1. Mummy helps me with the news…

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I’m on “vacation.” Which means I am in Winnipeg with my mother. Conversation from today:

Me: So I have to go do the news…

Mummy: What news?

Me: I write like a news thing on Saturdays.

Mummy: But you’re not there.

Me: I’m not making the news, I’m just writing about it.

Mummy: Oh…what was the name of the woman who was killed?

Me: What? What woman?

Mummy: You know, the woman who was killed. It’s big news.

Me: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Mummy: On the news!

Me: Omg mummy, lots of people are killed. What are you talking about?

Mummy: She was hit by a car. They don’t know her name! Do you know it?

Me: Why would I know her name? That’s not even in Halifax. I write local news.

Mummy: Well, if you found out her name that would be news.

Me: Omg! No, I have to write about, like, Africville and stuff.

Mummy: That’s not news.

Me: No, I mean, there was a lawsuit and stuff today. Things like that.

Mummy: It was sad, you know.

Me: What? Africville? (Hoping for commentary I can use.)

Mummy: The woman. Do you take ID when you go running? You should. What if you die? You don’t go to church so you don’t have anyone to visit you and check that you’re alive.

(I give up at this point.)

Note: Mummy would kill ME if she knew she were in this column.

2. History repeats itself…

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A judge has ruled that former residents of Africville can’t join a statement of claim about the relocation.

This article from February gives more information about the case.

Lawyer Robert Pineo said the City of Halifax expropriated the land in Africville in the 1960s but did not follow its own rules under the city’s charter.

Pineo said the residents were never informed at the time that there was a process they could follow to appeal the amount of compensation they were offered for the land.

He said the city was required to publish a notice of expropriation in a newspaper and send registered letters to landowners, but neither of those requirements were met.

“Their understanding of the matter was that the city had the power to acquire their lands unilaterally and there was no recourse available to them,” said Pineo.

When they were expropriating Africville in the first place, residents were lied to, deliberately confused, and offered different amounts of money and secret deals. And now the elderly community members who didn’t have enough information about what they were signing in the settlement and its implications are yet again being divided.

This article from 2010 captures some of the dissent by former residents and by community members — I remember being at the “apology” and hearing the booing from residents who felt the settlement was “not enough.” Residents now find they signed away their right to any individual compensation, and that the city considers accepting an apology to prevent residents from seeking any further justice. It seems clear that residents didn’t understand the implications of what they were signing for the settlement, and that now, seeing the settlement and restorative justice inquiry for the residents of the Colored Home, residents may have a new understanding of what legal action is available to them, the compensation they are entitled to, and a new recognition of the trauma inflicted on them and the ability to seek justice. It’s ironic that there’s supposed to be a restorative justice process for the Colored Home that addresses the history of racism in Nova Scotia and how that contributed to the abuse at the home, but that Africville residents can’t re-open the settlement in light of that information. Some restoration.

“We realize words cannot undo what has been done. But we are profoundly sorry and apologize to each and every one of you. The repercussions of what happened to Africville linger to this day. They haunt us in the form of lost opportunities for the young people who never were nurtured in the rich traditions, culture and heritage of Africville.”

What’s that Malcolm X said about sticking a knife nine inches in your back and pulling it out six inches?


You also can’t drive a knife into a community’s back, apologize, then drive it in again, and be like “it’s fine, we apologized for that already.”

Is an apology really an apology if you’re just giving it to screw people over?  Obviously the apology is no longer accepted by the community, so in all fairness, it shouldn’t still count as a settlement.

3. Always Fresh

Nathan MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby were seen working at Tim Hortons. That’s cute.

People described this as “the most Canadian thing ever.” More Canadian than being racist to Tim Hortons workers from Mexico and then deporting them when they complain? More Canadian than the “No Drunken Indians Allowed” sign at the Lethbridge Tim Hortons (it was just a joke, haha, though)? More Canadian than the racist tweets directed at Dr. Faisal Moola after he thanked Tim Hortons for dropping the Enbridge Ads?

Oh, you meant “most Canadian” like “the Canada we pretend exists that’s all hockey and maple syrup and snow and nice polite white people who aren’t like Americans at all and not the actual Canada we live in.” I see.

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I thought Tim Hortons wasn’t big on unionized workers though?  Hope they didn’t spread any union propaganda among their minimum wage fellow workers while they were there.

Well, they do pass the “light enough to be a Tim Hortons employee in a commercial” test.

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Mummy news break moment:

I took my mother through a Tim Hortons drive-thru for her first time last summer. A re-creation:

Me: Hey, can we stop at Tim Hortons for a moment?

Mummy: Tim what? Why should I pay for that? I can go to Superstore and get a can of coffee for seven dollars, and that makes 142 cups of coffee which works out to five cents a cup, why would I pay two dollars for a coffee? They should be paying me to advertise their name on the cup. You must have more money than sense.

Me: Okay, but look, they have 99-cent frozen drinks.

Mummy: Well, all right. (Tries to park car and go inside.)

Me: No, just go through the drive-thru, ok?


Me: Just drive through right here!  No!  You have to stop at the thing to order!

Mummy: (opens door.)

Me: Omg, what are you doing? Just wind down the window!


Me: Just…I’ll do it. (I order.)

Mummy: WHAT IS SHE SAYING?  SPEAK PROPERLY! I can’t understand her.

Me: It’s through a speaker, mum. Look, just drive to the window, ok?


Summary: My mother is not the perfect multi-cultural customer of Tim Hortons commercial imagination.

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4. It’s a trap!

I don’t think you should call to get your arrows back.

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5. What does ****ed mean?

Global news has the EXCLUSIVE emails about snow removal in Halifax last winter.

An excerpt:

About 20 minutes later, an update from Darrin Natolino shows the situation turning from bad to worse on the priority one roads, priority two roads and the sidewalks.

“P1s – ****ed. P2s – more ****ed. Sidewalks – good luck finding one,” he writes.

The city has recommended plow training school. From Mark Cunningham on Facebook:

“Two highlights: not enough workers and not enough equipment.

Will this be solved by outsourcing more work? Currently there are only two companies equipped with the workers and equipment to handle these new contracts. Watch the cost of these contracts go up over the next few years.

Currently the city only plows 20% of our streets. (Even less for sidewalks.) Instead of outsourcing more work, maybe the city should look at a more equal balance between in-house and contracted work.”

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6. YAY!

Don’t worry, Peter MacKay will still be around to support the Conservatives “where he’s requested” which, lucky for us, he anticipates will especially be in Nova Scotia.


Yeah, that seems like a winning strategy. Let’s see what the target electorate thinks:

johnsharper: He is creeping me out! Please, just go.

HalifaxSampson: Nova Scotia prefers their conservatives “progressive”. Campaign somewhere else where they appreciate your Western Canada Fundamentalist Reform Party Babble.

haligurl: Wish you could have created a few more laws Peter that went against the Canadian Charter and hoped one stuck perhaps? Perhaps you could have been instrumental in making changes that would see the Supreme Court of Canada lose it’s ability to overturn unjust laws created by the Cons? If you stuck around long enough you could have been involved in the procurement of submarines or helicopters and try to blame the previous government for delays that cost billions of dollars despite your government being in office during the time of the delays and overruns? So much more work to be done by the Cons to erode the democracy of Canada and what do you do, quit! Tsk tsk Peter you left your boy hanging when he has so much to do yet but hey at least you are offering your support – good boy!

Cui Bono: Bring him on. He’ll be great support for any candidate of The Harper Government. He can stand on his hind legs and not answer questions about his fishing trips, about his vicious and unjustified attack on the Chief Justice of the Supreme court, on the waste surrounding the unsuitable F-35, and on his Unfair Elections Act to name a few.

And the best comment of all:

prorogued-my-retirement: Oh Peter… Why the long face..?


1.  I’ve lost the will to write now

The Examiner has written a lot about the display of the Confederate flag in Nova Scotia and the history of racism behind it.

I was going to select some comments from the Facebook group to illustrate the point that challenging the Confederate flag has brought out the absolute virulent racism that we pretend is “polite” or “buried” in Nova Scotia, but they’re just all so terrible and depressing. Members of the group have also received death threats and other threats of the “just try to come on my property and take my flag” variety. If you check out the Facebook group, you can also see the owners of Confederate flag bedecked vehicles in Truro bragging that people are now asking them to take pictures with their cars.

This video is actually better than the comments about the Confederate flag.

2. Big ups to Daniel Paul

Daniel Paul refuted the ridiculous arguments for Cornwallis last week. Many people are appreciative. Some are not:

Eyewitness account

For weeks, The Chronicle Herald has published letters and columns expressing opposing viewpoints as to whether Cornwallis was a hero or a villain. As expected, Dan Paul continues to exploit his hatred for the founder of Halifax. On the other side of the debate, Len Canfield and John Boileau presented well-researched briefs based on facts, not emotion.

It is with some trepidation that I enter into the discussion. I only do so in order to introduce an actual witness to those long-ago events. Elijah Estabrooks is my ancestor (five generations removed), who served in Halifax as a sergeant in the army between 1758 and 1761. During this time, he kept a journal of his experiences. (Today he would probably be writing letters to the editor.) For many years, his hand-written document was on display at the museum in Saint John, N.B. The original document was later transcribed into a more legible, typed version. Thanks to the efforts of author Harold Skaarup of Fredericton, N.B., it is now available in “Word” format.

In his journal, Elijah gives a first-hand account of the life of a soldier. Days of boring guard duties, interspersed with bloody skirmishes with the Indians. He recounts how the Indians scalped a young woman and her child. There are other chilling entries of soldiers being scalped by the Indians. Of course, I have no way of proving the veracity of Elijah’s diary. I do know that I put more credence in his written version than in child-scaring “fairy tales” told around flickering campfires.

Thomas J. Estabrooks, Dartmouth

Unfortunately, that letter led me to read this.

Sample excerpt of this extremely factual and unemotional credible history:

Montcalm described them as “vilains messieurs,” stating, you would not believe it, but the men always carry to war, along with their tomahawk and gun, a mirror to daub their faces with various colours, and arrange feathers on their heads and rings in their ears and noses.  They think it a great beauty to cut the rim of the ear and stretch it till it reaches the shoulder.  Often they wear a laced coat, with no shirt at all.  You would take them for so many masqueraders or devils.  One needs the patience of an angel to get on with them.  Ever since I have been here, I have had nothing but visits, harangues, and deputations of these gentry.  The Iroquois ladies, who always take part in their government, came also, and did me the honour to bring me belts of wampum, which will oblige me to go to their village and sing the war-song.  They make war with astounding cruelty, sparing neither men, women, nor children, and take off your scalp very neatly, an operation that generally kills you.

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I post this video like once a month. It’s always appropriate.

3. Hunted like Eggs.

Rylan Higgins writes a letter on Cecil and our disconnect from nature.

Not too much outrage in Nova Scotia over the death of Camille Strickland-Murphy in the Nova Institute. Every single detail in that article is heartbreaking. Lion suits, we all need lion suits.

Sunday hunting is still controversial in Nova Scotia.

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. “people who aren’t like Americans”

    If there is one thing that bugs me more than anything about Canadians it is their insistence they are better than, superior to Americans on any number of fronts – some of those comparisons may be valid (but how you compare yourself to 320 million individuals, I’m not sure…) certainly when it comes to racism and bigotry Canadians have nothing to feel superior about.

  2. On the subject of Africville, I don’t know why anyone would expect families who signed releases in 2010 and as the judge on the case said “did so with legal counsel and knowing the effect of the agreement”. should be allowed to join the current lawsuit. It seems so patronizing to me to essentially say these people didn’t know what they were doing, didn’t understand the ramifications, and should be given a do-over.

    Personally I think the 2010 agreement should have included personal compensation (isn’t that how every other appropriation case is settled?), but it didn’t and these people signed on.

    They might have a case for bad legal advice because that seems pretty much a certainty in a case where their lawyer didn’t figure out that the city didn’t follow it’s own procedures for appropriating land.

  3. Love this

    The Canada we pretend exists that’s all hockey and maple syrup and snow and nice polite white people who aren’t like Americans at all and not the actual Canada we live in.” I see.

    Soooooo important to hear the view from another Canada. We need this kind of writing in the Herald, Globe and Mail, National Post instead of the Rex Murphys and Conrad Blacks.

    As an ex-Winnipegger myself it’s good to see you’re still thinking about the East coast.

  4. well no, I am not outraged over the death of an armed robber in jail. Not even mildly perturbed. But the deliberate killing of a creature just for sport for some rich arsehole, yes, that outrages me. My outrage is mine to unleash as I see fit, not at others’ demand.

    1. Other people, like me, are free to be outraged that people value the life of a cute animal over a mentally ill human being on a 2 year sentence and who believe that the penalty for being poor and committing crime should be death.

    2. Outrage, sadness, shame only begin to cover it when I read of a 22 year old dying while in the care and custody of the state. I am reminded that I had the good fortunate to have the resources to help my 23 year old daughter when she was diagnosed with ADD and associated mental health issues so that she is now thriving in university and not dead in a jail cell. How can we value the life of one over the other? I am so sad that Camille Strickland-Murphy’s life ended this way. Did she have supports in early life? Did she have support and help to finish school? Did she get the mental health care she needed? Should she have been in a brain injury rehabilitation program after being injured during a previous incarceration rather than unsupported and re-offending? More questions than answers. The deliberate choices to cut funding for mental health services, supports in schools, long waiting lists for assessments and supports – these are the things about which we should feel outrage.

    3. Laine P. read your letter again. Then one more time. Then imagine you have a child or sibling or best friend who’s 22 yrs old and made some really bad choices. Now read your letter again. And it will make you cry. Like it did to me.