Africville, Nova Scotia

Unearth Uncover #BlackedOutHistory: Africville, Nova Scotia

In 1964 the people of Africville were forced off their land by the city of Halifax. People looking back on their childhoods in this predominantly Black Canadian community describe Africville as their safe place, where they were free to build rafts, play baseball, sing, fish and explore. They loved and cared for each other and the land. The original Black settlers of Africville were Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons, and refugees from the War of 1812. They passed this land down for 200 years over many generations, proud of their contributions to their families and community.

Outsiders didn’t always understand the beauty, hard work, and love in this community. It’s difficult to understand the importance of what looks to you like a ‘slum’. There is a long history of racism in the ways that white Canadians judge, label, and stereotype Black communities. No matter how hard the people of Africville worked, it was never enough to counteract the systemic racism they faced. The people of Africville paid taxes to the city, but received no city services like paved roads, running water or sewers. The city of Halifax chose to place polluting industries, such as the city dump and Halifax sewer outflow, around Africville. Inevitably, these government decisions led the homes in Africville to be deemed ‘in violation of minimum standards’ by Canada’s National Housing Act. This was used to force the people off of the land that they owned and into social housing.

Eddie Carvery and other Africville community members continue to fight for justice through the rebuilding of Africville and an inquiry into how it was allowed to be destroyed. Although the land was taken from the people of Africville, they maintain their ties to their community to this day.

“Since much of the Black past has been deliberately buried, covered over, and demolished, it is our task to unearth, uncover, and piece it together again.” – Dr. Afua Cooper