Behind the fray
This is a personal rebuttal to the article in last week's Coast on the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, which included me as a subject ("Fraying at the edges," cover story by Jacob Boon). I should confirm that the ACNS does have a drop-in area, as the story mentions, and we are welcome to drop in if we sit in silence—the employees are easily disturbed, and at points members have been escorted to the door.
Our statements to The Coast have been rebutted by a privileged few who have made their careers in HIV/AIDS practicing tokenism instead of representation with an eye to social justice. A lack of social justice was also an issue with Coast staff. We are not living in a socially just society. The glass ceiling still exists despite the hard work of feminists, many of whom rank quite high on the privilege scale.
Working within our population is difficult, as more-vulnerable members of society are over-represented in our community. For many years, our more-vulnerable members have been recruited as representatives by ACNS but were often bullied to vote with the executive without having issues explained in plain terms, which is why, I argue, many are reluctant to participate now. Those more educated were labelled as liabilities when they disagreed with the direction of the ACNS executive.
I also argue that ACNS cannot get HIV-positive people to participate with them because it is a poisonous environment where we don't even have a voice. Many of us do not have the fortitude to exist in such an environment without our immune systems crashing.
These are my personal beliefs. Some members of our group were very happy with the article. I am not one of them. Since starting studies at the Dalhousie School of Social Work I have had a more critical eye; ergo, I felt I had to respond even though some of my colleagues tried to convince me not to. Others in our group also felt a response was necessary. —Michael Parsons, long-term survivor of AIDS, Halifax
I would like to thank the people who saved my life the first Friday in February, outside the Lawton's in the Professional Centre on Robie Street. A friend drove me there and as I exited her car, my coat got caught in her car door. Unfortunately, she started to drive off. I fell to the ground and was dragged along the gutter.
I am afraid I could have been badly injured or even killed had not a wonderful passerby immediately come to my rescue and stopped my friend's car. My rescuer was joined by a few other wonderful people who helped me up. I suffered only minor scrapes, bruises and shock. Thank you all for saving my life. God bless you. —Elizabeth Mantey, Halifax
Fossil fuel flop
I know we can't just flip off our use of fossil fuels, but I must say the new federal budget from Justin Trudeau's government is a bit of a flop in that area. It was good to see that subsidies to the petroleum industry are being reduced, but we need to do more, and quickly, to switch over to cleaner, renewable kinds of power in order to take appropriate care for our economy, health and environment. For some time we've had the knowledge and ability, but we continue to lack sufficient political will.
Research and common sense show that we can have a stronger economy by making these changes. The transition will not be smooth for everyone. Yes, my friends in the oil patch will need new jobs. There will be new jobs but not as long as they're in the old ones. Currently we are looking in the right direction with some of the budget plans (such as reducing depending on diesel up north) but we do need to move and be leaders in that direction. Now, please!
I think it would be really smart to end fossil fuel subsidies altogether, immediately, not in the years to come. —Alison Petten, Halifax
Last week's cover story quoted Michael Parsons as saying the board at the ACNS aren't "living with the violence." He actually said "living with the virus," and that was recorded wrong in transcription. The Coast apologizes for the error.