KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – African Nova Scotians have lost their homes in many ways. Expropriation, gentrification, poverty, environmental racism, that list goes on.
Residents of historic African Nova Scotian communities experience yet another problem. Black Refugees who settled in North Preston and elsewhere after the War of 1812 never received a deed to their lands.
As a result many residents of North Preston and other historic African Nova Scotian communities own their land, but they do not have the papers to prove it. They pay taxes on their land, but they can’t legally sell that land. They can’t even give it away to their own children.
In this weekend’s video we meet Elaine Cain, one of those people. She was born on the land she claims, and her father wants nothing more than for her to have it, but a lengthy and expensive legal process and an uncaring bureaucracy are major stumbling blocks.
“First of all, that’s where I was born, on that property,” says Cain. “Ever since that property has been part of me. As long as I am alive, that’s going to be alive for me.”
Much more information and short videos can be found on the excellent website Untitled. The Legacy of Land in North Preston.
That website, and this video, are the work of a group of talented journalism, television and radio students at the Nova Scotia Community College in Dartmouth. At the time the students presented such a compelling story that it got picked up by provincial and national media. Their teacher Erin Moore tells that very neat story here
The action the government promised at the time fizzled out fairly quickly. But just last month, after a United Nations report took the government to task for inaction on the issue, the province announced it will spend $2.7 million over two years to help residents of North Preston, East Preston, Cherry Brook, Lincolnville and Sunnyville obtain legal title to their land.
It doesn’t seem near enough money given the number of properties involved, but it’s a start.
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