About the Books:
If This Is Freedom continues the story of struggle for Loyalist settlers in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War. In the black settlement of Birchtown, times are especially hard for the former slaves. They face the difficulties of a hardscrabble existence and continued discrimination from their white counterparts.
Like many desperate Birchtowners, Sarah Redmond has signed an indenture agreement, a work contract meant to protect her rights and ensure a living wage. Sarah’s employers, the Blyes, do not honour the agreement, and Sarah and her family are all but shattered when Sarah takes a wrong step – one she will come to regret as it sets off a chain of unusual events that put her under further pressure. With her faith in the settlement running dry and the Birchtowners abandoning the settlement, Sarah is perplexed and soon faces the taxing option of whether to hold on to the only real life she has ever known or let go. At once a stand-alone story and a companion to Gloria Ann Wesley’s previous novel, Chasing Freedom, this story about moral courage and the enduring strength of dreams shares history with us in a way that is both honest and emotional. (Fernwood Publishing)
Righting Canada's Wrongs: Africville
An African Nova Scotian Community is demolished - and fights back.
The community of Africville was founded in the late 1800s when African Nova Scotians built homes on the Bedford Basin on the northern edge of Halifax.
Africville grew to include a church, a school, and small businesses. At its peak, about 400 people lived there. The community was lively and vibrant, with a strong sense of culture and tradition. But the community had its problems. Racist attitudes prevented people from getting well-paying jobs in the city and the City of Halifax refused residents basic services such as running water, sewage disposal, and garbage collection.
In the 1960s, in the name of urban renewal, the City of Halifax decided to demolish Africville, relocate its residents and use the land for industrial development. Residents strongly opposed this move, but their homes were bulldozed, and many had to move into public housing projects in other parts of the city.
After years of pressure from former members of the community and their descendants, the City of Halifax finally apologized for the destruction of Africville and offered some compensation. A replica of the church was built on the site. But former residents and their descendants were refused compensation beyond what little was paid in the 1960s.
Through historical photographs, documents, and first-person narratives, this book tells the story of Africville. It documents how the city destroyed Africville and much later apologized for it — and how the spirit of the community lives on. (Lorimer Publishing)
About the Author:
Gloria Ann Wesley is an African Nova Scotia writer. She is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and has taught at all grade levels. Ms. Wesley holds an Honorary Doctorate from Mount St. Vincent University. Gloria is a member of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia. She resides in Halifax, NS.
Gloria holds the distinction of being the first published Black Nova Scotian poet. Her novels include Chasing Freedom (2011), short-listed for the Ann Connor Brimer Award. If this is Freedom (2013) was the One Book NS Award.
Abigail's Wish (2016). Righting Canada's Wrongs: Africville (2019), won an Ontario Library Association's Best Bets Award.