News

1. Change is Brewing: New collective brings queer and BIPOC presence to the brewing industry

Change is Brewing Collective

Evelyn C. White brings us the story of The Change is Brewing Collective, a group of queer and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) workers in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries, who recently launched a new beer called Blackberry Freedom. Giovanni (Gio) Johnson, a microbiologist and lead brewer at Good Robot, is one of the members of the collective, which formed after the death of George Floyd, to brew the new beer.

COVID, the killing of George Floyd, and the global Black Lives Matters protests against police brutality inspired me to examine my profession. As one of the few Black brewers in Canada, I think it’s time to change the white male-dominated image of craft brewing. The industry needs more minority owners, journalists, beer judges, suppliers, everything.

Shekara Grant, Nathan Fels, and Amber Zaza are also members of the collective. So is LaMeia Reddick, who joined the Good Robot team about a year ago.

My family is fairly conservative and didn’t drink much, if any, alcohol. I became super interested in craft beer because I didn’t see myself reflected in a dynamic industry. I wanted to refine my skills and the success of Blackberry Freedom proves that people of colour can transform the food and beverage business. Our eyes, talent, and brilliance are essential in today’s world.

Read White’s story here.

2. Dead Wrong: Season 7, Episode 6

Episode 6 of Tim Bousquet’s podcast Dead Wrong is now available for listening. In this episode, an RCMP profiler and analyst is put on a killer’s case and he starts to find links that could be helpful to Glen Assoun.

You can find Episode 6 here. 

3. Child’s play: kids’ physical activity levels are plummeting during pandemic

Professor Sarah Moore’s children enjoying physical activity outdoors. Photo: Matt Kennedy

Have your kids been less physically active over the last few months? Well, they’re not the only ones. Yvette d’Entremont interviewed Dalhousie University professor Sarah Moore, who led a national survey commissioned by ParticipACTION that shows kids’ activity levels have plummeted. The survey studied 1,500 children and youth in early April.

The study showed that only 2.6% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 were meeting the minimum recommended requirements for physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep (you can find the standards at the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth).

Before the pandemic, 15% of children were meeting those guidelines. Moore says screen time is up.

For sedentary behaviours or more screen time, only 11.3% of kids were meeting screen time guidelines, and those guidelines say that you should be watching less than two hours a day of recreational screen time.

In fact, some kids in our study were upwards of six hours of just recreational screen time not including the time spent for homework and other homeschooling. That was pretty dramatic although not unexpected.

The survey showed that kids were sleeping more, though: 71% of children and youth were meeting the sleep guidelines. (My 17-year-old definitely got a lot more sleep.)

Moore tells d’Entremont there will be a follow-up survey, but she say she hopes the results of this survey help shape policies for future waves of COVD-19 or other pandemics. In the meantime, she suggests families and kids can get back on track this summer by getting outside and spending time together.

Play is a refuge for children, so when children are experiencing stress, when children are experiencing trauma, playing is this place of imagination where they can escape those things, where they can role play, where they can problem solve, where they can develop other skills.

If we could continue to enforce that play is critically important as we move through the recovery from this pandemic and also prepare for future pandemics and have that as a priority for parents and policymakers and so on, I think we’ll be that much better off.

Maybe these kids will have a summer like Emmet Petersmann, who Phil Moscovitch chatted with for a recent Morning File, The summer of play. Moscovitch met Petersmann and his family while camping recently. Moscovitch writes:

Emmet is 13, and an avid soccer player. His summer sailing camp is still on, but an overnight camp he was planning to go to has been cancelled, and so have soccer games. He said this summer “definitely feels different. I kind of like it, because you don’t feel stressed to get to things on time. I can relax more, not having such a tight schedule.”

One of the big changes Emmet sees is that it’s become a lot easier to hang out with friends. Less scheduling means less organizing. “We hang out more. We can just call each other and say, hey do you want to hang out, and we do whatever we want for the rest of the day,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot more mountain biking, which I really like, and going to the skate park” on the Common.

Read d’Entremont’s story here.

4. Halifax committee recommends in favour of eight-storey downtown heritage property addition

A rendering of the proposal from Summer Wind Holdings. Rendering: HRM/WSP

Zane Woodford reports on a proposal from Summer Wind Holdings who wants to build an eight-storey building on the back of a heritage property on South Street. The city’s peninsula planning advisory committee is recommending in favour of the project,  which includes 112 units.

Summer Wind will also restore Stairs House and connect it to the new building. The restoration includes removal of an addition made in 1863, restoring the front porch, removing the vinyl siding, and restoring the wood shingle siding that’s underneath.

Stairs House dates back to 1838 and is named for its second owner, “merchant, banker, and politician” William James Stairs. (Tim Bousquet has a good Twitter thread on Williams J. Stairs, who was the uncle of imperialist and mass murder William Grant Stairs. Stairs Street in the city’s north end is named after William Grant Stairs).

The proposal is about halfway through the development agreement process.

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5. Opposition critics react to AG’s P3 report

Susan Leblanc. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Jennifer Henderson reports on the opposition response to the Auditor General Michael Pickup’s report on P3 builds of new hospitals and outpatient buildings at the Halifax Infirmary and in Bayers Lake. According to the AG’s report:

The value-for-money analysis included in the Business Case is based on a series of assumptions and risks for the Project. When bids are received from potential partners, it is important to use this information to validate the information used in the Business Case and refresh the value-for-money analysis to ensure that the Design-Build-Finance-Maintain model is still the best approach.

Susan Leblanc, MLA for Dartmouth North, says P3 deals have gone wrong in Nova Scotia.

Today’s report should have provided another opportunity to ask important questions of the minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and his department, however we are stuck outside Province House with no Public Accounts Committee meetings scheduled and no plan for when Premier McNeil is going to stop blocking public legislative proceedings.

PC Transportation and Infrastructure critic Tim Halman, Dartmouth East MLA says, “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re also concerned about cost and time overruns associated.”

Christine Saulnier, who is the Nova Scotia director for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says the pandemic is a time for the government to do a rethink.

I, as a Nova Scotia resident who has read all these P3 concerns voiced by various auditor generals and written a report on P3 schools, I think the pandemic is a wakeup call. It’s one that says we cannot lock into these 30-year maintenance contracts, given what we know about risks right now. I’m disappointed and I’m also a bit confounded the auditor completely accepts the methodology of PPP Canada, which no longer exists but was created to promote P3s.

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Views

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Last year, Pro-Choice Cape Breton fundraised to get its own pro-choice sign put up in Sydney. Photo: Pro-Choice Cape Breton

On Saturday, I drove from Halifax to Yarmouth via Highway 103 and then headed back to Halifax via the 101. Yes, it was a very long drive. I was in Brighton, a community just outside of Digby, when I noticed a billboard on the side of the road that said, “Choose life. Your mother did.” I didn’t take a photo because, well, I was driving and also rolling my eyes. I spent time on the rest of the drive thinking of what a sign could say that actually showed compassion and support for women and their choices.

I’ve seen these anti-choice signs before, notably the ones on Kings Road in Sydney. I first saw them when I was a kid visiting family in Sydney River. The signs are still there.

On Tuesday, I spoke with Angela Quinn, one of the people behind Pro-Choice Cape Breton. Last year, the group raised funds to get a sign of their own. It stood for about a month, starting in October.

Quinn says the sign idea started when one of the group’s members says she was frustrated by having to drive past those anti-choice signs on the way to Halifax. While there are abortion providers in Cape Breton, Quinn says some women still go to Halifax for the procedure.

And when they go, they are assaulted by these signs all the way to Halifax.

Pro-Choice Cape Breton raised the money and one of the group’s members connected with a graphic designer who created the sign. A billboard company agreed to install the sign.

It stayed up for a full month and we were quite pleased about that.

Quinn says from what she saw, the response to their sign was positive.

We raised the funds for this practically overnight. When we put up the Go Fund Me, we thought it might take a month to raise the money. We didn’t know how many people in Cape Breton would be supportive of it. We were really surprised by the strong support we got from it. I’m sure if we decided we wanted to do that again, I’m sure people would put their money down again. The supporters are there; we are just too quiet.

Pro-Choice Cape Breton is still looking for a permanent piece of land where they can put up the sign for good. Quinn says one of the churches along Kings Road put up their own sign in response and had a few marches.

There’s nothing you can do about those signs. It would be nice if we could put up a competing sign across the street, but that’s not going to happen because we don’t have the funds the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Church do.

Martha Paynter

I spoke with Martha Paynter, the founder and coordinator of Women’s Wellness Within and a registered nurse who provides abortion and postpartum care; she says she finds the anti-choice signs “incredibly tired and pathetic.”

If there are some delusional and frankly misogynistic and evil groups that want to waste their time and money on billboards to spread falsehoods, well, what are we going to do? Other than to spread the understanding that most of the people who seek abortions, over 60%, are already mothers. So, mothers get abortions. That’s normal. That’s perfectly okay.

Paynter says while there’s traditionally been a rural-urban divide with abortion access, people living in rural areas are having abortions. There are medical abortion providers across the province, including in Annapolis Royal, Meteghan Centre, and Yarmouth. There are surgical abortion services in Truro, Bridgewater, and Kentville.

Paynter says we don’t even need signs at all.

What is a pro-choice sign going to say? What we need to prioritize is providing widespread access about referral and about the safety and norm of abortion. Everyone should have access to the 1-833 number [1-833-352-0719]. It’s all you need. You call and you will get care. It’s that simple. You don’t need to tell anybody else. You don’t need to see a doctor. Everything will be looked after when you call that number. We have to keep repeating this message: One in three women have an abortion. Abortion is extremely safe, vastly safer than pregnancy and birth.

And there are plenty of options for care in Nova Scotia and across Canada. We are a tiny province geographically, so yes, you do have to drive for care and that’s a reality for all kinds of care. And we can encourage more and more family practitioners, nurse practitioners, to incorporate medical abortion into their practice. But at a certain point you want the person who’s caring for you to have done the procedure more than once. There’s that to consider, too. It’s a very straightforward thing. Complications from a medical abortion are very rare. Surgical abortion even more rare.

I just think every person in Nova Scotia needs to be educated that abortion has been decriminalized in Canada for 32 years. This is not an issue. We can see too much American media. They think there are restrictions that simply do not exist.

Again, the toll-free self-referral number for abortion providers and information across the province is 1-833-352-0719.


Noticed

This week, I have 12 hours of Zoom meetings. I haven’t done this many Zoom meetings ever. I actually had to plan some outfits to wear, which I haven’t done in weeks. I also seriously debated whether I needed to wear pants (I did).

Then before the first meeting on Monday, I read this article, Seven rules of Zoom meeting etiquette from the pros, by Betsy Morris in the Wall Street Journal.

Morris interviewed several “pros” who shared their rules, which include: 1) Don’t be late 2) Turn on the camera 3) Sit still 4) No eating 5) Get used to interrupting 6) Close the office door and 7) Don’t multitask.

Dr. Barry Rubin, a vascular surgeon and Medical Director at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, part of University Health Network (UHN), shared the article on Twitter, calling it a “MUST read.”

And wow, did he get some responses, including from many women pointing out how they’ve been multitasking for centuries.

Check out the illustrations in the article. Why is the woman shopping for shoes? And if someone is buying shoes, who cares?

I guess only women buy shoes online when they’re in a Zoom meeting. Illustration: Michael Byers/Wall Street Journal

And what’s with the no eating rule? I’ve been to lots of in-person meetings where there was food. Also, not everyone has a dedicated office space with a door they can close.

There are a few dozen people taking part in the Zoom meetings I’m in this week. A lot of people seemed to break these seven rules. People were moving around, turning off the camera, eating, and multitasking. One had man had his 17-month-old daughter in his lap. For some of the meetings, my cat or my teenage daughter were hanging out on the sofa with me. I had to turn off the camera a few times because watching the video for more than an hour was giving me a headache. None of this was unprofessional and honestly it was kind of refreshing. For many of us who’ve worked from home for a long time, this is real life.

I’ve worked from home with my kid in tow since long before Zoom was invented. Many women have (I know men do, too). I remember during one phone interview, my daughter, then about four, burst into the room asking where the Easter Bunny lived (it wasn’t even close to Easter). The woman on the other line just laughed and the entire conversation was recorded. My daughter has sat on my lap while I wrote stories. I have taken her to many work events and even in-person interviews. I always asked beforehand, but no one seemed to mind.

Rubin went on to share an apology on his Twitter account for sharing the article, saying, “I should not have preached unrealistic standards, especially to the caregivers among us. It was insensitive & I’m truly sorry.”

While Zoom meetings aren’t ideal and the lack of childcare options for families need to be addressed for this pandemic and well beyond, maybe these Zoom meetings give us a look inside our coworkers’ homes, even for a bit, and remind everyone we’re more than workers and have lives beyond our jobs. All of that can be busy, imperfect, messy, and even chaotic, and that’s just fine.


Government

City

Wednesday

Special North West planning Advisory Committee (7pm, virtual meeting) — agenda here.

Thursday

No meetings.

Province

No meetings.


In the harbour

06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
07:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
07:45: Gaia Desgagnes, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Saint John
10:00: Boabarge 34, semi-submersible barge, sails from Pier 9 for the Sable Island field
10:00: Maersk Cutter, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for the Sable Island field
10:00: Maersk Detector, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for the Sable Island field
11:00: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Setúbal, Portugal
11:45: Ef Ava sails for Portland
12:00: Venture Sea, offshore supply ship, sails from Dartmouth Cove for the Sable Island field
15:50: Gaia Desgagnes moves to Irving Oil
18:30: Macao Strait sails for sea


Footnotes

In the footnote on Tuesday morning, Phil Moscovitch said he thinks hodge podge is disgusting. I agree with him and will add boiled dinner to the list of disgusting meals.

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. I never liked hodge podge growing up in the 80s, but my older relatives just went crazy for it. I found it tasted wierd and the ingredients were unappealing. I think it’s a generational thing.

  2. Anti-choice is so unfathomable. It only reinforces women as second class citizens and propagates our horrid patriarchy where women bear the brunt of the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.

    Abortion can be a horrible choice but it is a choice ALL women should have the freedom to make unencumbered by societally imposed guilt, shame and inaccessibility.

  3. Adding boiled dinner to a list of disgusting meals is an outrage. I’m not sure to whom, but it’s definitely an outrage.

  4. Re online meetings… I have more than enough screen time already and it gives me headaches. My net connection can be dicey. My kids have been part of my life and my work since their births and only safety concerns would force other options. We are human, we need food and drink and the loo. No one should judge us for dealing with life the way it is. Etiquette is basically treating others the way we want to be treated, not which side the fork is on.

  5. The “share on Facebook” button that loads on every story on this website causes your computer to connect to Facebook’s servers.

  6. Re. Zoom etiquette: turning on the camera when you speak is really helpful – well, essential, actually – for participants who rely to any degree on speech reading (lip reading).

    1. Yes, I agree. I always turn on the camera when I’m speaking. I just take breaks in between and listen to everyone else.

  7. Maybe a lot of those old-timey meals seem weird, but consider what people’s options were back then. Sure, I’d rather have a steak, some fries and some coleslaw instead of a boiled dinner, but without refrigeration and magic electric appliances, I know which one would be easier to make. I’ll reserve judgement on hodge podge – but it does seem a little weird, even by the standards of the time.