Friday, 26 May 2017

Kimberly Smith, proud father of Brendon, a 28 year old man who is labeled as living with developmental disabilities, writes about a conversation he had with Joe Rudderham, the executive director of the Disability Support Programs at Community Services. The interview is included. “As for the developmentally challenged and elderly, we are definitely heading toward a monumental iceberg and time to act is running out. We do not have to crash and sink in poverty and illness… We can rise up and help each other prosper,” writes Smith.

Last week Venus Envy, a beloved downtown Halifax book store and sex shop, came under attack. Transphobic radicals shut down a book launch scheduled in the store for May 17th. New contributor Lara Lewis on how the Halifax community responded, the story that still needs telling.

New contributor Catherine Meyers reflects on the state of mental healthcare in Nova Scotia and the death of her husband at a young age, a death that may well have been preventable. “There are still too many situations like the one I experienced, where people, especially youth, don’t get the right kind of mental health care.”

This weekend’s poem, night cemetery by Robin Metcalfe, was inspired by the ghastly murder of John William Tha Din in 1988 in the Halifax Camp Hill Cemetery, a well known gay cruising area at the time. It’s from Writing the Common, a wonderful collection of poems about the Halifax Commons by a great bunch of local poets, published in 2013, by Gaspereau Press.

Former firefighter Liane Tessier finally gets her day in court. Tessier faced gender discrimination, retribution and gossip at the Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency department in 2005, and has been trying to get her case heard ever since. Now the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC) has set aside 10 days starting October 30 for a tribunal to look into Tessier’s allegations. I have written a lot about Tessier’s case over the years, and have nothing but admiration for this courageous woman.

In an open letter to the Premier a group charges that government isn’t serious about supporting persons with developmental disabilities who are looking for community-based solutions rather than being warehoused in large institutions. he Department of Community Services isn’t even meeting targets it set earlier and that were publicly endorsed by minister Joanne Bernard, the letter states.

We talk with disability activist Gus Reed about (successfully) taking the NS Human Rights Commission to court, and why the Commission appears so reluctant to fight on behalf of people whose human rights have been breached. “I think there is a reluctance to take on tough issues that involve systemic problems. I also don’t think they like to take on the government,” says Reed.