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Righting Canada's Wrongs: Africville
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Righting Canada's Wrongs: Africville

An African Nova Scotian Community Is Demolished — and Fights Back

By Gloria Ann Wesley

$34.95 Hardback
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Series: Righting Canada's Wrongs

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Beginning in the 18th century, Black men and women arrived from the U.S. and settled in various parts of Nova Scotia. In the 1800s, a small Black community had developed just north of Halifax on the shores of the Bedford Basin. The community became known as Africville and grew to about 400 people. Its residents fished, farmed, operated small retail stores and found work in the city. Jobs for Black people were hard to find, with many occupations blocked by racist practices. Women often worked as domestics and many men were train porters. A school and a church were the community’s key institutions.

The City of Halifax located a number of undesirable industries in Africville but refused residents’ demands for basic services such as running water, sewage disposal, paved roads, street lights, a cemetery, public transit, garbage collection and adequate police protection.

City planners developed urban renewal plans and city politicians agreed to demolish the community. Residents strongly opposed relocation, but city officials ignored their protests and began to seize and bulldoze the homes. In 1967, the church was demolished — in the middle of the night. This was a blow that signaled the end of Africville.

In the 1970s, some community members organized and began working for an apology and compensation. In 2010, Halifax’s mayor made a public apology for the community’s suffering and mistreatment. Some former residents accepted this; others continued to campaign for restitution. This new edition documents the continued fight for compensation by community members and their descendants. The spirit and resilience of Africville lives on in new generations of African Nova Scotians.

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.

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

- Times Colonist

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.

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Publication Details:

Binding: Hardback, 96 pages
Publication Date: 21st September 2021
ISBN: 9781459416512
Format: 11in x 9in

BIC Code: YNH
BISAC Code:  4.0.2.0.7.0.0, YAN025000, YAN025050, YAN038050, YAN051180, YAN051270, YAN052040
Imprint: Lorimer

Interest age: From 13 To 18

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Righting Canada's Wrongs Resource Guide


Righting Canada's Wrongs

Righting Canada's Wrongs

A highly visual and engaging look at racism and discrimination in Canada's history

Series Website

Series features

  • Voices and stories of those who were affected
  • Geared to support history and civics curriculums
  • Full-colour images of period artifacts, maps, documents and historic photographs
  • Teachers Resource Guide prepared by the Critical Thinking Consortium
"As indicated by its name, this series is hopeful. It is not about opening old wounds; it's about remembering the past, understanding it and moving forward." Nikkei Voice

Righting Canada's Wrongs is a series devoted to the exploration of the Canadian government's actions that violated the rights of groups of Canadian citizens, the subsequent fight for acknowledgement and justice, and the eventual apologies and restitution by governments.

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