Africville disappeared for the sake of urban development! The issue with the North-End is different, but the same...
Well, February has been an active month with everyone, everywhere creating awareness in regards to African Canadian history. From the multiple news outlets promoting all the African Heritage Month events throughout the city. To the GoFund me page set up by Quentrel Provo, who recently look 400 of the local African Nova Scotian to see the Black Panther movie. Mad props to being a role model and for being a positive influence in the community at large!
Another engaging moment in the month of February was when "The Current", a CBC radio show came to the Halifax Central Library for a special edition segment. The segment was titled "Facing Race", and it looked at the racism, African Nova Scotians face on many different levels. The piece covers topics from environmental racism, community gentrification, and the racism that black women face every day throughout Nova Scotia. The unedited version of the taping is the best one to watch, and you can find the full version here (Click Here).
The topic of discussion today, is going to be the "gentrification" part of the segment. That's when Anna Maria Tremonti is interviewing Irvine Carvey president of the Africville Genealogy Society, Melinda Daye former chair of the Halifax Regional School Board, and Rodney Small a business development manager for Common Business Solutions.
These types of open mic conversations give anyone in attendance the chance to speak. This is good to see how racism is perceived from different demographic's perspectives. From the young people within our neighborhoods, to our community elders, everyone has a voice of their own. It's when these voices come together collectively, in situations like these, that bring a rightful awareness around the issues happening within the community.
It's unfortunate, but the truth is, if the people in the North-End of Halifax are already feeling like they're losing their community, does that mean the gentrification process has already started?
Here is quote from Irvine Carvery, "Today, currently, people living in public housing cannot look to leave public housing because the rents in the area are way beyond their needs and home ownership is a dream. There has been this dramatic shift".
I believe that conversation goes a level deeper, and financial literacy is really where it starts! It's all money at the end of the day, from owning a small business to buying a home! So the faster that our younger generations can understand just how important things like credit and money management are, is the faster they are going to have the tools to obtain businesses and homes.
It's so true what Rodney Small said about changing the narrative in regards to small businesses and working. We shouldn't be focusing on just getting employment within our community, but ownership as well!
I definitely agree with Irvine when he said "Historically the marginalization of the black population in Nova Scotia and Halifax did not adequately prepare us to take advantage of the economic opportunities and the home ownership opportunities that became available", which makes now the time to arm our future generations with the knowledge they need. The background processes need to be understood first, in order to understand the steps to owning a small business and home ownership.
A great example of what I'm talking about is the organization Hope Blooms. I bet the children working within their organization have learned so many lessons, in regards to the way money really works.
The majority of those same people in the North-End today, are descendants of the Africville community that has long since been a casualty of racism. So the feeling of losing their community really isn't all that new to a lot of the people, but how do systemic problems get fixed? We can't get a new system, so knowledge is going to be the best line of defense. Knowledge is power when you use it properly!
My favorite part in the whole video, is at 2:06:28 during the Q&A session. A young man in attendance asks the minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, Tony Ince some great questions. His questions pertained to everything from mental health, education, and the criminalization of African Nova Scotians. The questions never get answered, and to be honest, I don't think they could of been answered by the minister at that time. The questions were too deep!
What are the quantifiable metrics used to see if the black community in Nova Scotia is being served by the elected government? Is it determined by how many more times African Nova Scotians get carded by the police? Or maybe it's decided by the historically poor employment rates within the African Nova Scotian community.
All I know is, I don't need to read any metrics to know the province of Nova Scotia needs to do better on so many levels! These discussions need to be continued, as often as possible to keep the awareness where it needs to be.
What do you think about the issues? Everyone has a voice!
It was something I heard in the documentary "Remembering Africville" that inspired a thought, that is turning into this post. In the short film, Mr. Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said something that struck a cord. He said...
"Tomorrow's Africvilles will be no less screwed than today's"
I don't know why that felt like a cold splash of water to the face! Is it because I am tomorrow's Africville? Is it because I feel Mr. Borovoy predicted the future and the more things change, the more they stay the same? Or maybe it's a bunch of reasons, all wrapped into one? I don't know, but I do know he explained how I personally feel.
Mr. Borovoy breaks down how back in the Africville days, there were no organizations to speak for the former Africville residents. Even Rev. Donald Skeir, went on to explain how the leadership in those days came from the church! The Seaview African United Baptist Church was the closest thing to an organization the people of Africville had!
There was really not much structure at that point in time, in the sense of the general black population of Nova Scotia fighting social injustices as one entity. It was Africville against the City of Halifax, which was a fight where the City wasn't even close to playing by the rules. The former Africville residents basically had their lives stripped away, because they felt they had no other choice!
Fast forward to 1982, and that was the year the Africville Genealogy Society was created. It was Deborah Dixon, Linda Mantley, and Brenda Steed-Ross that started the organization 35 years ago. The Africville Genealogy Society has been put on the Africville Reunion every year for the former residents and descendants of Africville.
The Africville Genealogy Society was instrumental in the fight that was decades, over the Africville community with the City of Halifax. A lot of people, put a lot of time and energy fighting to get the City of Halifax to acknowledge that they destroyed the community.
From the beginning, the sense of community the people of Africville had was the backbone of the community. The love and pride throughout the community was easy to see, and just as apparent was the sense of togetherness in the community!
In 2002 Africville was declared a National Heritage site, and in 2004 the UN acknowledged what the City of Halifax did to the community as a crime against humanity.
In 2010, the former mayor of Halifax, Peter Kelly issued a public apology to the people of Africville. With the public apology also came 2.5 acres of land, and also 3 million dollars. The money was for building a replica of the Seaview African United Baptist Church, that is actually a museum. The Africville Museum is operated by an organization called the Africville Heritage Trust, which was created by the Africville Genealogy Society.
The former Africville residents and descendants came together, and this was the final decision made by the people. The plan was to rebuild the former church, and turn it into a museum to preserve the history of Africville. The Africville Museum and the organization that runs it the Africville Heritage Trust, wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for the Africville Genealogy Society.
So to say that the Africville Genealogy Society has helped the community of Africville by never giving up, is an understatement. Here is a great link to see how far the Africville Museum has come from being just an idea back in 2006! Here
From the former Africville residents to the future Africville descendants, I'd like to say thank you, the legacy of Africville lives on through all of us everywhere!
I love this documentary that was created in 1991, and reflects on the history of Africville. Throughout the documentary there is video footage from the 60's to the 90's, which is blended together so beautifully it just works perfectly.
Remembering Africville is so insightful because the film is told from so many peoples perspective. The residents of Africville, the local media, and the general public all had their own perspective, and this film shows that. The way the film is put together, it shows some of the challenges the former Africville residents faced.
The community of Africville paid taxes, but yet they didn't have access to any of the municipal resources that the rest of Halifax had. Of course the living conditions in Africville were not the same as the rest of Halifax. If the city didn't invest ANY money into the community, how was it expected to be the same?
The community didn't have proper plumbing or even roads, so it wasn't even comparable. So the city of Halifax basically starved the community of every available resource, and then attacked the community when they thought the time was right.
It was obviously a strategic plan to use the power of influence to dismantle the Africville community, and it worked! Once the elderly people signed their homes over, the younger generation of Africville residents had no choice but to follow. And once the more influential people from the community started signing their homes over, it made it easier for the people with less to make the decision to leave Africville as well.
One by one, the homes in the community of Africville were demolished. The community felt defeated after fighting for their land for so long. The knockout blow came in the dead of night, on November 20, 1967!
That was the evening when the city of Halifax bulldozed the Seaview African United Baptist Church to the ground. The crazy thing is the city of Halifax didn't even own the Church when they took it from the community! And just like that, is how the community of Africville was taken awake from the people.
The former Africville residents were placed in housing projects and throughout the North-end of Halifax. The people never lost their sense of pride or love for Africville, and today the memory of the great community still lives on! I Am Africville...
Grants are like leprechauns and I found a pot of gold...
Everyone knows someone getting a post secondary education...
The Africville Heritage Trust hands out up to 5 post secondary bursaries to Africville descendants every year! I say up to, because I'm pretty sure they never gave out 5 grants in a year! Not too many people know about the opportunity, and I'm sure there are at least 5 Africville descendants deserving of the grants. It's just that nobody knows! I'm just trying to make sure the grants reach the community as they should.
So here is the MAIN criteria for the grants, right from the Africville Museum website. The links at the bottom of this post will give you all the information you need, right on the Africville Museum website... Good luck...
The costs related to going to school go way deeper than the price of tuition. The sacrifices some students and parents make, you will never hear. But every single day the struggle is real for so many people. It's a few thousand dollars for everybody that receives one of these grants.
Everyone knows somebody in post secondary or going into a post secondary institution. And if you ever had to pay for any of all the moving parts associated with going to school, then you know already!
So lets share this information so we can make more people aware of the opportunity as soon as possible, because the deadline to apply is on March 31.
Here is a link for the bursary application, on the Africville Museum website, and here is a link to find out the COMPLETE details in regards to the student bursary through the Africville Museum.
A hidden piece of Africville history, neatly tucked away...
There are plenty of historical buildings throughout Nova Scotia, but this is historical to my history. I guess "historical" is really all based on the perspective of who's history the conversation is about.
This is the old "Ford" house that was originally located in the community of Africville, and is still standing today! At the moment, I'm not sure the what the story of the house is, but I have confirmed that the house was once located in the community of Africville, by two former Africville residents.
It made me wonder how many more buildings are still standing that were once located in the community of Africville? Is this the last one? I can't help but be curious because Africville is real history to me, it's personal, and I want to pass on as much knowledge as I can for future generations. If you haven't heard Millenials and Generation Z are trending to take over the world. So lets try to reach our youth as often as we can...
I just wanted to share this picture, and hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If anyone has any photography of Africville and would like to share, we're just an email away. Either way, it's all love over here Hope you enjoyed...
photo credit: Andrew Hill
The future is here the next generation is quickly turning into the NOW generation. It’s a beautiful process watching the children of yesterday turn into the leaders of today.
That’s not to say being Black in Nova Scotia doesn’t come with its challenge. The inspiration to overcome those challenges is what makes the process even more priceless. The statistics below just make it that more important we support the future!
These facts are based on the information compiled by Stats Canada.
Based on those statistics alone, it's easy to see how the deck is stacked against us! In life, I try to see the silver lining in every situation. The fact of the matter is, to do something bigger than yourself, you have to be humbled by humility and put yourself out there. Looking from a distance sometime we forget how hard it is to stay positive when life can be as hard as it gets! It's the people out here creating awareness and doing positive things in their communities that are making a real difference trying to make OUR communities a better place!
It's those same people in our communities that we have to acknowledge even more than we do! There are really 2 options you have when it comes down to it. You can act like you didn't see it, do nothing and be part of the problem. Or you can do the right thing and show your support for people trying to make a real difference. It's easy to point the finger and say this is what needs to done, but it's much harder to DO what needs to be done! So supporting this next generation is the best blessing we need to be giving them!
Encouragement goes a long way! When someone feels like they are making a difference in another persons life, it just motivates them to make an even more positive imprint on the community. The key is to strengthen the community so that, future generations have it better than us. The community of Africville can identify with the struggle better than anyone, but the people of Africville have been dealing with these same issues, its time to break that trend!
The POWER of Africville always the people of Africville and the sense of togetherness the community had as a whole. We cannot forget that in 200 hundred years we're not going to be here anyway, and to make our children stronger, faster, smarter, is the biggest thing we can do for ourselves. The real winners are the next generations of all walks of life! They are the people out here changing the narrative of history, so lets fuel their fire and encourage them to be passionate as ever, while offering our support. It's such a small investment to make, with potentially the biggest return!
So make sure you support the young people in your community. It really doesn't matter if your Chinese, White, or Black. The youth is the movement. The proof is in the pudding, so let them know you see them!
I Am Africville
I AM the spirit of my history the pride all through my veins
I AM the smile you show your children when your heart is filled with pain
I AM the memory of Campbell Road right where the children played
I AM a Africville Bomber stick or Seaside hockey blade
I AM George Dixon shadowboxing a champion is made
I AM William Brown & William Arnold buying land to stay
I AM the four hundred residents the City drove away
I AM the Africville before that and the Africville today
I Am Africville
photo credit: Fredison Fire
Though the pain, oppression, and racism that the community of Africville faced was very real, and truly a tragic event.
I tend to look at it differently. I see strength, love, and leadership when I reflect on my history.
I'm proud to say, I'm a descendant of Africville