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...
With Black Heritage Month set to go into overdrive the first thought that comes to mind is someone that has done something in the past. Today we are going to focus on the new leaders of today, which the Millennials and Generation Z are definitely those! The power and passion of the future generations are undeniable. There are some amazing people making a difference in our communities, and here are a few of the people we'd like to thank for their community service! Every single one of your efforts are appreciated.
There is no particular order to this list! Each person on the list below have their own special way they are being positive role models in the community. Let's get right into with the first person on this list.
Being the first African Nova Scotian councilman to be elected to the Halifax region council in 16 years is definitely something to celebrate. Since Lindell was 12 years old making DVD's about how he would make his community better. It was evident Lindell was going to go grow up and make a difference in his community! If it was up to the 12 year old Lindell, Uniacke Square would have had brand new playgrounds and rust free fences. Lindell also spent quite a bit of time at the North Memorial Library, where he landed his first job as an outreach worker. Another great cause that Lindell co-founded is Centreline Studio which is a not-for-profit organization. Centreline Studio is a recording studio and arts centre focussed on getting youth to express themselves through creativity. These are just some of the most notable causes Lindell is known for, so even before his campaign started, he already had the vote of the people in the community. The diverse group of people that support Lindell, are the same group of people Lindell always showed support throughout his whole life. Lindell is the perfect person to serve our community, his community.
Our next leader in the community, we're about to mention shining in the community is Quentrel Provo. Quentrel Provo is the founder of Stop the Violence, which is a not for profit organization focused on doing just that. The hard work this young man is putting in, hasn't gone unnoticed. Quentrel has even caught the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also recognizes the dedication Quentrel has to supporting the community. On June 10th, 2016, history was made when that day was designated Stop the Violence Day in the province of Nova Scotia. On that day, everyone is encouraged to wear red and also do an act of kindness in the community. From schools and prisons to churches and organized marches, Quentrel is definitely out here making a difference creating awareness about violence!
Here is another one of our hometown heroes and a truly amazing man, and even better boxer. Custio started boxing when he was only 8 years old. Having a passion for the sport the young man quickly developed his skills and started his amateur career. With 99 bouts under his belt, you can say Custio has definitely made his bones in the square circle! It was over 10 years ago when this young man first fought at the national championships, in 2007. Custio made it to the podium in 2011, claiming 3rd place, but in 2009, 2010, and 2012, this young man landed at the top as the Canadian champion in the 69 kg weight class. Custio also has experience fighting internationally on multiple occasions, and has made it be ranked top ten in the world as an amateur fighter.
It was in the end of 2014, that Custio announced he was turning into a pro fighter and he never looked back. His pro career is even more stellar than his amateur one. Currently Custio has fought 13 professional fights and it victorious in all 13! Not to mention he holds the WBO international Welterweight title for his last fight and that's not even the only title he holds. Mr. Clayton also holds the IBF International Welterweight title and Custio as well as the WBC Continental Americas Welterweight title. So Custio is more than just the peoples champ, it's Official Custio Clayton is definitely a Champion 3 times over! S/O to Custio for being an inspiration for all the young athlete's in the Nova Scotia community!
This is Alex Ross a descendant of Africville and a valuable member of his community. The message behind the Family Over Fame clothing line is truly inspirational! The whole concept is to never forget where you came from, while staying positive in the process promoting unity! In 2017 Alex received the "Courage to Give Back Award" from the not for profit organization Family SOS. The organization Family SOS does a great job working with the youth within the community. The organization focuses on empowerment of our youth and cultivating their young minds. They have programs on everything from parenting to building confidence in the future generations. I'm going to put them on another list!
Hope Blooms started as a beautiful story even without Dragons Den. The organization was founded in 2008 by Jessie Jollimore a Community Dietitian in the North-End of Halifax. The organization started as a way to deal with food insecurities, and give people in the community a better opportunity to eat a healthier diet. Well, didn't Hope Blooms blossom into a beautiful flower! With over 40 of the local youth and their families taking part in the organization, you can easily see that it is definitely about more than food! Their program is structured to be youth lead, so I can only imagine all the skills they are learning along the way. The real value though is in the skills they are learning that are hard to see, you know the intangible qualities that are worth more than gold. Like teaching the children self-confidence and the feelings they get when they know they're making a difference in their community! How do you even measure that? It's simple, you can't! Anyway, I just wanted to give Jessie Jollimore and everyone over at Hope Blooms some love, they definitely deserve it!
Are any of these people part of your community? If so feel free to let them know they're doing a great job being a positive role model!
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
On January 26th, 2013, the community of Nova Scotia, lost a truly special lady. The imprint Ms. Lewis left on the Africville Museum, is undeniable. Ms. Lewis holds a special place in Canadian history, not to mention, the significant part she played in current Africville history!
She was the very first chairwoman to sit on the board for the Africville Heritage Trust, and excelled while she was with the organization! Ms. Lewis was so much more than that though, she was a revolutionary! It's evident to see that Ms. Lewis was passionate about making the world a better place, and that she did.
Daurene Lewis was a descendant of the Black Loyalist and she was born in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. It was in 1984 when history was made, especially in regards to the Canadian population. Ms. Lewis became the FIRST EVER, female Black Mayor in Canada. I can only imagine how many people, she had a direct and indirect influence on! It's history moments like these, that motivates the next generation to be great. Leading by example is what Ms. Lewis consistently did so many ways while she was here! Let's take a brief look at some of her accomplishments.
You will always be appreciated, and the legacy of your passion lives on through your work!
That is only the tip of the iceberg, Ms. Lewis is even deeper than that! If you are still interested about finding more information on the late Daurene Lewis, here are 2 great links