The Halifax and Nova Scotia governments are about to offer a substantial compensation package, rumoured to be into the millions of dollars, to the descendants of Africville, the vibrant black community that was razed in the 1960s to make room for the MacKay Bridge.
The site of Africville is now Seaview Park, a stretch of open space and an off-leash dog area overlooking the Bedford Basin. The only visible signs of the former community are a memorial and, just outside the park's gate, a few shacks, a sign that reads "Africville Protest" in big block letters and a mobile home where Eddie Carvery is squatting out on what used to be his family's land. "I think it's just another stall to keep us on the backburner so we'll be living and hoping and dying in despair," says Carvery about the potential deal. In the 40 years he's been protesting against racism, he says many promises have been made and not kept. For him to be satisfied, Carvery says he wants "a public inquiry, a compensation package, an apology and if the land would revert back to the people."
It looks like there's a good chance one of those requests will be answered. Juanita Peters, director of the documentary Africville: Can't Stop Now, says "the matter is a very delicate situation" that the public was not supposed to hear about yet. Out of fear of jeopardizing the deal, only mayor Peter Kelly is allowed to speak. "There are continued discussions to resolve this long-standing issue," says Kelly. "We would like to bring it to closure and are working with the [Africville Genealogy] Society to do that."
Expect a settlement announcement by the end of the month.