For over 150 years, hundreds of people called Africville home.
The community was populated almost entirely by African Nova Scotians. In the 1960’s, the city bulldozed the site and expropriated the land for the MacKay Bridge.
An important project is now helping to mark the history of the area. The Africville Heritage Trust mapped out where the original homes once stood in the community. Then, using GPS coordinates, found where the current locations would be and marked it with a sign.
“People say they really appreciate it because now when they walk through, they make it seem more real as a community for people who are visiting and also for the people of Africville,” said Sunday Miller, the Executive Director of the Africville Heritage Trust.
Miller says one of the goals of the project is to dispel rumours that those who once lived in Africville were squaters.
“It was really nice homes and a good community,” said Miller.
“The only challenge was that they weren’t given running water and sewer and therefore, their homes were deemed substandard.”
Miller says she also wants people to understand how large Africville was and why the land is considered sacred.
“It’s not just because the people who were removed were here. It’s because they were here because their ancestors were willing to shed their blood to get to freedom,” Miller tells Global News.
“They were Africans that were forced into slavery in the states and had been given the opportunity – fight for the British and if you live, we’ll give you freedom in British North America or stay enslaved.”
Not long after the signs marking the former homesteads went up, the Heritage Trust was dealt a blow – twenty were removed.
“It was discouraging and I was a bit surprised that there would be such a level of disrespect and devaluing the site,” said Miller.
“It’s obvious because it says the name and it says prior to relocation so you can’t be confused about why this is here, but someone was saying I don’t want this to be here and I don’t want to remember this and I don’t want to know it.”
The Heritage Trust is now working with the municipality to try and figure out a more secure way to install the markers so they can continue to move forward with the project and map out Africville.