The Society

Africville church plans unveiled in

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Plans for a replica of the historic Seaview United Baptist Church, which will serve as a memorial to Africville, were unveiled to the public in Halifax Saturday.

Africville, a north-end Halifax community populated primarily by residents of African descent, was bulldozed by the city in the 1960s, under the guise of urban renewal.

Three million dollars in funding has been set aside by the Halifax Regional Municipality for the church project — $2.5 million for construction of the church, which will serve as a commemorative museum, and $500,000 toward what the city calls the installation of services to the new building.

Some of those who lived though Africville's demolition were among the approximately 30 people who came out to view the architectural drawings.

Clara Adams, 69, was one of those forced out of Africville.

Adams said she has waited a long time for this. "It's the church, it really is, and I'm excited," she said.

"To me, it's taken away a lot of pain because my parents were fighting for this and it didn't come about. They both passed. Here I am, I'm 70, my children are in their 40s and 50s, so this is something we've been waiting for, for a long time," said Adams.

The church's reconstruction is a key part of an HRM settlement with the descendants of Africville. The settlement includes 2.5 acres of land at Seaview Park, which are being endowed to the new Africville Heritage Trust Board, park maintenance, and the formation of a civic office called African Nova Scotian Affairs.

Some descendants, however, are still upset the city's settlement does not include cash compensation to individuals. Among them is Eddie Carvery, the so-called Hermit of Africville, who has camped out in Seaview Park since 1970 in protest.

"I believe that we need a public inquiry. I believe everybody that went through that hell in Africville should be compensated," said Carvery Saturday.

But on the topic of re-creating the spiritual heart of the community, Carvery has come in from the cold.

He was approached by the Africville Genealogy Society, whose current president is his younger brother Irvine Carvery.

"We went to Eddie because his story is important, we didn't want him to feel disrespected," said Irvine Carvery.

Eddie Carvery has agreed to join a committee as the building takes shape.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what's happening. If anything's gonna happen, I'd like to be a part of it. I feel that's my responsibility to Africville," said Eddie Carvery.

"We can become a community again and we can start doing things, the church as being a starting place ... this resurrection is positive and good and I'm delighted."

Construction is slated to start in March, and be completed over the summer.


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