Black News File

·6 min read

Premier Tim Houston made the appointments after Simmonds and Lachance were nominated by their respective caucuses, despite having the option with a majority government to appoint someone from his own caucus.

“That's obviously an important milestone, and (Simmonds is) a quality, quality person and will be an excellent MLA, so I'm very, very pleased that she's advanced as a deputy Speaker," Houston told reporters.

In her role as critic for Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, Simmonds wrote a public letter to Houston the previous week, criticizing him for his appointment of white MLA Pat Dunn as Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

The letter also made reference to another letter to Houston from the Association of Black Social Workers, African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia, and the Health Association of African Canadians where they also took aim at Dunn’s appointment as well as Houston’s dismissal of Black female civil servants, Dr. Késa Munroe-Anderson and Dr. OmiSoore Dryden.

Simmonds' letter also expressed disappointment in the recently released mandate by the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

In part, Simmonds’ letter to Houston read:

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Speaking of Angela Simmonds, Zane Woodford reported last week that the RCMP sent a ‘problematic’ e-mail to members of Halifax city council after Simmonds and her husband, Halifax city police Supt. Dean Simmonds, claims of racial profiling towards Cole Harbour RCMP. The highly-publicized claims in which the couple were stopped by RCMP at gunpoint this past summer.

The letter was written by RCMP Insp. Jeremie Landry in his former capacity as acting chief officer of Halifax-district RCMP.

A copy of the letter was included in a letter to the chair of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners, Lindell Smith (who is also the Black city councillor for District 9). In a copy provided to the Examiner upon request, Insp. Landry’s letter was completely redacted.

The redaction cites sections of the Municipal Government Act that, in part, say the disclosure “could reasonably be expected to “harm law enforcement;” and “harm the effectiveness of investigative techniques or procedures currently used, or likely to be used, in law enforcement.”

The revelations were made by a former commissioner of the Board of Police Commissioners, Coun. Waye Mason. He expressed a few concerns, including that the letter was sent to city councilors rather than the Board of Police Commissioners, which the RCMP is responsible to. Mason also said not sending the letter to all councillors could be potentially divisive.

As Woodford reported last week:

A review is currently underway regarding Halifax’s dual policing system with the RCMP.

Earlier this month, the RCMP announced that they will not be apologizing to Halifax’s Black community following statistical data, uncovered in 2017, that showed discrimination towards Black people by police in Halifax.

Following the announcement, I reached out to Halifax city councillors whose districts are either serviced by the RCMP, have a high concentration of Black residents, or both.

Coun. Tony Mancini, who put forth the motion for the city’s review of its policing model since responded said, “I am extremely disappointed to hear the RCMP has decided against apologizing to the African Nova Scotian community. My April 6 motion to Council for a Policing Review is more relevant now than ever.”

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Hip-Hop/R&B duo, Kaleb Simmonds and Andru Winter spoke to the Examiner in a story last week about their partnership, their music, other various projects, as well as a recent health scare that Simmonds experienced.

Following the release of their latest single "No Control" earlier this month, Simmonds checked himself into the hospital after experiencing two weeks of chest pains.

“I have heart issue problems in the family, so I thought that it made sense for me to look into it,” Simmonds said.

“My father took a heart attack last year and that was scary so man — and he told me, you know, he didn’t realize he was taking a heart attack. He would have never known.”

“When you think something’s going on with your body don’t sit around and wonder for longer than a week. I would just look right into it. You’re better off knowing than not knowing,” Simmonds said when asked what advice he would give other young Black men of his generation.

Simmonds and Winter have known each other since they were kids.

“I met [Simmonds] for the first time when I’m in like Grade 7,” said Winter. “I used to go up to him in the hallways and kick a rap for him because it was known that he was like a musician, and that he was a beatboxer, and a rapper — all these things … I wanted to rap. So I’d just walk up to him… I’d sit around for days trying to write a rap that would impress him.”

Years later, the two of them reconnected while living in Toronto.

“It’s like a camaraderie when you’re in Ontario and you see brothers from down home,” Simmonds said. “So that was automatic. But, you know, we kind of connected through music.”

Since then, the two of them have collaborated on a clothing brand, several music projects including their 2019 EP album Paid, and a performance at the legendary House of Blues in Las Vegas.

“We were in House of Blues performing and people were screaming for us bro because we were from Canada,” said Winter. “Like, we were surprised! Like when they announced ‘We have special guests from Canada,’ the place blew up. And me and Kaleb were looking at each other like ‘What?’”

Winter has family connections to the Black community in Truro, Nova Scotia. Simmonds has family connections to the Black community of North Preston. They both, also, have family connections to the former Black community of Africville.

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The Nova Scotia Advocate updated a story last week about Ross Gray, a Black man, who says that he was racially profiled by a worker for the Halifax Harbour Bridges (HHB) this past summer, and condescendingly falsely accused of riding his bicycle in a pedestrian lane over the bridge.

Gray says he “was spoken down to and bluntly told that he was lying when he explained he walked all the way across the bridge, bicycle in hand,” according to the article. Gray says the commissionaire who approached him claimed they had surveillance footage of their claims, only for the Halifax Harbour Bridges to later admit that that wasn’t true and apologized to Gray.

Gray told Robert Devet wrote in the Nova Scotia Advocate:

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The East Preston Empowerment Academy (EPEA) was founded in 2014 out of the East Preston Baptist Church. The Academy offers various adult learning programs, GED programs, programs, a Red Seal program, and high school and university math and science tutoring.

A new study has shown that the Academy has had a direct impact in contributing just over $1 million dollars to the province’s GDP, from 2016 to 2020.

In a press release, EPEA said, in part:

Anita Shinde of Deloitte Canada, which conducted the study, said:

Speaking with Global Halifax’s Amber Fryday, EPEA president, Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard said:

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Matthew Byard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Halifax Examiner

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