Nova Scotia

N.S. woman left trembling with fear after spotting racist sign in woods

The sign features a noose with the words 'Redneck Hangout' around it and was displayed on a property in the woods of Queens County.

The sign featuring a noose with the words 'Redneck Hangout' has since been taken down

A picture on of the sign on a cottage property in Queens County. (Submitted by Angela Bowden )

A racist sign in the backwoods of Nova Scotia's Queens County has been brought to public's attention after being photographed by a visitor.

The round sign features a noose with the words "Redneck Hangout." around it, and was attached to a small building near a cottage in the woods. 

"When you place that on your cabin deep in the woods, what I'm seeing is: 'N-word beware you are not welcome here, we will kill you.' That is the clear message that I got. 'You are not safe out in these woods, here's why, here's the noose, we will hang all of you,'" said Angela Bowden of Bedford. 

She said the sign is a threat to members of Black and Indigenous communities. It also comes one month after a family reported being threatened by teens dangling a noose while swimming at a public beach in Chester Basin, N.S. A Black man and his nine-year old son were the only people of colour at the beach at the time.

Bowden, who is Black, was staying at a friend's cottage over Labour Day weekend when she heard about the sign in Queens County. 

She wanted to see if the rumours were true, so she and a few friends headed down a dirt road in the woods that straddles Queens and Lunenburg counties. She said they headed west toward Liverpool and seven minutes later, they found it.

"It made me sick to my stomach, I literally was nauseous and began trembling," Bowden said. "It made us fear for our safety and question if we'll be back down that way to that cabin again."    

Angela Bowden photographed the sign while visiting her friend's cottage. (Submitted by Angela Bowden)

Bowden took pictures of the sign and posted them on Facebook. 

Mark Kozlowski owns the property where the sign was displayed. He's also president of Wilson Equipment Ltd., a heavy equipment company.

CBC News reached out to Kozlowski. He had no comment and said a post on his company's website contains all that he intended to say on the matter. 

"We learned today of an offensive sign put up at Mark's cottage without his knowledge or consent. As soon as Mark became aware, he had it taken down immediately. Putting the sign up was someone's idea of a joke. A thoughtless, offensive joke. Neither Mark nor anyone at Wilson Equipment supports the racist message the sign communicates. We believe in equity and inclusion, and reject any messages that suggest otherwise," said the post. 

The company also stated that it does not support violence or hate directed at anyone for any reason and that they apologize to anyone who was offended. 

Bowden isn't convinced the sign was a joke. 

"I do not believe that, that was a prank, it's too deliberate, it's too precise for that to be a prank," she said. 

The sign was well made, and drilled into the building with at least six screws, a lot of work and care put into a simple prank, she said.  

The "Redneck Hangout" sign can be seen on the side of a the smaller building on the cottage property. (Submitted by Angela Bowden)

The sign has been reported to the Queens District RCMP and they are investigating, but police would not share any details about what their investigation has uncovered so far. 

Bowden said the police need to be transparent about how they handle this case and she hopes that charges will be laid.

"This should be interpreted as a threat on Black people's lives and Indigenous people's lives, nowhere else are we allowed to utter threats and get away with it," she said.

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.

(CBC)

With files from Taryn Grant

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