Senior Internet user urges others to stay safe online

Jerry MacInnis, 75, talks about his Internet experiences.

Jerry MacInnis is 75 years old and online. He uses the Internet mainly for emailing, checking his Facebook and playing games. He’s part of the fastest growing group of Internet users — seniors.

MacInnis uses his Facebook to contact friends on holiday and emails his brother who lives on the other side of Canada, but he still prefers the telephone more than writing to each other online.

“I’m a face-to-face type person,” he said.

Though MacInnis enjoys using his computer to play games, unlike many users, he avoids interacting with strangers.

Numbers from Statistics Canada show that approximately 70 per cent of seniors online are accessing the Internet every day. A 2007 study says although seniors are the fastest growing group of users, younger users make up the majority of people active on the Internet.  

While there are want ads popping up on Kijiji from seniors who are seeking Scrabble partners, companions and help with day-to-day activities, MacInnis isn’t looking for friends online. He urges seniors to be careful and wary of what they do with their time on the Internet. 

“You never know what you’re getting yourself into. That’s my biggest fear. [They] try to be friends with you and take you for everything that you’ve got,” MacInnis said.

Junk mail, scams and spyware come in many forms, and for those not familiar with the Internet some of these hazards can be hard to recognize.

In the hopes of avoiding potential risks and online challenges there are resources available that provide advice for senior Internet users.

The government of Canada’s Get Cyber Safe website offers advice to seniors for online safety, explaining security software and the potential for scams in seemingly private emails.

The RCMP also has guides for users about online activity, safely shopping online and avoiding possible phishing scams — scams where criminals or bots try to collect personal and confidential information.

Although users like MacInnis choose to protect themselves by staying away from strangers online, there are precautions and education available to allow senior users to safely enjoy the Internet.

 

 

 

 

BlackOUT 2.0 sheds light on challenges facing LGBTQ African-Nova Scotians

Members of the community discuss what it means to be black and LGBTQ in the province.

Young LGBTQ African-Nova Scotians should accept themselves and seek out others who support them, a panel called BlackOUT 2.0 said on Wednesday.

“We need to accept ourselves, more than anything,” said Chris Cochrane, a transgender African-Nova Scotian woman. “We have to make sure we are living and accepting our lives to the fullest so we can help other people.”

Cochrane was one of four panellists who spoke at the Halifax Central Library from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event was advertised as “an open discussion of what it means to be African-Nova Scotian and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) in 2015.”

Robert Wright, Evelyn White, and Axel Obame joined Cochrane on stage. Rev. Elaine Walcott acted as a moderator. They all spoke about how difficult it is to accept yourself when you can’t find others who are accepting of you.

“It is a dialogue that allows for more people to participate in the conversation. Four chairs, one for each panellist, plus two extra chairs. Any LGBTQ African-Nova Scotian who is a black person can sit in one of the extra chairs at any time and join in the discussion,” said Walcott.

The panel talked about the challenges that young LGBTQ African-Nova Scotians currently face.

“Speaking for the younger generation, one of the challenges is being yourself. Because if your environment is unsure of you, you are going to doubt yourself so much more, and it doesn’t help you in the least,” said Obame.

He said that there is some acceptance in the province, “but on a scale of one to 10, it’s like a 3.5, not like an eight.”

He also spoke about how important it is that young African-Nova Scotian LGBTQ people find an outside source that is accepting of them. “When you find that outside voice, it helps you validate everything you’ve been keeping hidden inside,” said Obame.

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The panel stressed the need for improved and more accessible resources for African-Nova Scotian LGBTQ youth.

Walcott said she is open and available to help anyone in the community who is in need. White also promised her support to younger struggling LGBTQ African-Nova Scotians. “As an elder in this community, I have your back,” said White, “and the only thing you are required to be is yourself.”

The panel was split into two parts. The panellists discussed three questions and a short question and answer period followed.

The three main questions were:

  • What does it mean to you for you to be African-Nova Scotian and LGBTQ?
  • What are the challenges of being African-Nova Scotian and LGBTQ in 2015?
  • What are the opportunities for moving forward regarding being African-Nova Scotian and LGBTQ?

Each panellist also made a point of mentioning how rarely events like BlackOUT occur.

“We need more opportunities to share this conversation,” said Wright.

The event was presented by NSRAP (Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project) LGTBQ Youth and Elders Project in partnership with the Halifax Central Library as part of African Heritage Month. The Facebook event page said “all LGBTQ community members, friends, and allies are welcome.”

“This is an event of empowerment and validation. It is certainly a rare and treasured opportunity,” said Walcott. “It’s so powerful to have this opportunity so that others will have a sense that they are not alone.”

Halifax prepares for the snow to melt

The Halifax Regional Municipality continues to clean up the piles of snow that surround the streets and are now preparing for a risk of excess water once temperatures start to rise.

Halifax has been hit with 111.3cm of snow and 121.7cm of precipitation in the month of March alone, according to Environment Canada. The question now is what will happen when all that snow melts.

“We’ve been working really hard over the last week especially to open up catch basins, those are the drains, in the areas that we know always have [flooding] problems,” Jennifer Stairs, a spokeswoman for HRM, said Wednesday.

catch basin
Cleared catch basin on the corner of Walnut street and Shirley street. (Photo by: Erin McIntosh)

Although the amount of snow is not a record breaking amount, the impact has been overwhelming and a lot of people have been comparing it to White Juan that happened February 2004.

Snow lines the streets in heaps reaching heights of two metres or higher and once temperatures start to rise, and rain begins to fall, all that snow will turn to water, possibly swamping our streets.

“We have essentially a list of about 200 hot spots around the city where, particularly last month, we saw issues, so we wanted to make sure that those were opened up before we got any rain,” Stairs said.

According to Environment Canada, Halifax Metro and Halifax County West is expecting another 20-40 millimetres of rain over the next two days, and rising temperatures throughout the rest of the week.

Homeowner Gail tries to shovel snow onto the road before the rain hits. (Photo by: Erin McIntosh)
Gail, a homeowner tries to shovel snow onto the road before heavy rain hits. (Photo by: Erin McIntosh)

“Knock on wood I haven’t [experienced flooding] this winter, however I expect a big rain tonight so I’m trying to get the snow on the roads so it’ll go that way down to the drain,” said Gail, a homeowner on Walnut Street in the south-end, Halifax, who didn’t want her last name published.

“We often see water on the roads at Bedford Highway. Waverley Road has some problems spots, but I mean every community has its known area,” Stairs said.

“I hesitate to use the word flooding because we’ve had issues where we’ve had deep water on some of the roads. We saw that on several occasions last month in particular and it’s happened every year. It’s not something uncommon or unusual.”

The city has been enforcing overnight parking bans on declared snow and ice days, that started Dec. 15 and will run until March 31. During the day time, police are closing off sections of roads for snow removal. Residents are being asked to help out the city with shoveling and clearing drains when possible.

The HRM has also been asking residents who know where their catch basins are located in their neighbourhood to help clear them out. It will help residents and surrounding neighbours both with the melting snow and with any rain Halifax is expecting in the next couple of days, but it’s not a task some residents are prepared to take on.

“I’m barely keeping up now with the shovelling. I would be willing to [clear catch basins] if I could get ahold of my own shovelling first,” said Gail.

In the meantime, the city continues to clear snow from the roads and sidewalks. Stairs said the city is dumping truckloads of snow in big open fields, but wouldn’t say where. Contrary to rumours, snow is not being dumped in the harbour.

 

Winter-weary Haligonians spring for getaways

Following two late winter storms, travel agencies in Halifax say they’re seeing a huge increase in inquiries.

By the time Haligonians rang in the new year at the end of December, Nova Scotia had seen grand total of only three centimetres of snow, according to Environment Canada. This was perhaps seen as a good omen; a suggestion that it would be a mild winter overall. But in the months that followed, winter returned with a vengeance.

As March comes to an end, some travel agents say business is better than ever as more and more Haligonians are looking to get away.

“I have been completely swamped this year and there is definitely an increase in people enquiring about packages,” Joanne Roberts, an associate at Flight Centre, writes in an email. She says that despite prices for package vacations being higher this year, many packages are still being booked. 

The numbers

#SnovaScotia is real. The Coast said it best:

The “mess” refers to the massive snowstorm that walloped the Maritimes on March 18, only three days after a previous storm.

By comparison, the severity of Nova Scotia’s winter in the first few months of 2015 has been worse than any in recent years. For example, March 2014 saw 36.8 centimetres of snowfall on the province. This year on March 18 alone, Halifax saw a snowfall amount of 48 centimetres. Nova Scotia received 111.3 centimetres this March — three times the amount of last March.

Environment Canada reports that over the first three months of 2015, Nova Scotia saw 301.3 centimetres of snow, or just under 10 feet.

Halifax’s brutal winter has been a hot topic for online communities. CBC’s 22 Minutes even poked fun at the recent storms.

Haligonians searching for the sun

Blair Jerrett, senior director at Maritime Travel, says that they are still in the midst of a busy booking season. He also says that many of their agencies report an increase in inquires about travel packages in the days after storms.

“Without a doubt, we find that weather does have an effect on how busy our offices get in the winter,” Jerrett writes in an email. “Back-to-back snowstorms like the ones we’ve been having the past two months have caused many people —who previously may not have been planning to head south— to consider a last-minute getaway.”

Jerrett says the most popular destinations are the direct, all-inclusive packages in places like Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Mexico.

Roberts says that cottage rentals in the Maritimes are also booking up faster than usual. She urges people to plan their ‘getaways’ now.

The rest of us will remain in Halifax, trying to remember what grass looks like.

What you need to know about the Halifax parking ban

Waiting to park on the street again? Snow clearing crews have hauled away enough snow to fill the Scotiabank Centre 1.5 times (that’s 24,000 truckloads).

According to the Halifax Regional Municipality, the municipality’s snow clearing crews have hauled away enough snow to fill the Scotiabank Centre 1.5 times (that’s 24,000 truckloads of snow).

The ban is enforced to allow snow removal crews the space they need to clear snow from roadways without being blocked or hindered by other vehicles.

In place since Dec. 15, the overnight parking ban is only enforced during and after ice or snowstorms. Vehicles are not supposed to be parked on the street between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Although the last big storm to hit the region was almost a week and a half ago, the parking ban has remained enforced. This can continue up to March 31.

Find out here where the ban is enforced.

Where can you park?

Thanks to recent snow removal efforts, drivers can now park on wider streets: they must simply be able to leave at least three metres of passable road.

If you aren’t sure how wide that is, consider the width of a parallel parking space. A parallel parking space is 2.76 metres wide, so there must at least be enough room for someone to park comfortably next to your car.


The HRM has also been enforcing an all-day parking ban in recent weeks, but this ban was changed to a “limited” parking ban on Wednesday. Drivers may now also park on roads that have been substantially widened during the day.

When parking in the city, there are a few things to consider:

  • Is your car blocking traffic?
  • Could an emergency vehicle get around your car with ease?
  • Are you blocking any snow crews in the area?

According to Global News, businesses and schools that have opened up their parking to the public during the overnight parking ban include Dalhousie (the Dalplex and Hancock parking lots), the Halifax Shopping Centre, the Dartmouth Sportsplex and a number of lots along the Halifax waterfront. 

What can you expect?

Anyone who defies the parking ban can expect to be towed and/or ticketed. Tickets carry a fine of $50, while towing can cost much more. According to the Chronicle Herald, as of mid-March, before the last two winter storms that buried the province under several feet of snow, there were 9,308 tickets issued and 58 cars towed.

Section 202 of the Motor Vehicle Act states that vehicles can be ticketed or towed if they interfere with the work of the snow removal crews.

Snow removal crews in the HRM are responsible for clearing 3,800 km of road, close to 1,000 km of sidewalk, and 3,600 bus stops. The snow removal process is decided on a priority basis, starting with the busiest roads.

Still waiting to have your area cleared? Check the priority of your road here.

 

 

Vaccination experts discuss ethics of mandatory immunization

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs hosts a panel discussion on ethical implications of mandatory vaccination.

The recent measles outbreaks in North America have sparked the demand for an educated debate on vaccination ethics – and four experts on the issue of vaccines sat down on Monday to facilitate just that.

On March 23 an audience gathered in the Paul O’Regan Hall at the Halifax Central Library to attend VacciNATION?, a panel discussion hosted by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs (CCEPA) in collaboration with the Dalhousie Health Law Institute.

The panel consisted of Elaine Gibson, associate professor of law at the Schulich School of Law, Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, and Dr. Robert Strang, chief public health officer at the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.

CCEPA-1623
The four panelists at VacciNATION. Photo: Patrick Fulgencio

“It’s not a science debate about vaccinations,” said Kevin Kindred, moderator of the discussion. “The debate is really on the civil liberties and practice implications of mandatory vaccinations.”

The discussion was split into two themes, one theme dealing with mandatory vaccination for children and the general population, and the other theme dealing with mandatory vaccination in the healthcare sector for healthcare workers.

Over the course of the discussion, the ability to make informed decisions kept arising as a concern among the panelists.

“I think in general we need more public discussion around vaccination because there’s so much misinformation and myths out there,” said Strang. “I think we need to broaden the conversation and that’s what tonight was really about, bringing more of that collective societal good and so we need a more collective perspective and a collective conversation about the importance of vaccination.”

Elaine Gibson weighing in on the discussion. Photo: Patrick Fulgencio
Elaine Gibson weighing in on the discussion. Photo: Patrick Fulgencio

Questions from the audience covered topics like herd immunity, preventative measures, research efficacy, and risks versus benefits of vaccination.

Elaine Gibson said that herd immunity was of fundamental importance. She said that when each person gets their child vaccinated, they are participating in a collective effort for Canadian society, and that parents who did not were acting in a profoundly selfish manner.

Dr. Halperin stressed the necessity of vaccines, saying that “the only prevention for measles is either not coming in contact with human beings, or vaccine.”

Dr. Scott Halperin partaking answers a question. Photo: Patrick Fulgencio
Dr. Scott Halperin answers a question. Photo: Patrick Fulgencio

At the end of the discussion, Dr. Judith Kazimirski, a CCEPA board member and a medical practitioner for over 40 years, was invited to the podium to offer closing remarks.

“I fundamentally believe that if we deny what science has given us, in terms of how do we protect ourselves against deadly disease, it’s stupidity,” said Kazimirski. “How we live matters. The issues we talked about this evening matter a great deal. And I hope that that discussion will only continue after you get out this evening.”

Players bounce at Bubble Soccer Halifax’s debut

An all-day tournament on Saturday marked the first appearance of bubble soccer in the Maritimes.

Bubble Soccer Halifax made its Maritime debut this weekend in the gym of Armbrae Academy. Fourteen teams suited up for a tournament that went all day Saturday.

The sound of squeaking sneakers and laughter filled the gym, along with the occasional thud of a teammate and their bubble bouncing off the ground.

Groups of 10 signed up for 40 minute games throughout the day. The groups were then split into two teams and each player squeezed into their respective bubble and began a bouncy game of indoor soccer.

Colleen Armstrong gathered a team of friends to play at the inaugural event. By the end of the second half, all players were sweaty and carefree.

“It was so much fun,” said Armstrong. “The best part is the first time you get hit. You just go flying through the air, and then you realize you’re not going to get hurt.”

“Well, not too badly,” added Dana Hodgins another player on Armstrong’s team.

Players ran around the gym bouncing off each other and the walls, stopping every once in a while for fresh air and rest.

Tim Tanner poses beside his bubble at the end of a fun game. (Photo: Caora McKenna).
Tim Tanner poses beside his bubble at the end of a fun game. (Photo: Caora McKenna).

Patrick Toupin — the man behind the bubbles — had seen videos on the Internet of people playing bubble soccer. Being a soccer player his whole life, he wanted a chance to play.

“It just seemed like a good fit for me,” said Toupin.

When he discovered there was nowhere in the Maritimes to play, he started researching different products. Last month he bought his own fleet of bubbles and started the small business: Bubble Soccer Halifax.

Toupin decided to start the business to compensate for the cost of the bubbles, which are $400 each. “If I can spread the game and maybe make a little on the side that would be great,” he said.

Marianne Parent, Toupin’s girlfriend, was unsure of the idea at first but let him run with it. “We’ll see how it goes,” she said. “So far I’m really impressed.”

Toupin’s background in engineering led him to research and buy the best quality bubbles for his small business. He could tell that the product was new because of the “material science behind it.” He said that “for it to be strong and clear and also not smell makes a big difference.”

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Even though the bubbles were clear plastic, Tim Tanner, another player on Armstrong’s team, still had difficulty seeing. However, he said that reduced visibility added to the fun.

“You’re kind of like a deer in headlights, but then you just get hit and bounce back,” said Tanner.

Toupin hopes to start up a summer league and rent out the bubbles for birthday parties and events.

As word of this new sport spreads, Bubble Soccer Halifax’s website and Facebook page remain the place to stay up to date on upcoming events.

Johnnyland debuts all-ages event in Halifax

Organizers of music and art event looking at expansion after successful first show.

The first Johnnyland Halifax event was held on Thursday at the Bus Stop Theatre in the city’s north end. Johnnyland events showcase youth artists and musicians for people of all ages.

Organizer Joe Dent said Johnnyland was started several years ago in Toronto by Dan Drory-Lehrer, who realized how hard it was for underage music fans in the city to attend events.

“In Toronto, all the bands play ‘19 plus’ shows,” said Dent. “There’s so few venues that have all-ages shows.”

Dent’s co-organizer, Camila Salcedo, came up with the idea to bring Johnnyland out east after she discovered that Halifax also lacked all-ages shows.

Johnnyland Halifax's first event was held at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street. (Photo: John Sandham)
Johnnyland Halifax’s first event was held at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street. (Photo: John Sandham)

Although the Halifax Pavilion regularly holds all-ages shows, most venues around the city do not. Halifax Pop Explosion, arguably the city’s biggest annual music festival, hosts the majority of its events at 19 plus venues.

“When I came here, I was kind of feeling that there weren’t enough all-ages shows and that I was missing that from the Halifax experience,” Salcedo said.

Dent felt the same way, joining the organizing team after a chance encounter with people from Johnnyland Toronto last summer.

As Dent recalls, the Johnnyland Toronto organizers asked him and his band to play some of their winter shows. When he told them he’d be in Halifax until the summer, they told him about Salcedo and her interest in starting Johnnyland Halifax.

Dent and Salcedo met weekly to plan the event. Their first show featured seven local bands and artwork from seven students studying at NSCAD University.

Art by NSCAD students displayed in the lobby of the theatre. (Photo: John Sandham)
Art by NSCAD University students displayed in the lobby of the theatre. (Photo: John Sandham)

Despite the snowstorm last Wednesday that dropped an estimated 50 centimetres of snow on the city, the turnout for the show was exactly what Dent and Salcedo expected.

“Even with the snow, people seem to be really excited,” Salcedo said.

Stepheny Hunter, who works at the Bus Stop, said the theatre was almost filled to its 170-person limit.

“They for sure had over 100 people if not more,” Hunter said. “Most people were dancing and having a good time.”

Dent was optimistic when asked about the future, saying “there’s definitely long-term plans for Johnnyland Halifax.”

“[We’re] just trying to bring the all-ages scene out here so everyone can sing, dance, and have some fun,” Dent said.

Journalist talks about reporting in Israel

Yonah Bob describes his experiences in a region where there is no shortage of stories.

While many Halifax residents stayed inside to avoid messy streets and snow clogged sidewalks on Thursday, about 20 people made their way to the Lord Nelson Hotel to hear what journalist Yonah Bob had to say about Israel.

Originally from Baltimore, Bob has worked various jobs. He has worked for the international law division of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs, and for publications like the BBC, Sky News and Russia Today. He currently works as a legal affairs correspondent and an international affairs commentator for the Jerusalem Post.

No shortage of stories

“I never have to worry about finding a story to write about,” said Bob who has posted four stories since he left Halifax Friday morning. Topics include IDF’s treatment of Palestinian miners, the IDF’s effort to avoid civilian casualties and an IDF war probe report.

“There’s something about three major religions having holy sites in one tiny city,” he said. Bob says he is more likely to have trouble deciding which story is the most important to write than finding an important story.

“There are definitely two narratives being told,” he said.

“I live on the Israeli side. I only see the suffering of the Israelis,” he said. “At the same time Palestinians only see Palestinian suffering.”

About 20 people made it out through roughly cleared streets to hear Yonah Bob talk about Israel (Photo: Rachel Collier)
About 20 people listen to Yonah Bob talk about Israel (Photo: Rachel Collier)

Bob said stressful events and memories affect his writing. He has reported on his friends mourning the deaths of their friends, and he has been threatened by rockets fired by the Palestinians.

He told the story of an attack that happened while his wife was in the shower. “Put on a towel! I’ll get the kids!” he shouted to her. They had to rush to a bomb shelter as rockets hit their city.

Bob said he believes that by being aware of his biases he can do a better job at being impartial.

He also said that getting reliable contacts from both sides can be an extremely sensitive task, but it’s also crucial to the quality of a story.

Fear and anxiety

Israel has been through three wars since 2009. Some cities have experienced multiple attacks every day for extended periods of time during the heat of conflicts.

“Rockets have been raining down on Israeli cities,” said Bob. “The amount of fear and anxiety of ‘Jo Shmo Israeli’ is very high.”

He said that the people are terrified of groups such as ISIS, Hamas or Hezbollah.

“There are a lot of Israelis now that feel that every time we withdrawal from land in order to get peace, we get more war and closer on our borders,” said Bob.

“Then there is the fear that you have, you know, a dangerous enemy like ISIS. If we withdraw from another place, maybe we withdraw from the West Bank, and ISIS takes over or Hamas takes over, suddenly the security issues are even more complicated and dangerous. That seems to be the prevailing opinion of your centre Israeli.”

“Central Israelis bounce around,” said Bob about political ideologies and support trends. “Sometimes things stay the same forever in Israel, but sometimes with the snap of a finger they turn around.”

Bob said he believes that fear is one of the main reasons why many typically centrist Israeli voters decided to vote for Benjamin Netanyahu in the recent Israeli election.

Still optimistic

It gives Bob hope to see diplomats who oppose one another on the record, but who can put aside their differences in search of a resolution.

For example, as an intern for the Israeli embassy to the United Nations, Bob said he sat in on meetings where Israeli and Arab diplomats yelled back and forth in heated debate. Afterwards, diplomats from differing parties kidded around about how, if they were in charge, they would fix the conflict together in no time.

Bob also referred to the six Palestinian reporters who reported that rockets were illegally being fired from residential areas after they left the Gaza strip. He said it was a brave act, and noted that “they probably won’t be invited back to the party the next time.”

This is an understatement, considering that the reporters were threatened of being beaten if they reported on the story while still in Gaza.

“I have no idea when, but I’m an optimist, I think that someday there will be peace,” said Bob.

Road Salt: What it might mean for the Public Gardens

Halifax locals may be praying for salt covered streets in hopes of some much needed traction, but could more salt now mean less grass later?

Icy sidewalks have been causing challenges for everyone, as the only pathways to be seen are made of snow and ice, and if you chance a section of concrete, it’s probably covered in salt.

There may be longer term effects Halifax residents will need to take into account. What will all this salt mean for the Halifax Public Gardens?

With the enormous amounts of salt that has been dumped on our roads this year, after it all melts our public green spaces may be looking a little more brown than green this spring.

The Halifax Public Gardens, which is currently closed, is surrounded by a thoroughly salted and treacherous chunk of sidewalk. Although the walkways inside the park are not salted, the wind and melting water will spread the road salt into the enclosed space.

One of the city’s main methods of de-icing is salt-spray, which can travel up to 150 feet from the trucks dispensing it. The spray is a mix of salt and water, which creates a brine that is used instead of direct salt in some cases.

The salt can be damaging to lawns, because it soaks up the water and nutrients the lawn and plants need to survive, resulting in browning and potentially starving the plants.

Although the city has been experimenting with other methods of melting the ice, the salt and brine spray continues to be used in large amounts.

This may also cause browning of the needles on the coniferous trees inside the Victorian garden, as well as the lawn and plants.

The garden’s Victorian style features signature serpentine beds, deciduous and coniferous trees, and annual and perennial flowers. But the park has held more than just plants over the years.

The middle entrance on Spring Garden Road leads to the Horticultural Hall, a building erected in 1847, and in 1859 a rink was installed inside the grounds.

Although the 16 acres of land no longer hosts a rink, the land boasts 122 different species of trees as of 2008, many of which line the periphery of the gardens.

With snowfall warnings still in effect and a cold forecast continuing, it’s possible the late April opening date may be later than usual.

“The staff that will be responsible for removing the snow from the gardens are the same ones currently working on our streets and sidewalks,” said Tiffany Chase of the HRM Public Affairs Office.

Chase says the park “would not be a key priority at this time.”

Perhaps a break from shoveling is in order, and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Marjorie Willison will be presenting at the Friends of the Public Gardens’ Special General Meeting, highlighting how vegetables are featured in the Gardens.

King’s Cup raises questions about gender inequality

Out of 29 players at this year’s University of King’s College’s intramural hockey game, only six of them were women.

The 4th annual King’s Cup hockey game took place on Saturday, in a flurry of beer guzzling and joking rivalry, with the Bays defeating Alex Hall 4-1.

The King’s Cup is played by intramural sports teams, organized by residence building. Competitors play for the residence they lived in during their first year at the University of King’s College. The residences consist of Alexandra Hall, Radical Bay, Middle Bay, North Pole Bay, Chapel Bay and Cochran Bay.

Teams were evenly matched skill-wise, but there was a large gender gap on the ice. Out of 29 total players on the roster, only six women played in the game.

Gender inequality didn’t seem to be an issue at the King’s Cup, but it raised questions regarding gender inequality in sport.

Emily Gautreau, a fourth-year player and ringette coach with the Halifax Chebucto Ringette Association, played for Alex Hall this year and said her experience has been positive so far.

“There have always been a core group of us who’ve stuck together from the beginning, and these dudes are the greatest,” she said. “They respect me and the other ladies, and make sure the other guys do the same.”

The Bays pose for a photo after winning the King’s Cup. (Photo: Bronwen McKie)

Silas Brown, a fourth-year player and co-captain of the Bays team, said this year’s King’s Cup had the most female players since it started four years ago.

“We try and see every year, for King’s Cup, how many girls we can get to come play,” said Brown. He added he doesn’t know why more women aren’t playing in the King’s Cup.

“Obviously, not as many girls play hockey as boys do,” he said. “We do go to a liberal arts university. There’s probably not that many people who are athletically oriented.”

While the King’s intramural team is welcoming, Gautreau said overall respect for women in sports is a prevalent problem. Women should have equal access to resources in sports associations, such as ice time, she said.

“This is particularly noticeable when leagues don’t support teams at the rec levels as much as they do at the competitive [level],” she said.

“I think it’s still an issue that a lot of sports are still kind of considered men’s sports,” said Brown. “I don’t know if women’s leagues are helping to change or enforce that stigma.”

A 2010 report states gender inequality in sport is still widespread, especially within the coaching sphere. Gautreau said this is something she has experienced herself.

Gautreau said two experienced male coaches mentored her this ringette season, boosting her credibility and also parents’ respect for her.

“I got so lucky this season and my head coaches are wonderful, supportive, respectful guys. But, I shouldn’t have to be lucky,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to worry about how I’ll be treated because of my gender.

“I don’t really have a solution, but I do believe that talking about it is the only way to deal with it,” she added.

In the meantime, Gautreau will continue to play with the King’s intramural team.

“I haven’t stopped yet and will only stop when I graduate.”

Dodge, duck and donate for humanities

University students compete in first annual dodgeball tournament to raise money for Halifax Humanities.

University students from across the city competed in the first annual Dodgeball Tournament for Halifax Humanities at the University of King’s College gym on Saturday.

Eight teams signed up for the fun event. Players wore costumes and there were prizes for the first place and best-dressed teams.  The admission fee was $10 admission per person.

Organizers said all of the money was going to the Halifax Humanities Society, a local group that provides free humanities courses to low-income adults.

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Program director Mary Lu Roffey-Redden said Halifax Humanities began 10 years ago. It was created by a small group of King’s professors and several others, and now includes approximately 60 professors from eight universities throughout Nova Scotia. Every year it graduates between 14 to 25 people.

Roffey-Redden said all books and reading materials are supplied free of charge, along with free bus transportation, refreshments and child care. The professors donate their time and teach three or four classes each during the eight-month program.

Participants must be 17 or older. They must be able to read at a high school level and have a low income.

“Every year we have a very diverse group of people join us, eager and ready to learn,” said Roffey-Redden.

The society just introduced another class called Halifax Humanities Seminar for students who have graduated Halifax Humanities 101 and want to continue learning.

‘A lot of fun’

The charity tournament held at King’s was open to people of all ages and skill levels, but the majority of participants included students from Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University and King’s.

Joseph Fish and Alex Rose, two tournament organizers, said about 50 people came out to support the cause. Rose said he believes the tournament raised more than $500, though the final numbers are not in.

Team Shaqtin' A Fool bring home first place. (Photo: Maddie Johnson)
Team Shaqtin’ A Fool bring home first place. (Photo: Maddie Johnson)

“It was a lot of fun and went as well as I could have hoped,” said Rose. “The atmosphere was amazing and I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

The final showdown occurred at 4:00 p.m. between teams Shaqtin’ A Fool and the Varsity Badminton Team. Both teams were evenly matched and after a long, back-and-forth game Kevin Cox sniped a perfect shot, taking out the final player on the Varsity Badminton Team and bringing Shaqtin’ A Fool to victory.

Rose and Fish are interested in holding another tournament next year so it becomes an annual event.