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Video: A small seal in Pictou

This video was shot by Pictou area resident Silvia Schaff recently at a private beach in Pictou.

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MacDonald buoyed by grandson’s hockey exploits

PICTOU – A retired educator and community volunteer is enjoying the hockey achievements of his grandson in the U.S.
Art MacDonald has learned that Drake Caggiula, son of his daughter Terri and son-in-law Sal Caggiula, is among nominees for the Hobey Baker Award. It is presented annually to the outstanding collegiate hockey in the U.S.
“I’m just feeling fantastic,” he said. “The fact that he’s nominated is an honour itself.”
Caggiula’s hometown is Whitby, Ont. He is a senior and assistant captain at the University of North Dakota, in Grand Forks, ND. He has drawn attention from a recent highlight-reel goal, but his bid for the award has been hampered since he was sidelined with a shoulder injury. His statistics this season include 15 goals and 15 assists in 23 games. His Plus-28 on-ice rating is tied for first in the nation.
He led his team with 36 points last season and was named to the National College Hockey Conference’s second all-star team.
Rookie sensation Brock Boeser recently took over the team lead by one point ahead of Caggiula, who had missed five games as UND approached its final eight regular-season games in the NCHC.
Voters can cast ballots daily for their favourite player. The vote is not the only factor in who wins the award, although it is a determinant, and MacDonald hopes more people like him in Pictou County feel compelled to vote for Caggiula.
“He’s down in the voting list so I’m hoping we in Pictou County can help him catch up a little bit,” he said. “He’s a good guy. He’s worked hard over the years.”
Voting is ongoing over the next two months. Voters can access a Facebook link to the Hobey Baker Award web site and will notice the clock ticking down to the official result in April.
Caggiula stood a distance second in voting through last week with nearly 4,000 votes out of the more than 40,000 votes cast.
MacDonald said he recalled when his grandson was very young and attended a summer hockey school Pictou native Dave Wisener once directed at the Hector Arena.
MacDonald said one measure of Caggiula as a person is his relationship with his older brother, Brady, who did not achieve as much as a hockey player but has become a Level III referee.
“He and his brother always got along and have respected each other,” he said.
The Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL recently invited Caggiula to meet members of the team and staff.
“I used to like Drake,” said Dan Currie, a strong Blackhawks fan. “Now I love him.”
Caggiula is completing a kinesiology degree and spurned opportunities to join the NHL last season but is considered a top university hockey prospect in this year’s NHL entry draft.
“He could have gone to the NHL, but he wanted to stay to finish his degree, which says a lot about him,” MacDonald said.
Hobart Amory Hare Baker was among the most celebrated and beloved athletes in American history, but his short life formed a paradox of achievement what might have been.
Born in 1892, Baker played hockey when each team iced seven players and was highly regarded for his speed, stickhandling and endurance.
He became a legend playing hockey and football for Princeton University. In hockey, he drew large, enthusiastic crowds. He averaged more than four goals a game and was penalized just twice in his career.
He was a fighter pilot when he joined the American campaign in the First World War and was just 26 when he died shortly after the plane he was flying crashed.

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Mariners swimmers make big splash

PICTOU – It was a busy time on Sunday at the Pictou Fisheries Pool as the Pictou County Mariners hosted a swim meet.
Results have not been confirmed yet, but the pool area was filled with spectators and competitors of all ages.
Mariners coach Ed Stewart said he was encouraged with the local swimmers’ performances.
“My best guess from timing most events from the shallow end was that our swimmers had more than 50 per cent best times from swimmers in all three levels,” he said. “It’s made even more positive when considering the pool closure.”
Stewart was referring to the most recent closure that forced postponement of the meet from Jan. 30.
It turned out to be fortunate after a severe snow storm the previous day and through the overnight.
The Mariners are preparing for the provincial junior meet taking place from Friday through Sunday in Truro.
Some Mariners swimmers will be at the N.S. qualifying standards championships slated for Feb. 26-28.

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Hawks Atom B champs at Blackwood tourney

THORBURN – Cole Bryden and Evan Stewart each fired four goals as the host Thorburn Golden Hawks captured the 2016 Aaron Blackwood Memorial minor hockey tournament with a convincing 9-5 victory over the Antigonish Bulldogs on Sunday at the Ivor MacDonald Memorial Rink.
Cole Cameron and Garrett Williams each scored twice for the Hawks, while Joe Walsh and Anna Stewart notched single goals.
The Hawks started briskly and could seemingly do no wrong as they jumped into a 4-0 lead in the first period and added two more goals early in the second period before the Bulldogs scored. The Hawks took an 8-3 lead into the third period.
The Hawks downed the Bulldogs 6-2 earlier on Sunday to remain unbeaten. The game was re-scheduled from Friday evening due to a power failure at the rink.
In other action, Evan Stewart tallied twice and Cameron notched the winning goal as the Hawks edged Sackville 3-2 on Saturday.
The TASA Graywolves defeated the TASA Lightning 7-2 on Sunday in the Atom C championship game.
The host Hawks lost their two games 8-0 to the Graywolves, while Adam Savoie tallied in their 9-1 loss to the Lightning.
Novice games were also played but goals are not recorded for the games.

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Wheelchair curling team thrilled with bronze medals

NEW GLASGOW – It was not the result they hoped for, but the host Pictou County curling team skipped by Devin Forbes feels rewarded by its experience at the Nova Scotia Wheelchair Curling Championship at Bluenose Curling Club.
Trendal Hubley-Bolivar of the Lakeshore curling club repeated as provincial champion with a 7-5 victory over Laughie Rutt, also of Lakeshore, on Sunday afternoon at the club.
Rutt advanced to the final game by eliminating the Forbes team by a 7-4 score on Sunday morning.
Forbes has played with other teams in previous championships, while his team of mate Bill MacKenzie, second Philip Sutherland and lead Kathy McIsaac were curling for the first season.
“I was very surprised with the turnout, and I felt the first-time curlers on my team did very well,” Forbes said. “It was a really nice event that the club hosted. My goal is to get more (wheelchair) curlers out and grow the game, but I couldn’t be prouder.”
The Forbes team got itself in a position to contest the final on Sunday but appeared to run out of energy as their match with the Rutt team progressed.
Rutt scored one in the first end and stole two more in the second to take a 3-0 lead.
Forbes took one in the third, stole another in the fourth and stole two more in the fifth for a 4-3 lead, but Rutt took two in the sixth and stole two more in the seventh before running Forbes out of rocks in the eighth.
Club president Donalda Buckingham and past-resident Anne Blandford were among members how helped officiate the games.
“It gives you a whole new perspective of curling,” Blandford said.
The club recently installed a portable ramp to allow it to host the championship and encourage more wheelchair curlers.

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Pictou curlers win McLellan Cup challenge

PICTOU – The McLellan Cup stayed in Pictou for a week after members of the New Caledonian Curling Club wrested it from Northumberland Community Curling Club in Pugwash.
The Pictou teams combined to defeat the NCCC teams 53-30 and won two of the three 14-end matches.
The foursome of Mike Murdock, Scott Maston, Pete Latulippe and Ken Pettipas won 19-5, while Pat Williams, Jamie Morrison, Larry Sutherland and Brian Battist won 25-5 and the foursome of Devin Forbes, Frank MacLeod, Charlie Parker and Dan Currie was outscored by a 20-9 margin.
“We had a good day,” Murdock said. “I enjoyed the curling.”
The winning teams accepts a challenge from another host team, which means New Caledonian curlers will travel to Wolfville today for the next match on the cup schedule.
The McLellan Cup was first contested in 1887 and is considered the longest continuously contested trophy in North America.
New Caledonian returned to the McLellan Cup circuit last year after a long absence. Teams from Pictou County’s other three clubs have taken part, although Westville is the only other local club that still does.
Westville retained the cup from last year and opened the season in January, yielding the cup to NCCC.
Should New Caledonian win in Wolfville, the Windsor Curling Club is the next challenger.
Teams from Mayflower in Halifax, Brookside in River Hebert and Moncton Curling Club are among this year’s other challengers.

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That wacky hockey season of 1955-56

For those of us elderly enough to remember, it’s been 60 years – put another way, six full decades – since a four-team Nova Scotia Senior Hockey League was formed in time for the 1955-56 season.
It could probably be said that was a lifetime ago but, in many ways, it doesn’t seem nearly that long for those of us who were involved.
I remember it well.
As things turned out, it was one crazy, mixed-up debut for the province-wide circuit. In many ways, a fiction writer couldn’t have been responsible for the script. It would never have been believed.
Truly, it was one wacky winter on ice. Weird, no matter how you observed it.
Among the oddities, Pictou County didn’t have a team when the league got under way just before Christmas. Yet, when it was all over, the league’s champions were, yes, a Pictou County club.
I better explain.
The NSSHL, which would operate for most of the next 10 years before collapsing under its Maritime label following the 1964-65 chapter, was actually a merger of three longstanding senior leagues, the local APC loop, the Valley circuit and the South Shore league.
When the curtain went up, the Truro Bearcats, Kentville Wildcats, Windsor Maple Leafs and Bridgewater Hawks answered roll-call.
But at the finish line a few months later, the league looked a whole lot different.
The Bridgewater team folded in mid-season. The Kentville club came within a whisker of a similar fate. Truro solved its problems by moving out of town.
That’s how Pictou County got into the fray. That’s when a losing team from the other side of Mount Thom found a new home at New Glasgow Stadium and didn’t lose another game all season, including playoffs.
Yes, that was the season the Truro Bearcats became the New Glasgow Rangers. That’s the season in which we never knew who would be playing, or who wouldn’t.
Let’s focus on the Truro-New Glasgow segment.
The previous season, the Rangers had a very dominant and successful roster under the coaching of goaltender Paul Leclerc, who previously played under Toe Blake in the Quebec senior league. With Leclerc a huge star in nets, it was one of the most entertaining New Glasgow teams I can recall.
But when the three senior leagues amalgamated six months later, New Glasgow didn’t answer the bell.
There was no hands-up from any of the county’s old franchises.
There were, understandably, senior players wanting to play somewhere. That resulted in formation of the Pictou County Pontiacs as an independent franchise playing out of Stellarton Memorial Rink.
Meantime, the four-team provincial setup started.
Windsor was the only entry that seemed to operate without problems. It had been a winning organization for years, winning Valley league titles frequently, including four consecutive between 1951 and 1954..
Kentville didn’t put together a very competitive lineup, and fans in the Valley didn’t respond. But the Wildcats continued on.
Bridgewater was shaky from day one, with few quality players, and it was no surprise when they made an early exit.
Meantime, it was unusual to see Truro struggle. The hub almost always iced competitive representatives. But this time the Bearcats were weak and the fans stayed away.
Moving to New Glasgow changed everything.
Leo Fahey took the coaching reins and, with several personnel changes, formed a lineup with veteran Frank Prozenor in nets, Nelson Wilson, Bill Billick, Ralph Cameron, Jimmy MacNeil, Mel Gadd, Blinker Callaghan, Arnie Baudoux and Tiger Mackie. In the lineup were two long-time Bearcats, Ron Conrad and Jackie Hepburn.
How did it go?
The Rangers became an instant winner. With 10 regular season games remaining, they won all 10. Then, after getting a bye, they faced Windsor the best-of-seven finals. There they posted four straight victories. It put them against Halifax Navy in a best-of-five round. That, too, was easy. Three more verdicts. In all, 17 victories in a row.
The next target was clearly in view – and not far away.
Remember the formation of that independent team in Stellarton? The Pontiacs were waiting. The only obstacle in the way of a New Glasgow provincial crown was a five-minute drive from the Stadium.
There was a lot of experience, and a few youngsters, on the Pontiacs. Alex Robertson, Danny Dorrington, Kent Storey, Shorty Aikens, Ducky MacLean, Joe Brown, Mark Babineau, Al Legere, Lugs Rae and goalie Jack Ryan made a formidable foe.
I’m sure, even for Pictonians who weren’t around 60 years ago, it’s common knowledge that the all-county provincial showdown never happened.
It was one of the most disappointing things I can ever remember in senior hockey in “the old days.”
It was silly.
I’ve written that 1955-56 story many times, so I won’t go into details again, other than to mention the clubs couldn’t agree on where game one should be played.
At the Stadium? In Stellarton?
Management of both teams drew lines in the sand. Neither would budge. They acted like spoiled kids running home to mother.
The series everyone in Pictou County wanted, the series that likely would have sold out both rinks every game, never started.
I was upset.
Though still in high school, I was writing sports for the Evening News that winter. Sports editor Ricky Fraser covered the Rangers on a regular basis from the day the franchise came from Truro. He assigned me to cover the Pontiacs and I liked that club. And the guys on it.
As the showdown neared, Rick and I bet a whole dollar on who was going to win. High school students didn’t have much money to wager in those days, thus the limited amount. It was all in vain, however, when the series collapsed.
Sixty years later, who do I think would have taken the series to become the Nova Scotia champions?
The Pontiacs, of course.
And I would have won a dollar.

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How Tearmann House saved her life

“Either I was going to be there or I was going to be dead.”
Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, credits Tearmann House with saving her life, twice.
She had been in an abusive relationship with her husband for many years and it wasn’t until she landed in the hospital, that she realized it.
“I had taken an overdose because my life was ending,” says Sarah. “I had been in an abusive relationship for a long time and didn’t really realize I was in an abusive relationship until I got in the hospital… I thought every woman went through this with their husband. ‘Oh, he’s drinking, he’ll be nicer when he sobers up’…”
Once released from the hospital, Sarah was encouraged to go to Tearmann House.
“When I arrived, I think they sent me in a taxi from the hospital and I walked in the door and cried the whole time because I didn’t know what Tearmann was about.”
Sarah, at the time, had two adult children, so she was alone when she entered the house.
“I felt I lost my children at the same time because they didn’t want to take sides I guess.”
She stayed at Tearmann House a total of eight weeks, however, that time was split up.
“I ended up in the hospital again about five weeks after I arrived. I got a call from my husband while I was there and it knocked me down again. I felt he was taking everything from me.”
Sarah took another overdose and while in hospital, Tearmann House kept her bed for her.
The entire time she was at Tearmann House, she accessed counsellors and other assistance to help her cope with daily life.
“It was unbelievable the help I got there. I would never be here today if it wasn’t for Tearmann House.”
Sarah spoke with a counsellor every day, learned to meditate, journal daily and learned yoga. She continues to see a psychiatrist regularly.
“If it wasn’t for those guys, I wouldn’t have had a hope… I never did (meditation) before in my life… before I was so in my head, so crazy, I was so worked up, I could never shut my brain off. We did meditation and guided imagery as a way to relax and a coping strategy.”
She truly feels the help she received while at Tearmann House helped her realize she could continue.
“They practically had to teach me how to live again. I was scared when we talked about getting out on my own; every time I thought about it, it knocked me back down again. Thank God I had that place to go, if I was out on my own, my husband would have found me. I felt safe.”
Sarah received support after she left Tearmann House as well and still has her list of outreach numbers to call any time she needs. She says there were times where she felt nervous, but never had to call.
“I maintained my safety plan. There were a few times when (her husband) found me, I called Tearmann, left the house and other times I had my chairs and couch pushed up against the door.”
But she is grateful for the support she received and the staff at Tearmann.
“I never knew there were such places, people don’t know there are places like this.”
Since, Sarah has been able to reconnect with her children.
“I am grateful for my life, because of them… They taught me life skills and let me feel useful, helping with dishes, cooking, laundry, cleaning. Everything was so organized. We learned how to work together and pay bills, I never did that before. I always wanted to take first aid and a hunters course but my husband told me there was a written test so I couldn’t do it (because she cannot read well). After I left (Tearmann) I took both tests and had them read the questions to me and I passed. I thought I was too stupid to do it because that’s what I was told.”
Tearmann House is a shelter for abused women who experience violence in an intimate partner relationship or family violence that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Tearmann House serves women who are 18 years and older.
Donna Smith, acting executive director, says some women will show up at the door in a crisis situation, and many others are referred by different community agencies.
“When a woman first comes to the shelter, we welcome them, make them feel comfortable, give them a cup of tea and discuss what is happening in terms of their safety, hear her story.”
Single women as well as women with children arrive at the shelter in need of help. If women arrive with children, they introduce the children to the youth care counsellor and familiarize the woman with the house, explain the services and if the woman decides she wants to stay, she is set up with a room.
“We have outreach services as well, so there are some women who feel their security is not imminent so they choose to stay in their home and access our services,” notes Smith. “There are other women in high-risk situations where we work closely with the community to ensure their safety. When we have high-risk situations, we have a certain protocol… to make a safety plan.”
Sharon Maloney, a house counsellor, notes that women can stay in the house up to six weeks and are typically in the house one week before they begin discussing housing goals and income supports.
“We are here to listen to the women’s needs and let them make the choices and support them in their decisions,” says Smith.
Maloney adds, “When women come in here, it’s often the first opportunity for them to have a say in their life.”
Tearmann provides counselling, coping methods, supports and advocacy for referrals and appointments with other agencies, life skills programming and follow-up services after the women leave.
“All personal care needs are provided while here including food,” explains Smith. “We get donations from the community, which is very generous… for things like clothing for women and children.
“We want women to feel at home when they are here… it helps with the process of moving forward,” says Maloney.
Tearmann House is a 15-bed shelter with occupancy varying. Currently it is at 50 per cent but has often been full, serving Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties.
“We see 60 to 70 new women each year,” notes Maloney. “Those are just the shelter statistics, not the outreach services…”
“We also have a co-ordinated second-stage housing called Brenda Place,” says Smith. “It’s for women who have left an abusive relationship. It’s a six-unit family space and the women receive ongoing services. They can stay up to a year.”
Tearmann House has 10 full-time staff, one part time administrator, six casual workers and receives 75 per cent of its funding from the province with the remainder coming from fundraising efforts.
With Family Violence Prevention Week this week, Tearmann House and the Pictou County Interagency on Family Violence have partnered for awareness with a booth being set up at the Nova Scotia Community College from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow, February 11.

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ECMA nomination feather in Stanfields’ cap

When it comes to being shortlisted for awards, you’d be hard pressed to find someone as unconcerned as Standfields frontman Jon Landry.
The amped up, Celtic-flavoured rockers have been announced as an official nominee for the 2016 ECMAs for Rock Recording of the Year for their latest album Modem Operandi.
“Really, honestly, awards?,” Landry asked, rhetorically.
“I don’t know,” Landry continued. “It’s cool to be part of something but it’s really not a reason to get out of bed in the morning, at all. It’s not even something to think about. I don’t think anybody really does, per se. This isn’t a pie eating contest or something.”
It would be fair to say that for Landry, the ECMA nom is gravy rather than the meat and potatoes or, as he put it “it’s certainly a feather in the cap, for sure.”
He said, “It’s all about the shows, the people and expressing yourself.”
All things considered, however, Landry is pleased to find his band’s work in the company of groups such as Hey Rosetta! and Rain Over St. Ambrose.
Landry said Modem Operandi had the lengthiest birthing process of any of the band’s albums.
“We were demoing things three times,” Landry explained. “It was probably a year all told between writing it and recording it. It was definitely a lengthy process, I don’t know that I’d want to do that again.”
Landry chalked up the time spent on creating the album as a matter of songs taking their own time to form – lyrics, melody and riffs sometimes seem to arrive on a schedule of their own devising.
“The record itself is personally the one I’m most proud of,” Landry said. “It’s the most outside of the box for the band. It’s a little bit difficult for people to latch on to if you know the band at all.”
The 2016 ECMAs will take place in Sydney April 13 through to April 17. The Stanfields have previously won ECMAs for Group Recording of the Year and Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the Year in 2013.

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Glasgow Sqaure sees ECMA nod as affirmation

Glasgow Square finds itself at the centre of two ECMA nominations this year, netting a nomination for both Venue of the Year as well as Event of the Year for the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee.
Both categories see a diverse range of nominees, a selection Glasgow Square’s Carlton Munroe likens to “apples and oranges”. The ECMA contenders for Venue of the Year for example include the Confederation Centre, the Harmony House Theatre and two drinking establishments – the Carleton (no relation) Music Bar & Grill, and Plan B Lounge.
As Munroe understands it, the qualifying criteria for Venue of the Year include the quality of talent and shows offered as well as the venue having an East Coast focus.
“It kind of validates what we’re trying to do here,” Munroe said, “which in a large part is showcasing East Coast talent. We do stretch beyond the borders of the East Coast but certainly a big focus of what we program here is spotlighting East Coast talent.”
Event of the Year, meanwhile, sees the Jubilee share consideration with the PEI Mutual Festival of Small Halls, the country fuelled Cavendish Beach Music Festival, the Celtic Colours International Festival and the Halifax Jazz Festival.
In a category that sees jazz apples pitted against rock oranges, Munroe said that the Jubilee’s more recent rock-centric focus may have helped the festival stand out among its peers, along with its track record of showcasing East Coast talent.
“It does give us an identity where in the past we tried to be all things to all people,” Munroe said.
Munroe said that last year’s Jubilee big draw Steve Earle may have also caught the notice of the nomination judges as the American folk and rocker’s appearance at the festival lent weight towards legitimising the event in the entertainment market.
“The timing was perfect for getting Steve Earle,” Munroe explained. Plus the record he was touring on was still fresh, it was really a matter of perfect timing. It worked out tremendously well. It was definitely one of the high points of my career in presenting the Jubilee to have somebody of that stature headline the stage.”
Glasgow Square was last nominated for Venue of the Year in 2014, and was co-nominated in 2012 when the categories of Event of the Year and Venue of the Year shared an award. The New Glasgow Jubilee was last nominated for Event of the Year in 2013 and was also nominated in 2012 and 2011.

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Kiss Me, Kate debuts in New Glasgow this month

A little jazz, a little Shakespeare and a whole lot of talent are what you can expect to see from this year’s musical from North Nova Education Centre.
The selection this year is Kiss Me, Kate, a play about a theatre company putting on a musical production of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.
“The music is very challenging but very worthwhile,” said director Donnie Kitson.
The decision this year to put on Kiss Me, Kate was one that came from a love of Cole Porter, a composer and song writer who wrote the lyrics and music for the show which, during its time on Broadway, won a Tony.
Students, staff and lots of volunteers have been helping to pull everything together for the production since early November, working on set building, costumes and of course, the cast has been hard at work learning lines and choreography.
“I’m looking forward to acting in front of a big audience,” said Ivan Willis, who plays Chris MacDonell in the musical. “My favourite part of the character is telling people to stop when they’re being silly.”
For Carleigh Halliday, who plays Lilli Vanessi, one of the lead roles, her favouite part is the type of music.
“All of the music is really jazzy and really good,” she said, noting that the best part of getting to play Lilli is the character’s extravagance.
“In the show I guess I’m kind of the queen bee,” she said. “My costumes are quite elaborate, and I love costumes.”
The fun of putting on the musical doesn’t come without its challenges though. Halliday notes that the concept of having a play in a play can get tricky while learning the parts since they are essentially playing two characters at the same time, as well as mixing Shakespeare dialogue and regular dialogue.
For those interested in attending Kiss Me, Kate tickets are available at the school or by calling the school at 902-755-8180 Ext 0. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors with the show running from February 25 to 28.

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Pharmacare change puts senior in new tax bracket

An open letter to the Premier of Nova Scotia Stephen McNeill
Dear Premier McNeill:
I would like to thank you for making me a middle class taxpayer. Last year I was exempt from paying the premium for Pharmacare because my wife and I drew the Federal Supplement.
Thanks to the changes now made to the Pharmacare program, I will be paying a small premium. Your ceiling of $26,817 now leaves I and my wife along with our supplement just a little bit above that amount.
This now puts me in the middle income bracket. For this, I most heartily thank you. I am now in with the high rollers.
Edward Burke
P.S. See you in Florida.

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Industrial approval violates rights of First Nations

Premier & Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Stephen McNeil
Minister of Energy Michel Samson
Minister of Environment Margaret Miller

To the Editor:
The announcement by Minister of Energy Michel Samson to issue the industrial approval for Alton Gas Storage to operate is a direct violation of the rights of First Nations peoples to meaningful consultation, as well as the principle of community consent for all communities.
We applaud the efforts of the Sipekne’katik and Millbrook communities for their dedication to environmental justice for the Shubenacadie River system and the safety of the surrounding community when it comes to salt cavern gas storage.
The Sipekne’katik and Millbrook First Nations informed Premier McNeil of their plans to hold a referendum on the issue of whether to allow natural gas storage and the dumping of brine waste into the river system. We applaud and support this bold decision by the Sipekne’katik community to demand meaningful community engagement.
Non-indigenous residents of surrounding communities have also made many efforts to tell regulators that we do not want this dangerous development in our community. We do not believe that the assessment process has sufficiently evaluated the potential and cumulative risks to community health, safety and to the environment of the Alton Gas Salt Cavern storage project. Indigenous and non-indigenous residents of the area have worked together to show our opposition by holding peaceful protests, writing letters, making petitions, calling our government officials and holding community meetings. Today’s decision shows a complete lack of regard for both communities’ voices on the issue.
We support the indigenous treaty right to meaningful consultation. We are also committed to protect the environment. As settlers on this land, and as responsible citizens, we are also bound by the Peace and Friendship Treaties to protect the land and life that it supports. We do not feel the required duty to consult has been fulfilled for First Nations communities, or for local residents.
We ask that the government suspend further approvals while First Nations communities consult their membership about this project. We also ask for complete and up to date evaluation of the full and cumulative risks of the project, based on the latest knowledge and science.
East Hants Fracking Opposition Group
Valerie and Colin Hawks, representing those concerned citizens in Brentwood
and Alton
Striped Bass Association
Shubenacadie River Commercial Fishing Association

To date this letter is also supported by: The Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Sierra Club Foundation – Atlantic Chapter, Nova Scotia Fracking Research and Action Coalition, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition & Delegation to COP21, Divest Dalhousie

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Pharmacare changes not welcome

To the Editor:
Does the government ever stop for a moment to consider the contributions seniors have made to our communities? It is imperative that society appreciates their contributions in families, communities and society.
We can all agree that we have a strained public system. However, the recent changes to our pharmacare program has upset the majority of seniors in this province.
Disappointment with the Liberal government’s process has been quite evident with the number of phone calls and emails I have received during the past week. I continue to wonder, “Is it really necessary?”
Health care needs can place an additional and too often unexpected financial hardship on seniors.
The majority of senior households with prescription drug expenses also tend to be on a fixed income.
Most seniors are forced to stretch their monthly income to pay their bills. Additional pharmacare costs are certainly not welcomed. Nova Scotians realized that an increase is eminent but not to the extent of this fiasco.
Fourteen thousand seniors who were exempt, will begin to pay premiums in April. Seniors who do not join this program when they turn 65 years old have to pay a penalty. If you drop out of this program but decide to enroll later, you will face a financial penalty.
Those seniors will be required to pay 1.5 times their premium for five years. That means $636 per year compared to $424 a year.
Seniors paying the maximum rate of $1,200 per year will be required to pay $1,800 per year for joining late or rejoining the program. Therefore, over a five-year period the maximum penalty will almost triple from $12,720 to $36,000.
It is unfortunate and disheartening to watch the Liberal government mislead seniors. Under these new changes, many seniors will witness a 19 per cent increase.
The former system was created with a 75:25 payment ratio between government and seniors. Under this new method, seniors will pay 37 per cent to the cost of the program.
The government deserves to be taken to task for not revealing the entire true picture of what these changes really mean to the pockets of our seniors. They were definitely not open and transparent.
Seniors deserve to be treated fairly and with respect.
Pat Dunn, MLA
Pictou Centre

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Hard work for wheelchair ramp much appreciated

To the Editor:
As chair of Let Abilities Work Partnership Society (LAWPS), I was very pleased to see your photo last week of the group at Bluenose Curling club celebrating the donation of wheelchair access ramping. I’d like to provide a bit of the back story of that happy event.

Let Abilities Work Society Treasurer Craig Mercer and vice chair Devin Forbes recently worked successfully to make the Bluenose Curling club in New Glasgow wheelchair accessible for stick curling. This follows on the society’s success in arranging United Way financing of an accessible washroom at the New Caledonian curling rink in Pictou. We now have two accessible curling rinks.
Craig Mercer was able to arrange the necessary financing through his Investors Group in New Glasgow for purchase and installation of ramping to allow wheelchair curlers to enter the rink from the lounge and on to the ice surface.
“Devin S. Forbes has been key to getting this project initiated and seeing it through to completion” said Mercer. “We are glad to be able to help him and the LAWPS members provide services.”
I’m also very pleased with the related local wheelchair stick curling story in (last) week’s Advocate which shows the positive outcomes of this work.
Our curling group is doing great and we look forward to hearing more good news and stories about them.
Ralph Ferguson

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NSP needs better program to deal with critical care

To the Editor:
Most of the time, I have a very good understanding of most things. But there comes a time that the understanding leaves me and one of those times was over the weekend and it has to do with Nova Scotia Power.
Just to let you know why I say this: It is because I am on oxygen 24-7. And having been placed on the critical care list by Home Care Nova Scotia and with Nova Scotia Power being advised of this.
During the storm that we had on a recent weekend when there was a power outage, Nova Scotia Power is to call anyone that is on the Critical Care list and keep them updated if and when their power will be back on. Now, in my case, this did not happen. Yes, we did get a call Friday afternoon at about 2 p.m. to tell us there was a storm pending and that we could lose power. And yes, we did lose power at 7 p.m. And from then on we heard nothing from them, but did hear reports by radio – not from Nova Scotia Power.
Here is when I lost my understanding with Nova Scotia Power: When we called them from our cellphone we were told the power would be back on at 4:30 Monday morning. And then another call told us 11:30 Sunday evening. Now, we did make other calls to the Critical Care line and were always given a different time. I was also told to go to the hospital. The last call we made to them on Saturday afternoon we were told 11:30 Sunday night.
So we went and stayed at a local motel overnight. And then on Sunday morning when we called them we were told 11:30 Sunday night. After we had our breakfast, my wife was talking to a lady that works at the motel and was told that she had just came down Lorne Street and the power was on. So we called a friend and, yes, the power was on and had been on from 11:30 Saturday night.
So that is why I lost my understanding with Nova Scotia Power, for the Critical Care line did not know what was going on with power outages or when it would be back on. So it looks to me like the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
It is time that they get a program in place so they can better inform those that are on the Critical Care list. And to make matters worse, they were still calling us long after the power was restored to our home twice on Sunday. We had at least nine messages on our land line but were not able to retrieve them until the power came back on.
Loyd Murray
New Glasgow

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Moving forward on many fronts

Just a month into the new year, four municipalities have hit the ground running, working on the goal of amalgamation.
In a time where towns are having to dissolve or be forced into amalgamation, these four units – Pictou, New Glasgow, Stellarton and the Municipality of Pictou County – have taken it upon themselves to seek what is best for the residents of these municipalities.
True leadership and a reinvigorated effort is being shown to pull Pictou County out of what could undeniably be called its dark days, and bring town coffers into the black while also putting money into infrastructure and roadways, thanks to a hefty funding offer in the amount of $27 million from the province.
The issue has been debated and studied for the last 50-plus years; the time has come to take that leap of faith and join together as one unit, one county, as we have been in spirit since inception and make this county a better place for families to raise their children.
For those who think amalgamation means a loss of identity, the question then becomes: How do you lose more than 200 years of history?
If the towns amalgamate, does that mean Pictou will no longer be called Pictou? No. Towns keep their names, residents keep their houses, their festivals and their identities. What does change, however, is the dismal financial situation these municipalities are heading toward.
All these municipalities are asking is that the residents take the leap of faith with them.
Pictou county came together and took a leap of faith on Saturday when Pictou County Safe Harbour welcomed its first Syrian refugee family.
The refugee effort shown in Pictou County is a prime example of how, when we put our minds to it, we can work together as one unit for a common goal.
Just as leadership has been shown by these four municipalities, it has also been shown by the entire county when we opened our arms and accepted a family in need.
It is truly heartwarming to see how the community greeted this family that has been living in a refugee camp after fleeing their home for fear of their lives.
Do you think the refugee families, now that they have arrived, care whether they live in New Glasgow or Pictou Regional Municipality?
Not likely; they have far more to worry about than such trivial things, and even more to be grateful for thanks to a community that put its differences aside to help them.
Let’s continue this momentum and continue to step forward in the right direction.

Debbi Harvie

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Repairs to begin at Sharon’s Place

PICTOU – It’s getting close to time to start restoring Sharon’s Place Family Restaurant.
Co-owner Sharon Stewart said the cleanup phase is complete, allowing work to repair and reopen the place to begin.
Work will continue this week.
She also said repairing the restaurant and resuming business operations are important to allowing her family getting back on a better financial footing allowing her staff to get back to work.
“We’re learning one thing,” Stewart said, referring to her servers. “Freedom 55 means nothing to us. We want to get back to work.”
An early-morning fire on December 19 severely damaged the back section of the restaurant, which also suffered extensive water and smoke damage. Tenants in apartments above the restaurant were relocated for one night before returning.
The restaurant and apartments above it are in the middle of a block on one side of Front Street that includes banking, optical, physiotherapy businesses and a pharmacy.
Their occupants have noted a drop in pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic but are also thankful the fire was contained so quickly.
“It’s very disruptive to Sharon’s but it could have been a lot worse,” said Dave Fulmore of Fulmore’s Pharmachoice.
“I’m quite sure it affects traffic flow, although you see a drop at all businesses this time of year.”

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Mutual aid shows need for program

ALMA – A house fire in Alma was the perfect example of why mutual aid is required in Pictou County, says Shaun MacLaughlin, a firefighter in Westville.
MacLaughlin and Brian Cameron, a firefighter in New Glasgow, were instrumental in getting the mutual aid system up and running for local fire departments and it was first put to use on February 3 at a house fire.
“It went flawlessly, just as expected. It worked just as we hoped with no delay.”
“A lot of people are at work or away during that time of day,” says MacLaughlin, “so this was a perfect example of why the system is needed and it worked flawlessly, we are very pleased with it.”
Each fire department filled out a sheet with the other departments they wanted to partner with in the case of a structure fire or motor vehicle accident.
MacLaughlin says Alma chose to partner with West River Fire Department, Westville Fire Department and New Glasgow Fire Department.
“All of the departments along with Nova Scotia Power, EHS and (Pictou County District) RCMP were notified at the same time and within minutes they were all on the road. It worked perfectly and everyone was happy.”
All of the fire departments signed up for mutual aid before the February 1 deadline.

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Wedding Expo taking place February 20

STELLARTON – It’s the day every girl dreams of, the day she gets to don a beautiful white dress and be escorted down the aisle in front of all of her friends and family.
Preparing for the wedding of your dreams can be overwhelming, but the Northern Nova Scotia Wedding Expo is here to assist.
The event, on February 20, will have a number of exhibitors covering a range of wedding day itinerary points, from photographers and venues to caterers, jewelry exhibits, hotels and honeymoon destinations.
“There’s a little bit of everything,” says Janine Linthorne, one of three organizers of the event.
This is the fourth year Linthorne, along with Heather Thomson of Rocklin Parties and Heather Pitcher have been organizing the event.
The first year, it was hosted at North Nova Education Centre and has since been moved to the Nova Scotia Community College in Stellarton.
“The doors open at 1 p.m. when the exhibitor floor opens in the gymnasium,” explains Linthorne. “The brides will come in and register and get a bag with a Wedding Bells magazine and a ballot to win a free honeymoon.”
The brides will then circulate to the various exhibitors, collecting information and samples to prepare for their big day.
But the event is not strictly for brides; grooms and friends are welcome to attend as well.
“We encourage the grooms to come with the brides so they can plan their day together.”
Brides and grooms are admitted free of charge and there is a $5 admission fee for guests.
“There will also be DJs set up as well as live entertainment so people can see what each would look like.”
If you just got engaged and haven’t yet set a date, no problem, the event is meant to help guide brides and grooms through the wedding planning process.
There will also be a fashion show through Bedford Bridal Boutique.
“This year we have Bedford Bridal Boutique on hand as an exhibitor as well as for the fashion show. They sell new, never worn, once worn and new-to-you dresses and accessories,” notes Linthorne. “They also have a custom designer, Xander Rory Couture, who can design a dress for any bride who cannot find what they are looking for.”
Bedford Bridal Boutique will be onsite with Xander Rory to answer any questions brides or grooms may have.
During the fashion show, there will be eight to 10 models, showcasing two looks each during the 30-minute show. Afterwards, the dresses showcased will be available during a ‘blowout sale.’
“It’s great because there are a lot of options,” says Linthorne. “There is something for every taste and price point. We are very excited.”
The Northern Nova Scotia Wedding Expo runs 1 to 4 p.m. February 20 with fashion shows at
2 and 4 p.m.
To register visit, Facebook at Northern Nova Scotia Wedding Expo or email

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Lawand, Funke face off over plowing

STELLARTON – Town council will need to spend more money if it wants faster snow removal for its citizens, town engineer Bob Funke said.
Funke said a new truck plow purchased was not ready in time for the snowstorm and the remaining plows are aging.
Funke fielded questions from council members, but mostly from Coun. Simon Lawand, who questioned the time taken to get the town’s streets cleared.
Lawand compared Stellarton’s plowing time lines with New Glasgow, saying its side streets were plowed better than Stellarton’s main arteries.
“Maybe my expectation is too high,” he said. “I’m expecting more. I think every member of council should expect more.”
Funke said the snow that fell stuck to the streets and was hard for the plows to lift up. He said three plows are more than 10 years old, and only one of them has a wing to plow back snow. He contracts out to other sources to augment the equipment.
“It was difficult plowing,” Funke said. “I think we did a good job with the equipment we had, and we’ve had it for years. If you want to step up the level of service, you have to step up the level of equipment.”
Funke also said New Glasgow has more equipment at hand than Stellarton.
Lawand asked Funke if plowing will improve once the new truck is in service. “It’s a bigger, more robust unit,” Funke said, while adding the older plows will need to be replaced. “We have to buy them as we can buy them.”
Councillors Ken Francis, Denise Taylor and Judith MacLellan generally praised the snow crews. Francis said he’s noticed the downtown is being cleared in a more timely fashion for merchants.

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Corrections unit marks one year of operations

PRIESTVILLE – One year after its opening, staff members at the Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility feel optimistic about the accommodations and the help they are providing offenders.
Facility superintendent Tim Carroll and Wilma Janzen, manager of spiritual services, took time last week to discuss the programs being offered at the facility and the input they value from community members.
Carroll says he is impressed with how seamlessly the facility is operating and the 75-per cent reduction in the number of incidents among offenders from the same time last year.
He attributes it partly to the direct supervision of offenders by staff that was built into the design and function of the facility, with a goal to help offenders position themselves to make better decisions when they return to society.
“This is the first direct adult supervision facility (in the provincial system),” he said. “It was a learning curve for offenders and staff to have officers right in their living space, but it allows much more access to offenders by staff for any reason.”
Carroll cited one example of the interaction between offenders and staff members.
Offenders raised money and challenged staff members to match it, with the proceeds going to gifts for clients with Pictou County Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“The offenders wrapped the gifts,” Carroll said. “That has not happened anywhere else to date in the Nova Scotia system. It’s a testament to our approach.”
Janzen said the interaction and direct contact between staff and offenders is something she welcomes and which she was not able to do at the facility in Burnside, where she previously worked.
“It has been a very rewarding experience for me,” said Janzen. “I really enjoy being part of the case management.”
The facility was designed and built for 196 offenders and 138 staff members. About 100 offenders are residing there now. Carroll said 80 per cent capacity is ideal to make it as flexible as possible.
Offenders at a given time may include those who are either provincially sentenced, remanded, immigration, parole violations or newly sentenced to a federal custody term. NNSCF staff work closely with community partners in developing offender programs that will assist in offender reintegration in the community.
The average custody period is around 100 days, and the type of offender at the facility may depend on the services offered.
Janzen’s office is next to the multi-purpose room where a number of activities take place and which at times operates as a chapel. Services are provided on Sundays and Mondays, a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous meets with offenders there and social workers use the room, which is also used for yoga.
The room is also used for staff functions.
Two correctional officers volunteer to teach offenders how to play the guitar. There are four guitars, so three offenders are given lessons at a given time.
A wall-mounted screen is available for special events, such as screening of Christmas movies.
Classrooms are used for teaching. Nova Scotia Community College courses are offered, and offenders have an opportunity to complete their Grade 12.
Library programs include a service whereby offenders can request specific books or authors. Books come from various sources, including Adopt-A-Library.
Offenders’ literacy level can be as low as Grade 9, although some offenders have some university education. Some older offenders have a Grade 5 or 6 education.
A horticultural program is being planned for this year.

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Syrian family arrives

STELLARTON – It was a joyous time at the Museum of Industry where about 100 well-wishers welcomed the arrival of the first Syrian refugee family in Pictou County.
Pictou County Safe Harbour is sponsoring the family that arrived on a CHAD bus late Saturday afternoon after their flight from Montreal. Those present of all ages had welcome posters in English and Arabic for the occasion.
“It’s an emotional experience to meet this family and to be able to be here today,” New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan said after welcoming the family to their new home in the town. “I just feel we’re very lucky and so are they. Now we have to support them.”
Local resident Fred Haddad speaks fluent Arabic and acted as interpreter for Bassem Almethyb, the patriarch of the family, who expressed his gratitude on their behalf for being in Canada.
“He’s very happy,” Haddad said. “When asked about (coming to Canada), they didn’t hesitate.”
Almethyb explained he is a blacksmith by profession. He and his family were in a camp in Jordan for six months before learning two months ago they would be coming to Canada and being processed for their 12-hour flight to Montreal last Thursday.
Almethyb said life in Syria was good before the civil strife that ravished the country.
“Living was nice – living was good,” he said through Haddad.
War changed all that.
“It was miserable,” said Almethyb, referring to the sleepless nights due to bombing and sniper fire and the lack of food and water.
Simon Lawand, a town councillor in Stellarton who came to Canada from Lebanon during a war-torn time in that country, said he’s glad the family arrived safely.
“The situation in Syria is horrific,” he said. “I can relate to what they were going through. But the amount of support I’ve seen in this community is unbelievable. All they want to do is help and it says a lot about Pictou County.”
Stacia Borkert, who is originally from Pictou County, recently returned here last May with her husband Carsten Borkert and got to meet members of the family.
“It’s good to be here,” Carsten said. “I really like the area.”
Liaquat Ali, who came to Canada from Pakistan, said the Syrian family’s adjustment to Canadian life will likely be more challenging for the parents than the children.
“It will be difficult for the parents, but I think the kids will adapt quickly,” he said. “The kids go to school, make friends and pick up things fast.”
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser also attended the gathering.
“It’s a great new day,” he said. “When I see the effort this organization has put in, I’m very proud to be from this county.”
Safe Harbour co-chairperson Leisa MacIntosh said there is more work to do, despite the euphoria of the first family arriving in Pictou County. She said her group could settle more refugee families with more government help.
“It’s wonderful, but it’s just a little step, she said “We’re more than capable to help more people.”

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Opening soon: new business on Westville Road

NEW GLASGOW – Scotian Gold plans to open a retail outlet next month on Westville Road.
Murdoch MacKenzie, director of operations for Scotian Gold Co-operative Limited, confirmed it will open a version of its successful operation at its base in Coldbrook, N.S. called Scotian Gold Country Store in Pictou County in about six weeks.
“It’s very popular in the (Annapolis) Valley,” he said. “It’s a solid business coming to town. We’re aiming for March 14 (to open).”
Contractors were to arrive on Monday to begin preparing the building where Harvest Emporium was formerly located through a lease agreement with the Proudfoot group that has the local Home Hardware stores in Stellarton and Pictou.
Scotian Gold, which is more widely known for its longstanding apple operations, has purchased the property that has a top floor at street level and a bottom floor accessed from the rear on the property’s back slope.
“We’re in for the long haul,” MacKenzie said.
The store will sell products that are also for sale at the Coldbrook outlet that include clothing apparel, pet and horse items, farming items and more.
MacKenzie described the top floor as being a pet and horse section, with implements and other farm supplies on the bottom floor.
A flight of stairs between the two levels, that was previously eliminated by the previous operator, will be restored.
He said the Co-op feed store operation on Merigomish Road will be moved into the lower end of the building on the bottom level.

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All in a day’s work

As far as Eric Hughes was concerned, it was just another day at his part-time job as a Sobeys carry out clerk. But Shi-Enne Bonvie thought otherwise.
Bonvie was sitting in her car waiting for someone in the store when she noticed Hughes patiently sharing a cart with an elderly lady and assisting her with her grocery bags.
Hughes says he does this about two or three times a shift.
“Some people have trouble walking, some people can push the cart but they need help putting their groceries into their car,” he said.
After taking the photo from across the parking lot of Hughes helping the woman, Bonvie decided to share it on Facebook to spread a little positivity.
“What struck me though, was that he showed no impatience as he matched her slow, shuffling steps and shared the cart with her so that she could lean on it for support,” she wrote in her post.
After seeing this she then went into the store to ask about the employee and pass along her compliments about him to his manager. The idea of posting to Facebook came from Bonvie wishing to spread the message of kindness.
“I took the picture because I think good things should be shared as quickly as the bad things,” she said.
Bonvie’s message and photo received hundreds of shares and likes and many comments commending Hughes on the care he takes in his work.
To Hughes, he was just doing his job; he enjoys the personal aspect of becoming familiar with regular customers so he can better help them.
“I kind of like how it’s a smaller store and you get to know your customers more,” he said. “It’s helpful to get to know them on a personal level and you get to help them with their shopping experience.”
“It goes to show that there’s good kids in this world,” said Bonvie, also mentioning that they deserve praise to encourage them to continue to do good things.
“The world can be a better place with these small acts of kindness.”

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