Roundup: COVID keeps killing, Pictou food bank seeks new home, outcry as pedophile settles in Eastern Shore community, Liverpool hosts concert for Ukraine
The documentary "Traveling While Black" uses VR technology to help viewers understand life in segregation-era America. Photo: YouTube
By Trevor J. Adams 16 June 2022 Share this story
Plus: Could building compassion for our fellow humans be the best use of virtual-reality technology?
The rush to return to a “normal” pre-pandemic way of life is killing Canadians, cautions infectious-diseases expert Dr. Tara Moriarty, head of the eponymous Moriarty Lab in Toronto.
“Forty per cent of all COVID deaths in Canada have now been people younger than 80,” she tweets, noting that 75 per cent of those deaths have come since vaccination campaigns began, and 40 per cent during the current Omicron wave. “With so much of our COVID death now happening in younger people, the excess mortality will be disproportionately higher … The urgency of normal has cost so many lives.”
Premier Tim Houston’s government continues withholding daily data, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of COVID-19’s spread in the province, but World Health Organization (WHO) officials caution it’s still rampant, tallying 571,825 new cases globally in the last 24 hours.
So far, COVID is known to have has killed 6,311,088 people, including 41,470 in Canada and 421 Nova Scotians.
Sex offender worries community
Country Harbour residents recently gathered to share their fears and strategize after learning a convicted pedophile is now living in their Eastern Shore community.
They say that Gerald Paul Ward, who has no direct ties to the community, is currently living in a tent on a property that’s owned by another man, who also faces sexual assault charges. The 55-year-old Ward was sentenced last year on two counts of sexual interference and two counts of making or distributing child pornography.
“The meeting was to get the community together and get everybody on the same level of what to expect and what we plan on doing to hopefully have him removed from the community,” resident Courtney Haynes says. “To get everyone on board to know what to watch for: like he’s not allowed to be at the playground.”
Seeing through someone else’s eyes
While local businesses try to figure out how to profit from virtual-reality technology, local researchers say its most useful application may be building empathy.
“Immersion can yield a more compassionate response,” researcher Derek Reilly says, noting a Canadian-American documentary simulation called Traveling While Black (by director Roger Ross Williams), about the risks Blacks faced travelling in 20th-century America.
It’s set at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a safe place to stop and eat. It is far more engaging than watching a movie on flatscreen: being there, looking around the room, seeing the faces, talking to people about their experiences. Once you start, it’s an inescapable empathy builder.
Pictou food bank seeks new home
The Pictou West Food Bank has outgrown its current home in the basement of the town’s municipal building.
“It’s been great they provided space for us for so many years,” says board of directors vice-chair John MacDonald. “They realize we need a new spot. We’re looking for a new location, whether it’s an existing building or a new building. That’s the priority for us: to find a new location. We’ll get one eventually.”
Support for Ukraine
On June 22, Liverpool’s Astor Theatre hosts the Queens Cares Concert for Ukraine that was postponed from Apr. 30. The lineup includes local musical acts Amy Grant and Tim Whynot, Jeff Sponagle, Lauren Amirault, Ashley Goodwin and Brian Davidson, Thomas Lenco, and the Bluegrass Wingdings from Yarmouth.
Admission is by donation with the proceeds going to the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.
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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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