By Rawb Leon-Carlyle
The Halifax North Memorial Public Library was abuzz with activity Thursday night for Can We Talk?, an event where local leaders and community members meet to discuss possible futures for Halifax’s North End.
The discussions centered on the results of Dr. Ingrid Waldron’s research and consultations with African and Aboriginal Nova Scotians from the neighbourhood.
“My report and my research is a stepping stone. What I want is for the community to take ownership of it,” announced Dr. Waldron, speaking to just fewer than 100 people gathered in the library auditorium.
“The dialogue that’s initiated today, I want to sustain it through social media and traditional media.”
“I’m using partnerships online and getting people talking online and discussing the issues online in order to … mobilize around some of the issues,” Dr. Waldron said in an interview following the event.
A document comprising both her research and ideas from Can We Talk? will be made available to the public via the group’s Facebook page.
|Can We Talk? Facebook Page
North Memorial Public Library Webpage
The event, hosted by the North End library as part of African Heritage Month, consisted of six simultaneous roundtable discussions between members of the Halifax community. Those present dealt with concerns such as discrimination, a lack of accessible childcare, and suggested possible solutions. Recommendations from the presented research study were also reviewed.
“Let’s face it, if things are happening in this community, they’re happening in other communities as well,” said Charla Wilson, one of the event’s organizers.
Dr. Waldron presented her findings using both a slideshow and a video, called ‘The North End: In Search of a New Beginning’ and produced by Pink Dog Productions. The video presented a brief sample of some of Dr. Waldron’s interviews with the community.
Dr. Waldron’s research focuses on what North End Aboriginal and African Nova Scotians consider “meaningful occupations.” The study, entitled “Challenges & Opportunities: Identifying Meaningful Occupations in Low-Income, Racialized Communities in North End, Halifax,” identifies numerous key recommendations such as offering more employment workshops to assist individuals seeking jobs, developing seniors programs and clubs both inside and outside their homes and offering free mental health support groups.
Dr. Waldron is an assistant professor in Dalhousie University’s School of Occupational Therapy.