Roundup: 3 COVID deaths, fighting rural homelessness, New Glasgow police charge 5 drivers, pandemic has big impact on animal shelters

Laddy, a cat from the SHAID shelter who found a permanent home recently. Photo: Submitted

Plus: Author Lindsay Ruck shares the inspiring stories of Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians

Health officials also reporting three new COVID deaths in Nova Scotia: a man in his 60s in the Central Zone, a woman in her 70s from the Central Zone, and a man in his 90s from the Northern Zone.

“This never gets any easier,” Premier Tim Houston says in a press release. “COVID-19 has taken a toll on us, but Nova Scotians are strong. Please continue to work together and follow the public health advice as we lift restrictions.”

Since the COVID pandemic began in March 2020, the disease has killed 191 people in Nova Scotia, and 36,046 people across Canada.

Health officials estimate there are 1,858 active cases of COVID in Nova Scotia, with 263 new lab-confirmed cases reported yesterday. But those numbers don’t reflect COVID’s true extent. Houston’s government recently stopped widespread testing and follow-up, saying that the pervasiveness of the Omicron strain requires focusing on vulnerable areas like hospitals.

Health officials also reported two new COVID hospitalizations yesterday, for a total of 53 people getting treatment in specialized units, including 12 in ICU. There are also 128 people who were admitted to hospital for another reason but tested positive for COVID (or were in a COVID unit but no longer require specialized care), and 171 who contracted the disease in hospital.

Houston and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, are scheduled to webcast an update today at 3 p.m.

Lindsay Ruck. Photo: WFNS

Stories of courage and achievement
While Lindsay Ruck was in school, she learned about famous African Americans like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, but never about Black Atlantic Canadians. However, her grandfather, the late Calvin Woodrow Ruck, educated her on the No. 2 Black Construction Battalion. (Learn more about the battalion in this 2016 Halifax Magazine story.)

Armed with that knowledge, Ruck wanted to write a book for kids about the trailblazing Black First World War soldiers. As she talked with Nimbus Publishing, the idea grew to Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians, an illustrated children’s book and Ruck’s third title, published in January 2021.

The book covers over 50 people who played an important part in history, inspiring stories of achievement, courage, and perseverance.

“While their stories are very different, there’s an underlying theme, and that is overcoming, that is beating the odds, standing up and saying ‘we’re not a fan of the status quo, we’re going to do something about it,” the author says. “It’s a great lesson for young and old to see the fight people have in themselves and knowing that ‘this isn’t right and I am going to fight this.’”

She tells Ameeta Vohra about it in this interview from the free Unravel Halifax archives.

Fighting rural homelessness
Nova Scotia’s housing crunch isn’t just a city problem: communities around the province are reporting a dearth of affordable housing. In the Canso Strait area, two organizations are tackling the problem.

Cape Breton Community Housing Association in Port Hawkesbury and A Roof Over Your Head in Antigonish are each getting $20,000 to fund housing support services and hotel rooms when shelters aren’t an option. The money helps, but doesn’t solve the larger problem.

“Antigonish and Guysborough … are at a disadvantage right out of the gate because we do not have an emergency shelter,” advocate Anita Stewart says in a press release. “We need emergency housing for individuals and families that find themselves homeless for a variety of reasons. We have needed emergency housing for several years now. It is very frustrating trying to assist clients find affordable housing when there is a lack of housing stock and a lack of affordable units.”

Jake Boudrot has details for the Reporter.

Pandemic has big impact on animal shelters
When the pandemic first hit in March 2020, Nova Scotian animal shelters had to suspend their routine spay and neuter operations, and they’re still dealing with the consequences, which the housing crisis compounds.

“An unprecedented number of families lost their homes and were forced to give up their pets,” says Kelly Inglis, manager of SHAID Tree Animal Shelter near Bridgewater. “Many more simply left the area and left their pets behind; we had concerned neighbours calling daily. At the same time, we were facing a huge backlog with local vets because of the pandemic pet boom, but we still managed to get all the animals spayed and neutered.”

In an average year, SHAID takes in 250 to 300 homeless cats and kittens. In 2021, the tally was 511.

Read more in LighthouseNow.

Five drivers face charges
New Glasgow Regional Police charged five people with impaired driving over the long weekend. The accused include a 51-year-old man from Guysborough County, a 33-year-old man from Pictou County, and a 28-year-old man, a 30-year-old man, and 52-year-old woman from Colchester County.

The Pictou Advocate reports.

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