Nova Scotians could get new winter holiday

By Violet MacLeod

Maggie Henderson hangs up clothes at her retail job (Violet MacLeod photo)

Diana Whalen, a Liberal MLA for Halifax, recently renewed her call for a February holiday in Nova Scotia. Whalen has been pushing for a winter holiday in Nova Scotia for seven years now.

The proposed holiday would be called Joseph Howe Day.

Courtney Bragg with the Communications Department of the Nova Scotia Liberal caucus said the purpose of the proposed winter holiday would be to give Nova Scotians a break. The time between New Years Day and Good Friday is one of the longest periods without a holiday in the country.

Bragg said, “Having a balance between work and personal time promotes health and wellness. Sixty per cent of Canadians have this holiday, and we think Nova Scotians should too.”

Joseph Howe Day would be a statutory holiday. Retail stores would close for the day.

Effects on local businesses

Timothy Ryan, the manager of a local sporting goods store says a statutory holiday would have little effect on the service industry. Shoppers tend to spend more money the day before and after a holiday. Ryan said it would be ideal if the holiday was on the second or third Monday of a month. Average Monday revenue  is low and could be compensated by more shopping throughout the week. However on Friday the average revenue  is higher and would make it more difficult for stores to re-coup the lost sales.

Maggie Henderson, an employee at Ryan’s store was indifferent to the addition of another statutory holiday but she understands others would like the extra time to spend with family.

Henderson said the proposed name meant little to her  because she is not from Nova Scotia.

“I didn’t even know who that (Joseph Howe) was,” said Henderson.

Related Audio: 


Maggie Henderson’s reaction to a winter holiday for Nova Scotians

Bragg explained that the name of the holiday is meant to resonate with Nova Scotians but  Whalen is negotiable on the name.

Bragg said, “Diana is open to other names such as, Viola Desmond Day.

The ratification process for a new holiday is similar to a bill. It would have to go through a lengthy process before becoming a law. The seventh year could be the charm and Nova Scotians could enjoy an extra day off in 2013.

with the Communications Department of the Nova Scotia Liberal caucus.

Haligonians present their Recipes for Riches

Recipe to Riches poster ad.

By Michelle Cameron

Haligonian food enthusiasts hastily kneaded dough, cracked eggs and preheated their ovens to perfect their recipes before Saturday, Feb. 11. Recipe to Riches, a reality competition show on Food Network Canada, held auditions at the Delta Barrington this past weekend in search of the next best delicacy.

The hotel lobby was brimming with people of all ages eager to present their recipes to the judges. Catherine McGee, a 42-year-old woman born and raised in Cape Breton, said she had been refining her mother’s biscuit recipe for years.

“They’re a Maritime tradition that can accompany any meal, really. But no one has had fluffier and tastier biscuits than these. I ate them a lot growing up and I hope to share this tradition with people everywhere.”

Recipe to Riches is a competitive reality television series that has select Canadians battling weekly to have their original recipes become a President’s Choice product and win $25,000. The top contestants in each category qualify for a chance to win the grand prize of $250,000.

Executive producer Blair Harley says the idea of Recipe to Riches came from a simple question: “What’s better than having your original recipe sold in grocery stores to thousands of people?” Loblaws Company Limited sprung at this idea and decided to use their store brand, President’s Choice, as the label to promote the winners of Recipe to Riches.

“It’s a very long process for Loblaws to produce and market all these new products,” says Harley. “But what better honour is there than having your original recipe sold by President’s Choice, Canada’s largest food retailer? Recipe to Riches is a fantastic opportunity for Canadians.”

The judges preparing for the next audition. (Recipe to Riches photo)

After traveling to Halifax, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, the judges will have hand-picked 21 contestants, three from each food category, who will go on to compete in the next stage of the competition. The winner of each category will be signed with President’s Choice to market their product and win $25,000.

“We judge the recipes on presentation, originality and the story behind your recipe,” says Harley. “The backstory of your recipe really factors into our decision making process. We want to see personality in the recipes.”

The aspiring chefs can submit their recipes under one of the seven categories including: Savoury Snacks, Hors D’Oeuvres, Cookies and Squares, Entrées, Candies and Chocolates, Condiments and Dips, and finally Cakes, Pudding and Pies.

27-year-old Haligonian, Ian Costlin, says his recipe comes from “being quite the carnivore.”

“I don’t think the judges will have seen someone more dedicated to loving meat than me. I know I look like a small guy, but no one loves bacon more than I do. The bacon and I have a long-term relationship,” says Costlin with a laugh.

When he heard of Recipe to Riches coming to Halifax to film its second season, he was excited to launch his creation to the judges.

Last years $25,000 winners. (Recipe to Riches photo)

“I love getting appetizers at restaurants, but I find you see so much of the same thing. My appetizer is not for the faint of heart; it’s a more succulent guilty pleasure than John Grass’ appy last season,” says Costlin, laughing.

John Grass’ self-proclaimed “Grenade” was the winner of the Hors D’Oeuvres category last year. This tiny appetizer sets the bar high for Costlin, as it showcased a chunk of chicken smothered in cheese and jalapenos and wrapped with bacon. As a former football player, Grass could easily convince the judges that it was the perfect appetizer for watching the game.

“I call mine the ‘Meat Monsters’,” says Costlin. “It’s gravy soaked pork loin, wrapped in bacon, coated with cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and sprinkled with spicy Cajun.”

Harley says the competition has been looking great thus far and that Haligonians are exceeding their expectations.

“We did set the bar higher this year since three of the $25,000 winners were from the Maritimes. We expect a lot from this place and it’s been great so far. There’s a lot of great recipes and great characters.”

Even with the high expectations, Costlin is not worried about his chances, but rather, excited with the possibilities.

“I know I’m good with meats and good for a laugh. I really think the judges will love my appetizer.”

The judges will announce their Maritime picks for Recipe to Riches on Sunday, Feb. 12 before flying off to Vancouver. The show is scheduled to air on Food Network Canada in the fall of next year.


Striking transit workers vote for arbitration

Metro Transit buses and ferries may be running as early as Wednesday after the union representing more than 700 striking transit workers voted Tuesday evening in favour of binding arbitration.

It’s now up to Halifax regional council whether to agree to arbitration.

By Kelsey Power

Transit workers stand in solidarity at rally Sunday in Grand Parade Square. (Kelsey Power photo)

Metro Transit buses and ferries may be running as early as Wednesday after the union representing more than 700 striking transit workers voted Tuesday evening in favour of binding arbitration.

It’s now up to Halifax regional council whether to agree to arbitration.

The issue that has been the main stumbling block for the two sides is scheduling.

The HRM has been trying to initiate a system of block picking or rostering as opposed to the current cafeteria-style pick system. The city says that will cut down overtime and operational costs.

Mayor Peter Kelly said Monday morning the current style of choosing shifts is outdated.

“It takes 24 days; that’s why it is expensive, and plus it incurs people to choose to maximize their overtime. The people that are on this pick board, the top 70 make $26,000 dollars a year in overtime. So, we’re trying to again restructure it so that the long-time personnel can still pick their shifts, but it will help us reduce the overtime costs substantially.”

Shane O’Leary, the vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union for the past three years, as well as a bus driver for the past 13, says overtime is unavoidable.

“There’s overtime always for the unexpected in the transit industry. You have to have somebody behind the wheel at all times.”

The current system allows the most senior of the 750 transit employees to choose their work schedules first.

O’Leary would like to see the current system stay in place.

“This is a union that’s been around for 103 years, and as far back as anybody can remember this system has been in place. This is the way we pick our work and the city is trying to shut it down, and they’re misleading the public on why.”

MONO-022editedShane O’Leary discusses the main issues for a transit worker. MONO-023editedMayor Peter Kelly gives the HRM’s point of view.

The HRM has told the public that the union’s proposition of keeping their current scheduling system as well as asking for wage increases of 8.25 per cent over three years would cost $8.8 million. The city says its plan to settle the strike would cost $2.1 million.

The ATU posted its own calculations, finding the difference between the two offers would be $2.2 million.

Although as the strikers, and O’Leary see it, it’s not about the money but quality of life. “The wages were a small part of it, but we’re always flexible on wages. The employer wanted to cut back on everything; they’re trying to solve their deficit with our contract. That’s why we’re on strike. They’ve pushed us out of the workplace.”

Yet, according to Kelly there is no deficit. In fact he said, “there is a surplus this year, of probably $3.5 million dollars.”

O’Leary remains sceptical, saying, “every two weeks they save about $2 million dollars in pay by keeping us off of the road.”

John Margetts was with the ATU for 28 years and retired less than two weeks ago. He said, “I feel sorry for everyone; seniors who can’t get to their appointments, students pulling out their tuition cause they can’t get to class. It’s a shame, but the city has total control.”

In his office at City Hall, Kelly said, “Nobody wanted a strike, nobody wants a strike and we want them back as soon as possible. We’ll try to reach out and hopefully they’ll be prepared to reach out as well.”

Dalhousie swim team wins AUS championship

By Allie Sweeting

Dalhousie swim team member Colin Flysak at the AUS swim meet on Sunday.

The Dalhousie Tigers swim team added two more championships to their impressive record Sunday night at the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) swim meet. The news did not come as a surprise to many.

“It looks like we’re gonna win the AUS title this year again,” says Colin Flysak, a member of Dalhousie’s swim team, before the finals on Sunday.

This is the men’s 14th consecutive win, and the women’s 11th. Combined, the Tigers have a total of 47 titles since 1980.

Dalhousie’s swim team is known for its superiority over all other Atlantic teams. The team scored over three times higher than the University of New Brunswick, who was the first runner up.

“Dal is just such a dominant team in Atlantic Canada,” says Harry Critchley, another member of the Dalhousie team. “Last year they scored more points at this meet than every other team combined.”

He suspected that even if they didn’t score a single point on Sunday, their Friday and Saturday scores would still carry them to victory.

Related audio: 


Colin Flysak discussing the Tiger’s swim team success and his own.

“They’ve probably already won,” says Critchley after the first two days of competition.

The women’s 200 metre breast stroke is just one example of Dalhousie’s excellence this year.

“That was a really good race,” says Critchley, “because four girls, all from Dal … came first, second, third and fourth. Keishia (Mills) broke the record too.”

Both Flysak and Critchley credit the team’s success to Dalhousie’s sense of community.

“Even though swimming is sort of an individual sport, it’s very much like a team atmosphere,” says Critchley.“I love the coaches too. It’s a good program.”

“I swam all (personal) best times so far,” says Flysak. “A lot of good preparation and training set me up for it.”

After this meet, a couple more team members will qualify for the upcoming Canada Interuniversity Sport (CIS) meet. This year Dal set a record with the 34 qualifiers they are sending to CIS.

Aboriginal children’s art exhibit opens at AGNS

Dale Sheppard and Gordon Pictou explain why they like one of their favourite works from the exhibit. (Rachel Bloom photography)

By Rachel Bloom

An art exhibit featuring the work of children from aboriginal reserves around the province opened at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Feb. 9.

The exhibit, entitled Kekina’masuti Nemitekemk Nktuey Mijua’jijk: Through Children’s Eyes, was the collaborative work of Dale Sheppard, curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and Gordon Pictou, program coordinator at the Glooscap Heritage Centre.

External links
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Glooscap Heritage Centre

The project offered workshops to children from the Aboriginal Head Start On Reserve (AHSOR) program in Nova Scotia, in which teachers encouraged expression through art. These workshops were hosted by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

The Art Gallery allowed the children to borrow any required art supplies.

“This day is about celebrating their work,” says Sheppard. The goal of the project was to inspire children to be more creative and use art as a vehicle for understanding their place in the community.

Throughout the project, Sheppard made sure to emphasize there is no correct way of making art.

The exhibit runs until the end of April. It includes paintings, drawings, and experimental works using watercolours and Sharpie markers.

“We had to interpret what we thought some of the art was about,” says Pictou, referencing the descriptions of the artwork posted throughout the exhibit. Nature is a prevalent theme in the featured artwork.

The art exhibit also features the work of First Nations artists, such as Dozay Christmas and Alan Syliboy. Additionally, the exhibit’s walls show quotes from artists Dozay Christmas and Charles Doucette.

On March 16, from 1:30-2:30 p.m., Pictou will be coordinating a family-oriented storytelling of Glooscap tales.

Related audio
Brief Excerpt from an interview with Dale Sheppard

Dale Sheppard talks about the opening of the exhibit and the importance of creativity for children.

Libyan students thank Canadian military for their sacrifice

By Nicole Halloran

Abdalslam Darafon thanks Commander Craig Skjerpen for helping to protect Libyan civilians during last year's conflict (Nicole Halloran photo)

Two Libyan students at Dalhousie got an opportunity to thank the Canadian military for protecting their families.

Mokhtar Mohamed and Abdalslam Darafon attended Commander Craig Skjerpen’s lecture at Dalhousie Friday about the role of the Canadian navy in the conflict last year in Libya.

At the end of Skjerpen’s lecture, Mohamed said, “You’ve done a great job, we really appreciate your work.”

Mohamed and Darafon are especially thankful for the Canadian military’s timeliness. Knowing that help was on its way as soon as it was needed was somewhat reassuring for the two men who still have family living in Libya.

“The Navy has a task group of ships at high readiness, ready to sail at 10 days notice – ready to sail anywhere in the world to look after Canada’s values and interests,” said Commander Skjerpen.

Related Audio
Mokhtar Mohamed, the first speaker, and Abdalslam Darafon discuss their experiences during the conflict in Libya last year

The two men, who remained in Canada during the conflict, felt an obligation to return to Libya to help fight against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces but decided to remain in Canada to keep up with their studies.

“I know a lot of Libyan students all over the world. They left their studies, their works, and they went back to Libya to fight against Gadhafi-the thing that I couldn’t (have) done just because of my family. I couldn’t leave them,” said Darafon.

Darafon and Mohamed, among several other Libyan Dalhousie students, lost sleep every night because they were so worried about their families in Libya.

“We were suffering for a long, long time from Gadhafi’s regime and we thought it’s time for him to go. But he didn’t accept our voice and instead of talk to us back he used his guns, his heavy duty guns to kill Libyans,” said Darafon. “Since we don’t have the same force and power to fight him, we get help from the nation and from Canadian military as well. And it means to me a lot.”

Mohamed said that he trusted the Canadian military to properly protect and evacuate civilians and he appreciates the sacrifices they have made to protect his family.

“Thank God, finally, we got our freedom. We are free”

Filmmakers bring Arctic climate change to Dal

By Olivia Rempel

"An Inuit camp as seen in the film, Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change"
An Inuit camp as seen in the film, Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change

Filmmakers Zacharias Kanuk and Ian Mauro brought their film Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change this past Thursday to an audience of sustainability students and members of the public.

The film consists of a series of interviews led by Kanuk and Mauro with elders of Inuit communities across the Canadian Arctic.

Inuktitut is the only language spoken in the film. This, however, is one of the film’s selling points.

“The scientists were coming up to the Arctic and studying climate change, and they were never asking the people,” says Kanuk.It is this film that allows their voices to be heard.”

Mauro lived in the Arctic for ten years as a teacher and witnessed the climate change taking place there. His friends and ‘family’ in the Arctic recruited him to climate change activism.

“You keep coming up here, and you need to do something about it,” Mauro remembers an Inuit teacher telling him.

“The implication was you can’t just be a climate change tourist, you can’t just come here and watch it melt,” says Mauro, who is now an environmental scientist.

Ian Mauro speaks at Dalhousie (Olivia Rempel photo)

Kanuk, a native of Igloolik, Nunavut, started out as a wood carver and used the money he saved selling his carvings to buy his first camera. His filmmaking career began to hit the radar with Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, his most highly acclaimed film that won multiple Genie Awards and was Canada’s top grossing film released in 2002.

Kanuk and Mauro were invited to speak at Dalhousie by the College of Sustainability and the School for Resource and Environmental Studies (SRES).

“I think universities in general tend to exclude indigenous knowledge holders and, to me, it’s fundamentally important to have scholars from the university and scholars from the community come together and share their knowledge, because we’re all in this together” says Heather Castleden, the SRES faculty manager.

External links
The filmmakers have offered their documentary on their website, free for anyone to view.

The students in the audience were surprised at how severely the effects of climate change are felt in the Arctic. Many felt that more people in the south should be more aware of what is happening in the north.

“It’s the most obvious example of climate change and it’s the most dramatic example,” says sustainability student Shauna Doll, “I think it’s the one thing that will make people shut up and listen and maybe try to change something.”

A big problem is the melting of sea ice, which has forced polar bears off the floes and onto the land. This is quickly becoming a safety issue for many villages.

Related audio

Ian Mauro on Inuit adaptation

The Inuit elders in the film talk about how climate change has affected the landscape and has made life up north even more challenging. One of the most tragic lines in the film, said by a shaking Inuit woman, translates into, “those beautiful glaciers. It seemed they would never melt… All the glaciers by the shore are gone now.”

The film illustrates how climate change is affecting the Arctic, but during the question and answer session, Kanuk and Mauro explain that this is a worldwide problem.

“We need to choose whether we’re going to be part of the problem or part of the solution,” says Mauro.