Stories of Colchester County: July to December
Our reporters gathered key stories that impacted Colchester County for a recap of 2021 in the news
STORIES BY REPORTERS HARRY SULLIVAN, RICHARD MACKENZIE AND CHELSEY GOULD.
Editor's note: This recap of news stories from Colchester County in 2021 highlights from July to December. Last week's Truro News featured January to June. Full stories are available online at Saltwire.com JULY • An assault on Queen Street in Truro left a woman badly bruised and traumatized. The woman, who did not want her name published for fear of further retribution, said she went to an area near the railway tracks and Salmon River, approximately 91 metres from her home, to tell a group of people the fireworks they were letting off were scaring her dog and causing the animal great anxiety. Before she knew it, the woman said she was punched in the face and continuedly pummeled as her male assaulter yelled: "'Die bitch, die’" while being cheered on by a female voice. The woman said the male also held her head underwater in the river. “I haven’t left my house since the incident except to go to the police station and hospital,” she said. “My mind keeps playing the assault over, repeatedly, in my head.” The woman said the beating also heightened her depression and anxiety. • It was a night to remember for students in Truro in a celebration uneclipsed to any experience during the past 16 months of the COVID pandemic in Nova Scotia. Into the field at Riverbreeze Farm entered prom-goers from Cobequid Educational Centre. Directed to a parking lot, they lined up to check-in and were then ushered to a staging area of photographers and videographers with a picturesque farm backdrop. Just two months prior, during the height of COVID’S third wave and a provincewide shutdown, hopes for a year-end prom celebration seemed to be dashed. After graduation on the farm was denied by the province, the community-led committee thought a July prom would be better late than never. The July prom was a special experience for students to celebrate after a hard year, shifting between in-person and online learning and a downsized graduation. It ended with spectacular fireworks. • Nova Scotia’s wildfire prevention officer returned from helping lead investigators in British Columbia, where there is an unusually high number of human-caused wildfires this year. Kara Mccurdy, who hails from Shubenacadie, N.S., spent 14 days in the field, waking up early in the cooler mornings and working 12 to 14 hours a day. Most days, the temperature was about 35 to 40 C. In the Penticton, B.C. area, the crew investigated a major fire for three days, then investigated three smaller fires in the Vernon, B.C. area. Returning to Kamloops, B.C., they worked on a series of fires with another investigator. This is certainly not the first time Mccurdy has aided wildfire efforts across the country. Her largest blaze was 500,000 hectares of land north of Yellowknife, where she went as a fire behaviour analyst. Sometimes she has travelled as a fire rep, leading groups of 20 firefighters. AUGUST • Town of Truro Urban Forestry co-ordinator Andrew Williams said he has been fielding a lot of calls from area residents concerned over the health of their ash trees and Norway maples. “The trees are suffering from ash leaf rust, in the case of ashes, and tar spot for the Norway maples,” Williams said. “Both are very common leaf diseases and they’re leading to a lot of very rattylooking ash and maples which folks are noticing. And both are dropping leaves already.” Williams said the cause was due to a lot of rainfall in May and June mixed with warm temperatures. “With extended periods of foliage being wet – it’s just ideal conditions for the growth of fungal diseases,” Williams said. “This is, in fact, one of the predicted effects of climate change; we’re going to be seeing an increasing number of plant diseases as a result of the change in the climate.” • A successful house-building project undertaken by members of the Tatamagouche community has attracted the attention of the international group Habitat for Humanity. “So, we’re hoping this might turn into something else for our community as well,” said Jimmy Lefresne, past Grand Master of the Tatamagouche Odd Fellows group. With a two-year waiting list for rental units in the area, Lefresne said his group stepped up to assist the Heighton family because of the four children involved and the fact they didn’t want to see them forced to move out of the community or living under unreasonable conditions. “There are a lot of people who need houses here; there’s no question about that, but why they stood out is because of the four kids,” he said. SEPTEMBER • Dr. Stephen Ellis wins the Cumberland-colchester Member of Parliament seat away from Liberal incumbent Lenore Zann. Running for the Conservative Party of Canada, Ellis claimed a comfortable victory in the election that eventually saw Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government retain power in Ottawa, albeit with a significant minority. Ellis, a family doctor in Truro before entering politics earlier in the year, said he wants to continue his community involvement as much as possible and make sure he is available to his constituents. “A big thing I want to continue to do, which we know is important to people here in Cumberland-colchester, is meeting with them,” he said. “It’s being at their doorsteps, at town halls, understanding what their issues are, the ones unique to them. They appreciate it when we show up in their lives, so that will continue to be important to me.” • The homicide of a 23-yearold Punjabi man outside a Robie Street apartment in Truro left a mother and sister grieving and raised fears in the local Sikh community. “He was a really good person and a really hard-working person,” said Yadvir Singh Saddhe of his brother-in-law, Prabhjot Singh Katri, who worked at Mcdonald’s in Truro while also driving a cab for Layton’s Taxi. He added Katri was living his “dream life” in Canada and was a quiet person who never had a bad word to say about anybody. “He was a really good person, a good friend,” he said. “It’s such a loss; he was way too young, only 23.” He organized a Gofundme page that raised more than $90,000 to send Singh’s body to India. • The Truro Tide, the community’s first professional sports team, was introduced during an announcement at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre (RECC). “The Tide is ready to roll in,” RECC manager Matt Moore declared while addressing those at the announcement of the new basketball organization. The team will be part of the new Eastern Canadian Basketball League (ECBL), which is expected to hit the court in March of 2022. “Truro is a place we want to be in for decades,” league president Tim Kendrick said. “We couldn’t be more excited to be here.” Kendrick unveiled the team’s logo and double-blue colour scheme for its uniforms. “We know there is a lot of work to do before that (playing games), but we couldn’t have a better start than being in this community to announce our first franchise,” Kendrick said. OCTOBER • Trapped in an upstairs bedroom filled with “unbearable” heat and smoke, and the flames climbing ever higher, Heather Clare and her three children had two choices – jump or die. When eldest daughter Emily, 17, said: ‘Mom, I’m too scared, I can’t jump,’ Clare uttered words no mother wants to tell her children. “When the heat and the smoke got so bad and the panic set in, I turned and looked at my kids and said: ‘We’re going to die,’” she said. “I said, ‘we don’t have a choice. Either you jump, or you die.’” Fortunately, everyone survived the five-metre jump at the Debert home, although Clare’s two daughters both received serious back injuries when they hit the ground. Clare suffered cuts and bruises, a sore back and a sprained ankle. Her son, Josh, 7, escaped with cuts and bruises, but must deal with nightmarish memories as with the rest. • A set of mountain biking trails adjacent to Ski Wentworth officially opened with four full trails for mountain bikers and the Get Up There/ snowshoe trail. Trailbuilder Charles Stevens would dig the trail during the week and then be joined on Saturdays by 20 to 30 volunteers with the Wentworth Mountain Biking Association to refine it. Each trail took about six to eight weeks to complete. There was also a lot of community support, especially from the Wentworth Trails Association, Ski Wentworth, bike shops and many locals.