KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – A dispute between the owner of a popular comic books store in Lower Sackville and Community Services is putting the store’s continuing existence in jeopardy. The store does double-duty as a rare safe place for 2SLGBTQIA+ youths in suburban Halifax.
“This place has come to mean a lot to the community,” says Jay Aaron Roy, owner of Cape and Cowl Comics and Collectibles. ”Rainbow youths drop in, we do birthday parties, community events, I like to use comics to get kids to relearn how to love to read.”
“People have taken ownership of the space. It’s a family, a community,” says Roy, who has a large room in the back of the store dedicated to the outreach activities. The space is named the Leighann Wichmann Safe Space, after the comic books-loving founder of the Youth Project.
Things were never easy, but until now Roy was able to pay his bills and eke out an existence. The store opened in September 2014.
How much longer the store will be able to stick around is anybody’s guess.
The difficulties with Community Services go back about a year when Roy invited his friend Brittany to share his apartment. What started as a roommate arrangement eventually turned into a relationship.
“My partner lives with some mental health issues and was on social assistance, but after she became my roommate they cut her allowance in half. As of April 1st they are cutting her off completely,” says Roy. “It is not her fault, but it is causing a lot of problems. I have a one hundred percent dependent now, and it is not something I can afford.”
Dealing with Community Services has been a nightmare, Roy tells the Nova Scotia Advocate. Just to get their caseworker to return phone calls is a major effort, says Roy, who describes the worker as not a good listener and unprofessional.
With support by Dalhousie Legal Aid and the constituency worker of a local MP the couple is fighting back. It looks like they may be able to apply for social assistance as a couple, but whether Community Services will approve their application remains to be seen.
If something doesn’t happen soon the store will almost certainly close, says Roy, and Lower Sackville will lose the only place where many rainbow youths and other kids feel welcome and supported.
The store is struggling as it is, says Roy, who has poured his heart and soul into the business.
“I can’t afford to be closed for a single business day. This is not a little wrinkle, this is a major crisis,” Roy says.
Check out the Cape and Cowl’s Facebook page. Probably the best thing you can do to support Jay at this time is to give this wonderful store a visit.
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