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“This feels deeply personal to me” – Academic tackles African Nova Scotian interactions with police

Jessica Bundy. Photo Facebook

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – If you’re African Nova Scotian and live or work in Halifax, Dartmouth or the surrounding area then Jessica Bundy would very much like to talk with you about policing. 

Bundy is a young Black academic working on a project on the African  Nova Scotian experiences with policing in Halifax and  urban Nova Scotia. The project is being run from the Centre for  Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto.  

“I’m looking at how African Nova Scotians reacted after the street checks ban. Did they actually experience a decrease in stops? How do they feel about the street check process and the report itself? And then I also want to understand how someone’s identity impacts the experiences that someone has with the police and with racism, things like their age, their gender, their socioeconomic status, their sexual orientation, whether those things are coming into play for people,” Bundy tells the Nova Scotia Advocate.

“I am also very interested in understanding the ways in which black Nova Scotians and African Nova Scotians protect themselves and protect the community from racism in its many forms,” she says.

When we spoke with Bundy last summer it was about a similar project. At that time she had taken a close look at African Nova Scotian experiences with policing in rural Nova Scotia, with a special focus on Black people living in and around the Town of Digby.

See also: Policing Black lives in rural Nova Scotia, an interview with Jessica Bundy

We seldom hear about policing in rural Nova Scotia, but that doesn’t mean Black people aren’t subjected to racial profiling and racism. What Bundy learned was alarming, to say the least. 

“We are terrorized, don’t trust the police, don’t trust the system, once they get their hands on you they’ll throw everything at you and hope something sticks,” an African Nova Scotian woman told Bundy about here experiences with Digby police.

“Any time and I say this, I will stand by it, I will sign on the dotted line on it, any interaction I’ve ever had with a cop, even if the white person is bold dead in the wrong, if there’s a Black person there, they’re going in. Every. Single. Time,” another Black Digby resident said.

Now Bundy is working on her PhD. That academic work is also the reason behind her current research. She hopes that the information she gathers will serve the community in some shape or form.

“I hope to have community meetings where I can present the feedback, and  I’m also looking to communicate it to a wider audience, so that people know these things are happening,” she says.

“The only stories I’m concerned with are those that come from the community. This will be just about them. I’m not working with the police,” she adds.

“I do understand that people have every right to be wary of this kind of research. I encourage anyone who’s interested to email me to either set up an interview, or just to talk. Having a conversation with me might help you understand the research more before deciding whether you want to take part in it,” says Bundy.

“This feels deeply personal to me. I want this information to come out. For me, this is the beginning of a life’s work. So I’m hoping that I can build on it in many ways.”

You can reach Jessica at 902-692-1158 , or email jt.bundy@mail.utoronto.ca. All interview participants will be compensated  $25.00 for their time.

More on the project here. PSA: Seeking interview participants: African Nova Scotian experiences with policing in Halifax

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