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T H E M A G A Z I N E T H AT C O N N E C T S N O VA S C O T I A T O T H E W O R L D

NOV SCOTIA A

A new generation aims for niche markets

Trading spaces: Interhabs's global housing boom Watershed moments: award-winning community action Navigator: Brookes Diamond gets on with the show

SP ON EC I IM AL M

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Contents

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D E PA R T M E N T S

Snap Shots Energy Update Business Case

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F E AT U R E S

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A flair for design

A new generation of product designers and architects are passionate about good design. by Robert Martin

Navigator Vantage Point

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Trading spaces

Interhabs's export success is based on quality products that conform to select markets. by Tom Mason

SPECIAL REPORT

18 Home at last. The Nominee

Program targets business-savvy immigrants.

21 Opening doors. Groups

like MISA help newcomers adjust to Nova Scotia.

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LONDON

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

MONTREAL

PARIS

Watershed moment

Residents of the Bras D'Or Lakes area saw its declining health, and took action. by Allison Lawlor

TORONTO NOVA SCOTIA BOSTON WASHINGTON NEW YORK

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Snap SHOTS

Christopher Huck's wrought-iron gates adorn the entrance to this South Shore estate.

Forging ahead

When ex-pat American Christopher Huck switched careers 12 years ago, he did a complete about-face. He had been looking for something meaningful and creative to do with his life. "I wanted to get my hands dirty, to do an honest day's work," says Huck. So he left the highanxiety life of a big-city investment banker to assume the bucolic life of a small-town blacksmith. One day in 1992, while Huck was living in Halifax and between careers, he

picked up the local paper and saw a picture of an old marine blacksmith standing beside his blazing forge. "I thought, `That's it!' even though I'd never been inside a blacksmith shop," he says. Since then he has studied artistic blacksmithing in Colorado, North Carolina, and Oaxaca, Mexico. In 1994 his wife, Laurie Fisher Huck, studied welding at the Nova Scotia Community College in nearby Bridgewater. For most people, blacksmiths are characters known only from television or the movies--farriers shoeing horses and repairing wagons--but blacksmithing is

actually an ancient art that has been around since 3,000 BC. In the past 25 years, ornamental blacksmithing has been experiencing a North American revival. Huck grew up in Chicago; his wife is from Minnesota. They moved to Lunenburg because of its history and proximity to the sea. They also felt the town's lower cost of living would allow them to survive their first few lean years in business. The couple's Lunenburg Forge and Metalworks Gallery occupies a converted salt-fish warehouse on the waterfront, where Huck and Fisher Huck make ornamental ironwork and steel sculptures.

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Monument to an ecosystem

The K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens provide a place where the Acadia region's ecology and native flora can be studied.

It's an early summer afternoon at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. The warm air is pungent with pollen, the sky blue with clusters of low-hanging clouds. My ramble through the campus's botanical gardens is calming. A finely raked stone path curving throughout the 2.5-hectare garden leads to the deciduous woodland area. A warm breeze blows through yellow birch trees, rustling their leaves.The only other sounds are birds and the distant hum of cars passing through town. Inside the garden walls you won't find manicured rosebushes or rows of colourful gladioli. Instead there are ferns, bog laurel, and wild lily of the valley, representing nine native habitats from the Acadia Forest region.Whether it's a sand barren, a bog, or a deciduous forest, each habitat has been meticulously created by mimicking not only native species of flora but also specific rocks, subsoil, topsoil, and drainage conditions that exist in their natural environment.The gardens are home to more than 800 native species of flora, including those that are rare and endangered. New Brunswick's Irving family donated the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens to Acadia University in September of 2002 to provide a place where the Acadia region's ecology and native flora could be studied. (The region includes all of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, plus parts of Quebec, Maine,Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York.) The centre is "a place where nature, research, and technology come together in a peaceful and productive environment," says Peter Romkey, the centre's director. Aside from the tranquil gardens, the centre's grand 5,850-square-metre building houses everything from research laboratories that can simulate the region's tides to greenhouses, lecture rooms, and a 124-seat auditorium. Inside the labs, several projects are underway. One researcher is studying evolutionary genetics of plant reproduction: how plants are able to choose their mate and avoid fertilization by their own pollen. Several endangered plants also are being studied to see the effects of coastal development and habitat changes on their reproduction.The centre also houses a seed bank to preserve genetic diversity and the largest herbarium in Atlantic Canada, home to more than 170,000 pressed and dried plants (the oldest specimen dates back to the 1850s). During the school year in the centre's elaborate Garden Room, you will often find biology professors and students inspecting a plant or a local resident sitting by the fireplace. "The place has been designed to welcome everyone," says Romkey. -- ALLISON LAWLOR

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Huck's chandeliers, railings, and weathervanes are beautifully balanced in black iron with elegant clean lines. His wife produces sculptures of mermaids, frogs, birds, and alligators that are pure flights of fancy painted in hot shades of ruby red, cobalt blue, and blazing orange. The gallery blends classic sophistication and whimsy. Most of the couple's creations end up in the United States; actor Beau Bridges, who was in Halifax to shoot a movie, heard about the mermaids and commissioned Fisher Huck to make three of them. However, many pieces have found good homes in Nova Scotia. Huck's ironand-brass chandelier, a replica of two existing originals from the 1930s, hangs in the old Customs House building on Bedford Row in Halifax. His wroughtiron gates adorn the property of a prominent Chester resident. McKelvie's restaurant in Halifax displays a unique sign made by Fisher Huck, and her fish hang from the utility poles along Lunenburg's main streets. Two years ago the town commissioned Fisher Huck to design metal sculptures to replace the seasonal flowerpots. The fish honour the generations of fishermen who sailed out of Lunenburg to catch cod, haddock, lobster, scallops, and other seafood that helped the town earn the title of the fishing capital of Canada. The husband-and-wife team collaborates on most projects and learns from each other. His strengths are engineering and construction, plus the marketing savvy he picked up as a stockbroker. Her talents are eclectic: graphic designer, cartoonist, writer, and children's circus performer. Accolades for their work are beginning to add up. In February of 2004, MoneySense.ca selected Lunenburg Forge and Metalworks Gallery as one of The Best Little Shops In Canada. Last year Huck Fisher's McKelvie's sign was nominated for an Urban Design Award in Halifax. While a small-town blacksmith earns considerably less than a stockbroker, Huck has no regrets. "We're not rich financially, but we enjoy a very rich life," he says. "I'm only sorry that I didn't start blacksmithing when I was 12."

-- FAITH PICCOLO

The renovated Halifax International Airport extends a warm greeting to all visitors.

SANDOR FIZLI

First impressions

Halifax International Airport (HIA) has become the world's first to be designated a "superhost," an internationally recognized training program focused on customer service. "By putting the number of frontline employees at the airport through this program, we've all got a consistent base on which to establish good attitudes toward customer service," says Reg Milley, the president and CEO of the Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA). The program requires 60% of the businesses involved to participate, and of that number, 70% of staff must attend the seminars and training sessions. At the HIA, 75% of businesses have participated, and at least 70% of their employees have been trained. HIAA has put a premium on customer service, winning four AETRA Awards in 2003. "Some of our frontline employees are the very first people visitors to Nova Scotia, and even to all of Canada, get to meet," says Milley. "We wanted to make sure the Nova Scotian

characteristic of [friendly people] was exemplified by all of our staff. This program helps us achieve that." Although the airline business slowed after 9/11, the HIA was one of only two airports in Canada to experience growth in 2002, and since then it has continued to grow. Halifax is strategically located as the closest North American connection to Europe. Its contribution to the Nova Scotia economy has steadily

SANDOR FIZLI

Reg Milley

increased, as a recent economic-impact study by SGE Acres Ltd. showed. According to the study, the HIA contributed $1.099 billion in gross output in 2003, up $20 million from 2002. "It's a unique thing for the airport community to be recognized for service quality," says Chris Ketchum, an airportand-transportation expert and principle at Future Atlantic Consulting Services Ltd. in Halifax. "Airports are designed to process things--airplanes, people, and cargo--and can be at times not a particularly pleasant place, especially with the new security requirements. Halifax has utilized this service-training program and looked at this issue as important as the operations side of the airport." Statistics show that air travellers tend to spend more money in the province than visitors arriving by other modes of transportation. The HIAA believes the superhost status is another way to entice repeat business. "This is a customerservice strategy we've put in place so that every time we get more passengers coming in," says Milley, "it has a positive impact on the economy in the province." -- JOE FITZGERALD

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SANDOR FIZLI

Earth energy

A Nova Scotia hydrogeologist sees underground thermal energy storageas an environmentally friendly way to cool and heat buildings

Frank Cruickshanks rolls out the Geological Highway Map of Nova Scotia in his busy workspace on the 16th floor of a government office building in Dartmouth. Holding down the rolled edges, he excitedly states facts about the Annapolis Valley's aquifer and the Meguma rocks surrounding Halifax. It's not hard to see that this document is Cruickshanks' own roadmap. It holds the valuable information he needs to do his job. Cruickshanks is a hydrogeologist. In layman's terms, he studies the ways that groundwater moves through the earth's soil and rock. His official title is energy applications specialist with Environment Canada's climate change division, but that doesn't tell the whole story. He's really an expert on underground energy storage. In fact, he has spent the past 25 years working in that field. Not common in Canada, underground thermal energy storage was first used in China and now is more widely used in parts of Europe such as the Netherlands and Sweden.There it is seen as holding the potential for major long-term environmental benefits. A storage system can reduce the energy used for cooling and heating a building by 70% or more. For Cruickshanks, trying to explain how the environmentally friendly technology works--and that it really does work--still remains a bit of a struggle. Unlike a giant windmill, his work is buried deep underground and easier to overlook. "Architects and mechanical engineers aren't used to working with hydrogeologists on subsurface energy projects," he admits. "I have to manage resistance all the time." AQUIFER SYSTEMS So how does underground energy storage work? Think of the earth as a giant Thermos. Its insulating properties enable it to maintain hot and cold temperatures underground for long periods of time, even seasonally. Permeable water-bearing rock formations known as aquifers--or, where aquifers aren't available, a network of plastic tubing inserted into boreholes drilled into the earth--are used as underground storage areas for water that is either heated up or cooled down. In an aquifer system, two well fields are tapped: one for cold storage, the other for heat. These wells, which are usually less than 200 metres deep, are capable of maintaining a range of high and low temperatures. In a borehole thermal energy storage system, a liquid solution--of water and an environmentally friendly antifreeze, if necessary, encased in plastic tubing--circu-

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lates through the interconnected underground network. During the winter, fluid circulating through tubing in the wells collects heat from the earth and carries it into the buildings. In summer the system reverses to pull heat from the building and move it into the ground for winter heating. At Halifax's HMC Dockyard, Cruickshanks currently is working with Maritime Forces Atlantic on a project to install a cooling system for a new 15,500square-metre building using borehole thermal energy storage. This type of borehole storage is the first to be deployed in the world. The project will entail drilling about 40 holes, 150 metres into the earth, and drawing cold water from the nearby harbour to change the store for summer cooling. It got off the ground with the help of $1.45 million in funding from the Federal House in Order (FHIO) initiative, part of Ottawa's plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions within its own operations. Cruickshanks expects to be cooling the building, which is used for combat systems repairs, by the summer of 2006. The payback time for the

This type of bore-hole thermal energy storage at Halifax's HMC Dockyard is the first to be deployed in the world

project is expected to be five years, with annual emission reductions of one million kilograms of carbon dioxide. The first big commercial project Cruickshanks worked on using underground thermal energy storage was New Brunswick's Sussex hospital in the mid-1990s. It was North America's first hospital to use an aquifer-based storage system. Since then Cruickshanks has been involved in several projects across the country, including helping Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada develop an aquifer thermal energy storage system for its research centre in Agassiz, B.C., and transferring technological expertise during the construction of a borehole thermal energy storage system at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. "The system has 384 boreholes with a length of more than 80 kilometres," he says. "Meanwhile, in Okotoks, Alta., North America's first high-temperature solar subdivision with borehole storage is being built." Despite facing some skepticism, Cruickshanks believes there is increasing interest in his work and sustainable energy in general. "It's starting to happen," he says optimistically.

-- ALLISON LAWLOR

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Investing in productivity

On a cool night in early November, a group of employees from WearWell Garment Company could barely stay in their seats at Pictou's DeCoste Centre. The WearWell team had just won the Company of the Year Award at the 2004 Pictou County Chamber of Commerce Achievement Awards. The award was a well-deserved recognition of the company's success. For 34 years WearWell has been producing topquality, custom-made work clothes for industrial, food service, and corporate clients, and it hasn't always been easy. "It's a tough business," admits Stirling MacLean, the president of the Stellarton, N.S.-based manufacturer. For example, China has cheap labour rates and competes globally to produce garments and other goods. WearWell must make its garments better and produce them faster than the competition. MacLean's team designs and produces garments in four weeks. "Anything coming out of China is eight to 10 weeks," he says. "Efficiency is WearWell's saviour." The family company opened in 1970; a decade later it had 35 employees, most of whom worked sewing garments for an hourly wage. In 1989 industry competition forced the company to switch from paying workers by the hour to a piecework system. "You're paid for what you produce," says MacLean, "not for the amount of time you spend here." WearWell changed its computerized pay system and improved the layout of its equipment in its 23,000-square-foot plant. It also hired consultants who helped boost efficiency by working with employees to improve ergonomics at workstations and by simplifying the steps required to make garments. As a result, the company is generating more volume per employee. Productivity has improved WearWell's bottom line, and workers are seeing a payoff. Since they are vital to the company's increased production, they earn more money. "They see the proof in their wages and take satisfaction in their jobs," says MacLean. "When your productivity keeps going up and you keep hiring people, it's a good sign." Today WearWell has about 100 employees. "I think you should always invest in productivity," says MacLean. "The bottom line is that it's going to keep you in business and keep things moving." That's good advice for every company and worker in Nova Scotia, according to Martin Walker, the director of small business growth and a senior economist at Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI). "In Nova Scotia we've been laggards in investing in machinery, equipment, and people," he says. "Our lack of investment has been a drag on GDP growth." Nova Scotia's gross domestic product per worker is about 80% compared to the rest of the country, while Canada's GDP per worker is 20% lower than that of the United States, its major trading partner. The most basic measure of productivity is output per worker. "In Nova Scotia, businesses and their employees work hard," says Stephen Lund, NSBI's president and CEO. "Our challenge is to aggressively wring the most value from the products we sell, and companies must invest in their people to increase productivity." Martin Walker agrees: "Businesses must do things that result in more output per worker," such as skills-development and management training. "The global economy is at our doorstep. We all have to compete at that level." -- STAFF

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On with the show

Musical impresario Brookes Diamond believes that East Coast music is what the world needs now

"It was somewhat late in life, in my mid20s, that I discovered that there was some real music happening out here," says Brookes Diamond, the producer of DRUM!, a musical extravaganza featuring the four major cultures of Nova Scotia. "It was a great revelation for me, like an unveiling. I really turned a corner then and felt an enormous urge to be a part of that music." A slew of events conspired to launch Diamond's career in the music business, coincidences that a fatalist could easily construe as divine scripting. Shanghaied into organizing a Dalhousie University winter carnival while taking a bachelor of education degree in 1971, Diamond met popular Halifax-based Irish band Ryan's Fancy at a fraternity party and remained fast friends with the musicians. The winter carnival was a success, and contacts made during that time served him well. "I took to it," says Diamond. "I felt the call to pitch in and help East Coast music become something the world would recognize." Between 1970 and 1971 the CRTC was enforcing new regulations, and such artists as Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Valdi, and others began getting serious radio play. Their managers needed someone to promote their concerts on the East Coast, and Diamond had met as a result of the winter carnival. The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium had just been built and hadn't hosted any kind of concert other than classical. Diamond began booking tours for the new Canadian stars and, at the same time, working with Ryan's Fancy.

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The Irish culture that Ryan's Fancy exemplified, and the Toronto approach to doing business that Bernie Finkelstein, the manager of Cockburn and McLauchlan, and Bernie Fiedler brought to the table were very different points of view. Diamond says that all were valid and instructive, and their lines of thought continue to influence the way he looks at things. Since those early days, Diamond has managed East Coast stars Rita MacNeil, Bruce Guthro, Bette MacDonald, and Aselin Debison.

"Where we're from is totally critical to who we are. That's a very special thing, and it's an increasingly rare thing"

-- Brookes Diamond

DISTINCTIVE RHYTHMS The idea for DRUM! came to Diamond in 1995 while on a family vacation to the Fortress of Louisbourg in Cape Breton National Historic Park. Diamond learned that drums were an integral part of the French soldiers' daily life. On the way home, while thinking of the other predominant cultures in Nova Scotia--aboriginal,

Black, and Celtic--the proverbial light bulb came on. "Each one these cultures are so rhythm based and each have such a distinct sound," says Diamond. "I thought, wouldn't it be something to be able to combine and feature each of these cultures in their own right on a stage but also bring them together variously and altogether at once to achieve some rhythmic harmony." Putting together a show like DRUM! invited several challenges, both artistic and financial. The idea lay dormant for a few years before Diamond proposed it to the Atlantic Canada Tourism Partnership (ACTP) as a platform for that group's travelling entertainment package that is performed at tourism trade shows. The ACTP loved the idea, and money and a mandate was given to create the production. That was in 1999, and the show has since evolved into a production that continues to be successful for promoting tourism. "When it got in front of an audience, there was a huge reaction--even more than we had imagined," says Diamond. "It worked. I knew then that we had to go on a quest and turn it into a live touring production for the general public." One of the great challenges of DRUM! has been the use of native music in the production. In the beginning, it was difficult to figure out how to use that sound while keeping all music equally represented. "Their particular rhythm, that straight steady beat, is one that everything else can be built around," says Diamond. "In a physical sense, the aboriginal drum is at the centre, and in a musical sense, the aboriginal rhythm is at the centre. In a

Keeping the home fires burning: Brookes Diamond wants to create an environment in which our greatest resource--people--can stay and be productive.

SANDOR FIZLI

philosophical or spiritual sense, the [aboriginal] ethos is at the centre of the production." While there may have been questions about why one culture is central to the production, Diamond says that simply didn't happen with DRUM! Everyone involved felt it was right. In fact, one of the goals of DRUM! is to promote understanding of the native sound and help it gain popularity. The unique music that comes from the East Coast is a double-edged sword. Diamond relates a story of a recordcompany executive in Toronto saying that new music from around Canada typically sounds like what's current in the United

States, but that East Coast music sounds like East Coast music. As a record company, you have to try to figure out what to do with it, whether it's going to translate to the rest of the world. Diamond believes that because East Coast music has stayed true to its roots, that authenticity can be traded on mightily in future, as it has in the past. For Diamond, Nova Scotia is a magical place. "Where we're from is totally critical to who we are," he says. "That's a very special thing, and it's an increasingly rare thing." After years of touring the country with East Coast musicians, Diamond says it's heartbreaking to see all of the Maritimers attending shows and repeating the constant refrain of how

much they miss home. He believes that our greatest challenge is creating an environment where our greatest resource--our people--can stay and be productive. "We're shipping all these wonderful people out to the world, and it's doing the world a lot of good," he says, "but I'd like to be selfish and keep them home." Diamond is in distant repose when he talks about the East Coast diaspora, but the glint of his namesake returns to his eye when he addresses the situation. "If working in an industry that can create more jobs, more pride of place, more desire to stay here, work here, and live here is the effect of it," he says, "then let's get on with the show." ­ JOE FITZGERALD

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A FLAIR FOR DESIGN

Graduates and faculty of NSCAD University are passionate about promoting Nova Scotian design around the world

by ROBERT MARTIN

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ccording to Paul Greenhalgh, design in Nova Scotia is rapidly acquiring a third dimension. "Traditionally, we have been associated with graphic or flat design," says Greenhalgh, the president of

Halifax's Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University. "And while we are very proud of our accomplishments in that area--most local graphic-design firms are stocked with NSCAD graduates--our mis-

sion is expanding to include designing product lines and support from other professions and industries." Because Nova Scotia doesn't have a large manufacturing base where students can gain hands-on experience, the university has been importing expertise, such as internationally known architect and industrial designer

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SANDOR FIZLI

Clockwise left to right: Carlo Testa and NSCAD design students at Camp Hill Hospital; patient lifting belt prototype, designed by Margot Durling; NSCAD University president Paul Greenhalgh; one-handed drinking device for patients with poor hand control; students at work; reflex hammer designed by Dorothee Rosen.

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Carlo Testa, to reintroduce industrial design into the curriculum. Only two years old, the courses are already producing practical results in the form of both trained designers and market-ready designs. "There was a program back in the 1970s, but it only lasted a few years because Nova Scotia lacked the industrial base to support it," says Testa. "Industrial design isn't like painting, where someone can go off and work by himself. It needs a group approach." Testa is acting as a faculty advisor as NSCAD develops an undergraduate degree

identified two," he says. "The first is totally devoted to finding or improving health care products such as furniture, utensils, and equipment. The second is luxury goods, but it's still in the planning stages." In health care, students already have designed several products; a start-up company, Design for Health Inc., is being formed to commercialize students' products. "We can either sell the design to a manufacturer or we can try to produce a finished product for distribution," says Testa, who adds that the students will

A START-UP COMPANY IS BEING FORMED TO COMMERCIALIZE STUDENTS' PRODUCTS

in product design and a new master's program in design. An architect who spent much of his career designing schools and equipment for clients such as the World Bank and the United Nations, Testa prefers industrial design. As he describes it, the gratification from seeing a design become a useful object comes more quickly, compared to the length of time required to finish a building. Testa believes the new program will succeed because it's highly focused. "We're looking for niche markets and have

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retain control of their designs. "There is lots of demand for quality products around the world, and they're not all mass-produced," says Testa. "If small local companies realize what good design can do for them, they can specialize and have success." He offers an example from his Italian homeland. "Eastern Italy used to be dirt poor. It had nothing; people were emigrating to Milan or Toronto to find work," he says. "Then the local people started getting into designed products. Now they have Benetton [clothing] and Luxottica

[eyeglasses]; they've gone from being one of the poorest areas in Italy to one of the richest. It's all based on good design. The situation is similar here in Nova Scotia, although people aren't dirt poor. It's still something to consider, however." Testa directed students into the healthproducts niche because of his own experience with hospitals while caring for his mother and sister, both of whom died during the past couple of years. He noticed that the facilities and the equipment were badly designed. "They had X-ray tables so high that no nurse could safely move patients onto them, so they had to use two or three nurses," he says. The students worked with health professionals at the Camp Hill Veterans' Memorial Building site of Halifax's QEII Health Sciences Centre with Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, the director of the geriatric medicine research unit. As a result of this partnership, two student designs are currently being commercialized: a special belt to help staff lift patients from wheelchairs and a drinking cup for people who, because of arthritis or other disabilities, no longer have flexibility in their hands. Other potential designs include a more accessible and easy-to-use hand-washing sink and a wheelchair that can morph into a gurney to eliminate having to transfer a patient. Design includes, but isn't limited to, objects you can hold in your hands, says Testa. It also embraces environments, such as the consulting rooms at the Veterans' Memorial Building that the students have made more welcoming. "This isn't interior decorating," he says. "It involves air quality and lighting in order to make a better environment for staff and patients. It is totally based on science. An area of research we're just moving into involves the impact of artificial light on people. There is a bit of scientific evidence about the impact of light sources on behaviour-- fluorescent versus incandescent--but we're going to explore the effects of

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different colours of light. I think this may be the first research done in this area." All of this came from one man's idea that a specialized area needed design work. To date, about 60 students have taken the product design course. While Testa and his associates at NSCAD are working on specific aspects of design, the university is working simultaneously on several other fronts to expand and promote Nova Scotian design. On the academic front, Greenhalgh is changing the two-year master's in design

Reich, Gerhard Richter, and Yvonne Rainer. In addition to recording the university's design accomplishments, the revived press is expected to be part of the rediscovered art of the book as a design object. Gaspereau Press of Kentville, N.S., also publishes short-run editions of both literary and regional interest and is committed to the book arts. It's one of a handful of Canadian trade publishers that prints and binds books in-house, practising a form of craft publishing whose books are distinc-

their unique jewelry designs to export markets instead of relocating themselves, as so often happens now. On the government front, Greenhalgh is working with the Department of Economic Development and other partners to create a Centre for Cultural Technology and an Innovation Centre where students can develop skills on the latest CAD/CAM equipment and, he hopes, create commercially viable products as well as innovative designs. MASTER BUILDER Many Nova Scotian designers work around the world but prefer to live in the province that inspires their work. An excellent example is Brian MacKay-Lyons of MacKayLyons Sweetapple Architects Ltd. in Halifax. During the quarter century since his 1978 graduation from the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS, now part of Dalhousie University), MacKayLyons has become renowned as a leading advocate and practitioner of the critical regionalist approach to architecture. Work from the regional school looks like it always has been on its site, despite the fact that it's both new and high tech. "See that house?" says MacKay-Lyons, pointing to a wooden model on the table in his glass-walled boardroom. The long slender dwelling has a steeply pitched roof and, when built, it will probably be more than 30 metres long and only five metres wide. "That's a Lunenburg County barn," he says, although he doesn't mean this literally--just that such a building inspired his design. "At the same time, the detailing is incredibly modern," he explains. "The whole ground floor is glass walled. There's in-floor heating and all the modern conveniences." MacKay-Lyons uses Nova Scotia's rocky, hilly landscape and the traditional buildings on it, including barns, fish sheds, and boat works; he makes his single-family residences resemble them so accurately that one county assessor taxed a house he built as a boat shed for almost two years.

NOVA SCOTIAN DESIGN SHOULD CONCENTRATE ON HIGHLY DEFINED LUXURY GOODS

program to an interdisciplinary 12-month program that will include product design as well as communications design and digital media work. The university also has relaunched the NSCAD University Press as a forum to publish primary documents and scholarly works in contemporary art, craft, and design. First established between 1972 and 1987 to publish books by and about leading contemporary artists, The Press created 26 titles by artists such as Michael Snow, Steve

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tive in manufacture and design. On the commercial front, NSCAD is working with manufacturers such as Crossley Carpet Mills Ltd. of Truro, N.S., on sponsoring student design competitions to help spread the concept of Nova Scotian design into new areas. Greenhalgh believes Nova Scotian design should concentrate on highly defined luxury goods and avoid mass-market manufacturing. For example, he's working on developing a jewelry coop that will help NSCAD graduates move

SANDOR FIZLI SANDOR FIZLI

JAMES STEEVES

JAMES STEEVES

Cockwise starting top left: Architect Brian MacKay-Lyons; Messenger House; Howard House; MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple design studio, Halifax; model for Canadian Embassy, Dhaka.

In addition to appearance, MacKayLyons also uses local materials such as eastern cedar that are readily available, inexpensive, and look as though they belong with the surrounding environment. He doesn't use Italian marble in Nova Scotia, although he might if he worked in Italy. (In fact, he did work in Siena for a year-- part of a lifetime of wandering around and absorbing influences that began as a child when his father, an Arcadia, N.S., merchant and would-be architect, took him on occasional tours of Europe.) From continental traditional to Nova Scotia rural, MacKay-Lyons moved on after graduating from TUNS to the avant-garde, when he studied and worked in California. There he discovered the latest design trends and then brought this knowledge home to create a practice that's about the location

rather than the architect. He calls it an "antistyle" because he doesn't try to impose the style of Nova Scotian buildings on other places, such as his new Academic Research Centre for the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus. Instead, he uses regional elements to create a building that is both ultra modern and yet also traditional. Perhaps the best example is the Canadian embassy he designed in Dhaka which is currently under construction. He used Ganges River delta-mud brick, which is the typical building material in that part of Bangladesh. MacKay-Lyons also adapted the courtyard style of Islamic houses for an outwardly modest appearance. He notes that the Canadian embassy contrasts starkly with the neighbouring U.S. embassy, which he says was modelled on the Red Fort, a 16th-century fortress in Agra, India.

Thanks to his tireless touring as a guest lecturer, MacKay-Lyons' work is becoming increasingly popular. He is currently working on the second of two buildings for Marlborough College in Vermont and designing two others for Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. While all of his work is unique--either one-off residences or public buildings--he recognizes the importance of being able to mass produce housing that fits its environment. He has been working on and off for a decade with Dalhousie University computer scientist Andrew Rau-Chaplin on a computerbased design program to create multiple designs in his "anti-style" style. To that end, MacKay-Lyons is like the students and faculty at NSCAD University: All of them are trying to popularize and promote Nova Scotian design around the world.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Home at last

Nova Scotia's Nominee Program is attracting business-savvy immigrants who have a strong inclination to settle here permanently

by NORMA JEAN MACPHEE

DON ROBINSON

A

drive to Isle Madame on Cape Breton's southern tip is a soothing experience. It's quiet, and the road dips and turns as it weaves through the historic French community of West Arichat, then Arichat. I pass few businesses, mostly fish plants. Suddenly, from behind a bonbon-shaped sign that hangs from the low side entrance of a building, the Atlantic Ocean glistens. The building houses The Candy Shop. Owners Peggy and Charles Bosdet are new to Arichat. They're the first couple to arrive in the province under the Nova

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Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP). Begun in 2002, the program attracts qualified immigrants in an effort to boost the province's economy. "Through businesses like theirs, the Nominee Program promises to build stable year-round employment now and for future generations in Isle Madame," said Economic Development Minister Ernie Fage at the store's opening last August. "Welcome home." It's an appropriate greeting for the Bosdets, whose roots run deep in the Isle Madame community. Bosdet Point, rue des Bosdet, and many family graves can be

found in Arichat. The last Bosdets left the area in the 1920s, after establishing a trading company, hotel, and stagecoach business. Born in Winnipeg, Charles technically lost his Canadian citizenship at age 16 when his father moved to the United States; he has wanted to regain it ever since. When he accompanied his father on a trek through Isle Madame in 2000, he knew what had to be done. "Charles said to me, it's time to go home," says Peggy. "I assumed he meant Winnipeg, but no, he meant here." Peggy Bosdet is an award-winning food designer. She has fashioned choco-

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VAUGHAN MERCHANT

Optimism radiates from the Bosdets.These

lates for comedian Bob Hope and former U.S. president Gerald Ford and a wedding cake for I Dream of Jeannie's Barbara Eden. After a successful but lengthy battle with a brain tumor, Peggy also became a best-selling author of such non-fiction books as hobby field guides. Charles has an eclectic resumé that includes inspiring teenagers to read and write, managing business proposals, and working in the fields of aerospace marketing, defence, and legal journalism. Kind hellos greet all who enter The Candy Shop. "Is it your first time here?" asks Peggy, after a customer takes a wide-eyed sweep of the floor-to-ceiling arrangements of colourful candies. She offers samples of her trademarked Wolf Bait. Touted as a chocolate for men, it features cranberries, cashews, and other delectable secrets enrobed in white chocolate. Before their wedding nine years ago, Peggy says Charles's friends told her he didn't like candy and wouldn't eat anything she made. "That became a personal challenge," she says with a sparkle in her eye.

inspiring entrepreneurs plan to break ground next spring for their manufacturing operation, where they will make candies and chocolates

She decided to mix all of his favourite things in a pot and tested the results. It worked--Charles loved it. Since he's a fan of wolves, Wolf Bait was born. Almost two-thirds of The Candy Shop's business comes from outside Isle Madame. Customers make the trek from Moncton, Truro, Sydney, Halifax, and the United States. Pages in two red-plush comment books gush with praise for the shop. "I thought New York candy was the best in the world, but you guys proved me wrong. Nova Scotia rocks!" wrote someone from Long Island. Others said that entering the store made them feel like they were a kid again. Although it's only four months old, The Candy Shop already is growing. "Charles said that if people are going to travel such distances," says Peggy, "let's make it worth the drive and give them the best shop possible." In November the classroom-size room expanded to one-and-a-half times its original size, the kitchen was moved further back, and the old kitchen area became retail space. In addition to Wolf Bait, Peggy makes melt-in-your-mouth fudge and an Acadian favourite, Tamara, which is a chewy taffy. The effects of The Candy Shop ripple well beyond pleased taste buds. The store employs seven local residents, and the surrounding businesses also benefit from the latest addition to town. Across the street from The Candy Shop is L'Auberge Acadienne Inn. "It's absolutely wonderful," says Pauline Bona, the inn's owner and operator, who enjoys the shop's large selection of sugar-free candy. "I make a weekly visit myself. Who doesn't like a

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little sweet now and then? It's a nice attraction for our area. It's fresh, and [Peggy and Charles] have some big plans." The Candy Shop is the retail arm of the couple's larger business, Isle Madame Confections Inc. In February Wolf Bait will be distributed in the United States under that name. That's just phase one. Initially, the couple thought they would start a publishing business, combining their shared backgrounds in journalism, research, and writing. Then a dream that Peggy had tucked away long ago resurfaced: to start a candy-manufacturing export operation. "We wanted to create something that couldn't be easily scooped up by someone and made cheaper elsewhere," says Charles. "We needed something unique to Isle Madame." The connection between the French and fine chocolate was a fitting coincidence. "We want to market this place, and if that helps, then great," he adds. When word arrived back in their old hometown of Orange County, Calif., of the Bosdets' plans to build a candy store and a candy-manufacturing business, requests

poured in for them to reconsider their location. One man from Orange County called three times, trying to convince Peggy to bring her sweets and business plans there. "By the third time I started to get annoyed," says Peggy, with such a pleasant tone that's it's difficult to imagine. "He tried to entice me by saying I'd reach more people and make more money. What he just wasn't getting was that we're setting up shop here for a reason--not for more money or more people." Adds Charles: "We knew we'd be making some sacrifices coming here, but we knew we wanted to." The Bosdets plan to break ground for their manufacturing operation next spring, where they will make candies and fine chocolates. Optimism radiates from these inspiring entrepreneurs who are excited to continue to work with the community to help rejuvenate the region. "I don't think we know the half of what people can do here," says Charles. "Getting something done is believing people can do it. Why can't Isle Madame be a world-class destination?" There's an added bonus to their plans

too. "It's a clean industry," says Peggy, which is important because the pair want to maintain the natural beauty of the region-- as well as make it a little sweeter, both economically and philosophically. The Bosdets immigrated to Arichat under a particular section of the NSNP called a community identified stream. The community was involved in their selection and approved them because of their business plans. "One of the real positive aspects of the community identified program is that candidates are already familiar with the area," says Carole Lee Reinhardt, the manager of the NSNP. "The focus is to bring people to Nova Scotia who will settle permanently. We're not having to sell an area to them because they already know it." "People do want to stay here," agrees Peggy. She says the graphic designer for their company lived away for 15 years, while others already have contacted the Bosdets to express interest in returning home when the candy manufacturing begins. "To bring people back and keep people here--that's the holy grail," says Peggy.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Opening doors

Nova Scotia is becoming more proactive in its effort to increase immigration. To those involved in helping immigrants settle, it's a welcome initiative

by JOE FITZGERALD

SANDOR FIZLI

At MISA, Nabiha Atallah (left) and her colleagues, Khaleda Alkhoraibet (center) and Ljiljana Connellan, help newcomers to Nova Scotia integrate into the business community.

"Nova Scotia is at a point in its history where the contributions made by immigrants will be critical to our future economic, social, and cultural development." ­ A Framework for Immigration: A Discussion Paper, August 2004

T

he above is the opening statement of a document issued by the Province of Nova Scotia last summer. Its sentiments are echoed by Nabiha Atallah, the manager of immigrant business development at the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement

Association (MISA) in Halifax. "We're at a crossroads," she says. "This is a great initiative, and I hope it gets support from the public in order to make it a reality, because this isn't a government issue. Everybody is a stakeholder in immigration. Every person who lives in Nova Scotia has a role to play." Atallah's family emigrated from Egypt when she was seven. She grew up in Canada, but as a young adult went back to Egypt to teach elementary school. While there she met some Canadians who were

teaching English as a second language (ESL). Intrigued, Atallah began teaching ESL in Egypt. She got married, returned to Canada with her husband in 1987, and did ESL postgraduate work at the University of British Columbia. After teaching in various places around Canada, in 1995 Atallah's husband's work as associate professor in Dalhousie University's faculty of medicine brought the couple to Halifax, where she found it difficult to find work in her field. "I was

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really focused on looking for an ESL opportunity," she says, "but when I hadn't found a job after six months, I became a little more flexible." While living in Winnipeg, Atallah had developed a program for Red River College on business English for immigrant adults. When a position to manage what was then called the Immigrant Entrepreneur Orientation Program at MISA became available in Halifax in 1996, she applied and got the job. Today the program is called Immigrant Business Development Services; it helps immigrants who want to start businesses or are in business and need support. "A lot of the work at MISA is

gives the employer a no-risk opportunity to try out a newcomer," says Atallah. Over the years, the annual average number of immigrants coming to Nova Scotia has been around 1,500, but in the 1990s that number doubled. "In the mid1990s, almost 3,500 immigrants came annually, largely as a result of the Gulf War and because of good marketing done by private consultants and by the province at the time," says Atallah. "But a lot of those people who came here didn't find enough support, enough community, enough opportunity, so a lot of them left." This was at the same time that Nova Scotia's immigrant-intake numbers went down.

something as seemingly straightforward as getting a line of credit can frustrate newcomers because, regardless of their assets, it takes a long time for them to establish a credit history. In July of 2002 a whole new set of immigration requirements were created at the federal level, such as more education and work experience, that made it tougher to get into Canada. Still, even though immigration is largely seen as a federal issue, provinces now are taking initiatives to entice people to settle and start businesses. Atallah says those coming to Nova Scotia now are highly educated and have good language skills.

"We're at a crossroads. Everybody is a stakeholder in immigration. Every person who lives in Nova Scotia has a role to play"

-- Nabiha Atallah, MISA

bridging and helping people connect with the mainstream community," says Atallah. Nova Scotia's population is growing older and declining in numbers; this demographic trend has led to more value and interest in immigration. MISA has been integral in helping new immigrants settle and contribute to life in Canada. The organization provides a full range of services for all categories of immigrants, including reception and orientation for governmentassisted refugees; language assessment; and employment and job-search procedures such as networking, resumé building, and understanding employer expectations. The New Beginnings Program arranges unpaid job placements that offer immigrants with work experience in a particular field a chance to do their line of work in a Canadian setting, show what they can do, and get Canadian experience and references. "It

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The two main factors an immigrant considers before settling in an area are economic opportunity and community. Some groups, such as the Middle Eastern, Korean, and European communities, are established and more attractive to newcomers of those backgrounds, while others, most recently from China, are only beginning to build a base in Nova Scotia. In the mid-1990s, many immigrants arriving in the province were business people under the federal government's entrepreneur program, but that trend has changed. "We've seen a drastic drop in that [trend]," says Atallah, "partly because the experience of those people was that it was tough to start a business here, and partly because the government tightened that federal program and the requirements are a lot tougher now." Another obstacle facing business immigrants is market size. Even

In 1998 other Canadian provinces had begun bilateral negotiations with the federal government to take more control of immigration locally. In 2002 Nova Scotia signed such an agreement, the Nova Scotia Nominee Program; it was the first significant provincial initiative. "It's taken a while to get going and it's narrower than many other provincial programs," says Atallah. She describes this year's release of a framework on immigration by the province, which has just gone through a public consultation process under Ron Heisler, the director of Immigration and Settlement in Nova Scotia, as more significant. "I think the consultation was done well and the document hit a lot of the important points," she says. "To propose a strategy for Nova Scotia to be more proactive in the immigration has been overdue, and it's a really good move.

Immigration services

In an August 2004 discussion paper entitled A Framework for Immigration, the province laid out an optimistic vision to attract, integrate, and retain immigrants to the province.The vision includes the hopeful goal of attracting 3,600 new arrivals annually and retaining 70% of them within four years. For many immigrants, MISA is the first stop they make.The organization has 250 volunteers, including language tutors, settlement volunteers, and career mentors. Its host program matches an immigrant family with a Nova Scotian family that helps orient and support them as they adjust to life in Canada. It offers a wide range of settlement, reception, and orientation services, including crisis support for families in difficult transition periods. MISA's settlement unit offers one-onone help for such things as using a bank machine and group sessions on such topics as Canadian law. Translation and interpretation services by trained volunteers in 23 languages help newcomers access services. Language assessment using the Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment (CLBA) allows newcomers to be placed in an English as a second language (ESL) program appropriate for their language level. Employment services include career and employment counselling, job-search and interview-skills workshops, and orientation to working in Canada. Immigrant Business Development Services provides information and workshops on business issues. MISA's New Beginnings Program offers six-week volunteer placements to newcomers with career skills.The Family Violence and Cross-cultural Awareness Program orients newcomers to stresses on the family that immigration brings and to Canadian law regarding child protection and the role of provincial agencies such as the Children's Aid Society. English-language training is a priority for many new immigrants; several organizations in the HRM offer the government-funded Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada Program (LINC). The Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre, which shares space with MISA, also offers English in the Workplace, in which an instructor assesses language needs in a workplace and develops a customized program. The centre also provides pre-employment, sector-specific, language training; English for work and business; computer-assisted language training; and computer-skills training in common software programs, for which it has developed ESL workbooks. LINC also is held in Halifax at Queen Elizabeth High School and St. Agnes Church on Mumford Road, as well as the Metro-Region Immigrant Language Services (MILS) in Dartmouth.There the program offers on-site child-minding services for students and outreach services in the HRM to homebound immigrants. MILS also runs Successful English for Work, a fast-track ESL program for socialassistance immigrants seeking employment, and the Canadian Connections Program, which helps skilled and professional immigrants determine what they need to re-qualify for their line of work in Canada. In the rest of the province, MILS offers the Teaching Immigrants English (TIE) Program, with language assessment and tutoring, to immigrants in rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. If a community already has a liter-

Several agencies and organizations support immigrants to Nova Scotia with language and cultural training and settlement services

acy program for immigrants, TIE will provide ESL materials. TIE also encourages churches to sponsors newcomers and will help them establish an ESL program and create workshops to train volunteer ESL tutors. Support for immigrants outside Halifax tends to be sparse, but some regional development authorities and churches help with settlement. For new citizens who no longer qualify for LINC programs but need language training, Halifax's Centre for Diverse Visible Cultures (CDVC) offers fee-forservice ESL classes and free homebound ESL tutoring, as well as fee-for-service citizenship preparation. Newcomers can access the Services for Immigrants and Refugees Information Network, a database of Nova Scotia programs, at www.immigrants.ca.To unite different ethnic communities, the CDVC started one soccer team

for women and another for youth. The YMCA Newcomers Centre in Halifax offers several programs for immigrants.The school support program provides orientation, peer tutoring, and homework assistance to young newcomers, while the youth outreach program offers social opportunities, leadership development, and homework help to teens at risk of chronic stress or isolation. The YMCA host program provides new adults and families with one-onone volunteer matching, conversation groups to practice English, and social and educational activities. For medical service, trained and certified interpreters at the Cultural Health Information and Interpreting Service (CHI-IS) are available through 24-hour pagers to help foster communication between clients from various cultural backgrounds and health service providers. With all of these services in place, let's hope the next NovaKnowledge Knowledge Economy Report Card will receive a better grade for attracting, supporting, and retaining new immigrants to Nova Scotia. -- ANNA QUON

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TRADING

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SPACES

Interhabs's export success is based on a quality product that conforms to its select market

by TOM MASON

W

hen customers select a dream home from Interhabs Ltd. (Habitations International), the process is more akin to buying a computer or a new suit than a house. The company has experienced prosperity and a steady growth over the last three decades by

exploiting a lucrative niche: exporting pre-engineered homes and Nova Scotian building ingenuity to other parts of the world. Every Interhabs home is built at a plant located in the small South Shore community of Hubbards, near Halifax, but you're just as likely to come across one of these Nova Scotia-built masterpieces tucked in a Swiss alpine valley or in an urban neighbourhood in Korea. More than 50% of the homes that Interhabs constructs are exported, mainly to the United Kingdom and western Europe, with other markets in Korea, Argentina, and Chile. About 10% of Interhabs homes head to the United States. Interhabs houses are stylishly modern and comfortable, with many traditional building features. Open stairways, cathedral ceilings, and exposed timber ceilings are standard in most models, and they all make optimum use of natural light. However, the real competitive advantage lies in the features that aren't immediately obvious. The technology that Interhabs builds into each home makes them incredibly energy efficient. By adhering to the principles of R-2000 construction (a building standard developed specifically for Canadian winters), Interhabs homes reduce energy use while delivering a

Interhabs general manager Rob Williams travels the world, opening new markets in places where building materials are at a premium and new homes are costly.

SANDOR FIZLI

high degree of comfort--an appealing feature in parts of the world where winters are long and energy is expensive.

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"We have always tried to build houses that fit into their surroundings. For example we try not to impose Canadian suburbia upon the Highlands of Scotland" -- Rob Williams, Interhabs general manager

The R-2000 system caused a paradigm shift in the Canadian home-construction business when it was developed in the mid1970s. Created in response to the looming energy crisis, the R-2000 formula called for a virtually airtight house that was ventilated to the outside. Conditions inside a R-2000 home can be carefully controlled. Interhabs adopted R-2000 construction techniques from the beginning. Robert Williams started working for Interhabs 26 years ago, and in 1992 he became the company's general manager. He says there are several companies in the package/pre-engineered home business in Atlantic Canada--some of which compete in the overseas export market--but he still believes that Interhabs' products are special

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because of their style, design, and attention to detail. "We feel that our flagship houses with their plank-and-beam roofs and vaulted ceilings are unique in the area," he says. Today Williams spends much of his time travelling the world, concentrating on opening new markets in places where building materials are at a premium and new homes are costly. Ireland is the company's latest frontier; Interhabs' Irish partners have acquired land in Ireland's Mayo County, where they are currently developing a small subdivision featuring about 10 model homes. The timing is perfect for entering the Irish market because people in that country are earning higher wages than ever before and, as a consequence, are interested in increasing their living stan-

dards. New European environmental legislation also is having a big impact. The European Union has released its Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings, a document that calls for high-level energy ratings on all homes and buildings. Europeans also are paying close attention to the Kyoto Accord. "We see huge potential in the UK and the Irish market over the next three to five years," says Williams, "and we hope to be able to take advantage of our experience and reputation to increase our share of that market." Part of the secret for success in export sales is conforming the product as much as possible to the markets for which they are designed. The technology in an Interhabs home may be made-in-Canada, but the

designs are created with foreign sensibilities in mind. "Our designs originated with our own architects and designers here in Atlantic Canada but have been customized to suit the local markets where we sell," says Williams. "We have always tried to use Canadian technology and materials to build houses that fit into their surroundings. We try not to impose Canadian suburbia upon the Highlands of Scotland." In fact, there's no typical Nova Scotian vernacular home. The waves of immigrants that each brought with them their own building styles and methods have left an eclectic built heritage. A typical home in Lunenburg is far different from a typical home in Pictou, downtown Halifax, or the Cape Breton Highlands. There were common threads, such as the availability of building materials and the need to keep out the Nova Scotian weather. The reality of long wet winters turned Nova Scotian homebuilders into some of the best and most innovative in the world. Wind, rain, sleet, and the winter gales that swept up the coast all meant that Nova Scotian homes had to perform like Swiss timing. With the advent of 21st-century materials and techniques, new forms of insulation, and airtight home designs, Nova Scotian homes have become even more efficient--and more beautiful at the same time. Interhabs has found a way to export this building acumen to the rest of the world. Overseas, Interhabs markets its product through a series of local sales offices, another factor that's vital to success. "Good sales in a foreign market depend upon having the right people, and local people, on the ground," says Williams. "In Europe we have a network of local people as our sales force." In recognition of its export success, Interhabs has received several accolades in recent years, including winning a 2004 Nova Scotia Export Achievement Award from Nova Scotia Business Inc. For all its success, Interhabs has remained a small company since its inception in 1975. It only has about 25 Canadian employees stretched between the Halifax head office and the Hubbards assembly plant. Sales have doubled over the past few years, with the greatest growth occurring in the overseas market.

ENERGY EFFICIENT Hubbards is a village more associated with sailing and summer cottages than with industry. Interhabs is one of the larger employers in the community. Despite the unlikely location, it works well for the company. "Hubbards is an ideal location for a facility like ours," says Williams. "We are close to the city but, at the same time, we can attract people from the large welltrained labour force on the South Shore." At the Hubbards plant, Interhabs' designers and carpenters pre-engineer 10 standard series of designs encompassing more than 50 models, from the 60-squaremetre Sportshab to the 325-square-metre High-Tech 2004. The alpine-influenced Mountain Series features cathedral ceilings, open-plan living areas, and solid plank-and-beam roof systems; the Eurohab was designed in partnership with the Swedish furniture company IKEA and fea-

hour highway drive from Halifax's container terminals--provides a further competitive advantage. "Halifax is ideally suited for this," says Williams. If the improvements to Interhabs' export business have been dramatic in recent years, they have come on the heels of a lot of hard work. Recently, the company developed a new brand featuring a clean typeface word mark with a stylized maple leaf and a new positioning statement: "Light, space, air with walls." In the UK, the company has geared part of its marketing thrust around the Super E House Program, which originally was developed by Natural Resources Canada to export Canadian-made, energy-efficient homes to the Japanese market, partnering more than 30 Japanese companies with Canadian homebuilding companies in the process. Recently, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. joined with Natural Resources

The designs of Interhabs homes focus on comfort, light, and the effective use of space and energy

tures a turret stairwell and passive solar design; the Cape Cod is a nod to Nova Scotia traditional styles, while the Solarhab has won awards for its energyefficient technology. Each home features a degree of customization, and Interhabs also offers original designs as well as multi-family housing and small commercial buildings. If there is a common denominator among Interhabs homes, it's the focus on comfort, light, and the effective use of space and energy. Once each home slated for export is completed, it's packaged and sent by road to Halifax, where Alliance World Transport Inc. and Atlantic Container Line ship it directly to the United Kingdom and Europe. The plant's location--just a halfCanada to offer a similar program to homebuyers in the UK; Interhabs was selected by the Canadian government to build the first Super E model home in Scotland. The UK and Ireland are just part of the picture. Interhabs also has exported to Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and several other countries in recent years, but Williams isn't likely to stop logging the travel miles any time soon. He says the company will continue to concentrate on export markets, and he's constantly looking for new places to set up shop. That means a lot of people around the world will be able to thank Canadian technology and Nova Scotian building ingenuity for the fact that they can stay warm and happy in their dream home.

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COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

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WATERSHED MOMENT

by ALLISON LAWLOR

children. Parasites such as MSX have altered the lake's entire ecosystem, with devastating effects on its aquaculture. In 2002 an outbreak of MSX infected oyster stocks in the lake. To combat the parasite, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans issued an oysterfishing ban on Cape Breton's east coast. This negatively impacted the fishery, which was worth about $900,000 annually. This past summer a project aimed at reclaiming the oyster fishery in the lakes was announced, with the hope that it will be restored. An elder in the community got Dennis to take notice of the lake's poor health. One day the elder, known as Uncle Simon, asked Dennis, "How come in the last few years there hasn't been herring-spawning activity in Crane Cove?" Uncle Simon, who was then in his 70s, recalled how every year the cove, which borders the community, would turn white with spawning activity. "We never paid much attention to it prior to Uncle Simon's visit," admits Dennis, who today is the executive director of the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources. The institute, located in Eskasoni, represents the five First Nations communities in Cape Breton and promotes the protection of the Bras d'Or Lakes and watershed through monitoring programs, data collection, and education. Dennis then decided to investigate.

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t the centre of Cape Breton Island in northern Nova Scotia is the Bras d'Or Lakes, a deep inland sea. The lake, which is often referred to in the plural because of its bays and channels, is an irregular brackish body of water covering about 260 square kilometres. It's a unique combination of ocean and lake features, and although surrounded by land, two natural channels and a canal connect it to the Atlantic Ocean. The lake is salty, but not as salty as the open ocean, and its tidal range is so low that it's hardly noticeable. Residents living around the Bras d'Or value the great body of water and have become increasingly concerned about the pressures on the lake's ecosystem. "They look at the environmental issues plaguing Sydney, N.S., the island's largest urban area, and say, `Please don't let something as disastrous as the tar ponds happen to the Bras d'Or Lakes,' " says Pat Bates, the chair of the Bras d'Or Stewardship Society. Founded with fewer than 30 people in 1997, the society now has more than 200 members. Charlie Dennis grew up along the Bras d'Or Lakes on the Eskasoni reserve. As a child he remembers picking clams and oysters on the shore to bring home for his grandmother's chowder. Wistfully, Dennis says he can't do that today with his own grand-

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An elder in the community got Charlie Dennis to take notice of the Bras d'Or Lakes' poor health.

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Charlie Dennis: "Our ancestors have always relied on the lake to keep food on the table."

ALLISON LAWLOR

Studies conducted by the Eskasoni Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed that herring catches had been dramatically declining. For thousands of years, the Bras d'Or Lakes and watershed have provided natives and non-natives with the necessities of life. The waters yielded salmon, gasperaux, cod, herring, flounder,

eels, and oysters. The land provided fertile soils, good hunting grounds, timber, and minerals. "Our ancestors have always relied on the lake to keep food on the table," says Dennis. Today it's a different story. Eskasoni fishermen only hold a couple of lobster licences compared to the 18 a decade ago. Across the Bras d'Or Lakes, shellfish clo-

sures have dramatically increased over the past three decades. In the 1970s, about 10 closures were recorded; today there are closer to 50, says Laurie Suitor, the former co-chair of the Nova Scotia Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) Bras d'Or field team who now works with the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources. COMMON GOALS Back in the mid-1970s, the Bras d'Or Institute at the University College of Cape Breton proposed that a management plan for the lakes be developed. While the idea didn't take root then, it marked the beginning of a recognition that something had to be done to better manage the Bras d'Or watershed. Twenty years later, a report suggested the creation of a new management structure to oversee the health of the lakes. The recommendation was rejected by government, which saw it as adding yet another layer of bureaucracy. Disappointed by the government's decision, Bates, along with other concerned citizens, decided to establish an advocacy group. In 1997 the society was

Asset mapping

The Nova Scotia Sustainable Communities Initiative Annapolis-Fundy field team covers the Annapolis River watershed and the adjacent Fundy shore stretching from Berwick to Digby. The team, which meets monthly, consists of a broad range of members, from municipal representatives to employees of Health Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. One of the initiatives started at a community meeting held by the field team was an examination of wharf facilities and other local assets in Digby, Annapolis, and Kings Counties. The study will result in a regional strategy to address the long-term viability of coastal communities. Another area the field team tackled is rural transportation. After receiving money from Health Canada, a community-led task force undertook a policy-analysis project focused on rural transportation issues. Another task force developed five sustainability principals that were adopted in 2002 by the eight municipalities comprising the Annapolis-Fundy watershed. The principals are environmental stewardship, economic opportunity, social responsibility, fiscal responsibility, and good governance. ­ A.L.

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Come together

The SCI supports a collaborative approach to problem-solving

Concern for the Bras d'Or Lakes and its watershed isn't new. Thirty years ago people were talking about the need to develop a proper management plan. Since then, however, problems such as sewage, the impacts of forestry, invasive species, and fisheries closures have become more apparent. The call for action has become more urgent. The lake's sustainability as a source of livelihood, pleasure, and tourism is being threatened; it is intricately tied to the region's future and its economic development. Once the community and government started to pay attention to the issue, the next challenge was to bring them all together. That's where a new partnership of more than 40 federal, provincial, municipal, and First Nations organizations stepped in. After countless community meetings, consultations, and bridge building, a community-led proposal to designate the Bras d'Or Lakes as a non-discharge zone for boating waste under the Canada Shipping Act was made in 2003; the designation prohibits boaters from dumping raw sewage into the lake. With communities across the province calling on government to get its act together, the federal and provincial government departments in Nova Scotia finally took notice. In late 1999 the Nova Scotia Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) was created to help build and support strong communities through a collaborative approach integrating social, cultural, economic, and environmental policies and programs. Sustaining and nurturing rural communities is a complex challenge for governments. One particular department or agency can't possibly address all of the economic, social, and environmental issues that shape a community's future. "It's all about the community pulling together," says Laurie Alexander, the initiative's program co-ordinator. Alexander and two other staff members work in a small office in Dartmouth, N.S., providing administrative and communications support for the initiative's activities. The initiative was created to develop closer collaboration and co-ordination of programs and services delivered to Nova Scotians. It's run on a cost-sharing formula; this year several provincial and federal departments and agencies contributed funds to make up its $357,500 budget. In June of 2000, two rural areas in Nova Scotia--the watersheds of the Bras d'Or Lakes and the FundyAnnapolis Basin--were chosen as areas in which to pilot the initiative. Field teams consisting of representatives of federal and provincial government departments, municipalities, and First Nations organizations in each pilot area were established. Since 2000, regular monthly meetings have been held so everyone can learn more about each others' work and hear from groups wrestling with issues affecting the long-term sustainability of their communities. In September the Nova Scotia Sustainable Communities Initiative won a silver medal for excellence in innovative management at a national competition hosted by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC). Since 1990 the IPAC Award for Innovative Management has recognized excellence in public-sector management. SCI, which was chosen for its ability to unite various levels of government to work toward community sustainability, beat 95 other entries from across Canada. The award's gold prize went to the partners in the Vancouver agreement-management committee for urban development being done in the downtown's east side. The bronze award went to the Ontario government for its collaborative work in delivering services. ­ A.L.

incorporated with 30 founding members. "The No. 1 business for the society is untreated sewage in the lake," says Bates, who lives in Sydney but has a lakefront cottage in Hay Cove. Bates discovered that he wasn't the only one increasingly concerned about the lakes and its watershed. It was around the same time that the Unama'ki Institute was formed, and a few years later a partnership called Pitupaq was established. Pitupaq united all of Cape Breton's municipalities, the province, and five Cape Breton native

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reserves in an effort to tackle the Bras d'Or Lakes pollution problems. With all of the parties working toward a common goal, a community-led proposal to designate the Bras d'Or Lakes a non-discharge zone for boating sewage under the Canada Shipping Act went ahead. The SCI Bras d'Or Lakes field team supported the proposal. Federal and provincial departments provided funds for a co-ordinator to oversee the massive task of putting the proposal together, municipalities conducted the public consultations, and the Pitupaq

Partnership sponsored the application in 2003. Transport Canada has approved the application, but there are still a couple of stages left before the designation is final, says Suitor. "Cleaning up the Bras d'Or [is] much larger than an environmental issue," says Laurie Alexander, the SCI's program co-ordinator. "It's about the sustainability of the region." Alexander believes the application represents the initiative's collaborative approach; she says the initiative has laid the groundwork for new ways of government to do business with communities. It's meant to provide one-stop shopping. Instead of communities having to knock on countless doors to get help, the initiative gives them better access to the expertise of people working in more than two dozen different departments and agencies. Earlier this year, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy conducted an external review of the initiative and found that SCI had made significant progress, both in strengthening collaboration among departments and levels of government and in addressing the sustainability issues of participating communities. But what exactly makes a sustainable community? According to the Nova Scotia Government's Community Development Policy Initiative: "A sustainable community is a community that maintains, enhances, or improves its environmental, social, cultural, and economic resources in ways that support current and future community members in their pursuit of healthy, productive, and happy lives." In the Bras d'Or Lakes region, it means those living around the lake, from Eskasoni to Baddeck, are working together to create a stronger future. The SCI--and, more importantly, a common concern for the lake-- helped them to do that. "With the communities around the watershed, there's more of a feeling that they're involved in something," says Dennis. "Before, the government would make decisions without the community knowing what [was] happening." Dennis knows that preserving the lake is important not only for his grandchildren but also for the health of the entire region. When tourists arrive on the doorstep of his community and declare that they have arrived in "God's country," he wants to be able to agree with them.

OPEN TO THE WORLD, WINTER 2005

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Risk and reward

Silicon Valley venture capitalists are interested in entrepreneurs with a track record, and that includes the odd failure

SANDOR FIZLI

Winston Churchill once said that success is the ability to go from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm. The entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, where more than 1,200 companies have closed their doors in the last two years, are no strangers to failure. However, they have a Churchillian way of looking at it. "Failure is a badge of honour there," says Stephen Lund, the president and CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc., of the business culture in northern California. "There's no shame in it." Lund and NSBI's VP of business development, Tony Reeder, recently returned from a two-day tour of Silicon Valley where they sat down with almost a dozen venture capitalists. Finding 12 venture capitalists isn't difficult in Palo Alto, Calif. On one street alone, Sand Hill Road, there are more than 100 VCs. Forty per cent of all venture capital deals in the United States happen in the Silicon Valley/San Jose area. These people collectively have billions of dollars invested in high-tech companies, and they also sit on the boards. They participate in decisions that mean much programming and other IT work gets outsourced to other nations. Lund and Reeder were in Silicon Valley in part to get a larger piece of that pie for Nova Scotia. "We are positioning Halifax as a world centre for software application development," says Lund, "and we're talking with a half-dozen companies to come here." The pair promoted the region's assets: a post-secondary system that produces 2,000 IT graduates every year; the first master's degree program in internetworking engineering in North America; the largest computer science graduate program in Canada; and a familiar culture and language. Several of the VCs already were familiar

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Stephen Lund

with the work of Nick Cercone, the dean of the computer science program at Dalhousie University in Halifax, and his research in artificial intelligence, knowledge-based systems, and human-machine interfaces. "We also have a KPMG study that shows operating costs for a 110-person advanced software firm here are 15% less costly than Toronto and 35% less than Boston," says Lund. A second reason for his visit was to lay the groundwork for introducing upand-coming Nova Scotian firms to Silicon Valley VCs. With a background in venture capital, Lund understands why VCs make most of their investments within a 100-kilometre radius of home. It isn't geographic chauvinism; close to home is simply where their contacts and the deals are. "If they see a deal that makes sense, they'll do it-- whether it's in Toronto, Halifax, or Silicon Valley," says Lund. Recently, several Atlantic Canadian IT companies have successfully attracted venture capital from outside the region, including Core Networks and Quest

Software of Halifax, and Q1 Labs Inc. of Saint John, N.B. The VCs were more than willing to visit Halifax, and, for the most part, they had a good perception of Canada, its publicly funded health care system, and its commitment to social justice that smoothes the harsh edge of capitalism. But there's also a perception that Canadians don't like success. Lund calls it the lobster-pot theory: "You have a pot full of lobsters, and one lobster reaches for the top," he says. "The others all get together to pull him back down." The Silicon Valley VCs also think that Canada doesn't promote itself well and isn't aggressive enough. One VC indicated he receives an average of one call a week from someone in India who wants his business, while Lund was his first contact from Canada. These investors are interested in entrepreneurs who have tried and failed, providing they have learned something from their failure. "The question is always, `What have you done before?' " says Lund. "If the answer is `nothing,' then they look skeptical." ­ JOEY FITZPATRICK

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