Canada’s oldest and largest Black community held yet another march to demand justice for African Nova Scotian communities, in light of Premier Stephen McNeil’s apology last week.
McNeil’s apology has been in the spotlight ever since members of the African Nova Scotians came forward saying they feel left out of the restorative justice process.
“Let’s get the apology right,” said Steven Benton, one the organizers of the rally. “We want (McNeil) to come to this community, the largest Indigenous community in Canada, and apologize again.”
For many in North Preston, the apology has resulted in anger, confusion and frustration. McNeil has defended his apology, saying he wasn’t imposing a solution, despite criticism from the community he was addressing.
But on Saturday, many feel McNeil missed the mark.
“How about an apology for calling the black communities out during the pandemic,” said one demonstrator. “That was your doing.”
On Aug. 1, about 100 people marched through the streets of North Preston demanding justice and community investment, after more than a century of systemic racism endured in Nova Scotia.
North Preston has a long history of stigmatizing and discriminatory treatment from police, media and politicians.
“They bulldozed over our homes and our church and we never received justice,” Africville survivor Eddie Carvery told Global News in the August march.
That day marked Emancipation Day, which celebrates the abolition of slavery across the British Empire.
“If they want to go on the path of looking forward, look in the rearview mirror first. Because we can’t go forward, because what we had is gone,” said Edward Carvery Jr.
North Preston community organizer Evangeline Downey say the community is calling for investment into community development. Among other demands, they ask for infrastructure to pool funds for community organizations that work towards community development of North Preston.
They also call for the defunding of RCMP and redirecting $10 million a day into community development across Canada.
“It’s time for us black people to step up and be accounted for, and why not in North Preston?” Benton said.
For those who have been fighting systemic racism their entire lives, they say actions speak louder than words.
“I’m tired of the hate, I’m tired of police poisoning communities, people being shot, brother hating brother, I’m tired of living in racism. I know there’s a better life,” said Carvery.
— With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey.