Origen (of whom Archbishop Sharpe, the grandfather of Granville Sharpe, speaks as “among the most extraordinary lights of the Church of God”), gentlemen?

But let me not do injustice to Mr. Haliburton. I may not know what his idea of a gentleman is. Judging from his appearance, his writings, the taste displayed in the only speech I ever heard him make, the sort of rudeness with which he treated his superiors on this occasion, and the utter destitution of any semblance of liberal feeling then and there shown by him, I am tempted to believe that the standard of a gentleman, holden by Judge Haliburton, is one according to which it may be, after all, no discredit to the Negro race if they do not produce many such specimens.


They still won’t teach us that in school! You could stand up in Halifax in 2016 and say Euclid was Black and there’d be people screaming that you were ignorant and wrong and “politically correct” and Ward was saying this more than 150 years ago!

And here’s Ward making points that are just as relevant today:

I beg to say, that sometimes the unfortunately disproportionate number of Negroes in prisons is pointed out to me as evidence of the very great criminality of my people. I ask any one to say, what chance of a fair and just trial a Negro could have, before such a judge as Mr. Justice Haliburton, when a white man was prosecutor? (I happen to know how Negroes have suffered in such cases.) For it is impossible for a man, when he puts on his judicial robe, to put on another nature: the man and the judge will be very much the same. I know nothing of Judge Haliburton’s character, or rather of his history, in this regard; but judging from his own words, and from the likeness of feeling to himself on the part of his fellow citizens, I do not at all wonder that the blacks of Nova Scotia are deprived of many of their rights by them.

Basically, don’t read Ward in the open air because he’s lit.


2. They Reap what We Sow

On the topic of right and wrong being subservient to business considerations, Angela MacIvor reports that Dalhousie is spending $300,000 to send “Nova Scotia elites” to the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) at MIT.

Dalhousie president Richard Florizone will serve as regional champion overseeing the Nova Scotia team.

The other members include:

Bernie Miller, former Nova Scotia deputy minister of planning, currently partner at McInnes Cooper.
Chris Huskilson, CEO of Emera.
Jevon MacDonald, former general manager at Salesforce.com and co-founder and CEO of GoInstant.
John Knubley, federal deputy minister of innovation, science and economic development.
John Risley, co-founder of Clearwater Fine Foods.
Murray Coolican, Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of business.
Patrick Keefe, general partner with startup fund Build Ventures.
Tracy Kitch, president and CEO of the IWK Health Centre.


White man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white woman. Seems a diverse representation of Nova Scotia! Nothing says “innovation” like white people appointing themselves elites and making decisions about what everyone else needs.

Oh, ha! John Risley, corporate welfare queen, is the recipient of the second annual Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage, and Creativity. “The award acknowledges an extraordinary individual who demonstrates the qualities exemplified by Cunard throughout his life.” You know, like segregation. Okay, pandering to segregationists to preserve his financial interests. Extraordinary!

That’s also interesting, because judging from this FAQ from MIT about REAP, there’s a huge emphasis on prizes, mentioned four times in that document alone. In other words, we pay for them to go to MIT and make up awards and prizes to give themselves, and this is going to bring development to Nova Scotia.


Look, I just got a prize! Nova Scotia is going to do so awesome now!

Oh, why is President Florizone the “regional champion?”

He or she will sign the letter of agreement on behalf of the regional team, committing to securing and submitting tuition and to assembling and leading a team of 5-7 stakeholders who will participate fully in the two-year MIT REAP program.

Ohhhh. So, he signed a letter committing Dalhousie to come up with the money so that he could be champion. Aw, it’s okay! You don’t have to buy the title champion. I made you a prize for free!

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 3.57.01 AM

Also at that FAQ, apparently what we’re paying for is four workshops where participants do things like “Discuss the MIT advantage, innovation-driven entrepreneurship, and lessons learned from our ecosystem” (workshop 1); attending tours of other “ecosystems,” and “Spend time as a team building an implementation plan for the regional REAP strategy…” (workshop 3.) So basically we give them money to travel around a bunch of places and sit around talking to each other about how awesome they are.

And, of course, a bunch of white people are going to assess the culture and capacity of our “ecosystem” because when you get people in a room together who are all white you totally get an accurate and inclusive analysis of a region, and businesses make great decisions that are never racist when there’s only white people thinking about the issues!


Oh, but these workshops are like super extensive and everything, right?

Participants attend highly interactive two-and-a-half-day educational workshops twice a year for two years.

Oh. Oh. So, like 10 days, total. That’s like $30,000 a day.

Image from Maclean's.
Image from Maclean’s.

The average income in Nova Scotia is $42, 992.

Between the workshops are six-month periods called “Action phases” where, and I may be paraphrasing here, they go home and bullshit.

bullshit cat

Oh, sorry, they also get to NETWORK when they’re not at the workshops, which is worth a lot of money because Facebook groups don’t exist.

In contrast to the $300,000 spent on this, sessional faculty at Dalhousie make under $5,000 to teach for a semester.

Note from the FAQ:

Tuition does not cover:
• Travel costs for team members:
• Flights to 4 workshops (2 at MIT and 2 in a member region to be determined by the
• Hotels
• Incidental travel costs
Note: Sometimes these costs are covered by the individual or organization, but most often these are covered by the funding organization covering the tuition.

Oh cool, that’s extra on top of the $300,000 tuition. You know they ain’t taking no economy flights and putting muffins from the continental breakfast in the $90 motel in their bags to eat later for lunch either.

From the section on VALUE: What does the REAP Tuition get you?:

The opportunity to network with high-ranking decision makers from around the world during workshops and social events such as dinners and networking receptions with the entire cohort.

So we’re paying for their drinks and expensive dinners too. Sounds austere and economic.

It’s all good though, because you know the benefits from this program are extra super real because they put them in BOLD ALL CAPS. 

And what do we get out of it? Ideas like “innovation districts” based in “pseudoscience” that accelerates gentrification:

In fact, San Francisco places just fourth on the list of the United States’ most quickly gentrifying cities. In front of it are three other centers of technology entrepreneurship: New York, Seattle, and Boston (in ascending order). In Boston’s technological center, Cambridge, John Summers exhaustively tracked innovation’s discontents for the Baffler, which he edits from the city. “The innovator’s dogma means making all your city’s peoples and institutions attractive to corporate professionals-in-training,” he writes. “The market has been driving the poor and the working class out of these cities … and the Innovation Economy is finishing them off.”

Oh, I’m sorry, let me put that in CAPITALS.

Basically, the benefits to us are we get FUCKED OVER and the “elites” get FREE SHIT OFF OUR BACKS, as always, and the opportunity to sit around and chortle with each other over expensive meals and then implement untested, destructive policies pulled out of the ass of someone in a conservative think tank somewhere.


3. Robyn Atwell

Robyn Atwell’s human rights complaint against the Halifax Regional Police is finally being heard.

The city had previously tried to quash her complaint, which dates back to 2008.

This CBC article from 2009 has some details of Atwell’s allegations:

Atwell claimed she has experienced racism and sexism since she joined the police force in 1993. Atwell became the force’s first black female sergeant when she was promoted in 2005.

In one incident, Atwell claimed a staff sergeant once pulled a jack knife on her and said there was something wrong with the ranks on her uniform. He then moved behind Atwell and tugged on her shoulder, Atwell claimed.

Atwell said the staff sergeant then smirked at another officer in the office who witnessed the incident as he closed his knife.

To quote Ward, “I do not at all wonder that the blacks of Nova Scotia are deprived of many of their rights by them.”

Three Black officers have filed human rights complaints against the police. The obvious observation is, if that’s how they treat Black officers, what does that say about how they think about and treat Black suspects? If they are pulling knives on Black officers in the squad room, what the hell do we think they’re doing to Black people they arrest in the dark?

4. Farmers vs. Hockey

Antigonish is having a battle between which stereotype of Canadian identity should get precedence.

On one side is the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition, which has been running for 153 years. On the other is an arena that that would like to give paying hockey players ice time earlier in the season.

Image from cbc.ca
Image from cbc.ca
Images from cbc.ca
Images from cbc.ca

Also the mounties, the Tim Hortons, and the maple syrup festival said they want space too.

[Arena manager Bud] MacInnis said it takes a month to remove the ice, put down tonnes of earth for the exhibition’s animals, clean that up and then make new ice.


But then, so do hockey players.

Bruce Thomson isn’t having any of what MacInnis is selling, and he straight calls him out:

But Bruce Thomson, president of the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition, said the arena isn’t losing $60,000 because of the exhibition.

“That’s potential income, in the the almost 50 years the rink has been there they have never once had that income, not once. We have always had the exhibition on those five days,” said Thomson.

“They have 49 weeks to make their income and always have.”…

…”For something that has been going on for 153 years, why would anybody think the date would be different? So it seems like someone is looking for a loophole in the lease.”

Someone is full of poop, says Thomson.

Anyway, I’m with the farmers on this one, if only because of this:

“…Hockey players are willing to pay in order to have ice in the arena for practices starting at the beginning of September…”

Like dudes, it’s a winter sport. Let the kids chill for a week before hockey parents enact their Sidney Crosby fantasies on them. Go pet a cow or something.

And also, food is kind of  important. Of course, instead of produce and things from animals, we could all just eat like this:

Image from takepart.com
Image from takepart.com

Editor’s note: El Jones is an important and strong voice in the community, and we at the Examiner are proud to host her work every Saturday. To help us continue to provide Jones’ needed voice, please consider subscribing to the Examiner. Just $5 or $10 a month goes a long way. Or, consider making a one-time contribution via PayPal. Thanks much!

El Jones is a poet, journalist, professor, community advocate, and activist. Her work focuses on social justice issues such as feminism, prison abolition, anti-racism, and decolonization.

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  1. Jamie Baillie limited his criticism to the government’s spending of the money. He will never voice the kind of disgust other commenters expressed for the millionaire private sector freeloaders.

  2. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Halifax Board of Trade, AIMS, the Herald, Jamie Baillie or Kevin Lacey of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, to criticize these business parasites.

  3. If we keep letting corporate welfare queens start businesses, those businesses are just going to grow up in corporate welfare boardrooms and just repeat the cycle.

  4. I don’t care that they are only sending white people to that program, but I do care they are sending people who could pay their own damn way. The ‘elite’ can get together on their own dime. The university, if it funds travel, should fund people who couldn’t otherwise afford to go.

  5. Holy shit the world needs more El Jones.

    The white elite piece is priceless though it appears Nova Scotians seem not to care that they are being fucked over by the John Risleys and Stephen McNeils of the world.

  6. El, this MAY be the most biting and right-on story I’ve read by you (Manuments). I want to share it with everyone. Thank you for your clarity. I laughed, I cried, I got pissed, I learned stuff.

    As for the MIT story, wow–what a scam! Where is the investment in Nova Scotia here? I don’t see how it helps this province to engage in the kind of circle jerk that goes on at MIT (too often). This story needs continual follow-up–every time these folks return from Cambridge, extensive interviews should ensue re.: what did you learn that was new to you? Where did you stay? Who else was there? What was your favorite meal? List the three best takeaways you got from the sessions that will positively impact Nova Scotia? AND: When will you pay it back?