Growing up as a little girl in a remote Inuit village in northern Quebec, Mary May Simon had no idea where her life path would lead, although it’s a safe bet she never imagined herself holding one of Canada’s most important offices.

But here she is, living some 1,500 kilometres away from her birthplace, on the shores of the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, about to make history as Canada’s 30th governor general.

Her diverse professional background in the civil service and with various international organizations more than qualifies her for the job, but she’s keenly aware there’s more to her selection than that.

“I am the first Indigenous governor general, and I think that’s an important point,” she says. “I think Canada has turned a page in our history and perhaps we will develop a more inclusive society and my role is to definitely contribute to that discussion and dialogue that is going to happen across the country.”

Jackie Jardine interviews her for The Pictou Advocate
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Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: CNS

COVID count climbs
Nova Scotia has 11 known cases of COVID-19, with seven new cases and three recoveries reported in the latest government update. Due to updates to the public health database, that update covered a 48-hour period, instead of the usual 24.

Six of the cases are in Central Zone and the other in the Western. The Royal Canadian Navy previously reported two of the cases: they’re connected to HMCS Halifax, which recently returned to port following a six-month European deployment.

Last week, Nova Scotian health-care workers completed their one millionth COVID-19 test, drawing plaudits from Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

“Testing has been critical in the fight against this virus,” he says in a press release. “I want to thank Nova Scotians who stepped up time and time again to get tested and the many people who worked long and hard to establish and operate our testing program. While we work toward our minimum target of 75% of Nova Scotians fully vaccinated, keep getting tested, especially if you have symptoms, and please, get your vaccine.”

The target to enter the fifth and final phase of Nova Scotia’s reopening plan is to have at least three quarters of the population fully vaccinated. So far, 74.1% of Nova Scotians have had one dose of vaccine, and 52.2% have had both shots. Across the country, 69.8% of Canadians have had the first jab, and 51.9% have had the second.

Arsonist behind bars again
After 3.5 months of day parole, it’s back to jail for the Queens County man who started a devastating fire in downtown Bridgewater in October 2017.

Adrian Thomas Hunt “made a series of poor decisions,” according to the Parole Board of Canada decision. Hunt was living in a halfway house and had a full-time job but repeatedly skipped work without authorization. The 28-year-old was also found to be using cocaine and meeting people for casual sex and substance abuse.

“This shows a lack of commitment and motivation to your correctional plan, but it also shows a lack of respect for the conditions imposed on day parole,” reads the board’s decision. “The board believes your decisions were intentional, despite knowing the expectations. You were deceiving many people … Your behaviour on release increased your risk of reoffending.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

John Sylliboy. Photo: Submitted

What it means to be two-spirited
Increasing numbers of people in Indigenous communities are finding “two-spirit” the best way to define themselves—having both masculine and feminine spirits.

But it’s a challenge to discuss, even with loved ones, because the term carries a multitude of meanings and isn’t broadly understood. That’s why John Sylliboy, executive director of Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance, has devoted many years to educating people.

The term itself is fluid; it’s an Indigenous concept,” they explain. “It is something that captures the identity of a person who is not unibinary, not conforming to the expectations that Europeans had, for example, put on as recognizing themselves as male or female. It also encompasses the notion of your sexuality.”

Learn more in this Halifax Magazine feature by Ameeta Vohra, originally published July 2020.

Upgrades for wharves
Coastal communities and small ports around Nova Scotia are grappling with crumbling wharves and outdated infrastructure, leading the federal government to recently promise $14.6 million for upgrades in Cape Breton.

According to Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway, the announcement, which came earlier this month, has been in the works for a while.

“I’ve been working on this—in terms of making a solid pitch and putting together rationales—and meeting with people for a year now … going after significant money for infrastructure for the wharves,” he says. “We have other MPs in Atlantic Canada who are going after the same dollars, so you have to do your homework, you have to meet with fishers, you have to meet with stakeholders, you have to meet with government officials, ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and deputy ministers.”

Jake Boudrot has details for The Reporter.

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Halifax Magazine