Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia announces changes to make it easier for Black families to get land titles

The province says the changes will help residents in five Black communities in Nova Scotia.

Without clear title, residents cannot sell their property or legally pass it down to other relatives

North Preston, seen here, is a traditionally Black community located in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is one of five communities impacted by changes announced to the Land Titles Clarification Act. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Nova Scotia announced changes Wednesday that it says will make it easier for people in five Black communities to get clear title to their land.

Starting with their arrival in the 18th century, Black settlers were not given legal title to their land. While the provincial government has made efforts through the years to address that, many people are still fighting for clear title.

Without clear title, residents cannot sell their property or legally pass it down to other relatives.

The change announced Wednesday will allow Pat Dunn, the minister of the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, to issue certificates of claim and certificates of title under Part I of the Land Titles Clarification Act.

'Righting a historic wrong,' says minister

The province said this will reduce the number of departments involved in the process and allow for quicker results.

"The Land Titles Initiative is righting a historic wrong, and we're taking further action to make sure claims are resolved as efficiently as possible," Dunn said in a news release.

"By dedicating more resources and authority to the Land Titles Initiative team, we can speed up helping people in African Nova Scotian communities gain the benefits of having clear title to their land."

The initiative will help residents in North Preston, East Preston, Cherry Brook-Lake Loon, Lincolnville and Sunnyville.

In 2017, a United Nations working group said both the province and the federal government must do more to help Black Nova Scotians obtain legal title.

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.

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