Black Lives Matter street-art installations painted in HRM draws support, criticism
Black activist wants to know how HRM will take action against anti-Black racism
Halifax Regional Municipality painted the words "Black Lives Matter" in Halifax and Dartmouth this past weekend to show support for the movement.
"This public solidarity augments several measures being taken by the municipality corporately to help address anti-Black racism and continue to build [a] better relationship with the municipality's communities of African descent," the municipality said in a news release on Friday.
The words were painted in bright yellow letters on Alderney Drive in Dartmouth and Brunswick Street in Halifax.
Micah MacIsaac, his daughter Penelope and his partner, Lisa, visited the display in Halifax on Sunday.
"I'm a member of the Black community of Nova Scotia and as soon as I caught wind that something like this was happening, I thought it would be fantastic for Penelope to see this," MacIsaac said.
"We thought, what a nice learning moment this would be, to see it right on the streets of Halifax."
MacIsaac said he was thrilled to see the municipality addressing anti-Black racism in this way.
"I think with anything like this, it will show that Halifax is at that real balancing spot of some real progressive change," he said. "And sadly, I wouldn't be surprised if it's also met with some opposition but more so, I think it will be met with solidarity when people go by and see this."
Robert Wright, a social worker and Black activist in Halifax, said although the art is a sign of solidarity, painting a mural does not equate action.
Wright said he would have liked to have seen a larger discussion about how the municipality plans to address anti-Black racism — especially in regards to the now-banned use of street checks, the idea of defunding the Halifax Regional Police and reallocating resources to support public safety — before the murals were painted.
"I'm not opposed to the paintings on the street. I'm saying, before you make the next mural, maybe we should have a larger conversation about what Black Lives Matter means and about what Black Lives Matter means in terms of city policy and program," he said.
"And if we have a large conversation and are committed together and working toward those things, a piece of public art as a demonstration of our combined commitment, might be an appropriate thing."
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
With files from Brooklyn Currie, Amy Smith