Port City Events owner Georgia Richards's head spun when she learned about the vicious attack on Scott Jones, a 27-year-old gay music teacher from New Glasgow who was stabbed on Thanksgiving weekend, severing his spinal cord and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Richards and her Port City Events team – Samson Learn, Callum Gaudet, Andria Wilson, Rose Allen and Kris McCann — got together and started organizing Gottingen Street for Scott Jones, a one-night street festival in the heart of Halifax’s gay village to honour Jones’s resilience and strength.
“Scott’s hope and message of positivity in the face of adversity is inspiring,” Richards says. “This event is an opportunity to support Scott financially as his whole life changes and to celebrate his courageous spirit. It is also a chance to take a stand against intolerance. We won't stop speaking up, protecting each other and making our community feel safe. Everyone deserves to be safe.”
From the Marquee Ballroom to the Company House, with events all along the street at Alteregos, Menz Bar, Plan B and the Bus Stop Theatre, Halifax’s queer strip honours Jones.
The event starts with a ceremony and sharing circle with native elders at the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre, featuring performances from local choirs and words from community leaders. The evening of music and entertainment continues all along Gottingen Street at seven different venues, with more than 40 artists — including Paper Lions, Erin Costelo, Kim Harris, Rouge Fatale, Quake Mathews, Heather Green, Billie Dre and the Poor Boys, El Jones and Ardath Whynacht — performing, followed by queer dance parties later in the night.
“Some people are afraid of Gottingen, but really it's the only street where a combination of culture, ethnicity, race, values, art, music, LGBTQ folks and a variety of economic classes collide,” Richards says. “It's also the street that Raymond Taavel was murdered on and where there is a large memorial garden for him.”
All of these factors made Gottingen Street the right venue for this event. Richards says he has had several conversations with Jones, who is deeply honoured and hopes to make it out to the event.
Spoken-word artist and Halifax Slam Team member Whynacht, who performs with Deirdre Lee, and Hermit of the Woods, at Alteregos, believe Gottingen Street for Scott Jones is an act of true social justice.
“Violence is a complex thing. It sets off a chain reaction,” Whynacht says. “It makes us afraid. It makes us angry. I love the idea of a street festival because it’s a different kind of justice and a different kind of healing from violence. There is something really beautiful about responding to violence with art. I think that coming together like this is — creatively, openly and with love — queer justice.”