KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Members of the Black community within the Town of Shelburne have for decades lived with the fear that health problems suffered by an inordinate number of residents are caused by pollutants spreading from a nearby dump.
In a recent FaceBook post on the Shelburne Exchange town councillor Rick Davis suggests that’s all nonsense and furthermore accuses the African Nova Scotian residents of Shelburne of playing the race card.
“I think it’s time to stop playing the racism card. It’s old. And I think it’s time to stop grasping at the looking for “compensation”, game,” the councillor writes.
And in what appears to be a spiteful move Davis announces that he intends to “(make) a motion at council to rescind our ruling to close the yard waste portion of the dump, as it’s utterly ridiculous.”
The Nova Scotia Advocate has been following this story for over a year now. Earlier this week we published a moving speech about what it is like to live in such close proximity to the dump by Shelburne resident and activist Louise Delisle.
Delisle delivered that speech at the occasion of the Halifax launch of a proposed Environmental Bill of Health. It’s this speech that causes the councillor’s ire.
“Mr. Clyke, who has lived well into his age living directly across from the “dump” for many years, is in very good health,” writes Davis, as if the example of one negates the disproportionately high amounts of premature deaths that the community has experienced over many decades.
Davis also suggests, contrary to historical evidence that the Black community chose to live so near to the dump.
“To begin with, there appears to be implications that white people were purposely targeting Black people, or somehow forcing them to live by a Dump, or that the dump was put there because that’s where black people lived.”
Actually, Black people lived near the dump because it was convenient, Davis argues.
“The reality is, that many black people relied on that dump for a living, because they, unlike many others I suppose, were the only ones that would deal with the removal of town trash,” Davis writes.
In 2015 the Town of Shelburne was reluctant to cancel a controversial “redneck competition” at its Founders Days celebrations, even though Black and other residents pleaded with Town Council to do so because of its unwelcome racist connotations.
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