PLUS: OUTGOING POLICE CHIEF JEAN-MICHEL BLAIS LOOKS BACK P. 19 HALIGONIANS EMBRACING THE ZERO-WASTE LIFESTYLE P. 23 K-POP COMES TO HALIFAX AT A UNIQUE NEW STORE P. 27
UP The Halifax Pop Explosion shares its most musically diverse lineup yet
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On our cover Hua Li is at the vanguard of the Halifax Pop Explosion’s most musically diverse lineup ever. Photo: Stacy Lee
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Vol. 18 No. 8 | October 2018
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14 | HALIFAX POP EXPLOSION GROWS UP As music changes so does a music festival, a year after a scandal over “overt racism”
7 | EDITOR’S MESSAGE A city is defenceless against a rogue premier; is it time to change that? Editor Trevor J. Adams on what a Doug Ford could mean for Nova Scotia
19 | OUT OF THE BLUE Outgoing Halifax Police chief Jean-Michel Blais reflects on his career and what’s next 23 | LIFE AFTER GARBAGE The zero-waste lifestyle comes to Halifax; practitioners explain what it’s all about
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30 | OPINION: HALIFAX IN ALL SEASONS For one newcomer, getting around Halifax is glorious in the autumn... and miserable in the winter
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13 | ENTERTAINMENT A Civilized Conversation with Chelsea Handler, Nocturne celebrates art after dark, Hal-Con beams back, stand-up comedy, and more
28 | BEER: THE PRICE IS RIGHT As Buck-a-Beer fails in Ontario, we look at the real cost of making Nova Scotian craft beer
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10 | CITYSCAPE Live Art Dance offers a new season that challenges and inspires; the Zonta Club helps young women become leaders
27 | SHOPPING: BRINGING K-POP TO NOVA SCOTIA A new Halifax store celebrates a cultural phenomenon
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8 | CONTRIBUTORS Meet the writers and photographers who work on Halifax Magazine
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BY TREVOR J. ADAMS Municipal politicians like to say their level of government is the one that has the biggest impact on people’s lives. And they’re right. Garbage collection, water and sewage services, snow clearing, waste pickup, pedestrian safety, policing and fire services: they’re the things that affect people every day. Yet this level of government is also where our democracy is most fragile. While our provincial governments’ jurisdictions are carefully protected by the constitution, municipal governments only have the power those provincial governments let them have. And they can take that power away at any time. Consider Doug Ford. Upon becoming premier of Ontario, one of his first actions was to slash the size of Toronto city council. No consultation, no public input. Opponents challenged it and won a brief legal victory when a judge ruled the cuts impacted Torontonians’ rights to free expression. Ford quickly threatened to invoke the “notwithstanding clause” of the constitution. That rarely-used provision lets provincial governments enact laws the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would otherwise block. (It’s complicated, but that’s the gist.) Ford says he wants the cuts because the council is too big and inefficient. Or more plausibly, he’s still hurt over losing the last Toronto mayoral race (coupled with various beefs over his time as a municipal politician) and is taking the opportunity for some petty revenge. A successful legal appeal means Ford gets his cuts without using the notwithstanding C clause, but he says he’ll use it if courts block his legislation again. And do you suppose he’s M alone? Somewhere right now, another premier Y or aspiring populist with eyes on higher office CM is thinking “Oh, good idea!” And someone else is thinking “That big- MY city liberal Trevor just hates Conservatives!” CY So here’s a reminder: wannabe-authoritarian CMY governments doing antidemocratic things is K a non-partisan issue around here. Consider Halifax Regional Municipality. If you lived in any of the communities that now comprise HRM, do you recall any politicians asking you if you wanted to lose your local government? Do you remember voting in a democratic referendum? You don’t, because you had no say in the matter. John Savage’s Liberal government decided amalgamation was happening, permanently changing the democratic representation of thousands of Nova Scotians and boom, that was that.
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Democracy in danger More recently, Liberal premier Stephen McNeil decided we don’t need elected school boards. And whoops, now they’re gone. Again, it didn’t matter if people wanted that democratic representation. email@example.com Halifax Magazine The premier, who hasn’t shown himself to @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine be a big fan of dissenting views and civil debate, didn’t want elected school boards, Then they recall how McNeil effortlessly so we don’t have them. eliminated democratic school boards and When the government was pushing through wonder if we really need elected municipal the legislation to eliminate them, education governments. Wouldn’t it be efficient to consultant Paul Bennett appeared before the replace them with political appointees? provincial Law Amendments committee to When dangerous politicians get elected, give his approval. He argued (as reported by we console ourselves with lines like “They CTV) that school boards should have worked won’t be here forever; our institutions are harder to demonstrate their “democratic strong. The system is built to prevent them legitimacy” before McNeil axed them. from doing too much damage.” It’s not hard to imagine a future where That’s warm reassuring nonsense. As the some Bluenose Doug Ford looks at municipal Doug Fords of the world show, institutions governments and thinks the same thing. They are easily overpowered. They’re only as muse how most people don’t vote in municipal strong as the people we elect to safeguard elections, so municipal governments lack them. Preserving democracy requires “democratic legitimacy.” vigilance. BRBC-ad-print.pdf 3 2018-08-02 constant 11:21 AM
OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 7
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ENTER TO WIN CELEBRATE THE CELTIC WAY! Halifax Magazine and Symphony Nova Scotia are offering you the opportunity to enjoy some live music at its best. Enter our contest for a chance to win two tickets to A Celtic Tenors Christmas, performances running from Nov. 30th to Dec. 2nd. That’s right, you get to choose the performance you want to see. Enter now before the seasonal rush or risk missing this chance.
CONTRIBUTORS KIM HART MACNEILL “Halifax Pop Explosion grows up,” “The price is right” Kim is a freelance journalist and editor of East Coast Living. Read her beer column on HalifaxMag.com. @kimhartmacneill
SANDRA C. HANNEBOHM “Bringing K-pop to Nova Scotia” 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.
ANDREA NEMETZ Cityscape Andrea has been writing about news, sports, and the arts for more than 25 years. A lover of adventure, she has done Habitat for Humanity builds around the world, sailed a 68-foot racing yacht across the Pacific, and trekked on horseback in Iceland and Peru.
SIXIAN ZUO “Life after garbage” Sixian finished her Master of Journalism (investigative and data) from the University of King’s College this summer. She had her first bachelor degree at the Communication University of China in Beijing and came to Halifax in 2016.
JORDAN PARKER “Out of the blue” Jordan is a freelance writer and award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Chronicle Herald, HalifaxToday, The MacDonald Notebook, Times & Transcript, and more. He also runs local film blog Parker and the Picture Shows.
MARIANNE SIMON “Halifax in all seasons” 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
TAMMY FANCY Photo for Editor’s Message A freelance photojournalist, Tammy has shot for East Coast Living, Bedford Magazine, Profiles for Success, and Our Children magazines, plus two cookbooks. fancyfreefoto.com
Enter at halifaxmag.com Contest closes October 31, 2018 8 | halifaxmag.com OCTOBER 2018
Live Art’s new season offers a world of difference BY ANDREA NEMETZ
10 | halifaxmag.com OCTOBER 2018
Zimmer, who recently returned from Montreal, Jay Harvey a former company member of The Woods, and Cormier. Zimmer, who studied ballet in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Boston, before moving to contemporar y dance, “ has great thoroughbred classical training,” says Cormier. Harvey, is an “accomplished freestyle artist who battles.” They are both experimental movers with a similar aesthetic, she continues. “It’s a brilliant opportunity to bring the two together. The movement crosses between street dance and contemporary in a really consistent way.” Cormier says ______Interupted, which includes six stories performed by a dozen dancers ranging in age from 18 to 30, explores all the choreographers’ personal histories with physical and mental health. Sharing the bill is Toronto’s awardwinning urban sensation Gadfly, presenting Klorofyl, influenced by 1964 Japanese film Seven Samurai and including original music by world-renowned violinist Dr. Draw. Rounding out the season is Man, choreographed by Norway ’s Solvi Edvardsen and performed by India’s Sudesh Adhana, on Jan. 11 and 12 and
Montreal’s RUBBERBANDance on April 26 and 27. RUBBERBANDance presents Vic’s Mix, with highlights from the repertoire of artistic director Victor Quijada. “Its a true ‘best of,’ superbly kinetic with a strong influence of street dance in vocabulary,” says Glynn. Man, a dialogue between Edvardsen and Adhana, is a full-length solo. Full-length solos can a difficult proposition, as it can be hard to maintain audience attention, but Glynn has high expectations. “The work has to go all the way drawing the audience in and the dancer has to have the goods which Sudesh Adhana does. It’s a powerful work.” A former principal dancer with the legendary Danny Grossman Company in Toronto, Glynn took over as artistic director for Live Art Dance three years ago with a mandate to grow the audience. Last year, the first full season he programmed, saw a 45% rise in attendance, a 20% rise in single ticket sales and a 36% rise in subscriptions to 180. Glynn aims to hit 200 subscribers this season. Most Live Art shows are in the Sir James Dunn Theatre at Dalhousie Arts Centre. The Ballet BC performance is in the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. Learn more at liveartdance.ca.
Clockwise from top: Attakkalari Dance Company, Ballet BC, Shay Kuebler and Radical System Art.
PHOTO: CARA TRENCH
Movement is the vehicle through which artists deal with personal issues and express their views on contemporary society in the works Live Art Dance presents in its 2018–19 season. The six-show season, which began on Sept. 20 with Attakkalari Dance Theatre from Bangalore, India, on its first national tour, features performers from hip-hop, street, contemporary, ballet, and tap worlds. “One of the things Live Art tries to do is to show our audience different kinds of dance,” says artistic director Randy Glynn, a dancer, choreographer and teacher whose background is in contemporary dance. He is hoping for a sell-out on March 26, 2019 when Ballet BC, a perennial Live Art favourite, brings a troupe of 16 to perform a one-night only show of pieces by Cayetano Soto and Medhi Walerski, plus a new work by Emily Molnar. “They always bring astounding work with extraordinary dancers,” Glynn says, describing the Vancouver-based company as one of the most sought after in the world. Halifax joins Ottawa and Toronto as the only Canadian stops on this year’s international tour. Vancouver’s Shay Kuebler and Radical System Art make their Halifax debut Oct. 5 and 6 with Telemetry, a blend of theatre, martial arts, and dance (including tap, swing, contemporary, and house.) It’s an intensely physical, athletic show with “creative, intriguing staging and wonderful dancers,” says Glynn. Halifax-based The Woods collaborated with Ghettosocks for the 2015 Live Art presentation Trpytich, which examined the process of creation itself, and now, Atlantic Canada’s first professional hip-hop company returns to Live Art on Dec. 7 and 8 to premiere the new work ______Interupted. ______Interupted is an exploration of two health systems, mental and physical, and how trauma in one affects the other, explains The Woods’ choreographer and director Alexis Cormier. It includes contemporary-based choreography by Halifax native Lydia
Zonta Club of Halifax Jane M. Klausman Scholarship BY ANDREA NEMETZ
In this space, Halifax Magazine shares the story of non-profit organizations and community groups working to build a better city. If you’d like to suggest an organization to feature, email email@example.com.
PHOTO: MARCO CASELLI NIRMAL
While women make up nearly 50% of the global workforce; gender equality in senior management and corporate boardrooms around the world has yet to be attained. A survey by Catalyst (an organization devoted to increasing the number of women on boards and in corner suites), says that women hold only 4.2% of the CEO positions and 19.2% of board seats at S&P 500 companies. Zonta International established the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship to provide financial assistance to young women who are interested in climbing the corporate ladder. There are 12 international scholarships of $7,000 US each and up to 32 district/region scholarships of $1,000 US awarded each year, along with a $1,000 scholarship from the Zonta Club of Halifax. Women studying in an accredited business or business-related program at any of our Nova Scotian universities can apply for this scholarship through the Halifax club. The deadline for applications is April 30 of every year and the winner receives her scholarship at the annual Zonta fundraising dinner in May. The Zonta Club of Halifax began in 1951, with Dr. Helen Creighton as its first president. The club supports a number of local charities, provides two other financial awards for women (and award for women returning to school at the communitycollege level and the Young Women in Public Affairs Award for high-school students). In the past three years, two high-school winners from Halifax have been among 10 young women around the world to receive the international award.
PHOTO: CINDI WICKLUND
For more information on the club and its work, surf to zontahalifax.org.
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OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 11
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ENTERTAINMENT The hottest things to see and do in Halifax this month
A Civilized Conversation With Chelsea Handler On the eve of legalization, Handler joins Civilized publisher Derek Riedel for a townhall conversation on cannabis, politics, and culture. The accomplished comedian, author, and activist is determined to break through the negative perceptions of cannabis with blunt talk and keen insights. artscentre.dal.ca
The Dartmouth Community Concert Association The autumn season begins at Woodlawn United Church with a baroque concert by Ensemble Les Songes, featuring soprano Samantha Louis-Jean, recorder player Vincent Lauzer, harpsichordist Mélisande McNabney, and cellist Camille Paquette-Roy. dartmouthcommunityconcert.ca LeVar Burton
OCTOBER 26 TO 28
Hal-Con Bigger every year, Hal-Con is the East Coast’s most popular sci-fi, gaming, and fantasy festival and it returns this month. Scheduled guests include Star Trek: The Next Generation’s LeVar Burton (“Geordi LaForge”) and John de Lancie (“Q”), plus comic artist Brenda Hickey, author Delilah S. Dawson, cosplay guru Cassie Seaboyer, and many more. Hal-Con usually sells out, so get your tickets early and catch all the action at the new Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street. hal-con.com
OCTOBER 26, 27
Last Laugh Comedy Club
Nocturne Discover unique art in a variety of media, with exhibitions and performances at venues around Halifax during Nocturne. Running from 6pm to midnight, this one-night-only festival takes over galleries and public spaces where you wouldn’t normally expect to discover cutting-edge art. Free bike-valet and shuttle-bus service make it easy to get out and explore. nocturnehalifax.ca
PHOTO: RAFFI HADIDIAN
Stand-up comic Angelo Tsarouchas takes the stage for It’s All Greek to Me at Atlantica Hotel Halifax. A regular of the comedy-fest circuit, Tsarouchas has also appeared in several movies, including Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, The Score, and John Q. Efthimios Nasiopoulos and Comus will also perform. lastlaughcomedyclub.ca
OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 13
Hua Li joins the Halifax Pop Explosion’s most musically diverse lineup ever.
14 | halifaxmag.com OCTOBER 2018
PHOTO: STACY LEE
| COVER STORY |
HALIFAX As music evolves, so does one of Halifax’s signature festivals, a year after a scandal over “overt racism”
BY KIM HART MACNEILL
The 2018 edition of the Halifax Pop Explosion music festival and conference has come a long way from its roots in the early ’90s as a celebration of Halifax’s status as “Seattle of the North.” Festival executive director James Boyle says the biggest change he sees this year a shift in genres, with hip hop growing in clout. “We recognized the strength of the growth of hip hop’s popularity not just in our local landscape, but nationally and internationally,” says Boyle. “It’s no question that Canada’s involvement and growth in hip hop is pretty evident, not just from the strength of Drake but also the incredible number of musicians coming out from coast to coast.” This year’s event features hip-hop acts aplenty, from established artists like Cadence Weapon and Sean Leon alongside emerging artists like Hua Li and CupcakKe. While the list may be unfamiliar to some, Boyle and Pop Explosion board chair Stephanie Purcell urge music fans to get out to the venues to discover something new. “We’ve been known for so many years as a discovery festival,” she says. “A lot of people see bands and artists preform on our stages and a few years later they’re headlining Jazz Fest and huge festivals for audiences of thousands. It’s pretty cool that we get them first. Some of the people on our lineup this year are going to blast off for sure.” Pop Explosion, says Boyle, offers a unique flavour that other music festivals can’t replicate. The city’s size makes it easy to venue hop and take in as much music as possible over the four-day festival. “When we have colleagues from New York visit, they get to see the same bands they see in larger centres but don’t have to travel for a half hour between venues. You can take it all in easier, but the level of talent is the same as it is in New York, the U.K., or Germany.”
OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 15
| COVER STORY |
PHOTO: EVRGLO MEDIA
16 | halifaxmag.com OCTOBER 2018
Along with the music fans Pop Explosion attracts, the conference draws industry representatives from across the world. The Label Summit brings together reps from labels of all sizes to network, participate in focused learning, and attend curated artist showcases to discover new talent. “It’s a very rare opportunity for labels like this to come together in a smaller region,” says Purcell. “They all have time to connect and hangout, chat and actually do business.” While attendance at the Label Summit is by registration only, educational conference events are free and open to the public. The Central Library will host song-writing sessions for teens and adults, an info session on health and wellness in the music industry, and more. Last year the festival made national news when Colombian-Canadian artist Lido Pimienta stopped her set. Pimienta invited “brown girls to the front,” an extension of the ’90s Riot Grrrl punk ethic that called for women to stand near the front of the stage in a show of strength instead of being pushed around by violent mosh pits made up predominantly by men. After Pimienta’s request, several white attendees and a festival volunteer refused to move and she stopped playing. She told Billboard Magazine last year: “I ask them to share the space in a more significant manner as an act of love and solidarity with people who, outside of the music show bubble, have to constantly justify their existence to the world.” A week later, festival organizers posted an apology on its Facebook page, reading “We will not accept this behavior and neither should you. Be responsible for your friends–talk to them and support them as they move towards unpacking their racism. People of Color deserve safe spaces and it is your responsibility to help. It is also ours.” Boyle and Purcell say the festival is working with inclusion educator Crystal Taylor, who is developing a program for festivals staff. “We want people to stop and really think ‘How can we make this show the best for the artist and the fans in the audience?’” says Boyle. “It’s that kind of cognisance that’ll make it better for everyone over all as we continue to work with leaders like Talyor and other in the industry who are working on policies that move the entire industry into the future.” It’s a conversation that Toronto hip-hop artist Peggy Hogan, who performs under the name Hua Li, looks forward to continuing this year. Hogan’s identity as a queer, mixed-race artist is central to her music. “I’ve run into James [Boyle] a lot this summer and he’s taken some flak,” says Hogan. “He’s demonstrably done some soul searching, and I think that is reflected in the programing this year. We can keep those conversation going and see where people are at a year later in terms of thinking about these issues.”
See halifaxpopexplosion.com for the latest show times and venue information.
THREE YOU HAVE TO SEE HUA LI | Montréal In Hua Li’s music you’ll discover luxurious R&B-style soundscapes, silky smooth vocals, and confident rap lyrics that explore feminism, race, gender, and more. Hogan’s identity as a queer, half-Chinese rapper is at the forefront of what she’s serving to her audiences. “I’m so about just presenting an alternative version of Chinese-Canadian or Asian-American womanhood at large,” she says. “My Chinese family members brought in very colourful aspects of their culture to go with what I was seeing around me, but I grew up here. I watched MuchMusic growing up. I loved hip hop.” In addition to her own set, she’s DJing on this tour for fellow Pop Explosion performer Cadence Weapon.
GAELYNN LEA | Duluth, Minnesota On her latest release, Learning How to Stay, Gaelynn Lea’s light vibrato ranges from hauntingly soulful to pure bubble gum pop. In addition to the concert, she has a talk at Paul O’Regan Hall at the Halifax Central Library. Lea was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic condition that complicates bone and limb development; she uses a wheelchair. An advocate for people with disabilities, Lea will discuss practical ways to make the music and arts industries more accessible to people with disabilities and how that can help create positive change. “I had a show booked on this tour that we had to cancel because the venue couldn’t get a ramp,” she says. “That used to happen a lot, but now I am super vocal about it. If I said, ‘It would be nice to have a ramp,’ which is how I started, maybe 30% of places did it. Now I say, ‘I can’t play there. I’ll play on the floor, but you will not lift my chair up on to the stage.’ It’s getting a lot better.”
JEREMY DUTCHER | Toronto Reviewers are eager to relate composer and singer Jeremy Dutcher’s latest album to opera. The 27-year-old member of New Brunswick’s Tobique First Nation sings the entirety of his latest release, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, in Wolastoqey, the traditional indigenous language of the Wolastoq people. His layered piano tracks and operatic tenor vocals blend with the voices of the past. Dutcher combed through anthropological recordings made between 1907–1913 to incorporate clips from the now digitized wax cylinder recordings into his album. This music is a sonic discovery, and you don’t need a translation to hear the passion in Dutcher’s voice. The record won this year’s $50,000 Polaris Music Prize, a juried award given each September. It celebrates the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label. Dutcher is the first East Coast artist to win the prize in its 12-year history. email@example.com
OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 17
OUT OF THE BLUE
| FEATURE |
OUTGOING HALIFAX POLICE CHIEF JEAN-MICHEL BLAIS REFLECTS ON HIS CAREER AND WHAT’S NEXT STORY AND PHOTOS BY JORDAN PARKER
Outgoing Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais didn’t always want to be a cop. The McGill grad, unable to find other work, followed in his stepfather’s footsteps as a cab driver in Toronto in the 1980s. During a Christmas Day shift, a passenger with a knife attacked him. “Police arrested the guy and I got away unscathed, but I’ve always been interested in what social issues or substance abuse issues would drive someone to those stakes,” he says. “So I began thinking about law enforcement. I applied to the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP, and the latter called first.” He went to southern Quebec at age 26 after training. “My sister died of an overdose, and we suspect my mother did also,” he says. “[It influenced] how I wanted to serve. I saw policing drugs as a way to contribute. I didn’t want to just shake my finger at kids. I wanted to show the advantages and what you could achieve without poisoning your body or altering your mind.”
OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 19
| FEATURE |
Like most RCMP officers, Blais bounced around. He went from St. George La Bousse south of Quebec, to Quebec City, to Haiti on his first United Nations mission, and then to Montreal. In 2000, he then went to Ottawa briefly, and Winnipeg, and Portage La Prairie, then Ottawa again, and he went to Haiti twice more in 2010 and 2013 before settling in Halifax. After 25 years with the RCMP, Jean-Michel Blais joined the Halifax Regional Police in 2012. “My RCMP boss says I could have my own divisional command in a few years, but my in-laws had moved here from Montreal and we wanted to make Halifax home,” he says. “My old office is right next to this one. This was the most significant change of my career, but the smallest transfer. I took the same box for 10 trips.” John Ferguson was sworn in the same day as Blais in Toronto. “From the minute I met him, it was evident he was a bright, articulate guy,” says Ferguson, who works in Alberta. “As we went through training, he was just a natural leader.” Ferguson would go to Manitoba at the end of training, while Blais went to Quebec. They’ve stayed friends for 31 years. He remembers a trip together just after graduation. “We met at the airport after we were sworn in, given an ethics lecture and everything else,” he recalls. “He approached the ticket agent, dropped his ticket on the counter and says, ‘any chance of bumping two of Canada’s finest to business class?’” He recalls the smile on Blais’s face that day. “We flew out in style, and we drank beers in the air over Winnipeg,” he laughs. “But given Jean-Michel’s strong sense of right and wrong, that probably wouldn’t be something he’d do these days.” The Coast recently called Blais a “selfdescribed lefty.” Blais laughs at the label. “Considering I’m still wondering where to situate myself on the political spectrum, I’m not sure how they could know,” he says. “People keep asking about politics, and whether I’m running for the NDP or the Progressive
Conservatives. The answer is ‘I don’t think so.’ That’s not what my plans are... It sounds like I’m being coy, but I don’t even know myself if that’s in the future. But people will always speculate. If it was 2020, they’d guess municipal council. If it was 2021, it’d be about the provincial election.” Blais has faced criticism in the last couple years, notably for missing drug and evidence exhibits. A Final Drug Exhibit Report, released in January 2018, says all missing evidence (including drug samples, money and other
“WE NEED TO SLOW DOWN AND LOOK AT ALL THE ISSUES ... OFFICERS HAVE TO DEVELOP A DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT.” —JEAN-MICHEL BLAIS items equalling hundreds of evidence pieces) was destroyed, not stolen. “We couldn’t physically account for some of these items. We believe they were destroyed, but we can’t conclusively say that,” said Supt. Jim Perrin to reporters that day at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting. The audit began in 2015 with allegations that an officer had been stealing evidence. The missing exhibits included 293 sums of cash, 331 large drug exhibits, and just over 2,500 smaller and non-drug exhibits. “On a personal level, people were asking me questions about drug exhibits, and they deserved an answer,” Blais says. “I owed them one. It was a longstanding issue caused by infrastructure issues and amalgamation, and
we are in a far better state than we were five years ago.” Russell Walker, current Halifax councillor and former Police Board of Commissioners chair, was satisfied with the work Blais did. “In my two years on the board, we got along fine,” he says. “The issues we took to him were acted upon. He handled issues directly and head on... It certainly will be interesting to see who they get to replace him.” Though there’s no firm date to name a replacement yet, Blais says he expects to be off the job by March 2019 at the latest. Blais has had other controversies. Chief among them was “street checks,” the practice of police stopping people to collect information about them (such as ethnicity, sex, and age) to use in future investigations. Blais and the department came under fire after statistics showed police were giving more attention to non-white people. “With... street checks, we need to slow down and look at all the issues,” he says. “Officers have to develop a diversity of thought. We are working hard to be able to do that, and it’s important that we follow procedure and make good decisions.” Civil-rights activist Robert S. Wright helped to write a letter calling for an end to the practice after stats revealed what he says he knew all along. “It came as a huge confirmation that what we’d been saying for years was now acknowledged to be true,” he says. “And now that there were stats to prove our point, the natural next step was to call for a moratorium.” Wright admits he was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the reaction to the findings. “If [the board of police commissioners] can make those findings and prescribe dozens of recommendations to attempt a correction, why couldn’t the police service say it out loud?” says Wright. “[Why couldn’t they say] ‘this is a problem of systemic racism and we’re going to figure out what to do about it.’” He feels Blais took the findings seriously, but that he “bungled” the issue. “Did he respond in the way I would have advised him to? No,” he says. But he adds that it’s a systemic problem, not Blais’s alone. “It is too easy for the collective
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system of justice to make the chief of the police force singularly responsible for unravelling this Gordian knot without making a peep. Without making bold and wise statements of their own. Without mobilizing the resources to help.” He says Blais did try to make a difference. “The chief ... stood and answered questions, he didn’t hide, he went to public meetings in the heart of the black community,” he adds “He would have failed worse if he had been silent.” The role of police in Halifax Pride sparked another public debate, but Blais thinks the decision to have officers no longer participate in-uniform in the parade was correct. “We look at cities and know our police don’t have the same history with the community as Toronto or New York, but there were concerns, biases, notions and narratives we had to acknowledge,” he says. Blais, who previously in the parade in full uniform both as an RCMP member and in the HRP, says he didn’t make the decision lightly. “We had to unilaterally step back, but the decision wasn’t made that way,” he explains. “We needed to take time and think about what the best solutions for the community were, and we maintain an open dialogue with Pride Halifax.”
Another issue that hit Blais personally was around complaints from officers about funding for PTSD treatment. Blais has been outspoken about his issues with PTSD since 2015, stemming from his time in Haiti, and there’s one incident from nearly 25 years earlier that sticks out in his mind. “The Haitian Armed Forces had basically disbanded, and we took over watching prisoners, who probably weren’t even guilty of anything,” he says “We recognized they hadn’t been fed or cleaned. We emptied out the 20” by 20” room crammed with 68 people, and there were three dead bodies in there—emaciated. I realized we needed to protect their basic rights.” He and the group gave them food, cleaned them and scrubbed down their cells. But Blais couldn’t shake off the memories. “It changed my perception of policing, and I went from wanting to enforce the law to remembering people’s rights also need to be protected, and they need to be treated with respect,” he says. Two CBC stories from late 2017 feature police officers accusing Blais of hypocrisy regarding his PTSD. They allege they received little help from HRP when asking for funding to help them with their own PTSD struggles. “There is this idea that I come from above and throw a lightning bolt, and things get done.
But we look at the collective agreement we must respect, and basic employer-employee relations,” he says. “Those individuals went to the human rights board, and I look forward to seeing those decisions and issues come forward. Don’t forget that there’s more than meets the eye.” He is still hoping to refresh the strategic plan, and stay out working and engaging with the community before he finishes. “My greatest sources of pride included addressing the Association of Pride Festivals, singing at New Horizons Baptist Church, attending Friday prayers at the local mosque, and improving relationships with the city and Acadian Francophone people,” he says. But he wants people to know that the badge doesn’t define him. He cried when he read Les Miserables on vacation this summer. He’s also an avid Star Wars fan, with a red toy lightsaber on his credenza next to the RCMP officer’s sword he brings to the Maritime Tattoo Festival. For now, as he approaches the end of a storied career, Blais is keeping things simple. “I’m going to wake up in the morning, work out, bring a coffee to my wife’s bedside with a kiss, and not take myself too seriously. There’s more to life than worrying about the job.”
OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 21
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| FEATURE |
PEOPLE LIVING THE ZERO-WASTE LIFESTYLE SHARE THEIR MESSAGE STORY AND PHOTOS BY SIXIAN ZUO
LIFE AFTER GARBAGE
Top: Relying on reusable and recyclable products, Rebekkah Ragan is trying to live a zerowaste life, and encouraging others to do the same.
Rebekkah Ragan’s family and friends don’t understand her, and it’s not just because she and her partner only use one roll of toilet paper a month. Ragan has a “zero-waste” life, with the goal of generating as little garbage as possible. To get rid of plastic packaging, Ragan not only just uses recyclable bags and mason jars for shopping, but also makes products on her own. “It really wasn’t that long ago that we were living relatively zerowaste,” she says, “like 50 years before.” Her dry shampoo is made with arrowroot powder and cocoa powder. The arrowroot absorbs grease and cocoa powder matches her hair color. Ragan demonstrates with a brush, dabs the powder onto her hair roots, and rub it in. She says the powder will have a reaction with the grease and it will go away eventually. She also made her mouthwash. It contains mouthwash baking soda, xylitol, and peppermint essential oil. Based on the HRM’s solid-waste sorting guide (available at halifax.ca), all washroom waste is supposed to go into the landfill. Ragan says she tries to avoid the unnecessary use of washroom items, like toilet paper, to reduce the amount of that waste. Ragan also spent $70 on a bidet, which is a plumbing fixture attached under the toilet seat. The bidet delivers a spray of warm water to assist with post-elimination clean-up and cut the need for toilet paper. “This one roll of paper hanging here just in case our guest feels uncomfortable when using the bidet,” she says. Kate Pepler also embraces the zero-waste lifestyle. She has more than 100 reusable jars, and a special jar that holds every piece of garbage she’s generated since January 2017. Inside this jar, there are cropped Visa card pieces, clothing labels, a Band-Aid, and plastic packing from a meat thermometer. The most common type of garbage in the jar are fruit stickers. She started collecting her daily trash into the jar after she was already used to living with zero waste. She says the visible amount of garbage helps her “see what areas I could further reduce my waste.”
Bottom: Zero-waste advocate Kate Pepler generated enough garbage to fill just one Mason jar in 2017.
OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 23
| FEATURE |
Kate Pepler’s Mason jar of garbage is a useful illustration of the big impact one person can have.
Resusable bags, refillable bottles, and no single-use products: essentials for people living the zero-waste life.
It’s not as hard as many people think. “Somebody from the outside looking in at a glance wouldn’t think I live differently than everybody else,” she says. “But once you start looking closer, it’s like no disposable cups and drinking-water bottles, reusable containers and all those little things add up to make it a zero-waste lifestyle.” There’s more to it than a jar, but the visualization helps. “It’s pretty powerful to see all I’ve created, but most people create more than that in a day,” Pepler says. Jane Rovers, a mother of two kids, believes at the heart of the lifestyle or movement, is saving: saving the environment, time, health, and money. All totalled, the people of Halifax Regional Municipality generate some 100,000 tons of trash annually; roughly 250 kg per resident. On Jan. 1, China’s garbage-import ban started, forcing the city to find a new place for its plastic and paper/ cardboard waste. Since then, Halifax struggled with its big mountain of plastic waste. Policymakers are discussing many possible solutions, including banning single-use plastic bags. Pepler says she weighs her trash jar; she generated 2.6 ounces of trash in more than one year. “The average Canadian produces about two kg of solid waste per day, more than almost any citizen in the world,” she says, citing data from Clean Nova Scotia.
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halifax.ca/whatgoeswhere 24 | halifaxmag.com OCTOBER 2018
The “garbage problem, in my opinion, hinges around consumption,” says HRM Councillor Richard Zurawski, who often advocates for green policies. Zurawski adds that he and his wife try to restrict their purchases to food, fuel, and necessary repairs. Christmas gifts were Rovers’s biggest dilemma. “It is beyond our control and I find it frustrating,” she says. She noticed that after Christmas Day, there was a lot of waste from gifts, so she’s wants to encourage people to replace wrapping paper and gift bags with reusable cloth, recycled paper, or jars. “It’s just the small changes that make a big impact,” she says. Pepler has been transitioning to a zero-waste life for more than two years. Using a reusable water bottle was Pepler’s first change followed by reusable coffee mugs. She says she will not have coffee unless she has her thermos on hand or sits down at the coffee shop with a mug. “Zero waste is a good idea, but it also means a lot of changes to your lifestyle,” says Dalhousie instructor Catherine Boulatoff, who teaches Economics of Municipal Solid Waste and is now looking into zero waste. “Any change, general for people, it is hard; it’s just a matter of making it worthwhile.”
But Boulatoff says chances are slim that everyone will adopt a zero-waste lifestyle, but a few policy changes could make a difference. “For example, it can start with bringing your own non-plastic bags [to stores],” she says. “You have to finalize [a plastic-bag ban], so that everybody has incentive to do that.” “It is like a chain action,” says Ragan. She posts a lot of tips and questions on Reddit to ask other Haligonians about their zero waste life. Rovers started zero-waste accounts on both Twitter and Instagram a few months ago. She shares her idea about how to get around plastic or paper waste by giving e-gift cards, buying sticker-free local fruits and vegetables and encouraging people to go to pick-your-own farms in Nova Scotia. She says she wants to create some space where people can all share their zero waste experience. “It’s hard to learn everything on your own and obviously you always learn better in a community from other people sharing,” Rovers says. And beyond helping the planet, there’s a simple benefit, as she explains on Instagram: “Zero-waste habits will help you happily live with less.”
“SOMEBODY FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN AT A GLANCE WOULDN’T THINK I LIVE DIFFERENTLY THAN EVERYBODY ELSE... ALL THOSE LITTLE THINGS ADD UP TO MAKE IT A ZEROWASTE LIFESTYLE.” —KATE PEPLER
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OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 25
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TO NOVA SCOTIA A NEW HALIFAX STORE CELEBRATES A CULTURAL PHENOMENON STORY AND PHOTOS BY SANDRA C. HANNEBOHM Sarah Milberry tries to hold the baby still, but he has turned into a noodle. Baby Jake arches his back out of her hands, flailing in quiet, slippery defiance of every attempt to make him sit on her lap. A healthy dollop of drool falls from his mouth. He grips a handful of star-shaped crackers from the coffee table, and smiles as he drops half of them on the floor. Milberry notices the drool stain on her shirt, holds the baby in front of her and rolls her eyes, but smiles. Milberry co-owns Sarah and Tom gift shop with her husband, Tom Yun. After opening three stores in Toronto and Montreal, the couple opened the first Korean pop music store in Atlantic Canada. While Yun is away on business at the other locations, she looks after their two sons, and the store in Halifax. Today she’s looking after her eight-month-old son, Jake, while Leo is with grandparents. She doesn’t doubt the ability of staff to run the store on Quinpool Road, but she likes to talk with customers and the occasional reporter, maybe grab a coffee next door. Business is running smoothly at Sarah and Tom. So smoothly that Milberry’s presence, if it weren’t for the fact that she was looking after one less child that afternoon, would seem extraneous. But Milberry saw an opportunity to bring her son to work. After all, a mixture of family and business is what brought her to Nova Scotia. Originally from New Glasgow, Milberry taught in South Korea where she met her husband. They bought a storefront in downtown Toronto in 2009 but her vision was always to raise her children in Nova Scotia.
Sarah Milberry met her husband Tom Yun in South Korea. Back in her native Nova Scotia, they share the infectious joy of K-pop culture.
Playful, vibrant Korean pop is a global music trend. The groups resemble Western boy and girl bands of the ’90s and burst onto American music charts in 2012, after Psy became internationally known for the hit “Gangnam Style.” Still, few would expect to find an audience of K-pop fans in Nova Scotia, where folk and indie are the main music exports. But K-pop has broad appeal. Jeff Dallien is flipping through a photobook he bought at Sarah and Tom. It’s by his favourite girl band, Twice. Inside is their latest CD, trading cards, and a small, red, transparent screen for finding hidden drawings behind images. Korean pop CDs are less like the standard Western album, and more like a toy in a Happy Meal, or a puzzle on a cereal box. Some are made to look like a package sent in the mail. Most are in books or boxes, some even look like VHS tapes. South Korean groups release several CDs in a year, all in unique packages, all with limited-edition collectors’ items inside. In 2017, one K-pop group beat President Donald Trump and Justin Bieber combined when they gained more than half a billion ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ on Twitter. Their latest album made BTS the first K-Pop group to debut at number one on the American music charts, and in August their first U.S. stadium show sold out 40,000 seats in less than an hour. Compared to Western talent, Korean artists portray emotional openness and optimism. “I don’t always need to hear a song about how you got screwed over,” says Dallien. “There seems to be a lot of that [in North American music].” Like him, many English fans consider K-pop a representation of the end of cynicism, or a return to sincerity. “There are K-pop artists who do not speak any English and I feel like I know their personalities way better than I could know most Western artists,” he adds. Customers browse the K-pop shelves at Sarah and Tom, which also carries anime merchandise and unique stationary. Milberry and Yun’s first store had just stationary and plush toys; no K-pop. During an especially slow winter, they started to wonder if they should just “pack up and go.” That day, a regular came in and ranted about how much the store meant to them. “It was a weird, coincidental thing and we had to say, ‘We can’t close!’... She happened to come in on that day, when we were feeling down,” Milberry recalls. Shortly after, Sarah and Tom started selling K-pop items. “That’s when sales started taking off,” she says. “We used all our money to get ourselves to Toronto. We set goals and worked on them together, and of course there was stress and arguments, but we got through it.” The Halifax location has seen steady traffic so far. Milberry hopes to open a Vancouver location, too. “We don’t want to stop at Halifax… but this will always be home, and if we have to travel for work [to keep living here], we’ll just do it.”
OCTOBER 2018 halifaxmag.com | 27
THE PRICE IS RIGHT AS BUCK-A-BEER FAILS IN ONTARIO, WE LOOK AT THE REAL COST OF MAKING NOVA SCOTIAN CRAFT BEER BY KIM HART MACNEILL On Aug. 7, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced his Buck-a-Beer challenge. In return for lowering prices on liquor stores sales to $1 per beer, breweries would receive preferred treatment in stores, free advertising, or other non-monetary compensation. By the official start of Buck-a-Beer, Aug. 27, only three Ontario breweries out of 300-some signed up: Barley Days Brewery, Cool Beer Brewing Company, and grocery chain Loblaw’s President’s Choice brand beer. Before Labour Day, Loblaw announced it would exit the promotion after only one week. Pundits, beer lovers, breweries, and many people with eyes saw the move for what it was–a bone thrown to Ford’s base and a good-news story to drown out commentary on his government’s approach on sex-ed curriculum, $100 million in funding cuts for school repairs and other social programs. While Ontario’s Buck-a-Beer has been an overwhelming failure, it raises a question: what does it cost to make craft beer in Nova Scotia? Consider cans. Shawn O’Hearn, president and co-founder of Nine Locks Brewing Co. says the cost of a printed can (one that comes with the label already attached) ranges from 32–37 cents, plus an additional 5–7 cents for a lid. Ordering in bulk helps lower the cost, but many breweries don’t have to storage for 100,000 cans. Not to mention the fact that getting cans has been difficult this summer, thanks to an aluminum shortage.
“This year we’ve gone from about a four-to-fiveweek turnaround from when you order our cans to getting them anywhere to 12–16 weeks out,” says O’Hearn. “We were very lucky because we had a lot of cans in stock. But, right now we’re completely out of cans for one of our brands of beer. We’re desperately waiting for cans to arrive.” O’Hearn says his next batch of cans will be the first he’s ordered since the aluminum tariff came into effect July 1. He expects about a 10% increase on the price of that batch he’s waiting for. Then there are payments to the NSLC. If you buy a 6-pack of bottles of Boxing Rock Brewing Company’s Hunky Dory Pale Ale at NSLC, you pay $17.36. Subtract the tax and bottle deposit, and you have $14.50. NSLC takes 40%, and Boxing Rock is left with $8.70. That’s $1.45 per beer, before you consider shipping, marketing, labour, and brewing. For Boxing Rock co-owner Emily Tipton, that 40% isn’t the issue. She says she feels like she gets good value for it. But that Nova Scotian craft breweries are not treated the same as their New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island counterparts but NSLC is frustrating. When N.B. and P.E.I. breweries sell to the NSLC or N.S. bars, they don’t pay the 5% retail sales mark-up allocation on sales that Nova Scotian breweries do. In 2007, before most of the craft breweries opened in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia committed to the Maritime Beer Accord. The agreement allowed the Sleeman’s
plant in Nova Scotia and Molson Canada in New Brunswick to distribute their beers in both provinces as local brewers. Additionally, the news release read, “Nova Scotia will treat New Brunswick microbreweries the same way we treat Nova Scotia microbreweries, and vice-versa.” “I pay exactly the same taxes as a New Brunswick brewery in New Brunswick and a Prince Edward Island brewery in P.E.I.” While Tipton estimates the markup only amounts to $4 per keg, it remains unequal. “If we are going to have the Maritime Beer Accord and we truly believe there should be one market in the Maritime Provinces for beer, then why wouldn’t we harmonize the policy and tax rate on how this stuff works so that all breweries are treated equally in all three provinces?” asks Tipton. The Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia raised the issue with both the NSLC and the provincial government. Over a year ago, the provincial government said it would look at the issue. And then there are water, staffing, insurance, marketing, shipping, and production costs, which vary widely from one brewery to the next. Add it all up and the conclusion is obvious: if you’re getting beer for $1 each, you’re probably getting pretty crappy beer. email@example.com Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
Must try beers: Beers from Ontario that are worth more than $1 Thrust! An IPA
Mash Up the Jam (Dry hop sour)
Great Lakes Brewing Co. | 6.5% | Toronto
Collective Arts Brewing | 5.2% | Hamilton, Ont.
This malty beer with a thick white head brings a snoutfull of hops. Breath it in for a moment, appreciate the grapefruit, mango, and stone-fruit aromas of these massive dry hops. It smells nearly as good as this beer tastes. Your first sip will yield tropical fruit and piney flavours, balanced by strong malt flavours. Find it at Bishop’s Cellar.
28 | halifaxmag.com OCTOBER 2018
Hopheads! Sour savourers! You don’t have to choose. This ale blends the two solitudes to craft a jaw-twinging sour that brings generous hops to the table. It’s light and airy in your mouth, and features Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops to create a juicy, but nonetheless sour sipper. Find it at NSLC stores.
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HALIFAX IN ALL SEASONS FOR ONE NEWCOMER, GETTING AROUND HALIFAX IS GLORIOUS IN THE AUTUMN... AND MISERABLE IN THE WINTER BY MARIANNE SIMON I landed in Halifax at an opportune moment. It was August 2017. The dream of having my family together under one roof was about to materialize. And I was grateful. Everything around me looked prim and proper, and above all, efficient. The apartment, the supermarkets, the clothes stores, and the transit system were just a few of the things that impressed me. Buses were modern, with comfortable seats, air-conditioning and special facilities for people in wheelchairs and mothers pushing prams. The drivers were courteous and helpful, and passengers didn’t have to stand up except during rush hours. I thought about the city buses back in India. People would be packed like sardines without a bit of personal space, adding to the misery of women. And some young men would always hang outside the open doors while the buses inched through the heavy traffic. In Halifax, buses were punctual, and I could depend on my favourite #52 to get to Bayers Lake or the Bridge Terminal without getting stuck in traffic. For me, travelling by bus seemed perfect. No worrying about driving through intersections where cars and trucks seemed to come from all directions, or the pedestrians who sometimes crossed the road without warning. I could sit without a care in the world and enjoy the beautiful landscape. Then we were into fall. Trees put on their multi-coloured mantles and I was captivated by the splendid displays they presented. Red, orange and yellow, and many more shades in between. Sitting in the moving bus made me feel like I was in a fairy land, a place I used to imagine myself in when I was a little girl. Decades ago, I sat in “foreign-returned” Professor Shreenivasan’s class listening to his lecture on “To Autumn” by John Keats. The hall reverberated with his husky voice and felicitous expressions, but no amount of his knowledge or oratory could convince the students of what Keats was trying to tell us. We listened with blank expressions. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness / Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun…” The professor tried to describe the magical experience of being surrounded by a world of warmth and abundance. But many of us could neither see any magic nor fathom why the professor was so ecstatic about autumn.
30 | halifaxmag.com OCTOBER 2018
That day, sitting in the bus and watching the red and gold tree tops silhouetted against the bright blue sky, I was convinced that my professor was right. There was magic in the season, there was magic all around me. A magic that reached deep into my soul and transported me to a world of pure joy. And if I were to drive a car, I knew I would miss it all. That was when I vowed that I would not travel by any other means. With the advent of winter, I began to think differently. By December, we were under an avalanche of snow and travelling by bus became difficult. I still don’t understand the logic behind erecting bus shelters at some stops and not at others. Enduring the vagaries of nature while waiting for a bus in the falling snow and chilling rain was unpleasant. I wore five layers of clothing, yet shivered when the wind blew. By then I was working as an educational-program assistant and had to catch two or sometimes three buses to get to schools in Eastern Passage or Upper Sackville. I was convinced that depending on buses to get around in winter wouldn’t be practical. I could take taxis in winter, but the charges would be exorbitant. The only other solution I had was to get my Indian driver’s licence changed to a Nova Scotian licence. This presented two major problems. First, I had been driving in India on the left side of the road and in Halifax I had to drive on the right. Secondly, driving lessons seemed far too expensive. And I did not know how many lessons I would need. Some of the people I talked to told me that the examiners were very strict, which worried me. Finally, after much contemplation, I decided to take driving lessons. Hopefully I will have the licence before the next winter sets in. I still struggle with keeping my left foot idle and driving fast enough on the highways, but I know I will master these skills before too long. I wish I could travel by Halifax Transit even in winter. If only there were shelters at every stop!
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