Strange crop for this time of the year along Highway 6, near Margate

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Motorists travelling this stretch of Highway 6 on March 1, near Margate, saw something unusual on the road’s shoulders and in streaks in the middle of the pavement – thousands of tightly-packed kernels of corn. Provincial officials did not return phone calls by 5 pm of that date to explain the presence of large quantities of this crop, but an internet search unearthed stories in other parts of North America of corn replacing road salt for melting ice. The corn helped reduce the environmental damage caused by large quantities of salt washed into nearby watercourses and absorbed into vegetation. It is not known whether the corn was dumped by accident or deliberately.
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Black History Month celebrated at Kensington library with drums and traditional dance

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Mufaro Chakabuda, left with Kat Carroll during a drumming session.

Mufaro Chakabuda, who was born and grew up in Zimbabwe, was a special guest at the Kensington Heritage Library on Feb 23, during Black History Month on PEI. She gave a compelling presentation on her native country and the 54 nations that make up the continent of Africa.

The presentation also featured traditional drumming and dancing, with everyone getting to their feet to join her in ceremonial dances.
She said Africa’s largest nation by population is Nigeria, with 150 million people.

Mufaro went on to say Ethiopian Airlines is the largest airline in Africa and is bigger than Air Canada and British Airways.
There are literally thousands of different tribes in Africa, with each tribe having its own language and culture.

In many ways African nations are ahead of the developed world. There is much more to Africa than the grim stories that routinely make news headlines.
Rwanda, for instance, leads every other nation on earth in an important environmental initiative.

“They are the first country in the world to introduce a no-plastic policy,” she said.

Anyone with plastic items in their possession, even a toothbrush, can be charged with a criminal offence.

Mufaro, who arrived in Canada at the age of 19 to study at Dalhousie University, went on to found the Maritime Centre for African Dance with just $20. She also founded a publishing house and a charity for scholarships directed towards Zimbabweans.

Mufaro Chakabuda shares a lighter moment with Kensington youngster Zoe Carroll.

Zoe Carroll, after a miscue or two quickly picked up the beat of Mufaro’s drumming.

She has won numerous national and regional awards for her entrepreneurial accomplishments and her community leadership.
Mufaro divides her time between her work in Canada and her native Zimbabwe.

She said she hoped her presentation, in addition to entertaining people, would leave everyone with a “realistic picture of the continent.”

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Black History Month

Viola Desmond

 
Black History on Prince Edward Island
By Dale Amundson, Editor, SeniorsPEI.ca, February 2, 2019

Again this year there is a paucity of events related to Black History Month. A few related events at public libraries – one at each of 5 libraries and a second event at the Confederation Centre Public Library. The only listing related to Black History Month on the PEI Government website is of these events. Even the Black Cultural Society of PEI facebook page has nothing more to offer.

One wonders if there is a belief that there is no black history on Prince Edward Island. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only is there a black history, there is also a history of slaves and slave ownership. Some of Prince Edward Island’s most prominent residents were slave owners.

Under French rule, it was legal to own slaves on Île St.-Jean. However, the first record of enslaved Africans was in 1784 when 16 “negro servants” arrived with the Loyalists; by 1785 there were almost 100. After 1799, when the name was changed to Prince Edward Island, there were enslaved Africans in Charlottetown and Summerside. In PEI, perhaps due to the small number, enslaved Africans were allowed to be baptized and to marry legally. The wealthy owned enslaved Africans, including businessman William Shurman and the Lieutenant-Governor Edmund Fanning.

Many people are not aware that there were black people on Prince Edward Island in the 19th century, but there were. A black community known as The Bog, developed around Euston and Rochford streets in Charlottetown, near Government Pond, in the 1800s.

Most of the descendants of these black Islanders have been assimilated into the population and are no longer a visible minority. There are black people in thousands of families, from one end of the Island to the other.

In 2014, as part of the celebration marking the 150 anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, a stage production called Tales from the Old Stock: Stories and Songs of P.E.I Black History was performed at the 2014 Celebration Zone. It chronicled some of the missing pieces of Island history through skits and storytelling, as reported in the Guardian at the time.

Historian Bruce Ziff maintains that the first “abolitionist statute” in the Empire was Prince Edward Island’s 1781 act regulating slavery. The only statute in the post-revolutionary, second British Empire to regulate slaves explicitly. A detailed academic analysis of slavery on Prince Edward Island in the article Slave Life and Slave Law in Colonial Prince Edward Island, 1769-1825 by Harvey Amani Whitfield provides some compelling information, along with detailed footnotes and a bibliography. A list of known slave names or identities exists in the appendix of the article.

The 1781 act regulating slavery was abolished in 1825 by an act of the Legislature. By that time there were no slaves remaining on the island.

Those of us who care that the history of Prince Edward Island is represented honestly and inclusively look forward to the time when the Government is willing to commit resources sufficient to bring awareness of the meaning and importance of Black History Month, and black history generally to everyone on the Island.

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Big changes coming to Stanley Bridge Centre building this summer

By Jim Brown

By this summer visitors returning to the popular Stanley Bridge Centre, home of successful farmers markets, history circles and concerts, will see some big changes.

For one thing, the port-a-potty at the back of the building will be gone and a leaky roof fixed.

As much as $35,000 will be spent making necessary improvements, which should make it easier for food vendors to set up.

“We’re going to do a renovation that will expand our entrance, give us washrooms, give us a kitchen, and completely do the roof (including the steeple),” said Don Reid, a member of the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society’s board of directors.

The work includes a ramp to improve access for people with disabilities.

Mr Reid hopes to have the project started sometime in mid to late March and finished in time for the busy tourist season.
“Right now I have two, possibly three vendors who are interested in renting the centre from us.”

The board has even bigger plans for the future, which would require more than $400,000 to completely renovate the building, including putting in a new foundation.

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Parks Canada issues response to Resort Municipality concerns about heavy tree damage from recent storms

Story and photos by Jim Brown
Jim Brown can be reached at peijim@hotmail.com

For weeks Resort Municipality councilors expressed concerns about the fate of hundreds of fallen trees in the Cavendish area under Parks Canada’s jurisdiction in the PEI National Park.

On Jan 14 Parks Canada emailed a written statement following a request from the Stanley Bridge Centre website.

The full statement is provided below:

“Parks Canada manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and cultural heritage areas in the world. We are aware of fallen trees on its properties along Highways 6 and 13 in Cavendish. Safety is always our number one priority and our trained Dangerous Tree Assessors have examined the area and have removed trees that have the potential for safety risk and exposure to persons. The determination on which trees to remove was based on industry standards and assessed exposure.
 
“Parks Canada takes wildfire risk reduction activities seriously and is taking the necessary steps to reduce the threat of wildfires in all areas of the park. In this regard, Parks Canada developed a fuel modification prioritization tool that utilizes national FireSmart standards to identify forest areas at risk based on scientific methodology. All fuel modification (forest thinning) work in PEI National Park is justified through this evaluation tool and the program resources are managed in accordance with this assessment. Most recently, in the Cavendish area, forest stands surrounding the Cavendish Campground and the Cavendish Visitor Information Centre have been treated. The safety of the public, our crews, park infrastructure and neighboring lands is always our number one priority.
 
“We acknowledge the community’s concerns regarding the aesthetics of the senescent white spruce stands visible from Highway 6. Forest stands in PEI National Park are identified for management actions (i.e. stand thinning/restoration) based on Parks Canada’s priorities of ecological integrity, visitor safety, and fire risk. This type of forest provides valuable habitat for many species of animals and is an important part of a forest ecosystem. Should it become necessary, we will consider these stands in the future as opportunities for forest restoration programs arise.”


In an earlier interview Resort Municipality CAO Brenda MacDonald and Mayor Matthew Jelley, among others, voiced their frustrations about the slow progress made dealing with hundreds of fallen trees in early December.

Brenda MacDonald stated recently area residents had approached her and Council seeking action. Some had offered to help cut and clear away the fallen trees, which could become a fire and safety hazard in the spring and summer months.

The issue first surfaced at planning board meeting in December in which the spectre of California-style wildfires was raised.

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Winners announced just in time for Christmas

The names of two lucky winners were picked from hundreds of tickets at a draw during the Dec 10 monthly meeting of the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society (SBMS). The meeting was held at the Kensington home of vice-president Helen MacEwen. St John’s NFLD resident Chris Pearsey won a beautiful painting of the Stanley Bridge wharf by acclaimed Margate artist Karen Slater. Stanley Bridge area resident Marilyn Simpson won a stunning mural sized photo of the Confederation Bridge, shot by North Granville photographer Clayton Smith, who is also the SBMS’s president. The Stanley Bridge Memorial Society would like to express its gratitude to everyone who bought a ticket for this important fundraiser.

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Storm toppled trees in PEI National Park could pose fire risk in Cavendish

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Is it possible massive numbers of fallen and uprooted trees in the PEI National Park, in Cavendish, could set the area ablaze during the summer season?

According to members of the Resort Municipality’s planning board the PEI National Park could face the same fate as much of California, which endured record-breaking wildfires in November.

Dislodged trees are everywhere following a fierce wind and snow storm recently that plunged much of the Island into darkness for days.

“They’re down everywhere, all the way out from Green Gables to Rainbow Valley,” said CAO Brenda MacDonald.

“It’s a complete mess…It’s terrible out there.”

Parks Canada’s representative on the planning board, Barbara MacDonald, said Parks Canada would investigate those concerns and take remedial action if it was necessary.

Brenda MacDonald said she had to called the Department of Transportation during the storm to remove trees that had fallen across and blocked Highway 6.

Once fallen trees dry out someone walking along on a hot day, flicking a cigarette butt into the woods, could start a devastating fire, said a board member.

Planning Board Chair George Clark-Dunning echoed President Donald Trump’s quote about how the Finns protect their forests from fires by “raking” the underbrush.

“It started a whole cavalcade of (humorous) tweets,” he said of Trump’s misstatement.

“We’ve had at least 15 complaints from property owners since last week saying what is Parks (Canada) doing about this mess, and businesses as well,” said Brenda MacDonald, adding Council would be addressing those concerns at the Dec 10 meeting.

“Spruce trees don’t send down a deep root system, they run across the ground. When it’s wet and windy they wobble. When they’re planted together as thickly as that they’re tall and spindly (and go down),” said board member Arnold Smith, adding it doesn’t take long for them to rot and dry out.

Even before the storm trees were dangling over the boardwalk, ready to fall over, said Brenda MacDonald.

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