Addressing Anti-Black Racism

In the fall of 2019, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) asked for the development of an Anti-Black Racism Working Group, supported by the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office (ANSAIO), to identify recommendations to help create a safer and more inclusive workplace.

In early 2020, the Working Group provided its recommendation report to the CAO. The CAO then engaged with the Working Group to review its recommendations and determine the path forward. The first step was to acknowledge that the municipality has a long way to go to ensure our efforts to address anti-Black racism are rooted in the needs of our African Nova Scotian community.

In mid-2020, as the global health pandemic intersected with the Black Lives Matter movement, Regional Council asked for the development of an anti-Black racism action plan in support of the Proclamation of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024.

Anti-Black Racism Strategy and Action Plan 

As part of the mandate to develop this action plan, new measures will be required to acknowledge and address anti-Black racism related issues with respect to municipal government service delivery.

To achieve this, in 2020 an Anti-Black Racism Steering Committee was formed to develop and implement an action plan. In June 2021, Regional Council approved the Anti-Black Racism Framework, which will guide the development of an Anti-Black Racism Strategy and Action Plan.

Public Engagement

Further to the approved Anti-Black Racism Framework, a phased approach is being undertaken in the development of an Anti-Black Racism Strategy and Action Plan. Central to this is effort is collaboration with internal and external stakeholders to receive input, suggestions, and recommendations into the process involved in the development of an ABR Strategy and Action plan.

ABR Community Engagement Schedule

External Engagment

Community Date & Time Virtual or In Person
Community Date & Time Virtual or In Person
Halifax Central/North January 19th - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual
Spryfield January 24th - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual
Dartmouth North January 27th - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual
Dartmouth East Feb 1st - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual
Beechville February 3rd - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual
Lucasville February 7th - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual
Upper Hammonds Plains February 10th - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual
Sackville February 17th - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual
Preston Township Feb 23rd - 6:00pm-7:30pm Virtual

If you wish to participate in any of the sessions please email ANSAIO@halifax.ca.

Timeline of Anti-Black Racism Initiatives 

The municipality is committed to addressing anti-Black racism in our workplaces and communities and will continue to take steps to advance change. The following is a timeline of anti-Black Racism and diversity initiatives that have been completed, as well as next steps towards this commitment.
 

2010 - Africville Apology

On February 24, 2010, Mayor Peter Kelly formally apologized for the loss of the historic Halifax community of Africville in the 1960s.

2016 - Employment Systems Review

The municipality conducted an employment policies and practices review. The review provided recommendations for addressing systemic, cultural and attitudinal barriers to a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace.

2016-Present - African Heritage Month

Each February, the municipality honours African Heritage Month to celebrate the rich culture, achievements and contributions of African Nova Scotians and communities of African descent in our region and across the nation.

The municipality partners with Halifax Public Libraries and community-based groups such as the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia to host speaker series and events to showcase African Nova Scotian people and traditions. It also organizes tours for staff to African Nova Scotian historic sites such as the Africville Museum and the Black Culture Centre for Nova Scotia

2018 - Diversity & Inclusion Framework

The municipality’s Diversity and Inclusion Framework aims to help the municipality in its continued effort to build a diverse and inclusive workforce and provide programs and services to residents by using a diversity and inclusion lens. The framework identifies key priorities to help advance these efforts, both in the organization and within municipal communities, now and in the future.

The framework also acknowledges that embracing diversity and inclusion helps strengthen the economy and helps attract and retain talent that will become the cornerstone of a strong community and an anchor of inclusive public service.

2019 - Street-Check Apology

On November 29, 2019 Chief Daniel Kinsella offered an apology on behalf of the Halifax Regional Police to the African Nova Scotian community. The intent of the apology was to acknowledge negative experiences of the African Nova Scotian community with the police department and to reaffirm Halifax Regional Police’s commitment to building trust with the community.

2019 - Anti-Black Racism Working Group

In the fall of 2019, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Jacques Dubé established an Anti-Black Racism Working Group, supported by the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office (ANSAIO), to identify recommendations that will help guide our organization in our efforts to become a safe and inclusive workplace. Recommendations from the working group were provided to the CAO.

2020 - Regional Council request for Anti-Black Racism Action Plan

On July 21, 2020, Regional Council asked for the development of an anti-Black racism action plan in support of the Proclamation of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. The framework for this report was presented on June 8, 2021. 

2020/2021 - Black Lives Matter street art installation

On Sept. 26, 2020 the municipality painted the words "Black Lives Matter" on the following streets:

•    Alderney Drive between Ochterloney and Queen streets

•    Brunswick Street between Carmichael and Prince streets

The art installation is the municipality’s way of supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as directed by the CAO with the mayor’s endorsement. This public solidarity augments several measures being taken by the municipality corporately, to help address anti-Black racism and continue to build better relationship with the municipality’s communities of African descent.

The municipality will be repainting these art installations in August 2021.

Future Initiatives - African Nova Scotian Advisory Committee of Regional Council and internal African Nova Scotian Advisory Committee 

Both committees are anticipated to launch in 2021. 

Related efforts

In 2020, and again in 2021, the municipality painted the words "Black Lives Matter" on the following streets:

•    Alderney Drive between Ochterloney and Queen streets
•    Brunswick Street between Carmichael and Prince streets

The art installation is the municipality’s way of supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as directed by the CAO with the Mayor’s endorsement. This public solidarity augments several measures being taken by the municipality corporately, to help address anti-Black racism and continue to build better relationship with the municipality’s communities of African descent.

Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard during her July 2020 presentation at Council – Unpacking Anti-Black Racism in the Halifax Regional Municipality shared some difficult truths and they will not be ignored. One question she left us with was ‘what will you do?’

It’s clear there is much work to be done.  The municipality is advancing the adoption of internal and externally-focused anti-Black racism strategies and actions. Staff will also deliver on key priorities set out in the Diversity & Inclusion Framework – designed to assist the entire organization in our continued efforts to build a diverse and inclusive workforce and provide programs and services to our residents by using a diversity and inclusion lens. 

in 2020 Regional Council adopted the African Nova Scotian Road to Economic Prosperity Action Plan that was informed by members of our African Nova Scotian communities who worked many months together with staff to create this significant blue print for economic and social development with and for our African Nova Scotian resident and communities.

The municipality is committed to addressing anti-Black racism in our workplaces and communities and will continue to take steps to advance change.

For more information on the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office, visit their webpage.