Tuesday 25 October 2011

Lessons from Africville

Last night I watched the documentary "Remembering Africville." Africville was a part of Halifax where 400 black families lived, owned land and paid city taxes for over 200 years. In 1964, the city of Halifax wanted to remove what it considered a blight and encouraged/coerced residents to relocate, immediately razed their homes, and gave them only $500.00 compensation, dismantling a cohesive community in the process. They did all this under the idiom of doing what was best for the people living there.

That kind of top down decision making is still hard at work today. Politicians make assumptions, call in so-called experts and pay them a lot of money to make recommendations for our best interests.  Frankly I’m getting a little sick of it.  The Government of New Brunswick tells us that Hydrofracking is for our own good; we need the industry and the money it brings because the people on welfare are taking too much. Hmmm.  Really? The people on welfare are taking too much?!

 Fifty years ago the mayor of Halifax should have visited the church in Africville, spend some time with the people and listened to what they had to say about their community. Then he should have given the citizens the services they had been paying for all those years, plus a little bit more.

 And that is what the government needs to do today. I don’t know what experts they’ve been talking too, or how much they’ve been paying them for all their good advice.  But they would be much better served listening to the people they are supposed to be representing.  And it would be prudent if sometime soon they would stop putting money in the pockets of industry and start providing the citizens of New Brunswick with the services they are paying for.

No comments: