Halifax regional council was forced to take a brief recess last night after shouting erupted when they voted to ratify a reparations package for the former community of Africville.
Council voted unanimously to approve a deal for the historic black community, razed in the 1960’s to make way for the MacKay Bridge. Details of the deal will be announced today.
Denise Allen, a former Africville resident, attempted to interject before council’s vote. She claims the Africville Genealogy Society, the group that will oversee the use of the reparations money, is in conflict with the law.
Mayor Peter Kelly adjourned council for five minutes, asking Allen to refrain from interrupting. After appealing to Coun. Jerry Blumenthal, Allen and about 20 supporters left the meeting.
“City council (is) entering into an agreement with an organization that isn’t in compliance with the Joint Stocks Companies Act,” Allen told reporters. “Right now, (the society) is not in a legal position to represent anybody.”
Allen alleges she provided evidence to council prior to yesterday’s vote.
“I sent them out an email (Monday) at three o’clock,” she said. “They also received information by courier from my lawyer.”
Kelly confirmed council had received Allen’s correspondence.
“It was referred to the solicitors,” Kelly said. “But council has made the decision to move forward.”
Details of the deal will be released this morning at the Gottingen Street YMCA by Kelly and society president Irvine Carvery.
Kelly will also offer an official apology to former residents and their descendants on behalf of council and HRM.
“We’ve heard it time and time again that this has been an issue that should have been resolved, has not been resolved, and there is desire in the community to resolve it,” Kelly said. “And hearing that desire over and over again, council has indicated they wish to bring this issue to the community (today).”
Allen said she will be consulting today with her lawyer, Robert Miedema. She vowed to fight the deal in court.
Protesters decry voting process
At a anti-racism rally yesterday in Halifax several people linked to Africville expressed their displeasure with the settlement. “They robbed us once. We don’t want to be robbed twice,” said former resident Wayne Dixon. He believes the settlement doesn’t do enough for those who were displaced. He’s one of several people criticizing the Africville Genealogy Society for counting hands rather than using ballots in a vote Saturday on whether to accept the deal.
– Paul McLeod/Metro Halifax