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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 »

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Written by hilarybeaumont

November 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Culture, Social issues

Baristas push to unionize Halifax cafe

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Originally published by the Halifax Media Co-op on April 7.

Shay Enxuga talks about how his job was terminated. (Photo by Hilary Beaumont)

Shay Enxuga talks about how his job was terminated. (Photo by Hilary Beaumont)

About 120 people rallied outside the Just Us! Spring Garden Road location on Sunday in support of two workers who believe they were unfairly fired from the café in late March.

Several cars and one bus honked as they drove past the rally. Organizers provided free organic, fair-trade coffee to supporters, and encouraged them to drop a donation in a jar for the café’s current workers.

“All we’re asking is for our jobs back and for Just Us! to recognize our right to form a union,” Shay Enxuga told the crowd through a megaphone. “All we’re asking is for Just Us! to live up to its mandate and its social justice values.”

Enxuga and Elijah Williams told the Halifax Media Co-op they were dismissed March 27 after management questioned them about unions and organizing.

“Employees love their jobs,” a current café employee, who didn’t want to be named, told the Halifax Media Co-op. “They want respect and a voice.”

How did people react to the rally on Facebook and Twitter? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by hilarybeaumont

April 8, 2013 at 1:58 am

Posted in Culture, Social issues

Inside Halifax’s underground bars and speakeasies

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Published April 16, 2012. Read the original story on OpenFile.

main photo singers

Names of bootleggers, speakeasies and organizers have been changed. Faces have been censored by request.

The air in The Cave is thick with the smoke of cigarettes and weed. Nearly 40 people sit comfortably on benches made of scavenged wood, sipping tall-boys as a young guy with wild hair and a lip ring strums a banjo and sings from a tiny stage near the bar. A potato-sack banner above his head proclaims: THIS NEVER HAPPENED.

Last fall, this basement was little more than a dark pit with the stench of a coal mine that sometimes hosted house shows for up-and-coming local bands like Long Long Long. Patrons brought their own booze. Now a closet near the stairs houses liquor and, during shows, a bartender. The top half of the door swings out to reveal a stool, crates of bottles and cans, a dim lamp and little else. Officially, booze is available by donation only.

The organizers—nine 20-somethings who live upstairs—say the money goes back into maintaining and growing the bar. They’ve hosted several successful fundraisers for local non-profits, too, grossing about $1,000 since they opened last October. The Cave even raised money for another organization that hosts the odd speakeasy. The man on stage with the banjo—his name’s Cud—has ambitions of eventually opening an underground restaurant in this space. Some of his roommates brew their own beer for the bar.

(Video after the jump.) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by hilarybeaumont

January 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Posted in Culture

Before cars, cyclists ruled the streets

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Published Jan. 10, 2012. Read the full multimedia story on OpenFile.

The Halifax Ramblers held a bike parade on Labour Day. (From Silent Steeds by Heather Watts)

Decades before cars appeared on the streets of Halifax, there were bicycles.

Until they were mostly abandoned in favour of the automobile, cycling culture encouraged women to participate in society, brought tourists to Halifax and prompted the local government to improve road conditions.

Cycling activist Tom MacDonald gave a talk last fall about the bicycle’s heyday in Halifax between 1890 and 1900. MacDonald helps organize the monthly bike rights event Critical Mass and the annual World Naked Bike Ride in Halifax. Last week, OpenFile sat down with him to talk local bike history.

Interview with cycling activist Tom MacDonald by Hilary Beaumont

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by hilarybeaumont

January 10, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Culture