Halifax African students celebrate culture

Local African students danced and played music on Saturday night at the 25th annual Africa Night. They celebrated Africa’s different cultures at the Cunard Centre on the Halifax waterfront.

By Somed Shahadu

Local African students danced and played music on Saturday night at the 25th annual Africa Night. They celebrated Africa’s different cultures at the Cunard Centre on the Halifax waterfront.

The theme of the evening was “A New Face of Africa.”

Students from all over Africa walked the runway in traditional and contemporary African clothing, and performed the traditional dances of their various ethnic groups.

The African students’ societies at Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s universities led the city’s African students in the organization of the event, which was sponsored by the African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes.

Africa Night showcased African culture through dance, music, fashion and art. It also recognized the recent strides the continent has made towards good governance and democracy.

“Right now, I feel like I’m back in Africa,” says Luc Nshuti, a Dalhousie student from Congo. He hasn’t visited his home country in almost five years. “It is amazing to be here and seeing all these performances again.”

“This is special,” he says. “The main thing is that it has brought people together not only from Africa but people from here in Canada and other places.”

McFarlane Njor, one of the students who organized the event, was particularly impressed with the significance of the theme chosen for Africa Night.

“We want to express what we feel is the true Africa,” he says. “There are still lingering stereotypes and negative perceptions about Africa that we are not comfortable with. This gives us the right platform to showcase our rich culture and to show to the world that we all have the same hunger and desire.”

Like many other participants, Njor said Africa Night is rewarding.

“It gives us home, it gives us a family,” he says. “We are away from our families and away from the culture in which we were born and raised.”

“It’s a good feeling to have all these people around. It brings back those ties you miss.”

HRM buys 22 new buses

The Halifax Regional Council has approved funding to purchase 22 new transit buses for the city. Four of them will serve the Woodside Ferry.

By Somed Shahadu

HRM is buying 22 new transit buses. They’ll be on the road by the end of the year and will cost $9.3 million.

HRM says in a council report it has enough money to buy up to 80 new buses in the next three years.

The new buses will allow the city to retire some of the older buses in their fleet. Four of the buses will be used to open up new feeder services for the expanded Woodside Ferry.

HRM spokeswoman Tiffany Chase says this will help improve bus service in the city.

“New buses are significant improvement to the passenger experience,” she says. “Older buses sometimes experience maintenance issues and that means we sometimes have to drop trips or trips are delayed.”

Chase says councillors are keen to reduce carbon emissions in the city and the new buses will do just that.

“It’s environmentally efficient to have new buses due to new diesel engine technology and fuel economy as well,” she says.

“Some of them are 25 years old and close to the end of their life span.” Chase says the older the buses are, the more greenhouse emissions they produce.

Bill Thompson, a worker at a retail shop in Woodside, is excited over the possibility of riding the bus to work.

“I’d rather grab the bus and save money,” he says about leaving his car home and riding in the bus to work.

HRM tightens rules on alcohol sponsorship

City councillors have proposed a new regulation to control alcohol sponsorships to try to promote safe drinking.

Councillors want all sponsorship adverts to contain responsible drinking content. (Somed Shahadu photo)

By Somed Shahadu

City councillors have proposed a new regulation to control alcohol sponsorships to promote safe drinking. The new regulation, Sponsorship and Naming Rights, will restrict which events can gain alcohol sponsorship, namely sports and parties.

“Alcohol sponsorships must contain a responsible drinking component,” a council report says.

Councillors are currently on break, but are expected to debate the regulation when they resume sessions on March 19.

Coun. Russell Walker proposed the motion. The report says, “HRM staff reviewed the sponsorship policies of the other Canadian municipalities researched, namely Moncton, Kingston, Ottawa, London … as well as considering HRM’s history and practice around accepting sponsorship from alcohol companies.”

The new regulation seeks to promote safe drinking in the city. (Somed Shahadu photo)

But Stuart Reece, sales agent at Sleeman Breweries, believes advertisement and increased sales are not the priority of alcohol sponsors.

“It’s our social responsibility to give back,” he says. “Take for instance the skating oval. It is sponsored by Molson Canadian – they have their flags there … they are not selling any product. For them, it’s just getting out to the community and providing them added funding.”

Reece agrees there should be strict regulation on what kind of events can be sponsored by alcohol companies.

“If there are a lot of children at an event, there should be some thought as to who sponsors that event,” he says.

“I don’t think advertising promotes underage drinking anyway. It is more geared towards older clients.”

He says the motion, if passed, will reduce alcohol advertisement in events, but he maintains it will not affect sales.

“It’s [sponsorship] to help the community,” he says.  “By restricting it, it’s just taking money away and they [event organizers] will have to find resources elsewhere from other investors. I don’t think it really affects our business that much, and city council have to make a choice.”

Related audio

Stuart Reece talks about a proposed new regulation on alcohol sponsorship.

Link Text