The Society

Irvine Carvery:

‘It’ll look exactly the same

New Africville church will be based on historical records
Halifax News Net | March 3, 2010
By Jon Tattrie

Last week’s historic Africville apology from HRM will transform the unused land outside of what is currently known as Seaview Park and the whole area will once more be called Africville.

Irvine Carvery, president of the Africville Genealogy Society, the organization that negotiated the apology and compensation package, says it doesn’t have a firm timeline for rebuilding the church, but it will “definitely” happen in 2010. 

 “We’ve had blueprints of the church since 1992,” Carvery told The Weekly News. “They’re based on an archeological dig that was done in Africville, along with pictures of the church. It’ll look exactly the same.”

Inside, the pews will replaced with an open space and exhibits. “We’re going to tell the story of life in Africville, pre-relocation, and talk about the relocation and talk about the future,” Carvery said.

Residents of one of Canada’s oldest indigenous black communities received no running water or paved road while getting stuck with the city dump, infectious diseases hospital and a string of slaughterhouses. Halifax demolished Africville in the 1960s and relocated its residents to rented accommodation in the city. 

The interpretive centre will be “a place to tell the story of Africville, along with community meeting space for special events — weddings, whatever,” Carvery said. 

The church won’t be built on the spot of the original church, where long-time Africville protester Eddie Carvery is camped. Irvine Carvery says it’s too close to the service road. The church will be built nearer the Bedford Basin. 

HRM will still own Seaview Park, but it will be managed by the Africville Heritage Trust Board.

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, HRM Mayor Peter Kelly issued a long-awaited apology. It came one day after an anti-racism march ended with a rally at city hall.

“On behalf of the Halifax Regional Municipality, I apologize to the former Africville residents and their descendants for what they have endured for almost 50 years, ever since the loss of their community that had stood on the shores of Bedford Basin for more than 150 years,” Kelly said. “You lost your houses, your church, all of the places where you gathered with family and friends to mark the milestones of your lives. For all that, we apologize.”

Kelly also announced $3 million from HRM for the project along with 2.5 acres of land adjacent to Seaview Park. The provincial and federal governments added $1.5 million and $250,000 respectively. The agreement ruled out personal compensation for the people dislocated by the city, a move which drew some boos at the public meeting in the Gottingen Street YMCA. 

“My reaction is one of ultimate joy. The apology itself brings closure to the pain and hurt of those people who are not here with us in this room in body. They are here in spirit,” Carvery said after the apology. “It’s my honest belief that when the project begins to take shape in Africville, people will come around and see the true value of this project.”

Eddie Carvery, who started his protest in 1970, has no plans to end it. “Our fight has just started,” he told reporters after hearing the apology. “We’ll fight for our individual compensation, we will fight for a public inquiry. Thank you for the apology. Accepted. Two more to go.”

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The Africville Genealogy Society gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage for this project.
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