The murder of Tanya Brooks: 10 years later

 

By Judy Haiven  (first published today in NSAdvocate.org)

Ten years ago, this week, Tanya Brooks was brutally murdered, her body left in a window-well of St Patrick’s-Alexandra School, in north end Halifax.  The window well is grisly a two foot by 6 foot concrete coffer, four feet below the school pavement.  On Friday it was littered with cigarette stubs, shreds of paper, and pop cans. The now abandoned large school building is a site of broken windows, boarded up doors and overgrown grass and litter.brooks-sign

Brooks, aged 36, originally from Millbrook First Nation near Truro, was mother to 5 children; she was also a sister, a daughter and a friend. 

Last Friday, on the 10thanniversary of her death, about 75 people walked from the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centrethe two blocks to the now shuttered public school.  Vanessa Brooks, Tanya’s younger sister, led the march and the tribute.  She spoke eloquently about her sister and her family, and the fact that Tanya’s death was yet another tragic case of  MMIWG – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. brooks-sign2 

APTN (The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) has made a three season series called “Taken.”  It details about 30 cases (out of more than 1,000) of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Episode 13 of the 1stseries features the life and death of Tanya Brooks.

 

One might well ask what the Halifax police have been doing about this case. Somehow despite the police offering a $150,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer, no one has come forward to claim the reward.  The police maintain despite having no leads, the case is still “open”. 

One wonders how quickly the police would have moved to find the killer of – for example — my daughter-in-law.  Given recent reluctance by the Halifax police to end street checks and apologise for their racism, race likely played a role in their unforgivably slow investigation. Since the murder was a decade ago, the trail of the murderer must be cold by now.

Halifax’s incoming police chief, Dan Kinsella, has his work cut out for him. Not only should he declare a permanent halt to street checks, and apologise for the police force’s past racist behaviour – Kinsella also has to make a serious effort to solve the murder of Tanya Brooks. 

Photos by Judy Haiven

What to watch on Air Canada…

Here are a few final photos I took in Northern Italy:  Larry would have loved to have attended an opera at La Scala, but this photo has to do…  a final snack apples from near Trento,  and huge strawberries from southern region of Basilicata.   Phone booths — now empty — in the lobby of a high-class hotel in Stresa.

 

hateI watched this film and liked it.  It’s worth watching — less sentimental than most American films.

I also watched Brexit, which is a drama produced in the UK.  This is an excellent political thriller — all unfortunately true.  Actors portray Nigel Farage (remember him?), Dominic Cummings and all the luminaries — a lot of Tory hacks too — who figured out how to get 3 million previously unknown and undeclared voters to vote FOR Brexit. 

Monsters and Men is also worth watching.  A white NY city cop shoots a black man who is selling cigarettes on a street corner.  He’s selling them singly –one by one… this film shows how three black men respond to this horrifying event.  One man is a cop; one is a job-seeker; and one is an 18 yr old high school student.  The job-seeker had anonymously posted a video of the killing and the fall out is immediate.  The acting is excellent; the writing and story line are believable and thoughtful.  Couldn’t take my eyes off the screen… see a trailer here: https://youtu.be/tRP2yYJF_GI

 

 

Last days in Emilia Romagna–

fin-mapWe’re experienced at being here in perhaps the richest region in Italy —  Emilia Romagna as we spent about 5 months in Bologna — maybe 10 years ago — while on Sabbatical. A region is equivalent to a Can. province.Today I can barely remember having had a responsible job as a university professor fin-profI remember Omri having to go to high school, at the  Liceo Classico — even on Sat. mornings, which is the norm here. Well no more school for him– or for me. We went to what our tour guide Anna called a “typical town”, depressing in the rain — but the mascot of Felino  is  a pig. fin-pigThey call the region’s capital city, Bologna, La Grassa (the fat one).   Great food  predicated on prosciutto and the wonderful Parmigiano cheese. We toured a large, family owned prosciutto plant, and also a wonderful  cheese farm with 500 cows.  The owner of the cheese plant and farm was proud to say there were no unions since mechanization meant he needed only 20 loyal employees.  Have a look:

 

The huge rounds of  Parmigiano weigh at least 50 pounds each, it takes 600 litres of milk to make each one. Banks here accept these wheels of cheese as collateral! There are HUGE warehouses of this cheese that underwrite  loans for farmers!!

 

Fantastic scenery.  The upper left castle is the Castello di Torrechiara.  The field was just outside our hotel room in Parma!

 

A cappucino for me and a cafe doppio for Larry, and at this cafe we joined two Australians and a Canadian from Kingston, Ont. at the Sat. market in Parma. Parma was the home to the Farnese family, of course aristocrats — the castle is a wonderful brick building hundreds of years old which now houses the regional galleries and art treasures:

 

The statue of the Partisan fighter (WWII) has his back turned to the monarchy, so to speak. And that — said our guide– is controversial today, yet this statue signals the pro-socialist tendencies in Emilia-Romagna.  After all Bologna is called Red Bologna. …The two lions flank the main church in Parma. Here is a postcard of the church, and the octagonal baptistry in Parma: fin-parma

We’ve noticed few demonstrations, or posters for left wing demonstrations– which we used to see on lampposts and walls in this region.  In a way it’s upsetting.

What to read, what to watch…

I’m falling behind on both, reading and watching.  But I recommend the dystopian short story collection by Cory Doctorow called Radicalized.  My favourite is about an immigrant woman who works as a bookkeeper in New York City.  She organises “the poors”  in her 50 storey apartment building to effectively strike.  This is because all the appliances only work if the renter buys high end soap for the dishwasher or the washing machine — or bread from a certain multinational corporation.  Otherwise no appliance works.  This is a humorous yet somehow prescient group of stories. doctorow.jpg

I watched the 6 part series The Bodyguard — a British thriller — on Netflix.  It started out quite well and it both moved fast and was (in a policier way) political and OK.  A cabinet minister moves to the right (is that new), a cop who did years in Afghanistan becomes her personal bodyguard, and London’s never looked greyer or colder.  Good enough.  Unfortunately by the last episode it managed to be anti-Muslim, and yet also  pro-feminist. So I’m not sure what to make of that.  Sure makes you stay awake: bodyguard

This book by a 30 year old Black British woman, Reni Eddo-Lodge– is brilliant. Absolutely. It’s a must read if you really want to know about white privilege, pretence and racial prejudice in the UK today. She discusses why it took 20 years for the  murder of Stephen Lawrence, a, 18- yr old  black man killed while standing at a bus stop in south London to get “solved.”  Of course if you read the book you’ll see it was never solved and the reasons why not.  What really changed as a result of two men (out of 5 attackers) being sent to jail? race

Cinque Terre…

We travelled to La Spezia — follow the light orange line:5-map on the Italian Riviera from Viareggio and then took a boat to Cinque Terra.  I hadn’t been before.  These are 5 small touristy village clinging to the  limestone coastline.  The natural beauty belies the touristy aprons, wooden spoons, and dresses from Prato in the markets of all the towns.  Here are some nice photos.  And here’s our tour guide, Anna who is working aboard the boat. 5-annaNow for the scenery —

and some fun photos here:  it’s as though the houses are going to fall into the sea. There are the knots on the wall of the boat.  An older cat on a doorstep, and Larry and I —

This and That… Genoa and beyond…

Here’s a map of where we went today — see the black linemap2.jpgWe’re now in Tuscany, quite near Pisa.  Today was May Day but we missed the parades, somehow even in Genoa, which has a huge number of trade unionists who primarily work on the docks, as it’s the biggest port in Italy.   Here are some nice photos. The round towers are the original walls of the city of Genoa, The two Caribinieri were coming back from the parades.  Question: Why do Carabinieri always go places in twos? Because one knows how to read and one knows how to write.  (Our guide’s humour).

And more:

 

I saw rice paddies for the first time, land prepared and then flooded. Tons of hectares are under water because of rice, and there are olive trees, and all the land seems cultivated.

Passed by a gym or Palestra in Genoa’s old town– with Zumba classes. The white on the mountain is not snow but Carrara Marble — just what Michelangelo used — outside of Genoa.  Then there was the wig shop in the red light district of Genoa…  Cartoon in the New Yorker I was reading today:

cartooon-ny

By far and away the best long article I’ve read about Guantanamo is about a prisoner from Mauritania — who was tortured and imprisoned in Gitmo for 7 plus years. Read it in last week’s New Yorker: prisoner Written by Ben Taub and it’s called The Prisoner of Echo Special.  When people ask me why I won’t go to the US for any reason I say I won’t till Gitmo is shut — this article will explain the reasons….

prof-cafe.jpgLarry donated this photo — he took it when our bus stopped …

Finally we got to Lucca, the walled city of Tuscany.  Because it’s May Day there were many, many Italian tourists — here are some sights:

The Matruschka dolls (nesting dolls out of wood) were a souvenir from  the old Soviet days, I suppose since it is May Day. Cypress trees are all over the countryside, sometimes surrounded by  olive trees.  This square in Lucca is a round and used to be a Roman coliseum more than 1000 years ago — the archways are proof.  When the church needed stone for the churches, the coliseum was dismantled  and so this square is a circle now of shops and houses. Here is a postcard I just bought, which allows you to see it better: circle-lucca

 

From Milan to Lake Como…

Brilliant sun, a blue sky and almost good enough to swim outdoors, but not quite.  We took our bus tour thru the countryside to Lake Como. There we had a boat trip around this famous lake, and the George Clooney compound was pointed out. Of course it’s NOTHING compared to the estates of the Russian Oligarchs.  For more about them read John LeCarre’s  Our Kind of Traitor.

From Milano to Lago Como, then to Taranto Gardens, then to Lago Maggiore.  mapThe town of Como, is well it’s rather touristy. A nice church, white table-clothed bistros, and this wooden mastiff…como-dog. We travelled to the Taranto Gardens taranto-gdnmapand saw every kind of tree, plant, and flower. What a delight. Here are the ragged tulips…and a sea of daffodils:

Then on to Lago Maggiore lake-magg The peaks, are the Alps, we are not so far from Switzerland. We passed by a huge marble quarry on Lake Maggiore.marble-mtn.jpgThe town of Stresa is a high end tourist town, quite lovely as you’ll see, tiny town square. Endless tea towels, aprons and scarves for sale. Postcards — if you are lucky and receive one from me! giant-cattown-stresaThe dynamic blue cat keeps watch. Mosaic building and a love view from the bus. near-stresa-2

The tour company made an error and we are staying in the most posh wonderful hotel imaginable.  Gardens, views, two balconies off our room, and incredible art that’s original and gives me chills. Have a look:

Here we are in the horizontal elevator (really) that takes us from the main building from 1873, to the indoor pool — runs horizontally horiz-elevAnd scenes from this incredible hotel: indoor-poolPool we swam today! still0lifeI think this is from a Dutch master maybe.  This huge sailing ship is made of jade, seriously– More than an hint of Italian colonialism around here

jade-ship    statue

An odd bit of romance…. couple