Nova Scotia and Toronto choirs hold surprise concert on Halifax waterfront

Two award-winning Canadian gospel choirs wowed unsuspecting pedestrians on a busy waterfront Saturday morning with a surprise performance, signifying a cross-country harmony between the two groups.

The Toronto Mass Choir is in Halifax for the first time to perform a Saturday night show with the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, and members from both ensembles gathered on the Halifax waterfront to give onlookers a taste of what they do.

“We want to make a splash in Halifax,” Karen Burke, Toronto director and conductor, said Saturday morning.

She said the union of the two choirs is significant because there aren’t many gospel choirs left in Canada, and both of them have lasted for decades.

Toronto’s choir celebrated its 30th anniversary in October, and Nova Scotia’s choir isn’t far behind at 26.

‘Multi-cultural expression of gospel’

Though both choirs began with mostly black members, they now have a mix of people from all sorts of backgrounds, with Burke saying the Toronto choir has members from South Korea, Jamaica, South Africa and India.

“We’re celebrating the fact that cultures are together, so it’s an inter-provincial, but also a multicultural expression of gospel music,” Burke said.

“When we come together, it’s evidence of the power of the music and also what happens when people get together for one purpose.”

Despite the Saturday morning heat —  35 C with the humidex — dozens of choir members sang, clapped and swayed to the beat of traditional gospel songs such as “This Little Light Of Mine” and “Amen.”

The group seemed to be a hit with their audience, many of whom sang and clapped along.

Over the years, Toronto’s choir has won a Juno Award, among multiple others, while its Nova Scotia counterpart has won two East Coast Music Awards.

‘Racial harmony’

Deborah Sangster, recently elected president of the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, said Saturday that their diversity is what makes them so successful.

“Basically, we’re all humans. We can all get along,” she said. “Sure, we have differences and we come from various countries and various cultures, but at the core we’re all beings on this planet and we can all unite for the common good for all.”

She said the Nova Scotia choir’s mandate is to sing for racial harmony and peace, and show people what a multicultural and multiracial group looks like.

It’s a sentiment shared by Christoph Ibrahim, a son of Egyptian immigrants, who has been singing with the Toronto choir for six years.

Ibrahim, 26, said he found a sense of community through the group and he’s glad both the Toronto and Nova Scotia choirs share a common goal of unity.

“It’s the joining of two worlds,” Ibrahim said.

Two award-winning Canadian gospel choirs wowed unsuspecting pedestrians on a busy waterfront Saturday morning with an impromptu performance. (Alex Cooke/The Canadian Press)

Community-building and togetherness is a common theme for why people choose to sing in choirs, said Angela MacLean, a student minister with the United Church of Canada.

Spirituality in singing

In March, MacLean presented her graduate research project at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax on how singing in a community choir influences someone’s spirituality.

She said the people she spoke to during her research reported feeling uplifted after a music session with their choir.

“Music certainly does do something for the soul, and that definitely came out loud and clear,” she said in a phone interview Saturday.

In her research, MacLean said several key themes emerged — the feeling of togetherness, compassionate connection, and a sense of hospitality and belonging.

She said the act itself of creating music can build communities, break down barriers and forge bonds between people.

“You have all these different people from all sorts of different denominations, all sorts of different socioeconomic backgrounds, and they’re all singing there together,” she said.

“And probably the most important thing they learn is that you have to learn to listen to the person next to you.”

Read more stories at CBC Nova Scotia

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Cat food at Dartmouth SPCA runs 'dangerously low'

The Dartmouth location of the Nova Scotia SPCA came close to running out of an important resource on Saturday morning. 

Heather Woodin, the SPCA’s provincial administration coordinator, said there were only a few cans of wet food left.

They put out a request for donations on Facebook, saying supplies were “dangerously low.” 

Wet food is important because it provides nourishment for kittens, cats who are sick, and for some cats it is all they will eat, said Woodin.

Although the SPCA does receive donations, she said it’s difficult to keep up with the needs of the approximately 300 cats and kittens in their care.

There’s an influx of animals in the summer and sometimes the organization can even take in 10 to 20 kittens per day, she said.

Kittens at the SPCA enjoying some of the wet food that was donated on Saturday. (Submitted by Heather Woodin)

Woodin said the current overflow has affected the food supplies but the challenges aren’t new. 

There has also been an increase in animals surrendered to the SPCA over the past few years, she said.  

The Nova Scotia SPCA adopted an “open admission” policy earlier in January of this year, which means they will no longer say no to surrendered or stray animals that are brought in. The organization also has a no-kill policy for when it gets overcrowded. 

Woodin said people started to come in with crates of wet food on Saturday afternoon and she she hopes for more in the next few days as the cans run out quickly.

“If you’re thinking about donating definitely now is the time and now is when we could use the most help,” she said.

In the meantime, the SPCA is working to solve the overflow of cats in its care by reducing the price of adult cat adoption by $60 over the long weekend.

She said they lose money on every adoption, but the organization tries to make up for the losses in donations.

Donations started coming in after the SPCA posted a plea for wet cat food on Saturday. (Submitted by Heather Woodin)

Read more stories at CBC Nova Scotia

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Rain, thunderstorm warnings issued for parts of the Maritimes

Parts of the Maritimes will go from heat warnings to thunderstorm warnings Saturday night and into Sunday, according to Environment Canada.

The weather service issued heat warnings for Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia on Saturday, but they are expected to end Saturday evening with rain on the way.

Rain, at times heavy, is forecast for the region Saturday night. The system is developing west to east with a risk of thundershowers.

Parts of New Brunswick are also under rainfall warnings with between 20 to 35 millimetres expected by Sunday morning. Up to 70 millimetres is possible in western and central parts of the province. 

Large hail a possibility

Central Nova Scotia — including Hants, Colchester and Cumberland counties — is under a severe thunderstorm warning with the possibility of torrential rain, lightning, strong winds and even large hail.

Southern New Brunswick, with the exception of the Fundy coast, is also under a severe thunderstorm watch Saturday night.

Clearing on Sunday

On Sunday, there will be gradual clearing in Nova Scotia with highs of 23 to 25 C.

P.E.I. can expect heavy showers on Sunday with a risk of thundershowers and highs near 22 C, the weather service said. Monday’s forecast is sunny with temperatures reaching 30 C.

For New Brunswick on Sunday, rain will end from west to east, and temperatures could go up to as high as 29 C.

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What's happening in Halifax area this Natal Day weekend

To help you plan your holiday, CBC has compiled a roundup of Natal Day events being held in the Halifax area this weekend. 


Mayor and Council Garden Party: 1 – 5 p.m. at Halifax Public Gardens.

Youth & Family Concert 7:30 – 10 p.m. at Dartmouth Ferry Terminal Park.

Natal Day Halifax Harbour Barge Fireworks 10 p.m. The ferries crossing the harbour will be free all day Saturday.

There are plenty of family-friendly events scheduled in the Halifax area to celebrate Natal Day. (Twitter/@MikeSavageHFX)

On Sunday, the MACPASS Miles Race starts at 9 a.m. on the Macdonald Bridge. The bridge will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m for events.

The Macdonald Bridge will also be closed again on Monday from 8:30 2 p.m. for the Natal Day parade. 

Sunday events:

Natal Day Family Party 1 – 7 p.m. at Halifax South Common

A Celebration in Music – Gospel Concert presented by The African Nova Scotian Music Association 1 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. at Halifax South Common

Bridgewalk 2018 at the Macdonald Bridge, Dartmouth/Halifax 2 – 4 p.m. at Macdonald Bridge

Jenn Miller at the Sullivan’s Pond Band Shell 2 – 4:30 p.m. at Sullivan’s Pond Park, Dartmouth

A Celebration in Music – Urban Concert presented by The African Nova Scotian Music Association

Natal Day Halifax Common Family Fireworks 9:30 p.m. at Halifax South Common, Canada Games Ball Diamond 

Monday events: 

The 112th Dartmouth Natal Day Road Races presented by Aquafina 8 a.m. at Christ Church Hall, Ochterloney Street

A free CFB Halifax pancake breakfast presented by the Hydrostone Market from 8 a.m. until noon at Hydrostone Park, the corner of Young and Novalea 

Spryfield Lions Club Free Pancake Breakfast 8 – 9 a.m. at Spryfield Sobeys Parking Lot (279 Herring Cove Rd.) 

The 123rd Pepsi Natal Day Parade presented by The Chronicle Herald 10 – 11:30 am. from Novalea Drive in Halifax to Prince Albert Road in Dartmouth

Sullivan’s Pond Family Fun Day presented by The Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth

Sullivan’s Pond Natal Day Concert presented by The Atlantic Federation of Musicians

Caribbean Diaspora Multicultural Celebration Noon – 9 p.m. at the pavilion area of the Halifax South Common

Dingle Beach Party 1 – 4 p.m. at Sir Sandford Fleming Park

The Mayor and Council Garden Party 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. at Sullivan’s Pond Park

Natal Day Sullivan’s Pond Family Concert 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Sullivan’s Pond Park

123rd Lake Banook Fireworks presented by Heritage House Law and The Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission 9:45 p.m. at Lake Banook.

Many stores open Monday

Natal Day is not a designated retail closing day in Nova Scotia, which means you can expect many stores to be open, however some may have reduced hours of operation.

Many Sobeys and Atlantic Superstores will be only be open from noon until 6 p.m. Some pharmacies may have reduced opening times as well.

Nova Scotia Liquor Commission outlets will be open, but some may have reduced hours. Best to check before heading out.

Mic Mac Mall, the Halifax Shopping Centre, Dartmouth Crossing and Sunnyside Mall will only be open from noon to 5 p.m. on Monday.

Scotia Square is closed Monday.

Municipal services affected

All branches of Halifax Public Libraries will be closed Monday.

Most ferries and buses are on a regular weekend schedule Saturday and Sunday. Holiday bus and ferry schedules will be in effect Monday.

Many municipal recreation centres will be closed for Natal Day.

Read more stories at CBC Nova Scotia

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SPCA investigating after cat survives bullet through head

If the bullet had been a couple of millimetres in either direction, Vox would never have lived to come home. 

Sometime between Sunday morning and Monday evening, the nearly two-year-old cat was roaming near his owners’ home in New Cornwall, north of Mahone Bay, N.S., when someone shot him in the back of the head at a range close enough to singe his skin. 

“I was appalled that anybody would do that,” Vox’s owner Angela Dauphinee said on Friday. “I don’t know who would think of it in the first place.”

Amazingly, the bullet passed right through Vox’s head and the Dauphinees found him on their back doorstep late Monday. They could see he had injuries to his head, particularly around the left eye, but didn’t notice blood or large wounds.

Angela Dauphinee and her daughter pet Vox in their home Friday. Vox is frightened to be alone so the Dauphinees have been sleeping near him each night. (CBC)

However, after veterinarian Beverly Greenlaw X-rayed the cat, it became clear Vox had extensive internal injuries. 

“When I went into the X-ray room and I saw it, my heart just sunk. I just thought, ‘I can’t believe somebody would do this,'” she said.  

The X-ray revealed the path of the bullet and fragments of bullet still inside Vox’s head.

Greenlaw doesn’t believe the cat was shot with a pellet or BB gun. She said it is more likely the bullet came from a gun that would be used to hunt an animal the size of a coyote. 

“With animals you’ve got a lot of fur involved so you don’t really get to appreciate how devastating the wounds are until you start to clip all the hair away,” Greenlaw said.

“There was shards of bone and tissue scattered throughout the mouth and a portion of the upper and lower left jaw was basically missing.”

Vox was lucky to have survived a bullet through the head. (CBC)

The bullet entered in the rear left side of Vox’s head and exited beside his left eye. Vox will be permanently deaf in his left ear and may lose the sight of his left eye. His jaw may be permanently misaligned and he will likely have to eat soft food for the rest of his life. 

Dauphinee says Vox has always been the most cuddly and loving of her family’s five cats. Although they are horrified that someone attacked their cat, her family is thankful his injuries were not worse. 

“They say cats have nine lives, so my husband and I said he’s probably down to six, because that was a big one,” she said. “But he’s coming around slowly but surely.

“I am really hoping that it just doesn’t happen to anyone ever again. It’s our pet, he’s part of the family. Just like anyone else who has pets. Maybe people will think twice.” 

Beverly Greenlaw is a veterinarian at Oakland Veterinary Hospital. (Shaina Luck)

Greenlaw says her clinic sees one or two cases of gunshot wounds in animals each year. Sometimes owners don’t even know their animal has been shot.

“This kind of action is purely malicious,” she said. “It’s not something you could say was in any way an accident. Somebody actually had to go get a gun, load a gun, aim the gun [and] pull the trigger on this poor little animal,” she said. 

The SPCA is investigating the matter, which it says is an offence under the Animal Protection Act and the Criminal Code. 

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Randsland brand Classic Coleslaw and Broccoli Slaw recalled due to Listeria monocytogenes

Randsland Farms Inc. is recalling Randsland brand Classic Coleslaw and Broccoli Slaw from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenescontamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products. If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor. Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be …

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