Beginning in the 18th century, Black men and women arrived from the U.S. and settled in various parts of Nova Scotia. In the 1800s, a small Black community had developed just north of Halifax on the shores of the Bedford Basin. The community became known as Africville and grew to about 400 people. Its residents fished, farmed, operated small retail stores and found work in the city. Jobs for Black people were hard to find, with many occupations blocked by racist practices. Women often worked as domestics and many men were train porters. A school and a church were the community’s key institutions.
The City of Halifax located a number of undesirable industries in Africville but refused residents’ demands for basic services such as running water, sewage disposal, paved roads, street lights, a cemetery, public transit, garbage collection and adequate police protection.
City planners developed urban renewal plans and city politicians agreed to demolish the community. Residents strongly opposed relocation, but city officials ignored their protests and began to seize and bulldoze the homes. In 1967, the church was demolished — in the middle of the night. This was a blow that signaled the end of Africville.
In the 1970s, some community members organized and began working for an apology and compensation. In 2010, Halifax’s mayor made a public apology for the community’s suffering and mistreatment. Some former residents accepted this; others continued to campaign for restitution. This new edition documents the continued fight for compensation by community members and their descendants. The spirit and resilience of Africville lives on in new generations of African Nova Scotians.
GLORIA ANN WESLEY is an award-winning African Nova Scotian writer and a former teacher. She is the author of two novels, two books of poetry and several picture books. Her young adult book If This is Freedom was chosen for One Book Nova Scotia in 2017. Her latest work is Abigail's Wish. Gloria resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
"A wonderful series [Righting Canada's Wrongs] of beautiful books."