Roundup: 25 new COVID cases, unleashed dogs terrorizing vulnerable birds, Royal recognition for Pictou girl, Port Hawkesbury welcomes newcomers
Hockey players become a big part of daily life for billet families like the Gagnes. Photo: Bruce Murray
By Trevor J. Adams 22 September 2021 Share this story
Nova Scotia has 137 known active cases of COVID-19, with 25 new cases and 17 recoveries reported in the latest government update. Nine people are hospitalized in provincial COVID units.
There are 14 new cases in the Central Zone, where health officials are reporting “signs of community spread among those … aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.” There are also five new cases in the Northern Zone, which the government attributes to “a defined, unvaccinated group,” while refusing to give any details. There are three new cases each in the Western and Eastern zones.
The home game
Hockey’s top prospects exist in a strange bubble, far removed from the normal routine of school and part-time jobs that most teenagers experience. Locally, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is their stepping stone to the pros, meaning the boys often live far from home, spending most of the year with billet families.
Belgian Senna Peeters is one of the farthest from home, living in Halifax with the Gagne family. “I like it here, so it feels like a nice second home, and my parents have visited, so they know where I am living, so it’s not like I am in a stranger’s place,” he says.
And he’s become a part of daily life, not a houseguest.
“It’s just family time,” Jean Gagne says. “We have season tickets with the kids, and we go to every game, and we support Senna as much as we can. We have fun. We make a night of it every game and then a win or lose, good or bad for Senna; we’re just glad to see him play and try his hardest, cheer and win together, or cope losing together.“
When Prince Philip died, eight-year-old Brooklyn Ringuette from Pictou decided to write a letter to Queen Elizabeth, commiserating with her loss. She wrote that she felt “really bad because your husband died” and thanked the Queen “for being the best queen ever.”
She didn’t really expect her reply, but to her astonishment, the monarch wrote back.
Dogs terrorizing vulnerable birds
Nova Scotia’s beaches are a haven for migrating shorebirds, but unleashed dogs often damage and befoul their habitats and chase, injure, and kill the vulnerable species.
Naturalist James Hirtle recounts a recent visit Cherry Hill Beach on the South Shore, where two dog owners ignored the posted leash rules, letting their roam freely and chase the tiny, fragile sandpipers.
“The owners might think that they are giving their dogs exercise … (but) these birds need to build up fat reserves for their long migration, and when dogs chase them the shorebirds can become stressed and not feed up enough before they head out,” he explains, “resulting in their death over water as they do not have the fat reserves needed to complete their journey.”
As Nova Scotia’s small towns, see their population continue to bleed away, making newcomers welcome will be key to their future prosperity.
That’s why the YMCA in Port Hawkesbury, which offers various immigrant settlement services, recently hosted a series of “Welcome Week” events, which drew lots of long-time residents in addition to the newcomers.
“It’s nice to see that they want to help each other,” says organizer Trina Samson. “It’s very heartwarming … We haven’t been able to have those events to welcome those people in, to introduce them to other people in the community, and find out what there is and what’s going on, and become involved.”
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Trevor has been a magazine editor and journalist in Halifax since 1998. He's won multiple Atlantic Journalism Awards and was shortlisted for the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence in 2014.
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