KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Gentrification isn’t just an inner city phenomenon. Its country cousin, urban sprawl, has torn apart many African Nova Scotian communities in Nova Scotia.
This 10-minute documentary tells the story of Beechville, once a thriving Black community, now mostly a memory hovering among subdivisions and industrial parks.
Residents of racialized communities always relied on one another to survive. People interviewed mention how everybody pitched in to build a new house. It’s that sense of community that is lost.
The documentary talks about resistance to the developers who bought up the land, but in the case of Beechville the people who clearly saw what was happening were fighting a losing battle.
Descendants of the original settlers now focus their efforts on preserving the Beechville United Baptist Church, established in 1844, and through the years the heart of Beechville.
Meanwhile, today, similar forces of urban sprawl continue to tear apart historic African Nova Scotian communities. For instance, it’s happening to Lucasville, and many residents hate to see it happen.
City Hall, through zoning designations and other methods, could do much to counter this trend.
But City Hall doesn’t seem to care much, and that is a great shame.
This 2005 Mustard Seed documentary was produced by Brian Adeba and Karen Richardson.
Photo: Charles Lovett and eighteen other residents of Beech Hill (Beechville), all named, ask the House of Assembly for money to improve the road to the head of the North West Arm so that they can more easily get their goods to market in Halifax. The petition was granted. Nova Scotia Archives.