Faces in the Crowd – Anything is Possible

Posted on May 11, 2019 under Faces in the Crowd with one comment

Maty, Len and Emelio

“Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”
Meet Maty Amaya.

In 2012, the Argentinian economy was in shambles. Maty lost his job and was depressed. He told his family that he was going for a bike ride.Seven years and some 93,000 kilometres later, he’s still on the move.
He has visited 40 countries and is doing the Camino for the seventh time. The previous six were on his bike but this time, he’s walking. The first time he was confused and drove his bike in the opposite direction!
In December 2017, he was biking through Italy around Christmas. A couple saw him on the side of the road in a blizzard. They took him in and kept him for several days.
A few years earlier, this couple had been in a horrific accident. Their two children were killed and the parents were both in comas for more than six months. They awoke to find out that they were childless. They gave Maty a stuffed animal. Emilio now travels the world with Maty.
Later this month, the couple will travel to Spain and walk the final 200km with Maty… and Emilio.
Maty is a photographer and sells small prints for donations to finance his travel.
He embodies the notion that anything is possible if you try.

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Faces in the Crowd – Writing Her Own Script

Posted on February 14, 2019 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

Looking to the Future


“I am a creative person. I have  asked many questions and have experienced a lot of life. I want to keep writing stories that create dynamic roles for Black women.”

Meet Tara Lee Reddick.

Tara grew up in Antigonish, the youngest of four children. She had an imagination, was independent minded and always wanted to travel. While many have hazy recollections of their childhood, Tara can remember vividly small details of her youth from a very young age.

After completing grade 11 in the local school system, Tara decided to do her final year of high school in Halifax. “I wanted a different and more diverse experience. I had never been taught by a Black educator and wanted to spend time with classmates who were like me.” Living and going to school in Halifax was a great education. There were plusses and minuses. “I realized that you choose friends by their character and not the color of their skin.”

The next four years of Tara’s life were very demanding. She moved to Toronto, had a child and worked at several jobs. “I went from a small town, to a larger city (Halifax) and then to a big city (Toronto). I was so busy raising a child and working that I felt I never had time to really think about my future.” She moved back to Antigonish as a single mother seeking family support which was not available in Toronto.

Tara was always writing. No scrap of paper in the household was safe when she got an idea. She was also intrigued with acting. One day, unannounced, she wandered into Filmworks in Halifax inquiring about acting opportunities. She auditioned for the CBC mini -series “North, South” and got a small role. Realizing that she needed more professional credentials she took Neptune Theatre’s Pre-Professional Theatre Program. This nine month intensive course focused on such things as acting, musical theatre and script analysis.

In 2007, she was a stand-in for the movie “Poor Boy’s Game”. She became intrigued with the process of filmmaking and watched how all the pieces in a production fit together. She decided that writing scripts was what she wanted to do. Around this time she met Ann Verrall, an independent filmmaker who was doing a lot of work with indigenous groups. They wrote some scripts together.

A turning point for Tara was when she played the role of Tituba in Two Planks and a Passion’s play “The Crucible”. “Do I want to create dynamic roles for Black women or be the token Black woman often portrayed on stage and in film?” She co-wrote and co-produced “Stroll” which was shown at the Atlantic Film Festival.

A chance meeting with Emmy Alcorn in Halifax was another game changer for Tara. Emmy was the artistic director at Mulgrave Road Theatre and asked Tara if she would like to write a play. She was asked to write about a play about a woman from Lincolnville who ends up working for the family of the legendary, Ed Sullivan, host of a very popular variety show.  While the story line was compelling, Tara wanted to write her own story about the unique richness of the Black people of rural Nova Scotia. The result was “The West Woods”, a critically acclaimed work. Not only did Tara write the script but she also acted in the production. According to Alcorn, “Tara had a big vision and she was committed to doing the work to realize her vision. She has a lot of courage and is not afraid to take on projects that require her to get outside her comfort zone. She’s very professional and she has a big heart full of generosity.”

To say that Tara leads a full and busy life would be an understatement. She is the mother of four children and continues to live and work in Antigonish. She is involved with many worthy organizations and is a gifted communicator and facilitator. She is in her third year at St.F.X and it should surprise no one that her field of studies includes Sociology and Gender Studies. She realizes that a good education is very important.

Tara has a keen sense of self and a good sense of humour.

But make no mistake, she’s writing her own script. This independent thinker is a game changer for our community.

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Faces in the Crowd – Outside The Lines

Posted on November 1, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet


“I’m a fun guy to be around. I try and make people feel happy.”

Meet Justin Gregg.

Justin grew up in small town Vermont, the only child of a father who was a lawyer and a mother who worked for the Chamber of Commerce. In a time when the internet had yet to take a foothold on society, he loved playing in the outdoors. His mother was an animal lover who helped the local humane society find placement for stray and abandoned creatures.

At the age of ten, he travelled to Massachusetts on a whale watching trip. He saw a humpback whale and was immediately captivated with marine life.

Justin grew up and was considered a nerd, when being a nerd wasn’t cool. He loved science fiction movies and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In high school he played a variety of sports and in grade twelve, got his first taste of acting participating in theatre. Upon completing high school, he travelled to Sweden as an exchange student and completed an additional year of studies. This was a transformative experience. He learned a new language and for the first time came to appreciate that people in other parts of the world think and act differently.

Even though the idea of studying marine biology had some appeal, Justin enrolled in a linguistics program at University of Vermont. “I didn’t particularly like science as a subject and thought the program would be too difficult.” At the end of his second year, he headed off to the Netherlands to study linguistics and the Dutch language. He met his future wife, Ranke while both of them were participating in the production of “Romeo and Juliet”.

In his fourth year, Justin and a dozen colleagues from an a capella group, travelled to New York in a limo to perform at an UVM alumni function at the Windows of the World restaurant atop the Twin Towers.

Ranke moved to Ireland after attaining her Masters degree to pursue a Ph.D. at Trinity College. Justin moved to Ireland to be with her but with no job prospects and proper work visas, he decided to become a student again taking a one year sound engineering and music technology course. In 1999, the couple married and Ranke took a year off to travel to the United States. It was around this time that Justin’s father became sick which led to a protracted illness. Years later his mother would develop ALS. “At a young age, I became conscious of suffering and end of life issues.”

Back in Ireland, Justin tried his hand at a number of jobs including voice over work. After attending a Celtic scholar’s conference in Wales with Ranke, he decided that he would pursue a Ph.D. He spent an entire year at the local library reading books on biology, zoology and genetics. He decided to do a program in Cognitive Psychology. When he pitched his idea to the people at Trinity College, he was told that he would need to find a field supervisor. He contacted Kathleen Dudzinski, a renowned dolphin communication researcher.

For four summers, one in the Bahamas and three on a volcanic island off the coast of Japan, Justin studied dolphin behaviour. He swam with them using an underwater camera to record behaviour and sounds. He completed his doctorate in 2008 and in 2013 published a signature book called “Are Dolphins Really Smart”? The book was somewhat controversial arousing a lot of criticism by the media. As a result of this, he started to publish his own articles and became a science writer.

The couple’s daughter was born in 2008 in the Netherlands where Ranke had gained employment. Justin became a stay at home dad. “My number one goal in life was to get married and become a father.” He became a stay at home dad, when being a stay at home dad wasn’t cool! “Even though The Netherlands was progressive, it was unusual to be a stay at home dad. I was not part of the mainstream mother group.”

Yearning for the rural life, Justin applied for a self -employment permit to Canada in 2013. “I wanted to live in the country, cut my own firewood and have my own bees.” B.C.  was first on their list but a cursory investigation determined that the west coast was a bit on the pricey side. Justin’s grandmother’s family had lived in the Annapolis Valley so they set their sights on Nova Scotia. At around this time, a position became available in the Celtic Studies department at ST.F.X. University which Ranke applied for and was accepted.

After a year of renting, they purchased a home in Pleasant Valley. The couple believe in self-sufficiency. They installed solar panels in their home, grow their own garlic, cut their own wood and make their own honey and maple syrup.

Justin is an adjunct professor in the Biology department at St.F.X. and is a senior research associate with the Dolphin Communication project. A prolific writer and author, he now has his own publishing company called “Outside the Lines Press.” He is active in community life and contributes his many talents when called upon. His sense of humour, inherited from his very witty mother, is on full display when he leads an improv session.

Antigonish is very fortunate to have such a talented individual who lives life “outside the lines.”

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