News

1. The young woman behind the meme

Kyra Gilbert

I must be doing something right in my social media, because nobody in my circles shared the meme-ified confrontation on the Macdonald Bridge between a young Extinction Rebellion protester and a cyclist trying to get to work. In a video widely seen online, both the young woman and the cyclist get pretty heated.

After the video appeared, the online maniacs stepped up, attacking the girl, making death threats, publishing her and her mother’s real names, and so on.

Yesterday, in the Chronicle Herald, Stuart Peddle had a story on Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia appealing to people to stop bullying her.

Patrick Yancey, spokesman for Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia, said it was “really unfortunate” that the 17-year-old girl has been getting personal attacks.

“It was off to the side of the protest, but the conversation had become kind of escalated, and before it could be de-escalated, someone took a video of a little snippet of it and that video was shared profusely and used to personally attack one of the people in the conversation and we completely regret that,” Yancey said in a telephone interview on Wednesday morning.

Now, instead of hiding, the young woman — an Indigenous activist involved in the fight against Alton Gas — has chosen to tell her own story.

My name is Kyra Gilbert. In the last couple of days I’ve been introducing myself to people as “blanket girl.” It’s not really funny, but I feel like saying that gives me some power over my own story. That’s how people see me now. I’ve been made into a meme, and a lot of people have something to say about this stereotype they have of me…

The backlash I’ve been getting from the video that was posted is unreal. I’ve had death threats and I’m still only 17 years old. I could be the daughter of a lot of the people who are commenting. The hate that is being put into that is really hard to even comprehend.

I have learned my lessons. There are things I wish I hadn’t said in the heat of that moment, but I’m not ashamed of being there and of speaking up. And I understand if people have feelings about that. But that still doesn’t give you the right to threaten to kill me.

Click here to read “The Macdonald Bridge “Blanket Girl” speaks: I’m 17 years old, and people are threatening to kill me.”

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2. Police chief to speak about arrests of cops

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella. Photo: Hamilton Police Service.

Three Halifax Regional Police officers have been arrested over the last month. One of the arrests was for theft, one for sexual assault, and one for uttering threats.

A couple of days ago on Twitter, Chris Parsons noted:

There are as many cops at HRPD as there are faculty at SMU. Can you imagine if 3 SMU professors has been arrested this month?

After deputy mayor Tony Mancini raised concerns, the police chief is finally going to address the issue.

For Global, Alexander Quon writes:

Police chief Dan Kinsella will answer questions from the media on Thursday at police headquarters at 11:00 a.m. on Gottingen Street, and it comes after the municipality’s deputy mayor asked Kinsella to brief the board of police commissioners about the arrests.

The latest incident occurred earlier this week in Eastern Passage, N.S., where an off-duty officer was arrested in connection with a threats complaint.

3. Dal student creates website to compare environmental platforms

Shout-out to Dalhousie biology grad student Isabelle Hurley and her supervisor, who have set up  a website to compare the four major federal parties’ environmental platforms.

The website, called EnviroVote Canada, is dead simple. It takes 33 different issues, explains them briefly, and then offers a graphic showing party positions.

Intentions are good.

Francis Campbell interviews Hurley for a Chronicle Herald story about the website:

“We’re not trying to tell anybody who to vote for,” Hurley said. “The environment is just another political issue like the economy or health care that voters might be interested in understanding the differences between the different parties. We’re not saying you need to vote for the party that has the most checkmarks on our site.”

Still, Hurley, who said she became interested and engaged in climate change and the environment when she first viewed the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth in Grade 4, said it is obvious that the climate is becoming a major issue.

“You can kind of feel it in the air when you have 10,000 people marching for the climate strike in Halifax and many more cities across Canada,” Hurley said. “I think that Greta (Thunberg) and the UN announcement that we only have about 10 years to turn this ship around for climate change has really catalyzed a lot of interest in climate change and making sure that we elect a government that will champion the issue.”

4. More Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners coming

Taryn Grant reports in The Star Halifax that the province is finally committing to expand sexual assault support services to every hospital in the province:

A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a specially trained registered nurse who provides confidential support to survivors within the first five days after a sexual assault. SANE services include medical and forensic exams, collection of forensic evidence — which can be passed on to police if the survivor wishes — and expert testimony in court.

Grant quotes Shana Vidito, who coordinates the Tri-County Women’s Centre SANE programs. Vidito says most nurses trained in SANE already have full-time jobs, and they are usually putting in overtime to work with sexual assault survivors.

5. Airport should, uh, pay attention to winter conditions

Air Canada flight 614, stopped after doing a 180 on the icy runway. Photo: Transportation Safety Board.

In a story that will do little to mitigate Tim’s hesitation to fly, John McPhee of the Chronicle Herald reports on the Transportation Safety Board report on a plane that slid off a runway at the Halifax airport earlier this year:

A report on a runway incident last March reinforces the need for air crews, airport ground staff and air traffic controllers to be prepared for winter conditions.

Well, that’s reassuring.

The report also focused on procedures and systems at Halifax Stanfield Airport Authority.

A weather alert system had warned that the runway conditions had changed from “wet” to “ice warning” at 6:07 p.m. (An ice warning means there is a continuous film of ice and water at or below freezing and that the chemical treatment meant to keep it clear wasn’t working.)

The airport duty manager (AMS) was preparing for a shift change at this time so the deterioration in conditions wasn’t noticed.

The full TSB report is here. It says after the plane came to halt:

“the crew  reported that the runway was “very, very icy; it’s basically a skating rink“.

I’m fascinated by how complex systems can be undermined by simple human failings like not noticing a change in conditions because of a shift change. Even though these kinds of errors happen all the time, we are usually surprised when they do.

The plane had 8 crew members and 211 passengers on board. Fortunately, nobody was injured.

6. Evaluating 811

You can call 811 to find out if you should be going to the ER.

For CBC, Jean Laroche reports on an evaluation of the province’s 811 Telehealth service:

What researchers could determine was that the doctors, nurses and paramedics it surveyed weren’t entirely sold on the usefulness of 811, which was established 10 years ago…

Asked whether they would recommend 811 as a “source of accurate information,” only 48 per cent of the 365 practitioners agreed they would. When it came to doctors, roughly 60 per cent said they would not.

Nearly 80 per cent of physicians and 60 per cent of paramedics disagreed or strongly disagreed with recommending it to patients.

Staffed by registered nurses, 811 is supposed to offer easy-to-access health advice. One of its original goals was to cut down on visits to emergency rooms, but the service also connects callers with programs to help them stop smoking or deal with gambling problems.

I have talked to people who have found 811 useful. My own experiences with it (including one a few weeks ago) have been mostly frustrating.

The 811 service is run by healthcare company Medavie Health Services, “a national primary health care solutions organization and the largest private provider of EMS management services in Canada.”

7. Questioning George Canyon’s identity claims

Darryl Leroux is associate professor at Saint Mary’s University. Photo: Darryl Leroux

Writing for CBC, Jorge Barrera and Jessica Deer take an interesting deep-dive into claims of Indigenous identity by four federal election candidates, including Central Nova’s George Canyon:

Canyon claims to be part of the Eastern Woodlands Métis Nation. SMU professor Darryl Leroux, author of the book Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, has some thoughts about that.

From Barrera and Deer’s story:

Leroux said the Eastern Woodlands Métis Nation is “perhaps the most fraudulent Acadian-Métis organization” and that Canyon is falsely claiming to be Indigenous.

Neither the Eastern Woodlands Métis Nation nor the Métis Nation of the Rising Sun is recognized by the Métis National Council (MNC).

Last year, the MNC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs to educate the public about the “legitimate Métis Nation and Mi’kmaq issues.”

Will Goodon, housing minister for Manitoba Métis Federation, said unless a candidate has roots to the Métis Nation in Western Canada, they are not Métis.

“There is only one Métis Nation,” he said. “It’s absolutely clear, cut and dry. The Acadian people are Acadian people and they’re not Métis. And if your relations are Mi’kmaq, why don’t you want to be Mi’kmaq?”


Noticed

Memorial to Jeffery McGowan, on the Eastern Shore. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

I recently spent two weeks in Greece, mostly visiting family in Laconia — a region of the southern Peloponnese. I first went there with my family as a child, and one of the things that struck me was the number of roadside memorials.

The combination of narrow, windy, mountain roads, few guardrails, and drivers with a tendency to race around blind corners meant that there were quite a few of these memorials to people who had been killed in car crashes. My grandmother was a particularly religious woman, and every time we would pass one of these shrines — often shaped like a small church — she would cross herself. Sometimes we would stop the car and she would light a candle inside the shrine.

So when I started noticing roadside memorials in Nova Scotia over the last decade, there was something familiar about them. Earlier this year, council considered — and rejected — a proposal to limit the size of memorials, and to have them come down after a year.  City staff are currently working on a new set of recommendations.

Last week, on a trip through the Mani peninsula, I took photos of some of the shrines we encountered. They ranged from simple old metal ones (some seemingly abandoned) to impressive, well-maintained structures. Greek roadside memorials tend to include space for a small shrine, usually with a photo of the deceased, religious icons, candles, and sometimes censers for burning incense. Many of the traditional candles have been replaced with LED ones that stay permanently lit.

Abandoned roadside shrine.

This is a modest shrine, typical of ones that were built many years ago. Nobody seems to be maintaining it any more. More recent shrines tend to be much more elaborate.

Memorial for Panayiotis Strombolakos.

This one, in the shape of a classic Orthodox Church, is to a young man (age 28) who died in 2008. There is an incense burner on the ground beside it, along with flowers.

Roadside memorial in Mani.
Detail of the memorial

Some of these memorials are in stunning locations. Of course, what makes these locations stunning — sheer mountain drop-offs, sometimes with the sea below — are also what make them so deadly.

Poem at roadside memorial

Many of the memorials include personal touches. This one has a poem expressing sorrow that another year has passed, without the presence of the family’s loved one.

The most elaborate memorial we saw was to a firefighter killed in action, fighting a forest fire.

Firefighter memorial

He was 43, and died fighting a fire in 2007.

Just a few yards away, stood another, much more modest and less well-maintained shrine.

Greece’s highways have improved tremendously over the last couple of decades. The trip from Athens to my mother’s town of Gytheio used to take about seven hours, and involved lots of switchbacks up and down mountains. I’d sit in the bus and try to not think about the massive drop beside me as we went around some of the curves. Now, the trip takes about half the time, thanks to a new highway and several tunnels. Hopefully these kinds of improvements mean fewer memorials in the future.


Government

City

No public meetings today or Friday.

Province

Thursday

Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)

Friday

Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Federalism and the Politics of Equalization Policy: The Future of Territorial Redistribution in Canada (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 1011, Rowe Management Building) — Daniel Béland from the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada will talk. From the listing:

How should federal money be distributed to Canada’s provinces? The federal equalization program attempts to address fiscal disparities between provinces. In part because of its explicitly redistributive nature, equalization is a source of political controversy. The rhetoric of equalization critics such as Alberta Prem​ier Jason Kenney has become increasingly contentious at a time when the federal program features prominently in debates over issues such as carbon pricing and pipeline building. How can we make sense of these recent developments? What is the future of equalization in Canada and what steps can we take to improve the program, from a political standpoint? The answers to these questions are not straightforward but addressing them now is particularly vital as the 2019 federal election approaches.​

More info here.

Thesis Defence, Earth Sciences (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Carrie-Ellen Gabriel will defend “Losses of Carbon from Mineral-associated Soil Organic Matter Pools in Podzolic Horizons Following Soil Climate Changes Associated with Forest Clear-cut Harvesting.”

Loving Nature (Thursday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) — Dale Jamieson from New York University will talk.

The Climate Crisis and the Role of Carbon Pricing (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Dianne Saxe will talk.

Friday

Noon Hour Brass Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — students of David Parker, David Moulton, Richard Simoneau, and Jack Brownell will perform.

Understanding Reaction Mechanisms and Structure/Reactivity Relationships in Oxidative Addition to Nickel(0): Implications for CrossCoupling Catalysis (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — David J. Nelson from the University of Strathclyde will talk.

Improving Progressive Consequentialism (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1130, Marion McCain Building) — Dale Jamieson from New York University will talk.

A Common Situation? Canadian Technical Assistance and Popular Internationalism in Tanzania, 1961 – 1981 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Will Langford will talk.

Non-Traditional Redox-Sensitive Metals in Sedimentary Rocks as Tracers of Global Ocean Redox Conditions: Lessons from Phanerozoic Anoxic Events (Friday, 4pm, Milligan Room, Life Sciences Centre) — Brian Kendall from the university of Waterloo will talk. From the listing:

Global ocean redox conditions can be inferred from the concentration and isotopic composition of redox-sensitive metals in sedimentary rocks (particularly black shales and carbonates) when these metals have oceanic residence times significantly longer than typical ocean mixing times. Mass-balance models can use the sedimentary data to infer the global extent of seafloor covered by oxygenated, anoxic/non-sulfidic, and euxinic waters.  These models take advantage of distinctive metal burial rates and isotope fractionations in different oceanic redox settings and are becoming more sophisticated.  Molybdenum and uranium isotope data from sedimentary rocks can constrain the extent of ocean euxinia but are more ambiguous regarding the extent of oxygenated versus anoxic/non-sulfidic marine environments.  Rhenium enrichments in black shales are a potential tracer for the extent of total global ocean anoxia (euxinic and non-euxinic) whereas thallium isotope compositions from black shales may constrain the extent of well-oxygenated seafloor where manganese oxides are buried.  Using these redox proxies, studies of Phanerozoic sedimentary rocks deposited during large igneous province events (and their associated mass extinctions) suggest that ocean anoxia expanded by ~1-2 orders of magnitude relative to the modern ocean.  A multi-proxy approach applied to the same samples, coupled with improved mass-balance models, has potential to yield more precise estimates of global ocean redox changes.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

No public events.

Friday

Coffee’s On (Friday, 9:30am, SMU Art Gallery) — free coffee and snacks while viewing Tom Hammick: Lunar Voyage.


In the harbour

05:45: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Sydney, on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
06:00: RHL Agilitas, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
06:15: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
06:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on an 11-day cruise from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale
07:30: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
10:30: Figaro, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
11:00: Regal Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,271 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
11:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
12:30: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
14:00: Skogafoss sails for Portland
15:15: Caribbean Princess sails for Bar Harbor
15:45: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor
16:30: RHL Agilitas sails for Kingston, Jamaica
18:30: Regal Princess sails for New York
22:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York


Footnotes

The trip was great. The jet lag is not.

Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. Surprised that the jury is out on 811, I used it quite a few times as a new mom, and I’m sure it kept me away from the emergency room or drop in clinic once or twice. Also, it just gave me some peace of mind. It’s nice to know that the croup is not as deadly as it sounds, or how long you should wait to see improvement before taking action on a fever, etc. etc. It’s basically like a case by case, telephone education service. Not sure why doctors opinions would be relevant frankly, unless they are users, or are being asked to weigh in on calls that they have actually listened to.