Back to basics After her time on Council, Jennifer Watts finds peace and purpose in a new role
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On our cover Jennifer Watts served two terms on Halifax Council before stepping aside to make room for new blood. Now she finds peace and purpose in a lower-profile role.
Photo: Steve Smith/VisionFire Studios
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Vol. 18 No. 9 | November 2018
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7 | EDITOR’S MESSAGE How little has changed: reflections on the centenary of the Great War’s conclusion
16 | BACK TO BASICS After two terms on Halifax Council introvert Jennifer Watts finds peace and purpose out of the public eye
8 | CONTRIBUTORS Meet the writers and photographers who work on Halifax Magazine
20 | WHEN NOVA SCOTIA HUNTED THE WHALES A few decades ago, the government tried to create a whaling industry. The province’s first and only whale gunner recalls his experiences
9 | CITYSCAPE Helping raise the next generation of guide dogs, sharing Nova Scotian flavours in Manhattan 13 | ENTERTAINMENT Christmas tree lightings, Symphony Nova Scotia, comedian Ken Jeong, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and more 24 | GIVE BETTER GIFTS Every year, people talk a good game about giving unique gifts ... but a lot of gift cards and big-box merchandise change hands every December. Learn to do better 28 | GOOD BEERS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT Learn about aging and take your beer game to the next level
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14 | BUILDING TOGETHER Ready to settle down in a home? Buying or renting aren’t your only options
22 | SCROUNGING ALL THE TIME A notorious reform school and a hardscrabble childhood in Depression-era Halifax left Bill Mont with a lifetime of memories, mementos, and ambition
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30 | OPINION: WHAT WE LEAVE AND WHAT WE FIND A newcomer remembers what she learned in her homelands, while finding ways to give to her new country
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The more things change I’m writing this in October, as I prepare for a November trip to Flanders, Belgium to attend events marking the centenary of the end of the First World War. I did a similar trip in 2015 (halifaxmag.com/editors-message/ how-we-remember/), so I have some idea what to expect. I’ll see battlefields where the wheel of history turned. I’ll see poignant memorials, marking the spots where thousands of young Canadians died horribly, choking and bleeding, screaming for their mothers. The monuments will be stark and solemn and splendid, monoliths of granite marked with inspiring quotes and names of the fallen: a timeless roster of heroes. Those sites were deeply moving in 2015 and they will no doubt move me again. When I last visited, it was a few weeks before Remembrance Day, and we had most of the museums, historic sites, and memorials to ourselves. The memory of standing at the site of the bloody Battle of Passchendaele in the early morning mist, without another person in sight, still makes me shiver. This time will be different. We’ll be there over Remembrance Day; visitors from around the world will throng to every site. Politicians will give heartfelt speeches. Ordinary people will make pilgrimages to honour their ancestors. Flags will flap, anthems will trumpet. There will be talk about the importance of remembering the sacrifices of the people who fought and died. It will be the same in Halifax and across Canada. People will reflect on the terrible price paid by those First World War soldiers and the C men and women who followed them in conflicts across the past century. “Lest we M forget” is the theme and it’s most apt. Y I’d love to be able to write about the lessons CM we’ve learned since that war ended. How we’ve learned to embrace our differences, to solveMY conflict with compromise and civility. But weCY know that’s untrue. The world is a darker place CMY than it’s been in decades. Whole populations are on the move, fleeing conflict and famine. K The world’s great democracies are fractured, squabbling with each other and their own citizens. The threat of conflict dominates headlines daily. As we reflect, 1914 and the war’s beginning is where we should be looking, not the dénouement of 1918. By the time the war had ended, Canada was taking steps towards becoming the progressive liberal democracy it was by the end of that century. Canada was becoming more multicultural, less fearful of
outsiders; women were slowly becoming part of civic life, voting and entering politics. And where are we now? Xenophobia is on the rise. Quebec has just elected a government that threatens to test citizens’ values and reject those it deems unworthy. America, that self-described “shining city on a hill,” strains under a corrupt and authoritarian government that reviles many of its own citizens. Misogyny remains an ugly stain on public discourse. Talk of the global village has given way to ugly tribal nationalism, a need to put our country, our group, ahead of all others. Looking at Canada and the world today, I see 1914 and the fears and prejudices that sparked history’s bloodiest (to that point) war. I don’t see peace or optimism. I don’t see 1918. Lest we forget? Indeed. But people and their sacrifices are nothing if we don’t remember what they, either by design or by accident, began to build a century ago. BRBC-ad-print.pdf
PHOTO: TAMMY FANCY
BY TREVOR J. ADAMS
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We must remember the hate and inequities that started the war, not just the valour and sacrifice that ended it. Don’t just remember the people who wore uniforms. Remember why they wore them. What they accomplished. What they built for us. In November, visit halifaxmag.com for Trevor’s Remembrance Day dispatches from Europe. 11:21 AM
NOVEMBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 7
PHOTO: SANDOR FIZLI
8 | halifaxmag.com NOVEMBER 2018
CHRIS MUISE Cityscape, “Give better gifts” Chris is a freelance reporter working out of Halifax, with a particular affinity for community journalism. Ask him about his toy-robot collection if you have about eight hours to kill.
MARIANNE SIMON “What we leave and what we find” Marianne is a freelance writer and subeditor and has published many children’s stories, articles and poems in magazines and newspapers. Her interests include teaching and conducting English-conversation classes. firstname.lastname@example.org
SANDRA C. HANNEBOHM “Back to basics” Sandra is a freelance journalist and recent graduate from the University of King’s College. She reports on race and politics, legalization, and occasionally pleasant topics like Korean pop music. After a term producing Examineradio, she’s been published by The Coast, CBC, and the Black Business Initiative.
STEVE SMITH Photos for cover story, “Building together” Steve is a photographer at VisionFire Studios in Pictou, shooting for a variety of clients throughout Atlantic Canada. visionfire.ca
LOIS LEGGE “Scrounging all the time” Lois is an award-winning journalist who lives in Dartmouth. She is currently writing a book about the former Halifax Protestant Orphanage.
KIM HART MACNEILL “Good beers come to those who wait” Kim is a freelance journalist and editor of East Coast Living. Read her beer column on HalifaxMag.com. @kimhartmacneill
MICHAEL COSGROVE “When Nova Scotia hunted whales” Michael has degrees from the UBC and MSVU. His work has appeared in Canadian Author, Access Magazine, The Coast, and Halifax Magazine. Boularderie Island Press published his first book, Salt of the Turf, in 2017.
ALEXANDRA MACRAE “Building together” A St. Thomas University’s journalism graduate, Alexandra is originally from Cape Breton and has been a Haligonian since 2010. Her work has appeared on The Billfold and New York Magazine’s Vulture blog.
TOM MASON Cityscape Tom is a proud Haligonian who has been writing about business, technology, travel, lifestyles, and Atlantic Canadian issues for three decades.
TAMMY FANCY Photos for Editor’s Message, Entertainment A freelance photojournalist, Tammy has shot for East Coast Living, Bedford Magazine, Profiles for Success, and Our Children magazines, plus two cookbooks. fancyfreefoto.com
CITYSCAPE GOOD CAUSES
Haligonians helping to raise guide dogs STORY AND PHOTOS BY CHRIS MUISE
Ten Halifax households recently received specially-bred puppies that will spend the first formative year of their lives getting ready for careers as guide dogs. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) launched the program in 2017: they got volunteer puppy raisers throughout Toronto to socialize and obedience-train golden-retriever and Labrador puppies earmarked for guide dog service. This year, the program expanded to Winnipeg and Halifax.
“Our role as puppy raisers is to provide a safe and loving home for the puppies, from about the age of eight weeks to 12–15 months,” says Catherine Kieran, communications manager for CNIB in the Maritimes and a volunteer puppy raiser. “Our role is primarily socialization. Taking them everywhere that a guide dog would go.” Kieran has nine-month-old golden retriever named Sherman, a fifth-generation guide dog from Australia. He’s been all over town: the movies, the hospital, shopping centres. He even joins Kieran in public washrooms. The program lays the groundwork for more specialized training when the puppies graduate to advanced guide dog school. “They’re guiding [the dogs] through their first everything,” says Rob Cramer, a guide-dog instructor with the program in Ottawa. “When they come into training, they’ll be confident and adjusted to the world, so we can focus on teaching them the guiding rules.” Puppy raisers must do specialized obedience training. They can’t pamper the pups, who even
need to learn to go to the bathroom on command. Yuko Imai is raising five-month-old Rhonda. “I find myself watching that I don’t give her the wrong commands, like that it’s okay to jump on the bed, or it’s OK to have something off the counter,” she says. The hardest part will be letting go once the pups grow up. “Puppy raisers are aware that this is not a pet that we’re going to keep around,” says Imai. “I’ll be sad, but on the other hand, she’ll be going on to do great work. It’s like sending your child off to university.” Halifax resident Alycia Pottie, a student and new mom with vision impairment, will be among the first to receive one of these guide dogs. She appreciates the work of the puppy raisers, who help ensure people like her can lead an independent life. “It’s such a big sacrifice to make, but you can just tell they’re truly doing this from the goodness of their heart,” she says. Kieran explains that the program works here because Halifax is a dog-friendly city. By law, businesses have to admit guide dogs; there’s no such rule for dogs in training. “We’re relying on the goodwill of businesses to allow us to bring the dogs on the premises, to train them there,” she says. “This city has embraced these puppies in such a big way.” CNIB need volunteers to raise the next generation of guide dogs. See cnib.ca for more information. Yuko Imai is fostering five-month-old Rhonda before she graduates to guide-dog training.
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NOVEMBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 9
Bringing Nova Scotia to Manhattan BY TOM MASON
At Halifax Restaurant, Chef Seadon Shouse draws on his rural Nova Scotian childhood to share Maritime-inspired flavours with Manhattan diners.
It was an offer than would excite any young chef. A restaurant group in the New York City area was looking to change the style of its upscale Tuscan steak house in Hoboken, New Jersey. Management asked Seadon Shouse an intriguing question: “If you could do whatever you wanted with this restaurant, what would you do?” Shouse thought back to the comfort food of his youth. Despite a resumé stacked with high-end U.S. restaurants from Manhattan and Nantucket to Kentucky and Florida, Shouse grew up in Eagle Head on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, not far from Liverpool. He learned to cook the way many chefs do, preparing meals for his family at an early age. No modern conveniences here: the Shouse family lived completely off the grid until he was six. They cooked on a wood stove and drew water with a hand pump. Shouse’s pantry was the land and sea around him. He caught mackerel and pollock on the government wharf, foraged for mussels and clams on the beach at low tide, picked wild blueberries and fresh vegetables from the family garden. He milked the goats that his family raised. The idea of bringing fresh, Nova Scotiainspired food to Hoboken excited him. “Not Nova Scotian food per se, but my version of it,” he says. “Sustainable, seasonal, coastal cuisine: the kind of food I grew up with.”
10 | halifaxmag.com NOVEMBER 2018
The restaurant group liked the idea too. They took it to their marketing firm, who came up with a name for the establishment: Halifax Restaurant. Famous as the hometown of Frank Sinatra and the first organized baseball game, Hoboken boasts a magnificent view of the Lower Manhattan skyline across the Hudson River; Halifax Restaurant capitalizes on that view. Patrons dine on Nova Scotia-inspired recipes that would be familiar to someone who grew up in the province. His most popular appetizer is a maple smoked salmon dish inspired by a product that Shouse picks up at grocery stores whenever he goes home. “A lot of people had never heard of combining salmon and maple flavours but they love it,” he says. “I eat a lot of it when I’m in Nova Scotia.” Other dishes stray farther afield. While saffron rigatoni with lobster (the most popular entrée) may not immediately conjure up visions of quiet Nova Scotian fishing villages, the lobster that he uses is infused with Nova Scotian flavour. Shouse admits that most of his seafood comes in fresh from the waters around New Jersey and Long Island Sound. The salmon flies in from Alaska and scallops are local. But the lobster is usually Nova Scotian. So is the salt cod that he whips into fritters. And
fresh oysters come in every couple of days from all three Maritime Provinces. Shouse smokes and cures all his own meat and seafood in-house (including mussels, trout, salmon, and pollock). Pollock is his favourIte, in part because he admits he once had contempt for the lowly fish in his youth. “I always caught pollock as a kid and thought it was too bony to cook,” he recalls. “That’s because I didn’t know how to fillet it properly.” Shouse moved to the U.S. as a teenager when his father accepted a job in Virginia. His plan was to study engineering at Virginia Tech and eventually become a pilot, but he had a change of heart, left the prestigious university and headed back to the Maritimes to attend the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown. “I realized cooking was my passion,” he says. Today he gets inspiration from his frequent world travels, reading about new trends in cooking, and weekly forays to try out the latest offerings at Manhattan restaurants. And from those carefree days growing up in Eagle Head. “Halifax Restaurant is about fresh food and great seafood. We do it well.
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ENTERTAINMENT The hottest things to see and do in Halifax this month
ART GALLERY OF NOVA SCOTIA The Hollis Street gallery takes visitors back to a fast-fading era of Japanese history with Hiroshige: The Fifty-Three Stations of the T kaid . This unique exhibition showcases woodcut prints by ukiyo master Utagawa Hiroshige depicting middleclass Japanese life in the early 1800s. artgalleryofnovascotia.ca
NOVEMBER 30 TO DECEMBER 2
PHOTO: TAMMY FANCY
SYMPHONY NOVA SCOTIA Symphony Nova Scotia offers a full calendar of holiday concerts at the Dalhousie Arts Centre, starting with A Celtic Tenors Christmas. Martin MacDonald conducts as tenors Matthew Gilsenan, James Nelson, and Daryl Simpson join the Symphony for classic carols and Celtic favourites. symphonynovascotia.ca
NOVEMBER 24, DECEMBER 1
CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING Back downtown on November 24, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on December 1, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks. halifax.ca/recreation/events
KEN JEONG He was once a doctor but Ken Jeong found his true calling in comedy, showcasing an uninhibited and razor-sharp wit. He first appeared in hits like Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, and The Hangover, and recently created the ABC sit-com Dr. Ken. See him in the Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia. casinonovascotia.com
NOVEMBER 27 TO JANUARY 5
NEPTUNE THEATRE Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 27 and continues through January 5. Artistic director Jeremy Webb adapts the classic fairy tale Cinderella as a musical comedy for the stage, starring Samantha Walkes as the title hero. neptunetheatre.com
NOVEMBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 13
| FEATURE |
PHOTO: STEVE SMITH/VISIONFIRE STUDIOS
HOW IT WORKS A housing cooperative is a legal entity, usually a cooperative or a corporation, that owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings. A co-op is membershipbased, with members buying shares. Each shareholder has the right to occupy one housing unit. Members are able to pool their resources, thus lowering the cost per member for the services and products associated with home ownership.
Laurie Martin-Muranyi (left) and Sam DeCoste.
14 | halifaxmag.com NOVEMBER 2018
TOGETHER READY TO SETTLE DOWN IN A HOME? BUYING OR RENTING AREN’T YOUR ONLY OPTIONS BY ALEXANDRA MACRAE
In any housing conversation, renting and buying are so often pitted against each other that people forget there’s another option: co-operative housing. A small group of Haligonian women tried that option in 1981 and thanks to their initiative, plus favourable programs and subsidies from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, their successors are now enjoying a financially sound co-op with a paid-off mortgage. Of the dozens of housing co-ops in the Halifax area, the Halifax Women’s Housing Co-op is one of the smallest, with just 10 current members. The co-op still has its three original properties, all in North End Halifax. (They sold their only Dartmouth property.) For co-op president Laurie Martin-Muranyi, who is originally from Montreal where cooperative living is more common, the reasons for founding the co-op (to provide a safe, affordable housing space for women, particularly single mothers and lesbians) are still just as valid today. “I think half of the women that were building the co-op had children,” she says. “That was part of the deciding factor of having an affordable space for women who had children, and for women in general to be safe, and for lesbian women in particular. There was nothing to protect the rights of gay and lesbian members of the community, back then in the ’80s, so it was even harder. And even to this day, it’s still hard to make sure that your landlord will not discriminate and your lease won’t be terminated because of homophobia. So it was a way to protect themselves.”
She rented in Halifax for almost two years before moving into the co-op. She had rocky experiences with landlords, resenting their freedom to raise the rent and feeling unsafe when one landlord in particular would enter her home without permission. “I applied to the co-op and I really, really wanted it, because for me it wasn’t the drop in price,” she recalls. The rent was actually a little higher than her previous rental, albeit for a larger unit. “But I really felt like it would ground me to be involved in something, and involved in my housing, and it did,” says Martin-Muranyi. “It really made me feel more secure, more at home.” She’s been living in the co-op unit for about two years, serving on committees with the other members and acting as president. Fellow member Sam DeCoste lived in the co-op for four years in the ’90s before leaving and returning in 2009, and has seen the North End change. “This strip of Gottingen is really full of new businesses and people which is sometimes great and sometimes not so great,” he says. “I think that one of the big fears is that, like Montreal, it’s going to push lower-income people further north or somewhere else in the city. Or maybe off the peninsula.” Martin-Muranyi noticed that two houses near her unit on Robie had recently sold for around $500,000 each and that got her wondering about who can afford to live in North End Halifax. “We were debating in our membership: how can we make even our own co-op which is women-oriented, more accessible also to women of colour, and just women in general
who might need it more,” says Martin-Muranyi. “We do put it out there but are we going really out of our way, in all the ways that we could to get people that really, really need it to feel like they can apply and they will get in?” According to Pathways Housing Services, a co-op that is run successfully should have rents priced about 15% below average in their market. DeCoste and Martin-Muranyi both serve on the membership committee which screens candidates, similarly to a job interview. What can potential applicants expect from co-op living? A lot of volunteer hours, for starters. Members must join at least one committee such as executive, maintenance, membership, or finance, and all decisions come from a group consensus. Meetings occur at least once a month, or more depending on maintenance needs and pressing financial matters. “I think the fact that we’re running on feminist principles, we have a similar worldview,” says DeCoste, “[means] we’re making decisions together on a consensus basis. And I think that makes things run a little bit more smoothly.” With the newfound financial freedom of being mortgage-free, the members have more decisions. For now, the focus is on the maintenance fund, to keep the century-old properties safe, and keeping rent low for members. “It’s the closest thing I think for a lot of people in a co-op, that you can get to owning a home,” says DeCoste. “So it’s kind of like a condo that you own, except that you can’t sell it when you leave. But when you’re here, it’s yours.” email@example.com Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
NOVEMBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 15
| COVER STORY |
AFTER TWO TERMS ON HALIFAX COUNCIL, INTROVERT JENNIFER WATTS FINDS PEACE AND PURPOSE OUT OF THE PUBLIC EYE
16 | halifaxmag.com NOVEMBER 2018
Back to basics BY SANDRA C. HANNEBOHM PHOTOS BY STEVE SMITH/VISIONFIRE STUDIOS The night was “perfect” according Jennifer Watts. She was camping earlier this autumn and found a remote spot near a lake, where she slept without a tent. Fully dressed, laying directly under the stars, wrapped in a muggy sleeping bag, “with a hat and everything,” Watts found peace. “The feeling of just being there, looking up at the stars, feeling the breeze across your face all night long,” that was where Watts felt connected, despite the cold. And it was cold. The former North End Councillor says that’s how she reconnects: slowly stripping away the barriers between herself and the environment. She calls it “being present in a different way” or “just being there.” Watts was a popular Councillor who didn’t re-offer, opening the way for a historic election that saw Lindell Smith become the first black Councillor elected in the city in almost 20 years. Her career as a politician ended not because of scandal or an election loss, but because of a promise she made well before announcing her first campaign. She promised she would not run for a third term, instead stepping aside to help new candidates understand public life and the realities of municipal government. She says if not for the freedom to step aside and make way for more diverse candidates, she never would have run. After the announcement, she approached Smith and asked if he knew anyone interested in running. “That was strategic on her end,” he says. “When she came to me she said ‘I know you’re not really interested in politics, and it might not be something you want to take on.’ She said that only to spark my interest because she knew I’d be like, wait a minute, I could do this!” Politicians often pretend to be reluctant about accepting power and responsibility. Politics is perhaps the only profession where it’s strange to actually want the job. Skeptics wonder if the reluctant politician is a myth, an easy way to brush off the question, “why did you run for office?”
The most common answer is “because I was asked to.” Watts was also approached by community members to run for office, but her eye was always on leaving the job. “I was very clear to myself when I initially started out that if I was successful in getting elected and got elected again, I would really only do two terms,” she says. “For me, the model is standing aside and having people consider themselves whether they want to run, and for the community to think about who they should be supporting.” Watts didn’t approach her family about campaigning for office until incumbent Sheila Fougere announced she wouldn’t re-offer. That made room for Watts in 2008. Watts stepping aside in 2015 made room for Smith, who won, surprisingly, on the power of black and white votes in a historically segregated district of the inner city. “When there is no incumbent,” she says, “people have to do their homework... Stepping aside allows for new diversity and new people to come forward.” In any case, she never much enjoyed the attention that came with the job. “I don’t particularly like being in the media,” she says. “I do take on a public role but it’s not the preferred way that I engage with the world. I do it if I feel it’s important, particularly in the role I’m in now.” Smith takes a page from Watts’ book. “If you look at Council now,” he says, “there are folks who will take any opportunity to speak to media.” Instead, he carefully selects when to engage and when to let someone else’s voice be heard. Even after her life in politics Watts is a public figure, but at her new job there is no media scrum after board meetings, and when people call it’s usually about one subject: immigration. Looking at her resumé when she applied for a CEO position at the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), she was stuck: how would she describe the job of Councillor in just a few lines? Finally she wrote “professional decision maker.” ISANS hired her in April. In her office, blue and manilla folders line the window sill. “When I was a Councillor... people would say, ‘she’s a paper person’ and now I’ve carried that with me,” she says.
NOVEMBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 17
| COVER STORY |
“STEPPING ASIDE ALLOWS FOR NEW DIVERSITY AND NEW PEOPLE TO COME FORWARD” —JENNIFER WATTS
During Council meetings, she could prepare but she was one decision-maker among many. Watts could spend days trying to decide how she’d vote on a topic, but when the time came to vote she might have heard an argument that changed her mind entirely. In those few minutes between enlightenment and decision, she had to almost immediately decide how to vote and how to explain herself to the public. In other ways the work was anything but immediate. Staff reports, consultations, committees, Watts spent eight years getting familiar with bureaucratic procedure. Working at an agency is more direct, but just as intense, she says. “I can go into a meeting tomorrow morning, have a discussion with a staff team, then say we’re doing this.” On the other hand: “The complexity and the depth of this work is unbelievable.” In her new role at the immigration agency, she still flexes her council muscles, but she says she has a lot to learn. As a Councillor, she was a generalist, learning about new issues daily. As CEO of ISANS, she’s focused on one topic. “Listening to the stories and meeting people that are
learning a new language, who are here, and their family members are back from dangerous situations, or that have come and left things behind, or came to start a new life of their own,” she explains. “It’s really amazing.” She says “the incredible stories people bring to this province” inspire her. “People come for a variety of reasons, but what is most inspiring is people arriving here, often under very difficult circumstances. Circumstances they’ve lived with for many years, like in refugee camps; their gratefulness, their resilience, and the incredible things they have to offer this country; it’s often refreshing and inspiring to see that.” Watts sighs as she pulls her glasses over her head, and eases back into the chair. Despite years of experience working with the public, interactions with media can be exhausting. “That’s true for lots of people,” she says. “For those of us that are introverts… it’s costly but we certainly know how to do that and can function very well.” Back at home, she’ll slip past her family and quietly recuperate over a warm cup of tea. “My family has learned that often, when I’m coming home—” she cuts the air with her hands, suggesting silence. “I love you, I’m really glad to be here with you, but we don’t necessarily have to talk.” She laughs. When she talks about hearing immigrant stories or shivering in a damp sleeping bag without a tent, her face naturally illuminates. She says, “For me, a top priority is connecting. As an introverted politician, an ex-politician, or a camper without a tent, Watts will always find new ways to engage in her environment, natural or otherwise.
firstname.lastname@example.org Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
18 | halifaxmag.com NOVEMBER 2018
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WHEN NOVA SCOTIA HUNTED
A FEW DECADES AGO, THE GOVERNMENT TRIED TO CREATE A WHALING INDUSTRY. THE PROVINCE’S FIRST AND ONLY WHALE GUNNER RECALLS HIS EXPERIENCES BY MICHAEL COSGROVE
Gaby d’Entremont’s first attempt to harpoon a whale was a disaster. “It was cruel what happened,” he recalls. “I hate to think about it.” The crew of the Cape Mary had been out all day off Nova Scotia’s southwest coast searching for minke and fin whales. Finally, just before dark they spotted a pod. When the lookout shouted “ Whale!” from the crow’s nest, d’Entremont jumped from his bunk and scurried to the deck to man the gun. He had never used a whale harpoon. “We had no training,” recalls the 84-year-old fisherman. “We just learned day by day.” The first day was the toughest for the new crew. In the summer of 1965, with a Federal fisheries grant, the wooden fishing vessel Cape Mary was outfitted with a crow’s nest and a 50mm harpoon gun. It was part of a speculative venture by the government to kickstart a whaling industry in 20 | halifaxmag.com NOVEMBER 2018
the province. It caught a few folks by surprise, given that whaling in Nova Scotia had been nonexistent, other than a brief seven-year stint by the Quakers from Nantucket (1785–1792). But then in 1964, Nova Scotia’s whale hunt resurfaced. The Blandford Whaling Station, owned by Norwegian Karl Karlson and Co. Ltd., showed that hunting whales off Nova Scotia was profitable. During peak production the Norwegian boats landed 361 whales (fin and sei), a value of $750,000. The oil from the whales was used in lubricants, lamps, detergents, and soaps. The meat and bone meal were used for pet food, cattle and chicken feed, as well as human consumption. When Comeau Seafoods acquired its whale license, workers overhauled the Cape Mary, and chose Harvey d’Eon as its captain. He picked his entire crew from West Pubnico. Gaby d’Entremont became the gunner, Nova Scotia’s first and only
| FEATURE |
D THE WHALES
whale gunner. (Previously, only American and Norwegians had commercially hunted whales here.) “You have to shoot a whale in the right place,” d’Entremont says. “It’s a small target.” He draws the tidy outline of a small whale, circling an area behind the fin and adding an arrow pointing to the spot. “That’s where the heart and liver is.” A harpooned whale will dive immediately. When it comes up again, there’s an easy way to tell if you hit the target. “If it’s blowing blood through its blowhole you hit it in the right place. In about 10 to 15 minutes you’ve got it tied up.” But if the whaler missed that spot, it wasn’t so easy. “If you just hit it in the back, it’s like putting a harness on it,” d’Entremont explains. That’s exactly what happened with his first whale. “I put seven harpoons in its back, because we didn’t know what we were doing.” Finally, the eighth harpoon hit the target.
It’s a difficult memory. “It was wrong,” d’Entremont says. “But we just didn’t know.” His marksmanship improved. After that first grisly experience, he never missed again. On one occasion he remembers shooting over smaller whales to get a bigger one. “I saw this huge one in the middle of a pod, and I waited for it to come up, and I had to shoot over two.” D’Entremont is soft-spoken and earnest. He seems neither proud nor ashamed of the job. He brings out a large, empty brass harpoon shell and places it on the table. He continues recounting his experience as whale gunner. “You had to be pretty close; around 100 feet to hit that spot I was talking about,” he says. “Then, if it came up with blood in the spout, you knew it wouldn’t be long. It was kind of cruel.” The gun bolted to the boat had a vee on its barrel to sight the whale. d’Entremont’s job was to target the diving whale at the crux of the vee before firing. “A whale is a very tame animal and they just go up and down,” he says. “After a while you get accustomed to their movement, and you just go right with them.” When the gun was fired it rattled the dishes in the galley. “It was something I’ll never forget. I loved to shoot the gun against the wind and the black powder would come back in my face,” d’Entremont admits, surprising even himself. “And I’m not a hunter as such; that’s the strange part. My brothers were, but I wasn’t.” Looking back, d’Entremont doesn’t know if he was a good shot. “I don’t know,” he says. “There was nobody to compete with.” After it was killed, the whale was tied alongside the boat and towed to Saulnierville where it was dressed. “The crew chopped it up,” d’Entremont says. “That was the hard part. It was strenuous work and we were not prepared, but we did it.” It would take eight hours for six men to reduce a five-metre whale to workable pieces. Using flensing knives, they removed the blubber in long wide strips. They cut the meat into manageable chunks and froze them. Afterward, they towed the remainder of the carcass out to sea to sink in deep water, away from the fishing grounds. The work site in Saulnierville concerned the health department. Officials wanted a covered facility built to house the whale when it came in. This proved too costly for Comeau Seafoods and the Cape Mary’s short-lived whaling mission ended that same summer. They killed and harvested 33 whales. Afterward, the Cape Mary went back to fishing, and the whale gun went in Captain Harvey d’Eon’s backyard, where it rests today, a nearforgotten relic of Nova Scotia’s brief whaling history. A federal moratorium officially ended commercial whaling in Canadian in 1972. email@example.com
NOVEMBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 21
| FEATURE |
Scrounging all the time
A NOTORIOUS REFORM SCHOOL AND A HARDSCRABBLE CHILDHOOD IN DEPRESSION-ERA HALIFAX LEFT BILL MONT WITH A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES, MEMENTOS, AND AMBITION BY LOIS LEGGE Bill Mont’s life is in boxes and binders. In his closets. On his tables. Under his bed. He’s saved thousands of pictures and papers. Mementoes and memories. From his time as a flea market mogul. And owner of an island. Boiler chipper. Railway worker. Auctioneer. Castle and cemetery owner. “I have so many stories,” he says amid an empire of trinkets in his small room at Northwood Terrace. This one is the story of a poor boy and pencils. Punishment. And a little-known Halifax reform school. He wants to tell it, he says, because soon there will be no one else who remembers Halifax Industrial School—a “forgotten” chapter in the city’s history. Mont is 89 years old now and has an eclectic history of his own. The self-described “entrepreneur of entrepreneurs” still has 18 tractor trailers full “of stuff” from his various ventures. He’s still “a pack rat of the first order.” “ The scrounging” began during his impoverished childhood in Depression-era Halifax. He’d steal bananas and vegetables, collect bottles and copper. He played hooky one day and a judge sentenced him to a “school” that was more of a prison.
22 | halifaxmag.com NOVEMBER 2018
Before Mont lived there it was also a place where staff beat, handcuffed, whipped, and otherwise tortured the children in their care, according to newspaper reports from almost 100 years ago. Mont, although strapped, didn’t face such severe punishments. But what lead him there in 1938 is a curious mix of poverty and family circumstances that shapes his life to this day. His father was a championship boxer who’d “ride the rods” on his way to prize fights in the United States. He died, of asphyxiation from fumes, in a boxcar coming home. Mont was five. He and his mother went to live with a couple he calls his step-parents, in the poor Halifax neighbourhood of Greenbank (near where the South End Container Terminal is now). He isn’t sure why they did that. But the mother and son “were baggage”—“a burden” in the couple’s life. She wanted to get rid of them, he says. He believes she engineered his stint in the industrial school and placed his mother, Mary (who he reunited with later) in a mental institution. Before that, she made him go to Tower Road School (“the rich kids’ school”) where he felt like “an oddball.”
“I’M A CHILD OF THE DEPRESSION, BROKEN HOME THE WHOLE FRIGGIN’ THING AND YOU’RE SCROUNGING ALL THE TIME” —BILL MONT
One day, when he was nine, she told him he’d have to get his pencils from school. The teacher told him to get them from home. Embarrassed, he skipped school for a day. The next morning, a truant officer showed up and Mont went to court. A judge sentenced him to the school, a charitable institution that started in 1850 as The Ragged School and lasted until 1947 in various locations and under several names, including Halifax Protestant Industrial School. The provincial government, which later provided annual grants per child, eventually replaced it with Nova Scotia School for Boys in Shelburne. Initially, both genders attended. But by the late 1880s, local philanthropists funded a separate school for boys, according to documents at Nova Scotia Archives. The institution combined punishment, basic education and “training” (essentially child labour) for “wayward boys” convicted of minor crimes like truancy. Or caught begging. Or sleeping, according to school annual reports, in hollow sewer pipes, outhouses, and dog kennels. Mont was sentenced to five years but served 2.5. “[For] no pencils,” he says. “Can you imagine?” Many details of his daily routines have faded. But he remembers the work, the strap and the silence. He stretches his fingers and spells his name with the sign language the boys used because their male guardians insisted on silence. And work. In the early years, children made shoes and paper bags, which the school sold. Or they learned trades like hair-cutting and tending horses. Mont chopped wood for kindling. One boy held the wood; another chopped. One day, he
watched one child accidentally chop off the finger of another. He doesn’t remember what happened next. But some moments remain. Like the night he got the strap. “We were in this big dormitory and they had a little light on, he could look in… to see if anything was going on …so I got up to use the bathroom and I flushed the toilet and the toilet overflowed… Four whacks on my bare behind like you wouldn’t believe with a big strap. I certainly remember that one.” What happened to earlier generations of children was worse, according to a series of 1924 reports by the weekly Halifax Citizen, which first exposed the abuse under the headline “Fiendish Cruelty Practised Upon The Inmates of the Halifax Industrial School.” Staff had beaten one “lad” with a broom stick while his hands were cuffed behind him, handcuffed and choked another, and scarred one boy so severely he had to be hospitalized, it reported. “Another case…is that of a young lad… said to have been so brutally handled that he became insane and was sent to the Nova Scotia Hospital.” The paper’s dogged coverage, and its calls for the school’s closure, lead to a provincial inquiry which revealed even more horrors: boys were regularly horsewhipped, beaten with broom handles and cat-o-nine tails, and dunked in barrels of ice cold water in winter. One boy, according to the Citizen, “was forced to eat his own stool.” They were also malnourished and “forced to toil hard and long” in dangerous conditions. One former “inmate” testified he’d lost an arm because of an unsafe circular saw. Staff took away food and beat them for talking during meals.
The province promised reforms but the school stayed open. It’s not clear if the abuse continued. Mont can’t recall all the details. But his childhood separation from his mother and his rough upbringing left a lasting impression that ignited his lifelong gathering of things. Like the Irish castle he once owned after he tried and failed to buy Oland’s Castle—the “dream” mansion he passed every day on his way to the rich kids’ school. And the giant flea markets he operated for decades. And other acquisitions he still keeps, like Devil’s Island and Pleasant Hill Cemetery. His mind still whirls with ideas for bargainsto-be-had and money-to-be-made. He thinks it always will. “I’m a child of the Depression, broken home the whole friggin’ thing and you’re scrounging all the time… Things were so tough even today I don’t want to throw nothing away.” Then he tells one more story about the school, the “big looming building” on Quinpool Road, and a triumph that came many years later. During summers, staff took the boys to a farm in Lower Sackville. It eventually became Sackville Downs Race Track where Mont operated a popular flea market. “We’d go out there and run behind this wagon and [the farmers] were throwing little candies at us…On one side, way back, I’m running behind a hay wagon trying to catch candy and then I’m coming back with 10,000 people every Sunday for years with my flea market.” He stops. Shakes his head. And smiles. Then starts making other plans.
firstname.lastname@example.org Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
NOVEMBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 23
GIVE BETTER GIFTS EVERY YEAR, PEOPLE TALK A GOOD GAME ABOUT GIVING UNIQUE GIFTS ... BUT A LOT OF GIFT CARDS AND BIG-BOX MERCHANDISE CHANGE HANDS EVERY DECEMBER. LEARN TO DO BETTER STORY AND PHOTOS BY CHRIS MUISE It used to be a lot harder to find unique East Coast gifts. But now, there are more stores supporting local talent than ever. Joel Kelly, co-founder of Made in the Maritimes on Young Street, has been part of that change. “The whole idea behind the products that we carry at the store is to support artists in the Maritime Provinces,” says Joel Kelly, who co-founded Made in the Maritimes in 2015. “That’s the whole reason why we exist.” Inkwell Boutique on Brunswick Street is another champion of local producers. Owner Andrea Rahal features her own range of art prints, plus local goods beyond the craft-fair scene. “It was really important to me that shoppers be able to handle and touch the items that they were considering,” says Rahal. “A place
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where makers could sell year-round, versus one weekend. Because what we sell is handmade, a lot of things are one-of-a-kind or limited edition. You’re getting something very special.” Local gifts are also the more sustainable choice. “You’re also supporting an independent maker, so you’re contributing to their livelihood, but also putting money back into your community,” says Rahar. “The money stays here.” Shopping local can shrink your carbon footprint too. “A lot of our suppliers are super local, so you’re not paying to have things couriered,” adds Kelly. “It’s not being sent through a great big supply chain.” Another planet-friendly benefit: artisans often rely on recycled and repurposed materials.
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SHOPPING Made in the Maritimes carries baskets made of reclaimed fishing net, and limited edition pen sets made of wood workers salvaged during the Bluenose II restoration. And if you’re not married to the idea that gifts need to be brand new, reclamation retailers are growing in popularity. Makenew started out as a curated thrift shop; owner Anna Gilkerson sifts through the Frenchy’s bins to find hidden gems of vintage fashion. The shop has expanded to be another space where local makers can share shelf space with second-hand merchandise. “I think that it’s a big part of sustainable shopping,” says Gilkerson. “If more and more people shop second-hand, they’re not buying a new thing. In the long run, that’s really good for the environment.” Halifax is a more diverse city than ever, which means an ever-increasing array of unique gift options. When Ferdinand Ballesteros and wife Miyako moved to Halifax from Tokyo, Miyako brought her passion for ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, with her. What started as a simple shop to supply her students with materials evolved into the Japanese-culturefocused Ikebana Shop on Quinpool Road. Ballesteros says that 90% of clients are locals with a connection to Japanese culture. “Maybe they just went on a tour, or they have a son or
daughter working in Japan, or they had a Japanese home-stay student,” he says. “They want to get to know more of the culture, or revive the connection.” Most of the products are imported from Japan, but Ballesteros aims to provide a local connection that more impersonal retailers can’t match. “[We] can tell you a story behind these products,” says Ballesteros. “For us, it’s personal. All the products that we have, we chose them, so it’s personal for us.”
The benefits of shopping locally are intertwined. Unique maritime crafts are made with sustainable materials; cultural import shops carry items made by immigrants embracing their new home. “It’s just a feelgood for everyone,” says Gilkerson. “You feel good buying it, you’re supporting local business, you’re also not creating another imprint, and what you’re giving as a gift is really well thought out.”
HALIFAX + TORONTO
UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS • East Coasters Six Pack: Sold at Inkwell Boutique, and printed with ink made with Nova Scotia sea water. $12. • Mary Jane Lundy Pottery: Sold through Made in the Maritimes, handmade from Nova Scotia clay soil. Prices vary. • King & North sea salt chocolate: Stocked in Inkwell's new pantry section, chocolate made with Tidal Salt brand sea salts, harvested from the Atlantic Ocean. $7–8. • Makenew gift certificates: The thrill of the hunt is part of the fun of thrift shopping, so a gift card is a perfect gift, and definitely not gauche! Prices vary. • Ikebana classes: Pick up some extra lessons for a friend already enrolled, or give someone an introductory class and let them give it a try. Lessons start at $50.
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GOOD BEERS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT LEARN ABOUT AGING AND TAKE YOUR BEER GAME TO THE NEXT LEVEL BY KIM HART MACNEILL I don’t include my basement on the house tour. It’s unfinished and cold. Spiders swarm. But under the dark and dusty stairs, you’ll find my beloved beer cellar. Cellaring beer is a risky hobby. Your goal is to store the right beer, in the right place, for the right amount of time to allow oxidization and other chemical changes to enhance its flavour. Many beers are designed to be cellared, but most aren’t. If you do it right, your reward is richer, more complex flavours. Other times, your $15 bottle of beer ends up tasting like a rusty nail or wet cardboard. Most craft beer should be consumed fresh. The story goes that high-hop beers were brewed to survive long sea trips, but modern beer knowledge says while the hops kept rot away, they weren’t aromatic or flavourful on the other side. “It’s like milk: store cold, drink fresh,” says Cameron Crerar, head brewer at Propeller Brewing Co. Another warning sign not to cellar is a best before date that’s only several months away. Beer that cellar well are high alcohol (over 7%) with strong flavours. Think imperial stouts, strong porters, smoked beers and barely wines. Start with the label. Beers described as “bottle conditioned” are packaged with active yeast that will continue to ferment in the bottle, shaping the beer’s flavour over time. Likewise, barrel-aged beer acquires flavours from the wood it conditions in. The wood flavours, along with any boozy alcohol flavour, should mellow over time.
The words “reserve” and “vertical” are the brewery asking you to store this beer. Most are annual releases. If you put a few away yearly and stay patient, you can do a vertical tasting, which means trying bottles from different years to see how they change over time. (Invite friends. Drinking multiple bombers of highalcohol beer alone is less fun than it sounds).
MANY BEERS ARE DESIGNED TO BE CELLARED... YOUR REWARD IS RICHER, MORE COMPLEX FLAVOURS Beer containing brettanomyces is a new addition to my cellar after 2 Crows Brewing Co. brewer Jeremy Taylor recommended it. He urges cellaring hoppy bretts, like his own Amateur Hour, released in November 2017. “It was released maybe four to five weeks after brew day and was dry hopped fairly heavily so had a very bright hop punch to go along with a subtle underlying funk,” he says via email. “The brightness of hops definitely faded, but the funk has ramped up a bit. It is a totally different
beer, but no less enjoyable.” You can still find cans at the brewery. Light from any source will cause unwanted chemical changes in your beer. While some purists keep their best bottles lightly refrigerated over the years, it’s not necessary for the amateur beer hoarder. Warmer temperatures will speed up changes in your beer, so you want to aim for 10–15°C. Find a spot that stays a consistent temperature between seasons. Once you pick your spot, don’t move it without a good reason. Beer isn’t a Fabergé egg, but jostling it will speed up oxidization and aging. When I started saving beer, I wasn’t diligent with labelling and tracking. Now I have more than a few bottles of unknown age. A piece of masking tape with your purchase date (or better, ask the brewery for a production date) will let you know when to try your beer. Advice on how long to wait is as varied as styles of beer, but the general rule is to buy a few bottles, try one immediately, one in six to eight months, one in a year, one in two years, and one in five (if you have that much selfcontrol). Keep notes on what the beer tastes like, and each bottle can become an adventure to see how it changes over time. Want more cellaring advice? See the Halifax Magazine Beer Blog in November. email@example.com Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
Propeller Brewing Co. Propeller Brewing Company has been a proud North End neighbour since our founding in 1997. Stop by for a pint or flight in our Tasting Room at our Gottingen Street Brewery, with special cask releases every Friday. Full cold beer stores on Gottingen, and on Windmill Road in Dartmouth.
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2015 Gottingen Street, Halifax NS drinkpropeller.ca @PropellerBeer
Must try beers: Buy now, drink later
Man of War (barley wine)
Ra Ra Rasputin (Organic Russian imperial stout)
Tatamagouche Brewing Co., 15.2%, Tatamagouche, N.S.
Big Spruce Brewing, 10.5%, Nyanza, N.S.
Tata recently got its distiller’s licence, which means it can brew beer over 11.9%. English barley wine tends to be bluntly sweet, but this one pops with notes of fruit and brandy barrel. Head brewer Matt Kenny says cellar it for six months and the sharp edges will mellow. It’ll be a perfect bottle to share with (several) friends as you wave goodbye to winter next spring.
Every year, Big Spruce offers variations on this barrel-aged favourite. Glenora and Nicaraguan rum-barrel aged, aged on raspberries, orange peel. “I love the character [brewer Jeremy White] is getting out of the bourbon barrels,” says Kenny. No matter which year and which version you try, you’re in for coconut, coffee, and the roasty-toasty notes that make this a classic.
Leaf & Yard Waste Any leaf and yard waste that does not fit in your green cart needs to be placed in large paper bags. Paper bags will be collected on the same day as your green cart. Download the Halifax Recycles app to search what goes where and receive weekly notifications.
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WHAT WE LEAVE AND WHAT WE FIND A NEWCOMER REMEMBERS WHAT SHE LEARNED IN HER HOMELAND, WHILE FINDING WAYS TO GIVE TO HER NEW COUNTRY BY MARIANNE SIMON At the Canadian Immigrant Fair at Pier 21 I met a lady who, like me, was from India. We exchanged pleasantries. “Do you miss India?” she asked abruptly. “Yes, I do,” was my instant answer. A short pause. “And I don’t,” I added. The answer seemed to startle my newfound friend. She looked at me as if I was a monster. Her reaction disturbed me. She excused herself and joined her husband who was at one of the booths getting his resumé polished up, just as every new immigrant does soon after landing in this country. I wasn’t sure whether it was right to open my heart and offer a truthful answer. Her reaction puzzled me, but I quickly put our short meeting out of my mind and continued to stroll from booth to booth. There was so much to see, so much information to gather, many new contacts to make; and hopefully one of them would lead to a regular job. Wouldn’t that be nice, I thought to myself. As I sat in the bus on my way home from the fair, my mind travelled all the way to India. What things do I miss? I miss the ancient culture and vibrant people, the Indian spirituality that seeps through one’s every thought and every action, the diversity, the colourful festivals that are an integral part of Indian life, the celebration of life and of love, and the strong values and bonds that bind the family together. These are all part of me and I miss them. I also remember the poverty and hunger, the milling crowds, the overflowing slums. The parched land which is witness to humanity’s misuse of Mother Nature’s gifts. The rising numbers of suicides among Indian farmers and the lack of safety for women, the garbage heaps in cities, the smoke-filled, polluted city air which chokes adults and children alike. These are also part of my country, a part that I am not proud of, a part that I want to change. The ties with my homeland are important to me. The first language I learnt from my mother, the traditions and values she taught, and the rest of my family that still lives there, are all parts of me that can never be erased. How can anyone ever forget the love and nurture of the motherland that shaped one’s thinking? People leave their homes for different reasons. It could be for joining a family member, or the lure of a better life, or even a means of getting away from a suffocating situation. How well one settles down in a new country depends on
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how well one adapts to the hardships and challenges presented by the new environment. Even though there was a long waiting period, the Canadian government did grant me permission to come here as a permanent resident and join my daughter. For that I am grateful. I intend to settle here provided I find suitable work and a comfortable living. The fact that this country has accepted my family makes me happy. There is a certain feeling of belonging and I am able to identify with the good things Canada stands for. Although sometimes I wish the cost of living wasn’t so high here compared to that in India and some other Asian countries. Often I think about what I can do in return to help the community I am a part of. Teaching the newcomers English conversation at Keshen Goodman Library on Saturdays gives me immense satisfaction. Maybe there is something more I can do. I have to figure that out. At the Canadian Immigrant Fair, I had the opportunity to listen to Tareq Hadhad, the young entrepreneur, who, along with his father, established a business and started the Chocolate for Peace project in Antigonish. The charismatic young man narrated the chain of events that made him and his family leave Syria and settle in Canada. He’s a shining example of what one could do in this country, given the opportunity and the support of well wishers. The Hadhad family seemed to have found the secret of success, too: giving. One of my favourite actors, Denzel Washington, once said, “Giving is the most selfish thing one can do.” He was talking to a group of young students. The students were perplexed. Then he explained that the amount of satisfaction and the euphoria that the act of giving brings to the giver is immeasurable. In that sense, giving is really the most selfish thing anyone can do. So what do we give? Lebanese-American poet and activist Kahlil Gibran was specific about the right kind of giving. He says, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
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