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Exclusive by Design

Originally published in Coastlands: The Maritimes Policy Reviewin December 2007, on pages 26-27.

By Chris Benjamin

In August I moved back to Halifax after an eight-year hiatus in Toronto. I was surprised to find that not much has changed. The north end is gentrifying somewhat and I see a few new buildings going in, but, by and large, it’s the same, slow-paced, well-spaced city I remember and love.

When I was 24, that slowness was killing me too quickly. After eight years of rushing around Toronto trying to prove how productive and hip I was, this place seems perfect. Yet, having suffered the teenaged doldrums without so much as a decent shopping mall where I could blow off steam (and money), I can appreciate the desire to liven up the place. Looking at the white flight out of this city, I can even understand the HRM by Design team’s ambitious “build it (up) and they will come (back)” dream. What I can’t understand is why they think building a bunch of steel and glass commercial towers, albeit buffered by trees and pedestrian lanes, is the way to do it.

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Climate Change and Terrorism

This story first appeared in The Coast on November 26, 2015:

Halifax to Paris, by way of Syria

Climate change is driving conflicts across the world, and we’re starting to see the results.

“When you have drought, when people can’t grow their crops, they’re going to migrate into cities, and when people migrate into cities and they don’t have jobs, there’s going to be a lot more instability, a lot more unemployment and people will be subject to the types of propaganda that al-Qaeda and ISIS are using right now.” Read more

Canadian Literature Review of Indian School Road

In her paper for Canadian Literature, Christina Turner reviews three “anticolonial pedagogies” including Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School, which she says strikes “a difficult balance between articulating the culture of corruption and incompetence that characterized the IRS system in general and Shubenacadie in particular, while stressing the culpability of those who neglected and abused its wards for decades.”

Read the review here.


My life behind the welfare wall

One woman’s struggle to move forward in the system that holds her back

The following is an excerpt from the March 2016 Halifax Magazine feature called “My life behind the welfare wall,” by Kyla Derry as told to Chris Benjamin:

Here’s something you may not know about poverty: when you get off welfare and get a job, you can lose more than you gain financially. Sometimes, you end up poorer. Read more

Just as the world agrees to climate change action, NS Liberals impose huge cuts to solar power

How short-term energy-price politics prevent us from making real progress in the fight against climate change.


On December 14, Minister of Energy Michel Samson stood before the legislature and introduced Bill 141 – Electricity Plan Implementation Act.

“Mr. Speaker,” he said, “I’m pleased to stand for a third time to speak about this important bill…The plan and this bill are built on the input and advice government received from over 1,300 Nova Scotians, experts, and interest groups…This bill clearly puts ratepayers first.”

The bill passed. Its focus is on Read more

Atlantic Canadian writers make good in CBC’s short story contest

The following is an excerpt from a feature story about Atlantic Canadian writers who were finalists in CBC’s annual short story contest, written by Chris Benjamin and published in Atlantic Books Today in April 2016.

The CBC announced yesterday that David Huebert, who grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has won this year’s prestigious Read more

Chris Benjamin’s Favourite Books of 2015

A little late, as has become my custom, here are the best books I read in 2015, in the order I read them [Click on the image to learn more about the book]:

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Going Down the Indian Road

Esteemed poet and author Gary Geddes, once described as “Canada’s best political poet,” has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking review of Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School.



The review will appear in his forthcoming new book, Medicine Unbundled (Heritage House Publishing), which is a Read more

Author on residential schools: ‘Canadians don’t know’

The following is an excerpt from an article by Maia Kowalski that originally appeared in The Signal on October 16, 2015:

SMU talk
Author Chris Benjamin talks about the history of the Schubenacadie Residential School.   Maia Kowalski


Speaking to a small crowd at Saint Mary’s University last night, [Chris Benjamin] said he was surprised by how much the survivors opened up to him in his interviews.

“Usually the response is, ‘people need to know,’” he said. “I think that’s sort of a mission that certain survivors have taken on, [because] they still feel Canadians don’t know – and they don’t – and they want to get their stories out there.”

Benjamin was on a “university book tour,” supporting his 2014 book, “Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School.”

Read the full article.


Musquodoboit Harbour Literary Fair

Chris Benjamin will be at the Literary Fair in Musquodoboit Harbour in the Old School Gathering Place on November 7 from 1-4 pm. This event is part of a weekend long celebration of authors and words:

musquodoboit harbour literary event

Saturday, November 7

Afternoon Readings from 1 to 4 pm. There will also be a book fair during this time with signings by local authors.

Jenni Blackmore     1:00-1:10

Chris Benjamin 1:10-1:20
Anne Simpson         1:20-1:30
Donna Morrissey   1:30-1:40
Ian Colford               1:40-1:50

Tea Demonstration          2:00-2:30

Art Burton                            2:30-2:40

Melanie Mosher                 2:40-2:50
Melody Fitzpatrick             2:50-3:00
Vivien Gorham                    3:00-3:10

Steve Vernon                      3:10-3:20

L.P. Suzanne Atkinson      3:20-3:30
Gerald Daye                          3:30-3:40

Rowland Marshall              3:40-3:50

Brett Loney                          3:50-4:00

From 7 to 9 pm

Deirdre Dwyer                    7:15-7:30

Genevieve Graham            7:30-7:45

Bethana Sullivan                 7:45-8:00

Karen Schlick                       8:00-8:15

Patrick Woodcock             8:15- 8:30