Category Archives: Investigative2017_4

More couples in Cole Harbour lived without a children in 2016 compared to 2011


This map is from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census, which measures the growth of married couples living without child the Halifax-area census tracts. The darker colours represent areas with the highest increase. The lighter areas, the lower increase. Click on each census track to see the result.
The number of married couples without any children in Cole Harbour district, has sharp increase compared with 2011, according to an analysis of the most recent census data released by Statistic Canada.

Cole Harbour district is located in southwest Dartmouth across the ferry from Halifax peninsula. In this area, the number of married couples who don’t have child increased 82 per cent from 2011 to 2016, which has the highest growth all over the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Áine Humble, a professor of Family Studies and Gerontology department, Mount Saint Vincent University, says that in general there is a long-term trend that people have fewer children in Canada.

The 37-year-old tea house owner, Philip Holmans, and his 31-year-old wife, Karen Holmans, have been living in Cole Harbour for 10 years after they got married. Instead of a child, they have a greyhound named Earl Grey.

Philip Holmans, left, and his wife, Karen Holmans, right, live in Cole Harbour for 10 years. Credit Photo: Philip Holmans’ Facebook.

This couple both have full-time jobs. Husband works for the tea house and wife works as a document administrator for medical records in a company.

Holmans regards his marriage as a partnership. He and his wife have their separate bank accounts and a communal account. “We avoid the financial argument that way,” says Philip.

“The real estate prices are good, compared with downtown Halifax”, says Holmans. He and his wife paid for their house right after they got married.

According to his personal research, the house price in Cole Harbour is around $250,000 dollars. But in downtown Halifax, a small condo should be paid $400,000 dollars plus condo fees on top of that.

Humble residents who who live in downtown Halifax are seniors and university students, and more young couples prefer living in Dartmouth, like Cole Harbour area.

“It is expensive to have children,” says Humble, “people maybe delay having children because they don’t have the finance to raise.”

In centre  ofHalifax, the number of married couples living without child in three adjacent districts have 10.8 per cent decrease, 10.3 per cent decrease, and 2.4 per cent increase. If the harbour that divides Halifax and Dartmouth is the boundary, then the west side of the boundary where those three districts located, has the smallest increases, but the east side has the highest changes over Regional Municipality, according to the census data.

Besides the affordable house price, Holmans thinks it is convenient living in Cole Harbour community where the majority are middle-income families. “Just very ordinary people who live ordinary lives,” says Holmans, “and we like it”.

From 2011 to 2016, the number of couples living without children rose faster than the number of couples with children. The Daily says “Trends in the share of couples living with or without children also reflect the growing diversity of households and families in Canada.”

“Financial reasons could be related to the level of governmental support for the family,” says Humble.

Halifax’s population changed 4.7 per cent 2006 between 2011, down to 3.3 per cent compared to the period between 2011 and 2016.



Halifax Census Married Couples


The map is based on the data from Statistics Canada 2016 Census. It shows the growth of married couples between 2011 and 2016 in all tracts in Halifax Regional Municipality. Darker colours mean highest growth rates, while lighter colours mean lower rates. Click on each census tract can see specific figure.

Resource: Statistics Canada

According to the data, many people moved to rural areas of Halifax Regional Municipality in the past five years. The area between South St. and Inglis Street is only tract near downtown which attracts more married couples to settle. The number of married couples in the area increased 6.5 per cent from 2011 to 2016.

Few speak an Aboriginal language in Halifax, but many identify as Aboriginal.

“It’s past its expiration date,” says executive director Pam Glode-Desrochers. Credit Photo: Gabrièle Roy

At the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax, the heat and the air conditioning systems are broken, water is dripping down the roofs and mice are walking behind the walls.

For 15 years, members of the community have been lobbying to get a new friendship centre, and it’s finally happening.

According to an analysis of Statistics Canada’s latest Census that tracts maternal languages, there are 75 aboriginal-language speakers in Halifax, just like five years ago during the 2011 census.

Despite the few people speaking an Aboriginal language in Halifax, there are more than 33,000 people who identified as Aboriginal during the latest Census about population released in 2011.

Glode-Desrochers says there are currently around 12,000 Indigenous people in the city, but most of them don’t speak the language or don’t take part in census. “A lot of us don’t want to disclose our full identity,” she says.

On Tuesday August 8, the Mi’kmaw community centre invited everyone and anyone to speak up about their vision and hopes for their new place.

Executive director Pam Glode-Desrochers says the drawings represent what the community wishes the building will look like. Source: Facebook page of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre.

The community centre is the hub where they meet, pray, cook and learn about their own culture. The need to have a new and bigger place is what brought more than 50 people together on Tuesday to share their ideas for the new centre.

Despite the few people who speak an Aboriginal language, the centre helps an infinite amount of people.

“The centre has saved my life and probably saved other peoples’ lives,” says Florence Blackett who has been involved in the centre since she was four years old. “My daughter was raped and I lost my mind and it’s through the support of the centre that I was able to go through the darkest period of my life.”

Blackett and three children.

Blackett is currently studying anthropology at Mount Saint Vincent University. Credit photo: Florence Blackett Facebook.

The centre offers a diversity of programs from cooking classes to mental health counselling.

Florence Blackett, who has been involved with Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre since she was four year old says finally moving location will be like moving an entire family.

Pam Glode-Desrochers, executive director of the centre says, “people who have been here know that there are times when you come in this building and it’s -60 degrees in here and it’s -20 degrees outside, but the staff will still continue to work with their coats and mittens on.”

The centre opened its doors on September 17, 1973. It has been at the same location on Gottingen Street for more than 20 years, in a building that is quickly deteriorating. “I believe that the community has a right to walk into a building that is safe, secure and can deliver what their needs are,” says Glode-Desrochers.

Six years ago, the Mi’kmaw centre had eight programs for its members. The centre evolved over the past years and now offers 28 programs, which are serving more than 5,000 people, compared to 1,600 people in 2000.

“I’m only supposed to allow 200 people in here, says Glode-Desrochers. We are totally out of place in this old building.”

It is still unclear where and when the new centre will open, even how it will be funded, but members of the community say they are on the right track and stay optimistic.

Rag Manzer, a Dalhousie University graduate student and registered nurse who attended the open session, says he just recently learned about his Indigenous identity that was kept secret by his British family for years.

Reg Manzer speaks about his wishes with the community centre. 
  Manzer recently learned that he has Native ancestors. It was his first time at the centre on Tuesday August 8, 2017.


The Spanish-speaking community in Nova Scotia grew 31.6 but remains small


Mauricio Duarte divides his time between monitoring systems as computer engineer at an IT company, and as a musician, turning his keyboard sounds into chords full of the rhythm of his Latin culture.

Mauricio Duarte turned his living room into his “music room.” Keyboards, a DJ mixer, Colombian flutes, a marimba and more instruments fill his apartment in the South end.
Credit: Sofia Ortega

Duarte is from Colombia and he is member of Son Latino, which he describes as “the only authentic Latin band in Halifax.”

Son Latino plays contemporary covers from Latin America, including rhythms like salsa, merengue, reggaeton and more. Its members are from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia and Canada.

According to Duarte being part of Son Latino has not only allowed him to express his art, but also to meet many of the Latin people who live in Halifax.

“The Latin community in Halifax is small, when I wasn’t in the band it was very hard for me to connect to the Latin community.” He says.

The Spanish-speaking community in Nova Scotia grew 31.6 per cent from 2011 to 2016, according to an analysis of Statistics Canada’s most recent data that tracts mother tongue.

There are 2,040 persons in the Province who reported Spanish as their mother tongue in the census 2016. This number represents 0.2 per cent of the total population of the province according to the same analysis.

Mauricio Duarte is one of them.

There are three areas in Halifax where most Spanish speaking people are concentrated.

  1. The area bordered by Robie Street, Inglis Street, Queen Street and South Street.
  2. The area bordered by Bicentennial Drive, Moirs Mill Road, Bedford Highway and Larry Uteck Boulevard.
  3. The area bordered by Lacewood Drive, Dumbrack Street, Washmill Lake Drive and Bicentennial Drive.

This map shows the census tracks of people who reported Spanish as their mother tongue in Halifax. The darker colours represent areas with the highest number of people who reported Spanish as their mother tongue and the lighter colours, the lowest number. Click on each census track to see the details.

Duarte has lived in Halifax for three years and since then, he lives in an apartment located on South Street.

“The area works out because my job is very close. Shopping is very close, downtown is very close. As a musician I play in bars around the city and this location is central.” he says.

His mom and brother live in the same block. Some of his Latin friends live next door, a guy from Argentina and two Cubans.

Another person who is committed to spread the Hispanic culture in the Province is Magaly Dam-Mazzi, a Peruvian born Professor in the Department of Spanish and Latin American studies of Dalhousie University and President of Latispánica Cultural Association, a non-profit organization founded in 2012.

Dam-Mazzi was one of the people who came out with the idea of creating Latispánica.

“We wanted to represent and promote the Hispanic cultures. Show Canadians that Latin people is not only about beer and party, but a rich and diverse culture.” She says.

Their main event is an annual Gala that includes food, performances and dances from different Hispanic countries.

This year they partnered with the Halifax Public Libraries and they’ll offer five workshops in the upcoming months, focused on cooking classes, cumbia lessons, and more.

Latispánica is fully run by volunteers and according to Dam-Mazzi, even though every year they struggle getting volunteers, they wish keep sharing the Hispanic culture with more and more people.

A future with Latin flavor

When asked about the future, Mauricio Duarte smiled.

“I guess the future of the band will be maybe to come up with our own songs or come up with an album with covers or originals. We still need to work on our website, on getting more corporate gigs and make the band more a business”. He says.

Why are some areas seeing a rise in common law couples?


Teri Boates and Alex Stover have been living together for two years – officially, that is. They’ve been on the same lease for the last two years, but spent the year before that sleeping over at each other’s places.

“Just packing a bag and staying there for a few days and really spending most of my time there,” said Boates of her habits in her first year dating Stover. “So that’s when the next year we thought maybe we should just get one together instead of paying two rents for two different places.”

Boates and Stover spent the past academic year living at 5960 Spring Garden Road, along with two of their close friends. As unmarried romantic partners living together continuously for over 12 months, Boates and Stover qualify as a common law couple. And as a common law couple, they contributed to a growing trend in their neighbourhood.

Boates and Stover lived in a census tract with boundaries from Robie to South Park to the west and east and from South Street to the Commons and Citadel to the south and north, respectively. Between 2011 and 2016, the incidence of common law couples in that area increased by 36%.

A map showing the various census tracts in Halifax, colour-coded by percent increase in the incidence of common law couples. The darker the colour, the higher the increase. Click on an area to see its statistics.


Even though that statistic seems telling, Martha Radice, an associate professor of anthropology in Dalhousie’s department of sociology and social anthropology, warns not to read too much into it.

“It’s quite difficult to know what’s going on in the area without comparing that to other changes in family dynamics and household composition,” she said.

Between 2011 and 2016 there was a 15% increase in the number of families in that census tract, and only a 5% increase of married couples. Those increases are contrasted by a drop of over 30% in the rate of married couples with children in the same.

Those stats provide a clearer picture, but they still don’t tell the whole story.

“It all depends what the change is reflecting,” said Radice. “You might have a change in the kind of housing tenure in the census tract. So maybe it’s just that there’s a whole bunch of apartments built that offer great young couple accommodation.”

It’s a plausible theory, but according to this study on the history of condos in Halifax, the number of condos in the tract hasn’t changed since last census (map on page 38/72). So what are some other possible contributing factors?

“It might just be people are choosing not to get married. If it was a decrease in solo households, then you might start thinking about housing costs have risen. Instead of living alone, people are moving in with their partners,” said Radice.

That last reason seems to hold true for Boates, who has lived with up to 6 roommates at a time in an effort to reduce her rent.

“If you’re going to be sharing with roommates anyway, and you’re partner is also looking to find a place – besides just having that mushy someone’s always there for you, and you cuddle someone every night – it does unfortunately come down to money,” she said.

Boates is a Nova Scotia native while Stover is from Oakville, Ontario, but they’ve managed to spend the last few summers together; Boates would stay with Stover at his parents’ house. Now, for the first time in three years, they will be living apart. Boates is staying in Halifax this fall while Stover is still in Ontario trying to become a paramedic.

Boates talking about the pros and cons of living with Stover, her boyfriend

Halifax Spanish community grows faster than national average, but not united


Bedford, Nova Scotia might have the highest number of Spanish-speaking people in the Halifax Regional Municipality, but you wouldn’t know it just by walking down the main street.

Sixty five of the almost 1,400 Spanish speakers in the HRM live near Bedford, the highest of any area in the municipality. The number has almost doubled since the last census in 2011, when it was only 35 people.

Magali Dam-Mazzi, acting president of the Latispánica Cultural Association, said that despite the increase, the Spanish-speaking community in Halifax is not united. Mazzi said the majority of people from Latin America come to the city for work and to find a job.

“Most of the people who come from Latin America are middle to low class so they are spread everywhere,” she said. “We don’t also have a big restaurant, there is no community centre that would get us all together.”

Grant Simpson, a fruit seller with a stand on Bedford Highway, said he hasn’t seen the increase in Spanish-speakers in the area first hand. He said he has, however, seen a number of Middle Eastern and Asian people, as well as vacationers.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 census, 1,375 people in Halifax said Spanish was their mother tongue, versus 1,135 in 2011. This is an increase of over 21 per cent, higher than the national average, which was just over 12 per cent in the last five years.

Magali Dam-Mazzi said the number of Spanish-speakers has grown incrementally in Halifax. Credit: Dalhousie University

Mazzi, who moved to Halifax from Peru 10 years ago, said the goal of Latispánica is to promote Hispanic culture in the city and create a sense of community for newcomers from Latin American countries, like Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia. The organization hosts a fundraising gala every year and holds cooking and dance workshops.

The Hispanic community is stronger in places like Montreal and Ontario, according to Mazzi, who is also a Spanish professor at Dalhousie University. She said one of the reasons for this is the lack of any official presence or consul in Atlantic Canada of a Spanish-speaking country, which can host speakers and events.

“If you go to the embassy [website] in Ottawa you see they do so many beautiful things that really helps to maintain the culture and the roots… But nothing comes here,” she said. “They stay over there. It’s very bad.”

Since the last census in 2011, Spanish was the only European language in Canada that saw growth in the number of speakers. Just over 495,000 people listed it as their mother tongue in 2016, around 55,000 more than in 2011. German fell by almost six percent, while Italian fell by almost seven per cent. Even though it increased, Spanish fell to fifth place among most-spoken immigrant languages –languages other than French and English- in Canada.

Mandarin Chinese saw the most growth, almost 140 per cent in the last five years. It became the most spoken immigrant language in the country with 610,835 people who speak it as their mother tongue. Cantonese, Punjabi, Filipino and Spanish make up the rest of the top five.

Tim Outhit, the city councillor for Bedford, said he hasn’t seen the increase in Spanish-speaking people in the area first-hand, but has seen growth in other ethnic communities in the area. He said one of the reasons for this is relatively affordable housing in the riding.

“You think of Halifax of having a large Arabic and Lebanese and Greek communities but we’re also seeing Indian and African,” he said. “You see growth and diversity in general, which I think is just great.”

This map is from the Statistics Canada 2016 census, which measures the growth of the number of Spanish speakers in the Halifax-area census tracts. The darker colours represent areas with the higher increases and the lighter ones a lower increase.


Source: Statistics Canada

The numbers of Mandarin speakers living in HRM soars during the last five years, census reveals


Data from the 2016 census shows that the number of Mandarin speakers living in HRM has gone up. There are 250 thousand people who participated in the census reported that their mother tongue is Mandarin.

This number has gone by 3.5 times compared to the number five years ago.

Within the HRM area, both central Halifax as well as west Halifax experienced considerable increases with the biggest increase of 155 more people around the Long Lake area. In comparison, Dartmouth only has a biggest change of 50, a third of what central Halifax has had.

Within the HRM, the two areas that have the largest increase are both outside of downtown Halifax. One in the north near Clayton Park and another one in the west, very close to the Long Lake Park.

Both of these two hot spots have had new apartment buildings and houses during the last couple of years.

” I like the people here”

Wang Jun and her husband Man Bu moved to Halifax in a new apartment building at 56 Walter Havil around Long Lake Park, the area that has the biggest increase according to the census.

They moved to Canada along with their son who immigrated as a skilled worker in 2016. Instead of living in the old houses around the building they preferred the apartment because “it was clean and brand new”

“I really like the people here. They will say good morning to you in the morning and stop the car for you when you cross the road,” Wang says, “And the air here is also good.”

The building that the family live in has at least three to four Chinese households on each floor according to the property manager Meagan Sherren. She has had dealings with the apartment building over four years.

“This is a known trend. They(Chinese) love new apartments. They live in one building for two or three years then they go for another one,” Kristin Harpa says. Harpa oversees the daily operation of the company.

Chinese Foreign Workers and Travelling students

This census result mirrors trends in the influx of foreign workers and international students from the People’s Republic of China.

China has exceeded the United States of America and became the No.1 country for people with work permits since March, 2017.




A quarter of the work permit holders come from China based on the data collected between January and March.

Below is a map that indicates the percentage of change in the number of Mandarin speakers between the year of 2011 and 2016 in HRM. 

source: Statistic Canada

Nova Scotia houses highest percentage of couples without children in all of Canada, census finds


More and more Canadian couples are opting to put off having children or not having them altogether, according to the latest 2016 Census data from Statistics Canada.

There are now 9.8 million families in Canada, and the proportion of couples living with children has been decreasing steadily for the last few years. Since 2011, the number of couples without children rose by 7.2%, while those with rose by only 2.3%.

This could be due to a number of factors, one of which is the decision to not have children in the first place. This is exactly what couple Sandy Kennedy and Gordon Danielson decided to do, who currently live in one of the Halifax areas where the percentage of couples without children has risen the most drastically in the last five years.

Kennedy and Danielson have been together for 31 years, and both believe that focusing on their careers was the driving force in their decision to not have children. “For two people with two incomes and no children, life’s pretty comfortable as long as you have friends and family that have kids,” says Danielson. “When we were both working, Sandy was working until midnight and I was away a lot. Can you imagine trying to raise children?”

Sandy Kennedy (left) and Gordon Danielson (right) with their cat Gypsy. Source: Haley MacLean
Sandy Kennedy speaking on why she thinks more employment opportunities for women is affecting the number of childless homes.

Kennedy also believes greater opportunities for women in the workforce is affecting the growing number of women who wish to hold off on starting a family, saying “I think there’s more emphasis on women having careers first before having children. And then I think maybe they reach a threshold where it becomes too late to have children…It’s all about responsibility, at least that’s what it was for me. I didn’t want the responsibility, it was all I could do to handle my job.”

As Kennedy strokes their cat Gypsy, she adds laughing, “‘we didn’t even want a dog. We got a cat because that was easy.”

However, they have noticed that in their neighbourhood, its not necessarily families choosing not to have children that are creating so many childless homes. Kennedy says, “There are more empty nesters in our neighbourhood than those like ourselves who chose not to have children.” Empty nesters here refers to couples and parents whose children have left for university or have simply moved out of the home, leaving the parents alone.

This applies to the Millier family, residing in an area of Halifax were childless homes are on the steady increase. Children Grant and Claire are in their early twenties, and have since moved out of the house to go to university and move into their own apartments within the city.

Mother Maureen Millier says in her own childhood home of six siblings, it was customary to continue living at home until you were married in order to save money and keep the family together. She believes the reason so many children have less stress when leaving home is due to the power of social media and instant communication, saying “there seems to be a little bit less of a resistance to see your child move on to do different things… I can talk to them anytime and anywhere in the world and not worry so much about what’s happening with them.”

This rise of childless homes, from those who choose not to have kids and empty nesters as well, is certainly a trend in Nova Scotia. According to the census data, Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of couples without children than any other province or territory at 57.2%. Diverse family structures are on the rise, while the proportion of nuclear family units decreases more with every year.

This map is from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census, which measures the growth of married couples without children the Halifax-area census tracts. The darker colours represent areas with the highest increase. The lighter areas, the lowest increase.

Analyst: Haley MacLean Source: Statistics Canada