Heartache in Yarmouth: As family mourned loss of 4-year-old girl, community also struggled in wake of tragedy
What is normally an enjoyable family and community event turned tragic when an accident at Yarmouth’s annual Christmas parade claimed the life of a four-year-old girl. MaCali Cormier – who, like so many others, had been enjoying the excitement of the parade – fell under a moving float as the parade was making its way on its final stretch along Starrs Road. She died from her injuries, leaving a family devastated and an entire community grief-stricken.
Many people – including parents and children – witnessed the tragedy as it unfolded. First responders and others immediately ran towards the chaotic scene to try to help, even before the emergency vehicles arrived.
Over the next couple of days, the community rallied to support the girl’s family. There were many examples of individuals or groups offering to help in one way or another. Support was being offered too to others affected by the tragedy, including first responders and staff at the hospital’s emergency department. Grief sessions also were held for members of the general public.
Hundreds turned out for a candlelight vigil in Yarmouth’s Frost Park two days after the accident to remember the youngster, known to many as Cali, and to show their support to her family and those affected by this heartbreaking incident.
Clare, Argyle were preparing bid to co-host Congrès mondial acadien in 2024
The municipalities of Clare and Argyle were preparing a joint bid to host the seventh Congrès mondial acadien (CMA) to be held in August 2024. The region last took part in the congress in 2004, when Nova Scotia hosted it. That year also marked the last time the event was held outside of New Brunswick.
The 2024 bid committee was set to launch the “J’appuie #CLARARGYLE CMA 2014” campaign to spread the word to residents of the region. (“J’appuie” is French for “I support.”) The CMA is an international gathering celebrating Acadian culture that is held every five years. Its mission is to strengthen ties among Acadian communities around the world. The event also allows host municipalities to showcase their part of the world on an international scale through activities such as family reunions, conferences and concerts. Officials said the event, which could attract up to 100,000 participants, could have positive economic spinoffs for the region.
Rotating postal strikes rolled through rural Nova Scotia
Yarmouth was among the sites of rotating strikes in Nova Scotia as unionized Canada Post employees walked off the job Nov. 8. Mail and parcels were not delivered while the workers picketed outside Canada Post locations in communities across the province.
Rotating strikes had been taking place across the country since Oct. 22 after negotiators failed to reach a deal between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Among the unsettled items in the dispute was increased support for employees sustaining injuries. Increased workload and poorly determined routes were being blamed for an increase in injuries.
“Injuries across the country are higher than ever because of the overburdening,” said Jeff Cook, CUPW representative in Yarmouth. (Later in November, the federal government passed back-to-work legislation to end the strike action.)
Town of Yarmouth would be laying off dispatchers and seeking outside service
The Town of Yarmouth was planning to proceed with the layoff of its fire dispatchers, saying efforts to identify a new cost-sharing formula for the local dispatch service had been exhausted, with no solution found. The town had been looking for the fire departments that used the dispatch service to pay more towards the annual $260,000 cost of running it.
The town noted that, under the existing system, Town of Yarmouth ratepayers were shouldering a disproportionately high burden and the town wanted this changed. The town would be looking to contract its dispatch service to a provider in western Nova Scotia. As of mid-November or so, two proposals had been received but they had yet to be fully evaluated.
In April, during contract negotiations with the union representing the town’s professional firefighters and dispatchers, the town had indicated its intention to lay off the four dispatchers and seek an outside dispatch service to save money.
New Alms House monument was unveiled in Shelburne as tribute to unmarked graves
A new monument was unveiled in Shelburne honouring the burial ground of 75 people who were residents at the Shelburne municipal home known as Alms House between 1885 and 1958. The new monument, which bears the names of all those buried there, replaced an old marker that had no names.
House opened in 1885 in Sandy Point and, after being destroyed by fire in 1913, was rebuilt on the same site in 1914. It was closed and torn down in 1958. During construction of Sandy Point Consolidated Elementary School, which was built on the north side of the former Alms House property, a cemetery was found containing many unmarked graves. They were relocated to Pine Grove Cemetery in Shelburne to make way for the school.
Local resident Wally Buchanan did the research to identify the deceased whose remains are at rest in the Pine Grove Cemetery. The Municipality of Shelburne had identified the replacement of the Alms House grave marker as a priority for 2018.
BP Canada was plugging exploratory well in Scotian Basin
BP Canada was looking to permanently seal and abandon the Aspy D-11 exploration well in the Scotian Basin after drilling a total depth of 7,400 metres.
“The project did not encounter commercial quantities of hydrocarbons,” said a news release from the Hess Corporation, BP Canada’s partner in the Scotian Basin Exploration Drilling Program. BP Canada could drill as many as seven exploratory wells in waters 230 to 370 km off the southeast coast along the Scotian Shelf by 2022, but an official with the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board said the company had not filed any applications with the board for future wells. Word of the dry well was welcomed by those concerned about the potential environmental impact of offshore drilling.
Staffing ERs at Shelburne, Digby hospitals was an ongoing challenge
There didn’t seem to be any end in sight to the closures of emergency departments at the Roseway Hospital in Shelburne and the Digby General Hospital due to physician unavailability.
“Yes, it is true we are experiencing ongoing challenges with the emergency department schedules at Roseway and Digby hospitals,” said Fraser Mooney, regional spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Health Authority. “Past experience tells us we face more scheduling challenges over certain times, such as Christmas holidays, summer months and long weekends.”
Aside from efforts to find physicians to provide ER coverage, the NSHA was still recruiting for family doctors, nurse practitioners and others to provide primary care, Mooney said, adding that there had been some success in this regard in the tri-county area.
Bringing back protected ridings included in options in commission’s interim report
The electoral districts of Argyle, Shelburne, Queens and Clare would be restored and a new one of Digby-Annapolis created in three of four options being recommended by the Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission in its interim report released Nov. 28.
The 84-page report – Striking a balance between effective representation and voter parity – was a follow-up to the first round of public consultations held in late summer/early fall as part of the independent review process.
The commission was planning to have another series of public meetings in January and February 2019, with a final report due by April 1.
Funding was announced for community centre to be built in Acaciaville
There was big news for a project that was four years in the making when $5.6 million in multi-level government funding was announced for Jordantown-Acaciaville-Conway Betterment Association’s proposed community centre.
The Nov. 30 announcement was made at the Acaciaville Baptist Church, across from where the centre will be built. The project is the result of more than four decades of community work for a safe and inclusive space where community members can celebrate their culture without fear of prejudice.
JACBA had first been formed in the 1970s after black students faced systemic racism and discrimination within the education system. The group had re-formed in 2003 when such incidents again were reported en masse. Speakers at the event where funding for the community centre was announced included longtime JACBA member Kerry Johnson. “Our community has suffered, both educationally and economically. Each space within the building we feel will address this disparity,” Johnson said. The facility, he said, will provide space to “gather, to engage and to learn in a community that respects diversity and inclusion.”