For the first time since Nov. 11, Nova Scotian health officials reported a day with no new confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of yesterday (Jan. 10), Nova Scotia has 28 known active cases of the disease.

“It’s been over eight weeks since we last reported no new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia,” says Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, in a press release. “I’m pleased to see that we have no new cases… but we are not out of the woods yet.”

Since the pandemic began, Nova Scotia has had 1,528 known cases of COVID-19 and 65 deaths. Health officials have done 250,158 tests.

The next test of the province’s COVID response comes this week, as public-school class resume. “Monday is a big day in our province with students returning to school,” says Premier Stephen McNeil. “We can all help protect our students, teachers, and staff by staying vigilant.”

Bonnie Sutherland. Photo: Nick Hawkins

One step closer
The generation-long efforts to turn the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area (located just outside Halifax) into a protected regional park got a big boost recently: the Nova Scotia Nature Trust bought about 220 hectares of land buffering the undeveloped forest.

“It was very significant connecting that large wilderness; there were concerns that this property was going to be developed, and neither the province nor the municipality had this particular piece on their radar,” says Nature Trust executive director Bonnie Sutherland. “Those groups have been doing great work… but they’re not a land trust fund organization.”

In this new Halifax Magazine feature, Ameeta Vohra shares the latest news and looks at what’s next in the long campaign to preserve the area.

New fundraiser boosts local fire departments
When COVID shut down the usual bingos and dances, the Amherst Fire Fighters Association needed a new way to raise money.

The solution? An online lottery that has grown into one of Canada’s largest online 50/50 draws, giving away about $230,000 on New Year’s Eve alone. The campaign supports not just Amherst’s department, but groups around Nova Scotia.

“We started with eight departments and now we’re up to 227,” says organizer Andy Wallis. “We’re making money for our association, as well as other departments and agencies. It was the right platform to come along.”

Raissa Tetanish reports for The Light.

Pictou Co. woman faces arson charges
New Glasgow police have laid arson charges against a local 32-year-old woman. The charges follow a lengthy investigation into a Sept. 10, 2020 fire that destroyed a house containing three apartments. The accused is scheduled to appear in court on March 1. The Pictou Advocate has the story.

Sheila Hellstrom. Photo: RCAF

Military trailblazer dies
Brigadier General (Retired) Sheila Hellstrom died in Ottawa earlier this month at age 85. Born in Lunenburg in 1935, Hellstrom joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at age 20, just two years after the RCAF began accepting women volunteers.

In 1987, when women were still barred from combat roles, she became the first woman serving in the regular Forces to reach the rank of Brigadier-General.

“Brigadier General Sheila Hellstrom believed that by including women into the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the organization would be stronger,” says an RCAF social media post. “Her contribution to the diversity and inclusion of the CAF in general, and the RCAF in particular, will not be forgotten.”

Learn more about her life and career in this LighthouseNow story by Gayle Wilson.

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Halifax Magazine