Roundup: Victims’ families decry closed-door RCMP testimony, researcher finds N.S. has hundreds of uncounted COVID deaths, forestry devastating bird populations, Pictou sports hall of fame in limbo

Charlene Bagley and many other members of the mass shooting victim' families are protesting against the Mass Casualty Commissions special treatment of senior RCMP officers, allowing them to testify in private without cross-examination. Photo: Raissa Tetanish

Plus: Local History — Dorothy Grant looks back at an infamous Halifax race riot

The mass shooting victims’ families had to protest in the streets before the Trudeau and McNeil governments ordered an inquiry into the 2020 attacks, and two years later, they say they’re forced to protest again, concerned with the Mass Casualty Commission‘s unusual rules that allow some RCMP officers to testify in private, without cross-examination.

Yesterday, Sgt. Andy O’Brien gave closed-door testimony about his role in the police response. He was off duty that night and had “four to five” drinks of rum, but was one of the leaders of the RCMP operation.

Bev Beaton, whose pregnant daughter-in-law was among the victims, says the commission’s “trauma-informed” approach is shielding the Mounties rather than helping victims’ families.

“There’s nothing that can traumatize us more,” she says. “There’s no picture to see, testimony to hear that can hurt us any more than we’re already hurting. Twenty-three people were murdered in two days and not once were the police ahead of him. There’s something wrong with that.”

Raissa Tetanish has the story for the Reporter.

Dr. Tara Moriarty

COVID deaths underreported
The Houston government continues withholding daily data, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of COVID-19’s spread in the province, and infectious diseases researcher Dr. Tara Moriarty says on Twitter that the numbers health officials are releasing dramatically underreport the disease’s spread.

Her research indicates that in late April, about 60 per cent of all Nova Scotians had been infected with the Omicron strain. While the government reported 255 Omicron deaths (making this the deadliest phase of the pandemic thus far), Moriarty believes the true death toll was about 508.

Overall, COVID is known to have has killed 6,285,171 people, including 40,799 in Canada and 391 Nova Scotians

World Health Organization officials add that those are only the deaths directly from COVID. When they tally deaths that doctors could have otherwise prevented had COVID not exacerbated an existing condition, the count skyrockets to 14.9 million.

Forestry devastating bird populations
If you’re noticing far less birdsong in the woods this spring, the explanation is both simple and tragic: the forestry industry is ravaging avian habitat. In a recent column for LighthouseNow, James Hirtle explores a study revealing that nine Maritime bird species have declined at a rate of 30 per cent or more over the past decade.

“The golden-crowned kinglet, one of North America’s smallest songbirds, is known for its grey belly, orange crest, and the ability to survive in harsh winter climates,” Hirtle says. “Researchers found that the golden-crowned kinglet suffered the sharpest decline in breeding habitat loss at 33 per cent.”

Read more.

Pictou sports hall of fame in limbo
Board chair Ken Langille says the future of the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame remains uncertain, as the federal government sells the building that currently houses it. The hall’s lease expires in September, and there may be a chance to stay on site for a few more months.

“That’s up in the air,” Langille says. “They asked me if I was interested, but I don’t know if we’re any better off in terms of securing a place. We’re looking for a place, even if it’s for storage.”

Steve Goodwin reports for the Pictou Advocate.

The Crown Café on Gottingen Street, shortly before demolition in 1959. Photo: HRM Archives

Recalling an infamous Halifax race riot
Few people talk about it today, but a century ago, Halifax was a hotbed of anti-Chinese racism, which culminated in riots and violent assaults.

The frenzy erupted in February 1919 at a restaurant called the Crown Café on Gottingen Street, when the Chinese owner asked a drunk soldier to pay his bill. The man turned violent, stole a handful of money, and fled, claiming he’d been attacked.

He soon returned with a mob which, as police watched, looted and ransacked Chinese-owned restaurants and businesses along Gottingen, Brunswick, and Barrington streets, badly beating the workers.

Dorothy Grant looks back in this 2021 post for Unravel Halifax.

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