Lost but Not Forgotten – Lessons on Renewing and Reclaiming Community from Coast to Coast
African Nova Scotian communities have been hubs of creativity and resourcefulness since the late 1700s. This week, we take a moment to reflect three African Nova Scotian communities that were relocated or removed for municipal or provincial priorities. These communities have much to teach us about coming together and moving forward.
Africville, just along the Bedford Basin (northwestern end of Halifax Harbour), has history stretching back to the mid-1800s. Although many are familiar with the demolishing of the church and the forced relocation of Africville residents, those events do not define the community.
Kinship and connectedness are the legacies of Africville shared freely during the Annual Family Reunion each year. The broader community is encouraged to come and witness what Africville was all about.
Old Guysborough Road (or Goffs Road) was a community that existed where Enfield (or Halifax International Airport) currently stands. Originally along a Mi’kmaq route between seasonal grounds, this community was home to African Nova Scotians between the 1800s and the 1950s. Residents like Sophie West, a midwife, entrepreneur, mother of four, and young widow, supported their families to sustain the health and wellbeing of the community. Although the structures and roads no longer exist, the memory of the school, the church and cemetery (which was relocated to make room for the new airport), and other community landmarks live on, impressed upon former residents’ hearts, along with memories of the large Baptist baptisms in Millers Lake, famous across the province.
Last, but not least, Hogan’s Alley. A diverse African Canadian community in Vancouver, British Columbia. Home to labourers, porters, business owners, and many more. Hogan’s Alley highlighted the importance of community space beyond physical buildings. Though some could have lived elsewhere, many residents stayed to sustain community until it was displaced in 1970. The freeway that led to the dismantling Hogan’s Alley never fully materialized, but today descendants of Hogan’s Alley still remind us to never stop seeking justice for the community.