April 27, 2021
The Black Lives Matter Solidarity Fund NS (Fund) has partnered with Black community organizations to distribute over $200,000 to support community projects, large and small, in rural and metropolitan areas throughout the province.
The Fund was created last March by Lynn Jones, El Jones, and Rachel Zellars (Administrators) to address the needs of Black community members at the start of the pandemic lock down. Additionally, an accountant was brought on board to help with reporting and transparency. The mutual aid fund aimed to get direct support, via a one-time $100 e-transfer, to people without red tape or delay, and was based on reciprocal trust during a time of rapidly increasing need. The Fund set a modest goal of $10,000, and Administrators began publishing regular financial updates to its homepage for accountability and transparency.
After the execution of George Floyd on May 25, the Administrators were suddenly overwhelmed with donations and sought permission from donors to redirect the funds for larger community projects. The Fund quickly rose to over $300,000, finally closing in early October 2020. Managing large sums of money through e-transfers was incredibly laborious, and as the donations rose, it was important for the group to imagine ways that Black communities throughout the entire province could meaningfully benefit from such a tremendous, generous opportunity. Anchor organizations throughout the province were selected to support community-led projects within their regions.
The provincial anchor organizations are: Menelik Hall Association (Sydney); Upper Big Tracadie Seniors Action Club (Monastery); Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association (Amherst); Upper Hammonds Plains Community Development Association (UHPCDA); Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association (Kentville); and South End Injustice Environmental Society (Shelburne). Two final anchor organizations for the HRM area will be chosen soon.
Final project reports will be sent to the Fund Administrators. As Gina Jones Wilson of Upper Hammonds Plains Community Development Association stated, the shared funds make it “possible for all African Nova Scotian communities across Nova Scotia to have equal access to funding. Our region consists of smaller Black communities, and the funding provided will benefit many smaller organizations and individuals who work to make life better for our people.”
While project proposals are still being reviewed, a number of initiatives are already underway in rural communities, such as Shelburne. “I am proud of the fact that we have the strength to rise above any situation when we come together as one voice for all to help each other in a way that improves our communities,” says Louise Delisle of South End Injustice Environmental Society (SEED). “Thanks to the Fund organizers for the way they handled the project, showed experience, and for the critical thinking that was needed to bring us together. This process has brought a lot of insight from rural black communities about how to work together and handle many other tasks.”
Elizabeth Cooke Sambu of Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association (CANSA) in St. Amherst agrees. “The Fund made evident the need for African Nova Scotian communities in the Northern Region to work more closely together. We all benefit when communities can collaborate on what matters most!”
The Administrators of the Black Lives Matters Solidarity Fund NS will continue to publish updates to their Gofundme page as the projects unfold. The page is here https://www.gofundme.com/f/black-lives-matter-solidarity-fund-ns?utm_campaign=p_cp_url&utm_medium=os&utm_source=customer.