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Raymond Sheppard: An African Nova Scotian wish list for 2020

Raymond Sheppard. Photo Robert Devet

Reparations

The governments of Nova Scotia and Canada should 100% commit to reparations for the enslavement of African peoples in Nova Scotia/Canada.

Apology 

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella’s apology on Nov 29, 2019, to the African Nova Scotian community for illegal street checks based on racism, must be backed by significant meaningful action in 2020, otherwise his apology is meaningless.

See also: Youths rally against police brutality and anti-Black racism at Gottingen Street police headquarters

Hate crimes

Equally in 2020, the entire criminal justice system should take anti-Black racism, hate crimes and intolerance more seriously with the application of law. The Criminal Code of Canada should be amended where hate crime charges would be automatically in to be ruled out, not out to be ruled in.

Human rights 

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC) should make it a priority to hire more full time African Nova Scotians, especially as investigators and intake workers.

As well, the Nova Scotia government  should introduce legislation to strengthen the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act in order to truly make a difference for persons having to endure racism and other injustices. This action should be taken ASAP yesterday and definitely during The International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015–2024. 

Employment HRM

Halifax Regional Council should continue to implement all the recommendations of the Employment System Review Report, hire more African Nova Scotians and promote more African Nova Scotians, not just to supervisors but also to management positions. Equally, HRM leadership should make every sincere effort to control toxic racially work environments.

See also: News brief: Racism and bullying at City Hall persist, advocates say

HRM, Nova Scotia municipalities, the provincial government and companies seeking employees throughout Nova Scotia should aggressively recruit African Nova Scotians and other individuals from marginalized groups. For far too long African Nova Scotians have been unemployed and under-employed. True diversity in a harassment free workplace is a blessing and makes good business sense.

Nova Scotia health care system

The Public healthcare system of Nova Scotia is in serious need of cultural competency training. During the last few months of 2019 a number of African Nova Scotians complained about being mistreated or passed over based on apparent racial bias. 

See also: Mayann Francis about incident at Dartmouth General: “I had to explain that racist behaviour is not only calling somebody the N-word”

Counselling and mental health 

The government of Nova Scotia should recognize and endorse Afrocentric mental health counselling based on traditions, heritage, culture, lineage and cultural influences.

Poverty 

Anti-poverty programs should be maintained and improved to include on the job community training programs, prior learning assessment tools, and increased income assistance payments that truly reflect the cost of living, etc.

Health 

The medical community must stop over-prescribing medication for African Nova Scotians and start recognizing traditional African medicine involving herbalism and other treatments. Prescribing medications that are highly priced only serves to affect one’s mental health when they cannot afford to have the prescription filled. 

Funding

Based on taxes paid by African Nova Scotians on a yearly basis, part of these funds should be redirected back in the African Nova Scotian community for much needed programs and services, such as Africentric mental health services, addiction services, recreation, youth-centered programs, programs for seniors, community transit and programs for women.

Environmental racism

The Nova Scotia government and municipalities should legislate a Nova Scotia Environmental Bill of Rights that puts a stop to environmental racism that permits waste facilities/dumps to be located in, next to or near by African Nova Scotian and First Nations communities in Nova Scotia.

See also: Proposed Environmental Bill of Rights to empower communities and tackle polluters

This bill should also guarantee clear drinking water for all. Equally, the Government of Nova Scotia should seriously consider closing some of these waste facilities/dumps like the 2nd generation landfill located one mile from the Community of Lincolnville in Guysborough County.

Inclusive history

The true history of African Nova Scotians should be mandated for all history books used in educational institutions within the Province of Nova Scotia. African Nova Scotians elders, advocates, activists, community leaders and scholars should be at the forefront of this much-needed truth.

Truth to power

It is my hope for 2020 that all African Nova Scotians will speak truth to power.

Happy New Year!

See also: Raymond Sheppard: The top eight African Nova Scotian stories of 2019

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