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For the first time in its union's history, teachers across Nova Scotia are on strike for the day.
“In the entire 122-year history of the NSTU, our members have never faced a more anti-education premier than Stephen McNeil,” union president
The historic labour action is happening while the provincial Liberal government tries to rush its Teachers’ Professional Agreement Act through the legislature. The Act, which would impose a new contract on the province's 9,300 teachers, already went through first and second
Around 400 members of the public tried to air their grievances about Bill 75 during the Law Amendments Committee meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, but only some 100 were actually allowed to speak.
Karin Martin, a teacher and parent of school-aged children, was one of Thursday’s presenters.
“I am deeply troubled by the actions of this government,” she said, urging the province to “return to the bargaining table with actual justice in mind,” as she felt “that’s not what we have seen up to this point.”
Tara Arseneau, teacher and parent, presented to the committing by pointing out problems teachers are facing such as large classroom sizes. She said the government is trying to “put a Band-Aid on these issues.”
“It may be easy to read about the issues,” said Arseneau. “It is different when you are actually immersed in the issues.”
“Your committee is not going to work because the committees you have already put in place have not worked.”
The union’s members initially voted in favour of work stoppage back in October, after two previous tentative agreements with the province were rejected. In December, after last-ditch talks between both sides broke down, teachers began working to rule: only performing contractually-obligated work. In other words, they were no longer responsible for activities such as extracurriculars or field trips.
The province responded by locking students out of school on December 5, claiming work-to-rule made for an unsafe environment. That move came under fire—by students, parents and opposing political parties—and after hundreds protested outside Province House the government quickly back-pedalled.
Hundreds of Nova Scotian students have shown their support for teachers, including participating in
A mass rally featuring NSTU members, supporters and any and all available union members is being planned for noon outside of the Legislature. It's expected to be one of the largest political demonstration in Nova Scotian history.
Former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children are still dealing with ongoing systemic racism and the need to maintain infrastructure and resources, according to a public report from the NSHCC Restorative Inquiry’s governing council of parties.
The report includes feedback from sessions held throughout Nova Scotia, in which participants spoke about the ongoing effects of systemic racism in the province.
"We've heard very clearly that many African Nova Scotians still feel the impact of systemic racism on a regular basis," Tony Smith, council co-chair writes in a press release. "It may show up differently in Yarmouth than it does in Halifax or Sydney, but many of the concerns are similar, and they're not new."
The NSHCC opened in 1921. During its time of operation, many children who lived there faced physical and sexual abuse. Years later, some of those former residents came forward about their experiences and launched a class action lawsuit, which was settled in 2014.
The inquiry into the NSHCC has been ongoing since last year, on a mandate to investigate “how the history and legacy of the NSHCC has affected not only African Nova Scotian communities but all peoples in Nova Scotia and consider how to address this part of the harmful legacy.”
Former residents and abuse survivors are included as members of the council. The interim report says that group has been working on building relationships with those who wish to participate in the restorative process, as well as community organizations and service providers. Accounts from those participants point to a desire for a better rapport with the government and the need for strong community role models.
The inquiry’s next phase involves “sharing circles” for former residents, which will be closed, safe spaces. Researchers have also been examining records of the NSHCC in order to create a historical account of the orphanage and compile relevant data.
Going forward, a task group will “identify and make progress on action items that arise from the Restorative Inquiry as the work unfolds.”
Halifax Regional Police will be increasing their presence at this year’s Pride festival, but the department won’t be partaking in the annual parade.
The voluntary withdrawal was announced today by HRP after ongoing discussions with Halifax Pride and coming amidst national debate about the appropriateness of a uniformed police presence in pride parades.
“We feel that stepping away temporarily from the parade will best support the LGBT2Q+ community by helping to allow for meaningful discussion of this divisive issue,” said chief Jean-Michel Blais in a press release.
“After several months of discussion with Halifax Pride, we recognized that our participation in the parade may contribute to divisions in the LGBT2Q+ community which is contrary to our intent of building a strong and sustainable relationship.”
Áine Morse, board co-chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP) says the voluntary withdrawal is an important recognition by the department of the division and historical infliction of violence by police against queer, trans, and two-spirit people—in particular Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC).
“Today's announcement is an acknowledgement and response to the pink-washing of police services,” says Morse in an emailed statement. “It’s an important starting place for building a safer, more inclusive Pride festival.”
Toronto’s Pride recently voted in favour of a demand from Black Lives Matter to ban police involvement at future parades in that city. The voluntary withdrawal of HRP is, by contrast, the first of its kind in Canada according to Pride’s new executive director Adam Reid.
The announcement comes just days after Reid released a public apology in response to the organization’s annual general meeting last year, during which a sudden influx of new members voted down a motion put forward by Queer Arabs of Halifax to prevent the presence of corporate “pink-washing” elements at future festivals. In his apology, Reid said the AGM was “full of racism, misogyny, and hate.”
Morse says that while Pride’s apology was necessary, action and accountability need to follow in order to be truly representative and welcoming. They say the community is frustrated that it took four months for this statement to be released.
“I think there’s this disconnect in being willing to admit that the AGM meeting that had ‘racism, misogyny and hate’ present…to say that happened but the AGM is still valid and we’re still going to go with it and all the decisions that were made there.”
This year’s Pride festival will take place from July 13 to the 23.
After hearing news of the mosque shooting in Quebec City, Masuma Khan felt it was important for members of the Dalhousie Muslim Student Association to “take matters into our own hands” by organizing a vigil.
“The Muslim students here at Dal are sort of in a sense of panic and sorrow,” says Khan, the association’s president. “The only way that we can really address this issue is by uniting our community as one.”
On Sunday night, a shooter—or shooters, many details are still unknown—opened fire at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec during evening prayers. According to the Montreal Gazette, six people are dead while another five are in critical condition.
“I came to campus feeling scared—some other Muslim students came to campus feeling scared,” says Khan. “I think we really need to just address what’s going on and sort of heal together and stand together.”
At least three local vigils are scheduled in the wake of the shooting. Saint Mary’s University held a moment of silence at the campus art gallery at 12:30pm. Dal’s will take place at 4pm and a candlelight vigil organized by city hall will be held in Grand Parade Square at 6pm.
Khan says she and the rest of the association are hoping to see solidarity among students during Monday afternoon’s event, but that it’s important to support any of the vigils, regardless of who is putting it on. The event at Dalhousie is meant to focus on acknowledging on-campus Islamophobia and working to make the university a safe space for the Muslim students.
Going forward, says Khan, people outside the community should work to educate themselves and support “your Muslim brothers and sisters.” She also mentioned a Hijab day presentation and Q&A taking place at Dalhousie on Wednesday: a good opportunity for people to start that education.
“If you see someone who’s been attacked for being Muslim; stand up. Do something,” says Khan. “I think having these expectations or saying ‘This is the least you can do’ is reasonable.”
The Everything To Do With Sex Show
Friday, January 27, 5:30pm
To January 29
Cunard Centre (Pier 23)
Naturally, Halifax’s largest sex show will be featuring all the latest tech this weekend. Everything To Do With Sex Show manager Mikey Singer says when the event first came to Halifax nine years ago it was filled with novelty jelly toys. This year? Expect app-controlled vibrators, rope that conducts electrical currents and virtual reality.
“A lot of the porn industry is rapidly accepting VR,” says Singer. “Even the cam companies are getting at the forefront so people can get more interactive with the cam models.”
Convention attendees will get a full demonstration this weekend through a smartphone system at the the Era 2.0 booth. Also at the Sex Show, Venus Envy will be debuting its new 100 percent medical-grade silicone product, the Wish by We-Vibe.
Christine Ollier, education coordinator at Venus Envy, says the toy is “a long-distance relationship game changer.” The Wish can be controlled over wifi by the We-Connect smartphone app from anywhere in the world to create custom vibrations.
Ollier predicts the future of sex toys is trending towards products with crowd-sourced input. She says crowdfunding campaigns are being used as a way for people to tell companies what they want toys to look like, feel like and what materials they should be made of.
“I think [technology lets you] explore your own pleasure and figure out what makes you feel good amidst this sea of options,” says Ollier. “It’s just putting that choice in your own hands.”
A group of advocates against gendered violence is pushing for better communication between university researchers, government policymakers and community service providers.
“It’s really important and it’s surprisingly rare that this conversation across sectors happens,” says Marina Gonick, a professor at Mount Saint Vincent University. She’s also the Canada research chair for Gender. “We each have our own plans or perspectives.”
Gonick was one of the participants at a recent event hosted by the Nova Scotia Gendered Violence Prevention Network (NSGVPN). The gathering took place over two days this week at MSVU and looked at “sustainable approaches to gender violence prevention.” By working as a collective, Gonick explains, everyone can share their best practices as well as what needs to be improved.
Guest speaker Lana Wells, associate professor of social work at the University of Calgary, shared her experience with Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence.
“We’re trying to figure out ways to stop violence before it starts,” says Wells. “In order to do that, what we know is we need everybody in the tent towards the same goals and agenda.”
Wells started Shift in 2010. Much of its research involves engaging men and boys specifically. The program is currently partnering with with 32 school jurisdictions in Alberta. The hope is that Wells’ work could serve as a framework for a similar model in Nova Scotia.
“I just believe there is so much social capital and amazing leadership and leadership skills in Nova Scotia—in all the different sectors,” says Wells. “I really think they can make a difference.”
Heather Byrne—the director of Alice Housing—was encouraged to see the concept already brought to life in another province.
“It’s inspiring to see that it’s possible.”
According to Byrne, it’s difficult for non-profits to get funding for evaluations.
“Typically, the people doing frontline service delivery are not researchers,” she says. A partnership with a university, which already has someone dedicated to researching gendered violence, solves that problem.
Evaluating a non-profit’s programming can help make cases to the government and other funding sources to continue or increase support. The researchers “in turn, get access to the frontline work and the first voices, information and data that fuel their own research,” says Byrne.
The government, non-profit and university sectors are already doing this work independently, but Byrne believes working together and exchanging assets means progress would be quicker.
The conversation didn’t end with the event on Wednesday. Byrne says an action plan identifies some key issues and will mobilize resources from all three sectors. The NSGVPN website is also being developed, which will include a blog and links to resources around gendered violence.
“We have to keep our pulse on what’s happening and the complexity of the issue and move forward together as a group, rather than individually,” says Byrne.
“I heartily recommend taking a look at @Trump_Regrets,” writes billionaire tech investor Chris Sacca to his 1.7 million followers on Twitter. “It's cheaper than therapy.”
Countless hot takes have been ignited since November trying to understand how the hell Donald Trump became president of the United States of America. Halifax student Erica Baguma was curious about something else: How would Trump’s supporters feel after he became president and actually got to work?
That’s why the social anthropology major at the University of King’s College started her @Trump_Regrets account—personally searching the depths of Twitter and manually retweeting any remorseful voters who have changed their minds post-election.
“I was just curious to see how his supporters felt like he was doing,” says Baguma. “I found there was so many people that were already feeling totally disillusioned and betrayed by him. I just thought it was interesting to keep track of it.”
Here's a sample of that disillusionment: “@realDonaldTrump Everytime [sic] u speak I realize I made the BIGGEST mistake of my life voting for you! Get a brain! And a Thesaurus!!”
With only 1,100 tweets, the account has amassed over 72,000 followers. That’s double the amount it had two days ago, largely thanks to celebrity fans like Sacca and Community creator Dan Harmon, along with some media coverage down south.
The most common reason for former supporters feeling contrite? Baguma says up until about a month ago it was Hillary Clinton not being indicted. More recently it’s Trump's tweeting.
“They thought he’d become more professional, more presidential,” she says.
No such luck.
@realDonaldTrump Why are you obsessed with ratings & crowd size? It is time to govern. This is not TV. I supported you & expect much better.— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) January 22, 2017
Instead, the 70-year-old president has spent his first week in office battling with the media and spitting out tirades against protestors, celebrities, immigrants and foreign governments.
Which is why Baguma is really impressed by the people she sees who can admit their mistake—those who aren’t blindly loyal to one side and able to change their minds. It’s comforting, she says, especially given how easy it is to write off any Trump supporters as hate-filled dogmatists.
“A lot of people are just single-issue voters, didn't look at anything else, and then a lot of people really didn't trust the mainstream media,” she says. “I've learned that Trump voters, it's a more nuanced population and they're really diverse. It's not all bigots.”
That's one truth in a sea of alternative facts: It isn't all bigots.“A lot of people were saying ‘It's just so depressing. I don't want to look.’” says Baguma. So I was surprised that there were a lot of people [changing their minds.] This kind of gives me hope for the first time since the election.”
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