Dalhousie graduate helps promote Halifax jobs

Work Local aims to help recent graduates find employment and stay in the province. Yesterday, Work Local started working with the Halifax Partnership.

Finding a good job in your field can be difficult. Finding a good job in your relevant field in Halifax is even more difficult. Work Local is a free website designed to help.

Work Local allows users to submit video interview questions along with their job applications. The business has grown quickly since launching in January and is now working with the Halifax Partnership.

Leslie Gallagher, founder and owner of Work Local, says a site like hers is needed.

“I went to Dalhousie and am from Halifax, so when I graduated a lot of my friends left because they couldn’t find a good job, something meaningful or relevant to their education or what they wanted to do,” she said.

Gallagher, an English and creative writing major, wasn’t impressed with the online hiring procedures she experienced as a student and young professional. She felt that many job search websites focused on specific requirements and didn’t allow users to showcase their strongest qualities.

After conducting extensive research into the hiring procedures of small businesses, Gallagher discovered that many companies were frustrated with the hiring process too.

“If employers were able to see (the candidates) or even bring them in for an interview then they would hold on for dear life, but when they first get the resumé in then they are lost in the stack,” said Gallagher.

When clients submit their resumés, cover letters and required documents to a Work Local job posting, the site prompts them to record a three-minute video in response to specific interview questions provided by the employer.

The video allows employers to see if the person would be a good fit for their workplace.

“Finding somebody that their personality meshes really well with the rest of the team is just as important as hard skills, because they can teach you all of those hard skills. You can’t teach anybody to be a great team player or be really patient, or a leader or a risk-taker. It’s those sorts of things that you can’t get across with a resumé,” said Gallagher.

The list of job postings on Work Local ranges from graphic designers to personal trainers and accounting clerks.

Under the arrangement with the Halifax Partnership, Work Local will promote the Connector Program, a free face-to-face referral process that works with recent graduates and young professionals.

Program manager Denise DeLong said each participant is paired with a “local connector who is a leader in their field,” and the two of them have a 30-minute chat. After the initial meeting, participants are then given three other referrals, who in turn give three more referrals.

“This person would, over a span of a few months, meet 12 or 13 people in their industry. This is a tool for building a professional network, and one in three last year got hired in the process,” said DeLong.

Gallagher is one of these experts, or connectors. She stresses the importance of making connections when it comes to navigating the Halifax job market.

“Get engaged in the community outside of the university,” she said.

“If you know the area you’re interested in working in or learning more about, then find somebody that is somehow involved in that area and ask them to go for coffee. That’s it.”

Mooseheads play 3 home games at packed Forum

The Mooseheads played their three home games of the playoff season at the Halifax Forum because the Scotiabank Centre was being used. Fans said the atmosphere was nostalgic and lively.

The old time hockey feeling returned for some Mooseheads fans last week when the team played its three playoff home games at the Halifax Forum.

The team left its home at the Scotiabank Centre, with an 11,093 seating capacity, so the rink could be used for the 2015 Ford world men’s curling championship. The Mooseheads played at the north-end Forum, with a 5,600 seating capacity, where they won two out of their three games against the Shawinigan Cataractes.

While the team had no control over losing the Scotiabank Centre for the games, a spokesman for the Halifax Mooseheads said they did what they could to make accommodations.

Scott MacIntosh said the players loved the atmosphere of the Forum. “We were hoping to go on that old time hockey feel, and it really worked out well for us.”

Season ticket holders were let into the Forum earlier than general admission ticket holders so they could pick their seats first.

The doors to the Multipurpose Centre, the building attached to the Forum, were opened at 3:30 p.m., before the games started for those who had lined up early. The team offered free coffee and played a video with trivia and important Mooseheads hockey moments.

While some ticket holders didn’t attend because the games were held at the Forum, the stadium was packed all three nights, MacIntosh said.

Team banners were hung across the stadium and the logo was painted on the ice, reminding fans that this was a Mooseheads game.

At the Scotiabank Centre, seating is much more spread out and farther away from the ice than at the Forum. “You’re almost on top of the ice,” MacIntosh said about the Forum.

The size of the rink brought the players and the fans closer together. MacIntosh said the players had a lot of fun being a part of that atmosphere.

Mooseheads fan Lukas Macmillan was at the games with his father. “It was a lot more intimate and felt like a community hockey game rather than a corporate game,” he said.

Tim Feely said he’s been going to the games since the team first started playing 20 years ago. Feely lives in the north end and enjoyed being able to walk to the games last week with his wife.

“It’s old, it’s nostalgic,” he said. “It brings back a lot of the old school hockey stadium feeling. It’s noisy. You hear the puck, you hear the players.”

“It was a lot more personal,” Macmillan said. “It felt more intense. Plus, the crowd was right into it.”

Feely said that while the Scotiabank Centre is the better location, it would be a good idea to get the team out of the big arena and into somewhere smaller like the Forum a couple of times a year to remind fans and players of the old traditions of a hockey game.

“It’s just nice to revitalize the place every once in a while,” Feely said.

This was the third time the Mooseheads played at the Halifax Forum. There are seven games left in the playoffs, with the final game on April 21 in Moncton.

Staying afloat: Former environmental engineer to open the first flotation centre in Halifax

Lindsay MacPhee, former environmental engineer, hopes to share the benefits of meditation through her new flotation centre.

Wires hang and pipes poke out from the unfinished ceiling. Pieces of plaster, insulation, tubes and tools are scattered around the space. Several workers tinker away in separate rooms. The space will soon become a sea of meditation and tranquility with decorations inspired by Wes Anderson. When the job is done, this will be the first flotation centre in Halifax.

An environmental engineer for five years, Lindsay MacPhee, 32, did not plan on opening her own business. However, after an environmental consulting job fell through, MacPhee decided to open her own flotation centre on King Street, in the north end of Halifax.

“It was definitely a blessing. I had known for awhile that it really wasn’t how I saw myself living my life,” says MacPhee. “I wanted to do something very fulfilling.”

What is flotation therapy?

Developed by Dr. John C. Lilly in 1954, flotation therapy is used as a form of sensory deprivation, detoxification and meditation to decrease stress and anxiety. MacPhee says flotation therapy can relieve chronic pain, such as whiplash and muscle recovery, due to the amount of magnesium sulphate in the solution.

“The health benefits are amazing,” says MacPhee.

In a flotation session, a person enters a tank filled with 10 inches of water and 800 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts. Denser than the Dead Sea, those who enter the tank will become buoyant and float. The temperature of the water is approximately 34.2 C, which is warmer than a public swimming pool. The tank is closed during the session to reduce sights, sounds and smells.

“When you get into that meditative state, which floating assists with, some pretty profound changes can happen,” says MacPhee.

From environmental engineer to flotation therapy

MacPhee got into floating in May 2013 in Vancouver, where she was finishing her degree in chemical and environmental engineering. She returned home to Nova Scotia six months later. Over the years, she never lost her interest in floating.

“I’ve been waiting for years for someone in Halifax to do this,” says MacPhee.

“We have such an amazing and creative community who are into meditation and the arts,” she says. “I think this can help and assist with that.”

Through the Self-Employment Benefits program and Employment Insurance, MacPhee was accepted into the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development program, which helps entrepreneurs start their own small business with government funding.

MacPhee says that the main challenge of opening her own business was having confidence and educating others about floating.

“I had lived in a world where I worked a nine-to-five job as an engineer. It was such a major shift to what I’m doing now,” she says.

MacPhee says there has been an overwhelming response to her business idea. She says she has received numerous phone calls and emails from as far as Cape Breton and New Brunswick.

“It’s been general excitement,” says MacPhee. “That provides a bit of a push. On the days that are very difficult and I’m experiencing challenges, just knowing that provides a lot of support.”

In addition to flotation sessions, the centre will have a wellness co-ordinator, who is a trained naturopathic doctor, as well as a massage therapist and dietician.

MacPhee originally hoped to open The Floatation Centre by April 1. She expects to open the centre within the next few weeks.

“If I can just help people recognize their positive potential within the universe, whether it’s enhance their creativity, to decrease their stress levels … then I think that I’m doing a pretty great job,” says MacPhee.

Cut it out: Why are women’s haircuts so expensive?

Stylists from around Halifax explain why women’s haircuts cost more than men’s.

UPDATE: Information in the graph was corrected on Feb. 1, 2016

Chatter and music fill the air. The soft snick of scissors mixes with the sound of blow dryers and spray bottles. Tufts of hair are trampled underfoot as stylists dart to and fro. Shannon Bower squeezes her eyes shut as her stylist pushes her bangs onto her face. She is sitting in the Stanhope and Company hair studio, receiving a new haircut that will cost her $28 more than the haircut of the man sitting beside her.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. Not just for Bower, and not just at the Stanhope and Company studio. Nearly every hair salon in Halifax prices women’s haircuts significantly above men’s haircuts. A typical men’s wash and cut costs about $30, while a women’s wash and cut costs about $50.

Graph depicting the difference between the cost of women's haircuts and the cost of men's haircuts.
Graph depicting the difference between the cost of women’s haircuts and the cost of men’s haircuts. CORRECTION: The numbers above for Thumpers Salon are incorrect. They should be $52 for women and $43 for men. (Graph by Leah Woolley)

This begs the question: Why?

Haircut statistics

Women’s cuts are generally booked for 45 minutes to an hour, while men’s haircuts are usually only booked for half an hour. If clients are being charged for time, this would explain the higher prices for women. But it still leaves us wondering why all women’s haircuts take longer than men’s.

Another possible reason for pricing disparity could be how much product is used in women’s cuts compared to men’s cuts. Several hair stylists say that generally both men’s and women’s haircuts require the same amount of product.

One patron suggested that men’s haircuts are cheaper because men get their hair cut more often. According to many stylists, people with short hair tend to get haircuts about every four to six weeks, while people with longer hairstyles tend to get haircuts every eight to 12 weeks.

But not all men have short hair, and not all women have long hair. Our question remains: Why do women’s haircuts cost more than men’s haircuts?

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Quantity vs. quality

It all comes down to how much hair you have, and how long it takes your stylist to cut it.

“We’re providing a service, so the deciding factor is really time,” says Jenn Greene, a stylist at Kara’s Urban Day Spa.

Jill Ernest, a fellow stylist from Bowtique Hair and Makeup, agrees.

Ernest says that women’s hair usually takes longer to cut, but if a man comes in with long hair she will usually charge him the women’s rate. “It’s the difference between a 20-30 minute service to a 40-60 minute service.”

Local student Tora Oliphant is sitting in the next chair over, receiving her monthly trim. “As a kid, my haircut would cost twice as much as my brothers’, but I would also spend twice as long in the chair,” she says.

Ernest’s co-worker, Teresa Fisher, says sometimes men’s cuts can take just as long as women’s. “Some men are just as picky, if not pickier, than women. You wouldn’t believe it, but it’s true.”

Stylist Angelina Bistekos at the Casa Dante Hair Studio says that even if women have short hair, the cuts still typically take longer than men’s.

“Women’s are a little more expensive just because there is more work put into it than men’s cuts. There is work that goes into men’s cuts, but women get a hair styling, a blow dry, and in my experience lots of product gets used. Women are also more likely to want extra services, whereas men are kind of more easygoing,” says Bistekos.

At Stanhope and Company hair studio, Redmon Giovanni is cutting Shannon Bower’s hair. He says “for a women’s short haircut, I charge them the men’s price, but I don’t always charge men more for a longer haircut.” He says that even with long hair, men’s cuts are still generally more basic than women’s.

Fisher explains how “prices do vary depending on the skill level of the stylist. There is demand on time, experience, and for specific things they’ve studied over the years.”

Greene and Giovanni agree. “We pay money to go to classes and learn new techniques, and we go to hair shows to see what’s new. We invest a lot into what we do,” Greene says.

Giovanni says the technique that he’s using to cut Bower’s hair took him about 10 years to learn. “I think you pay for the experience of the stylist as well as the time you spend in the chair,” he says.

Stacey Turpin, an employee at Vitality Medi-Spa, points out that a women’s short haircut may be considered a men’s cut, just based on the amount of work that has to be done. She says most stylists make a judgment call when they see a client, and can charge them the women’s or men’s rate depending on which best suits their cut.

Ernest says she considers all aspects of the haircut when deciding on a price, not just the gender or hair length of her client.

 

Greene does it too. “Sometimes I’ll lower my price, depending on what I’ve done,” she says, as she sorts through a box of new hair products that have just come in.

Is it fair?

Greene thinks so. “The people who do this because it’s their passion tend to charge a bit more, because they know their value,” she says.

Ernest says it often depends on who’s running the place. “We have the benefit of being locally owned, so we can take our own prices into consideration. Some places have to stick to prices set out for them,” she says.

Some places, like Casa Dante, have their own set standard prices, but “it also depends on the stylist, because everybody kind of mixes it up and makes their own prices for their own clients,” says Bistekos.

Giovanni says, “It’s fair if you charge by time, but if you charge by the haircut then it’s not. I always charge by the time. Time and technique should be the determining factors of price.”

Camp Courage empowers young women to pursue first responder’s career

Firefighter Andréa Speranza, founder of Camp Courage, encourages young women to try careers as first responders in Halifax.

Founder and executive director of Camp Courage, 45-year-old Andréa Speranza is encouraging young women to try careers as first responders in Halifax.

The one-week intensive program aims to introduce females to emergency first responder’s services. Speranza created Camp Courage in 2006.

“As far as I could understand they just didn’t know what they’re missing,” said Speranza.

Speranza is currently a firefighter at the Eastern Passage Fire Hall. She spent four years as a volunteer firefighter before gaining a paid position.

The camp is free and accepts 24 young women into the program to develop confidence, leadership skills, and problem solving abilities.

Speranza fundraises $25,000 each year the camp runs. Due to a decrease in donations, Speranza is considering charging a fee for 2015 participants in order to sustain the camp.

“We need to invest more in our youth,” said Speranza. “I never went to camp when I was a kid and Camp Courage is everything I would have wanted to do if I did.”

Camp Courage runs every second year and is located at various fire stations around Halifax.

Applications for the program were due March 31 and participations are currently being chosen, said Speranza.

Speranza chooses applicants based on a written essay explaining how they would better life within their community if they attended Camp Courage.

“If the applicant is committed to implementing what they write about in their essay they will be accepted to attend the camp,” said Speranza.

Over seven days, Camp Courage teaches participants self-defence, how to shoot a gun, put out fires, and repel down walls. They will also learn basic paramedic training.

“The whole idea of the camp is really more about changing these young girls’ mindsets and getting them to challenge themselves to try new things even if they fail the first time,” said Speranza.

According to Canada’s 2006 national census, only about 3.6 per cent of firefighters were women.

“With more information and training and education more young women will be attracted to these fields of work,” said Speranza.

Cristy Webb, 19, attended Camp Courage two years ago.

“It really decided for me what I wanted to do with my life. Camp courage made me want to be a firefighter.”

Webb has since continued on to post-secondary education at the Marine Institute where she studied fire rescue and will be doing eight weeks of on-the-job training at Fire Station 13 in Dartmouth.

Symphony Nova Scotia’s Adopt-a-Musician program inspires creativity

Halifax students showcase their newfound skills at We Are the Stars concert.

Students from three Halifax elementary schools and Halifax West High School showed off their skill and smiles at Symphony Nova Scotia’s Adopt-a-Musician program’s final concert on Thursday.

The concert — We Are the Stars — took place at the Halifax Central Library. Symphony Nova Scotia musicians have been “adopting” student musicians for 12 years.

Once a week, for seven weeks, students from Halifax West High School practiced under the direction of one of Symphony Nova Scotia’s violinists, Celeste Jankowski.

“The learning curve was huge,” said Faris Kapra, a Grade 10 student who was part of the high school string ensemble. “It made us become something more than just a high school group.”

 

For the final concert, students performed a piece called Agincourt by Doug Spata. The song depicts a battle scene and was set in a challenging 7/8 time rhythm, which was new to many students in the group.

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Westmount elementary and Grosvenor Wentworth elementary school students get ready to perform their original composition. (Photo: Rachel Collier)

“We learned a lot of skills that professionals would use, in both our technique and our style of learning,” said Kapra.

“We learned to go home, learn everything perfectly there, then come to school to really make the music. That was different from what we had been doing,” he said.

Violist Kerry Kavalo worked with 23 students from Westmount elementary and Grosvenor Wentworth Park elementary schools.

The students learned basic composition skills and how to create through a collaborative process. In the end, they composed and performed an original piece named West-Grove Tune.

St. Catherine’s elementary school’s Grade 5 class created a narrative tale and a percussion arrangement to perform at the concert. They named their story The Dragon Slayer and Hybrid Dragon.

St. Catherine's Elementary School Students (Photo: Rachel Collier)
St. Catherine’s elementary school students show off the instruments that they used. (Photo: Rachel Collier)

When creating their performance, the class practiced math, language and presentation skills.

They also discussed the complex natures of the main characters of their story and practiced working together.

“The program is good because it changes the dynamics of the classroom from what it usually is for academic purposes,” said Susane Lemieux, the Symphony Nova Scotia oboist who guided the class.

Lemieux noticed that students really had to pay attention while working in a new style.

“It was great to see when they started to get ideas and to speak up,” she said.

The program often depends on schools’ administrative support.

“They could be doing other curriculum work, especially this year with all of the snow days. We really had to convince everyone that it’s worth it,” said Lemieux.

The freedom of poetic expression

Slam poet Andre Fenton, 19, uses his art to deal with depression and share his thoughts with others.

Andre Fenton stands against a graffitied wall in the Halifax Common. He flips through his notebook, hollowed with ripped out pages.

“She sells sea shells by the sea shore,” enunciates Fenton.

Sirens wail in the distance, vehicles honk at the intersection of Windsor Street and Quinpool Road, and children yell from the playground. Amidst the sounds of everyday life, Fenton, wearing a newsboy cap and grey overcoat, prepares to bare his soul.

After nodding that he’s ready to begin, Fenton reads aloud the poem — so new it’s nameless — he will perform at the upcoming adult slam later this month.

 

Fenton, 19, is a slam poet from the north end of Halifax. He spent the last two years pursuing a degree in screen arts from NSCC and working a part-time job at Lawton’s, while performing slam throughout the country and organizing youth and adult events in Halifax.

After qualifying for a place on Halifax’s 2013 and 2014 Youth Can Slam teams, Fenton will help coach this year’s five chosen youth poets for the national event in Ottawa in August.

He says performing feels like a high more elating than therapy. “When you first start [performing] it feels like you’re sticking your head underwater,” says Fenton, “but eventually you’ll learn how to swim.”

A shy person, Fenton says he was morbidly obese up until two years ago and has been struggling with mental health and depression since his early teens. Spoken word has been his catharsis.

“You’re taking everything you deal with, your deepest confessions, and turning it into an artistic expression.”

Taking the plunge

Fenton’s passion for writing started in elementary school, around the same time El Jones began visiting his school and performing. It was during one of those performances that Fenton realized he wanted to meet the present-day poet laureate.

He found Centreline Studios on Gottingen Street and began using the studio as a space to write and practise recording poetry. One afternoon, while he was sitting in the back room jotting down his thoughts, Jones came into the studio. She asked to hear what he was working on.

The piece, Invisible Walls, focuses on the contrasting social treatment Fenton received before and after losing 145 lb. He says he has always been the same person — whether 300 pounds or less.

Jones asked Fenton to come to the poetry slam finals that were happening that night in Dartmouth. He didn’t know what to expect, but agreed to go along.

“We were going over the bridge and she was coaching me on this poem I literally just finished,” he recounts with a smile.

Jones registered Fenton for the slam and he performed while holding his notebook in front of his face. The crowd snapped and cheered. No one had ever clapped for him before.

Fenton placed third during his first live performance and qualified for a spot on Halifax’s 2013 Youth Can Slam team. He travelled to Montreal two months later for the competition.

Competing in the Youth Can Slam gave Fenton the opportunity to grow his confidence. “There was something I could do that I felt good about,” he says.

Hali Youth Slam

Fenton has been an active member of the slam community since his surprise debut. He has worked closely with David Zinck, the head of the Halifax poetry collective, to create Hali Youth Slam, a society that hosts monthly open mic nights.

Hali Youth Slam began in 2013, but didn’t have a full season. There were three rounds of competitive slam nights.

The first official season of Hali Youth Slam began last August. After having monthly slam nights, Fenton believes the consistency of this year’s season will help prepare the young artists who are competing for a spot on the Can Slam team.

Finals will be held on April 29 at the Alderney Gate Public Library. The top five poets will qualify for the 2015 Youth Can Slam.

Fenton will coach the team of five and accompany them to Ottawa for the national event. “I’ve never coached a team before,” he says, “but I think they have faith in me.”

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He wants to ensure qualifiers work to perfect their pieces so they will be ready for harsher criticism by the time they leave for Ottawa. Fenton says the Can Slam judges are not very lenient.

Memorizing pieces is encouraged. Fenton says memorization builds confidence and improves public speaking; it keeps performers from reading their pieces like robots.

Although Halifax’s adult slam scene has dried up over the years, adults will not be left out for long. The first 2015 adult slam night is planned for April 30.

Fenton — no longer a youth — will be competing and hopes there will be more to come in May and June.

The future

After graduating this month, Fenton has plans to combine his love for poetry and film. He hopes to start a blog where slam night performances can be posted and shared. He is also beginning to turn one of his pieces into a cinepoem, a work of poetry accompanied by a video to tell a narrative.

Fenton is currently working on a video for Just Shine, a poem he wrote and performed at the 2014 Canadian Spoken Word Festival in Victoria.

He hopes the cinepoem will be completed by the end of April so that he can enter it into an online competition. Canadian artists post their videos on YouTube, and the winner will receive a paid trip to compete in the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam in Vancouver.

Just Shine is inspired by the career counsellors who told him there was no money in writing.

Fenton says he writes to make people feel connected. While admitting that competition is a crucial part of slam poetry, he also believes the most important thing is the community.

Fenton names off a list of celebrated Canadian slam poets: Jeremy Loveday, Erin Dingle and Scruffmouth the Scribe. El Jones and David Zinck are also inspirations, as well as his peers who write and perform slam.

“I’m really nerdy,” says Fenton. “When I think of all of these people, I think of them like super heroes.”

Fenton believes there is something powerful about watching someone on stage with three minutes to speak their mind. Slam poetry is a way to share his voice, and he believes the power to leave an audience in goosebumps lies in a piece’s sincerity.

“Honesty is the best poetry.”

Halifax surfboard shaper sees big breaks in 2015

Andreas Hart, founder of Hart Surf Co., launches his company and starts to sell surf boards in Nova Scotia.

Andreas Hart concentrates as he slowly pulls the tape off of a surfboard, one of his own creations. He has been waiting for the resin to set for two hours, and is now back to coat the other side. Hart is the founder and sole proprietor of Hart Surf Co., a Halifax-based company that designs and makes surfboards.

This has been a huge year for Hart Surf Co., starting with a sold-out launch party in January. He won second place in a business competition at the University of New Brunswick, and the first board orders are starting to roll in.

Officially a company since Feb. 1, Hart Surf Co. is now selling surfboards, which can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Hart has a few different designs that he uses, and then makes the board to fit the customer.

His small one-room shop, located at the Dalhousie University Sexton campus, is full of surfboards and equipment. Each corner has four or five surfboards stacked together, each at different stages in the design process.

The boards are anywhere from basic foam cut outs to being finished and ready to paint. The process starts with Hart coming up with the dimensions and entering them into his computer. The dimensions then get sent to his machine, which cuts the foam into a board shape. He says the general shape ideas are based off of boards he’s used in the past, but he comes up with all of the dimensions.

The process really started when Hart and some fellow students built the machine, called a CNC surfboard router, during the final year of his mechanical engineering degree at Dalhousie in 2014.

“I wanted to do it after I finished my degree, but then one of my friends, while we were out enjoying ourselves, was like, ‘Why don’t you just do it now?’ And then the next day I sent an email to my professor and asked if I could … and then eight months later we had a machine that worked, and just started designing boards from there.”

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Originally from Dartmouth, N.S., Hart has been a passionate surfer since the age of 13. He taught himself how to make surfboards. He says he used his knowledge of surfing, mechanical engineering, trial and error, and the Internet, to figure out how to make the boards. He says he is continuously learning. Next week, he is going to make his first standup paddle board, and eventually wants to start making skateboards as well.

After finishing his engineering degree, Hart started auditing business classes at Dalhousie to learn how to formally start his own business.

While there are others in Nova Scotia who make surfboards, Hart says he is the only one doing it full time and trying to make an established company out of it. “Nova Scotia has been getting a lot of publicity over the past two winters for its surf … It’s going to take some time obviously, but I’m trying to gain some trust,” says Hart.

Hart says right now he is working on a video that will showcase local surfers using his boards, and what he is most excited about, putting together a surf team with the ultimate goal of the team travelling together and representing his boards.

Surfboards and art

Hart is also connecting with local artists who paint the boards when they are finished, providing one-off designs that can’t be found anywhere else. On April 18, his boards will be featured in The Collective Art Show, hosted by the Blackbook Collective, which will showcase more than 20 local artists.

Local artist Heidi Wambolt has done the art for several of Hart’s boards. She says her style of work focuses on aquatic life and themes, so working with Hart was a perfect fit.

“Andreas is great to work with. He makes suggestions but gives me a lot of space and freedom to do my own work,” says Wambolt.

“With Andreas’ laid back suggestions, the freedom of artistic expression, and my eagerness to keep painting and producing, more boards will definitely be on the way!”

Hart says his next step is to get a bigger workshop outside of the city — preferably in the Lawrencetown, Seaforth, and Martinique area. He says he wants to stay in Nova Scotia and keep trying to get his name out there.

“It’s exciting to see where it takes me,” says Hart.

Students talk stress management during exam season

Looming deadlines, final exams a source of stress for Halifax’s students.

Exam season has arrived at Canadian universities and colleges, prompting students across the country to take to Twitter to express their frustrations.

John Camardese, a chemistry study coach at Dalhousie University, says exam stress is often linked to past exam performances and lack of preparation.

“The key is to be well prepared and to start early so you can comfortably cover the required material for the exams,” he said.

With final exams and the stress that comes with them still the norm in Canada, one can’t help but wonder: how stressed out are students about exams, and what can be done to minimize those stress levels?

Majority are ‘very’ stressed

Students were asked via Facebook and Twitter how stressed they are about exams. Of the 10 that responded over the past week, six said they were “very” stressed about finals, while none of them said they are “not at all” stressed.

When asked what they do to help relieve stress, most of them said they find exercise, non-academic reading and watching television to be great stress relievers.

“A good stress reliever is lots of exercise,” said University of King’s College student Sam Krueger. “Any chance to get some is fantastic.”

However, it isn’t just exams and final papers that have students stressed out. According to Dalhousie student Michael Kamras, there’s also an added pressure on students to stay healthy over this important period of time.

“There’s a lot of stress to make sure that you’re keeping healthy, which is really difficult to do considering the high stress levels,” he said.

Students: support services losing effectiveness

Universities do provide support services for exam-stressed students, but many are only available for a short period of time. Dalhousie, for example, brings therapy dogs to their school during exam periods to allow students to take a break from their studies.

In addition, universities like Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie provide on-campus counselling services, but according to the Facebook and Twitter respondents, most people who sought counselling to manage their stress were told the wait to see someone would likely be months.

What’s worse is many students often don’t know their schools offer counselling services and workshops.

“I’m sure there are services offered, but I’m not too aware of them,” Krueger said.

“I think there could be a bit more reaching out by the university for students to take advantage of what they’re offering,” Kamras said.

Requests for comment on this story from counsellors at both universities were either not returned or referred to other campus support services for information, but information on managing stress can be found on their website.

Watch the video below to learn more about how stressed out Halifax students are at this time of the year and what they are doing to try and manage that stress.

In a recent development, the National Post reported last week universities in Alberta and Ontario are considering giving less weight to exams or eventually eliminating them altogether because of the popular belief that “high-stress exams give a false picture of a student’s abilities.”

Until Canadian universities and colleges decide to do away with the final exam once and for all, students will have to continue finding ways to manage exam-related stress.

Visit this website, provided by Dalhousie’s Student Academic Success Services for more information on exam preparation and time management.

And for more information on stress and how it can be managed, check out the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website, which features tips as well as links to community support services.

Halifax printmaker finds inspiration in music and art

Alex MacAskill has done artwork for the Halifax Pop Explosion and local bands. Now he’s headed to Nashville.

Atop the maze of studios at NSCAD’s Granville campus sits multi-talented Alex MacAskill. He’s actively sketching, scanning, printing and pressing art work for school, as well as for his business Fish Bone Prints.

His workplace is rugged; large wood panels and easels are scattered throughout the area. His desk is accompanied by all the tools he needs: black ink, illustration paper, and a printer. He is an artist printmaker and designs everything from album art to beer holders. The collection of his favourite works are pinned to his work space. He works alone, with folk-rock and indie music filling the air.

MacAskill is pursuing a degree in fine art and managing Fish Bone Prints simultaneously. He has grown an array of clients for his business, including Matt Mays and JEFF the Brotherhood. He’s also worked with local artists such as Wintersleep and The Novaks, as well as many government organizations. His biggest client last year was the Halifax Pop Explosion, which posted his work throughout the city.

“I have been lucky enough that I don’t need to advertise,” he says. “After a few years doing this I’ve developed a kind of signature style, one that is expected when an artist reaches out to me.”

There are a number of steps to screen printing.

“It all starts with pencil sketches to develop the idea of it. From there I take those sketches and make a full size drawing on illustration paper – done with black ink – I scan that onto the computer and work it in Photoshop and add some digital colouring. You have to print the colours differently and separate the layers. From there you use a squeegee to push the ink through the stencils.”

His school work is an outlet of personal expression. MacAskill even dabbles in the unique practice of woodcutting.

“I take a block of plywood and use chisels to carve into it. Then I roll over the ink to hit the high spots, then press paper onto it and begin to trace,” he says.

From a young age MacAskill was very artistically inclined, just like his older sister.

“She was a big inspiration for me,” he says, smiling. “I looked up to her a lot, she went to NSCAD too. She inspired my love of art, and I guess I’m following the same path as her, just carving my own footsteps.”

In high school, MacAskill wanted to find a way to design his own T-shirts for his band and began experimenting in homemade remedies. Through this desire, MacAskill acquired a foundation of skills in print work and ultimately let that flourish into his own brand.

His boyhood passion for both art and music is a combination of interests that now work in harmony to pay the bills, and takes him to places he’s always dreamed of.

“I’ve actually just landed a job with a graphic design firm in Nashville. I graduate in April and start work down there in May. It’s a dream come true. Nashville has a great culture of art and music, I really love it there,” he says.

MacAskill departs shortly after he performs a farewell gig with Drags, his garage rock band. They will be performing their last set at the Seahorse Tavern at the end of the month.

Summer on a patio: Employment advice from a bar manager

Brad Harris, general manager at the Lower Deck, addresses concerns and gives advice on securing a summer job in the food and beverage industry.

“Now is the time to apply,” says Brad Harris, general manager of the Lower Deck in Halifax.

With the winter semester coming to an end and exam season well under way, students are frantically trying to lock down a summer job.

The four months of summer are a limited but good opportunity for students to gain valuable work experience, and, more importantly, earn money to help pay for the continually rising tuition fees. But competition can be stiff, and according to Statistics Canada, tens of thousands of students descend on the job market at the same time every year.

“If I post for a server slash bartender [on a job listing], on average I will get about 100 resumes by the next day,” says Harris.

The employment rate for students during the academic year hovers between 35 to 40 per cent of all postsecondary students, while the summer employment rate for full-time students consistently averages around 70 per cent.

According to statistics, female students are far more likely than males to obtain a summer job, in part because of better job opportunities in the retail, accommodation and food service sectors, where females are more likely to work.

The restaurant and bar scene is an active part of the community in Halifax, and the food and beverage industry provides jobs for hundreds of students and locals every summer.

An industry ‘like no other’

Harris says the food and beverage industry is “one like no other.”

Job requirements include late hours of work, long shifts and customer-service scenarios that differ extremely from any other job a student typically has. Members of the industry say it’s more of a lifestyle than just a job, and many servers use the hashtag #serverproblems or #serverlife to describe common struggles other servers can relate to.

https://twitter.com/princesssyaya/status/582074869392621568

A deeper issue

Despite the jokes, the service industry has been largely criticized for stereotypical and even misogynistic tendencies. Historically a female occupation, the industry has come a long way in shifting its policies to create a safer and more accessible work environment for all students, but a 2010 census data conducted by Service Canada shows that almost 76 per cent of the positions in this occupation are still held by women. No data is available for non-binary students in the industry.

Hannah Wilson, a female university student and recent employee at the Alehouse located in downtown Halifax, has “strong opinions” on this particular issue.

Wilson got offered her job while out drinking one night with friends at the Alehouse.

“Experience is not the biggest of their concern,” says Wilson. “It is mostly just young, attractive girls they want working there.”

This issue, which Wilson calls “the culture of looking appealing” in the service industry, has appeared in more than just a few restaurants and bars in Halifax.

Collin Kelly, a male student who worked as a busboy at one of Halifax’s major clubs last summer, noticed this issue as well. Kelly wishes his place of employment to remain unnamed.

“Women were definitely hired and promoted much quicker than males, especially if they were good looking,” says Kelly. “And I think that’s the case at most bars.”

But not all restaurants or bars in the city endorse these stereotypes. Harris has been the general manager of the Lower Deck for four years and has been in the industry for longer than 20, and he says that primarily his hiring will always be “experience based.”

The only exception to Harris’s rule is always whether or not potential employees will get along and work well with his core staff.

“I’ve hired the ‘super server,’ the one that looks absolutely amazing on paper. But those individuals more often than not have too much confidence in their service and abilities… They come in and start ruffling the feathers of my core staff, and that generally doesn’t go over well,” says Harris.

Harris says he first conducts an informal interview to see how the potential candidate will fit with his other staff. New employees that will get along with and respect their coworkers will, in turn, receive coaching from more experienced staff and produce a more efficient team overall.

Harris says he hires hardworking and approachable, personable individuals above everything else.

Getting hired in Halifax

Halifax has the luxury of being situated right on the coast, which not only gives the summer months a vibrant patio-season culture, but means one thing that is especially crucial to the food and beverage industry: tourists.

Halifax sees about 1.8 million overnight visitors every year, and more than half of them visit during the summer months, according to the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency.

Harris says the Lower Deck increases its staff by 30 to 40 per cent during the summer months in order to support the city’s booming tourism industry. When the patio opens the restaurant’s capacity increases by another 260 people.

Harris typically starts his hiring process at the beginning of spring, and he likes to have his final staff sorted by May 1 in preparation to open the patio for the May long weekend. So if you’re an experienced server and sticking around for the summer, it’s time to start applying.

Many restaurants in the city that have a large patio and draw a younger crowd, like the Lower Deck, typically hire students as the majority of their staff for the summer months.

“A lot of university students don’t work during the school year, so when the summer comes around they are more than happy to work full-time plus and make as much money as they can, which is great for me,” says Harris.

But older restaurants, such as Split Crow and The Old Triangle, tend to have a smaller turnover in the summer and tend to employ more mature servers all year round. So the key to being a successful server and obtaining a solid restaurant or bar job in Halifax is knowing where to apply.

The catch of the industry is that it is hard to break into if you don’t have any experience. Many wonder how someone can gain experience if no one will ever give them the chance.

In the industry, Harris says these people are referred to as “green servers.” It is not common for a green server to get hired and do well, so the best way for someone wishing to break into the industry is to start off as a hostess or a food runner. If they do well then managers will slowly integrate them into serving.

Harris says he sometimes takes a risk because he feels like he has a duty to pay it back.

“Someone gave me a shot once, awhile ago, so I feel like I should do that as well,” says Harris.

 

All in all, anyone who has ever worked in the industry will give you the same piece of advice: you need to work for it.

“I was one of the few at my job who was given full time hours,” says Kelly. “If you want to get full-time in this city you need to be a hard worker.”

Wilson says that the job is a lot of work in a short period of time.

“The only way to really learn is to do,” she says.

Harris agrees, stating those that work hard and show an absolute interest to learn and improve will be the ones rewarded with more hours, better hours and even a promotion.

News Digest: April 3-7

Other local news as reported by other media.

Trailer Park Boys appeal to government to save film tax credit (CBC Halifax)

Mike Smith, Robb Wells and John Paul Tremblay, also known as the famous Trailer Park Boys trio, took to the Internet as their television personas to rally support to stop any cut that might be made to Nova Scotia’s Film Tax Credit. Though Diana Whalen, Nova Scotia’s finance minister, claims that companies who receive the tax credit do not pay taxes, others disagree. The actors’ public service announcement, viewed hundreds of thousands of times and counting, encourages the public to contact Whalen and ask her to reconsider the possible cut.

‘Something to experience:’ Caution tape, sculpture used to challenge art gallery visitors in Halifax (Metro News)

John Greer’s retroActive, a show currently being shown at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS), places art in the space in ways that challenge the gallery’s visitors, an example being his use of caution tape across doors to force viewers into different positions. Visitors crouch, bend and travel through the gallery to see his work. Greer is a professor at NSCAD University who has also won the Governor General Award.

Winter clinic closures leads to blood shortage in Atlantic Canada (Global News Maritimes)

Due to a challenging winter, Canadian Blood Services had to cancel 60 clinics this past year in Atlantic Canada. Canadian Blood Services says it is short 2,300 units of blood from what it expected to collect. Because blood is perishable, the poor road conditions and bad weather caused problems for transportation of both donors and deliveries.

Street snowboarders are riding high in Halifax (The Coast)

Jibbing, a subgenre of snowboarding, is done by taking a snowboard to the streets for your winter ride. Ian MacArthur and friends take their boards in search of poles to ride and the ideally formed snowbanks for a smooth ride. The stormy winter has provided more spots than previous ones with consistent heavy snowfall, and despite having boarded on the West Coast, MacArthur still enjoys coming home to explore the East Coast landscapes.

Canada beats Finland to win world curling bronze (News 95.7)

This year, the Canadian curling team made the move to the podium, beating out Finland to win the bronze medal at the Sunday morning game of the world men’s curling championship in Halifax. The team played a confident game in front of a 2,801 person crowd at Scotiabank Centre.