Unravel September/October 2022

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NOVA SCOTIA’S STORYTELLER — AUTHOR STEVE VERNON TELLS US ABOUT HIS LATEST PROJECT P. 12 DOES HALIFAX HAVE A WORKER SHORTAGE OR A SHORTAGE?GOOD-JOBP.23 PLANS FOR THE NEW MI’KMAW NATIVE FRIENDSHIP TAKE SHAPE P. 40 Afterfundingturmoilandpandemicdisruptions,thelocalfilmindustryhasregaineditsfootingandispoisedforaboom UNRAVELHALIFAX.CA SEPT/OCT 22

40 A PLACE TO FINALLY CALL HOME With

Features 18 THE

28 NOVA

Departments 5 EDITOR’S MESSAGE A year of Unravel 8 THE LIST Can’t-miss events 9 THE PERSPECTIVE A newcomer’s Halifax dilemma 10 THE BACKSTORY Birth of a Super City Region 12 THE CONVERSATION Nova Scotia’s storyteller 15 THE HOUSING MARKET A place to start 16 THE VIEW Art by Daniel J. Burt 17 THE SOUND Beyond research 46 THE FLAVOUR Booze-free craft drinks 48 THE FLAVOUR Straight from the source 50 THE STANCE The kindness of strangers september/octobervol2/issue5 36 Murray/VisionFireBruce

RangerElizabeth

the issue

23

Discover booze-free local craft drinks

Murray/VisionFireBruce

On the cover After years of turmoil, Nova Scotia's film industry is back on track. CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST Enjoying a rush of primal selfsufficiency, growing numbers of Haligonians are emulating their forebearers and raising fowl WHERE ARE THE WORKERS? There are plenty of Haligonians looking for jobs — but employers can’t take them for granted anymore CALIFORNIA After funding turmoil and pandemic disruptions, the local film industry has regained its footing and is poised for a boom TO THE BARBERSHOP

Activist Devon Bundy creates places where Black men can connect and talk about their mental health the transfer of a culturally symbolic plot of land in downtown Halifax expected soon, a key piece of the new Now,CentreMi’kmaw70,000-square-footNativeFriendshipissettlingintoplace.therealworkbegins

36 BACK

Cox & Palmer makes the difference crystal clear - that’s why Atlantic Canadians have relied on us for more than 165 years. Our lawyers draw on a deep understanding of their clients’ needs to provide strategic legal advice when it matters most. At Cox & Palmer, great relationships lead to great results.

Sometimes the difference between a good relationship and a great one is subtle.

By Trevor J. Adams trevoradams@unravelhalifax.ca

Unravel HIGHLIGHTS

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 5

FancyTammy

To respond to something we've published, suggest a story, or just share your thoughts on life in Halifax, you can reach me at trevoradams@unravelhalifax.ca. We read every email, and we may publish your letter in an upcoming issue. Thanks for reading, and if you like this magazine (and if you’ve made it this far, I’m guessing you do) please encourage your friends to sign up for a free online or print subscription. The more readers we have, the more resources we’ll be able to devote to telling Halifax’s stories. And finally, thanks for the support and encouragement in our first year! We’re excited to be on this journey with you. our city keeps changing, so too does its magazine

As

A year of Unravel

@UnravelHalifaxUnravelHalifaxunravelhalifax

After years of uncertainly, Nova Scotia’s film industry seems to be back on its feet. Go behind the scenes with Bruce Bishop on page 28. Unravel NEWS Poised to stand in the shadow of Halifax’s most prominent colonial site, the new Mi’qmaw Native Friendship Centre aims to make a statement. See page 40. Unravel ONLINE When Titanic was filming in Halifax in 1996, a strange attack sent the cast and crew to hospital. Dorothy Grant looks back in a new web exclusive: remember/.ca/local-history-a-chowder-to-unravelhalifax.

Ayear ago seemed the perfect time to launch Unravel Halifax, the newand-improved title that replaced Halifax Magazine. That unpleasant COVID business was sliding behind us, and government was scrambling to roll back protections and resume our pre-plague lives. We saw an opportunity for a new magazine, one that respects our past while keeping its gaze locked on the future, a publication that ampli fies the changemakers and people working to make Halifax a better home for all itsLikecitizens.most amateur epidemiologists, we were wrong about that first part. COVID is still very much with us, and the idea of resuming a pre-pandemic life seems more ludicrous by the day. (Hello, monkeypox!) But we were right about that second part: it was time for Unravel Halifax, a transformed magazine for a transforming city. In the last year, the pace of change in our city has been dizzying. Buildings going up (and coming down), daily COVID twists and turns, politicians coming and going, businesses opening and closing and opening again, and a constant feast of art and music. As Halifax finds its feet in this strange new world, so too does Unravel. We’re developing our voice and style as we build bonds with readers and our talented (and essential) team of writers, photographers, and illustrators. We’ve tackled topics like the affordable housing shortage, the climate crisis, and systemic racism. And we’ve also put the spotlight on many of the great things happening in our city: local people doing cool things, exciting redevelop ments, thriving arts communities, a better-than-ever food and drink scene, and muchThemore.best thing about working on a magazine like this is that the job is never done. Each new issue is a chance to improve, tell new and better stories, and keepWegrowing.getthe joy of producing this magazine — I know, sarcasm is kind of my brand, but I’m in earnest; there’s no job I’d rather do — although ultimately, Unravel belongs to you. What do you like about the magazine? What can we do better? What are the stories you want to read? Who are the people in your neigh bourhood who deserve more attention?

CORRECTION AND APOLOGY

The story “Room to breathe” in the July edition of Unravel Halifax contained errors. On page 18, Michelle Strum’s first name was wrong, as was the name of Bria Miller’s “Welcome to My Nest” artwork. On page 20, Bria was misquoted as describing the land as “surrendered,” which gives an inaccurate picture of her views. She actually said “unsurrendered.” On page 21, we incorrectly described the origins of the Taking BLK Gottingen event. Unravel Halifax apologizes to Bria, Michelle, and all readers for these errors. See the corrected story at unravelhalifax.ca/room-to-breathe.

SUBSCRIPTIONS If you are a Nova Scotia resident, subscribe now for free. Other provinces of Canada, $25. U.S.A. $40. Int. $75. (Taxes not included) Subscriptions are non-refundable. If a subscription needs to be cancelled, where applicable, credits can be applied to other Metro Guide Publishing titles (East Coast Living, Unravel Halifax, or At Home on the North Shore). Please note that each circumstance is unique and election to make an offer in one instance does not create obligation to do so in another. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40064799 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Subscriptions, PO Box 190 Pictou, N.S. B0K 1H0 Email: Printedsubscriptions@unravelhalifax.comby:AdvocatePrinting&Publishing,Pictou,N.S.,Canada

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Contents copyright: No portion of this publication may be reprinted without the consent of the publisher. Unravel can assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, or other materials and cannot return same unless accompanied by SASE. Publisher cannot warranty claims made in advertisements.

6 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 With the cranky forthrightness of Fran Lebowitz in Pretend It’s a City, Thorne’s voice is both self-assured and deeply self-effacing as she exposes the light haze of misogyny that hangs over us all to find what’s funny, what’s true, and what needs to be said. LOW ROAD FOREVER & OTHER ESSAYS by Tara Thorne "Part volcano and part manifesto." -Sue Goyette, Poet Laureate of Halifax & tartan shop northern watters knitwear HOME OF THE 100% BRITISH WOOL SWEATERS & ACCESSORIES SHOWCASING OVER 250 ARTISTS & ARTISANS! FINEST CANADIAN CRAFTS - CAPES - POTTERY - YARN BLANKETS - MOHAIR SOCKS - PRESERVES - JEWELLERY SHEEPSKIN SLIPPERS - SCOTTISH & IRISH PRODUCTS FIRST NATIONS ITEMS - DEERSKIN PRODUCTS AND MUCH MORE NWKNITWEAR.COM - 1-800-565-9665 VICTORIA ROW 150 RICHMOND ST CHARLOTTETOWN, PE (902) 566-5850 HISTORIC PROPERTIES 1869 UPPER WATER ST HALIFAX, NS (902) 405-0488 PIER 20 1209 MARGINAL RD SUITE (902)HALIFAX,115NS405-0488 VOL 2/ ISSUE 5 • DATE OF ISSUE: SEPTEMBER 2022 PUBLISHER Fred Fiander • fredfiander@unravelhalifax.ca EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Crystal Murray • crystalmurray@unravelhalifax.ca SENIOR EDITOR Trevor J. Adams • trevoradams@unravelhalifax.ca CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jodi DeLong • jodidelong@unravelhalifax.ca Lori McKay • lorimckay@unravelhalifax.ca Janet Whitman • janetwhitman@unravelhalifax.ca VICE-PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Linda Gourlay • lindagourlay@unravelhalifax.ca ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Stephanie Balcom • stephaniebalcom@unravelhalifax.ca Connie Cogan • conniecogan@unravelhalifax.ca Susan Giffin • susangiffin@unravelhalifax.ca Pam Hancock • pamhancock@unravelhalifax.ca SENIOR DIRECTOR CREATIVE DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Shawn Dalton • shawndalton@unravelhalifax.ca ART DIRECTOR Mike Cugno • mike@acgstudio.com PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Nicole McNeil • nicolemcneil@unravelhalifax.ca PRODUCTION AND DESIGN ASSISTANT Kathleen Hoang • kathleenhoang@unravelhalifax.ca DESIGNERS Roxanna Boers • roxannaboers@unravelhalifax.ca Andrezza Nascimento • andrezzanascimento@unravelhalifax.ca Unravel is published six times annually by: Metro Guide Publishing, a division of Advocate Printing & Publishing Company Ltd. 2882 Gottingen St., Halifax, N.S. B3K 3E2 Tel: (902) 464-7258, Sales Toll Free: 1-877-311-5877

ALEX MACASKILL is an illustra tor, graphic designer, and printer in Halifax, operating a small studio called Midnight Oil Print & Design House. He loves drawing and bringing joy to his projects.

BRUCE MURRAY has been creating food and lifestyle photography for more than 20 years in the Maritimes and in his original studio in Vancouver. visionfire.ca, @VisionFire

BRUCE BISHOP is currently writing his third novel, which is set in Nova Scotia in the mid-1950s. It is interlinked to his first two works of historical fiction, DaughtersUnconventional and Uncommon Sons He is currently adapting the novels for television.

AMEETA VOHRA is a news and sports writer with work published throughout North America. Her Halifax Magazine story “Thunderstruck” was a 2020 Atlantic Journalism Awards silver medallist.

COLLEEN THOMPSON is an award-winning writer and photographer. She favours writing about food and drink and the sto rytelling behind it. She recently published her first book, Monkey Weddings & Summer Sapphires: South Africa to Nova Scotia Instagram: @monkeyweddings

PHILIP MOSCOVITCH is a frequent contributor to Unravel Halifax, Saltscapes, and East Coast Living, and the author of Adventures in Bubbles and Brine — a book about Nova Scotian fermentation stories and traditions.

ALEC BRUCE is an awardwinning journalist whose by lines regularly appear in major Canadian and American publi cations. He recently completed a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction at the University of King’s College in Halifax.

JANET WHITMAN is a city-and nature-loving journalist who divides her time between Halifax and her cottage on the Northum berland Shore. She’s happiest digging in the dirt, picking up a hammer, or messing around in the kitchen.

PAULINE DAKIN is a journalist, professor of journalism at the University of King’s College, and the award-winning author of Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood MARIANNE SIMON is a writer and subeditor and has published many children’s stories, articles and poems in magazines and newspapers. Her interests include teaching and conducting Englishconversation classes.

ELIZABETH RANGER was born in Ottawa, grown in Montreal, and now works in Halifax. She takes her fascination with turnof-the-century illustration and adds abstractions, fantastical elements, organic textures, and spiritual irreverence to bring her watercolours to life.

KATIE INGRAM is a freelance writer, author, and journalism instructor based in Halifax.

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 7 THE VOICES

David Myles’s previous collaborations with Symphony Nova Scotia have been huge, in-demand, sold-out sensations, and expect no different this time, as he blends beloved favourites with brand-new orchestral arrangements from his latest albums. symphonynovascotia.ca

Misery OCT. 14 TO NOV. 6

SEPT. 15 TO 22

OCT. 30

Trevor Noah SEPT. 24

Back for its 42nd year, Fin began as a tiny grassroots festival, and still thrives on those roots in the local film industry, bringing together rising stars, established talents, and international names. Programming includes fiction, documentaries, and animation. finfestival.ca Angela Hewitt

8 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 THE LIST 1

For over 30 years, artist Stan Douglas has devoted his work to the investigation of the image: the technology, their aesthetic languages, and their dynamics of power. Through photo, film and video installations, TV, theatre, mobile applications, and digital media, he delves into pivotal moments in history. See his exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. artgalleryofnovascotia.ca

2 5463 GeworskyChris

This is a mandatory concert for classical purists! Ottawa native Angela Hewitt is one of the most respected pianists in the genre, with her performances of Bach establishing her as one of the composer’s foremost interpreters. For this ambitious Cecilia Concerts performance, the Grammy Award-winner, whose performances of Bach have established her as one of the composer’s foremost interpreters, performs the master’s most daunting and beloved keyboard work: the Goldberg Variations ceciliaconcerts.ca

Fin FilmInternationalAtlanticFestival

David Myles SEPT. 30 TO OCT. 1

Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives CONTINUING THROUGH NOV. 6

Things were going pretty well for romance novelist Paul Sheldon, until a car crash left him in the care of his “Number One Fan.” Now, he needs to resurrect her favourite character and write as if his life depends on it. Based on the novel by Stephen King. neptunetheatre.com

The acclaimed South African comic and host of the Daily Show brings his Back to Abnormal world tour to Scotiabank Centre for one night only. Sharp and incisive, Noah is the author of the New York Times bestseller Born a Crime: Stories from a South Africa Childhood ticketatlantic.com

Music, film, theatre, and more — discover autumn’s can’tmiss events Top 6

The Halifax dilemma Egyptian immigrants find a better life, but also a housing crunch and inaccessible health care BY MARIANNE SIMON ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZABETH RANGER

Travelling around the city to find a more suitable home also proved a challenge. “Finding a car for rent was the next hurdle we had to overcome,” she says.

Producing local references was a challenge. She started volunteering two days a week in the hope of get ting experience and a good reference. The only work she could only get night shifts, which she did for a year and a Healthhalf. care is another obstacle. When Jasmine became ill with stomach problems, she had to go on a waiting list for treatment. “Weeks and months went by and still I did not receive any help,” she says. “I waited for a year and a half. My condition worsened and finally I had to go to my home country to get the treatment done. I am very worried about my family’s health care.” It also seems unlikely her children will be able to get the types of education they want in Canada. “My son wants to become a doctor, and my daugh ter would like to study dentistry,” she says. “But getting admission to these courses in Halifax seems next to impossible. They may have to go to some other country to fulfil their ambitions.” She has advice for people who want to immigrate to Canada.“Talkto people. Don’t just read articles in glossy magazines about the country,” she says. “Talk to immigrants who have been living here for five to 10 years and get to know what life in Canada is really like. If you have set ideas and are not willing to change, rethink your decision.”

C

THE PERSPECTIVE SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 9

After searching for many days, the family found a very small apartment available for rent. It was still too small, but they couldn’t be choosy. “We had to take it because my children’s school was about to open,” Jasmine says, adding that they lived there for a year before finding a big enough place.

oming to Canada from Egypt in 2017, Jasmine Khaled (name changed), her husband, and two children were hoping to find a better life. A friend told them Halifax would be a good place to raise a family. “This turned out to be true,” she says. “My son and daughter are very happy here and they have made many friends. They like the flexible school system and the freedom it offers.” But moving to Halifax was expensive. When they first arrived, they had to pay $3,000 a month in advance for a small one-bedroom-plus-den apartment in the city. “We were told that the apartment would be well fur nished and that it would have all amenities. But when we arrived, the place was not what we expected it to be,” Khaled recalls. “It was poorly furnished, and it was too small to accommodate four people.”

“Although I got along well with the neighbours and they were helpful, it took me more than a year to makeInfriends.”Egypt, she worked as an architectural engi neer, but that experience had little value in Halifax, particularly after a period of not working in the field while“Becauseimmigrating.ofthis three-year gap in my career, no Cana dian employer offered me a job in my own field,” she says. “I knew then that it was time to look at other options.”

Almost three decades later, we’re still not one big happy city region. Dartmouth resident and historian David Jones says Halifax gets too much of the spotlight.

This map shows the former municipal districts within Bedford, Halifax, Dartmouth, and Halifax County, which amalgamated to form HRM in the spring of 1996. It wasn’t a smooth transition. Halifax

By 1996, many municipal services were already regional, like waste collection and transit. Bylaws and other rules had to be aligned, as did wages for municipal employees. Some suddenly redundant workers had to compete for their jobs. Recently retired CBC reporter Pam Berman, who covered City Hall starting in 1997, recalls those chaotic early“Whendays.

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“When we formed the new Halifax Regional Council back then, they called it the Super City election,” recalls District 2 Councillor David Hendsbee, a previous Halifax County councillor who was also part of the HRM’s first council. He’s referring to one of the goofier monikers floated for the new municipality. (Among our favou rites:The“Darfordax.”)planbegan in 1993. The Savage government hired consultant Bill Hayward to look into the benefits of consolidating all the areas in what is now HRM. Hayward determined it would be financially beneficial to form a new municipal government. Amalgamation wasn’t a new idea. The former City of Halifax had happily gobbled up several other communities over the preceding decades, including Rockingham, Clayton Park, and Spryfield. And several small, unincorporated areas coalesced into the Town of Bedford in 1980.

HRM formed after a diktat from the government of Dartmouth-mayor-turned-premier John Savage, order ing the amalgamation of the Town of Bedford, the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, and the Municipality of the County of Halifax in a bid to cut costs.

“I still view myself as someone that lives in Dartmouth, that grew up in Dartmouth,” says Jones, who Halifax Regional Municipality was fittingly born on April Fool’s Day 1996, amid rancor ous debate over everything from governance to the name.

Birth of a Super City Region

A large group of strangers got a crash course in working“Theytogether.didn’tall know each other. If they did, they did from a distance, that kind of thing, and now they had to work together,” says Berman. “Even now, rural doesn’t think urban understands them, and it was worse back then. Everything was an ordeal. They weren’t nasty to each other, but they just didn’t understand each other.”

THE BACKSTORY

When four became one, and Halifax Regional Municipality was born BY KATIE INGRAM

I started covering it full time in June, they were still trying to figure out the first budget of an amal gamated municipality,” she says. “They went down from 64 (councillors) of separate units to 24. But even 24 trying to work out a new budget for an amalgamated municipality — it was long and painful.”

Jones says HRM needs to remember that collective, yet separate, identity more often. “When we have conversations about the siting of different facilities and infrastructure resources, I see a disproportionate leaning towards things being built, positioned and placed in Halifax,” he says. “Even though we’re supposed to be this one big community, I think Halifax still acts a lot like it’s a city and that’s not sup posed to be the case. So if we talk about where a new art gallery is going to be or if we talked about a new museum ... it doesn’t all just have to be in Halifax.” The first crop of HRM Councillors tour the Halifax Public greenhouseGardensin1996.

One ring to rule them all

RobichaudJoseph

HRM’s branding, which puts the word “Halifax” on buses and road signs throughout the municipality, is one oft-cited Hendsbeeexample.sayshe and his council colleagues are trying to address those concerns. He points to a lack of changes in civic addressing, and the retention of commu nity councils to address neighbourhood-level issues. “We are still trying to promote the over 200 communities that are still part of HRM collective,” he says.

The first Halifax Regional Council formed in 1996 with 24 councillors, not including the mayor. The provincial government has since cut it to 16. Before amalgamation, the County of Halifax had 25 councillors, the Town of Bedford had seven, the City of Halifax had 12, and the City of Dartmouth had 15 (excluding mayors).

was in Grade 1 in 1996. “That’s not to pretend that HRM doesn’t exist, but Dartmouth means so much to me. My family has lived here for over 200 years. I love the lakes. I love the downtown. I love going to the Alderney Market. I’m involved with the Dartmouth Heritage Museum. I have real connection to this place. So I worry — as a local historian and as a lifelong resident of Dartmouth — that amalgamation, that Halifax Regional Municipality, has taken away, to some extent, Dartmouth’s identity.”

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 11

The City of Halifax and Dartmouth had aldermen, an older term for councillor, and they represented wards, not Severaldistricts.politicians from the former municipal units won spots on the first HRM council: eight returnees from the City of Halifax, six from the County of Halifax, four from the City of Dartmouth, and one from Town of Bedford. Three newbies joined the ensemble. Most of the former mayors ended up cashing HRM paycheques. The City of Halifax’s Walter Fitzgerald was the first mayor. Bedford Mayor Peter Kelly took over a councillor position before becoming HRM’s next mayor. Gloria McCluskey, the last mayor of Dartmouth, would take a break from politics before returning as an HRM councillor from 2004 to 2016.

Submitted

THE CONVERSATION 12 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022

Nova Scotia’s storyteller Since making the province his home, Steve Vernon has built a career on sharing its lore

BY AMEETA PHOTOGRAPHYVOHRABY BRUCE MURRAY/VISIONFIRE

Things get a little darker from there. It’s just a juicy story where we’ve got misplaced love and people getting burned. It’s got all the wholesome entertainment that Maritimers usually love to read.”

The birth of a storyteller: “I learned to write before I learned to speak. I was a bit of a quiet child; I wasn’t sociable. When I started to write my stories in school, the teachers liked them enough that they’d get me to stand up in front of the class and read to them. All of a sudden, I was getting used to public speaking and there were a couple times I wrote plays and got some of the kids involved in that. They got us to present to the whole school in front of the auditorium.

Advice for new writers: “Look, it isn’t rocket science. All you’re doing is talking on paper and you can all talk. Just imagine if you are telling a story to one of your friends and you say ‘Wait until I tell you the stupid thing my uncle said’ and you start telling the story. Human beings breathe and tell stories.”

Originally from Ontario, Vernon came to Yarmouth at age 17 and made Nova Scotia his home, and soon became hooked on itsOnstories.theheels of success from his first collection Maritime Murders, Vernon has just released his sequel More Maritime Murders (both from Nimbus Publishing). He offers a unique perspective on how story telling has evolved over the years and how to succeed in a trying industry, while giving readers a peek into his new collection.

Favourite Maritime murder story: “Omar Roberts, who was a fellow who murdered somebody down in Yarmouth area back in 1922. He was a famous hunter, tracker, fish erman. I believe his second wife had passed and he was living by himself. He decided he needed somebody to do the housework. He hires this local girl and starts to remark on how much she looks like his dead wife.

“I’ve been writing for 40 years. For 14 years, I’ve had a day job. That is the key to my sur vival. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to make an actual full-time living as a writer, especially a regional author ... I love the Maritimes — great people — but we need more bodies.”

The goal: “A smile … to make someone happy. It’s a real breakthrough. They enjoy it and feel relaxed and forget about every thing that’s going on in the big, bad world, and there’s always something going on. If I can give them a little, quiet space to breathe and hear their own thoughts while they read my words, that’s good enough for me.”

Author Steve Vernon and Amy McIsaac, owner of the Dartmouth Book Exchange. Vernon sometimes hosts storytelling events at the shop.

More Maritime Murders: “It’s a collection of historical true crime tales from the Mari times. There’re 20 different stories from Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and New Brunswick. I wanted to make my wife happy: my wife loves true crime stories, and also, if I give her another true crime, she is going to let me live. I won’t someday be dug up from my backyard and be part of the third collection of true crime Maritime stories.”

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 13 For 40 years, author Steve Vernon’s storytelling passion has helped him build a loyal audience for his spooky and funny tales.

The more times I would tell stories and peo ple would applaud, cheer, and laugh, and I’d say ‘Wow, this is good.’”

Five years from now: “It’s become a little hard to see the future. Since 2019, who in their right mind would have envisioned ‘Here’s the future, we’re all going to stay home from work, close the doors, and wear masks.’ Nobody would have seen that coming. In a way, this whole pandemic has taught me to be adaptable. Normal isn’t going to happen. Normal is going to be different now. Be ready to change.”

Carving out a career in a tough industry:

SEPTEMBER 15-22,DU202215AU 22 SEPTEMBRE 2022

“First-time homebuyers are going to have to reconcile that they’re not going to start off with the granite counter tops or the prime neighbourhood they wanted,” he says. “You’re starting out. This is your first home. It’s not your foreverFivehome.”orsoyears ago, you could get a Halifax starter home for around $175,000. Now prices are closer to $350,000. And forget about finding something on the peninsula.

The increase is shutting out some buyers who fail to pass the higher lending “stress test” rates of close to seven per cent. But that should help tilt things in favour of the buyers that remain, with fewer of the frenzied bidding wars that saw homes snapped up in days at $100,000 or more over the asking“What’sprice.going on right now is not a bad thing,” says MacInnis. “The environment we were in was not healthy.”

After five-year fixed mortgage rates fell to an unprec edented low of 1.69 per cent during the pandemic, they’re back to a more normal five-per-cent range.

A place to start

“It’s something out in Sackville, Dartmouth, Eastern Passage, but you can still get a nice semi-detached in that $350,000 range,” MacInnis says. “A lot of my clients bought five, six, seven years ago and now they’re doing a financial reset based on today’s market. Whether they’re upgrading or refinancing, that equity works for them.” Halifax is still a bargain compared to markets like Ontario. Prices might retreat a bit here, but are more likely to keep heading up over the longer term, albeit not at the pace of the past few years.

There are still starter homes out there for first-time homebuyers,

“Are people buying today going to lose?” says MacInnis “Not a chance, The buyers are still there, so I don’t see people buying today putting themselves at risk of losing any money.”

As the overheated Halifax home-buying market cools, do first-time homebuyers risk getting burned? Even though prices surged earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic and interest rates have climbed, homes are out there for first-time buyers, says veteran mortgage broker Rod MacInnis. The hitch, he says, is most prospective buyers need to lower their expectations to find a place without getting in over their heads.

THE HOUSING MARKET

THEN $175,000: Going rate for a Halifax starter home five years ago $350,000: The cost of a Halifax starter home today START SAVING

BY JANET WHITMAN

$25,000: Minimum down payment of 5%, plus another $7,500 in closing $1,950:costsMonthly payment, including $1,652 mortgage based on a 4.69% five-year fixed rate, plus estimated taxes and heat $90,000: Combined household income needed, assuming a normal debt load such as a small car loan and student loan

but they’re not cheap

& NOW

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 15

Haligonian Daniel J. Burt has always been passionate about drawing and painting. After many years experimenting with spray paint, he now creates large-scale murals for Trackside Studios across the country and dreams of expanding worldwide. View: Been Cool Triggering memories of the Halifax that was VIEW

THE

Title: Been Cool Location: 6311 Quinpool Rd.

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The

SubmittedMurray/VisionFireBruce

“My mural ‘Been Cool’ depicts a small handful of iconic locations from Quinpool Road,” he says. “Though these places may be gone, they live on through the memories of visitors and citizens of Halifax. I am add ing a visual aid to these stories and possibly triggering memories forgotten.”

Care”

Beyond research Nova Scotian researchers and community leaders combine their work with unexpected results

player.fm/series/beyond-research THE SOUND FREE! subscriptiondigital & cook booklet3 UPSAVETO 49%2 Memories haying Shore love Fleur di Lis resto • Nicole Ruuska art • Bee plants IndigenoustreespiritsTwo-eyedseeingchangeseverything TWILLINGATE One of the best places on earth Two Decades ofGood Eats Start your holiday shopping today! Purchase your first Saltscapes subscription for just $27.00 (tax & shipping included).1 Gift your loved ones with a 1-year subscription for $25.00 (tax & shipping included)!1 CALL: 1-877-885-6344 ONLINE: saltscapes.com/subscriptions 1Please contact us for USA and international pricing 2Based on $48.65 annual newsstand price 3Only valid for new subscriptions Comfort &Joy Give the gift of Many interesting things are happening in local labs. With

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“Although the field is still relatively new, there seem to be more and more examples of virtual reality having a positive impact on health-care delivery, treatment, and training both here at home and around the globe,” say the hosts. “In this episode, we will explore examples of how research in the area of virtual reality could help address current gaps in our health-care system and improve patient care today and in the future.” its Beyond Research podcast, Scotia the system groans beneath the weight of COVID-19, recent “Virtual Reality and Health episode IWK’s Dr. Jordan Sheriko and Megan Brydon

explores how technology can ease the burden.

BY TREVOR J. ADAMS

Research Nova

aims to introduce audiences to researchers and community leaders whose are working to find practical applications for their innovations. As

the

18 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022

Hair salon owner and beauty expert Fred Connors gets credit for pushing Halifax to allow backyard hens. Starting in 2010, he racked up $70,000 in fines after neighbours complained about the chickens at his North End home.

The chickens come home to roost

MURRAY/VISIONFIRE

Jackie Allen had an idea as she looked out at her son’s“Heplayhouse.hadn’tused it in years,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘Maybe we should get chickens.” She researched (“Can I do this? Is it even a possi bility?”) and hatched a plan to turn the old playhouse into a “chicken condo.” The eggs would be a protein to go along with the vegetables from the raised garden beds she’d put in a few years earlier in her suburban yard in Waverley.

Enjoying a rush of primal self-sufficiency, growing numbers of Haligonians are emulating their forebearers and raising fowl BY JANET PHOTOGRAPHYWHITMANBYBRUCE

“Chickens used to be all through the city 50 or so years ago,” says local chicken-keeping advocate John Wimberley. “Post-Second World War, in all the

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 19 abundance and prosperity of that time, an attitude was growing that, if you grew your own food that was a sign of being poor and lesser.” Government policy started reflecting that attitude around North America. “Suddenly bylaws were popping up saying you could not keep animals or, in lots of cases, grow gardens,” Wimberley says. “You had to have plain grassFlashyards.”forward to 2012 and Wimberley was living on Beech Street in Halifax’s West End when he got a call from his father saying a woman and her young daughter had a few chickens destined for the dinner table unless they found a new home. “That seemed like a good time to start with some chickens because the worst-case scenario of me not knowing what I’m doing was still going to give them a few more days or weeks or months,” he says. “Har vesting chickens seemed like a good skill for being connected with our food.” In the days leading up to getting the birds, he started rethinking his plan. “It seemed like a great opportunity to put my concerns and cares and advocacy around local and sustainable food and community resilience into an earthy, everyday practice of caring for these animals,” he says. The chickens became his pets. Halifax bylaws outlawed backyard chickens. But, says Wimberley, “if the neighbours didn’t com plain, the city wasn’t going to poke their nose in and do anything about it.”

The urban farming renaissance comes decades after the practice fell out of favour following a heyday during the world wars. Then, governments encouraged “victory gardens” in backyards and public parks to pro mote solidarity and boost food production, including eggs collected from flocks of backyard hens and crops of vegetables, fruit, and herbs.

“I did the math and I’m not really saving too, too much money,” she says. “We can afford to buy eggs. It’s about being self-sufficient. It’s about going outside in your yard to get your eggs, rather than getting in a car and driving. It’s like a basic primal feeling of taking care of yourself.”Nowwith seven young chickens, Allen is part of a growing backyard-chicken trend, as people become more interested in where their food comes from and some worry about food security. Gardening has also seen a resurgence, with the COVID-19 pandemic giving people more free time at home and a desire to be more self-sufficient as supply chain snags disrupt the avail ability of products and prices keep going up.

He’s had no complaints about his brood. “I live in a historically working class and Black neighbourhood,” he says. “People in my neighbourhood feel like keeping chickens is normal. They rejected that stigma (that) it shows you’re poor or lesser than.”

Outside the city, they must contend with birds of prey, foxes, coyotes, skunks, or weasels, which can squeeze through a small hole in a coop. “A majority of the stories that I hear about people deciding they’re no longer going to keep chickens revolve around losing “It’s about being self-sufficient. It’s about going outside in your yard to get your eggs, rather than getting in a car and driving”

— Jackie Allen

Wimberley says people are often surprised to learn the same rules apply for keeping backyard chickens in urban areas as in the suburban and rural parts of the sprawling“There’smunicipality.anideathat chickens are better off in a rural area, but it’s simply not true,” he says. “Chickens do so well in cities.” In most of urban Halifax, the most common preda tors are racoons. The animals are nocturnal, so chicken keepers just need to make sure their birds are closed in at night with foolproof latches.

20 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022

He estimates a few hundred people are keeping backyard chickens in the urban core, up from perhaps fewer than two dozen when he started. The municipal ity probably has well over a thousand, he says.

“It was a crack house for 10 years and the city did nothing about it,” he tells Wimberley in a video documentary on chicken keeping. “For 10 years, that backyard was filled with garbage ... The optics of fining me $70,000 after I turned it into an urban farm … and they were going to crack down on some chickens. They would look so stupid.” The city eventually discovered it had no grounds to fine Connors. Its bylaw forbidding backyard chickens didn’t cover the urban core where he lived, and he was off theCityhook.staff got to work on new rules and bylaws, and in September 2019, councillors approved the keeping of “egg-laying fowl” for personal use in densely populated areas, including Halifax-Dartmouth. Two years later, permission expanded across HRM, which council says was based on growing interest in hen-keeping and to support local food security. Lots less than 4,000 square metres can now host up to 10 hens. Roosters are outlawed, but the city only cracks down if neighbours complain. Stats on urban chickens are hard to come by. Halifax implemented a voluntary hen registration in October 2021. Only five households have signed up so far, says HRM spokesperson Klara Needler.

Wimberley, who teaches a monthly chicken-keeping workshop and hosts school groups in his large backyard coop on Creighton Street in the North End, says he isn’t one of them.

“There’s an idea that chickens are better off in a rural area, but it’s simply not true” — John Wimberley

“They’re already growing food and understand that part of growing food is supplying your own fertilizer and they also produce food waste on site,” which chick ens can eat, says Wimberley. “This is a way to offer eggs the residents, to amend the soil with chicken manure, and provide people there with the meaningful activity of caring for these creatures.”

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 21 birds to predators,” says Wimberley. “It breaks their hearts, and they just don’t know whether they can take it ... You don’t generally have to deal with that in the city. It’s wildly safer and easier.”

The not-for-profit secured grants from two food security charities to build a large coop and chicken run and hopes to get birds by the fall, she says. “It’s a whole experiment for us.” Plenty of Haligonians don’t have the luxury of a backyard.Currently, 27 municipal properties are hosting non-profit-organized community gardens with raised beds, while many other community gardens are on pri vateHillaryproperty.Lindsay, a coordinator with Common Roots Urban Farm, says the city has a shortage of community garden space to meet the needs of people who want to dig in the dirt and grow some food.

“Our community gardens have quite long waiting lists,” she says. Its community garden at the bottom of Bayers Road in the West End has more than 150 people waiting for a plot since the group was uprooted from a much bigger space downtown next to the Halifax Infirmary in 2018, so the hospital can expand.

The other benefit of city farming is “it’s right where people are” and gardens and coops can be all different sizes, he says. “There are types of agriculture that don’t scale well, specifically don’t scale down well. Garden ing, urban farming, and keeping chickens scale so well, up and down, so easily to fit just about any space.”

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, says aspiring urban

The Common Roots garden in Dartmouth, on land next to the Nova Scotia Hospital, has a waiting list of about 25 people. On top of that, a growing line up of immigrants who gardened in their native countries are eager for larger plots, says Lindsay. “When they see the size of our garden beds, it’s just not what they’re used to in terms of being able to grow food to support their fam ily or the kind of food they’re used to eating.”

Out of the Cold executive director Michelle Malette says chickens, like the garden boxes and plans for a cat in the common area, are part of efforts to build a feeling of community on the former parking lot. “It’s what makes a home,” she says. “The chickens are a pretty exciting thing here. We already have some residents who are interested.”

Wimberley would like to see the 10-hen limit raised to help combat food insecurity, a growing concern as the price of goods rise and more Haligonians slip below the poverty line. He’s working with the Out of the Cold Community Association to add backyard hens on the grounds of the emergency modular housing units the city installed behind the North End’s Centennial Pool to provide housing for the homeless.

COCK-A-DOODLE-DON’T

“You never know what their future is going to hold,” she adds. “It’s cool to learn basic things and other things. If he wants to be a computer analyst, he can be a computer analyst that knows how to grow chickens. It’s never going to hurt him” The family of three eats about 18 eggs a week.

Jackie Allen's dog guards the "backyard chicken condo."

22 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 green thumbs might not end up saving much money.

Allen says it’s nice to know they’re producing what her husband Fraser Allen calls “happy eggs” from hens that get to spend time outdoors pecking at the ground and getting protein from bugs, rather than cooped up 24/7 and eating feed. In the store, those eggs are always more expensive, she says. “Free range, organic, whatever made us feel better, we would seek out to find the happiest egg. But they’re only as happy as (the packaging) says they are. When I’m raising them — there’s one, Tammy, who likes to be cuddled — I know that is joy and she is happy.” She imagined the chickens would be her own thing and she’d get eye rolls from her son and husband. “But we’re all into it. Chickens are really fun. They’re really smart. They’re quirky.”

“Early on, I don’t think they’d see much savings.”

Roosters, as the saying goes, like to rule the roost. An aggressive bird can fight with other roosters or hurt the hens.

“It is work to have chickens, or even a garden,” he says.

Roosters don’t always fit in so well. While Halifax’s updated bylaws don’t allow them in backyard coops, the municipality only cracks down if neighbours complain. Their crowing at sunrise isn’t the only potential problem.

Amanda Dainow, who co-founded farm animal rescue North Mountain Animal Sanctuary in the Annapolis Valley, sees the consequences.

“People dump them, literally, wherever,” she says. “Their survival rate in the wild is nothing really. They’re subject to predators, vehicle accidents, cold, heat, dehydration.”

Since launching 11 years ago, North Mountain has taken in about 30 hens, some with special needs. The charity currently has a flock of 15 chickens, including five roosters. “We have more space for hens, but not roosters,” says Dainow. She doesn’t encourage it, but many roosters end up in stew pots, a more utilitarian fate than roadkill.

North End-based chicken advocate John Wimberley believes that people abandoning chickens isn’t a widespread problem. “It’s a concern mostly raised by city governments when they’re arguing against allowing chickens to be kept,” he says. “There’s always a lot of people willing to take in a chicken that someone can no longer keep. Several times I’ve had people contact me and say, ‘I’m moving. Would you like to take my chickens?’ or ‘My housing situation has changed. Could you take these birds on?’”

Allen likes the idea of her nearly 14-year-old son Levi Allen learning about chickens. “He and his friend were here one afternoon playing with the chickens,” she says. “In this world that we live in, where it’s video games and apps and iPhones and kids inside all day, I’ve always wanted to show him that this is how you have food, this is how you grow a gar den, chop wood.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALEXANDER MACASKILL

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 23 Kevin Kelloway has a message for employers, and it’s not one they necessarily want to hear: “You’re not calling the shots anymore.”

A professor of psychology at Saint Mary’s University, Kelloway is a former Canada Research Chair in occupational health psychology. “It’s very much an employee’s market. So you’re going to start seeing employees flex their muscle,” he says. “They’re going to do that as individuals by choosing not to work at certain places, or just quitting jobs if they’re treated poorly. And you’re going to see it collectively through more unionization.”

The sectors most affected by shutdowns in the early days of the pandemic — restaurants, retail, and tourism — all relied on face-to-face contact, and had a workforce that was lower paid than average, often with female and racialized workers.

Where are the workers?

There are plenty of Haligonians looking for jobs — but employers can’t take them for granted anymore BY PHILIP MOSCOVITCH

CERB was “a godsend,” Hillman says. The govern ment assistance allowed her to pay rent during the spring and summer of 2020, and save a bit. And that gave her the freedom to be selective about a new job, instead of taking the first thing that came along out of desperation. In fall 2020, she accepted a customer ser vice job that allows her to work from home. “A huge benefit of it was I can get up, I can do this job from home, and I don’t have to worry about catching COVID,” Hillman says. “I like the flexibility of it. You can get up and work in your pyjamas if you want to. I can schedule breaks to go for walks, get outside, do other errands. There isn’t two hours of commuting every day, so I get that time back to use however I want. It’s very much improved my mental health, physical health, and emotional well-being, for sure.”

If you’re an employer trying to find workers, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s a boon for the thousands of Nova Scotian workers struggling on the brink of poverty. “For some people in the real world, it’s actually quite a good thing that there is scarcity of workers and employers have to try harder to make their jobs attractive,” he adds.

Willow Raven (her professional name) is one of the many workers to shift to something more satisfying dur ing the pandemic. She quit her job when her employer wanted her to come back into the office. She had been

“A—topowereconomylabour-shortagetransfersfromemployersworkers”LarsOsberg

24 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022

You’ve probably read endless variations on the trope “people don’t want to work anymore.” The gist, generally without any supporting evidence, is that young people are lazy, or they were so spoiled by pandemic benefits they didn’t want to get back into the job market.

Katherine Hillman is one of those workers. She lives in the North End and was working a retail job in Bedford before the pandemic. A NSCAD University graduate, she had hoped to find something better, but describes retail as “a hard hole to dig your way out of.” Low wages mean workers can’t afford to quit while looking for work, and long hours at a physically demanding job mean there’s little free time or energy for a job search.

“Is this a bad thing? To have jobs chasing people rather than people chasing jobs?” he asks. “From the point of view of the vast majority of the population who depend on rising wages to pay their bills, a labour shortage is good news ... A labour-shortage economy transfers power from employers to workers.”

But Lars Osberg, an economics professor at Dalhou sie, has a different perspective on the labour shortage.

The rate Canadian economists consider “full employment,” when everyone willing and able is working: 6% and just a lot healthier overall, because I wasn’t rushing in the mornings. I wasn’t eating trash because I didn’t have time to make lunch,” she says. But when her employer insisted she return to the office, Raven was unwilling. “We’ve proven that people can be functional and productive outside of an office environment,” she says. “I don’t understand why it has such a hold on people. It definitely did help me realize how much I loved the independence of working from home. And now I get to do it all the time.” Her new job sometimes involves working evenings and weekends, but she doesn’t mind because it’s on her own terms. Raven is a professional wrestling fan, and so are many of her subscribers. She does photo shoots, themed days (music on Mondays, professional wrestling on Wednesdays), private video and sexting sessions, and chats with subscribers, while also manag ing her social media. “I usually do two to three days of content creation a week, where I’m actually photographing or shooting content, and then a couple of days where I just do admin work, I schedule all my posts, and write blogs,” she says. Like Raven, growing numbers of Halifax workers are realizing they don’t have to settle for unfulfilling jobs. “When you look at the labour market right at the moment, vacancies are remarkably high in histori cal terms in relation to the unemployment numbers,” Osberg says. in alumni relations for two different Halifax universi ties, and remembers the work as “very hectic.” At one point, she says, she went six weeks without a day off. While on stress leave, Raven decided to test the waters as a sex worker, setting up an OnlyFans account. “I decided if I could get 24 subscribers in the first 24 hours, I’d keep it for about a month and see how it goes. In the first 12 hours, I got 50 subscribers,” Raven recalls. She still kept her university job, working remotely in the first year and a half of the pandemic. “I loved work ing from home. “I found it so much more productive

The amount required to earn a “living wage” (pay for all necessities and support an average-sized family in Nova Scotia) according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: $22.05

Current unemployment rate in Nova Scotia (as of June 2022): 6.5% Canadian unemployment rate (as of June 2022): 5.1%

Minimum wage in Nova Scotia: $13.35/hour

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 25 WORKER SHORTAGE, OR GOOD JOB SHORTAGE?

In late July, the job-search website indeed.com showed dozens of job openings at the airport, several marked “urgently hiring” or “hiring multiple candi dates.” The airport even organized a job fair to help commercial tenants recruit talent.

In an email, spokesperson Brendan Elliott notes that these numbers don’t necessarily reflect a mass exodus. “In some cases, net new positions have been added, which could account for an increase in one month without it necessarily meaning someone left a position,” he says. There are also parental and other leaves of absence. Still, the increase in vacancies for some positions is striking.

Nova Scotia has an aging population, which has meant retirements, particularly in the skilled trades. Meanwhile, in health care, Kelloway says, “A lot of people, through the pandemic, decided that’s it for them.” And in hospitality jobs with low wages and poor working condition, many employees who were “disrupted during the pandemic just didn’t come back.”

26 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 advisor. “We are not immune to the labour shortage,” she says. “Some of the restaurants want to open later but can’t because they don’t have the staff.”

The impacts of the pandemic continue, Batstone says: “All the food and beverage businesses at the air port, the hotels out here, the companies that handle the luggage handling — everyone was impacted during the pandemic, because for a while there was very little activityNovahere.”Scotia Health is one of the city’s largest em ployers, and has plenty of vacancies. In July 2022, the health authority had a total of 1,816 vacant positions in its Central Zone, up from 612 two years earlier. That same month, the NSH was looking to hire 633 registered nurses (up from 224 in 2020), 145 licensed practical nurses (up from 22), and 175 administrators (up from 67 two years earlier).

“We’ve

At Halifax Stanfield International Airport, staffing levels have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, accord ing to Leah Batstone, the airport’s communications proven that people can be functional and productive outside of an office environment” — Willow Raven

Kelloway says the labour shortage “cuts across different sectors” and “nobody knows exactly what’s going on.” But he can point to several factors.

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 27 Cassidy Boudreau recently graduated in public rela tions from Nova Scotia Community College, and works for a Halifax-based organization in the tech sector. Unravel agreed to not use her real name, so she could speak frankly about her employer. Before graduating, Boudreau was “scared” of the prospect of searching for her first full-time professional job. But the reality was “definitely less daunting” than she expected: “There are so many comms jobs ... Every body I talk to from my class got jobs immediately.”

Boudreau had specific requirements she was look ing for: a competitive salary, a good benefits package, free parking, “and flexibility to work from home, if I wantedAlthoughto.” her employer promised she could work from home at least part of the time, Boudreau says it turned out they don’t have a hybrid work policy. When asked why working from home is important to her, Boudreau says, “It has become increasingly clear to me that I really value a good work-life balance. And if you’re spending all your time commuting, if I can’t go to the gym or spend time with my boyfriend, or cook dinner and do all the things that I actually want to do outside of work, then it’s not a very good balance.”

One thing is clear: job openings are not the result of a mass movement of people just quitting and opting out of the workforce, Osberg says. “Canadian data never did support the great resignation.” In addition to retire ments, which represent “a gradual change,” he notes that immigration dropped off dramatically in 2020 and 2021, meaning fewer people entering the workforce. Now, it “is starting to tick back up again.” Flexibility is the key to hiring these days, says Scott Newnham. He’s the director of operations for the Firkin Group of Pubs, which operates nearly two dozen outlets, mostly in and around Toronto, plus at the Halifax airport.

“You’re just not finding people available to work who have experience, so we have no choice but to hire peo ple who are more of a fit soft-skill wise and train them to do the day-to-day tasks,” Newnham says. He recognizes “it’s an employee’s market,” so Firkin is offering “signing bonuses, even for hourly staff.” “People know there are multiple restaurants, and they have the pick of the litter,” he says. At the same time, several positions the company had open in late July paid as little as $14.50 an hour. All this means it’s a great time to be looking for a job. Recent graduates don’t face the same gut-churning uncertainty over whether they’ll find work that they did just a few years ago.

Boudreau says if her employer doesn’t let her work part-time from home after three months, she’ll look for another job, and she’s not worried about finding one. At Halifax Transit, staffing shortages were so acute this summer that managers cut many route schedules and cancelled some stops.

After

28 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022

BY BRUCE BISHOP funding turmoil and pandemic disruptions, the local film industry has regained its footing and is poised for a boom

FitzgeraldThombySubmittedPhoto:

Thom Fitzgerald - Splinters

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 29 For many Nova Scotians, one thing returned to normal this summer: their commu nities were again hosting film and TV productions from all over. And it's going to continue — the province has become a year-round movie-making destination. Most projects are American or Canadian, and filmmaking of all kinds means a windfall for local economies because the casts and crews eat, sleep, party, and spend money in stores and on services in the communities where they work. For example, this spring and summer, Nova Scotians saw weekly filming at various sites of Washington Black, a miniseries that will air in Canada on Disney +. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Esi Edugyan, the nine-episode series is set in the 19th century. Much of the series is shooting in Lunenburg and Halifax, assuring local background performers (AKA “extras”) plenty of work. In March, Premier Tim Houston announced new funding from the province to aid the ever-growing industry: $5 million to build a sound stage in HRM, with $15 million (plus an additional $10 million if needed) to fund local productions over several years. Government

Fateh Ahmed

“Halifax is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada for immigrants, and we all have something to contribute” — Fateh Ahmed Moonshine, Diggstown, That Sex Show, and more — see what’s currently shooting in Nova Scotia: screennovascotia.com/productions

Stephanie Joline - Night Blooms hasn’t released the rules attached to the lat ter two amounts. Sue Comeau is a screenwriter based in Halifax who hopes the spending will make it easier to sell her work.

Also, Fin Atlantic International Film Festival returns this month, showcasing local talents. Read more on page 8.

“When I mention I’m from Nova Scotia, it’s an awesome conversation starter with production companies in L.A.,” she says. “But I’m definitely hoping that the new funding will encourage local producers to hire writers and other creatives who are diligently working right here in their backyards. In 2021, even during the ongoing pan demic, the industry doubled its volume from 2020, creating $180 million in eco nomic activity for the province. This spring, Houston told reporters: “We’re not going to walk away and let this momentum dissipate. We’re going to send a strong message.” Even more Hollywood producers, who already save on the currency exchange, will likely heed that message. The 50,000-squarefoot soundstage at a yet-to-be-determined location in Halifax fills the gap left by the closure of the Tour Tech soundstage, and should thrill local and foreign produc ers. The ability to film year-round in all weather promises to be a selling point, complementing the professional crews already in place.

Photo:JessieWells

“There is so much film production hap pening now,” he says. “It’s definitely needed.”

Tom Anthes began working for CBC in 1967 in various roles, but mostly as a set designer and art director. He has created the wide variety of sets for This Hour Has 22 Minutes since its inception. The series cele brates its 30th season this year and has been taped at Culture Link CIC, the site of the former World Trade & Convention Centre in downtown Halifax. He knows the province requires a large soundstage.

Fateh Ahmed, owner of Core Film Pro ductions in Halifax, which specializes in humanitarian documentaries, agrees. “This money will help small- to medium-sized pro duction companies,” he says, “and will attract a younger demographic to the province.” His latest project, which wrapped in ear ly June, is the federal-government funded documentary Working While Black. It serves primarily as a training module for govern ment and will stream for public viewing.

Thom Fitzgerald, a NSCAD University alumnus and a New Jersey native who calls Halifax home, is a director and writer, best known for his feature films The Hanging Garden (1997) and Cloudburst (2011). the Gharrett Paon - Wildhood

Ahmed — a music composer “from reggae to classical,” which he calls “the core of my talent” — is excited about the possibilities that come with new funding to the province’s film and TV industry. “I’d like to see more inclusive and diverse producers and directors come out of this, more union members that will help facili tate the pathway into this vibrant industry,” he says. “Halifax is one of the fastest grow ing cities in Canada for immigrants, and we all have something to contribute.”

For

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 31 >PhotoSmithRileyPhotos:

“When I mention I’m from Nova Scotia, it’s an awesome conversation starter with production companies in L.A.” Sue Comeau

Jessica Brown Bernie Langille Wants to Know What Happened to Bernie Langille

32 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 >BrownJessicabySubmittedPhotos:

past couple of years, he has been produc ing two comic series for OutTV, a specialty channel based in British Columbia. “It’s a heartening and emboldening time for the (Nova Scotian) film and TV indus try knowing that the community is behind them,” he says. “The new content fund will close the gap in producers’ financing and will have a very positive impact on the industry.” Originally from the U.K., Stuart Cresswell launched Simple Films and then Skye Larke Productions in 2008 in River John on the North Shore. He has been in the business since 1996 and is proud to be a film maker in a rural setting, employing locals. “Now for the first time, the film and TV industry as a whole is being taken seriously in recognizing all the avenues and benefits it brings to Nova Scotia,” he says. “Personally, I’d like to see the new soundstage in Truro, as it’s so central. The focus of attention is usually Halifax, and that’s fine, as there has to be a structure around the industry ... We shoot all over the province. Indeed, for us there is a bonus for not shooting all the while in (HRM) only.”

DanCallisPhoto:

Terry Greenlaw Dawn, Her Dad & The Tractor

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Currently, Cresswell’s company is en tering its fourth season of producing The Final Draft (about Nova Scotian writers), Blank Canvas (about Nova Scotian artists), and The Ways We Move (a series regarding dance). And with ever-growing demand for new content by international streaming and broadcast services, there’s plenty of cause for optimism about the future of the indus try in Nova CreswellScotia.sees a tremendous benefit to the current methods producers from the province use to apply for funding, com pared with the former tax credit days (1995 to 2015).“Pre-applying (for a production’s costs) and getting a guaranteed level of funding at the start of production, and the speed of the turnaround, has allowed my company to produce five to six projects in a year,” he explains. “We’ve gone from employing Nova Scotians on a contractual basis to having the equivalent of 18 full-time positions around the province doing a range of jobs.”

— Stuart Cresswell

Terry Greenlaw Dawn, Her Dad & The Tractor Terry Greenlaw Bystanders

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 33

“For the first time, the film and TV industry as a whole is being taken seriously in recognizing all the avenues and benefits it brings to Nova Scotia”

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Activist Devon Bundy creates places where Black men can connect and talk about their mental health BY AMEETA VOHRA

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36 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 ★ BACK T O THE ★ BARBERSHOP

H is whole life, Devon Bundy has seen mem bers of his family wrestle with mental health issues. The Halifax native came to believe it was taboo for Black Nova Scotians to talk openly about their challenges.

“Our community doesn’t talk about mental health,” he says. “There’s a lot of ... generational trauma from racism, but also community trauma that has happened from different dynamics.”

“Do we know their family history?” he says. “Do we know what’s going on in their home, and what’s causing them to act out this way?”

“I remember my mom dealing with some depres sion and things like that,” he says. “We needed to come together and talk about it. Our family really rallied around and supported each other. We started doing things that make our family closer.”

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Bundy’s mother and grandmother raised him in Mulgrave Park, a North End public housing commu nity. When he was younger, he often saw friends and neighbours acting in ways he considered destructive to themselves and their community, usually with little explanation. And many went to jail for it.

With his health education program, Devon Bundy (sitting left) hopes to re-create the conversation and camaraderie of a traditional barbershop like Fine Lines in Lakeside.

While these questions kickstarted his journey as a mental-health advocate, personal losses fuelled his passion. When Bundy’s grandmother died, it was an un expected loss and shock for the entire family.

Submitted “People that look like you and are trained in certain areas are more apt to understand what it is you’re going through from a cultural perspective” — Devon Bundy

One of those community partners is the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, which created a fund to support the Brotherhood.

Talking and listening are vital to mental health, she adds. ”Creating an environment that’s welcoming goes a long way, as opposed to going to talk to someone in their office on your own. It’s night and day when it comes to the impact it can have.”

“What that looks like is addressing health themes around heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, colon and prostate cancer,” says Bundy. “These issues affect Black men more than men of European descent,

“You don’t even realize you’re supporting your mental health but that break from the city and every day life, and the hustle and bustle of work, and then coming together with family — relaxing, laughing, and just enjoying each other — was good for our mental health,” he says. “Even though we were sad, you could see the positive vibes and everyone was feeling up lifted. Everyone came away from the weekend feeling rejuvenated and happy.” After graduating from Cape Breton University and Dalhousie, Bundy put his social work degree to use, advocating for mental health. While currently working on a master of public administration from the University of Victoria, he’s a health services manager with the Nova Scotia Brotherhood Initiative. Started in 2015, the free program helps Black men access health care. A team of health professionals — including a community liaison coordinator, well ness navigator, family physician, and a soon-to-launch health commission — provide culturally specific medi cal care and services to this marginalized group.

He’s also busy with the impending launch of the Nova Scotia Sisterhood, a similar free program to improve Black women’s access to health care, offering mental health support, reproductive ser vices, and breast and cervical screening.

“We reached out to the Nova Scotia Brotherhood through NS Health and we’re very happy to be able to support the program,” says the foundation’s president and CEO Starr Cunningham, adding that the funds helped create the Barbershop Talks, modelled on a tra ditional community gathering place. “They’re designed to bring Black men together in a very welcoming envi ronment where everyone comes, sits around, talks, and the bonus is that you get your hair cut there,” she says.

Bundy’s family, whose roots are in Cherry Brook, a Black community near Dartmouth, brought back their traditional Sunday family dinners, and planned an an nual camping trip to honour and celebrate his late grandmother’s legacy.

38 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 plus mental health, addictions, physical activity, and just overall obtaining health information specific to Black men.”

Different Black communities host talks each month. Men come in for a haircut, a healthy snack, and conver sation about issues like racism, chronic diseases, mental health, and financial well-being. Some talks have a guest speaker, other times members of the Brotherhood team guide the discussion. Sometimes the talks will be held in a community where a tragic event has happened, such as recent gun violence. It’s a throwback to the informal conversations Black men might have in barbershops. “Sometimes folks don’t know where to reach out to get support when they’re Bundy (striped shirt in the top photo, second from the right in the bottom) recalls duringinfriendsstrengthdrawingfromhisandfamilyMulgraveParktryingtimes.

The Brotherhood similarly focuses on health promotion and wellness education, provides a navigator to help steer Black men to health and community resources, helps manage ongoing health conditions through the group’s family physician, and collaborates with community partners and groups.

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 39 feeling anxious, upset, or angry,” Bundy says. “We’ll come in, bring the supports and facilitate a conversa tion around that. Men can get their hair cut and get a shape up. They can leave feeling like ‘Geez, I look good today, I had a good, healthy conversation, and I have someBundyresources.’”saysit’s hard to access services when the per son treating you doesn’t look like you nor understand your cultural nuances.

As he continues his work with the Nova Scotia Brotherhood Initiative, Bundy is also managing three community health and wellness clinics in North and East Preston, part of the Dartmouth Network, and help ing plan November’s Black Men’s Conference at the Nova Scotia Community College. And his ultimate goal is to see the Brotherhood go provincewide.“Ihopefolks are aware that the supports are out there,” he says. “Clinicians and providers that look like you are there and you don’t have to feel alone in your mental health care. Every single person in this world struggles with mental health at some capacity in some way. We all just deal differently.”

“Nova Scotia is growing, HRM is growing, the di versity is huge, and we need to have organizations that represent that diversity,” he says. “This is why we exist: folks come to us when they’re looking for Black

“People that that look like you and are trained in certain areas are more apt to understand what it is you’re going through from a cultural perspective,” he says. “They can identify with those nuances, with those issues and the microaggressions that happen … and can relate to us explaining our issues as Black people, then we’re more apt to open up and share. Instead of feeling judged, enclosed, and putting our defences up, we know that we can share because this person knows without me having to go into great detail.” Bundy believes the health system doesn’t have enough people who can meet the cultural and social needs of Black men.

The idea is “to bring Black men together in a very welcoming environment where everyone comes, sits around, talks, and the bonus is that you get your hair cut there” — Starr Cunningham clinicians, service providers, or community resources that look like them.” Bundy believes Nova Scotia has made progress, but because addressing Black mental health has been taboo for so long, solutions take time. Cunningham credits Bundy with being a big part of the shift. “His work speaks for him, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with him because he’s impacting change, and making a difference in the lives of many,” she says. “Those are the type of champions we love working with in the community, because they’re the champions who know what’s needed and how to provide the services.”

n the picture, the sign above the door of the artfully imagined Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre says “Wije’winen” or “Come with us.” So, you do. You move through the big glass doors and into the broad rotunda where dozens of people gather in groups to talk and listen, read and play music, share news and make plans. You glance at the walls, covered in local art, and into the corners, crowded with craft dis plays, before you wander over to the main circle where staff are explaining the programs this place offers the Indigenous community — housing, employment, health, justice, seniors, childcare, and family support — and the cultural and economic partnerships it helps build with everyone else. You may not be Indigenous, but you feel welcome. You think about the past, but mostly about the future. And you keep walking forward. Or you will soon, and not just in your mind. After two decades of dreaming, planning, and pro posing, one of Halifax’s prominent and most enduring community organizations (founded in 1973), is on the brink of getting the land it needs to erect a permanent home of brick, mortar, steel, and concrete to replace its lovingly rendered drawings. Sources tell Unravel that HRM Council has all but approved the transfer to the cen tre of property once occupied by Canadian Blood Services at the corner of Gottingen Street and Rainnie Drive, not far from the fortress that Edward Cornwallis built.

“(Where we are now) is certainly not sufficient,” she says. “We can’t even have a staff meeting with everybody in the same room. I’m very thankful to be in the space, but it’s not meeting the needs for the additional pro gramming that we’re looking to bring on.”

“I actually stopped by the property the other day and stood there looking up at Citadel Hill,” she says. “I couldn’t stop thinking what a legacy piece this place will be for the Mi’kmaq, and for any Nova Scotian. It says that while we recognize the past, we know the future is here, and we’re going to do things differently.”

A place to finally call

40 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022

More than this, she adds, the new home is crucially, symbolically significant. Indeed, there’s a reason why, other than its availability: she and the centre’s board chose this spot in the shadow of 18th-century battle ments and cannons where colonization began.

Although she’ll neither confirm nor deny the transfer, HRM advisor on Indigenous Community Engagement Cheryl Copage-Gehue says: “The city is very supportive of the new building, and there have been ongoing discussions with (the centre) about get ting this asset up and open.”

With the transfer of a culturally symbolic plot of land in downtown Halifax expected soon, a key piece of the new 70,000-square-foot Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre is settling into place. Now, the real work begins BY ALEC BRUCE

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The move clears the way for a 70,000-square foot headquarters-cum-gathering place for about 200 staff and 5,000 Indigenous clients and patrons. According to executive director Pam Glode-Desrochers, who’s cur rently in temporary digs on nearby Brunswick Street, the need for something new and capacious is urgent.

“While we recognize the past, we know the future is here, and we’re going to do things differently” — Pam Glode-Desrochers

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 41 home fotographyclarkkelly

That’s been a monstrously tough promise to keep. History is an unforgiving anchor. “I do worry people will begin to forget about the first 215 kids that were found,” Glode-Desrochers says. “I worry the Truth and Recon ciliation report gets put on a shelf and starts gathering dust like all of these other great studies and reports.”

As Indigenous scholar David Joseph Gallant points out in his 2022 Canadian Encyclopedia update, not only do the Mi’kmaq continue to reel from the latest reve lations, the “lasting trauma of residential schools, the cultural, generational and economic dislocation” continues to ricochet. “In the 1940s,” he writes, “the Department of Indian Affairs forced more than 2,000 Mi’kmaq living in numerous small communities to relocate to govern ment-designated reserves. The moves, undertaken for the sole purpose of streamlining government admin istration were fraught with mismanagement and experimental tactics, and had disastrous effects on the communities. Homes, churches and industries were abandoned and replaced with poor conditions and economic dependency.” Since then, the rush into the cities, particularly Halifax, has been inexorable.

“The majority of us are working, living, and playing in an urban context because it’s just basic,” Glode-Desrochers says. “You go to school here, you find a job here. We all want safe, affordable housing, access

42 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022

Murray/VisionFireBruceMurray/VisionFireBruceAs First urbanize,communitiesNationsfriendshipcentresarevaluableculturaltouchstones.

to education, and to food security. For some reason, people seem to think we want different things, but we all want the same things in life, right?”

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Planners envision a CentreMi'qmaw70,000-square-footnewNativeFriendshipserving5,000clients.

Glode-Desrochers certainly did when she first arrived at the centre from Millbrook First Nation as a summer student in 1989. For 17 years, it had been run ning cultural, social, educational, economic, and health programs specifically designed to fight the dislocation and isolation many Indigenous people felt while making the tough transition from their traditional communities to the stark and naked city. She says her own move and first job with the centre changed her life. “I’m 200-per-cent sure I would not be here today without the support I received. I was never questioned about who I was or where I came from. I was completely accepted.” It seemed natural to return the favour. In no time, she became a “true believer,” accept ing jobs with increasing responsibility and authority, generating ideas and fundraising to support the rising demand for new programs. By the early 2000s, she and the board of directors also began to realize they were going to need more room. But not just any room. According to its website, “Foremost among site location criteria (was) to have an iconic, culturally-relevant building to provide services to … a growing and diverse Indigenous urban population, and to provide visibility to Indigenous culture in a way that instills pride in our people and welcomes everyone.” By 2013, as the new executive director, GlodeDesrochers was spending most of her time knocking on government doors, testing interest, and pursuing leads. “There’s a lot of people who don’t understand the world of not-for-profit work,” she says. “You are constantly

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Studios/MNFCFathom Murray/VisionFireBruce

writing proposals, and not all of them are funded. Quite often it’s driven by what I always call the political flavour of the month … I won’t lie, though. My ultimate goal is never to have to write another proposal.” Still, she says, it’s worth the effort. “I believe we save lives and I believe we can change the impact of coloni zation on our community. I have even seen members of my own staff shift and change and believe in and be proud of who they are when they’re given a little bit of language, culture, ceremony, and tradition.”

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Nothing about this surprises people who know the community model Glode-Desrochers espouses. Alex Paul, executive director of Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, based in Membertou First Nation, points out that the national friendship centre movement in Canada has been around as long as he has. Self-determined, Indigenous owned and operated, these hubs were designed to support Indigenous people living in urban, rural, and remote settings. About 126 currently operate across the country, including the Canadian Native Centre in Toronto, which he says was “instru mental” to him when he was in his 20s. “I’m a scoop kid,” he explains, referring to the Sixties Scoop, when the Canadian government enacted a series of policies enabling child welfare authorities to take Indigenous children from their families and com munities for placement in foster homes. “My mom and my father were about 16 years old and knew they were pregnant with me ... Encouraged by Catholic Children’s Aid, they gave me up for adoption as soon as I was born, and I went into the system. So, I was raised by nonIndigenous parents.” Paul says both his families are “wonderful,” but adds he would not likely have understood what it meant to be Indigenous without that centre. “It was where I got my first sense of belonging,” he says. “It was the first place that gave me an oppor tunity to volunteer and to help members of my own For many Indigenous people, a friendshipNativecentre is their first immersion in their culture.

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Glode-Desrochers sees that fear on faces in her com munity every day. Hers is the only friendship centre of its kind in Nova Scotia. And the people keep coming. When she took over as executive director her annual budget was about $1.2 million (funded more or less evenly by the federal and provincial governments) to support seven programs. Today it’s $15 million for 55 programs.

“We may support over 5,000 people now, but I suspect there’s more than 20,000 working and living in Halifax,” she says. “We literally have people from all First Nations right across Canada. We have Metis from out West. We have also seen a huge influx of Inuit people.” And she expects that growth to continue. “Whether it’s the medical health centre that we just opened, or employment training, we have lots of things happen ing,” she says. “Develop Nova Scotia actually gave us a property down on the waterfront, so we’re going to start looking at some tourism and social enterprise opportu nities … The need for the new friendship centre is not just for breaking down barriers and building relation ships, but for actually providing a safe space for my own community members to come in and see themselves.”

— Alex Paul

Glode-Desrochers also sees the pieces falling into place. In May, the federal government promised $4 mil lion for design and construction (a bill that could run as high as $50 million when the dust settles). The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency followed withAs$910,000.forthe reported land transfer from HRM, she smiles and speaks circumspectly. “I think we have some really good indications that this is going to happen at all levels of government,” she says. “But I also think the trigger piece was, or is, HRM’s ability to move that (Canadian Blood Services) land from economic development (use) into the community stream for us … I don’t think that’s any secret.” That, too, may be a welcome sign of the times.

After 36 years with the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Charlotte Bernard is about to be part of a big transformation.

A Native centre “was the first place that gave me an opportunity to volunteer and to help members of my own community”

Paul appreciates the urgency. “I really applaud Pam for having this vision, and having the patience to navigate it,” he says. “It’s an incredible testament to her leadership. She and the board of the friendship centre have this amazing commitment. It will be an incredible gem the Indigenous community needs badly. It will be fantastic when, not if, it happens.”

community. It was also the place that gave me the desire to connect with my actual community and my actual family. Without that experience, I may not have even gone down that path. I may have been too afraid.”

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Developing Upstreet’s non-alcoholic beer brand, Libra, happened naturally for Hogan and partner Mike Cobb. In the craft beer business, there was always an opportunity to be social and have a few drinks, and they wanted to find that balance between being social and healthy and didn’t like the options.

THE FLAVOUR

Forget the sickly sweet, ointmentpink, pina colada-flavoured drinks you were confined to from the kid’s menu when ordering an alcohol-free beverage. Even the word “mocktail” is a relic these days. Instead, zero-proof and spirit-free drinks of all kinds are getting an upgrade.

Perhaps because we’ve been appraising our pandemic drinking habits or making health a priority, many local drinkers are re-examining their relationship with booze, BY COLLEEN PHOTOGRAPHYTHOMPSONBYBRUCE

“That hard line between who drinks and who doesn’t is quickly disappearing,” says Mike Hogan, co-founder and brewmaster of P.E.I.-based Libra and Upstreet Craft Brew ing, which also has a brewpub in Burnside. “People come into our taproom for a beer after work, followed by two non-alcoholic beers. So, the stigma around who drinks alcohol-free beer is vanishing, and the most rewarding thing for us is allowing people to be social on their terms. They no longer have to stick with water or pop and can still enjoy the party and avoid the hangover.”

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and a wave of local companies are seeing this space as a growing opportunity.

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“As brewers, we couldn’t find a nonalcoholic craft beer that was delicious and true to style, so we made our own and found out we weren’t alone,” says Hogan. They make Libra with the same tech niques that brewers have used for centuries. They steep malted grains to extract sugar, boil the wort, add the hops, and cool the mixture before pitching the yeast. After that, they leave it to ferment, which creates a tiny amount of alcohol. More importantly, the fermentation smooths out the overall flavour, reflecting Hogan’s belief that zeroproof shouldn’t be defined by the absence of anything.“Craftbrewing is always a blend of art and science,” Hogan says. “We spent two years researching (and countless pilot batches) breaking down the traditional craft brewing process, modifying it, and putting

Zeroproof

“The no-alcohol sector is definitely in a growth period in Halifax and across Nova Scotia,” says sales manager Jes Hunt. “We’ve seen several new non-alcoholic beverages hit the market, and we are proud to be the first non-alcoholic cider in Nova Scotia.”

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Bulwark makes its cider much like wine, using fermentation to create bubbles and textures but keeping the alcohol level at 0.5 per cent, which is considered non-alcoholic by the Canadian Food Act.

“There were non-alcoholic products out there, but a lot of the public’s concerns numbers of Haligonians are enjoying local craft drinks minus the booze

“The stigma around who drinks alcohol-free beer is vanishing, and the most rewarding thing for us is allowing people to be social on their terms”

— Mike Hogan

Growing

“The zero-proof market is seeing expo nential growth because of a cultural shift towards wellness, mindfulness, and prove nance of ingredients,” says Deslauriers. “Like ourselves, consumers are seeking to drink moderately, buy locally, and make social gath erings inclusive. So, it makes sense that folks who can’t or don’t drink alcohol still want to gather with their wine-drinking friends.”

Bulwark Ciders also had the sobercurious market in mind when developing an alcohol-free cider.

it back together to capture the taste of craft beer without the alcohol.” The result is the release of seven dif ferent styles, from pale ale to a new cherry sour. The brewing community is also taking notice, with Libra claiming three medals at the New York International Beer Competi tion as Upstreet earned the title “Canadian non-alcoholic brewery of the year.” Halifax-based Good Robot Brewing is also in tune with the non-alcoholic alternatives. “We have a ton of Good Robot guests who love our hospitable team, ambiance, food, and values, but who are off drinking alcohol, whether because they’re pregnant, for health reasons, or taking a break,” says co-founder Joshua Counsil. Good Robot’s answer to this: Fancy Water. It’s a bit like Schweppes. First, they chill local water (which, according to Counsil, has a similar mineral content to the Pilsen region of the Czech Republic, known for its softness). Next, they pressurize the water in a tank with carbon dioxide, which dissolves at low temper atures. Then they add natural fruits and extracts. The alcoholbased extracts are in small enough quantities to keep the beverage near zero, while giving it the character of alcohol. Fancy Water Lime Rickey is pretty much a cocktail in a can with flavours of cucumber, lime, and ginstyle“Manybotanicals.alcohol enthusiasts love blend ing Fancy Water with gin, vodka, or other spirits,” Counsil says. “So, we’ve stumbled into two audiences. Non-drinkers deserve the experience of drinking, the camarade rie and the fun, without the alcohol. And for drinkers like me, we’re happy our nondrinker friends have a product they can enjoy without feeling weird at a party.” Alcohol-free wines that taste just like their alcoholic counterparts are notoriously hard to Still,make.that hasn’t deterred Jean-Benoit Deslauriers, Benjamin Bridge’s head wine maker, from creating Nova Scotia’s first alcohol-free wine, Piquette Zero. De-alcohol ized wines usually lose their character, but Deslauriers tapped into his knowledge and experience by making artisan light wine re freshers. Piquette and Pink Piquette feature a naturally reduced alcohol content while maintaining flavour. Deslauriers applied the same winemaking principles to Piquette Zero, like keeping the grape skins in the wine, which provides structure and aromatics.

“I never wanted the first store on Agricola Street to have the feeling of a pricey health food store, and neither did I want it to be a hippie place. The idea was always to be a neighbourhood grocery store and showcase excellent local Nova Scotia produce.”

Raised on the coast in Durban, South Africa, Gallagher grew up surfing. “After my family moved to Ottawa, I knew I had to pick a university at the ocean,” he laughs.

“My side hustle started as a sandwich bar called Fresh in Grad House at Dalhousie.

It’s no surprise customers want to shop on a Monday morning. Local Source is what grocery shopping ought to feel like every day.

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Racks of drying lavender perfume the entire store, fresh-cut flowers are plonked in buckets, and baskets of fresh produce pickings from the Annapolis Valley are abundant. Goodness lines the shelves: local honey, coffee from Bear River micro-roaster Sissiboo, jams by Helen B’s Preserves on the South Shore, and sea salt from New Bruns wick’s Speerville Flour Mill. The fridges hold fresh milk, free-range eggs, and cheese, all produced within a few kilometres. We could talk for hours when I press Armstrong about her favourite suppliers and products. And suddenly, I realize the gem of this business is that exactly: customers can have these conversations face to face with Armstrong every day. “Goodmore Kombucha is an excellent product from producers who put love and care into their products,” she says, barely pausing for breath. “We’ve been in love with Sutton Vertical greens in the dead of win ter. They taste like a little bit of sunshine. Espresso 46 is new to our Windsor Street shop, but not to our hearts. What a beauti ful product. Ted Hutten has been supplying us for years, and we are always excited to see what he’s growing. Two Birds One Stone

I would make everything myself, using my South African molasses seed bread recipe, which ended up being one of our biggest sellers at Local Source. I would drive to the Valley, pick currants and blueberries, and make jams and compotes for the sand wiches. It was rustic, comfort food and very local, which people loved long before local was the ‘it’ word.” Not long after university, Gallagher was a fully-fledged entrepreneur, growing his sandwich bar into a catering business called Terroir — Local Source Catering. In 2007, he took over the lease of the Samosa Hut & Grocery on Charles Street, bought out the equipment, and continued to run a whole sale samosa business behind the scenes, eventually funding Local Source Market.

It’s a grocery store focused on the expe rience, reaffirming the notion that every time you spend a dollar, you’re casting a vote of “Wesorts.wanted to create that feeling of oldschool grocery store charm,” says Gallagher.

flowers always bring a smile to my face. I’ve always wanted to have a flower selection in our shop. A few years ago, Sarah and Kenny from Two Birds came on board, and we’re fortunate to have their blooms from spring to fall. Everything in our store, we try first.”

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t’s a Monday morning, and I’m chatting at the counter with Krista Armstrong and Sean Gallagher in their new Local Source Market location on the corner of Windsor and Almon streets (the original is still on Agricola). The store is closed on Mondays, but a steady stream of local cus tomers comes knocking. Waves and smiles and mouthed apologies are exchanged. And I tell Armstrong she needs to turn this into one of her wildly popular Instagram Reels.

THE FLAVOUR Straight from the source

Imagine grocery shopping without self-serve cash registers, unsustainable products, and corporate profiteering BY COLLEEN PHOTOGRAPHYTHOMPSONBYBRUCE

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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022 UNRAVEL 49 tion to the place. So, it feels like important work to feed people seasonal food from our local farms and provide fresh daily bread.”

The grocery store started in 2008 as a slow and steady retail shop that eventu ally outgrew the space before moving to its current location on Agricola Street in 2014. It was on a catering assignment at Lightfoot & Wolfville that Gallagher met partner and future co-owner Armstrong, who was work ing as the winery’s events manager. By 2018, Armstrong was officially operating the Local Source Market with Gallagher focusing on the kitchen and bakery, which remained an integral part of the new retail-focused enterprise. (That same year, Armstrong shut Lion & Bright, his café and bar next door, to focus on the grocery store.) Using their combined years in hospitality, they provided a customerfocused retail experience that hustled through the lockdown, prompting them to take over an old garage space and open their second location. “Local Source has always been aimed at the foodie,” Gallagher says. “It’s for someone who walks into the store and cares about ingredients and shopping seasonally for something to cook for dinner. Small green grocers have become rare in our society, but it’s something that people still want. They want to be able to ask questions about what they’re buying and feel a sense of connec

“And we’ve also added tiny shopping carts for the kiddos,” adds Armstrong. “We’re really proud to be here, and we love it when people tell us it’s their first time in. We always say, ‘Try the bread! That will make you come back.’ The community and neighbourhood’s warm welcome has sig nalled that we’re doing good work. Funny how you forget all the stress and behindthe-scenes work of opening a new business so quickly after the doors open.”

The couple now has a young family and feels like they’re on the cusp of a growing community of young families in the neigh bourhood. “I wanted our second location to reflect this stage in our lives and be con scious of the families who will shop with us,” says Gallagher. “It’s more accessible and spacious, both as a destination and as a part of a neighbourhood. It has more capacity to meet the demand for local, quality food.”

Krista Armstrong and Sean Gallagher in their new Local Source Market location on the corner of Windsor and Almon streets.

The best way the couple has come to describe the two shops is that the Agricola Street store is aimed at the single, young shopper and is still very reflective of the energy of the North End. The West End loca tion has a different frame of mind.

The real question is why do we tip at all? There’s a theory that the practice began in feudal times, when rich lords would throw coins to the peasants they passed in the streets, as a means of buying safe passage.

The Great Resignation, as reporters have dubbed the supposed labour shortage, may be less about workers quitting unsatisfying work because of some new aware ness that life is short and we should enjoy it, and more about a refusal to be paid a wage below the poverty line.

If you’re one of those employers complaining you can’t find staff, maybe it’s because minimum wage plus the uncertainty of tips just doesn’t cut it in a postpandemic world. And if you’re a minimum wage worker depending on tips, I’ll do my best to keep supporting you, and hope for a day when you can rely more on what you’re paid and less on the kindness of strangers.

BY PAULINE DAKIN On Wednesdays during the height of the pan demic, my daughter and I bought take-out dinners. It was a way to support struggling restaurants and their workers. Takeout also helped break up the monotony of lockdown life. Oooh, a trip in the car! A chance to talk to someone else across some manner of virus-repelling barrier! At the time, it felt like such a treat. That’s when my tips began creeping up. And at a time when most people were staying home, rediscovering the pleasures of bread-making or doing puzzles, those lovely people in restaurants around the city were showing up to work so I could pick up my oh-so-anticipated bag of Thai, Korean, or Middle Eastern food. I was so grateful that I was happy to tip, and tip well, for takeout. But let’s be clear: tipping has conventionally been a token of appreciation for service, a way of saying thanks for prompt or friendly table service. The better the food, the ambiance, the skill of the server, the better the tip. Or if the experience was not up to snuff, a low tip, or even no tip, could send a message too. I briefly worked as a server when I was in my 20s and once received an 11-cent tip. I couldn’t argue, really. It was a bad day. Michael Lynn is an internationally recognized expert on tipping, based at Cornell University in New York. His research finds that more extroverted or neu rotic people tip the most. He says extroverts are looking for more attention from servers. The neurotic are more prone to guilt. I may be somewhere in the middle of thatButcalculation.pre-pandemic, I wasn’t tipping 20 per cent on a pick-up coffee and muffin, or a takeaway sandwich. Judging from the tip jars you’d see, many people did as I did and dropped in a few quarters, a loonie, or maybe a toonie.Nomore.Tippinghas become more about guilt and confusion than gratitude. How do we ease away from the big tips of the lockdowns? Or should we? It’s like withdrawing your care for servers. And when did the card readers lose the 15-per-cent tip option that used to be the stan dard, which is now apparently 18 or 20 per cent? Tipping is so inconsistent that it’s hard to know what to do in Halifax, never mind in other parts of the world. In most European restaurants, a tip is automatically added to the bill. In South Africa, you should tip widely and generously. Almost no one tips at restaurants in New Zealand, and Vietnam bans gratuities.

THE STANCE 50 UNRAVEL SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2022

The pandemic changed the way many customers tip — and now it’s time for employers to pay fairly and discard tipping entirely

I know, now I’m advocating more tipping. I’m con flicted. Everything is expensive and 20 per cent on a typical restaurant bill for four people is the equivalent of a fifth meal. On the other side, I don’t know how people live on minimum wage and the vagaries of tipping culture. I hear stories of servers in some downtown bars making hundreds of dollars a night in tips. I also know that when bus tours visit a restaurant the tips will plum met while the workload goes up.

Tipping is emblematic of the impact of the pandemic. It’s upset our expectations and public behav iours. It’s also brought issues around how we treat front-line workers into sharper focus.

In current society, the more relevant question is why don’t restaurants and other service businesses pay their employees a living wage, and just let us all enjoy our slightly more expensive meals without the addi tional stress of adjudicating the tip? And while we’re asking, why shouldn’t retail work ers get tips as well? They typically make minimum wage and provide a service to customers, helping them find the right size and style, or making suggestions.

The kindness of strangers

print / digital / online Telling Halifax Stories ► Six issues of the print edition right to your mailbox! Subscribe and renew unravelhalifax.caFREE *For Nova Scotian Residents COVID has been a hurricane of uncertaintyfor restaurateurs — the successful survivorsbehind Mappatura Bistro look ahead MAKING HOCKEYMORE INCLUSIVE P. 12 CHANGING THE FACEOF POLITICS P. 29 A STRATEGY FOR NOVA SCOTIA,NOT FOR NOVA SCOTIA POWER P. 35 Singers like Eriana Willis are at the forefront of Halifax’s musical transformation MAR/APR 22 UNRAVELHALI AX CA TORONTO. VANCOUVER. halifax? INSIDERSWEIGHIN ON NOVA FRENZIEDSCOTIA’SREALESTATEMARKET NOREEN MABIZA FIGHTS FOR JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABILITY P. 22 JOEL PLASKETT REFLECTS ON LIFE’S JOURNEYS P. 32 SPRYFIELD OF DREAMS — HALIFAX’S NEWEST BEER DESTINATION P. 48 JUL/AUG 22UNRAVELHAL FAX CA RECALLING THE GLORY DAYS OF HALIFAX'S LIVE ROCK SCENE P. 10 ARTIST BRIA MILLER FINDS ROOM TO BREATHE P.17 HALIGONIANS EMBRACE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS P. 37 Halifax revs up for fun and sun

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