Formal, well-planned public access to the Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes area so far does not exist, nor does suitable trail signage and maps. Until it becomes a fully-fledged regional park, access will continue to be challenging. So contact your councillor, MLA, and MPs to speak up for access to the area, and become a member of the Friends Of Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Society. If the trails are properly designed and managed, the public would have safer access to this area described as a "mini Kejimkujik National Park" for Halifax. It is a tremendous natural asset for our growing city. For more info about the existing trails, visit Halifax Trail and Halifax North West Trails websites.
Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness area can be accessed via several unofficial points, and the public can use informal trails through the area. People who choose to do so, do so at their own risk. The Collins Road cul-de-sac is an access point but is often crowded due to limited parking. The trailhead at the end of Collins Road is not accessible to people with mobility concerns or those who use wheelchairs. Another popular trailhead is at the end of Saskatoon Drive. Here you’ll find the parking lot for the Maskwa Aquatic Club. You may park here but please don’t block access to their facilities. The trails starting from Maskwa are also not suitable for people with mobility concerns. There is also a trail leading to the Blue Mountain "summit" -- the highest point of land in HRM -- starting at the end of Anahid Drive, in the Kingswood subdivision. The entire trail network is rugged and can be confusing to follow.
Where the Wild Things Aren’t
Acknowledgement The artists of Where the Wild Things Aren’t operate and create their art in Kjipuktuk, the unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Mi'kmaq people.
As a project that focuses on access and nature, we acknowledge and hope to center the voicesof the original caretakers of this land, and those with lived experience in the Disability community.
Reflective Questions for our audiences: What does access to nature mean to you? Who created the barriers? Is nature inaccessible because of city sprawl...colonialism...capitalism...ableism...racism...? Who should be in charge of creating access? What does that look like? Who is already incharge?....and who is not at the table?...why not? What role do I play?
Where The Wild Things Aren’t is a multimedia collaboration created by Vanessa Furlong (stilts), April Hubbard (wheelchair/forearm crutches), Amanda Carvery-Taylor (photography/drone), Matt Downey (videographer/filmmaker) and Raymond Sewell (L’nu poet and professor)
“Where the Wild Things Aren’t” is an examination of access and nature. Vanessa and April set out to explore the physical and mental barriers present when accessing the seemingly inaccessible parts of nature. Using acrobatics, and their apparatuses (wheelchair/forearm crutches and stilts), they documented their experience of beaches and the woods through the lens of Disability.
We have captured process as well as product.
The video is a documentation of the process. We felt it necessary to capture the journey and allof the difficulties, the potentially unpalatable (to expose the ableism of typical circus standards),and the bonding that occurred in our research and creation.
The photo gallery is the documentation of the product. The surreal. The fairy tale.
The transcript or descriptive text for this piece can be found by touching the "Text" button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen in the "View the Art" section.
Vanessa Furlong (she/her) is a professional circus and physical theatre artist specializing in acrobatic stilts, trapeze, and clown. She identifies as a Mad artist (of the Mad Pride movement), and is based in Kjipuktuk/Halifax. A graduate of Bishop’s University (Theatre and Music), Vanessa has toured nationally and internationally for the past two decades with multiple performance groups. Vanessa co-founded the award-winning circus duo LEGacy Circus in 2016 alongside professional circus artist Erin Ball. Together they explore new ways to share their passion for representation and access-focused performances using Circus Arts as their medium.
Photo Credit: Rachel McGrath
April Hubbard is an actor, director, producer, arts administrator, accessibility advisor and a proud queer, Mad & Disabled woman. As the Chair of the Halifax Fringe Festival and cofounder of disabilityX Halifax, she creates space for those with unseen bodies and unheard voices. She has performed with LEGacy Circus and is currently coordinating the Eastern Front Theatre Accessibility Project, exploring barriers to inclusion in the performing arts in Nova Scotia. April is an outspoken advocate whose focus is to empower people with disabilities to discover their voice and to be leaders in designing the society in which they wish to live. She proudly shows her body without hiding its differences, to challenge assumptions and normalize the presence of people with disabilities in our everyday world.
Photo Credit: Emily Invidia
Raymond Sewell is a musician from the Mi'kmaw community of Pabineau, New-Brunswick. They started learning to play music at home very young, picking up all the instruments they could find. They have been performing on New-Brunswick and Canadian stages since the early 2000s.
Matthew Downey (They/He) is a queer, non-binary theatre, video, and digital artist originally from St John’s, Newfoundland and currently living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They are the Technical Director and House Tech of the Bus Stop Theatre, and frequent collaborator with companies such as Xara Choral Theatre, The Villains Theatre, and Heist.
Recent projects include: Journey to the Zone (Friends First Productions, Eastern Front), Princess Pride And Joy (Heist), Observatory Mansions (Villains), Eastern Front Micro Digitals: Awakening (Drifting Amber, Eastern Front), The Crevice (BSTC Playwrights Unit, Phyllis Rising Productions), Frequencies(Heist).
A descendent of Africville, Amanda Carvery-Taylor was born and raised in Halifax, NS. In highschool, Amanda began taking courses on black and white film photography, moving to digital in 2014 and studying photography at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
During university, she was a founding member of the spoken word collective “Word Iz Bond,” where she presented work under the name “Joi N. Payne,” given to her for her spoken word poetry that explores the many emotions of love and loss.
Improving her craft by taking photos for friends and family, her passion for capturing the moment has blossomed into a gift for black and white photography, capturing community moments, and restoring old family photo treasures.
Between her love of poetry, photography, and community spirit, Amanda released her debut book, “A Love Letter to Africville,” which captures photos and stories from Africville Elders. For more information, visit The Fernwood Publishing Website.
When not behind a lens, Amanda can be found with her husband Richard, their two children, Maya and Xavier, and three dogs. She loves baking with her Mom, practicing circus aerials, and hiking Nova Scotia with her friends.
Photo Credit: A. Y. Taylor Photography
“Pave paradise, put up a parking lot.” While Joni Mitchell was singing more generally here, she could have been singing about Blue Mountain Birch Cove. For nearly 20 years, the EAC led the public fight to protect this special place from encroaching urban sprawl. Along with dozens of other community organizations and thousands of citizens, the EAC is part of a passionate group that succeeded in getting the provincial lands in Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes designated as a Wilderness Area. This means people are free to hike, camp, fish, and hunt in the protected area, but developers can’t come in and build roads, houses, or other infrastructure. Protected! Hooray! However, much of the land around the Wilderness Area is owned by the city, not the province, and although HRM has long promised to formally turn the area into a Regional Park, that hasn’t happened yet, and there are still real threats from developers who feel entitled to build whatever they want, wherever they want. The fight to establish Blue Mountain - Birch Cove Lakes as a Regional Park is ongoing, as part of a broader campaign to protect precious urban wilderness spaces. Together with places like Sandy Lake - Sackville River, and the Purcell’s Cove Backlands, these urban wild areas host ecosystems vital to sustaining our city and provide important landscape connectivity for wildlife. For example, Sandy Lake is a headwater of the glorious Sackville River, where people gain hope from the restoration of Atlantic salmon habitat, led by local volunteers. The rich biodiversity of these areas also makes them beloved places to walk, mountain bike, snowshoe, and swim.
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