Nova Scotia has two new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 22 known cases, according to the latest government update.

Both new cases are in the Northern Zone. One is located to travel outside Atlantic Canada. The other is someone “connected to” the Acadian school in Truro. The school is closed for cleaning, testing, and contact tracing, and is scheduled to reopen on Jan. 27.

Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 1,589 tests on Jan. 20, and 147,592 since the second wave began in October. As of Jan. 20, health workers have administered 9,827 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 2,696 Nova Scotians getting the second dose that completes the inoculation.

Shooting inquiry update
More than nine months later, the families of the victims of last April’s mass shooting continue to wait for the public inquiry to get to work. Recently, organizers posted an update.

In it, Mass Casualty Commission chairman J. Michael MacDonald says the group has been working to confirm a team to lead key aspects of the inquiry process: “We are pleased to have secured a group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields.”  

That team includes a Thomas Cromwell (a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada), Barbara McLean (Toronto deputy police chief), and Emma Cunliffe (a scholar specializing in complex criminal matters related to violence against women), and leaders in human rights and mental health and wellness. Raissa Tetanish reports for Hub Now.

“Understandably, people have questions,” McClean says. “As Investigations Director, my focus will be on helping to determine what happened so that findings can be communicated in a way that provides answers to Nova Scotians… I hope the inquiry and its findings can help people move toward healing and at the same time, improve public safety.”

Editor’s Note: Based on reader response to our coverage since the shooting, here are some of the questions Nova Scotians want answered.

This Tweet is how the RCMP warned Nova Scotians that a man impersonating a police officer was on a killing spree.

“There are a lot of questions to be asked and evidence to be gathered by the Commission in order to fulfill its mandate,” MacDonald says, adding that planning is “underway” for community meetings and public hearings. He didn’t share any dates for when they’d start. He added that he’s “confident” the commission will be able to do its work despite the pandemic.

Growing up in a Halifax landmark
Today, the Music Room at Prince’s Lodge (AKA the Rotunda) is a mysterious and oft-neglected landmark: that little round building that most of us only know from zipping past it on the Bedford Highway.

But long after the Duke of Kent left his architectural thumbprint, ordinary Haligonian families lived in the Rotunda, working to preserve the unique building. Harold Penny was among its last inhabitants, living there as a child with his family from 1953 to 1959.

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“It was a fascinating place,” Penny says. “We never thought anything different of it. Our friends they lived across the street. They had their homes. For us, it was just home.”

Penny looks back in this reader-favourite story from the free Halifax Magazine archives, originally published May 2017.

Government funds for forestry industry
Like many economic sectors, the forestry industry has taken a big hit from the pandemic, so the federal and provincial governments are offering a $668,000 fund to help offset the cost of COVID precautions.

“All small and medium sized businesses directly involved with forestry are eligible to apply,” says provincial forestry department spokesman Steven Stewart. “Consideration will be given to all who do.”

Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

The family that plays together
The Nova Scotian band Fresia and the Offsprings have a sound that’s hard to pigeonhole.

You’ll hear a Maritime kitchen-party influence but that’s just one of many styles front man Eric Fresia absorbs and transforms into this unique world music. After two decades of travelling through Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Central America, he incorporates traditional folk, blues, jazz and reggae, plus French and Spanish lyrics.

And his children help him bring it all together. “They’re my best band,” he says. “They know my music and they’re in tune with where it’s going.”

He tells Sara Jewell about it in this report from the Saltscapes archives.

Baking for a good cause
Like many people, Pictou County teen Mohammed Tolba did a lot of baking over the holiday break, but the treats weren’t for him. “I just wanted to help the homeless in the community,” he explains. Relying on Facebook and word of mouth, he sold the cookies in the community, raising $705 in food and cash donations for the local food bank.

Heather Brimicombe reports for The Pictou Advocate.

Need to know
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Halifax Magazine