White Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston Picks White Guy Pat Dunn to Represent African Nova Scotians

Silly article. He has no African Nova Scotian in his caucus. Far better to judge the government on what it does and does not do:

On his first day in office, the white premier of Nova Scotia chose a fellow white man to serve as a representative for thousands of African Nova Scotians and as head of the Canadian province’s anti-racism efforts, enraging members of his community.

“I understand the emotions of it but [the decision] shouldn’t be interpreted as not being concerned about listening to the community,” Tim Houston, a member of the Progressive Conservative Party, said in a statement Tuesday night. He picked Pat Dunn, a member of the Canadian Legislative Assembly, as the minister for African Nova Scotian Affairs and the Office of Anti-Racism Initiatives.

There are roughly 21,000 people of African descent in the province distributed among 50 African Nova Scotia communities. Replies to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation tweets about the decision as well as Facebook comments on Houston’s announcement denounced the decision as “tone deaf.”

Among the Progressive Conservative Party’s 31 members elected to office in August, there were no Black members. Three Black Progressive Conservative candidates had run and lost. Houston said, rather than choose a Black candidate from outside his party for the post now occupied by Dunn, that “our democracy works best when the people that are elected are put into positions of accountability,” according to the Toronto Star.

Source: White Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston Picks White Guy Pat Dunn to Represent African Nova Scotians

Return of ‘protected ridings’ sees N.S. riding with full slate of Black candidates

While in general not in favour of “protected riding” or deliberate drawing of borders based upon ethnic ancestry or visible minority or other groups, in some cases like this one can be justified to improve representation.

At the federal level, this largely happens more or less organically for the larger groups given settlement patterns:

In the provincial riding of Preston, just east of Halifax, a historic political race is underway.

“One of the things that’s really important, and I think so many people are talking about, is the fact that all three of us are local in particular and African Nova Scotian,” Liberal candidate Angela Simmonds said of the candidates facing off to represent the riding.

Simmonds, along with NDP candidate Colter Simmonds and Progressive Conservative candidate Archy Beals, make up the slate for the largely African Nova Scotian riding in the Aug. 17 general election. It’s believed to be the first time in the province’s history an electoral district has all Black candidates.

It’s thanks in part to the reinstatement two years ago of Preston, along with three largely Acadian ridings — Argyle, Clare and Richmond. In 2019, the Liberal government introduced legislation to bring back the so-called protected ridings after the previous NDP government did away with them in 2012, saying there were too few voters in them.

With the reinstatement, the province once again has 55 ridings, up from 51 in the last election.

Other provinces have ridings of varying sizes, typically to ensure rural voters are well represented. But Nova Scotia’s protected ridings are unique for the fact that they shield so-called “historical minorities” from redistribution, said James Bickerton, a political science professor at St. Francis Xavier University.

The ridings were initially formed in the 1990s to ensure effective representation of Acadian and African Nova Scotian voters and to protect them from electoral redistribution, “which would dilute the populations considerably to the point where minorities would no longer be the majority within the constituency,” Bickerton said.

He was on the electoral boundaries commission that concluded in 2012 that the ridings should remain. But he said the commission was threatened by then-attorney general Ross Landry, who claimed the recommendation did not respect the commission’s terms of reference.

The movement to reinstate the special districts followed a court victory by the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia. The province’s Appeal Court ruled that the redrawn map violated democratic rights guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Effective representation was at play … the argument being that Francophones and African Nova Scotians could only have effective representation if they had representatives in the legislature from their communities,” Bickerton said. “Protected ridings doesn’t guarantee it, but it certainly makes it much more likely.”

Andrew Griffith, a fellow at the Environics Institute, a public opinion and social research organization, said ridings with large minority populations tend to elect candidates with similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds. He gave the example of Indo-Canadians.

“If you look at a place that has a large Indo-Canadian population, whether immigrants or citizens, the candidates and the MPs tend to come from those communities,” Griffith said. “Having your electoral districts be aligned not only to the overall population balance, but to recognize that some communities may be relatively under-represented because they’re too dispersed across the province or across the country, I think it’s a valid rationale.”

Glenn Graham, a political science professor at St. Francis Xavier University, echoed the sentiment, adding that the goal of the ridings is effective representation, not necessarily absolute voter parity, which is the idea that each vote carries the same weight. Voter parity, however, could also limit the voices of minority voters, he said.

When the latest changes were made in 2019, the four protected ridings had voting populations ranging from 6,451 in Argyle to 10,781 in Preston, well below the provincial average of 14,356 electors per riding.

“With all the major political parties running an African Nova Scotian candidate, it’s a guarantee that there will be an African Nova Scotian representing the area,” Beals said in a recent interview. He added that the area comes with specific cultural issues, including education and business development, of which the candidates have an intimate understanding. “Who best to address them than someone in the community, from the community?” he said.

As for the Acadian ridings, Marie-Claude Rioux, the executive director of the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia, said in an interview that the change “gives Acadians a better chance to elect someone that will know their needs,” such as French-language health services.

But while the community was glad to see the three Acadian ridings restored, Rioux said the federation plans on fighting for more representation, namely a riding for Cheticamp, an Acadian community in Cape Breton.

Moving toward effective representation, Graham said, is about “having someone that you feel may look like you in the legislature, or is a reflection of your lived experience in the legislature.”

And with the newly reinstated ridings, Angela Simmonds said she now has an opportunity to engage with the constituents of the riding at a more personal level.

“I think when you see someone who looks like you there is an appreciation for one’s lived experiences,” she said.

Source: Return of ‘protected ridings’ sees N.S. riding with full slate of Black candidates

Black Nova Scotia man ‘overjoyed’ as struggle for land title moves forward

Far too long in the making:

Christopher Downey finished building his home in 2002 on a parcel of land in North Preston, N.S., that has been in his family for generations.

But it was only in late July that Downey says he found out the province intends to issue him a certificate of claim to the land upon which his house was built — the first step in his years-long fight for title.

“It’s been a long journey, but the truth always prevails, and I think it came down to just the government doing the right thing,” the 66-year-old said in a recent interview.

Downey is among scores of African Nova Scotians who have struggled for years to have their title claims recognized. But now, after he won his case in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, the province says it is going to make it easier for Black Nova Scotians to settle land claims.

The problem dates back to the 1800s when the Nova Scotia government distributed land to white and Black Loyalists — people who stayed loyal to the British Crown and moved to Canada following the American Revolution.

Downey said his ancestors fought alongside the British in the War of 1812 on the promise they would be granted land in what is now North Preston.

Yet while white settlers received title to fertile ground in present-day Nova Scotia, their Black counterparts were allowed to use and occupy the lands they were given, but were not granted legal title.

In 1963, Nova Scotia passed what is now known as the Land Titles Clarification Act, which aimed to provide African Nova Scotians with a pathway to legal ownership of lands that in many cases had been in their families for decades.

The act applies to 13 predominantly Black communities, including Cherry Brooke, East Preston and North Preston, all on the outskirts of Halifax. But lawyers, human rights advocates and African Nova Scotian communities have long complained of a burdensome, costly and time-consuming process to apply for title.

Downey took his case to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, which last month ordered the government to reassess his application for a certificate of claim after it was rejected on the basis the father of four could not prove he had lived on the land for 20 consecutive years.

The court said the government was unreasonable in applying that standard, known as adverse possession, in Downey’s case. Downey’s great-grandfather, Peter Beals, and wife, Heidi, settled on the land in 1913, the ruling states.

“African Nova Scotians have been subjected to racism for hundreds of years in this province,” Justice Jamie Campbell wrote in the decision. “That has real implications for things like land ownership. Residents in African Nova Scotian communities are more likely to have unclear title to land on which they may have lived for many generations.”

Downey said he and his wife, Christselina, were “overjoyed” by the court’s decision. “The impact is tremendous … With this case, we feel that now it will open the door for most of the residents in this community to actually obtain their certificate of claim,” he said.

Scott Campbell, the lawyer who represented Downey at the Supreme Court, said the minister of lands and forestry will issue Downey a certificate of claim “subject to the resolution of any outstanding liens,” or any debts that have been registered against the land.

“While we’re not there yet, this is a significant step forward and we appreciate the minister’s efforts in this regard,” Campbell said in an Aug. 4 email.

Lisa Jarrett, spokeswoman for the Department of Lands and Forestry, told The Canadian Press in a July email the province had accepted the Supreme Court’s decision in Downey’s case and was working to quickly change its adverse possession policy. Jarrett later confirmed on Aug. 5 the government was finalizing Downey’s certificate of claim.

The province is looking at whether the 20-years adverse possession test affected other applicants, but Jarrett did not say how many people could have been impacted. Nova Scotia has received over 360 land claims to date, she said, and the owners of 130 parcels of land have received title.

“We will continue to look for ways to streamline this process and remove barriers wherever possible,” Jarrett said.

Campbell said the government indicated in court it had applied the 20-years adverse possession test since at least 2015 — meaning many families may have had their claims denied on that basis. He said he hoped the court’s ruling would push Nova Scotia to engage with historical experts and Black community members to better understand how to implement the 1963 Land Titles Clarification Act.

“With all of that information, my hope is that it will provide the minister and his department with a framework by which they can more appropriately and fairly assess applications,” Campbell said.

Downey said while his certificate of claim is nearly approved, he and his family still have several steps ahead of them before they can get ownership of the land.

After a certificate of claim is issued, a notice must be posted to allow anyone wishing to make their own claim to the land to come forward. If there are no competing claims, then a certificate of title can be issued.

But Downey said his case shows the government can — and should — recognize the land claims of African Nova Scotians.

“It would have been nice to have it corrected years ago, but it can be done,” said Downey.” It’s not a long process. It can be done within days, minutes, and they proved that it can be done without waiting years and years.”

“People have actually died waiting, so it doesn’t have to come to that.”

Source: Black Nova Scotia man ‘overjoyed’ as struggle for land title moves forward

Nova Scotia’s immigration picture uncertain amid pandemic

Realistic acknowledgement of uncertainty by the minister:

Nova Scotia welcomed a record number of immigrants in 2019, setting high expectations for immigration numbers in 2020.

But with travel restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s uncertain whether the province will be able to welcome as many or more immigrants this year than it did last year.

In 2019, the province welcomed 7,580 new permanent residents, surpassing the previous record of 5,970 in 2018.

And Nova Scotia was off to a good start and “certainly on track” to setting a new record in 2020, according to Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab. In the first quarter, the province admitted 1,185 permanent residents, compared to 1,270 in the first quarter of 2019.

Diab said it’s too soon to tell how COVID-19 will affect immigration numbers in Nova Scotia for the remainder of the year.

“Going on eight weeks now, and immigration is a long-term process, it obviously takes months for people, once they’re approved and so on to actually land in the country, so at the moment we don’t see that as an issue,” she said.

“Premature what will happen if this (pandemic) continues months and months, but at the moment we’re continuing to process applications and our staff is all working remotely.”

She added the province is prioritizing the immigration of essential workers including health-care professionals and truck drivers to address a “shortage of workers in those areas.”

Immigration predictions

Seeing how Nova Scotia has planted “very significant immigration roots” in the last five years, Halifax immigration lawyer Lee Cohen said he thinks it’s “likely” that the province will enjoy the immigration numbers that it did last year, if not exceed them in 2020.

“I think the appetite out there in the world for people wanting to immigrate to Canada and wanting to immigrate to Nova Scotia specifically remains high and active,” said Cohen.

“The COVID-19 event of course slows down the movement of paper and certainly the movement of people. … How long the restrictions will remain in place will determine the outcome here, but I think that Halifax specifically and Nova Scotia generally have become immigration destination locations.”

Jennifer Watts, CEO of the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, said the number of immigrants coming to the province has “definitely slowed down quite a bit” since the start of the pandemic, following “a fantastic uptick” of immigrants and refugees arriving over the past couple of years.

She said her association will be waiting to see how immigration programs move forward.

“Obviously there’s a lot of interest and there’d be a big benefit to Nova Scotia, where we really benefit so much from immigration, to be able to have those opportunities again, to really help drive, even more so now, the economic development of our province,” said Watts, adding immigration helps further “social and cultural diversity” in the province as well.

Watts said the contributions of immigrants in the province have been “quite significant” during the pandemic, as many are working in frontline services, noting the arrival of more immigrants will help the province in its “recovery” stage once the pandemic is over as well.

“What we really gain from immigrants coming in is the innovation, the new ideas and the global competitiveness that they bring, so that will be also very key, as we’re really trying to reimagine what our new way of life is going to be, and the more broad-based experiences, the new ideas, the new ways of looking at things that immigrants have always brought into our community, will be very valuable,” she said.

ISANS is also waiting to see when the federal government will resume refugee settlement in Canada, said Watts.

“We will be waiting to see as the government once again establishes their offices overseas and the flights begin to run … so it may be that we see not many (refugees) arriving over the next couple of months, but we’re not quite sure what will happen in the fall.”

Source: Nova Scotia’s immigration picture uncertain amid pandemic

Nova Scotia still faces a disturbing problem with racism, a problem that can be traced back centuries in the province

Of note:

Dartmouth’s Jermaine Parris went into his local RBC branch to complain about his banking fees. A bank employee called police on him – and told them he had been drinking and driving.

Lynn Jones, a lifelong resident of Truro, N.S., was questioned by police after she and two other women stopped along a roadside to take pictures of deer. The officer told her he was investigating a complaint about “suspicious people.”

Santina Rao, a 23-year-old mother, suffered a broken wrist, concussion and injuries to her neck, arm and eye during a violent arrest by police at a Halifax Walmart while shopping with her baby and toddler. Store staff had called police because they suspected her of shoplifting.

Parris, Jones and Rao have one thing in common: They are black. And they were not breaking the law. But someone felt it was necessary to call the police. Those decisions show racial discrimination against blacks remains “alive and well” in Nova Scotia, according to the province’s former lieutenant-governor Mayann Francis.

Less than two months ago, Halifax Police Chief Dan Kinsella issued a historic apology for the practice of street checks, after statistics showed blacks were stopped six times more than whites in the city. Chief Kinsella, whose officers are once again under fire for racial profiling, has called the Ms. Rao incident “disappointing,” and referred the case to Nova Scotia’s police watchdog.

This month’s arrest of the mother in front of her young children has sparked demonstrations at the Walmart, in front of Halifax Regional Police headquarters, and led to calls to freeze the city’s police budget until the service can prove it is no longer racially profiling black Nova Scotians.

Ms. Rao, who says she tried to show her receipts and told police they could search her stroller, was charged with causing a disturbance, assaulting a peace officer and resisting arrest. She was not charged with theft.

Dr. Francis, the province’s first black lieutenant-governor, said she’s been deeply disturbed by the video of Ms. Rao’s arrest, which has been widely shared on social media. It’s made her fearful to go shopping as a black woman, she said.

“It’s affected me very badly. I identified with that. I don’t even like to watch it because it brings up an emotion that breaks my heart,” she said. “It feels like we’ve gone backwards. What’s happening with the police department, it’s just unbelievable.”

She said she can relate to Ms. Rao’s situation, being treated with suspicion simply because of the colour of her skin. Ms. Rao was accused of concealing items because she had a bag underneath her children’s stroller and was putting things into it as she shopped – which Dr. Francis said shows that, even in 2020, there remain different rules for black shoppers and white shoppers.

“Even me, the former lieutenant-governor, has been followed in the stores, has been treated with suspicion,” she said. “When I saw that happen, I said ‘That could have been me’. That could happen to any black person.”

Nova Scotia’s black population has long lived in the shadow of racism in a province where many trace their roots back centuries, to the first waves of Black Loyalists who came here during the American Revolutionary War.

Mr. Parris, whose grandfather was among the last people removed from Africville – a black community demolished by the City of Halifax in the 1960s – said racism remains a part of everyday life for many African Nova Scotians. A police report into his December traffic stop showed there was no evidence he was drinking and an officer “could not detect any smell of alcoholic beverage emitting from the vehicle.”

In his case, a white bank employee at his Brownlow Avenue branch in Dartmouth called police after Mr. Parris left, claiming he was drinking and driving. He believes police were called because he’s black, and he wasn’t showing enough respect when complaining about $60 in fees from the previous month. Within minutes of driving away, he was surrounded by five police vehicles.

“It was humiliating,” Mr. Parris said. “People come with a predisposition toward me before I even get there. It’s been that way my whole life, and I have to learn how to navigate that. I have to be mindful of how I drive, of everything I do and say, in case I offend somebody.”

The bank, for its part, says it called police out of concern for Mr. Parris, and disputed the information in the police report that said he was told not to return to the branch.

“After Mr. Parris left our branch in his vehicle, we were sincerely concerned for his safety and well-being, and we alerted the authorities,” said AJ Goodman, director of external communications for RBC.

In Ms. Jones’s case, her story prompted Truro’s municipal council to pass a motion aimed at addressing concerns around police bias and racial profiling. Ms. Jones said the incident should be an opportunity to help improve the lives of black people by removing employment barriers and improved funding for black businesses.

Many black Nova Scotians say the racism they encounter isn’t usually as public, or nearly as dramatic, as Ms. Rao’s arrest at Walmart last week.

“Our racism is a very polite form of racism. It smiles in your face, it says please and thank you, it calls you sir and ma’am at the same time as it marginalizes you,” said Robert Wright, a social worker and former senior civil servant in the Nova Scotia government. “They’re not yelling at you, they’re not screaming at you, they’re just ill-serving you.”

Mr. Wright says the institutions that were supposed to protect black people’s civil rights, including the courts and the province’s Human Rights Commission, have failed them. That’s why he and others are calling for the creation of an African Nova Scotia Justice Institute, in an effort to reduce the number of black people in the legal system.

Modelled after a legal support clinic for Indigenous people, it would also monitor human rights cases, offer legal defence funding, a restorative justice program, provide court workers and programming for black youths.

The initiative was formally tabled in legislation proposed by the provincial NDP last fall, after stats from an Freedom of Information Act request showed 13 per cent of people incarcerated in Nova Scotia’s prisons are black, compared to less than three per cent of the population.

It will take years for Nova Scotia’s institutions to evolve, Mr. Wright said. But real change can start by taking black Nova Scotians seriously when they say they’re experiencing racism, he said.

“If you want to redress this 400-year history of the marginalization of black people in Nova Scotia, you need to start by believing black people,” Mr. Wright said. “Start by trusting that black people know racism when they see it.”

Calvin Lawrence, a black police officer in Halifax and later with the RCMP, said police need to be better trained and supervised to ensure they know how to de-escalate conflict with black people instead of letting a confrontation end in an unnecessary arrest, he said.

The retired officer says he has serious concerns about Ms. Rao’s arrest, and argues a more sensitive approach may have ended the situation peacefully. He says black communities sometimes need a different approach to policing.

“The defining emotion of the black experience is anger. The challenge is to live with that anger without it debilitating us,” said Mr. Lawrence, whose book, Black Cop, detailed his 36 years dealing with racism inside the police.

“If police want voluntary compliance, they shouldn’t always be doing a one-up, ‘I’m in charge here, do as I say or you’re going to jail’… They need to be able to read the streets, be able to read people and be able to talk to people. It’s a learned art.”

Apologies from chiefs of police for historical mistreatment are helpful, Mr. Lawrence said, but until real change filters down to the officers on the front lines and their supervisors, problems will continue.

“How much time do we spend on the Taser, the gun or the baton, compared to how much time we spend teaching officers how to actually speak to people on the street?” he said.

Source: Nova Scotia still faces a disturbing problem with racism, a problem that can be traced back centuries in the province

Unable to find work, many Syrian refugees reluctantly turn to social assistance – Nova Scotia

Not unexpected. Takes many refugees longer to establish themselves:

For their first year after landing in Canada, refugees are supported by either the federal government or private groups. But that support has ended for most Syrian refugees, and many of those unable to find jobs have turned to provincial social assistance.

Just shy of 1,500 Syrian refugees landed in Nova Scotia between November 2015 and July this year. Of those, more than half — 894 adults and children — were on income assistance as of late September, according to the province’s Department of Community Services.

Syrian refugees represent about two per cent of the total number of Nova Scotians receiving such benefits. Income assistance in Nova Scotia includes $620 a month for shelter for a family of three or more, and an additional $275 per adult and $133 per child each month for personal expenses. Families may also qualify for the Canada child benefit program.

The problem for many refugees who haven’t found work is a lack of English-language skills. Another is having Syrian work or educational credentials that aren’t recognized in Canada.

via Unable to find work, many Syrian refugees reluctantly turn to social assistance – Nova Scotia – CBC News

After 200 years without land title, Nova Scotia black communities offered hope

Hard to understand why this took so long:

The empty lot in North Preston, N.S., has been in the hands of Elaine Cain’s family for many years, a connection that stirs in her a sentimental bond with the piece of land.

But despite the fact her family has long paid property taxes on it, they have never held the deed.

On Wednesday, Cain welcomed as a “bright day” an announcement by the Nova Scotia government that it will provide funding to help people in five historically black communities gain legal ownership over land they’ve claimed as theirs for generations.

“I think it will be great because this is what we have been looking for,” she said in an interview. “It will give us … a boost, actually, to do whatever it is that we have or plan to do. I’m confident that they’ll help me.”

The province said it will spend $2.7 million over two years to help residents obtain legal title to land in the communities of North Preston, East Preston and Cherry Brook in the Halifax Regional Municipality, and in Lincolnville and Sunnyville in Guysborough County.

No deeds to black settlers

The problem can be traced back two centuries, when the government gave plots of land to Black Loyalists for their support during the American Revolutionary War and to Black Refugees, former slaves who sought refuge after the War of 1812. The government, however, did not give deeds, which meant those who settled never officially owned the land they lived on.

The repercussions today are that, without clear title, residents cannot sell their property or legally pass it down to other relatives. The province says that out of the 1,620 total land parcels in Cherry Brook, East Preston and North Preston, for instance, about a third are without clear title.

Cain said she’s had her property surveyed, but because of a dispute with some family members, she can’t get the deed. She said she needs money to pay for legal costs.

If she gets clear title, Cain plans to build a home and a small teahouse for seniors. She hopes to make an application for funding within a week.

African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince made the funding announcement Wednesday in Cherry Brook. The money will pay for a surveyor and two surveyor technicians, two community liaison officers to help residents with the process, and will help cover legal fees related to clarifying land ownership.

Source: After 200 years without land title, Nova Scotia black communities offered hope – Nova Scotia – CBC News

Dalhousie medical school struggling to attract black and Indigenous students

Review of systemic barriers and ways to address them. The chart above shows the visible minority breakdown for the Atlantic provinces – for Nova Scotia, the NHS shows 50 Black Canadians out of some 3,400 working in doctors’ officers (1.5 percent):

Dalhousie University’s medical school is struggling to attract African-Canadian and Indigenous students, and its admission process is partly to blame, a review committee has found.

The committee’s 12-page report was submitted last August to the medical school’s dean, Dr. David Anderson, but it was just recently made public.

“The committee speculates that potential candidates from diverse backgrounds might not apply because of an apprehension of bias against them within the admissions process,” said the report.

Both African-Canadian and Indigenous people are under-represented in the medical profession, said the chair of the review committee, Dr. Gus Grant. He’s also the registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, the body that regulates and licenses doctors in the province.

“I think it’s important that the profession be made up of individuals who represent the communities that are being served,” said Grant.

No figures are available on the number of black and Indigenous doctors practising in Nova Scotia because the college does not ask doctors to self-identify by race.

Last year, Anderson ordered the independent external review of the admissions process in part because of the lack of diversity. The last such review was done a decade ago.

Too much weight given to admission exam

The report also found the admissions committee placed too much weight on the medical college admission test (MCAT) scores and the grade-point average of candidates.

Grant said that while cognitive ability is important for practising medicine, grade-point average and MCAT results aren’t great measures of it.

“Cognitive ability is important for physicians, but I can’t fairly say that it’s more important than empathy, reliability, consistency, earnestness and other characteristics,” said Grant.

Starting in 2018, the medical school will use an online video-based tool to assess potential students for empathy, integrity, resiliency and communication skills.

Grant said it’s been long accepted that standardized tests like MCATs put minorities and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds at a disadvantage and they score lower on these exams. One reason Grant gave is that poorer applicants might not be able to afford to take MCAT preparatory courses.

Recommendations from report

Some of the report’s recommendations were to:

  • Institute a minimum requirement for test scores.
  • Require the 22-member admission’s committee to include gender-diverse representatives of the African-Canadian and Indigenous communities, while also collaborating with these two communities to determine admission criteria.

The first requirement has not yet changed, but the second one has been implemented.

More diversity needed in health-care system

Sharon Davis-Murdoch is co-president of the Health Association of African Canadians, a group that promotes health in the black community. She said for young children of African descent to see themselves in health professions, they need to be aware a career in the field is possible.

“The representation of people of African descent at every level of the health system, including the highest levels of health administration, needs to be in place in order for the system to be improved, for the system to serve appropriately and for the system to be reflective of all of us,” said Davis-Murdoch.

Source: Dalhousie medical school struggling to attract black and Indigenous students – Nova Scotia – CBC News

Nova Scotia tackles racial profiling in stores: ‘It’s about a societal transformation’

Helpful initiative:

More than a decade after racial profiling was identified as a festering problem among some police forces, it is now being addressed in another sector: retailing.

After years of complaints about retail staff who routinely follow, search, ignore, insult and provide poor service to visible
minorities, one province has decided to do something about it in a big way.

On Monday, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission launched a free, online training program aimed at preventing a problem that has sparked a growing chorus of complaints across the country.

National campaign planned

The 20-minute interactive course for front-line service staff — described as the first of its kind in Canada — has already attracted attention from businesses in other provinces and the United States, and plans are in the works to roll out a national campaign.

“As a proud African Nova Scotian and seventh-generation Canadian … I am acutely aware of the problems associated with navigating race relations in our society,” Rev. Lennett Anderson of the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia told a news conference at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

“The need for a campaign such as this is a desperate one … It is worthy of our celebration.”

Report showed poor treatment

The retail sector is Canada’s largest employer, with over two million people working in an industry that generated $59 billion in payroll in 2015.

Christine Hanson, CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, said the need for such a training program was reinforced in 2013 when the commission released a groundbreaking report that concluded Aboriginal people and African Canadians more often reported being treated poorly by retail staff than did any other group.

“In fact, people from all racialized groups, including Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern people, reported being treated poorly by staff far more than did white people,” the report said.

“In the focus groups, several participants commented on being made to feel ‘lower class’ or like ‘second-class citizens’ when shopping.”

Targets of offensive language

The report went on to say that Aboriginal people, African Canadians, and Muslims were all targets of offensive language and were treated as if they were physically threatening and potential thieves.

“A person who is a member of a visible minority group is three times more likely to be followed in a store, and four times more likely to be searched,” Hanson said.

The online program, called “Serving All Customers Better,” includes a quiz about immigration and visible minorities. It also cites statistics from the 2013 report and clearly spells out what the law says.

The course also cites some examples, at one point quoting a worker who said: “I worked for a retailer who said, ‘The eagle has landed,’ when a black person walked into the store. I quit my job over it.”

A cross-country issue

Examples of consumer racial profiling continue to make headlines across the country.

In October 2015, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario agreed with a woman who said she faced discrimination as a black person when she was confronted by a Shoppers Drug Mart employee who demanded to search her backpack on suspicion of shoplifting. The tribunal ordered the store to pay Mary McCarthy $8,000.

And in February 2015, Calgary university student Jean Ventose said he was racially profiled when he was followed by a security guard inside a local Walmart, apparently for no reason. He posted a video on the encounter on Facebook, which received more than one million views and 10,000 reactions in two days.

In August 2016, one of Canada’s largest grocery chains withdrew its appeal of a human rights decision that found an employee of Sobeys had discriminated against a black customer in May 2009 after falsely accusing her of being a repeat shoplifter.

Sobeys said it reached a settlement with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and would apologize to Andrella David, pay her $21,000 in compensation, and develop a staff training program on racial profiling.

The company faced a boycott by a group of 19 churches in the province.

Repeated racial profiling

As well, Nova Scotia’s first black lieutenant-governor, Mayann Francis, came forward to reveal that she, too, had been the victim of repeated racial profiling while shopping.

At the time, Francis said Nova Scotia was in a state of denial when it came to racial profiling, saying she had often been the victim of “shopping while black” since she left her viceregal post in 2012.

“It does not matter how successful you are, it still can happen to you,” said Francis, who had previously served as CEO of the province’s human rights commission.

“It’s just so wrong and so hurtful and I know how I feel when I’m followed in the stores … They’re stalking you.”

Source: Nova Scotia tackles racial profiling in stores: ‘It’s about a societal transformation’ – Nova Scotia – CBC News

Appointment of Mi’kmaq, black women to Nova Scotia courts ‘a huge step’

As the federal government increases the diversity of its judicial appointments (Justice minister announces 24 new judges in effort to end national shortage), interesting to see watch provincial announcements and the degree to which they are reported on:

Nova Scotia has appointed the first Mi’kmaq woman and the third black woman to the provincial and family courts, in what the province’s Premier calls a “huge step forward” for ethnic diversity on the bench.

Legal aid lawyer Catherine Benton becomes only the third aboriginal judge in Nova Scotia, while Ronda van der Hoek, a public prosecutor, joins two

other black women – Corinne Sparks and Jean Whalen – among the 73 full-time judges in the province.

Premier Stephen McNeil said in an interview the two new judges will provide added perspectives from the black and indigenous population in a court system that needs to reflect the makeup of the general population.

“I believe this is a huge step forward. They have had distinguished careers in making sure minority voices are being heard, that Mi’kmaq rights are being protected, and their cultures will be reflected in the decisions they make,” he said.

Justice Benton is well known within legal circles as an advocate for racial and ethnic diversity in the courts, having pushed from the earliest days of her career for a stronger role for indigenous lawyers in the court system.

She worked as a researcher with the Union of Nova Scotia Indians and the Mi’kmaq Grand Council before getting her law degree from Dalhousie in 1993.

In 1994, Justice Benton told the aboriginal publication Windspeaker she had made a series of fruitless job applications to firms around Atlantic Canada, with some partners telling her they felt her knowledge of aboriginal law wouldn’t be an asset.

“I think it’s important to establish an aboriginal justice network,” she told the publication.

Naiomi Metallic, a teacher specialized in indigenous law at Dalhousie’s Schulich law school, says the appointments are being greeted with delight among advocates for greater indigenous and black representation in the legal system.

“I’m elated … We’ve been saying in the media there needs to be more diverse appointments and it appears that hasn’t fallen on deaf ears,” she said.

Justice van der Hoek, from Windsor, has practised law for 19 years and also worked with Nova Scotia Legal Aid in Windsor and Halifax after graduating from Dalhousie Law School.

She is the third black judge in the province’s lower and superior courts.

Justice Van der Hoek and Justice Benton also bring the family and provincial courts a step closer to gender parity, with a total of 15 full-time female judges, compared to 20 full-time, male judges.

Source: Appointment of Mi’kmaq, black women to Nova Scotia courts ‘a huge step’ – The Globe and Mail