Nova Scotia’s top news stories of 2018: January to June
A lot happened in Nova Scotia in 2018.
The controversial removal of a renowned Halifax statue, the eventual resolution to a high-profile murder trial, as well as several other stories all had Nova Scotians talking.
Here are some of the top stories the province saw during the first six months of the year. (You can find the the top stories from July to December here).
Cornwallis statue taken down
The beginning of 2018 saw a resolution to an age-old debate.
Amid mounting pressure from the Indigenous community and the public, the controversial statue of Halifax founder Edward Cornwallis was removed from a downtown park at the end of January. Halifax Regional Council voted 12-4 in favour of temporarily placing the bronze figure in a storage unit until a decision was made on its long-term future.
WATCH: Halifax city unveils Cornwallis committee
Cornwallis has been a disputed figure for decades, with some viewing him as a heroic founder but others remembering him as the leader who issued a bounty on the scalps of Mi’kmaqs.
A committee has been formed to help determine what should be done with the statue. The Special Advisory Committee on the Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and the Recognition and Commemoration of Indigenous History met for the first time in October and told council they want to be a two-group partnership, rather than the one tasked by the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Halifax bottle collector struck and killed
He was a fixture of downtown Halifax and a man adored by many.
But Wray Elias Hart’s life was cut short after he was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver. MBA student Dennis Patterson was charged with impaired driving causing death, criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and driving with a blood alcohol level of over 80 milligrams.
WATCH: Man facing additional charge after Halifax bottle collector struck by vehicle
Wray Hart could often be seen outside the old library on Spring Garden Road, or pushing a shopping cart piled high with recyclables.
There was an outpouring of support in the days following Wray’s death, with almost $9,000 raised through a GoFundMe campaign for his funeral arrangements.
Glaze report fallout
A report that laid out 22 recommendations on how to improve classroom conditions resulted in the province’s teachers union voting in favour of an illegal strike mandate in February.
The report from education consultant Avis Glaze recommended dissolving seven of the province’s eight school boards and put in place a single “aligned model.” It also recommended the removal of 1,000 principals, vice principals and supervisors from the union.
Glaze’s report was met with immediate backlash, with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) pulling out of the province’s council to improve classroom conditions, as well as voting 93 per cent in favour of an illegal strike mandate.
WATCH: Nova Scotia teachers vote yes for illegal strike action
The union claimed government did not consult them prior to Glaze releasing her report.
In March, the province passed its sweeping education reform bill only a week after it was introduced. The legislation dissolved the seven school boards and replaced them with a 15-member provincial advisory council, while keeping local school advisory councils in place along with board administrations.
Halifax police help deliver baby girl
It was a morning shift to remember for Hannah Burridge and Kali MacDonald.
The Halifax Regional Police constables, who at the time had only been partners for a few months, responded to a call on Feb. 19 of a woman who was going into labour.
WATCH: Halifax police constables help deliver baby girl
Just 24 minutes after paramedics and Const. MacDonald, who has previous experience as a paramedic, arrived, the baby girl was born.
Both the mother and baby were taken to the hospital, where the officers had the chance to meet up with the family.
“It was a good shift, one I’ll remember for my whole career,” MacDonald said.
Halifax seaman guilty of sexual assault
Halifax-based Master Seaman Daniel Cooper was sentenced to 22 months in prison after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a subordinate.
Cooper had pleaded not guilty to the charges in relation to an incident aboard HMCS Athabaskan while the navy destroyer was visiting Spain in 2015.
In addition to the jail sentence and dismissal from the forces, the 30-year-old was demoted to the rank of ordinary seaman and must submit a DNA sample and register as a sex offender for the next 20 years.
Cooper was sentenced on March 12.
Disappearance of Karen Mackenzie
A 40-year-old man was charged in connection with the disappearance of a woman from Dartmouth.
Owen Patrick Nelson was charged with interfering with human remains, assault and two counts breach of probation in connection with the disappearance of Karen Lee MacKenzie.
WATCH: Man charged in connection with disappearance of Karen MacKenzie
Court documents obtained by Global News revealed that Nelson allegedly assaulted MacKenzie and misled police, resulting in his arrest.
Investigators have still released few details about the case.
Justice for Johnston
On April 28, 36-year-old Nicholas Butcher was convicted of second-degree murder in the violent death of popular Halifax yoga instructor Kristen Johnston.
Johnston, 32, who was originally from Montreal, was found dead in the bedroom of her home on Purcells Cove Road on March 26, 2016. Butcher’s trial lasted more than three weeks.
WATCH: Butcher to serve at least 15 years
Butcher is appealing the conviction, citing that Justice Joshua Arnold erred in allowing evidence of bad character and hearsay statements.
Souvannarath sentenced to life
An American woman who was a part of a three-person plot to commit mass murder at a Halifax mall was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for a decade.
Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, 26, along with James Gamble and Randall Shepherd, were a part of a conspiracy to go on a Valentine’s Day shooting rampage at the Halifax Shopping Centre in 2015.
WATCH: U.S. woman gets life sentence for Halifax mall plot
The sentence was handed down on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings, which Souvannarath, and Gamble cited in chat log messages as inspiration for their mass murder plan.
Controversial Halifax cabbie faces more charges
A Halifax cab driver who was controversially acquitted in 2017 was charged with a second count of sexual assault in May.
Bassam Al-Rawi, 42, was charged in May 2015 after a Halifax Regional Police officer found a young woman passed out and naked from the waist in the back of his cab.
He was acquitted in March 2017, when Judge Gregory Lenehan stated, “Clearly, a drunk can consent,” sparking public outrage and groups calling for Lenehan’s removal as a trial judge.
WATCH: Halifax taxi driver’s acquittal sparks questions surrounding sexual assault cases
Details of the latest charges against Al-Rawi remain concealed under a publication ban.
Suspicious south-end fire
A fire in Halifax’s south end that forced 25 from people from their homes and destroyed a historic heritage building was deemed suspicious.
The fire at 5450 Inglis Street was reported just before 2:30 a.m. on May 9. It didn’t take long for crews to deem the fire suspicious and hand the investigation over to police.
A part of the building had to be torn down due to extensive damage, and police have not released details on charges.
Bedsore death sparks criminal investigation
The death of a long-term care resident as a result of a bedsore sparked a police investigation into whether her death was the result of criminal negligence by staff at the home.
Chrissy Dunnington was 38 was she was moved Parkstone Enhanced Care in 2016. She was born with spina bifida and had special needs requiring continuous care. Despite the diagnosis, Chrissy’s family said she was “healthy in every other way” before moving into Parkstone and had “a tremendous number of questions” about how she got the injury that resulted in her death.
WATCH: Severe bedsores identified as widespread issue in N.S. long-term care facilities
Chrissy’s death sparked the province’s Department of Health to have all nursing homes report the number of bedsores and their severity in their facilities. They identified 152 bedsores in stage three and four — the most severe cases — in the province.
The province also said it would adopt a new provincial standard for wound care in their facilities and new methods of collecting data.
‘Queer café’ offers open space for LQBTQ+ community
A new cafe for members of the queer community opened in Halifax in June.
Former baristas of the Smiling Goat Organic Espresso Bar opened the Gliter Bean Café, with the purpose of offering a queer-friendly community space for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
WATCH: Former Halifax cafe to serve as queer community space
The idea for the cafe stemmed from the baristas themselves, with 90 per cent of the employees at the cafe identifying as queer. They said the community space was needed, which was a sentiment echoed by customers on opening day.
But the opening came amid an ongoing legal battle, one in which the cafe’s baristas have accused their former employer of not paying them fully.
With files from The Canadian Press and Global Halifax staff.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.