Africville was a black community located on the outskirts of Halifax, built by Loyalist descendants, and destroyed for the sake of urban renewal in the late 1960s. Canada has always prided itself on its race relations, often comparing its own history with that of the United States. However, this self-proclaimed pristine image is often tainted. The Africville residents were not even recognized as a community, despite the presence of schools, churches, and self-run social supports. The black residents were without a voice on city councils in Halifax. Their presence lacked on planning committees, and subsequently numerous factories, a prison and a dump were all built in close proximity to Africville and away from the rest of Halifax. Town services such as water, sewage, and policing were also not made available to the area, though it was inside Halifax's city limits. The existence and treatment of Africville was racist, and yet even though its destruction was done in not only the name of urban renewal, but also as a way of ending racism and segregation in Halifax, the relocation of the Africville residents was also a blight on Canada's image.
[...] Halifax's North End. Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press Hoy, Claire. “Black Slum is Gone, but Discrimination Lives on in Halifax,” Toronto Daily Star July Ministry of Citizenship, ‘African Canadians Historical Facts and Siginificant Dates Fact Sheet'. (Feb 2002) < http://www.ontla.on.ca/library/repository/mon/3000/10301291.pdf> (Feb 2003) National Film Board of Canada. Video: Remember Africville. Montreal Proudfoot, Dan. “Canada's Own Stokely Carmichael,” Toronto Daily Star March Stuparyk, Melanie. “Africville, the Devastating Story of a Black Settlement in Halifax,” Imprint no (Feb 2001). Walker, James W. St. G. [...]
[...] Land ownership was continually kept out of the hands of many and used as a power tool by the government in dealing with residents. The history of the government's management of Africville is one example of the many disgraces that tarnish Canada's self-created pristine image in race relations, especially when comparing itself with the United States. Africville was lost, but hopefully its lessons will not be forgotten. RESOURCE LIST Bobier, Richard. “Africville: The Test of Urban Renewal and Race in Halifax, Nova Scotia,” Past Imperfect [Canada] (1995), 163-180. Canada Press. “Relocation Hurt N.S. [...]
[...] However, rather than improve the area by providing services that would vastly improve the region, greed and the desire for urban renewal turned a lack of adequate social services into an area seen as worthless socially and undesirable. Africville residents were either compensated for their homes or given $500 if their tenancy was questionable. Social assistance and relocation counseling was promised along with help in finding subsidized housing. However, Many Africville residents could not even meet the financial requirements for subsidized housing and Nova Scotia housing law at the time allowed for racial discrimination in buildings with four apartments or less. [...]
[...] The War of 1812 also resulted in a wave of black immigration to Canada, many arriving as refugees in Nova Scotia after hearing promises of independence and land grants. Canada is often depicted as a ‘promised land' of freedom, and this image is reinforced in our televisions as we watch the C.R. Bronfman Foundation's ‘heritage moment' on the Underground Railroad in Canada. Education programs stress accomplishments in the fight against inequality in Canada, while skimming over mistakes like Africville or ‘plain racism' in the West. [...]
[...] Land ownership for blacks in Nova Scotia was purposely restricted, and the ownership questions that arose in Africville during numerous expropriations to Nova Scotian industry are a reflection of this. Undesirable industry was built up around Africville before the community was eventually destroyed. By the time of its destruction, Africville was bordered by the shipyards, industrial developments on the old open city dump, and Rockhead Prison. The area was a place for unattractive industry to be placed by the city. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee