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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

South House offers alternative Pride event

The Sexual and Gender Resource Centre is boycotting Halifax Pride and holding a drop-in space the day of the parade.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 11:00 AM

  • Via Facebook

South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre has officially announced its boycott of Halifax Pride in solidarity with Queer Arabs of Halifax (QAH). In doing so, the centre is also providing a drop-in event on the day of the parade.

“We thought it was really important to offer an alternative to Pride for folks who aren’t wanting to attend Pride, but then to also to offer a space that was available before and after the parade,” says Rebecca Stuckey, outreach and education coordinator at South House.

South House is joining other individuals and groups such as the Dalhousie Student Union in boycotting Halifax Pride this year. Calls for boycott followed a tumultuous annual general meeting that took place last October, during which a pinkwashing motion by QAH was voted down.

Stuckey says South House wanted to support QAH as well as other queer and trans folks who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour, “because of the harm they [Halifax Pride] have caused that community and for their lack of acknowledgement of pinkwashing.”

“There are a lot of folks that aren’t wanting to participate in Halifax Pride events specifically this year, but still wanting to be with community,” says Stuckey. “I think it’s really important to offer those spaces so that folks who don’t want to attend those Halifax Pride-specific events still have a place to go and be with community.”

The Pride Day Drop-In Hangout at South House is taking place on Saturday from 1-5pm. It is a closed space for queer, trans, intersex and Two-Spirit folks. 

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Watch this: Cornwallis protester disrupts council, records video

Residents looking for removal of controversial statue ejected from public gallery.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 11:38 PM


Instead of a press conference and symbolic tarp, members of the public who repeatedly disrupted Tuesday’s meeting of Regional Council were escorted out of council chambers by security.

Trish MacIntyre, a Métis activist with Halifax Anonymous and one of the organizers of last weekend’s protest at Cornwallis Park, was at City Hall to watch mayor Mike Savage read the calls to action that First Nations protesters had presented him with on Saturday.

After reading the statement, Savage said it would be forwarded to municipal staff and then the councillors continued on with their community announcements.

Later in the meeting, during a discussion on neighbourhood signage, MacIntyre spoke up from the gallery.

“How does that apply to statues?” she asked, interrupting Bedford–Wentworth councillor Tim Outhit.

“I wasn’t planning to put any statues on the Bedford Highway, but hopefully some signs,” Outhit replied before carrying on.

“What department do you contact if you have an issue with statues?” continued MacIntyre.

“There’s no speaking from the gallery, thank you very much,” said Savage.

Reached over Facebook, MacIntyre says she didn’t intend to speak up during the meeting but was guided by her spirit.

“I've tried emailing Savage and talking to him more than once. And I'm aware that Stephen McNeil talked about dealing with the statue back in 2015 and Savage has not addressed the issue.”

Laura Patterson showed up to City Hall on Tuesday about the same issue, and says she was dismayed to see the mayor just read the calls to action into the record and then move on to other matters.

“Our city should be doing more,” she says. “I understand council has a process...that government is slow, and slow for a reason to make sure they make the right decisions.”

But at the same time, she continues, “Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq population has been so patient and so polite. They’ve just done everything right and they’ve just been waiting and they keep waiting.”

Patterson was also annoyed with Matt Whitman. The Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets councillor smiled while recording the protesters’ ejection on his phone.

“If they’re asking for decorum from the gallery, it didn’t strike me as a particularly mature response from council, for Matt Whitman to act in that way.”

Members of the public have demanded the statue of Halifax’s problematic fave founder be taken down by Mi’kmaq History Month in October. That’s unlikely to happen, given HRM won’t even have a list of names for its expert panel on Cornwallis Commemoration until at least September.

Later in the meeting, council asked for a staff report looking at creating a “Legacy Room” at City Hall as a dedicated space to display Indigenous art.

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Trudeau pinkwashing Pride parade

Critics say the prime minister’s visit this weekend is a distraction that hinders the festival’s efforts to rebuild trust with the local BIPOC community.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 9:49 PM

Prime minister Justin Trudeau marches in the Toronto Pride parade last month. - VIA TWITTER
  • Prime minister Justin Trudeau marches in the Toronto Pride parade last month.

The most watched person at this year’s Halifax Pride parade will be a straight white man with a penchant for rainbow socks.

It was announced Monday that Justin Trudeau will be marching this weekend in Halifax, becoming the first sitting prime minister to take part in a local Pride parade. But some members of the LGBTQ+ community say Trudeau’s historic visit isn’t worth celebrating.

Kehisha Wilmot, head of the Mount Saint Vincent University Queer Collective, says Halifax Pride is breaking its promise to centre marginalized voices in this year’s festival.

“We have people of colour doing things in this parade,” they say, “and the big thing we’re currently now looking at is we brought down a white guy in a high-position role to be our focus.”

Festival executive director Adam Reid tells The Coast there was a “standing invitation” for Trudeau to visit Halifax since last year’s parade, but the organization only found out he’d be coming a couple of days ago.

“I understand the community concerns,” says Reid, about the pinkwashing criticisms given Trudeau’s prominent placement in the parade. “But I also see this as a real opportunity for growth. I don’t think we grow as a community or grow as a festival if we are shutting down each others’ opportunities for discussion.”

Halifax Pride as an organization is trying to bounce back this year after a disastrous annual general meeting last fall. Members of the Queer Arabs of Halifax and supporters were shouted-down by a gaggle of seemingly straight and cis outsiders who took issue with a proposed resolution to ban any government or corporate pinkwashing efforts at future Pride festivals.

As a result, several groups are boycotting Pride this year—including Wilmot’s Queer Collective and Dalhousie University’s South House.

The festival and Reid have spent the last several months trying to regain community trust through efforts meant to centre the city's diverse voices—efforts like choosing The Magic Project as the parade's grand marshals and helping Halifax Regional Police decide to only march out-of-uniform. Wilmot says those steps have all been positive signs of a more intersectional, inclusive Pride.

Unfortunately, Trudeau.

“There’s all this progress and instead of focusing on that, they’re like, ‘Hey, look at this really big name we have,’” Wilmot says about the festival’s celebrity get. “It just seems like the people we need to be focusing on, now we’re not focusing on.”

Reid counters that Trudeau’s presence can help “shine a light” on Halifax’s LGBTQ+ community.

“The festival is more than just the participation of any one person,” he says. “We’re going to use this opportunity to celebrate the take that opportunity to talk to that wider audience about all the amazing things that are happening here.”

But Pride is still a political movement, says Wilmot. It should do a better job of listening to the concerns of Black, Indigenous and Muslim individuals, and acknowledge how much vulnerability those people are giving up when taking part in the parade.

“This feels like once again we’re in the room, but we’re on the back shelf in the corner,” they say about Trudeau’s visit. “We got a chair [full] of tacks; he got the throne.”

This year’s Pride parade begins Saturday at 1pm, and will travel along Barrington Street, Spring Garden Road and South Park Street to finish at the Garrison Grounds.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cornwallis tarp already removed

Halifax covers its shame—for a few hours anyway—but reconciliation still a long way off.

Posted By on Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 4:49 PM

Moments after city workers removed the black tarp, protesters re-covered the statue with a plastic sheet. - KAILA JEFFERD-MOORE
  • Moments after city workers removed the black tarp, protesters re-covered the statue with a plastic sheet.

Only a few hours after being covered up, the statue of Edward Cornwallis has already been unveiled.

Municipal workers, under orders from mayor Mike Savage, draped the controversial monument with a black tarp during a protest early Saturday afternoon.

It was a compromise from municipal officials hoping to keep the peace as nearly 300 people gathered in the city’s south end in anticipation of toppling the bronze sculpture.

“I’m not suggesting the organizers wanted to have a violent demonstration, but there was concern based on some posts and some social media and other reaction that this could turn out to be not what the organizers wanted or what we wanted,” Savage told reporters.

A municipal worker drapes the statue of Edward Cornwallis on Saturday. - THE COAST
  • A municipal worker drapes the statue of Edward Cornwallis on Saturday.

After a prayer ceremony from Mi’kmaw elder Isabelle Knockwood, the tarp was lowered to cheers and raised fists from the crowd. Afterward, those assembled participated in a round dance to traditional Mi’kmaw drumming and song.

Fewer than three hours later, the tarp had already been removed.

The former governor of Nova Scotia founded the city of Halifax in 1749, in violation of existing treaties with Indigenous peoples. The same year, Cornwallis issued a bounty for Mi’kmaw scalps.
Chief Morley Googoo, Mi'kmaw elder Isabelle Knockwood and event organizer Suzanne Patles stand beneath the statue. - THE COAST
  • Chief Morley Googoo, Mi'kmaw elder Isabelle Knockwood and event organizer Suzanne Patles stand beneath the statue.

His statue has in recent years become a lightning rod for Halifax’s reconciliation efforts with the Mi’kmaq people—or lack thereof. Saturday’s protest was the latest civic action, organized in response to the disruption of an Indigenous ceremony on Canada Day by members of the Proud Boys alt-right frat.

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Knockwood said she understood the tarp was only a temporary measure but hoped it would be a means of education about the area’s history.

“I want it to symbolize mourning, a period of mourning, for all those who died as a result of the wars, as a result of the scalping order,” she said.

“A crowd like this, it’s a very spiritual place today,” said Isabelle Knockwood, a residential school survivor. - THE COAST
  • “A crowd like this, it’s a very spiritual place today,” said Isabelle Knockwood, a residential school survivor.

Earlier in the day, organizers presented mayor Savage with a call to action to immediately remove the statue, host a peace assembly to facilitate reconciliation and create an Indigenous-Halifax expert panel to ensure the naming of public parks and assets is respectful towards First Nations peoples.

Savage promised he’d present the document to city council at its Tuesday meeting but admitted he wasn’t sure if all the actions could be met.

“I don’t want to make a promise in the face of potential protest,” the mayor said.

“I think truth and reconciliation begins with being honest with each other. We have begun a process over the last little while with the Mi’kmaq community within Halifax on a number of issues, and I want that to continue. I think that the statue is obviously an impediment to that progress. I think that has to be resolved.”

Mayor Mike Savage addresses media. - THE COAST
  • Mayor Mike Savage addresses media.

Council voted back in April to form an expert panel and examine how the city commemorates its founder. The members of that panel won’t even be assembled until at least September, and a timeline for when it will report back to city hall is very much still up in the air.

The organizers of Saturday’s protest asked HRM to report back to them on their call to action in time for Mi’kmaq History Month in October.

Although there’s no legal holdout stopping council from voting to remove the statue right now, Savage said the municipality has to continue examining the issue fully, from all perspectives, if the situation is ever going to be permanently resolved.

“There are a number of people who very strongly do not want the statue down,” Savage said.

Likening the issue to LGBT rights, the mayor said many of his former colleagues in Parliament used to be opposed to gay marriage, but have now come around to support those causes. 

A similar slow-but-steady march towards progress will be needed, Savage says, to determine the final fate of Edward Cornwallis’ statue.

“I think you move forward on things like this, but I think you respect both sides.”

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Daniel Paul on protest to topple Cornwallis statue: “If it goes, it goes”

Mi'kmaq author and historian says protesters are following up on path he started decades ago.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 4:03 PM

Red paint thrown on the base of the Edward Cornwallis statue in 2016. - VIA INSTAGRAM
  • Red paint thrown on the base of the Edward Cornwallis statue in 2016.

The man who for decades has led the charge to bring Edward Cornwallis down from his pedestal isn't opposed to a little civil disobedience.

Organizers of a divisive protest happening this Saturday are hoping to topple the bronze, south-end statue, which they say “for too long has been representing genocide in M'ikma'ki.”

Mayor Mike Savage and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs have spoken out against the group’s targeted goal, urging for calm dialogue instead of violent action. But those calls have seemingly only strengthened the resolve of the event’s grassroots organizers.

Daniel Paul, on the other hand, is a little more ambivalent about the matter.

“Well, if it goes, it goes,” he says.

The Mi’kmaq historian and auth
More of Daniel Paul's writing can be found on his website. - VIA YOUTUBE
  • More of Daniel Paul's writing can be found on his website.
or has fought for decades to change how Halifax celebrates its controversial founder. His 1993 book, “We Were Not The Savages,” resurfaced Cornwallis’ actions against the area’s Indigenous people—including a bounty paid for Mi’kmaw scalps.

Paul says this weekend’s protest is an example of how younger generations are following up on what he’s started in order to demand change.

“The younger people are making their move, and what they do, it’s up to them in that regard,” he says. “I’ve been at it for what, 31 years? Perhaps they’re getting a little impatient.”

Halifax Regional Council recently voted to assemble an expert panel to review how HRM commemorates its controversial founder, but those non-binding recommendations won’t be back to city hall anytime in the immediate future.

Nevertheless, several civic and Indigenous leaders have asked protesters attending Saturday’s event to be patient, and embrace a more gradual road towards reconciliation.

The lack of urgency, says Paul, is a reflection of skin colour.

“If Cornwallis had placed a bounty on a white race of people, I’m quite sure the statue would be long gone and he’d be condemned quite diligently.”

Though he didn’t issue a bounty on their scalps, Cornwallis did command the British forces that raped, murdered and burned their way through the Scottish Highlands during the sinisterly named Pacification. His subsequent settlement along what is now Halifax Harbour was done in violation of past treaties with the Mi’kmaq, and was the cause of repeated violent clashes between both sides. 

Paul says those attacks are falsely regarded by many today as war. Cornwallis himself rejected the term, Paul writes in his book, because war implied the enemy was free, independent, equal.

While that dominant version of history has been questioned and reinterpreted in recent years, incidents like the Proud Boys’ smug disruption on Canada Day show colonial attitudes are still strong among many HRM residents.

On Thursday, Preston–Chezzetcook–Eastern Shore councillor David Hendsbee spoke on the Rick Howe radio show, using unambiguously racialialized language to describe the protesters as “hotheads on the warpath.” The councillor later apologized, kinda, to anyone offended by his remarks.

Hendsbee's comments came just weeks after the councillor interrupted an Aboriginal Day acknowledgement being made by the mayor in front of Indigenous guests to City Hall—blurting out his own commemoration of Cornwallis’ founding of Halifax.

Despite those embarrassments, Paul says progress is being made. A great number of attitudes have changed over the years that he’s been fighting for this cause.

“If you had proposed taking down Cornwallis’ statue 25 years ago, probably 100 percent of caucasian Nova Scotians would have opposed it,” he says. “Last survey they did, I think it was only 56 percent opposed it [58, actually]. So, that’s taken quite a drop.”

The opposition could rise sharply, however, based on what ends up happening Saturday. As noted by poet laureate Rebecca Thomas on Twitter, non-white groups protesting for equality do so at great sacrifice to the general public's empathy.

“We are giving up potential allies that will now see us as troublemakers,” she writes.

“We will be seen as confirmation to our stereotypes...Our worth will be determined by the damage done by white ‘allies’...The choice to assert our right to civil disobedience will be reduced to thugs and lazy Indians.”

Paul says he’s taking a “wait and see” approach to this weekend's event. It may provoke backlash, true. But he doesn’t feel that alone is enough of a reason not to get involved.

“God knows we’ve suffered enough racism and discrimination in this province to do us several lifetimes,” he says. “I don’t know if it could get any worse than it’s ever been.”

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

All-access pass for accessibility at Jazz Fest

Activist Paul Vienneau has been working with organizers to make this year's festival venues 100 percent accessible.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 4:00 AM

“I thought it was enough that I was playing,” says Paul Vienneau, “why shouldn't these venues be accessible?” - SUBMITTED
  • “I thought it was enough that I was playing,” says Paul Vienneau, “why shouldn't these venues be accessible?”

For the first time in its 30-year history, the Halifax Jazz Festival's venues will be 100 percent accessible, thanks in part to the work of local activist and former professional bassist Paul Vienneau.

For Vienneau, who has been using a wheelchair since 1991, these changes have been years in the making.

Vienneau performed at the Jazz Festival multiple times between 1989 and 2014. After his injury, he found himself unable to attend certain shows because they were held in buildings with no wheelchair access. He contacted the festival to ask them to consider fully accessible venues, but received no response.

“For years I accepted not having accessible venues and making do,” he says. “What do I have to show for it? My rotator cuffs sound like Rice Krispies, my right deltoid is shredded...I thought it was enough that I was playing, but why shouldn’t these venues be accessible?”

Around five years ago Jazz Fest organizers ramped the main stage, but Vienneau says it was so steep he needed three men to help him up.

This year, through conversations with interim executive director Andrea Thomas, Vienneau successfully advocated for infrastructure improvements to make the festival accessible to all. Performances will now feature a viewing platform for attendees using wheelchairs and scooters, an accessibility services booth at the information table and low-rise, wheelchair accessible cable mats.

“It’s very important to us as organizers that we make things as accessible and as inclusive as possible for everyone,” says Thomas, who reviewed festival services with her team to identify weak spots and decide on improvements.

According to Vienneau, these changes are an important exercise in trial, error and empathetic listening.

“It’s not that the first year has to be 100 percent perfect,” he says. “It’s that we have to build a culture in everybody’s mind that this is worth doing—that there is inherent value in including everybody.”

Vienneau calls this year’s accessibility improvements the “low-hanging fruit.” In future years, he and Thomas hope to include sign language interpretation, festival schedules printed in braille, an accessibility insert in the festival guide and more visible diversity amongst performers.

“The thing with the festival is not that every famous musician that goes on stage talks about accessibility, but that all the accessibility is built seamlessly into the festival,” Vienneau says.

The former “asshole with a shovel”—who petitioned city hall two years ago for better snow and ice clearing—will be working with the East Coast Music Awards and Halifax Pop Explosion in the upcoming months to continue to improve inclusivity in the Halifax music scene.

“As a legacy thing, I would love to leave accessible venues and some changed minds in the music business,” Vienneau says.

Note: This article originally said the festival itself was 100 percent accessible. It's been updated to clarify that means the Jazz Fest venues.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

World Tea House fighting for survival on Argyle Street

Downtown business says its sales are down 50 percent since disruptive streetscaping project ruined the summer.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 12:21 AM

Construction workers buy very little loose-leaf tea. - VIA TWITTER
  • Construction workers buy very little loose-leaf tea.

Argyle is open for business, but you wouldn't know it from the look of the place, and that's causing problems for the street's storefronts.

“PLEASE help us survive,” the World Tea House screamed on Tuesday into the void of Twitter.

The business is currently treading water on week six of the much-feared Argyle Street beautification project. When it's completed the new-and-improved downtown block will be one smooth, mixed-use space between Blowers and Prince on Argyle, and Prince and Carmichael Streets on Grafton.

But that's months away. Right now, torn-up roadway and chainlink fences are choking off Argyle Street from wandering customers and suffocating businesses in the heat of what's supposed to be a busy shopping season.

“Sales down 50 percent and we are already struggling to stay open,” the Tea House pleads. “Help.”

Coupled with the meteoric disruptions of the Nova Centre, the construction along Argyle has already depleted Halifax's former nightlife main street of several hallmark bars and caused extended woes for other shops and restaurants.

One of those businesses, the Wooden Monkey, is suing the municipality and Argyle Developments Inc. for over $500,000. It's one of several companies—including Biscuit General Store, the Carleton and the Economy Shoe Shop—planning legal action over the impact of the convention centre's construction.

The Argyle streetscaping project is expected to last another 11 weeks or so, and finish up near the end of September (provided there are no delays).

Area councillor Waye Mason promises conditions should return relatively to normal for the World Tea House by early August.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

This is Halifax now

Halifax is now a Pirates of the Caribbean poster and, honestly, it's a lot better.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 11:08 PM

There used to be a joke here about Toronto but people didn't get it. - MY-WATERFRONT.CA
  • There used to be a joke here about Toronto but people didn't get it.

This Tall Ships ad is the new and better Halifax and that is indisputable.

For many years, this photo was Halifax. Boring. Sometimes it would be this photo, and for many people, it was this. What defined all of these cities was a severe and unimaginative lack of Photoshop.

All of that is about to change! If you thought you were living in Halifax before, just you wait.

Halifax is now a series of young adult novels set in a nautical fantasy world. The city is a Thomas Kinkade painting.

You may love the Central Library and it might win all sorts of architectural awards, but what you didn’t realize until crossing over into Narnia was that it was on the wrong side of Halifax this entire time. The Central Library should have been built right next to Purdy’s Wharf, which it is now taller than and that’s better.

Halifax is now an iPhone game “where somebody’s mom would lose a lot of money in micropayments.”

We have also stolen Sydney’s giant fiddle, and Lunenburg’s Lunenburg Academy. They are ours now. Our city has sucked dry their Maritimey essence and used it to prolong our own blasphemous east coast lifestyle. We’re like the thing in the movie The Thing, if the thing was mildly alcoholic and shout-sang Barrett’s Privateers.

Halifax is now a Kingdom Hearts level.

The Macdonald Bridge now spans the south end of the city, from Citadel Hill to heaven. The ghost of the MacKay Bridge floats silently above the harbour like the red curtains in Twin Peaks—a ghastly reminder to never visit Dartmouth.

Halifax also has a sea monster now. Deal with it.

Queen’s Marque is not in this Halifax, so don’t bother asking about its floating boardwalk. The Nova Centre has also frigged right off. There’s no room for either of them on what appears to be Halifax Island’s three square kilometres of land.

You know what we do have space for? Giant motherfucking cannons. Two of them, both bigger than the six-storey office building dangerously placed directly below. No one will survive the noon gun, and that’s fine.

This is now Halifax, and from here on out, everything in our lives is about to get better.

(Still no stadium, though.)

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Overrun with rabbits

10,000 Carrots Rabbit Rescue needs your help.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 2:34 PM

click image This is Sable. Look at that little nose! - VIA FACEBOOK
  • This is Sable. Look at that little nose!
  • via Facebook
Tammy MacDonald-Flatt is pleading: Don’t abandon your pet rabbits.

“I’d take out a billboard if I had the money. Please stop dumping them outside.”

MacDonald-Flatt, president of 10,000 Carrots Rabbit Rescue, says the issue is rampant. Bunnies are being ditched in parks or wooded subdivisions when they’re no longer wanted, without the means or the instincts to fend for themselves. She estimates 95 percent of the rabbits they rescue have had this happen to them.

Group hug featuring Tammy MacDonald-Flatt, Charles and Bun Bun. - MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON
  • Group hug featuring Tammy MacDonald-Flatt, Charles and Bun Bun.
  • Meghan Tansey Whitton

“They’re usually covered in ticks,” she says. “Some of them are quite anemic.”

The problem peaks around this time of year—people have been reporting sightings every other day. MacDonald-Flatt believes it’s partially due to the amount of time gone by since Easter.

“That cute little baby bunny that they swore they’d love and take care of every day, they haven’t.”

10,000 Carrots is the only rescue in the Maritimes specifically focused on rabbits. As a result, they’ve taken the fuzzy critters from as far as the south shore and Miramichi. At present, the group of seven volunteers has 27 bunnies ready to be re-homed, and there’s a waiting list on top of that. The rescue doesn’t have a shelter, so they rely on volunteers to foster.

MacDonald-Flatt feels the problem is lack of education on two levels: First of all, people tend to think they can simply get a rabbit, put it in a cage and that’s all the care they require. Many also believe a rabbit can survive outside if they decide to “release” it.

In fact, there are no naturally wild rabbits in Nova Scotia—only hares. And despite looking similar, there are big differences.

“Domestic rabbits are born as defenceless as domestic cats. So they’re hairless, they’re blind for a week and a half,” says MacDonald-Flatt. “Whereas hares are born fully haired, sitting up, eyes wide open, ready to go if they have to.”

MacDonald-Flatt doesn’t feel the message is totally getting through to the public and hopes to spread awareness. In the fall, 10,000 Carrots is rolling out an education program in order to do just that.

A fundraiser in support of 10,000 Carrots is taking place at Chroma Tattoos in Windsor on July 15.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Halifax Pride announces new speakers series

My MCM Dylan Marron brings activism and satire to the fest.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Thanks @lukefontana & @tyleroakley.

A post shared by Dylan Marron (@dylanmarron) on

Pride is back this July 20-30 with a lineup that goes heavy on drag and dance music. While a lot of longtime favourite events are returning (here’s looking at you, Dykes & Divas softball game), the biggest announcement is a new speakers series featuring 2SLGBTQ+ activists.

Topics like sexuality and race, trans healthcare and the impact of dating apps will all be discussed at various lectures: Names like Kamal Al-Solaylee (the author of Intolerable and former Globe & Mail columnist) and Pride Toronto’s executive director Olivia Nuahma stud the calendar with their credentials.

The best part for any secret Facebook addict, though, will be Dylan Marron’s July 25 evening slot. The former host of’s viral, leftie, satirical videos taking aim at topics like white feminism and transphobia will be chatting about activism and comedy.

Swoon with me over some of his best work, the faux-infomercial Unboxing with Dylan Marron series, below:

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rear admiral apologizes for Proud Boys’ behaviour

Alt-right chauvinists who disrupted Indigenous event on Canada Day facing disciplinary action and military police review.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 4, 2017 at 5:46 PM

Rear admiral John Newton speaking to reporters on Tuesday at the Halifax Dockyards. - SCREENSHOT FROM GLOBAL NEWS
  • Rear admiral John Newton speaking to reporters on Tuesday at the Halifax Dockyards.

The Proud Boys have shamed Canada’s military.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, rear admiral John Newton apologized for the behaviour of Armed Forces members who disrupted an Indigenous protest on Canada Day.

“I’ll stand here in front of you and apologize to the Aboriginal community, to anybody, the entire public community,” Newton said. “We can do better as a system.”

Four of the men are members of the Royal Canadian Navy. One is a member of the Army. All of the men are now facing administrative and military police disciplinary action because of this past weekend’s incident.

The self-described “Proud Boys” showed up to Cornwallis Park on Canada Day, Red Ensign flag in hand, to disrupt an Indigenous ceremony that was being held to commemorate the genocide of First Nations peoples.

Newton says he was made aware of the incident by those who contacted him directly over social media, as well as from the outcry of his Indigenous friends and fellow Armed Forces members.

The head of the Navy on the east coast says he had a “one-way conversation” with the men, during which he told them the Armed Forces was taking the matter very seriously.

“I looked each and every one of them in the eye...and I told them what would happen to them.”

Although Newton says the men have a right to their beliefs, those ideologies have to get “parked” when you join a bigger organization like the military.

“I just told the young people that they had crossed a line, where their personal into the public domain,” he said. “For that, they will have to face the consequences.”

The Armed Forces members could be looking at a military police investigation to determine if their affiliation with the far-right extremist group poses a security risk to operations.

The Proud Boys were founded by VICE Magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes as a masturbation-abstaining, militant right-wing fraternity that praises "Western chauvanist" values. As Coast columnist Chris Parsons wrote this morning;

“Their attempts at humour and freshmen understanding of intellectual history are childish and boring and they’re more of an annoyance than truly offensive...[but] the danger lies in formations like the Proud Boys using irony to normalize right-wing street politics, using irony to cover truly dangerous political positions and recruiting teenage jokesters into a fascist milieu where more extreme and less cowardly organizations are waiting.”

Whatever the Proud Boys represent, Newton says their values run counter to those of the Canadian Armed Forces.

“We all should not be polarized in our thinking,” the rear admiral said while praising the military's emphasis on inclusion and diversity.

Tuesday marks the second apology Newton has had to make in recent weeks due to Navy members disrespecting First Nations peoples. In late May, Newton apologized during a graduation ceremony for participants in the Canadian Armed Forces Aboriginal entry program on the HMCS Fredericton for a sailor who two weeks earlier had made a “war cry.”

Newton says he hasn’t spoken directly with local Indigenous leaders about the Proud Boys, and isn’t sure if they’ll be consulted for any disciplinary matters. He remains hopeful the men involved can learn from their mistakes and, given time, sincerely apologize to the public themselves.

National Defence minister Harjit Sajjan has also issued a statement about the Proud Boys on Facebook.

“To members of Halifax’s Mi’kmaq community and to Chief Grizzly Mamma, I am sorry for the pain this incident has caused,” Sajjan writes. “These disrespectful actions do not represent the Canadian Armed Forces members I serve as Minister of National Defence.”


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Friday, June 30, 2017

Canada’s myth of multiculturalism

This country's diversity wasn't created by government act. It was toiled over for centuries by Black, Indigenous and other marginalized peoples.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks to children at the N’dilo Aboriginal Head Start program in the Northwest Territories. - VIA INSTAGRAM
  • Prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks to children at the N’dilo Aboriginal Head Start program in the Northwest Territories.

Canada is a concept. A concept that’s been formed on the basis of many myths. The myth of discovery by European settlers and the myth of confederation are two that come to mind. However, there’s another myth that Canadians shy away from discussing; the myth of multiculturalism and how it came to be the centrepiece of Canada’s identity.

To uncover the myth of Canadian multiculturalism is to unearth past centuries riddled in historic injustice, genocide, slavery, segregation and racist government policy. In order to avoid the inconvenient truth, Canadians tend to begin the story in 1971, with the adoption of Canada’s official multiculturalism policy and its ratification thereafter in 1988.

An online study by Abacus Data in 2016 found that 59 percent of Canadians aged 18 and older cite “freedom to live as we see fit” as their greatest source of national pride. The Ottawa-based company's survey listed the country’s open-minded attitude “towards people who are different” as the second greatest source of pride.

This past Tuesday, prime minister Justin Trudeau gave a statement commemorating Canadian Multiculturalism Day in which he reminded Canadians that we have a “strong tradition of multiculturalism” that is at “the heart of Canada’s heritage and identity.”

Multicultural values were a central component of Trudeau’s election campaign. He ran on a platform that identified differences of race, cultural heritage, ethnicity, religion, ancestry and place of origin as strengths that would enhance the country’s prosperity. But it was Justin’s father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who was the original “champion of multicultural values.”

The true story is that multiculturalism was not created with the stroke of a pen in parliament. It was toiled over for centuries by African Canadians, Indigenous peoples and other historically marginalized communities.

The first step in changing the narrative is to acknowledge that Canada has not always been a welcoming place. On three separate occasions, Black people that came to Nova Scotia left in mass exodus—to Sierra Leone in 1792 and 1800, and to islands in the Caribbean in 1821—after facing race riots, economic hardship and barriers to integration. Black, Chinese, East Indian, Japanese and Jewish people faced policies restricting their immigration into the early 1900s.

The second step is to recognize the long road that paved the way for multiculturalism to exist, including the work of African Nova Scotians who shook the foundation of institutional racism by forming all-Black trade unions, the all-Black construction battalion in World War I, a Nova Scotia chapter of the NAACP and the many individual courageous acts, such as Viola Desmond’s refusal to give up her seat in the “whites-only” section of a movie theatre.

The third step is admitting our failures, both historic and present, to uphold the value of human diversity and dignity. For African Nova Scotians, these wounds are less than a generation away, with the last house in Africville razed in 1970 and the last segregated school closure in Nova Scotia in 1983.

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard has demanded formal recognition of the contribution of African Nova Scotians to multiculturalism in this country. Bernard has called for a national apology from the government and “reparations” for a “history of neglect” and injustices against people of African descent in Canada, as well as more work toward Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.

“Until the critical mass recognizes that we all belong here in this country, that we all have a history that’s worthy of telling, then we will be in the same place 150 years from now,” she says.

How we continue to tell the story of multiculturalism in Canada will define our next 150 years. Together we must work to rewrite the pages of mythology to reflect the reality of Canada, recognizing each one of us as heroes in our own right with the power to transform the nation by our differences.

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Over 150 years of absolute bullshit

An incomplete list of the trials and trauma so many generations have endured.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 2:04 PM


Happy birthday, Canada, you tired old fart!

Tomorrow television anchors, bored mayors and jingoistic revellers from coast-to-coast will enrobe themselves in scarlet and bathe in maple syrup like a deleted scene from Riverdale. The country’s 150th celebration will be a party unlike any other—a national celebration befitting of Canadian heroes like Bono and the cast of X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

The festive Canada 150 veneer—and its white-washing of Canada’s tremendous history of violating any people who weren’t European, straight and male—has astoundingly become even thinner this week. In a “microcosm of colonialism,” Indigenous protesters were arrested Wednesday night while trying to set up a tipi on Parliament Hill. It was an attempt to highlight the country’s history of assimilation ahead of a cloying fête that will vanilla glaze over those historical atrocities.

With that in mind—and under the belief that the first step in reconciliation is hearing truth—The Coast presents an incomplete timeline documenting just some of the events in this land’s past. It’s a list that stretches back thousands of years before confederation, and is unlikely to inspire true patriot love. Too bad. This is Canada.


12,700 BC
The earliest carbon-dated Mi’kmaw artefacts.

9,000 BC
Indigenous settlements are present in what will become Nova Scotia.

The Three Fires Confederacy is formed by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi nations.

The Iroquois Confederacy is formed.

The Wabanaki Confederacy is formed.

Olivier Le Jeune, a seven-year-old slave, becomes the first Black person to live in “Canada.”

The first treaty is signed by European settlers and the Mi’kmaq.

Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave in Montreal, is tortured and hanged after being accused of setting a fire that spread throughout the city.

The English settlement of Halifax is founded, in opposition to previous treaties and occupations. Governor Edward Cornwallis issues a proclamation for Mi’kmaw scalps.

 The expulsion of the Acadians.

Slaves advertised for sale in Halifax.

3,000 Black Loyalists flee America for Nova Scotia. Over 1,000 soon leave and emigrate to Sierra Leone.

The first race riot in Canada occurs when white residents of Shelburne attack and beat Black Loyalist settlers and burn down homes in the nearby Birchtown. None of the rioters face criminal charges.

Mary Postell is re-enslaved by her former owner, Jesse Gray and sold for 100 bushels of potatoes. Gray also attempts to sell her children into slavery. Postell tries to take Gray to court, but Nova Scotia magistrates acquit him.

The Mohawk Institute, Canada’s first residential school, opens and attempts to assimilate Indigenous children.

The African Chapel, later renamed the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, is established.

The Slavery Abolition Act outlaws slavery in British colonies.

The Dominion of Canada is formed

Métis, led by Louis Riel, fight against the newly formed government in the Red River Rebellion. Canada officially bans abortion.

The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed. Hundreds of Chinese immigrants die during the construction.

The Coloured Hockey League is founded in Nova Scotia, 23 years before the NHL.

Nova Scotian women are granted the right to vote in provincial elections. A year later, Canadian women are given the federal vote.

Gabriel Sylliboy becomes the first Mi’kmaq elected as Grand Chief. The League of Indians of Canada is founded by F. O. Loft to address the country’s failure to recognize land rights. The Department of Indian Affairs attempts to revoke his status in response.

The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children opens, in part because white orphanages wouldn’t accept Black children.

The Chinese Exclusion Act bans all Chinese immigrants from Canada for 24 years before it’s finally repealed.

Canadian members of the KKK are estimated to number in the tens of thousands.

The first children arrive at the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School.

J. Massey Rhind’s statue of Edward Cornwallis is erected in downtown Halifax.

The Christie Pits riot breaks out between Jewish Torontonians and Nazi supporters.

Women in Quebec are granted the right to vote.

The Canadian government detains some 20,000 Japanese Canadians in internment camps and sells off their homes and businesses to pay for the costs.

Viola Desmond refuses to leave a whites-only area of a New Glasgow theatre and is subsequently arrested.

First Nations individuals are granted the right to vote in federal elections without having to give up treaty rights or Indian Status. An estimated 20,000 Indigenous children are stolen from their families and adopted out to white families during the “Sixties Scoop.”

Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Anishinaabe boy, dies from starvation and exposure as he flees Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is established. The Shubenacadie residential school closes after having indoctrinated over 1,000 children.

Africville is demolished in the middle of the night, its former residents having been forcibly relocated in the months prior. Bill C-150 decriminalizes abortion, contraception and homosexuality. The federal government’s White Paper proposes to abolish the Indian Act and transfer all responsibility for Indigenous peoples to the provinces.

The Calder case becomes the Supreme Court of Canada’s first Indigenous land claims decision and spurs the federal government to adopt a land claims policy.

Toronto police raid four gay bathhouses and arrest over 300 men during Operation Soap. Mass protests held in response eventually evolve into Toronto’s Pride festival.

The Constitution Act recognizes “existing Aboriginal and treaty rights.” Legal abortion access is discontinued in PEI.

Donald Marshall Jr. is acquitted after serving 11 years after a wrongful murder conviction. Nova Scotia’s last racially segregated school closes.

Fourteen female engineering students are murdered at the University of Montreal.

The Oka Crisis sees thousands of military troops confronting Indigenous activists who are protesting the expansion of a golf course on Mohawk land.

The last federally operated residential school closes.

All education on reserves is handed off from Nova Scotia to the Mi’kmaq.

Kirk Johnson wins a racial profiling case against Halifax police, who had stopped him 28 times over a five-year period.

Same-sex marriage is legalized throughout Canada. The RCMP launch project E-PANA, focusing on the unsolved murders and disappearances of young women along the Highway of Tears.

Canada’s $2-billion settlement with residential school survivors comes into effect. The federal government refuses to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Stephen Harper publicly apologizes for the residential school system and the forced assimilation of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Black Nova Scotian Shayne Howe awakens to find a burning cross with a noose on it placed outside his home.

Halifax officially apologizes for the destruction of Africville. Viola Desmond is granted a posthumous pardon. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission officially launches, two years after it was first created.

Halifax Regional School Board votes to change the name of Cornwallis Junior High to Halifax Central Junior High.

Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence begins a hunger strike in support of Indigenous rights. The grassroots Idle No More movement is founded.

The Elsipogtog First Nation sets up a blockade against SWN Resources’ fracking exploration.

Premier Stephen McNeil apologizes to former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children who suffered decades of physical and sexual abuse.

The Liberals promise to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.

The Canadian government launches a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Supreme Court rules that the legal definition of “Indian” includes Métis and non-status Indigenous peoples.

Six people are killed and 19 injured in the Quebec City mosque shooting.

Bill C-16 grants federal protection to transgender individuals. Prince Edward Island becomes the last province to provide local, legal access to abortion services.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why Fairview is paying for Glen Arbour's poor planning

New research uses “road length per person” to show just how much HRM's established neighbourhoods are subsidizing sprawl.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 6:18 PM

Who's paying for whom? The answers might surprise you. - VIA SMARTERCITY.INFO

The more some neighbourhoods cost HRM to maintain, the less tax revenue those same communities are generating.

So says a new analysis of the correlation between road length and density in cities across the country that found some dense urban communities in Halifax are subsidizing their affluent suburban neighbours.

Urban planners Tristan Cleveland and Paul Dec crunched the numbers over the past year in partnership with Our HRM Alliance. The duo presented their findings last week at the national Building Resilience conference in Calgary, and Thursday afternoon at Dalhousie’s school of architecture.

Comparing census areas by subtracting road maintenance costs from total property tax revenue, the resulting figures show several neighbourhoods in Halifax aren’t carrying their fiscal weight.

Many of HRM's poorest communities are perversely subsidizing high-income neighbourhoods on the fringes, say the researchers.

Glen Arbour, for instance, contributes $370,000 in tax revenue, after subtracting road costs. But Fairview brings in over five times that revenue—$2.1 million—despite an average household income half that of Glen Arbour.

“The more a place costs taxpayers, the less it’s chipping in to cover its own costs,” says Cleveland. “It’s just a totally insane financial strategy for the city to be investing in new communities that should be making us wealthy and are instead burdening everyone with more infrastructure.”

An increase in road lengths predictably drives up service costs like road maintenance and snow removal. But Cleveland says he was surprised to find those costs increase exponentially as density drops.

“We can’t be developing like that anymore. It just costs the city too much.”


Over the last 20 years, the total road length per resident in urban and suburban HRM has increased by five percent. Essentially, the city is “going the wrong way,” says Cleveland, if it ever wants to effectively manage property taxes.

“If we don’t make new communities more efficient than our older suburbs and communities in the core, we’ll continue to subsidize the new ones.”

Based on the findings, Our HRM Alliance is calling on the city to decrease Halifax’s average road length per resident from its current seven metres to six, hold any new developments to a maximum of 7.5 meters per residents and look into reforming property taxes to reduce “cross-subsidization” of neighbourhoods.

“This shows why the upcoming Green Network Plan is so important,” Our HRM Alliance coordinator Jenny Lugar says via press release. “We need to direct growth to existing communities. We’ve grown enough on the outer fringe and clearly need to start filling in blank spots on the roads we already have.”

The data analysis also found road length to be a strong indicator when planning active transportation. In neighbourhoods with more than seven metres of road between residents, almost no one walked, biked or took a bus.


Cleveland says more in-depth research will be done locally and with cities across the country to further analyze the findings. The results were also presented on Thursday afternoon to city hall's planning team.

“The hope here is this will clarify the conversation,” he says. “It’s in the interest of all residents to shoot for reducing the amount of road we have per resident.”

A short presentation on the research and its findings can be found here.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Four ways to NOT celebrate Canada 150

Not into house music or celebrating colonialism? Here’s how to spend your July 1.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 2:41 PM

By now we’ve all heard that this Saturday will be a big party, with the Common in particular being a hotbed of house music and crowd navigating thanks to deadmau5’ appearance. But what if you don’t want to don your best red-and-white for an event that can feel like a celebration of settlers and colonization? Skip to these shows which either display fierce anti-150 sentiments (like the art of Raven Davis), ignore the holiday all together or at least don't feel like taking a straight shot of maple syrup.

Michelle Baikie's The Hunter is part of the AGNS' Nunatsiavut exhibit. - MICHELLE BAIKIE
  • Michelle Baikie's The Hunter is part of the AGNS' Nunatsiavut exhibit.
  • Michelle Baikie

SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut
Instead of zooming in on Canada, one option for an alternative July 1 is to celebrate another region. This AGNS show gives you that chance, as it is the first major exhibition to highlight work from the Nunatsiavut region (an autonomous area claimed by the Inuit people of Newfoundland and Labrador that achieved self-government in 2005). It features traditional works made from materials like fur and saltwater seagrass as well as more modern mediums like video.

The De-Celebration of Canada 150
Artist Raven Davis reminds us of the necessary, under-discussed other side of the holiday with this provoking contemporary exhibition that critically explores Canadian propaganda and how the celebration of Canada 150 perpetuates the erasure of Indigenous people.

Raven Davis turns colonialism on its head at the Khyber. - RAVEN DAVIS
  • Raven Davis turns colonialism on its head at the Khyber.
  • Raven Davis

Introtyl w/Existench, SpaceHogSlobMonster, Crotchrot
While definitely not an anti-Canada show, this concert does offer a rare chance to see a snippet of Mexico's girl-rock revolution without buying a plane ticket, thanks to face-melting Mexico City rockers Introtyl. We’re pretty confident they’ll be loud enough to drown out the fireworks, too.

Adam Baldwin at the Marquee
Again, not anti-Canada, but this one’s for those looking for sonic refuge from the concert on the Common: With set times that overlap with the city’s show and lyrics examining the Canadian Dream (and its flaws), Baldwin’s blue-jean-approved show will be more dad rock than deadmau5.

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