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Africville’s first Easter church service in 50 years a ‘marvelous feeling’

Africville’s first Easter church service in 50 years a ‘marvelous feeling’
Global’s Steve Silva has the story of a particularly poignant Easter Sunday for members of a Halifax community striving to overcome a painful history.

Halifax’s Africville neighbourhood had its first Easter church service in 50 years on Sunday.

“It’s just lovely to be back home,” Cora Howe, 93, said.

She said she used to live in the area until the 1960s when residents were evicted, and homes and the original church were torn down to make way for the MacKay Bridge.

“I normally don’t get up early in the morning for sunrise service,” Roberta Downey, Howe’s daughter, said with a laugh, “but this is special.”

The area’s history of being demolished by the government led to Halifax’s then-Mayor Peter Kelly issuing a public apology in 2010. The Africville Museum was opened a year later.

“This day gives us a chance to rethink those mistakes of the past, and to be here in the church to recognize that the community is still strong and will always be strong,” said Kelly.

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READ MORE: New project aims to shed light on Africville’s history

The building is a replica of the Seaview United Baptist Church.

Dozens of people attended the music-heavy service that was led by Cornwallis Street Baptist Church’s Rev. Rhonda Britton.

Brenda Steed-Ross, 70, said she is afraid she won’t live through another Easter Sunday and that experiencing the service in Africville was meaningful.

“Oh, it’s a real, marvelous feeling,” she said, adding that it’s still a “bittersweet situation.”

Closure for the people impacted by what happened in the community may be unobtainable, Steed-Ross said, “but we can make it better. We can make it better.”