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A twice-monthly digital publication packed with timely news stories, opinion pieces, current affairs, arts curation, community messaging and positive local tales. The same quality journalism and world-class photography that you expect from [EDIT], but all unique to [EDIT]ION.
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Cover Story: The NHL Game-Changer, Willie O'Ree by Jennifer Wood
Design by Lindsay Vautour
Featured in the twentieth issue below are:
* Celebrating All Things Willie O'Ree by Jennifer Wood
* We Were Here by Morgan Leet
* Bannerman Brewing by Morgan Leet
*Black Voice, White Pen by Graham Nickerson
* Freedom Bridal by Jennifer Wood
* [EDIT] + Tourism NB: Winter Staycation
* The Saint John Potter by Morgan Leet
*Mullinger Meets Tyler Simmonds
The brand new spring volume of [EDIT] is on newsstands and in stores across Canada on March 5! But in the meantime, scroll down to enjoy the exclusive content in [EDIT]ION Volume 20.
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In recent years, a plethora of public honours and prestigious accolades have been pouring in for Fredericton born and raised Willie O’Ree, the first Black player of the National Hockey League (Boston Bruins, January 18th, 1958). O’Ree played a total of 45 games in the league, and in doing so, he paved the way for the many gifted players of colour that succeeded him.
Many years following his retirement from hockey, O’Ree was asked to rejoin the NHL as a director of youth development for its diversity task force. The new role has him touring throughout North America where he inspires boys and girls of all ethnicities to fall in love with the sport. A natural leader, he promotes goal setting, hard work and positive self-esteem, both on and off the ice, and the impact he has made on the many thousands he has reached has made him a cherished legend.
In 2018, thanks in part to sports columnist Bill Hunt (Fredericton Daily Gleaner), lifelong friends Brenda and David Sansom, and many loyal fans, politicians, and sports legends far and wide, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builder category.
“When I got the call that I was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame I was speechless.” Willie tells [EDIT]ION from his home in San Diego, CA. “I am fortunate to have had a hockey career on and off the ice; I had no idea when I accepted the job as youth development director for the NHL’s diversity task force that it would mean as much to me as it has.”
To celebrate the 63rd anniversary of O’Ree becoming NHL’s first black player, and to observe Martin Luther King Day, the entire NHL roster have been adorning decals on their helmets that feature an image of O'Ree wearing his signature fedora and the words "Celebrating Equality." Players will wear the decals until the end of February, which is Black History Month.
Most recently, the autobiography (written by Willie O’Ree and Michael McKinley) WILLIE: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL’s First Black Player, which chronicles the legends’ life and career (thus far) has been nominated for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary work in the Biography/Autobiography category. It’s worth a mention that President Barack Obama’s A Promised Land is nominated in the same category.
For more on the fascinating life and career of Willie O’Ree, be sure to read [EDIT]’s in-depth interview with the legend himself in an upcoming issue. In the meantime, catch the documentary WILLIE: How the descendant of escaped slaves changed hockey forever available on CRAVE, and pick up your copy of his biography at Chapters/Indigo or at independent bookstores everywhere.
Photographs by Jessica Raven
The extraordinary new play, We Were Here, uncovers untold stories of influential Black community members in New Brunswick. The play was created and directed by the legendary poet Clyde A. Wray, in collaboration with the Saint John Theatre Company Executive Director, Stephen Tobias.
When speaking to Clyde and Stephen over Zoom, I was intrigued for multiple reasons. Firstly, there is Clyde’s deeply poetic voice, moving even through video. Secondly, there was his and Stephen’s uniquely heartwarming relationship. With banter and laughs, the discussion was brimmed full of knowledge and history, but also fun.
During our chat, Clyde told me a story of doing a poetry reading in the Loyalist House in Saint John. “And then I come to find out about all the Black Loyalists, and none of them are in the Loyalist House!” he said, while laughing. Stephen went on to recall when Loyalist Day was widely celebrated as one of the main social events on the calendars of Saint John residents, and “they would do a reenactment of the loyalists landing down on market slip and all that. But you know, it wasn’t a very diverse crowd, to say the least. They reinforced this image of what it was, but that image really isn’t historically accurate.” There is was; a clear example of the whitewashing that has taken place throughout history, and is still perpetuated in our buildings, celebrations, and books today.
Clyde and Stephen have taken on the task of unveiling this true history of our community, now through the telling of stories in We Were Here.
[EDIT]ION: Can you tell me about what inspired your partnership?
Clyde: Truthfully, it is because I had been sitting for years over on Canterbury Street in Pomodori Pizzeria looking at a series of portraits, that just irritated me to no end. I had written to people and spoken to people about it, and I had this idea when Stephen approached me that there had to be people of color in Saint John that were successful too.
Stephen: Those banners are interesting because I’ve noticed them as well. It’s a series of banners and portraits of ‘Notable Saint John People’, but they’re all white guys. Just one woman. Someone like Donald Sutherland, who is from Saint John, but I would never think of him as a prominent Saint Johner, is there. But he is taking space on that wall. That was the conversation Clyde and I had; how can we conceptually make room to tell other stories that people don’t know of?
[EDIT]ION: How did you go about choosing these stories?
[EDIT]ION: One of those stories for myself was Abraham Beverley Walker, the first black lawyer in New Brunswick and the second in Canada, who made countless contributions but is hardly ever talked about, and I hadn’t heard about it. What are some of the main reasons that these stories haven’t been told, and are so difficult to uncover?
Clyde: We have an organization here, PRUDE Inc., and I have worked with PRUDE on several occasions. Every time you go up there Ralph Thomas has this wealth of information. So it wasn’t difficult to say “Ralph, here are the things that I’m looking for, and I need to research it and come up with these characters”. Of course, we have the Black History Society here too, so we could do that research. One of the things that I found out about that is that there is limited information, you really have to search it out.
Stephen: I’ve lived in Saint John my whole life, and I had a conversation with Ralph Thomas through this process as well and I couldn’t believe that I had never heard some of these stories before. They are amazing stories but they’re not generally known in our community. I’m really excited that we’re getting a chance to share these stories, make room for them, and amplify them in a way that people in the community can hear them and hopefully be inspired by some of them.
Clyde: They get buried, they were buried by people and they were hidden. People didn’t want you to know. But having said that, what we have done is tried to uncover them. They are still tons of stories to tell. What’s that expression; “The winners get to tell the history?" (laughing) I’m paraphrasing but that’s what happens.
Stephen: And I think there’s a lot of simply benign neglect. You have to dig to find it, so there are stories that are out there in the community that people grab when it's easy. But for these ones, it takes more work. I would say the same could be said for other communities. I grew up in the Lebanese community in Saint John, and there is all kinds of interesting stories from the last 100 years of that community that people don’t generally know because people don’t dig for them. So, it’s just easy to take the existing narrative and not work to hard to find out the rest of it. So we’re doing the work for the community.
[EDIT]ION: What’s one of your favourite stories that you have discovered throughout this process, that you are excited for audiences to see? Stephen: My favourite was the woman who was known as ‘The Ice Lady’ in Saint John – Georgina Whetsel. She, through marriages and some coincidences, ending up owning the business that had the franchise to harvest the ice from Lily Lake, and she provided ice for the whole community. She had all kinds of staff and fleets of vehicles to deliver all of the ice and was at one time considered to be one of the wealthiest women in North America. And I had never heard of her before! Clyde: And a Boston magazine wrote of her. This is a woman, a woman of color, in the 1800s, and they wrote of her in a financial magazine. She had to be one of the wealthiest women in North America for that to happen. And her husband was a runaway slave. [EDIT]ION: What do you hope the audience takes away after watching? Clyde: For me, it’s more of an education, it’s got nothing to do with me at all. It’s more about saying to the community that I live in “When we speak of diversity, we have to show it.” That’s the bottom line for me. It would be an untruth for you to run around and talk about the diversity of your community and we don’t see each other, we only see one. Our community is diverse.
The project has come full circle, now with banners of the plays historic characters by local artist Daniel Leek, hanging on the front of the Saint John Theatre Company.
We Were Here is streaming February 25-27. Click here to buy streaming tickets now.
In the heart of Downtown St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador is Bannerman Brewing Co. The open-concept brewery, tasting room, coffee house and event space is the perfect spot to set up shop for the day, starting out with their delicious coffee in the morning and phasing into their creative brews by night.
Located in the historic building of the previous East Fire Station that was first constructed in 1892 and rebuilt in the 1950s, the brewery was opened in 2019 by Phil Maloney. Phil wanted to bring new flavours and a different concept to the city, while also celebrating the history of the building, place, and culture. He has done just that, clear in everything from his balanced design of modern and rustic, to the welcoming staff. Phil tells the [EDIT]ION how “a lot of the brand and the appeal comes down to the people who work here. Luckily we attract a pretty awesome group of people.”
The business is still driven by the community, and started out in the same way. Restoring the building to what it is now required passion, dedication, and help. “I really called on a lot of favours and friends, people that donated their time.” Says Phil. He has continuously fostered this community atmosphere, hosting markets, musicians, and events whenever possible in the space. Phil recalls how when they were able to do such events, “it felt like what we wanted it to be. We always wanted it to be a community space, really welcoming and wanted to predominantly feature the artists in the community. For that to actually happen, and for people to embrace it the way we wanted it to be embraced, is awesome.”
Further setting the business apart is their coffee. Phil notes that “the coffee was definitely a selfish endeavour. I really wanted to have good coffee around and an excuse to order in good coffee! It kind of works out because we open at 7:30 am so people are coming to get coffee on the way to work, but a lot of people also set up shop here and will be on their laptops in the morning and when lunch hits we start serving food so they’ll stick around for that. Some people will stay right from morning coffees, to lunch, to beer and wine later!”
Above all though, comes the quality of what they serve. Bannerman Brewing Co. features creative flavours such as their Fruited Sour IPA but also focuses on perfecting the classics, like Phil’s favourite beer, the ‘Thirst Trap’ Pale Ale.
Stop by to pick up their many take away options if you're in the area, or check out their website below!
90 Duckworth St, St. John's, NL A1C 1E7
Fred Ross, Drawing of a Black Youth, 1949 (Beaverbrook Art Gallery)
Black Voice, White Pen
By Graham Nickerson
The Beaverbrook Art Gallery was recently given a suite of early drawings by artist Fred Ross from the late 1940s and 1950s, and it includes some remarkable portraits of young Black Saint Johners. They are all from between 1948 to 1950, the time Ross started to teach at the former Saint John Vocational School. The drawings show the skill of the young artist, but they are also a window into deeper social and racial attitudes during the early postwar years.
Historian Harvey Amani Whitfield recently wrote that it is impossible to hear the Black voice without the intervention of a White hand. Though Whitfield was referring to the historical archive, the battlefield of memory is also playing out on the map as we decide who is and is not worthy of commemoration. Like statue removal throughout North America, Saint John has recently divested itself of slavery’s remnants associated with civic landmarks and street names. Like Saint John’s city map, the late Fred Ross’ drawings speak to conflicting visions of the past.
Ross’ realistic and sensitive portrayal of Black subjects is notable for the lack of racialized approaches inherited from previous eras. Depictions of black youth, especially ones done with care, dignity, and grace, were rare indeed in the canon of Canadian art of the time. However, in the current political climate and widespread concern over the lack of “Black voice,” one should ask whether Ross is an appropriate vehicle for the discussion of Black progress. Despite their honest portrayal, are these sketches a representation of the Black voice, or are they another example of the “White lens”? The Black experience as well as the White lens exhibit a spectrum of different perspectives, and Ross’s works challenge the accepted cultural norms of that time. To place his work in context, Fred Ross and contemporary Molly Lamb Bobak are likely the earliest New Brunswick artists to portray Blacks intentionally devoid of elements that hyper-sexualize or visually subjugate them.
Ross’ drawings represent a segment of Saint John’s Black population who were able to pursue secondary education, but they do not fully represent Blacks whose circumstances prevented them from such an education. Considering the impact of pre-civil rights era racism, New Brunswick Black community leaders Skip Talbot, Ralph Thomas, and David Peters have vastly different recollections. From documentary evidence, we have more than a glimpse of the racialized lens that existed in the province during that time. In 1949 for example, the Fredericton trial and execution of the impoverished Hamilton brothers produced a level of fanfare that rivalled the imagery of a southern lynching. Another example of New Brunswick’s ties to Jim Crow was the popularity of the travelling minstrel show. In July 1957, Atlantic Advocate magazine published a story on the Fredericton minstrel group “The Smokey Mokes,” beginning the racially charged piece with “Banjos strummin’, n****** hummin’…”
Fred Ross’ sketches provide a chance to contrast his depictions of Blacks with other racialized imagery of that time. The discussion of the Black voice must at times incorporate the White pen as a companion and as a point from which to begin a deeper investigation and wider, more inclusive conversation.
Graham Nickerson is a board member of the New Brunswick Black History Society and is pursuing graduate research on the subject at UNB.
Originally from Summerside Prince Edward Island, Lisa Golden and her husband, Rick (a corporate pilot), their five-year-old son William, their shaggy dog, Jagger and their cat, Jaxie moved from Calgary to Saint John in 2017. They moved for Rick’s new pilot position, but the pull of family in PEI and Ontario, and the chance to be near the ocean again brought them closer to their home provinces. Four years following the move, a chance for Lisa to realize her dream of opening her own bridal boutique presented itself, and she jumped at the opportunity. The shop opened a handful of weeks ago, and the response to the boutique and its concept has been met with major buzz.
“I just had the most wonderful experience,” says Lana VanDoren, who was recently crowned a 'Freedom Bridal Babe.'
“Lisa is a beautiful person and so helpful. She made my ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ moment so memorable. Her boutique is gorgeous and romantic, and it is filled with the most stunning bridal gowns.”
[EDIT]ION recently met with Lisa to discuss, among other things, the immediate response to her shop and her experience of joining Saint John’s vibrant and supportive business community.
[EDIT]ION: How are you enjoying New Brunswick?
LISA GOLDEN: We love living in Rothesay and our neighbours are amazing. While Rothesay is my home, I very much consider Saint John to be my city, and I love it. Rick’s mother and stepfather must have been impressed with the area too - they moved to Rothesay from Ontario soon after we moved here. I think their grandson may have had something to do with it!
[EDIT]ION: What inspired you to open a bridal shop?
LISA: I was always meant to be an entrepreneur. My father created his own business, a motorcycle shop in Miscouche, PEI, called ‘Freedom Cycle.’ He was a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast (expert). Ever since I can remember, I saw my Dad demonstrate his very natural and caring approach with customers. Sales were the result of genuine relationship building, not because of numbers or forced tactics. I'm quite sure I inherited that trait from him, which I am proud of. I have always had a passion for wedding gowns. I turned my sights to the wedding industry in my early twenties when I inserted myself into each of my friends’ wedding dress shopping plans. They trusted me as someone who had an eye for what looked great on them, and I would help them see how beautiful they were. Oh, and if there was a deal to be found, I was the one to find it! Several years ago, when I was shopping for my own gown, I was likely an annoying customer. I visited wedding gown shops on my lunch break, after work, and on the weekends. Nothing was going to stop me from living the experience to the fullest. I went to almost every shop in Calgary. I was not only searching for "the perfect gown" but also "the perfect experience”. I had imagined it to be like Say Yes to The Dress, where I would be the guest of honor and would feel listened to and appreciated. But in many cases, it was nothing like that. It was often rushed, impersonal, and high-pressure. Through this experience, I decided that someday, when the time was right, I wanted to have my own bridal boutique.
[EDIT]ION: For brides yet to experience it, can you tell us about some of the emotional/confusing components etc. about purchasing a dress?
LISA: Before I opened Freedom Bridal, a fellow bridal boutique owner in Ontario told me the one thing she wasn't prepared for was the emotional component to her business, and how hard a process it can be for brides. But I felt that this was what I was most prepared for and what I was looking forward to. Anyone who knows me, knows I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I only want to help. I make it clear when a bride enters my store that I am there for them. I tell them, “This is a no judgement, no expectation and no pressure space.” I understand that a wedding is a huge representation of one’s life; It brings up all kinds of feelings around family, money, and a bride’s self-confidence. I understand these aspects, and I am here to guide brides through it.
[EDIT]ION: What can customers expect when they visit your shop?
LISA: When a bride books an appointment with me, they can expect a very private, welcoming and personalized experience. The shop is a space where you have the Freedom to be yourself. I only have one bride (and her guests) in the store at a time, The boutique is set up to be a cozy place where you feel a little bit like you're at home, while also transporting you to somewhere a bit luxurious and romantic. Brides can also expect to have options to try on no matter their size. I have sample sizes 2-30 in the store. I have gowns that will fit AND flatter. I want everyone who enters my store to leave feeling even better about themselves. Women of every size and every age deserve that level of service and treatment. It's also very important that people know that Freedom Bridal is a LGBTQ+ friendly store.
[EDIT]ION: Freedom Bridal has been open for just a few short weeks, how is business?
LISA: The response is beyond my wildest imagination. I already knew I loved this area, especially Saint John’s uptown, but the welcome I have been given by everyone I meet has been beautiful. There’s just no better way to describe it. Freedom Bridal has hit the ground running; we already have a handful of brides who have found their gown with me. I am so excited, and I am hopelessly addicted to this work. I love my brides, and I can't wait to keep meeting and helping more.
175 Prince William Street, Saint John.
Freedom Bridal is open by appointment Tuesday to Saturday and appointments can be booked directly on their website.
Instagram: @freedom bridal
[EDIT] + TOURISM NEW BRUNSWICK
Our fresh winter days are just right for finding a new favourite spot when faraway places just aren’t an option. This March break, stay local, shop local, explore local! While in the Orange Level, check out all the winter activities you can do with your household bubble or "Steady 10" in your Health Zone.
While we keep New Brunswick's winter getaways close to home, it’s still important to stay safe and informed. Help keep everyone protected by following all the Public Health guidelines and travel restrictions on gnb.ca/covidrecovery.
Photographs by Jennifer Irving
Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Leanne MacDonald’s passions are pottery and the Maritimes. After traveling the world working as a tour guide in destinations like New York City, Bermuda, Cuba, Europe, and more, she has now returned home to New Brunswick, which inspires her amazing pieces of pottery.
Leanne met with [EDIT]ION to discuss her love for her home province, everything local, and her life as a potter.
[EDIT]ION: When did you first find your passion for pottery?
Leanne MacDonald: I first discovered my love for pottery when I lived in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. I worked out of a studio in Sunbury shores where I took some courses and fell in love with the art. I spent many hours in the basement studio absorbing all of the knowledge I possibly could from local potters. Darren Emeneau, Tom Smith, and Tim Isaac have been my influences from the very start. I have been so fortunate to work recently with Tim Isaac and I am continuing to learn the art of Raku. There is something about working with all four elements. The clay is so grounding as it comes directly from the earth. The water allows the clay to take shape. The fire is what truly drives me. Finally, the wind helps feed the fire. I am truly passionate about creating with clay. As an earth sign, this is the most fulfilling art for me. I have been playing in clay off and on for 15 years and I still have so much to learn. The challenge never ends. I love to be challenged and I am humbled by the art of pottery. I currently work out of the Saint John Art Center, which has been so amazing and supportive throughout my journey. I thank all of my mentors and fellow potters as I would not be where I am today without all of you.
[EDIT]ION: I see you work with a lot of local businesses, like Paris Crew, Juniper, and Art Warehouse. What do you think makes New Brunswick’s local business community unique?
Leanne: I am so fortunate I cannot express it enough to have these amazing local businesses support. Without them, I would not be where I am today. Local is everything. Paris Crew is all about making the city a better place. New Brunswick is so unique because we have such a family vibe here. We are all working together to provide local goods to build and allow the province to thrive. Local in my opinion is everything and I know these powerful ladies and business owners feel the same way. With everything changing in our world I feel that the more we put into our community the more we will all not only succeed but thrive. I have lived in other bigger cities and there's nothing like coming home and popping into your local coffee shop and having friendly faces you know there. Big cities are amazing but as they say “home is where the heart is.” I truly believe if we all continue to work together our city will only get stronger.
[EDIT]ION: What is your creative process like? What inspires you?
Leanne: Some may say I am a rebel in pottery. By this I mean I break a lot of traditional rules. My work is chunky and truly looks like it came from the earth. I have been pushed to refine my pottery over the years but I just like the look of Wabi Sabi clay work. I am a lover of glaze work first and foremost. My passion is all about breaking the traditional rules and thinking outside the box. I love to try new things and see what type of result I get. The texture and the unpredictability are truly what drive me. Pottery can have some amazing outcomes but at the same time, it can be very disappointing at times the glaze and clay can have a mind of their own. Local potters are also a huge inspiration to me. I am so lucky to have been able to learn from potters.
Leanne’s work is for sale on her Instagram page @macdonald.leanne. Her full collection is available online and in-store at Paris Crew art gallery in Saint John, New Bruswick, as well as her pottery classes.
Mullinger Meets Canadians
New Podcast Episode with Tyler Simmonds
Mullinger meets filmmaker, fashion designer, keynote speaker and mental health advocate Tyler Simmonds. Tyler’s award-winning films, keynote speeches and TED Talks on mental health and mindfulness, led to the Huffington Post naming him one of the “10 Inspirational People Under 30 You Should Be Following.”
Born on January 26, 1990 Tyler grew up in North Preston and struggled with his mental health throughout his childhood. His first critically acclaimed short film, In My Mind, looked at mental health in the black community. And his second film, There's Soul in Our Soil, examined intergenerational trauma caused by racism. His brand new film, The Search For Healing, is premiering at the Halifax Black Film Festival.
Tyler and James discuss what people in Atlantic Canada can do more to support black owned businesses, how to deal with ignorance, racism in Canada, why cancelling people doesn’t work and that rather than calling them out we should call them in.
Settle in, and click here to listen up.
Photograph by Kelsi Barr
How Toronto’s Nitasha Goel Relaunched Her Thriving Apothecary Business in Hubbards, Nova Scotia
by Morgan Leet
Photographs by Riley Smith
Entrepreneur and apothecarist Nitasha Goel knew she needed a change.
She had a good life in Toronto, and her business was doing well, but in 2019 she left the big city behind to move to Hubbards, Nova Scotia. She now lives there happily (with her husband Steve and their beloved dog, Roti), continuing her career and building her business.
Nitasha’s parents immigrated from India to Toronto before she was born. She worked in the corporate fashion industry for 10 years for companies including Levi Strauss & Co. and Holt Renfrew, before opening her own boutique skin-care store, The Cure Apothecary, in 2014. The business was born out of passion and the need for better quality ingredients to treat her own skin-care needs.
She became wildly successful, was named by Vogue India as one of the Incredible Indian Women across the Globe, and was featured in publications like Monocle magazine and Toronto Life...
Click Here to read full feature in French and English.
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