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Len Paris: Open letter on Anti-Black racism in Nova Scotia and the sentence of Shawn Wade Hynes

On May 7 residents of Pictou County held a vigil at the Pictou Court House to protest the Hynes’ sentence. Photo Facebook

Dear Premier Rankin,

I am sure that you are aware of the racist attack on a young Black man by his older white co-worker on September 19th, 2018, in Pictou County.

The incident involved the young Black worker being shot in the back with a high velocity nail gun by this white co-worker. The 3.5 inch nail punctured his lung. This resulted in the young Black man having a collapsed lung and spending four days in hospital. This violent racial attack could have easily cost this young man his life.

The same Black man had been the target of race-based bullying, racist name calling, mischief, and harassment weeks and days prior to the nail gun attack. The company owner and the other white employees condoned these racist incidents and did not attempt to intervene in stopping them.

On April 23rd, 2021, Shawn Wade Hynes appeared before Judge Del Atwood, Pictou County Court, on the assault charges. Judge Del Atwood suspended sentencing of Shawn Wade Hynes and placed him on a 18 month conditional sentence to be served in the community. 

The young Black employee will have to live the remainder of his life with a serious injury, physical and emotional scars, fear, and trauma. The white co-worker is free to remain at home and in the community without going to jail for this violent and racist attack. I can imagine that if the roles were reversed, the young Black man would now be serving a lengthy jail sentence.

When I was starting to write my book memoir – Jim Crow Also Lived Here – in January 2019, I wrote, ” It is my assumption that the white employee will receive a lenient sentence on a very racist and injurious crime.”

It is understandable that the Black citizens in Nova Scotia, and particularly in Pictou County, are outraged at the lenient sentencing outcome of this serious crime. Anti-Black racism, discrimination, and injustices towards Black and Indigenous people in Nova Scotia have existed for hundreds of years and continues today.

It is my hope that the Prosecution will appeal the unjust sentencing in this matter. It is also my hope that your new government will put policies, laws, and sentencing guidelines in place to address these long-standing and ongoing hate crimes and racial inequities in Nova Scotia.


Leonard Albert Paris (Author of Jim Crow also lived here – Growing up Black in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia)

See also: Review: Jim Crow also lived here – Growing up Black in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia

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