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March 28, 2009 Weblog:

Students Battle Over Nova Scotia PIRG

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HALIFAX – “We need to trust that people will be honest”, said Mat Brechtel, chair of the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU), referring to a ballot vote after two votes by hand count had failed to determine whether or not a motion concerning the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG) would be added to the meeting's agenda. Brechtel was chairing the DSU's Annual General Meeting to a packed auditorium of 200 students.

The motion called on the DSU to make NSPIRG vacate their offices within 30 days, that NSPIRG make a public apology for "wasting students' money," and also stated that all funds should be with held from NSPIRG and held in trust by the DSU.

The issue of whether the student-funded social justice organization NSPIRG should continue to receive funding was the hot debate item of the evening. Though the item was added to the agenda, it now needs to be voted on by the Dalhousie student body at a subsequent general meeting, to be held April 1st in the Dalhousie Student Union Building at 6:30 pm. It will require a simple majority of 50 percent plus one to either pass or fail.

The meeting began with a tightly controlled security check at the doors of the McInnes Room, the auditorium where the AGM was held. As per orders of DSU President, Courtney Larkin, no non-Dalhousie students were allowed into the AGM, including NSPIRG members and a staff, despite precedence during past AGMs.

According to supporters of NSPIRG inside the meeting, several non-students were still in attendance, including former members of the DSU council and executive.

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March 5, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, end of tour

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Picture 1: Our presentation at Just Us cafe on Spring Garden had a really good turnout, one of the highest, at 13 people. The tour, on average brought about 8-10 people out to each of its events. The thing about touring a city (as opposed to a country) is that, while touring a much smaller area, small groups of people make it out to whichever event is the easiest one for them to attend. With each event, a different group of people comes out, and most are there for really good reasons, making every presentation interesting in the sense that the people in attendance dictate its terms.

Picture 2: "The revolution starts here!" shouted Dominion editor, Dru Oja Jay, in the midst of a presentation at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Those in attendance were highly enthused, amazingly supportive individuals, ready to take a stand on Canadian media. It was a rejuvenating experience to be in the same room as these folks, older than myself, who see the big picture with blatant confidence. In this picture: Errol Sharpe of Fernwood Publishing (middle), and Dave Shaw of PSAC (right).

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February 25, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 22

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Picture 1: A public presentation in the North End was held upstairs from Anchor Archive, a growing local library of zines on every topic available. Besides being the most well-attended event this month, a journalist from the Chronicle Herald described how he had survived the paper's brutal cuts, and expressed interest in being involved in the co-op.

Picture 2: Our presentation in Bedford, aka 'an attempt at branching out,' proved a little less than fruitful in spite of concerted attempts at postering in bus stops and sticking flyers under people's windshield wipers nearby the community's shopping mall. There is a lack of public space in Bedford. We are told that the ice rink is the favorite public hangout by our solo contact there to date, Mark, who, when he's not helping build media co-ops, is driving a Zamboni.

Picture 3: The 7th annual Homelessness Marathon, which airs every year in Montreal, aims to raise awareness about homelessness with 14 hours straight of live broadcasting. This year, CKDU 88.1 FM in Halifax hosts a listening booth at St. Matthews United Church of Canada, serving food and drinks all night long. In collaboration, women from the Roberts Street "Stitch and Bitch" have a KNIT-A-THON to raise funds for the Out of the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter.

Picture 4: The Media Co-op's own traveling videographer, Van Ferrier. Van has returned to Montreal since this photo was taken, but before he did, was instrumental in documenting the process of building the co-op. Here, he flims The Dominion's first annual AGM.

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February 19, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 16 (skipped a few, but am compensating)

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Picture 1: Halifax is saturated in cooperative media potential. Posters detailing a list of events in different neighborhoods in and around Halifax can be seen from the four directions.

Picture 2: A presentation at Oxfam involved many projections, even though the writing was on the wall.

Picture 3: A journalism skillshare and intro to the Halifax Media Co-op website drew a diverse and engaged audience into NSPIRG's office at Dalhousie.

Picture 4: Handing people flyers outside of the Halifax Ferry Terminal leading to Dartmouth was incredibly fun. Being able to tell people about the upcoming event in Dartmouth ("it's not just a Halifax thing") felt like an exercise in being thorough.

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February 14, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 7 (more like Day 12...)

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Picture 1: The Dominion presented at the Ecology Action Center to the most receptive audience to date. When asked "If we lived in a real democracy, what would news media look like?" people's responses included "Politicians would have to speak for themselves," "the media would be accountable to it's readers," and "news would not be only from the perspective of power."

Picture 2: We The Dominion presented at the Halifax Labour Council to a small crowd, but many enthusiastic head-nods made up for what we lacked in numbers. The highlight of the occasion was, without question, Labour Council member Judy Haiven's extra-special Mr. Coffee brew.

Picture 3: A Friday night lecture at Dalhousie University entitled "Enduring Legacy, Enduring Challenge: The Global and Canadian Dimensions of the Trans-Altlantic Slave Trade," was one of many events going on in Halifax as part of African Heritage (or Black History) Month. Dr. Afua Cooper performed a spoken word piece called "The Negro Cemetery" about how old 'negro' cemeteries are currently resurfacing all over Canada--in corn fields, and in potato fields. Made me quake, simply. "Historians, by and large, see themselves as guardians of the story of the nation," said Cooper about the way she is treated as a historian who is trying to challenge prevalent notions of Canadian history in scholarly circles.

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February 10, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 6

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Picture 1: The Media Co-op's first formal presentation was given to Journalism students at the University of King's College. The crowd was small but receptive, and the event was well-documented by the Media Co-op's Van Ferrier (our traveling videographer).

Picture 2: A Halifax Career Fair for students of Mount Saint Vincent University, Dalhousie, and Saint Mary's was met with protest. The event included recruiters for Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms manufacturer. Local activist Asaf Rashid played the role of Dr. Clusterbomb of the Weapons Inspection Team.

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February 9, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 5

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Picture 1: Last-minute printing needs landed several Dominion organizers at Kinkos an hour before the AGM. They walked in with a USB key, and left with darling pamphlets, secret ballots (on sky blue and lavender paper), and double-sided copies of the candidates' bios. A little less colorful but no less valuable, were the financial statements and special resolutions to be presented at the much-anticipated event.

Picture 2: The food was set out, along with coffee and OJ. Fifteen people attended The Dominion's first ever AGM, and eighteen more participated online. The whole thing was broadcast across the country to whoever cared to watch. Resolutions were passed, and a new board was elected, including Harjap Grewal (new Reader member rep), and Tracy Glynn (winning Writer member candidate). Other highlights included the suggestion that The Dominion feature a cute baby animal in each of its forthcoming issues, in the spirit of covering more positive news.

Picture 3: Dominion Editor Dawn Paley's "Economic Downturn shoes" will continue to glitter long after the fall of capitalism.

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February 7, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 4

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Media Co-op HQ, early morning, post-Muesli. The day before The Dominion's AGM and the plan is, roughly: work, eat, work, practice presentation (work), make pamphlets (work), go outside, walk, work, bluegrass with the Smokin' Contraband.

Three more organizers have arrived in the last 24: Dawn Paley (Dominion editor) from Vancouver, Van Ferrier (video guy), and Moira Peters (coordinating editor extraordinaire)!!

February 6, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 3

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A practice-run of the Media Co-op's presentation got positive feedback and a few snickers (all in good fun) from a couple of friends who sat down to listen.

Slide 1: After assessing an issue each of both the Chronicle Herald and the Metro, it was pretty clear that the vast majority of articles were "canned," (gleaned from newswires). Of those that weren't, most reproduced content from press releases or announcements. Of those that were actually original, local stories however, none could rightly be called investigative.

Slide 2: First, we take Halifax.

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February 5, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 2

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Hillary talks briefly to the Student Coalition Against War (SCAW) at Dalhousie University about the Media Co-op. There is interest in future involvement and events.

February 4, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 1

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The Dominion's first day of a month-long Media Co-op tour in Halifax, it's inaugural city, was all about getting the presentation together in time for a slew of speaking events, scheduled throughout February in different Halifax neighbourhoods. We did not have to look very far to find examples of media that do not serve the people.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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