Nova Scotia

Africville to host first Easter church service in 50 years

A sunrise Easter service will be held at the Africville Museum, followed by a commemorative service at the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church and a series of other events.

Service will be held at the Africville Museum, a replica of the former Seaview African United Baptist Church

The Africville Museum is a replica of the Seaview United Baptist Church, which was razed in 1969 in the name of urban renewal. (CBC)

A church service will be held as the sun rises over Africville this Easter, likely the first time in 50 years the Christian holiday will be celebrated on the site of the historic black community along the Bedford Basin.

The last Easter service held in Africville was during Canada's Centennial in 1967, according to the provincial government. It was around the same time bulldozers were demolishing homes in the community to make room for a bridge connecting Halifax and Dartmouth. Some 400 residents were uprooted from the community, which had stood for more than a century.

The upcoming service will be held April 16 at 6 a.m. at the Africville Museum, a replica of the community's Seaview United Baptist Church, which was torn down in 1969.

A commemorative service is expected to follow at the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, a historically black church in north-end Halifax, and a series of other events. 

Honouring a legacy

Sunday Miller, executive director of the Africville Heritage Trust, said she's thrilled by the chance to honour the legacy of the former Seaview United Baptist church.

"It will be an opportunity to showcase the leadership, education, health and musical impact that this church had on the community," Miller said Thursday in a press release.

Two Africville children are pictured, with Seaview United Baptist Church and houses in the distance. (Nova Scotia Archives/Bob Brooks)

Africville was named a national historic site in 2002. Eight years later, then-Halifax mayor Peter Kelly delivered a formal apology for the destruction of Africville. The three levels of government committed nearly $5 million for the construction of the Africville Museum and other commemorative projects.

The Easter service is among more than 100 cultural and historical events in the province to receive funding from Nova Scotia's 150 Forward Fund, which was created to align with Canada's 150th anniversary.

$2M added to 150 Forward Fund

The government committed $4 million to the program when it was announced last June.

Tony Ince, Nova Scotia's minister of communities, culture and heritage, said in a news release Thursday an additional $2 million would be made available.

"There has been incredible interest by community groups in Canada 150," said Ince.

"I am excited that so many groups want to celebrate our cultural identity and diversity and remember our connections to Confederation."