Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Africville

An African Nova Scotian Community Is Demolished — and Fights Back

by Gloria Ann Wesley

In the 1960s, after ignoring the Black community’s repeated petitions for basic services, the City of Halifax bulldozed Africville in the name of urban renewal.

The community of Africville was founded in the late 1800s when African Nova Scotians built homes on the Bedford Basin on the northern edge of Halifax. Africville grew to include a church, a school and small businesses. At its peak, about 400 people lived there.

The community was lively and vibrant, with a strong sense of culture and tradition. But the community had its problems. Racist attitudes prevented people from getting well-paying jobs in the city. Residents of Africville petitioned the City of Halifax for basic services such as running water, sewage disposal and garbage collection. They were refused. In the 1960s, in the name of urban renewal, the City of Halifax decided to demolish the community, relocate its residents and use the land for industrial development. Residents strongly opposed this move, but their homes were bulldozed. Everyone was forced to move to other parts of the city.

In 2010, after years of pressure from former members of the community and their descendants, the City of Halifax – finally apologized for the destruction of Africville and ordered some compensation. A replica of the community’s church was built on the site. But former residents and their descendants were refused individual compensation beyond what little was paid in the 1960s. This second edition provides updates on the community’s continuing advocacy and resilience.

Through historical photographs, documents and first-person narratives, this book tells the story of Africville. It documents how the City destroyed Africville and much later apologized for it – and how the spirit of the community lives on.

About the Author

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.

Reviews

"This is an in-depth history in words, pictures, and first-hand accounts of this once thriving community that flourished despite lack of access to any city services. The book brings context to the present-day struggles of the descendants of Africville residents and the ongoing history and use of the site by the community on the southern shore of the Bedford Basin."

Inclusive Storytime

"A wonderful series [Righting Canada's Wrongs] of beautiful books."

Times Colonist

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