Welcome to Weekend File, where you’ll find links to all the articles you might have missed last week. Jump to sections in this article:
Saturday, January 15
Matthew Byard interviewed Nicole Wigginton-Downey, whose son, Lindell Wigginton, signed a tw0-way contract with the defending NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks last week. He was on the court with the team that night. And it all happened to take place on Wigginton-Downey’s birthday.
Alexa McDonough died one week ago today. Stephen Kimber shared an excerpt from his book, Alexa!: Changing the Face of Canadian Politics, in which he recounts the 1983 debate she sparked over secret fees being paid to MLAs for serving on mostly non-existent committees.
Tim Bousquet had the first COVID update of the weekend.
Sunday, January 16
We watched those hospitalization numbers closely this week, including in this COVID update from Tim Bousquet.
The Houston government brought back the Liberals’ COVID sick leave program to deal with the latest pandemic emergency. But why won’t they make the program permanent? Stephen Kimber explained.
Monday, January 17
1. Morning File: Dr. Strang’s gamble: in-person classes resume in Nova Scotia
Children across Nova Scotia went back to in-person learning on Monday, and many people were anxious about the decision. Tim Bousquet wondered about the rush to return to schools, and looked at the confusion around other policies. Bousquet said, “I don’t know. I’m just an observer, and not an epidemiologist, a Public Health official, an education specialist, or even a parent. But I wouldn’t have taken this risk.”
It was an incredibly sad start to the week as the province announced four Nova Scotians died from COVID. Tim Bousquet had details on that news, plus new case numbers, hospitalization data, and more.
On Monday, Zane Woodford was at the virtual meeting of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners, which heard presentations on budget and the report from the Subcommittee to Define Defunding the Police. Woodford also reported on the board’s passing of a motion from Commissioner Harry Critchley to schedule a virtual public meeting where the public can have its say on that budget increase, too.
At the end of the first day back with in-person learning, Yvette d’Entremont spoke with Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, who said he wished he could be more “optimistic and rosy” about the return to classes, telling d’Entremont, “but being pragmatic, I just don’t see how what we’re doing can be sustained on any kind of long timetable.”
Tuesday, January 18
Philip Moscovitch wrote about a thrift store find of a stack of Atlantic Insight magazines, including one with a cover story about Alexa McDonough written by Harry Bruce. The article, written in 1982, looked at McDonough’s time in the legislature and asked questions around how she handles her “duty to her husband.” Some things never really change.
Another Nova Scotian died from COVID-19. Tim Bousquet brought us the COVID update, as always.
Wednesday, January 19
Jennifer Henderson spoke with Dr. Kirk Magee, the chief of emergency medicine for Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, who said COVID is not responsible for long waits at emergency rooms for ambulances and patients. And he told Henderson the situation won’t get better when the pandemic is finally over either.
2. Morning File: The many joys of reading out loud with others
Ethan Lycan-Lang has taken to reading out loud lately. He and his girlfriend are now reading Don Quixote out loud to each other, and it had Lycan-Lang thinking about all the benefits of reading out loud. He shared them all here. Plus, a funny bit on some of the articles he discovered in a stack of Montreal newspapers from 1967 gifted to him from his sister.
Cops in Halifax are getting a raise. Zane Woodford had the details on the increases, which brings top salaries for officers to more than $110,000 for a constable, $130,000 for a sergeant, and $140,000 for a staff sergeant.
4. COVID in Nova Scotia, Jan. 19: a befuddling COVID briefing, 3 new deaths, 83 hospitalizations, 527 new cases
As always, Tim Bousquet was at the weekly COVID briefing with Premier Tim Houston and Dr. Robert Strang, this one just a day after students headed back to class. But Bousquet, like many other Nova Scotians, was confused by it all and said, “But of all briefings, today’s was the one that most required clarity and straight talk to parents from Strang and Houston.”
5. Halifax councillors to consider smaller $3 million contribution to new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Back in 2020, the CEO of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia asked HRM for $7 million to go toward the building of the new $130-million gallery on the waterfront. This week, Zane Woodford reported that Halifax regional council is considering an amount less than that original request: $3 million.
Thursday, January 20
Evelyn C. White has been a supporter of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre for years. White wrote about the “challenging” times the centre is facing after a highly publicized restructuring of its board and staff, and how an audit “identified discrepancies related to the expense reimbursements of an Avalon employee.”
2. Morning File: Filling a need with the Fairview Community Food Cupboard
Suzanne Rent talked with David Aalders, one of the residents in Fairview behind the Fairview Community Food Cupboard, which saw its pantries destroyed by storms and high winds recently. She also spoke with Kirby Ross, chair of the Nova Scotia Women’s History Society about its new panel series Dialogues.
The week continued with tragic news about more Nova Scotians dying from COVID-19. Tim Bousquet had the Thursday update with all the details and data.
Zane Woodford was at a virtual meeting of Halifax regional council’s Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee on Thursday where councillors debated the Halifax Common plan for the second time. Back in December, the committee voted to defer a vote because of concerns from the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers, but this time around the concerns weren’t enough for councillors to recommend a stop to the plan.
Friday, January 21
After two years of lockdowns and online learning, the Department of Education confirmed that an increasing number of children in early elementary school (Primary to Grade 4) are struggling to meet expectations when it comes to reading. Jennifer Henderson learned more and talked to parents about their experiences, too.
It’s a tale as old as time in Nova Scotia. Give the big companies the big bucks and they’ll have big promises of lots of jobs. The latest big company with big plans is Cognizant, which is getting some tax breaks and promising lots of jobs. But as Tim Bousquet wrote, Cognizant is not all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, it has quite a horrible reputation.
3. Recovery support centre for people struggling with substance use, gambling addictions to open next week
Yvette d’Entremont reported on a new centre that was described as “the first local hub for adults requiring less intensive withdrawal management support.” The centre, which is set to open Tuesday, will offer in-person assessments, group programming, and recovery and harm reduction supports.
For the past few weeks, Zane Woodford has been following the outbreak at the Burnside jail. On Friday, Woodford learned the active case count at the jail was down to 11.
In his second story for Friday, Woodford reported on Keith and Anne Fraser’s donation of a property in Timberlea that’s bordered on two sides by the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area, to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. The trust said the acquisition protects the wilderness area from further development encroachment.
Yvette d’Entremont spoke with Dalhousie University professor and researcher Carlos Hernandez-Castillo, who, along with several collaborators, is launching a study that will evaluate brain abnormalities in survivors of COVID-19. Hernandez-Castillo said between 13% and 15% of people infected with COVID-19 will go on to struggle with cognitive issues.
And in the last COVID update of the week, Tim Bousquet had the weekly recap, hospitalization data, and new case counts.
8. Millbrook First Nation to Atlantic Gold and government regulators: “We oppose the Beaver Dam mine project”
Joan Baxter interviewed Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade who said he hoped a new open pit gold mine planned for Beaver Dam can be stopped through consultation. Gloade told Baxter the mine would “disrupt a traditional way of life” for the residents of a Millbrook satellite community near the proposed project site.
From our archives
This week, the principal of Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth announced the school would have a new name by the 2022-2023 school year. Back in November, Philip Moscovitch wrote this article, What’s in a (school) name?, after spending weeks researching the people behind some of the names of schools across Nova Scotia. And it turned out, many schools are named after Nova Scotians who aren’t very famous at all.