Standing with Africville

Sep 11, 2023

A noose was recently discovered in a tree behind Africville Park on the historic site of the former township of Africville in Halifax’s north end. This is not simply a piece of rope. It wasn’t found in just any tree. This is not just any park. This is a sacred space for the descendants of Africville and the African Nova Scotian community. This discovery is a reminder of how sacred spaces can become the target of those seeking to instill fear and anxiety in others.

This is not the first act of vandalism in Africville Park. Earlier this summer windows in the park’s replica Seaview Church were smashed and quietly replaced at a time when most Nova Scotians’ attention was focussed on devastating forest fires. In 2021, following the installation of interpretive panels on the site, the signage was defaced.

The historic significance of Africville Park should not be understated. This place on the shore of the Bedford Basin represents a deeply painful act of racism perpetrated upon one of the oldest African Nova Scotian communities in an urban centre in Canada. Its existence as a memorial to the families and community of Africville is a constant reminder of a history of systemic, accepted, and institutionalized anti-Black racism. Africville park represents the resilience of African Nova Scotians and a commitment to remember and celebrate community in the face of discrimination.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission works to protect and advance the rights of communities of African descent through education, public awareness and  a formalized dispute resolution process. We stand in solidarity with Africville, its descendants and the African Nova Scotian community.

I encourage all Nova Scotians to educate yourselves on the history and legacy of Africville, and denounce all forms of anti-Black racism.

The preceding is a statement from Joseph Fraser, Director & CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.