Nova Scotia

Hundreds gather in Halifax to remember Africville

Hundreds of former Africville residents reunited on the grounds of their old community on Saturday in a Halifax park.

Hundreds of former Africville residentsgathered on the grounds of their old community on Saturday to keep its memory alive.

People pitched tents at Halifax's Seaview Park — where their houses once stood — for the 23rd annual Africville family reunion.

Africville was settled in the late 1790s and grew into Halifax's oldest and largest black neighbourhood. But city officials claimed the community — which did not have running water, a sewage system, street lights or paved roads — was an embarrassment.

In 1967, bulldozers cleared the site, making room for a new harbour bridge. About 70 families were forced from their homes.

Earlier this month, Percy Paris, Nova Scotia's only black MLA, called on the province to formally apologize for its past treatment of blacks.

Paris, the New Democrat representative for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, said Nova Scotians of African descent deserve an apology for centuries of systemic discrimination that denied them access to health care, justice and education.

Barry Barnet, the minister responsible for African-Nova Scotian affairs, said his office hopes to reach a deal to make amends for the destruction of Africville.

With files from the Canadian Press