Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Halifax Race Riot. It DID Happen. I Know. I Was There.

I was out with co-workers for dinner at The Keg last week. 

If you like steak, and you’re in Halifax, go to The Keg.  ‘nuff said.

From there, the group of us went to something called a ‘Captured Room’ for a ‘team play’ experience.  It was fun, but that’s not what this post is about. 

And we didn’t make it out of the room in the allotted time.  Damnit.

In fact, I’m writing this post from somewhere in the ‘1943 Halifax’ room.  I’m now a prop.

Over dinner, those of us at our particular table started discussing Halifax’s bar scene, ‘back in the day’.

Apparently, I was the oldest at the table, since the others had no idea about the majority of bars I brought up. 

Back in MY day, it was Bogarts, Scoundrals, JJ’s, Peddlers and Rosa’s that were the spots to go (among others like The Graduate, Split Crow, Your Father’s Mustache etc.).

None of these bars are here anymore, except the Mustache and Split Crow. Those two are still kicking around. 

Others have taken their place, but the ‘good old bars’, as I remember them, are now gone.

The local bar scene at that time wasn’t necessarily the ‘good old days’ for everyone, though.  The bar scene in the early 90’s in Halifax was racially charged and you could feel the tension on any weekend night, in any downtown bar. 

And so in the same conversation I asked, ‘Do you (looking at the one Haligonian at the table) remember the race riot back in the early 90’s?  It started at Rosa’s.’

Nobody, including the Haligonian, knew what I was talking about.

I haven’t heard many people talk about that riot over the years.

Keep in mind, social media wasn’t even a thought back then, so it wouldn’t have been blasted all over the internet. 

But although it wasn’t as huge as the LA riots, it was a big deal here, at the time.

It was a riot.  Crowds of angry people were swarming down Gottingen Street breaking windows.  Police in riot gear were everywhere. 

How do I know?

I was there.  Right in the middle of it all.

As our group left The Keg and was walking down to the Captured Room location on Barrington, we happened to walk by The Carleton Bar and Grill and I said to the others, “THIS was Rosa’s.  THIS is where the riot started!’

 Image taken from HERE 

I wasn't in/at the bar when it started, but I heard the commotion when they got to Gottingen St. because my boyfriend at the time (now ex-husband) lived only one block away, on Creighton, and we were at his apartment. 

We heard the screaming.  We heard the breaking glass.  We heard the sirens.

So, of course, being 20somethings with no fear … we decided to check it out.

Now, my memory from 26yrs ago is a little foggy at the best of times, but what I specifically remember from that night, aside from all the chaos, was running between the buildings to get down to the street, rounding the corner and coming face to face with a wall of police officers, in full riot gear.

I also remember very clearly what the one officer closest to us screamed at us… 

‘Get the Fuck out of here … NOW!’ 

Apparently he didn’t think two white kids should be running headfirst into a race riot.

Once I saw what was actually happening on the street, the destruction and chaos, I can’t say I disagreed with him. 

We ran.  In the opposite direction from all the craziness in the street.

Back in the safety of the apartment, we listened to all the commotion a block away.

It was the one and only real ‘riot’ I’ve ever been in, if only for a few minutes, but it was an experience, even with my shitty memory, that I never forgot. 

I’ve never really understood the racial tension that envelopes the city I’ve lived in since I was 18.

They, whoever 'they' are, say that ‘race relations have improved’, over the years.  But have they, really?

I’m a white kid from small town New Brunswick.  I grew up in a town that had literally only a handful of African Canadian families. 

To me, those few African Canadian kids were just other kids in school.  No different than the rest of us.  No hate. No racial tension.  None that I was aware of, anyway.

I guess that’s why I find it so hard to understand the racial profiling and racism that still runs rampant in Halifax today. 

People say its better.  They say there is no racism here, but … I suspect if you ask an African Canadian living here in Nova Scotia, they might have a different perspective.

I wasn't able to find much online about the night of the riot.  Like I said, it seems like people have either forgotten, didn't hear about it, or just don't discuss it.  At least the people *I'VE* asked.

I did find a couple of things...

Twenty years ago, racial tension in the city reached its tipping point.

A Halifax bouncer turned away several young black men from Rosa’s Cantina for reasons they felt had more to do with the colour of their skin than the fact they had been involved in an earlier scuffle on Argyle Street.

The white men involved in that same fight were already inside. The fallout would come the following night..." 

You can read the rest of the full article here:

I also found this video of 'How Things Have Changed Since ...' 

The Halifax Race Riot.

People may not remember, or may not talk about it, but it DID happen.

I know it did.  I was there. 


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Because They Needed It. And Because ... #BeccaToldMeTo

I’m the type of person who tries to do random acts of kindness (or RAOKs) on a regular basis.  Whether it be simply holding the door open for someone with a smile, giving a friend a ride to the store, or buying a sandwich for the homeless guy on the corner.

It doesn’t have to be anything 'BIG', or expensive, but I do try to live my life helping others when I can.

It's all about good karma!

I know what it’s like to need help.  I know what it’s like to be given help, and I also know the sting of being denied help, so when I can, I help others.

And while I don’t necessarily go out each day looking for specific RAOKs to do, sometimes they just fall in my lap, and when they do, I run with them, or roll with the RAOK.

Even more so since I heard about #BeccaToldMeTo a couple of months ago.

Not familiar with #BeccaToldMeTo?  Google it after you finish this.

Friday on my way home from work, I heard on the radio that a woman had given birth to a baby in the bathroom of the Superstore that afternoon.

WOW, I thought!  That must have been quite the experience for Mom, staff and customers, but I didn’t think much else about it once the news was over.

Saturday morning I slept in and spent a lazy late morning/early afternoon scrolling through Facebook with my cup of coffee.

One of the first posts I saw was from a woman who lives on my street.

She was posting in the ‘Buy & Sell” about the woman who had the baby in the store the previous day. New Mama is this poster’s family member.

Turns out, not only was the baby not expected that day, at that time, the baby wasn’t expected … at all.

The woman had no idea she was pregnant, no idea she was giving birth until she went into the bathroom, and there he was ... ready to make his appearance.

Now, before you all get all, ‘HOW could she not know she was pregnant?!?!?!?’ on me … take a deep breath … it happens.

Statistically it doesn’t happy often, but it DOES happen. 

They have a 10 month old baby girl at home. YUP.  This couple JUST had a baby 10 months ago. 

Maybe she had periods during the past months, or maybe her body never felt the same again after having the first baby.

Apparently the new baby was sitting behind the placenta. When that happens, an expectant mother won't necessarily feel the kicks and movement as other women do. 

I don't know this woman personally, but I do know that after delivering a baby (only 10 months ago), A LOT went on with her body.

A LOT goes on physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually after a woman gives birth. 

  • Maybe she had a bit of postpartum.
  • Maybe she hadn't lost the baby weight from the first one, so wouldn't notice weight gain.
  • Maybe she showed no signs of morning sickness or other symptoms. 
  • Maybe stress/fear/denial. 

Who knows why she didn’t know? I don't.

I only know it's NOT our place to question. Or judge.

It's not our place to leave nasty comments on social media sites about it. 

It DOES happen. A baby boy arrived into this world. 

Our job as compassionate human beings is simply to wish them the best or say nothing at all. 

And that's all I have to say about that.

So … back to this Saturday post.  I see the family member on my street posting that because this little guy was unexpected, they have NOTHING for him. 

No crib, no car seat, no diapers, no essentials. 


I felt bad when I read her post.  I felt bad for the Mama, because I’m sure she must be in shock, along with everything else she’s feeling. 

I felt bad for them as parents, having to scramble to find EVERYTHING for a new baby. 

Yes, I felt bad, but since mine are now 17 and 21yrs old, I had nothing to offer them.  So I closed Facebook. 

The next thing I did was check my email. 

And that’s when fate stepped in. 

The first message I saw was from a gentleman on Freecycle, who was giving away … BABY STUFF! 

I messaged him right away and told him if he still had the items, I wanted to pick them up that afternoon. 

What was originally on my to-do list for that day?  Cleaning my house and getting groceries. 

Instead, I went to this man’s house and picked up a diaper genie, outdoor swing, books, car seat inserts, a child’s laundry basket, potty seat (remember 10mth at home already), a toy and stuffy for the crib that plays music and a whole slew of giant foam blocks for the floor. 

I brought everything home and washed it up. 

Then I went shopping.  Because although I was happy to take all those items off his hands that both children could use, they weren’t really necessities, aside from maybe the Diaper Genie.

I bought diapers (not the newborn, because I figured everyone else would get newborn, so I went for the NEXT size up since baby would need diapers as he grows), a re-fill for the Diaper Genie, wipes and refills, shampoo/body wash, nighttime bath soap, butt cream, Vaseline, baby thermometer, rattle/toy, soothers, bottles (since I wasn’t sure if she was going to breast or bottle feed, I got a few just in case).

And baby crackers for the 10mo old.  Because with all this excitement about a new baby, I didn’t want the little girl to feel left out.

For Mama, I picked up a few bottles of nail polish (for when she's ready to think about doing them again), some Lindor chocolate, and a Tim Hortons gift card, because I figured both new parents could use the coffee. 

And in Mama’s bag?  I also included a #BeccaToldMeTo card. 

Then … I sent an email to the woman on my street to confirm that she would be home, loaded up my car with ‘baby stuff’ and headed over to her place. 

The only thing that needs to be said, is that they were appreciative.   

Very VERY appreciative. 

But that’s not the end of the story.

Oh NO, my friends.  Because what I’ve learned is that kindness brings about MORE kindness and that’s exactly what happened next.

When I left the woman’s house, I went to my corner store, where I stop every day.

When the owner asked me how my day was going, I told him.  I felt really good about dropping off all that stuff.

Those parents needed everything.  I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what they needed, but I was glad I did what I could.

I told him a bit about what I had done that afternoon, and the next thing I knew, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a $50 bill and asked me to give it to the family.

I couldn’t believe it.

He told me he’d had a rough day, and wanted to do something nice for someone else.

I was overwhelmed.

Kindness brings about more kindness, people.  I believe it.

I left the store, returned to the woman’s house and gave her the money.  When I told her who it was from, she cried.  I cried.  It was a moment.

But isn’t that what life is all about?


Later that night, when telling one of my sons what I had done, he asked (not unkindly, more out of curiousity), ‘Why did you do that?  Why did you go and spend money on someone you don’t know, when you’re complaining that our power bill spiked by $1000 last month?’.

I explained to him that the power will get sorted out (because there's NO WAY our bill jumped to $1400 for Mar & Apr, from $400 in Jan & Feb.) but a baby boy just came into this world with absolutely nothing, to parents who are probably feeling very overwhelmed at the moment. 

And that small amount I spent on the baby wouldn’t put a dent in the power, but it might make a difference to those parents, at least for the first few days until they get everything sorted out.

I did it because they needed it.

That's what I wanted him to get.

When you can help someone, if you can help someone, you do.

Then as I waked out of his room, I turned around at the door and said with a smile, 'And because #BeccaToldMeTo '.

Why am I sharing all this with you?

Some may think it's to pat myself on the back.  But they'd be wrong.

I don't always tell people about the random acts of kindness I do.

Sometimes I do, like in THIS POST about the homeless guy I ran into a couple of years ago.

But most days, I don't.

No, I occasionally do share these stories with you, because if ONE person makes the choice to be kind to someone after reading this, then THAT'S what makes me feel good.

I will have influenced someone to consciously do something nice for another person.

That's good karma.  For all.

That night I received a message from the woman on my street, thanking me again for what I had done.  Along with some very kind words, she ended it with, 'We will all do things now because #beccatoldmeto."

And that's why I do what I do.

Spreadin' the love, people, spreadin' the love.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go recharge & replenish my kindness dispenser.

I'm going to need every ounce of kindness, goodwill and patience I can get, when I have to talk to the customer service rep about that mother f*$#'in power bill!  UGH!

Breathe, Kim.  Breathe.

Oh, and don't forget, if you haven't done so already, make sure to google #BeccaToldMeTo.

And then go, do something nice for someone.

It'll make ya feel good.  Promise.