Hilary Beaumont

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Why aren’t young people voting?

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Young people at Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

Millenials hanging out at Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

I meet Crystal and Nick as they’re walking out of the liquor store, armed with supplies for their Friday evening. They’re wearing matching red plaid coats. Light acne freckles Nick’s face and Crystal wears heavy eyeliner and a blue bindi between her filled-in eyebrows. They’re both 21.

I’m 26 and posted outside the NSLC with my recorder on a hunch that booze on the weekend may be more attractive to my age group than polling stations at election time.

“No, I don’t vote,” Nick answers. Crystal says she doesn’t either.

“If we vote then we’re just feeding it to the government, right?” Nick says, taking the lead. “So if we buy things from Wal-Mart, or if we buy things from Sobey’s, then we’re feeding it to those corporations, so we’re helping Wal-Mart prosper. So if we vote we’re helping the government prosper. And I don’t want this government to prosper, so if I don’t vote, I’m not helping it at all.”

He continues: “If there was someone that I wanted to vote for, then I might, but nobody really interests me. The whole thing doesn’t interest me at all. I want a whole new government. So I’m not going to help it at all. I’m going to wait until a new system comes up.”

“…If nobody votes, then something has to happen.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by hilarybeaumont

August 31, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Politics, Social issues

Protesters share stories of racial profiling at march for Ferguson

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Tendai Handahu holds his fist in the air at the solidarity rally for Ferguson. Photo: Hilary Beaumont

Tendai Handahu holds his fist in the air at the solidarity rally for Ferguson. Photo: Hilary Beaumont

They might have marched out of a history text. In a scene nearly indistinguishable from a 1960s civil rights protest, a multiracial crowd of nearly 300 people stalled traffic Tuesday evening as they walked down Spring Garden Road. The rally was a show of solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri where 10 days ago a teenager lost his life.

On August 9 Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, was walking down the street with his friend when Darren Wilson, a white police officer, confronted them. It’s unclear exactly what happened next but Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, said the officer pointed his gun at Brownand when it was over the teen lay bleeding on the pavement. He had been shot six times including twice in the head. He was unarmed, and witness accounts suggest his hands were above his head when he was shot. The event spurred protests and calls for justice in Ferguson.

In Halifax, African-Nova Scotian community leaders and young people led the rally holding a banner that read, “Black lives matter,” and chanting, “Who are we? Mike Brown!” White Halifax residents followed behind echoing the chants and carrying signs with supportive slogans, including “Black is not the problem, your fear is.”

(Video after the jump)

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Written by hilarybeaumont

August 31, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Politics, Social issues

This Nova Scotian politician didn’t realize blackface is offensive

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A bunch of Dutch people in blackface and on rollerblades because... it's Christmas? via Flickr.

A bunch of Dutch people in blackface and on rollerblades because… it’s Christmas? via Flickr.

Joachim Stroink, a Liberal member of the legislature in Nova Scotia, got a fancy new racism scandal in his Christmas stocking this year. At a Dutch holiday event last weekend, the Nova Scotian politician sat on the lap of a man posing as the always controversial Zwarte Piet—the Netherlands’ confusingly racist, blackface holiday character who is Santa’s slave. Stroink smiled for the camera. Then, to solidify a social media and political backlash, this supergenius tweeted the photo with the following caption: “Giving some love to Zwarte Piet and Sinterklass [sic] thank you to the Dutch community for putting this event on.” (Photo after the jump)

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Written by hilarybeaumont

August 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Trans man risks alienation, violence to live the life he wants

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This story originally appeared in Herald Magazine.

Samson Learn has endured rudeness from strangers and shunning from some members of his family in order to live the life he wants. (Samson Learn)

Samson Learn has endured rudeness from strangers and shunning from some members of his family in order to live the life he wants. (Samson Learn)

Samson Learn can’t tuck into his tofu scramble without the ketchup, which, in the midst of a busy Sunday brunch, our server forgot. The stocky blond photographer, who is admittedly a little hungover, looks longingly at the red upside-down bottle sitting just out of reach behind the counter of the Good Food Emporium. The girl behind the counter is concentrating on something tasty at the bottom of a hotpot. His lips tighten. Eager to continue our conversation and sitting closer to the counter, I ask the awkward question, taking her away from the hotpot’s contents to retrieve Sam’s ketchup. He is grateful, and squirts a healthy dose on his plate.

He takes a bite, chews thoughtfully, swallows and resumes the story of a photo his friend took of him.

The moment felt right. In the June sun on the Halifax Commons, Sam did something he had always wanted to do. He whipped off his shirt and held it in the air like a cape, feeling the wind against his bare chest. From a distance, no one could see his scars. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by hilarybeaumont

November 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Culture, Social issues

Don’t rape: Police tell men, ‘don’t be that guy’

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“Just because she isn’t saying no doesn’t mean she’s saying yes.” —Halifax Regional Police ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ campaign

Trigger warning: This story may be triggering for people who have experienced sexual assault. 

 

Jenna never wants to see her purple semi-formal dress again. It reminds her of that night at the beginning of April 2010 when someone slipped what she suspects was ketamine into her drink.

When she finished her afternoon class, Jenna rushed to her friend’s place to get ready. She wore her mom’s earrings and bracelet, black kitten heels and the silky, knee-length dress. It was the end-of-the-year celebration she’d been waiting for—a chance to blow off some steam with her friends and classmates at Dalhousie University.

She remembers everything about that night—dancing with her friends at a downtown nightclub—up to a point. It’s as if the rest of the evening didn’t happen.

She woke up in her bed, on the third floor of a house on a residential street in the south end, feeling nauseous and hungover. She stepped into the shower and felt bruises on her chest. It took her the rest of the day to piece together what happened. When she did, she felt embarrassed. She remembered seeing a man in her room. He sat in her computer chair, watching her. She asked him to leave but he wouldn’t.

At the hospital, nurses confirmed her suspicions with a rape kit. They gave her a list of side effects associated with ketamine, a dissociative drug that can act as a sedative, and is sometimes referred to as a “date rape” drug. Her symptoms fit perfectly. The police took her purple dress for DNA evidence.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by hilarybeaumont

August 30, 2013 at 3:50 am

Posted in Social issues

Damage appears in historic buildings after blasting at future trade centre site

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About a metre-long crack runs down the centre of the wall that holds a Joe Howe plaque, and continues at a right angle along the bottom. (Photo by Hilary Beaumont)

About a metre-long crack runs down the centre of the wall that holds a Joe Howe plaque, and continues at a right angle along the bottom. (Photo by Hilary Beaumont)

A new crack has appeared in the middle of a plaque at Province House quoting Joseph Howe.

The provincial government is investigating whether this crack and others that have appeared recently have any link to blasting at the nearby Nova Centre site.

Cracks have materialized in seven downtown Halifax buildings, including four that are owned by the province, since blasting began at the development site in January.

According to documents obtained through a freedom of information request, the province is looking into “cracking issues” in the Dennis Building, Government House, One Government Place and Province House.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Saint Mary’s Cathedral Basilica and the Carleton Music Bar & Grill are also keeping tabs on damage noticed since blasting began.

Phil Pacey of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia said damage to heritage buildings is “a serious issue.”

“We have a limited supply of heritage buildings. They are not replaceable,” he said. “We should not put those buildings at risk.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by hilarybeaumont

August 19, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Posted in Politics

High rents pushing low-income residents out of north end Halifax

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This story was originally published in The Coast.

 

Rocky Jones found a seat next to fellow activist Billy Lewis. Every chair in the room at the north branch library was full. People of different races, cultures and incomes sat with their neighbours, stood along the walls and spilled outside the door. Several young people in front of Jones held yellow signs. One read: “It takes a community to raise a child, not a condo.”

At issue was the fate of a former school the next block down. Last year, the city tried to sell St. Patrick’s-Alexandra and the nearly four acres of land it sits on to a developer who proposed residential high-rises. Three community groups took the city to court, and now the neighbourhood has another chance at the school.

When his turn came, Jones spoke into the microphone. North-end Halifax is one of the few truly integrated interracial communities in Canada, he said. “The cultural and racial harmony that existed is really being eroded and torn apart.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by hilarybeaumont

August 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Social issues

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