On June 6 in Antigonish, approximately 3,500 people lined up to reaffirm that all black lives matter, and calling for an end to police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died recently after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

ANTIGONISH: With other post-secondary institutions across the province already announcing their decision to fully transition to on-line learning for the upcoming fall semester, StFX University prepared for students to be back on campus and classes to resume as normal.

The university’s manager of media relations, Cindy MacKenzie told The Reporter on May 22, StFX was preparing for classes in September, in-person and on campus. She said StFX was committed to ensuring students start on time in the fall.

In keeping the university faculty and staff informed, interim-president and vice chancellor, Kevin Wamsley, issued an update to his colleagues May 23, that noted an on-line preparedness task force started working with faculty members and took steps to communicate regularly with their new and returning students and their parents.

Later in the month, StFX confirmed it was offering a mixed-method course delivery, with most classes taking place in-person and “some classes” offered on-line.

All domestic students, living on or off-campus, who are coming from outside Nova Scotia were required to self-isolate for 14-days.

Students planning to live in residence and travelling from out-of-province were contacted in July by university housing to schedule their arrival time on Aug. 30 or 31, two weeks before the official beginning of the fall term.

Students planning to live in residence and not requiring self-isolation, were contacted in July to schedule their arrival date between Sept. 10 and 13.

Off-campus students travelling from outside the province had to make arrangements to arrive in Antigonish so that their self-isolation period would end by the start of classes.

All off-campus students were required to submit a health and travel declaration form to student life prior to arriving to Antigonish and were required to check in at a designated, central location.

StFX eliminated buffet and self-service options and reduced their meal hall capacity.

HALIFAX: A 200 hectare wildfire that was deemed “out of control” by provincial officials was eventually brought under control.

On May 25, the Department of Lands and Forestry (DLAF) said a fire in a forested part of Frankville was about 50 hectares in size. They said multiple ground and air crews responded to the wildfire along the Old Mulgrave Road, noting that six volunteer fire departments were at the scene. Despite its size, the DFAF said no structures were at risk.

By the morning of May 26, an incident command centre was established with 17 provincial wildfire crew, a helicopter and 31 volunteer firefighters at the scene. At the time, the wildfire was estimated to be about 200 hectares in size and considered “out of control.”

Aside from dryness after a week with no rain, Jim Rudderham, acting manager of Forest Protection Services with the DLAF, said wind and low humidity created challenges.

As the day went on, crews were able to get the size of the wildfire down to 148 hectares and about 50 per cent was of the blaze was contained.

Later that afternoon, with 22 DLAF personnel on scene, provincial officials confirmed the fire was 70 per cent contained, with no increase in size, but was still classified as “out of control” with hot spots will appearing. By the evening, the fire was 75 per cent contained.

On the morning of May 27 after some rain and higher humidity, the helicopter was released from the scene, as 20 DLAF personnel and 12 volunteer firefighters continued to battle the blaze.

By May 28, the fire was considered 100 per cent contained but remained at 148 hectares. There were 10 DLAF personnel still on scene.

Photo by Drake Lowthers
This wildfire broke out last June in Antigonish County.

OTTAWA: Starting June 1, the St. Peters Canal National Historic Site and Canso Islands National Historic Site offered limited visitor access and basic services.

At the St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site this included the operation of locks and the swing bridge, as well as the re-opening of green spaces and walking trails.

Green spaces at Canso Islands National Historic Sites also re-opened.

However, there were limited washroom facilities available in select areas.

All camping facilities remained closed while Parks Canada assessed whether and how these services might resume.

Pictured is a boat going through the St. Peter’s Canal.

GUYSBOROUGH: When Authentic Seacoast began operations 15 years ago, they never imagined that providing hand sanitizer to health facilities operated by Nova Scotia Health Authority would become part of their operations.

In the early days of the pandemic, it became apparent that hand sanitizer was one of the key items needed to effectively respond to public safety, and availability was quickly diminishing. Recognizing the urgency and a need for a reliable, local source that could offer support and assistance, owner Glynn Williams mobilized his Authentic Seacoast Distillery team to rise to the challenge.

With the infrastructure in place to produce hand sanitizer at scale, he selected the recommended formula of World Health Organization (WHO), which contains 80 per cent ethanol, the active ingredient in fighting germs and bacteria, and began production.

One of the first health care facilities to receive the hand sanitizer from Authentic Seacoast is right in the distillery’s backyard, Guysborough Memorial Hospital (GMH).

Through a supply contract with NSHA, Authentic Seacoast’s hand sanitizer was used in health care facilities across the province.

STRAIT AREA: Local demonstrations joined the global call for change in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody.

On June 5, Sasha Repko and her brother Talen walked from Auld’s Cove to Port Hawkesbury in a peaceful protest calling for the end of racism and to reaffirm that all black lives matter.

In Antigonish on June 6, approximately 3,500 peaceful protestors gathered to kneel at Columbus Field for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same length of time an ex-Minneapolis police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck May 25, which ultimately led to his death.

Demonstrators then filled the streets as they marched down Main Street, throughout the downtown core, before heading back to Columbus Field.

On June 13, Port Hawkesbury hosted a Black Lives Matter Rally and March which was attended by over 100 people.

That same day, a Community Rally Against Racism was held on the grounds of the Mabou Arena which attracted over 300 people.

Photo by Jake Boudrot — Participants kneeled at the end of the Black Lives Rally and March on June 13 in Port Hawkesbury for the same length of time a former police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd last month in Minnesota.

D’ESCOUSSE: Award-winning author, environmental activist and long-time local volunteer Silver Donald Cameron passed away on June 1 at the age of 82.

An Order of Canada, Queen’s Jubilee Medal and Order of Nova Scotia recipient, Cameron passed away in Halifax three weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Cameron was also a former journalist, university teacher, playwright and documentary filmmaker. He was a columnist for provincial and national newspapers, including The Reporter.

Cameron was married to award-winning author and freelance journalist Marjorie Simmins, who is a contributor to The Reporter.

Born in Toronto, Cameron both taught and was the writer-in-residence at several schools in Canada. He was the first Dean of the School of Community Studies at Cape Breton University. He held a Ph.D from the University of London, as well as honorary doctorates from the University of Kings College and Cape Breton University.

Cameron came to the Strait area in 1970 as a journalist covering a strike by trawlermen at fish plants in Canso, Mulgrave and Petit de Grat which later culminated in his novel The Education of Everett Richardson. This book was republished four decades after its original appearance.

In 1971, Cameron purchased a home in Isle Madame, and a couple of years later, another along the waterfront in D’Escousse, which became his residence for decades with his wife, the late Lulu Terrio-Cameron and his son Mark.

It was from his home on Isle Madame’s north side where Cameron wrote some of his most memorable novels including Wind, Whales and Whisky, which detailed a voyage on his yacht the Silversark from D’Escousse to Florida. As in the case with almost all of his writing, the communities, characters and stories of his new home were a frequent part of the novel.

But not just willing to rest on the laurels of his celebrated literary career, Cameron was an original board member of Development Isle Madame Association, and in 1994 was one of the founders of Telile: Isle Madame Community Television, which continues to this day.

Cameron’s 20th and final book, Blood in the Water: A True Story of Revenge in the Maritimes, was made available in August. The book details the death of Philip Boudreau on June 1, 2013 in waters off Petit de Grat.

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Silver Donald Cameron

GUYSBOROUGH COUNTY: RCMP say a man from Guysborough County faces 24 sex-related charges.

Following a complaint made to Sherbrooke RCMP last May, their investigation involving 49-year-old Kevin Craig Hart, of Country Harbour resulted in charges against the accused in relation to three victims, including two children in their teens.

He was charged with 24 sexual offences which include; sexual interference, unlawful confinement, sexual assault, assault, administering a noxious substance, voyeurism, and uttering threats.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between 1999 and 2018.

Hart was arrested on May 29 and was remanded into custody

During a hearing on June 8, the court granted the crown’s request to add more victims to the remand warrant and the court granted the crown’s request for a publication ban on any information which could identify the complainants.

GUYSBOROUGH: The Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) tested a four-day work week for its employees.

The nine-month pilot project which was established as a direct result of reorganization from the COVID-19 pandemic began on June 15, and was the first of its kind for municipalities in Nova Scotia.

The municipality’s approximately 60 core employees worked the same number of hours over a condensed work week – with either Monday or Friday off.

The move will allow the municipal offices to stay open five days a week serving the public, while also giving employees comfortable flexibility and more time for family life, while also extending service hours.

STRAIT AREA: On June 15, a specialized, semi-submersible crane vessel called Thialf entered the Strait of Canso. This vessel is the second largest of its kind in the world.

Strait of Canso Superport Corporation CEO Tim Gilfoy said the vessel was on contract to Exxon Mobil to conduct decommissioning work on the Sable Offshore Energy Project.

Merle MacIsaac, public and government affairs with ExxonMobil Canada Ltd., explained the Thialf has capacity for a crew of approximately 500, but for the work at Sable, it was expected to be supported by a crew of approximately 300.

After taking platform components onboard at the Sable field, MacIsaac said Thialf sailed to Chedabucto Bay and was met by a tug-and-barge combination.

Gilfoy said the Thialf is transferring structures that were once part of the Sable Project from the heavy lift vessel to barges belonging to the Strait of Canso Superport Corporation.

The Thialf, a specialized, semi-submersible crane vessel entered the Strait of Canso on June 15 as part of the decommissioning of the Sable Offshore Energy Project.

STRAIT AREA: Two more local municipalities introduced hybrid voting systems for the upcoming municipal election during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In the 2016 municipal election, officials in the Town of Antigonish introduced electronic voting, alongside traditional paper ballots. Mayor Laurie Boucher said e-voting was made available for almost a week prior to the election, and did increase participation.

Councillors in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) approved a first reading of a by-law to introduce phone and electronic voting during their regular municipal council meeting on June 17.

This came after the Town of Port Hawkesbury also started the process of establishing an evoting system for its voters.