Calvin Ruck book details life of human rights activist
'It's our work, it's my family's work,' says Lindsay Ruck
The granddaughter of a human rights activist has written a book about her grandfather's life and journey standing up for the rights of African Nova Scotians.
Calvin Ruck grew up in Whitney Pier — a neighbourhood in Sydney — and was the son of immigrants from Barbados. He worked at the now shuttered steel plant, became a porter with the Canadian National Railway and went on to become a social worker and a human rights activist in Halifax.
In 1994, Ruck was named to the Order of Canada and appointed to the Senate in 1998.
Lindsay Ruck has written about her grandfather's incredible life in a new book, Winds of Change: The Life and Legacy of Calvin W. Ruck.
In the book, Ruck recounts the time her uncle, who was just a boy at the time, was refused service at a Halifax barber shop.
"They said, 'No, I'm not going to cut your hair. We don't cut coloured hair,'" she said.
When her uncle Martin told his father what happened, Calvin Ruck went back to the barbershop. After being refused service, he filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.
"This is a basic human right. This is something people expect to have so why wouldn't black people have it the same as white people would have it?" said Ruck.
"So once that happened, the ball started rolling and people were joining him."
Ruck described her grandfather as a calm man, who fought — first and foremost — for African Nova Scotians.
"He was very good at not having ties, too closely, to any organization — even when he went into the Senate," she said.
"He managed to stay neutral on almost all grounds so that he could fight for what he thought was right and he wouldn’t have to associate himself with any other organization who may possibly get in the way or may have differing opinions from his."
Ruck said writing the book taught her a lot about her grandfather and the individual battles he fought in communities. From access to services such as dry cleaning to fixing roads in black communities, Calvin Ruck was there.
"All very basic rights but these people didn't have any of these things," said Ruck.
She said she feels very honoured and humbled to write about her grandfather's achievements.
"I think he's still smiling down on me and it's our work, it's my family's work, it's not just me — and everyone seems quite proud of it," said Ruck.