Nova Scotia

Nixon 'saddened' by departure from Africville Heritage Trust

The former executive director of the Africville Heritage Trust says she's confused and disappointed and has consulted a lawyer.

The former executive director of the Africville Heritage Trust says she's confused and disappointed and has consulted a lawyer.

Carole Nixon lost her position with the not-for-profit society Wednesday, three months after taking on the job.

Some members of the local black community had complained Nixon wasn't the right person for the position because she's white.

CBC News also learned this week Nixon had been let go from four previous positions.

In a statement issued by the organization Thursday, board chairwoman Daurene Lewis said while the board felt Nixon was the best person for the job, it no longer felt that was the case and had begun to look for her replacement.

In an interview with CBC News Thursday, Nixon said she learned of the board's decision from a reporter.

"I met with the chair and the secretary of the board yesterday morning and they told me that the board had decided to offer me the opportunity to resign or to be terminated and that I had until the end of the month, the 30th, to make the decision and asked me to keep things confidential," said Nixon.

Nixon was supposed to be involved in this Sunday's opening of a church museum on the Africville site.

"When I was walking out with the secretary, I said 'Well, you know, because of the opening coming up, I mean if nothing is said and I'm not there on Sunday, what's the board going to say? I think it would be helpful if we were all on the same page.' And she said 'Well, I'll have Daurene call you.' And the next thing that happened for me was someone from another television station read me the statement."

Nixon said she is confused, upset, disappointed and saddened.

When asked about her allegedly checkered employment history, Nixon said she had listed her previous employers, providing references from three of the places she'd left and did not make any effort to hide where she had worked.

Nixon, who is an Anglican church priest, said she felt no moral obligation to tell the Africville Heritage Trust that she'd been previously fired from other organizations because she has never been found to have done anything inappropriate or illegal.

"I didn't do anything and I was never questioned by the police or any other authority, never charged with anything," said Nixon.

Nixon said reverse discrimination appears to be a factor in her dismissal in some people's eyes.

"Certainly the group led by Rocky Jones said that I'm not qualified to represent them culturally or represent their experience, but I wasn't hired to do that. I wasn't hired to head the trust. The board heads the trust and there are descendants of Africville and former residents of Africville who want to continue to tell the story. They've been doing it for 40 years ... my job was to take that story and market it internationally to raise $11 million to start a new centre for them," said Nixon.

She maintains her successor does not have to be black to fill the job.

"Of course not, you could be green and yellow-striped. It's about the capability and not three days before this happened the board was ruminating on the fact that they couldn't believe their good luck, to find someone who had overseen construction, done community development and had significant fundraising experience in one person."

Nixon said she's not sure if she'll sue the organization for wrongful dismissal, but has consulted a lawyer.