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…look at who made The List!

October 8, 2014

After I posted the Falconry post of a few days ago (“did you know you can get a license for that?”), some new readers asked me “what were my credentials” regarding my occasional discussion of “youth issues. In essence, what made me an expert on youth issues?

I’ll try to be a brief as possible:

I currently work at an emergency homeless youth shelter here in Halifax, which is located, quite literally, between two of the richest private schools in the Maritimes. (And, if that metaphor was not enough, we are also beside a Buddhist Temple. (I kid you not!)

Chaos, wealth, and the pursuit of serenity…we are all neighbours on the same street. 

Talk about parallel existences in the multiverse universe! 

So, when I recently wrote about the young woman getting her falconry license at Sacred Heart – one of the elite private schools not two blocks from us – and the fact that our shelter kids have to walk by that notice board on a daily basis, and read how one of the girls at Sacred Heart had just got her falconry license, while they walk their way to a homeless shelter thinking to themselves “at least its a warm bed, a hot shower, and 3 meals a day. …And they have dry socks.” – that was were I was coming from when I wrote that article.

My partner got a scholarship to study at King’s, so we moved here from Toronto, where I had worked in youth programming for 20 years at United Way funded non-profits , in both “inner-city” (i.e. poor) communities, and in the wider Toronto community.

Not surprisingly, these neighbourhoods of racial minorities, cultural immigrants, and refugees, are the exact same neighbourhoods Torontonians (just like Haligonians) like to throw their street addicts, their welfare families, and those with mental health problems, and/or intellectual deficits.

I have worked with youth, youth workers, lawyers, teachers, social workers, clergy, and business people from most of the major ethnic and racially-identified communities in Toronto.

I have also worked on Aboriginal Reserves – (a bullshit notion, if ever there was one) – both in Canada and the US.

Further back I was lucky enough to have worked on community youth projects in Indonesia, Ghana, Costa Rica, and Argentina.

(end of official credentials)


So, today I wake up to hear on the CBC Radio morning news that the numbers are in, and – again – Nova Scotia is at, or near the bottom of national provincial rankings when it comes to dealing with “youth issues”. Depression, unemployment rates, suicide, poverty, obesity, crime rates,  wage earnings, levels of education. We are at or near the bottom when it comes to dealing with any of these youth issues.

It’s not a very nice list of lists to be on.

Basically – in layman’s terms – when it comes to dealing with youth issues, Nova Scotia sucks.

And, as someone who has worked with “youth” for the better part of 25 years, I can tell youth Nova Scotia sucks large!

Nova Scotia sucks in the way (statistically speaking) Alabama, and Georgia, and Tennessee suck in the US.

Think about that for a moment… We get the same national rankings as southern US states.

Like I said, its not a nice list to be on.


But don’t think this lets the other provinces off the hook.

Sure, Nova Scotia sucks relative to the rest of Canada, but the other  provinces are themselves now only ranked as “mediocre” when compared to about a dozen higher scoring American states.

And, this too is only relative, as Canada and the US are two of the worst nations in the industrialized world when it comes to dealing with youth issues. Canada and the US are near the very bottom of the list actually, along with countries like Turkey, and the Ukraine.


Needless to say it doesn’t bode well for Nova Scotia’s future when the current established generation treats the up-and-coming generation like shit. (If my profanity sounds too harsh for you, I’ll refer you back to “the list”. And that we’re on it.)

Nova Scotians continue to let a handful of families run the Maritimes like its their own Medieval Fiefdom. (Does no one get the irony that Canada’s 3rd richest family comes from New Brunswick (a place even poorer than Nova Scotia), and that they are the 5th largest landowners in North America? Does no one mind that two families control all the new car sales in Halifax?)

The economy continues to leak water like we’re the Titanic, and so, what good jobs there are my generation is holding on to with dear life. And what jobs that do become available, go to one of their friends of a friend.

In response, most of the talented, and the ambitious, have left for places west.

And why shouldn’t they? The priorities here are all ass backwards. I go to the supermarket and I have to pay $4 for a bag of Nova Scotia grown apples, yet useless-shit-for-calories-Kraft-Dinner is on special at 50 cents a box.

When the city had an operational YMCA (it currently doesn’t, and won’t have until 2017) most kids couldn’t afford the fees to use it, or pay for the bus tickets to get down to it – located as it was (and will be) in one of the wealthier neighbourhoods in South Halifax.

On the same day this summer when CBC announced that a 5-bed youth homeless shelter outside of Halifax was closing due to lack of funding, a report was leaked to the media revealing how the province had spent $6 million (and still counting) trying to float some old boat that most people really don’t give two craps about; and that the person the province had just hired to try and float that damn $6 million piece of shit Bluenose, was being paid $6000 a week to try and do so.

So, not only are we poor down here – with all the resultant problems that come when communities are poor – we also can’t seem to find our priorities.

We pay someone $6000 a week to fix a boat, but we won’t spend $50,000 to keep a homeless shelter open.

We’d rather spend $100,000 a year to house a youth with mental health problems in provincial jail, then spend the $500,000 a year that would give 50 youth with mental health problems assisted housing and a chance to fix their lives.

Without a well-maintained generation coming up behind us we’re truly fucked!

Cultures, Communities, Provinces – call them what you will – if you don’t look after your kids, your community will be soon gone.

That’s the Law of History. (Probably the First Law of History.)


As an outsider – I have only been here two years – I see two fundamental battle lines forming over who will get to decide the future of this province.

And, like all battles in the annals of History – it is fundamentally pitting conservatives against progressives.

One side is pro-immigrant. The other anti-immigrant.

One side wants to protect the environment. The other wants wealth extraction.

One side wants to support public education. The other has extensive tax loopholes and sends their kids to elite private schools.

On one side, there is a fear of losing cultural identity. Losing traditional ways of life. Losing the privilege of race. Or class.

The other (younger) group, wants to build a middle-class future whichever way they can. If that means new immigration policies, anti-discrimation laws, new ways of seeing the world, new trading partners – if that means a multicultural Nova Scotia – then that’s where they want to take the province.

One side is a slow death. (The Second Law of History.)

The other is a hopeful – at least we will try! – future.

The latest reports are in –

so far, death is winning…

One Comment leave one →
  1. Marcia Weiner permalink
    October 8, 2014 3:21 pm

    This is a wonderful blog. Having all the stats sure does help to make the point!

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