1. Phase 5: how’d the new guidelines go for local businesses on Day 1?

A photo of the exterior of The Wooden Monkey, a restaurant on Grafton Street in downtown Halifax. The front of the restaurant is brick with yellow paint. Customers are on the patio and inside.
The Wooden Monkey

Yesterday morning, Tim Bousquet declared this Be Nice to Your Server Week after the owners of the Wooden Monkey shared this post Sunday night following an incident with hostile customers who refused to wear masks at their restaurant that afternoon. Here’s an excerpt:

Text from a social media post shared on the Wooden Monkey Facebook page.

Later on Monday — the first day of the province’s modified fifth phase of reopening, which now removes gathering limits for restaurants while requiring proof of vaccination for entry — Suzanne Rent checked in with Wooden Monkey co-owner Christine Bower to see if the first day of the new pandemic protocols went smoother than Sunday:

She said the first day of the mandate was a smooth one at The Wooden Monkey and they’ve had support from other restaurants, including deliveries of flowers. But like they did in the social media post on Sunday, she wants to repeat the message out to customers.

“I totally understand the frustration, but I don’t make the rules, though. They keep saying that small business owners should stand up and buck the system. But there are heavy fines involved. Everyone needs to feel safe and be safe. COVID is real. Let’s just get through it and try not to be so divided.”

So, a good first day as we all figure out this new way of doing things together. Keep it up, Nova Scotia.

But the Wooden Monkey isn’t the only business who had to start checking for proof of vaccinations yesterday. All other restaurants are required to check too, as are fitness facilities, theatres, and sports events — or, as the province puts it, any “discretionary, non-essential events and activities that gather people together.”

So, Rent also spoke with Garrison Brewing Co. and Cineplex about how they’ve been preparing for the new mandate, as well as potentially hostile customers. She also talks to the executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, who says the organization has advised restaurants not to confront abusive customers who refuse to follow public health measures:

There will be people who will be stubborn and will try to exercise what they think are their perfectly legitimate rights. But it’s not. Right now, it’s the law. Restaurants don’t make the law; they’re just mandated to do the check.  If people aren’t willing to do that, then all you need to do is start calling the police.

I know a lot of people in the service industry have been worried about how customers will react to being asked for their proof of vaccination. Most people are understanding, but it only takes a few “individual freedom” fighters to add an immense amount of stress to your day.

Having worked part-time as a bartender over the past year, it’s been tough at times dealing with demanding customers. Over the summer I had two separate groups try to enter the bar without masks on back-to-back days. Both said they were exempt from the mandate, but neither had any proof of this exemption. Strange, seeing as we were over a year into the pandemic at that point. I was lucky, as both groups caved and wore masks as soon as I told them we couldn’t serve them if we had to take them at their word.

But I spoke with a co-worker last night who said that, thankfully, the first day checking proofs of vaccination didn’t result in any confrontations. Let’s hope it continues.

You can read more about how other businesses fared, and how they’ve been preparing for this latest change to restrictions, by heading to Suzanne Rent’s full recap of the first day of phase five here. 

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2. COVID update

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

On Monday, the province announced its COVID numbers from over the weekend (including Friday) and Tim Bousquet has the full report on them here.

For a quicker breakdown, here’s the most important information from the announcement:

The province announced 86 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. There were cases reported in all four of Nova Scotia Health’s management zones. Here’s how they were spread out:

  • Central Zone: 67 cases
  • Western Zone: 13 cases
  • Northern Zone: 5 cases
  • Eastern Zone: 1 case

That brings the total known active caseload in the province to 231. There are now 16 people in hospital, four of whom are in intensive care. Ninety-four people are considered newly recovered.

Also worth noting: the Department of Health continues to say community spread is evident among “those in Central Zone aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.”

As for vaccinations, 75.2% of the population is now fully vaccinated as of Monday. A few weeks ago, the CBC reported that demand for vaccinations tripled in Alberta after that province following the announcement of “vaccine passports” in that province. I wonder if we’ll see a spike here in Nova Scotia now that the proof of vaccination mandate is in effect.

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3. Memorial for Robert Devet

Last Wednesday, Robert Devet, the founder and publisher of the Nova Scotia Advocate, passed away.

On Thursday, October 14 at 6pm, a memorial will be held for Devet outside the Old Halifax Memorial Library.

His death, like his tireless journalistic work with the Advocate — which he amazingly only started in retirement — has left a huge impact on the province. Here’s a small selection of Twitter reactions to Devet’s passing that Philip Moscovitch compiled in his Morning File last week:

Zane Woodford:

It’s a cliché, “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” but Robert really did that and only that with the Advocate. What a loss.

Tim Bousquet:

This is terribly sad. I’m in shock, frankly. Robert devoted himself to helping the powerless, which is the best that can be said of anyone.

Dr. Christine Saulnier:

We spent many hours together at many committees. I was always happy to chat with him at every rally and social justice event. What he did with the NS Advocate was a selfless service to our community. Rest in power Robert. You will be missed greatly.

Tony Tracy:

Robert was an incredible person — a very warm and caring human being who put thousands of hours of work into ensuring that the voices of marginalized folks could be amplified and heard. His work with the Nova Scotia Advocate was inspiring & really really important. Robert was at *every* rally, demonstration or protest for social, economic or climate justice in Halifax, taking photos, interviewing participants, and writing articles which were often posted only minutes after the event ended. I am devastating & heartbroken by this sad news.

Rebecca Rose:

Robert was a principled & kind person, activist, writer, publisher & friend. As an editor, he had my back when I was being attacked by a local misogynist for something I wrote for the HMC [Halifax Media Co-op, with which Devet was previously involved]. He created space for so many who didn’t often get that space & will be sorely missed.

The Nova Scotia Advocate shared this tribute, Robert Devet, Rest in Power, on Monday.

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4. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms shut down for hours Monday

A photo of a smart phone with the Facebook app on it.
What did YOU do with your time while Facebook was down on Monday? Photo: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

[Insert stupid joke about having to survive a whole six hours without Facebook or Instagram here]

This explains why my friends didn’t get back to me on Facebook messenger yesterday afternoon. At least I hope it does.

If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you no doubt noticed on your own that the two massively popular social media platforms were down for close to six hours yesterday. (As did all other Facebook-owned platforms, such as WhatsApp, as well as Facebook’s own internal servers).

Still wondering what happened? Here’s the Guardian’s best attempt to explain:

Facebook issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that the cause of the outage was a configuration change to the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between the company’s data centres, which had a cascading effect, bringing all Facebook services to a halt.

It meant not only was Facebook gone, but everything Facebook runs disappeared too.

Others have provided a bit more detail on why Facebook vanished from the internet.

Cloudflare – which had its own recent internet outage issues – has provided a detailed explanation about what happened.

It involves two things that sort out how the internet is the internet – that is Domain Name System (DNS) and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP).

The internet is a lot of connected networks. A lot. So that means to keep order of things, you need something like BGP to tell you where you need to go. DNS is essentially the address system for the location of each website – its IP address – while BGP is the roadmap that finds the most efficient way to get to that IP address.

Cloudflare said Facebook on Monday essentially told BGP through a series of updates that those paths to Facebook no longer existed. But not just for Facebook, everything Facebook runs. That meant people trying to reach Facebook couldn’t find the path to access it.

Again, I ask: Still wondering what happened?

Whatever the specifics, the Guardian reports that Facebook has yet to go into detail about how the problem was fixed, but some reports say a technical team was sent to the company’s physical servers in California to manually reset them. Hopefully they’ve solved the problem completely and this will be but a small smudge on Facebook’s otherwise spotless reputation.

Even if it is a one off, the crash is still a major hit to Facebook’s finances. Bloomberg reports that the company’s share price dropped 4.9% on Monday, causing CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg to lose about $6 billion in personal wealth yesterday.

If you’re a Facebook user, the crash shouldn’t affect you much outside of the six hours you couldn’t access Facebook’s platforms. But maybe you’re still asking, what about my personal data? Was it at risk during the shutdown? The Guardian has this reassuring answer: “No more than when Facebook is up and running.”

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1. Phase Five

How was your first day of Phase Five? The modified version, I should say. 

Before the day arrived, I was in the backwoods of Kejimkujik for the weekend, free from the internet and cell service for 48 glorious hours. So when I returned to civilization Sunday night, I felt like I was about to step into a Brave New World on Monday. A world with new freedoms and all the baffling protests that might come with them. 

As soon as I got home from camping — even before I showered — I downloaded my proof of vaccination and saved it on my phone. Then, since my phone battery is as reliable as a snowman working a fryer, I printed it off to be laminated. I was going to get out and see what this phase five was all about as soon as Monday came.

Armed with my digital and physical proofs, I went out into the public sphere the next morning — yesterday — ready to face the new restrictions.

I went to the Dollar Store — no proof of vaccination required yet. It felt exactly the same.

I went to Value Village — same deal, except one customer was shopping without a mask. Exempt? Hadn’t gotten the memo about the phase five changes? Willfully flouting the rules? I don’t know. He left right after I walked in.

Then a stop at a sporting goods store where the employees outnumbered the customers. No exciting changes yet.

But retail stores aren’t required to ask for proof of vaccination. (if you want the entire list of where you are required to show proof of vaccination and where you don’t, click here).

I decided it was time to go to one of those “discretionary, non-essential events or activities that gather people together” and put this passport to use. Or proof of vaccine, if that’s what the government wants me to call it…

My friend was having a birthday celebration at a local pub, so I thought I’d stop by for half an hour and try out my POV card there. But they didn’t ask for it. I guess obnoxiously hostile customers aren’t the only ones flouting the rules.

A quick reminder here that businesses face big fines for failing to follow public health measures.

I was disappointed, but undeterred. I would show someone that I’d been double-vaxxed.

So I decided to go to the gym. They’d ask for my vaccine confirmation there and I’d see how awful or easy this system was going to be. Then I realized that testing out my passport this way would mean I’d have to work out. I haven’t stepped foot in a gym since February of 2020, and I realized I didn’t want to start now. 

So I decided I’d sign up for a yoga class. Idiot that I was, I thought that’d be easier than the gym. It was not.

The only easy thing about it was showing my proof of vaccine. I was told to show up 15 minutes before class to ensure there was time to go through the new protocol, but it took all of three seconds to do. And now the studio has my confirmation on file, so I don’t have to show it again should I ever decide to go back and humiliate myself in front of a class of fit Acadia students again.

So the first trial run was a success. Easy and efficient. I’ll admit that there’s something unsettling about showing papers to enter a place of business, but I can live with it if it means the world opens up a bit more.

The thing is, on Day 1, I didn’t even notice the world opening up a bit more. In fact, it felt the exact same as it has since the start of phase four. Maybe that’ll change as I get out and about a bit more. I’m going to a concert later in the week. Maybe I’ll notice it in the bigger crowd.

How was your first day in phase five? Notice any big changes? Any animosity over the new proof of vaccination protocol? Or are we just in phase 4.2 where day to day life still feels very much rooted in the pandemic?

The first day has me very much looking forward to phase 6, or whatever they decide to call it.

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2. What’s in a name? Quite a bit, actually…

I don’t normally respond to comments on my Morning Files, but last week I made an egregious error and Examiner readers rightly called me on it. I just want to briefly acknowledge the mistake a bit further than the editor’s note that was attached to my article last week.

The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge on a sunny day in June 2021. You can see the irving Shipyard, and the trees and buildings of the North End.
The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in June 2021. Photo: Zane Woodford

Last week, I mistakenly referred to the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, named after a former premier of Nova Scotia, as the John A. Macdonald Bridge.  The mistake was — shall we say — pretty bad.

Painfully bad, in fact.

And you can find it right here near the bottom of last Wednesday’s Morning File!

Had I just mixed up the names, it would’ve been terribly embarrassing. But as it was, my whole argument was based on the bridge being named after a man who was instrumental in the introduction of residential schools in Canada. In other words, my whole argument was based on a falsehood.

And while I somehow missed that, Examiner readers didn’t. And I took a pretty fair and just beating in the comments.

Let me quickly take you through what happened.

Shortly before my deadline, the Halifax Harbour Bridges Twitter account tweeted an image of the Mi’kmaq flag hanging from the Macdonald Bridge. I decided to share it in the Noticed section as a simple cap to the column, a fitting image of the local community acknowledging the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I originally had a simple sentence or two saying something to that effect.

Then, as the deadline neared, inspiration struck. In a moment of idiotic word association, I thought, “isn’t it fitting that the flag is hanging from the Macdonald Bridge.” As if the premise was too perfect to realize that it was false. It seemed like such an obvious connection. I was a bit surprised I didn’t think of it right away. So I added about 400 words about how a bridge named after Sir John A. was now waving a flag representing one of the Indigenous cultures he’d worked to assimilate and destroy.

It took about one minute after publication to realize the mistake.

I’ve lived in this province for over 20 nonconsecutive years, a few of those in Halifax. I know it’s the Angus L Macdonald Bridge. I’ve taken it into the city on countless trips from the Valley, and gone over it on dozens of bike rides and walks. When my grandparents were first married, they lived in a house under that bridge as it was being built. And on top of that, I even double-checked the spelling of the name before sending it in for editing, just to be sure I didn’t look like an idiot. I still somehow failed in that regard. Although I did get the spelling of the surname right.

As a journalist, and simply as a Nova Scotian, all I can say is it was beyond embarrassing.

Of all the comments I received, some more lenient than others, one of the toughest but fairest was posted by the account “learningincontext.” I won’t go into it here, though she makes a few good points — you can read it all at the bottom of last Wednesday’s Morning File. But I will respond to the last sentence in that comment:

I thought the Examiner was better than this.

It is. And I should be.

My apologies.

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The pumpkin people are out in Kentville this week. It must be fall in Nova Scotia.

Two pumpkin people stand beside the Town of Kentville welcome sign.
Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

This year’s theme is Jurassic Park. I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by the displays this time around. This festival’s been going on since I was a kid, and in the past there’ve been full recreations of movie scenes, elaborate costumes, and creative props. This year, there are giant structures of dinosaurs with a sign telling you a few facts about the species and a bunch of generic pumpkin people standing around them.

A pumpkin person stands next to a temporary statue of a stegosaurus.
Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

I was talking about this with a friend who works for the Town of Kentville last night, and she told me something that blew my mind. One man is essentially responsible for creating the majority pumpkin displays in the festival (other residents and businesses create their own, too). And he has been for some time. His name’s Gerald Little. He takes the theme the town picks and gets to work designing and creating the scenes, props, and pumpkin people. That’s upwards of 300 pumpkin people made by one person.

I didn’t realize it was just you, Gerald. You deserve a year of simple displays.

Check out this promotional video from the Town of Kentville in 2016, when the theme was ’80s movies. It’s some of his best work.

YouTube video

Go check out this year’s displays and judge for yourself. Don’t take my criticisms too seriously. I’m just passionate about my pumpkin people.

And have a happy Tuesday, Nova Scotia.

A pumpkin person with a big smile stands outside the Cornwallis Inn in Kentville.
Enjoying the Kentville air outside the old Cornwallis Inn. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

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Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — via YouTube, with live captioning on a text-only site


North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm) — via YouTube


No meetings this week

On campus



Presentations and algebraic colimits of enriched monads for a subcategory of arities (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building or online) — Jason Parker from Brandon University will talk.

We present a general framework for studying signatures, presentations, and algebraic colimits of enriched monads for a subcategory of arities, even in enriched categories that are not locally presentable. Given any small subcategory of arities j : J -> C in an enriched category C satisfying certain assumptions, we show the existence of free J-ary monads on J-ary endofunctors and the existence of small algebraic colimits of J-ary monads, where a monad or endofunctor is J-ary if it preserves left Kan extensions along j . We then deduce that every signature or presentation generates a J-ary monad, and that every J-ary monad has a presentation; moreover, we show that J-ary monads are monadic over signatures. Our results subsume earlier results of Kelly, Power, and Lack on finitary monads and finitary signatures when C is a locally finitely presentable V-category over a locally finitely presentable closed category V. We conclude by showing that our main results hold for any suitable subcategory of arities in any locally bounded enriched category.

Bring your own monads.


Sustainability Series: What waste goes where (Wednesday, 12pm) — become a recycling champion with this Zoom workshop



Facing Fear: Eva Holland in conversation with Harley Rustad (Tuesday, 8pm) — the author of Nerve: a Personal Journey Through the Science of Fear will talk via Zoom

In the harbour

04:15: Tropic Hope sails from Pier 42 for Georgetown, Guyana
07:00: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
09:00: My Lady, yacht, sails from Foundation Wharf for sea
14:00: Augusta Sun, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
17:30: ZIM Vancouver sails for New York

Cape Breton
No arrivals or departures.


  • Even though my argument was based on a terrible gaffe, I still say Halifax shouldn’t have two “Mac” bridges.

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Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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  1. “Hopefully they’ve solved the problem completely and this will be but a small smudge on Facebook’s otherwise spotless reputation.”

    Hahahahahha. I needed this laugh today. Well done!

  2. It would be really interesting to do some person-on-the-street style polling to find out how many people actually know who the Macdonald bridge is named for.

  3. In our next installment of Bridge Names of Nova Scotia, Ethan discovers that everyone in Halifax has been mispronouncing “MacKay” for over fifty years.:)