An Africville apology from Halifax Mayor
Agreement to commemorate the historic community
Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly apologized on 24 November for the loss of the historic Halifax community of Africville in the 1960s.
He also presented the terms of an agreement reached between the municipality and the Africville Genealogy Society. The agreement, which includes $3 million toward the reconstruction of the Seaview United Baptist Church to serve as an Africville memorial, is designed to honour the past, take action in the present, and plan for community-based improvements for the future.
“We realize words cannot undo what has been done, but we are profoundly sorry and apologize to all the former residents and their descendants,” Mayor Kelly said.
A predominantly African Nova Scotian community, Africville stood on the shores of the Bedford Basin for 150 years before its homes and the Seaview United Baptist Church were removed by the former City of Halifax. Approximately 400 people were relocated throughout the city at that time.
The Africville Genealogy Society, which represents former residents and their descendents, has devoted many years to seeking a fitting recognition of Africville and a way to ensure its history remains a significant part of the fabric of the municipality.
“This announcement with its heartfelt apology is welcomed by the people of Africville,” said Africville Genealogy Society President Irvine Carvery. “Today as we open the door to tomorrow, we do it on the sacrifices and struggles of those who came before us. This is truly a new beginning for Africville.”
In addition, the agreement includes the provision of 2.5 acres of land at Seaview Park to an Africville Heritage Trust Board that is to be established in short order and a park maintenance agreement between Africville Heritage Trust and HRM for the lands known as Seaview Park.
“Our history cannot be rewritten but, thankfully, the future is a blank page and, starting today, we hold the pen with which we can write a shared tomorrow,” said Mayor Kelly.
Speaking to Touch BASE editor, Robin Arthur, a few years ago, Carvery had said: “If our demands are met and the land is restored back, Africville will become a turning point in the country’s history of racism and we can move forward.”