Nova Scotia

Africville replica church almost ready

A replica of the Africville church razed almost five decades ago in Halifax's north end is nearing the end of its construction.
Eddie Carvery has been protesting the destruction of Africville in Halifax for 41 years. (CBC)

A replica of the Africville church razed almost five decades ago in Halifax's north end is nearing the end of its construction.

"We have electrical, plumbing, the roof is finished. The exterior cladding is probably going to be started today, or tomorrow. Most of the sidewalk and landscaping has been done," said Daurene Lewis, chair for the Africville Heritage Trust Board.

"For people to be able to see that the foundation has actually started, now that the walls are up, the roof is on, the bell tower is up, it's a reality. People are pretty excited that it's happening."

Halifax Regional Municipality is paying $3 million to construct the church, which includes a museum.

Africville was first settled in the 1830s when former American slaves and other black people moved to the area. But it was neglected by the former City of Halifax and became run-down over the years.

In the 1960s, the city evicted the residents and bulldozed their homes so part of the land could be used to build approaches to the A. Murray MacKay Bridge.

The only remaining Africville resident, Eddie Carvery, has been watching the church go up near his home for the last three months.

"I feel like just jumping up in the air, and saying 'hooray.' It's great, it's a brand new day to me that represents hope," said Carvery.

Carvery said he'd still like to see an inquiry and compensation for individual residents, but the building of the church is a start, he said.

"The church is a replica of a time when they could buy their way out of trouble. They can't do that no more. Now, they have to deal with us, we're the residents. We're still here," said Carvery.

The opening ceremony for the replica church happens on Sept. 25.