Daurene Lewis, the chairwoman of the Africville Heritage Trust, said the board was unaware of Carole Nixon's checkered employment history when she was hired. (CBC)

CBC News has learned that a woman hired to run the Africville Heritage Trust has a checkered employment history, which the organization's board says it knew nothing about.

The not-for-profit society was established to create and manage a memorial to Africville, an African-Nova Scotian community dating to the mid 19th century that was demolished in the 1960s in the name of urban regeneration.

The board recently announced the hiring of a white woman, Carole Nixon, as its executive director, a move some members of the black community disagree with.

When Nixon was hired, the board of the Africville Heritage Trust said the Anglican minister was the best person for the job, regardless of colour. But it's now come to light that over the last 20 years, Nixon has left at least four jobs amid allegations of spending irregularities.

In 1989, Nixon was fired from her job as executive director of the Burlington Business Association in Ontario.

In 1996, she was fired as executive director of a Toronto city employee association.

In 2001, Nixon resigned her position as executive director of the St. Catharines Downtown Association in Ontario after questions were raised about expenses.

In 2002, she was fired by the Downtown Business Association in Watertown, N.Y.

In each case, there were allegations of financial irregularities including extensive personal purchases made on corporate credit cards. Former employers allege Nixon was let go after she submitted bills for personal trips and vacations and in one instance it was claimed she lied on her resume.

Nixon told CBC News that she did nothing wrong at her previous jobs. She filed wrongful dismissal suits in at least two of the cases and received settlements.

On Tuesday, Nixon said she has no intention of stepping down and is busy planning for Sunday's opening of the Africville church, a replica of the Seaview Baptist Church, that was razed as part of the community's demolition.

Daurene Lewis, chairwoman of the Africville Heritage Trust, said the board held a special meeting late Tuesday afternoon to discuss the allegations against Nixon.

Lewis said they are serious allegations that required further investigation.

She said the board knew nothing about Nixon's past dismissals when they hired her, even though background and criminal record checks were apparently done.

Community votes against hire


About 200 members of the black community gathered Tuesday night, taking a standing vote in favour of rehiring for the position. (CBC)

At a separate meeting Tuesday evening, organized by members of the black community, there was overwhelming support to re-post the executive director's position.

Close to 200 people showed up, unanimously rising from their chairs when asked to take a standing vote in front of the media in favour of removing Nixon from the position.

Community organizer Rocky Jones said those against the hiring believe the head-hunting process was flawed.

"There are many black Nova Scotians and African Canadians who are ultimately well-qualified for this position, who can do the position," said Jones.

"Nixon does not have the prerequisites to represent us, in as much as she's a white woman from outside of our province who does not share our experience, cannot speak for us realistically, and cannot be the front person, the executive director, of an organization that represents the black community here in Halifax."

Jones said the allegations about Nixon's past employment are not relevant to the community discussions.

He said community members would be seeking a meeting with the Africville Heritage Trust to try to forge some resolution to the matter.