News

1. COVID-19 update: Eight new cases; two schools closed

Glasgow Hall. Photo: Shannex

Eight new cases of COVID-19 were announced on Sunday. That’s a weekend total of 15. There are now 49 active known cases in the province. Tim Bousquet has all the graphs and updates. The new cases include a second staff member at Glasgow Hall, a nursing home in Dartmouth. A press release from the province says all the residents were tested and most have been vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine.

Later Sunday, Public Health announced two cases connected with elementary schools: one at the South Woodside Elementary School in  Dartmouth; and the other at St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary School in Halifax. The schools will be closed until Thursday and students and staff were asked to get tested.  

If you want to get tested, pop-up testing for asymptomatic people over 16 is been scheduled at these locations:  

Tuesday: Sackville Sports Stadium, 10:30am-5:30pm
Wednesday: Sackville Sports Stadium, noon-7:30pm 

You can also get a PCR test at one of the Public Health Mobile Units at the locations below. Testing is available for drop-in and pre-booked appointments (symptomatic people must pre-book).  

Monday: Mulgrave Fire Hall, noon-5pm
Tuesday: Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, 10am-5pm
Wednesday: St. Peter’s Lions Club, 11am-4pm 

If you’re over the age of 65, you can book a vaccine appointment here. People ages 55-64 can book appointments to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Click here to read Bousquet’s update.  

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2. Vaccinated nurse tests positive for COVID-19

A healthcare worker who works in the Central Zone and was vaccinated with one dose of the vaccination has tested positive for COVID-19. Jennifer Henderson reports on the case, which is under investigation by Public Health.  

The Halifax Examiner learned the healthcare worker is a nurse at a hospital in Halifax, although Public Health spokesperson Wendy Walters wouldn’t confirm or deny that information because it would breach the employee’s right to privacy under the Personal Health Information Act. Henderson reports 

Even though thousands of nurses work in the Central Zone, the Act prohibits the release of any information such as job classification or location that might help identify the affected person.  

“Health care workers are entitled to privacy and protected under Personal Health Information Act as much as patients are,” wrote Walters in an email. “Any details we provide might reveal to others who that individual is, particularly when we are currently talking about one individual. Just as we can’t share any patient’s information with others outside their circle of care, it is not another employee’s right to provide the personal health information of a peer.” 

Click here to read Henderson’s complete story.  

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3. Time to defund the Halifax International Lobby Forum

Last year’s virtual Halifax International Security Forum.

Stephen Kimber writes on the news that Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s minister of national defence, “wouldn’t commit to continue funding the Halifax International Lobby Forum, which, of course, is usually held in Halifax, but went online in 2020.

There are plenty of reasons to cut the forum, Kimber writes, including the cost and the self-indulgence of it all. But Sajjan should answer some questions about the reasons for the forum. Kimber writes: 

In theory, there is nothing wrong with such gatherings. Bringing people together to talk about, and hopefully solve, world problems is a laudable goal. But the reality is that this security forum only brings together those who already share the same general worldview. 

When the Forum talked about China at its 2020 virtual conference, for example — “China vs. Democracy: The Greatest Game” — not a single panelist actually represented the views of the Chinese government, even just so they could be challenged in public. The same was true when it came to Venezuela (given the title, “Maduro’s Venezuela: A Rogues’ Gallery,” that shouldn’t have been surprising) or Russia (“From Moscow to Minsk: Putin’s Poison”). And so on. 

You may not be surprised to know that forums over the years haven’t focused on the ongoing threat to democracy posed to much of the world by the United States, especially during the Trump era. 

The real questions for Harjit Sajjan should be these: Has the world become a better, safer place after more than a decade of Canadian-funded Halifax International Security Forum schmooze fests? And are there better ways to invest tax dollars to achieve that end? 

Click here to read Kimber’s complete article 

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4. PM talks with Atlantic Canada premiers about COVID help

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a phone call with the four premiers in Atlantic Canada. Sarah Plowman and Allan April with CTV report on the conversation, which Trudeau talked about later in the day in a video shared on Twitter.

In the video, Trudeau talks about the provinces sending healthcare workers and equipment to Ontario, which is dealing with increasing cases of COVID-19. Says Trudeau: 

The Federal government will cover all costs and coordinate getting any extra staff from other provinces to the frontlines in Ontario, including providing air transportation.  

CTV talked with Kevin Chapman, Director of Doctors Nova Scotia, who said, “Emergency physicians will regularly go up and do shifts in other parts of the country.” 

Premier Iain Rankin tweeted about the conversations 

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5. More people seeing UFOs in Nova Scotia

What’s that in the sky? A photo shared to the Facebook group, UFO Sightings in Nova Scotia.

As more Nova Scotians stay close to home, they’re looking up and seeing more UFOs. Feleshia Chandler at CBC reports that UFO sightings in Canada are up by 46% for 2020. That figure comes from the Ufology Research in Winnipeg, which reports on such data every year. Canadian UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski tells Chandler the numbers were up in the Maritimes, too. 

[The] Maritimes are typically five per cent of the total UFO reports for Canada in any given year but for 2020 it was at least double that, around 10 per cent, which is very curious. 

Some of those sightings can be explained. Rutowski, who also runs the Facebook group UFO Sightings in Nova Scotia, says many of the sightings are drones, stars, or the SpaceX satellite. But not every sighting was solved. Rutowski says:  

There’s always a certain percentage at the end of every year that we can’t explain. Last year, that was actually quite high, around 13 per cent. Usually it’s hovering around two to five per cent. 

I have not seen a single UFO in Fairview. 

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Views

“People grieve differently:” How Nova Scotians remember

I woke up early on Sunday morning with a plan to drive to Truro. I knew there were events for the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting last April. I have no connections to anyone who died that weekend. I didn’t even know what to write about this anniversary, if I was going to write anything at all. 

First, I went to Middle Musquodoboit to meet with Karen Dean, who last year published the book We Are Unbreakable: Raw, Real Stories of Resilience from Women in Nova Scotia in 2020. Dean say the book wasn’t a response to the tragedy in April, but rather what many women in the province endured over the year. The book does include a story from Emily Keirstead, Lisa McCully’s mother. Dean dedicated the book to Goulet and all the victims.

Dean and Gina Goulet were friends and Dean says publishing the book was a way to deal with the loss. She also sold hoodies with the Nova Scotia Strong slogan, with all the proceeds going to the Red Cross. Dean and Goulet met nine years and bonded over their love of horses and shared stories of single parenthood. Dean says Goulet was a “fiery light.” 

“I always said you didn’t see her walk into a room; you felt her walk into a room,” Dean says. “She had such big, beautiful energy.”

Karen Dean (shown here with her miniature horse, three goats, and a donkey) was friends with Gina Goulet. She spent Sunday at home remembering her pal. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Dean spent Saturday night at a bar in Truro where there was a fundraiser for the victims’ families. But Sunday was a quiet day for Dean, spent at home with her kids. She told me the day felt heavy and she planned on watching the memorial service and spending the day remembering. 

“We’re not about that shooting,” Dean says. “We’re not about that horrible man who did that. We’re friendly, caring, loving people, we’re resilient people. I think all the community support that happened after the shooting proved that over and over again.” 

In Truro, the race that started in Portapique early in the morning was just wrapping up. Volunteers in bright orange vests directed the last of the runners and walkers along the route to the end at Victoria Park. In Bible Hill, protestors started to gather at a parking lot with a plan to walk to the local RCMP detachment.

I got back on the highway and stopped in Glenholme Loop Petro Pass, now known as Angels Diner. I had lunch and talked with the owner Crystal Blair, who had been working since before 6 a.m.  

“I’ll never forget that day,” Blair says. “I am choosing to be here and live in my own grief for today and just remembering.” 

A year ago this morning, Blair drove to work and past several RCMP cruisers not far from her house.  

“At that time, I didn’t know anything,” she says. 

As the news of what was happening came out, Blair locked herself in the diner. Her husband told her to come home, but she felt safer inside and off the road.  

Blair knew Heather O’Brien, whose daughters had worked at the diner years ago. Blair’s daughter was a student at the school where Lisa McCully taught. Throughout the morning, Blair shared updates — of what she knew anyway — on the diner’s Facebook page. 

This was my first time here, but yesterday seemed like a typical day at any restaurant. The servers knew most of the people and talked about family and work. Someone was celebrating a birthday and the servers and other guests sang Happy Birthday.  

Over the last year, Blair says she quietly connected with some of the family. She says the tragedy made everyone closer and everyone was affected. And while she had been thinking about this anniversary for a couple of months now, she doesn’t want the community to be known for the tragedy. 

“I’d like for people to think of what we’ve overcome,” she says. “It’s a very loving community. I have seen firsthand how people have supported people.” 

I headed to Portapique next. It was quiet and there was almost no traffic. There were no flowers or signs at the old church that became a memorial to the victims last year. A couple had stopped at the start of Portapique Beach Road and were embracing in a hug. Over the past year, the residents here have said they wanted their privacy and didn’t want the community to be a tourist attraction.

My short drive here was beautiful and peaceful. I turned around and headed back to Truro, although the roadside sign in Portapique reminded me to “please come back.” 

A memorial set up in Victoria Park in Truro. Photo: Suzanne Rent

 In Truro, I went to Victoria Park where a memorial walk had been set up just over a week ago. This memorial will be here until May 10. On Saturday I talked with Denise Burgess, one of the volunteers who put this memorial walk together. Burgess is a teacher at Cobequid Education Centre, where Emily Tuck was a student. She and her co-organizer, Margaret Davidson, with volunteers in Halifax and students at the high school painted rocks, one for each victim.  Burgess says creating the memorial was part of their healing process.

“I think this is all it really can do,” Burgess says. “It’s hard to articulate how people were feeling about this the last year. This has allowed those of us involved to do those things we couldn’t do a year ago, so it is very healing.” 

The race held on Sunday morning raised funds for a permanent memorial, but Burgess says she hopes this memorial will help people heal at least a little bit. 

Volunteers painted rocks and created small memorials for each victim of the mass killing last year. Photo: Suzanne Rent

“Everyone grieves differently, everyone processes information differently, but if you walk into Victoria Park it’s healing anyway, and you have time to reflect on each of the victims because the markers are spread out as you go,” Burgess says. “You can’t help but feel at least a little peaceful and contemplative.” 

On the way home, I listened to the memorial service on CBC. There is still a lot of anger, too.

The interview with Joy Laking, an artist who lives in Portapique, stood out for me. Laking, who lost three friends in the shooting, says she didn’t feel the Nova Scotia Strong slogan applied to her. She talked about the sadness and even the depression in the community, and how she worried for her neighbours. There was anger from some of the protestors interviewed at the walk to the RCMP detachment in Bible Hill. They still have lots of questions about what happened.

Blair told me she has questions, including why didn’t she know what was happening when she drove past those RCMP cruisers that morning. I asked Dean about this, and she says she doesn’t “let herself go there. 

We can’t change the past, but we can all work, collectively, towards a better future,” Dean says. “It is on all of us, parents, educators, governments and communities, to raise children who don’t hurt other people in any way.” 

Back at home, I checked Twitter. The hashtags and memorial photos were still making the rounds. Tim Bousquet tweeted out, “People grieve differently.” It’s true. Some Nova Scotians were public with their grief. Others kept it private. Some ran, some protested, some stayed home, or went back to work. All are valid, important, and strong in their own way. 

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Noticed

Memorial in Portapique, NS, for the 22 victims of the April 2020 mass shooting. Photo: Joan Baxter Credit: Joan Baxter

Many of the questions coming out of the last year and this weekend’s anniversary of the mass killings are ones about how we treat survivors of domestic violence. Sarah Boesveld and Farrah Khan, gender justice advocates in Toronto, write in the Toronto Star how Lisa Banfield, rather than being supported as a survivor of domestic violence, was criminalized for being a survivor. As Tim Bousquet reported in December, RCMP charged Banfield and two others for supplying ammunition to the killer weeks before the murders.

Khan and Boesveld write that this criminalization of survivors happens all the time: Boesveld and Khan write:
In 2019, Serrece Winter — a Black and Indigenous woman from Nova Scotia who had no prior criminal record — was pulled from her home on a judge’s warrant, arrested and restrained after she did not appear to testify at her ex’s criminal hearing. She told police she was too afraid to testify against the man, who was facing 14 charges related to vicious violence against her.

It is the same unnuanced allegiance to law and order that last year led an Alberta judge to sentence Helen Naslund to 18 years in prison for shooting her husband of almost three decades in the back of the head while he slept, then hiding the body. Despite testimony that those three decades contained brutal, repeated acts of domestic and sexual violence against her on the farm the couple shared, that she tried multiple times to leave her husband and tried many times to kill herself, the judge decided that she killed her husband when he was at his “most vulnerable.” It is not justice to overlook or fail to take into account the impact domestic and sexual violence has on a survivor’s life.

These are important questions to ask. As Boesveld and Khan write, criminalizing survivors is one of the reasons they don’t come forward in the first place.

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Government

City

Monday

Board of Police Commissioners (Monday, 12:30pm) — virtual meeting, with captioning on a text-only site

Advisory Committee on Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm) — virtual meeting

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — virtual meeting, with captioning on a text-only site

Province

Monday

Legislature sits (Monday, 9am)

Tuesday

Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm)


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Caregiver Support Group (Monday, 12pm) — more info and additional dates here

Tuesday

Training for Today’s Construction Professionals (Tuesday, 11:30am) — Zoom webinar:

Understanding the concepts of structural design and systematic design procedures helps architects, construction professionals and builders select appropriate structural systems and building materials for their projects. Learning drafting using AutoCAD through separate program would help complete the structural design and prepare the set of design drawings that will be taken to the job-site where the project becomes reality, through a step by step procedure of construction management program, including: planning, cost analysis, procurement, contract administration, quality control and quality assurance, risk assessment and dispute resolution.

This webinar will give an overview on three programs, Structural Engineering, AutoCAD, and, Construction Management, and explain the link between them to complete the life cycle of a project. Bonus / Take-away: You will receive a diagram explaining the procurement process in a project.

Saint Mary’s

Monday

No public events

Tuesday

Black Business Initiatives: 25 Years and Beyond (Tuesday, 1pm) — the first in a series of webinars, featuring Rustum Southwell, CEO of the Black Business Initiative – BBI; Harvi Millar, Sobey School of Business; and Cynthia Dorrington, President of Vale & Associates Human Resource Management and Consulting Inc. From the listing:

Black Business Community has been an integral part of Nova Scotia’s economic and social fabric for over 200 years.

Despite enormous struggles and challenges over the years, many successful Black-owned businesses in the region only demonstrate the resilience and tenacity of Black Nova Scotians. Over the years, Saint Mary’s University and the Sobey School of Business have contributed to the progress of the Black Community by graduating hundreds of Black students from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Black Nova Scotian community who went on to establish successful businesses. To strengthen this partnership and to celebrate the contribution of Black Businesses in Nova Scotia, the Sobey School of Business is launching a series of conversations with the Black Business Community, first, to highlight and celebrate the contribution of Black Businesses in our region’s economy and, second, to identify gaps, challenges, and opportunities to foster resiliency of Black Businesses in the post-COVID economic landscape.

The conversation will focus on lessons learned from 25 years of Black Business advocacy, including many challenges inherent to Black Canadians that constitute an impediment to business startups and continued growth and scaling. Furthermore, the conversation will touch on how we can mobilize support programs and initiatives for Black Businesses so that the community can emerge stronger and more prosperous in the post-COVID environment.


In the harbour

Halifax
03:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for Baltimore
06:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
06:30: Elektra, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southampton, England
06:30: Trabzon, bulker, arrives at Pier 9 from Port Alfred, Texas
13:00: Elektra moves to Autoport
16:30: Atlantic Sail sails for New York
18:00: Trabzon sails for sea
20:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Palm Beach, Florida

Cape Breton
10:30: CSL Spirit, bulker, sails from Coal Pier for sea
13:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from PEV dock for sea


Footnotes

There’s not much else to say.

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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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