Action plan to advance economic development of African Nova Scotians launched

Dolly Williams, a co-chair of the African Nova Scotian Prosperity Advisory Committee, speaks in the launch of the Road to Economic Prosperity Action Plan on Jan. 19, 2021. Global News file

The African Nova Scotian Prosperity Advisory Committee has launched a five-year action plan to advance the economic development of ANS communities.

The Road to Economic Prosperity Action Plan was designed by and for the African Nova Scotian community, and will be delivered in collaboration with the Halifax Regional Municipality and Halifax Partnership.

Launched in a Tuesday afternoon event, the plan serves as a continuation of decades of work made by Black Nova Scotians.

“For generations, African Nova Scotians have adopted and advocated for prosperity,” said Dolly Williams, a co-chair of the action plan committee, in the event.

Williams said Halifax has demonstrated continuous growth in the last decade, but African Nova Scotians have not equally benefited from that growth.

“Our community continues to be impacted by growing socio-economic disparities.”

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She said there’s been previous effort by government and private sector organizations to support ANS development, but there has never been a strategic effort to improve the economic development.

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Williams calls the new action plan a “first of its kind.”

She said it will close employment and housing gaps, and increase investments into ANS communities.

“Most of us have lived through a version of this work, but this is the first time put together a formal economic plan endorsed by the community and the government.”

The plan was unanimously endorsed by Halifax Regional Council in September 2020.

Halifax has identified $350,000 in proposed funding over the next two years to implement the plan.

At Tuesday’s event, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said he is grateful for the council’s support in this action.

“While this work is designed by and for the ANS community, make no mistake, this will benefit all of us,” Savage said.

“There can be no debate that systemic racism has been a part of this city since its founding… We must commit to building new paths of security and inclusion for African Nova Scotian communities.”

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Savage applauded the collaboration “in building a prosperous future” for these communities.

Click to play video: 'Community fund established to help African Nova Scotians achieve home ownership' Community fund established to help African Nova Scotians achieve home ownership
Community fund established to help African Nova Scotians achieve home ownership – Dec 31, 2020

The provincial government has promised around $139,000 in funding to the Halifax Partnership over the next two years for this action plan. That funding will also help launch the African Nova Scotian Connector Program, “aimed at improving labour market integration and outcomes for African Nova Scotians.”

The RBC Atlantic regional president, Chris Ronald, said he is proud to announce a contribution to the action plan with a $25,000 sponsorship.

“We have an opportunity and business imperative to address longstanding institutional inequalities and social injustices and create positive, sustainable change. The Action Plan is a step in that direction, and we are committed to helping African Nova Scotian communities grow and thrive,” Ronald said in the release.

In the launch event, the Black Business Initiative (BBI) and Halifax Partnership renewed their memorandum of understand to jointly support ANS economic development.

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The action plan committee presented three strategic priorities:

  • Priorities Build unity and capacity among African Nova Scotians
  • Establish land ownership, develop infrastructure, attract investment
  • Increase participation in education, employment and entrepreneurship

“The Road to Economic Prosperity Action Plan is an opportunity for all orders of government, residents, partner organizations, and allies to support African Nova Scotians in our region working towards sustainable community economic development priorities,” the committee said in the plan.

More to come… 

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