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Africville: A Story of Environmental Racism

Elementary, Middle, Secondary

Description

The residents of the tiny Nova Scotia village known as Africville worked hard, paid taxes and were proud of their community.  Although the City of Halifax denied basic services like running water and surrounded the area with toxic industries, the town provided a refuge from the racism and abuse experienced by African Canadians on a daily basis.  This article tells the story of Africville from settlement, until the forced expulsion when the village was demolished, to its current significance as a National Historic Site.  As they learn how former Africville citizens fought to reclaim their land, students will understand how social action and civic engagement can help eliminate discrimination and ensure that every human has the universal right to a safe, secure and healthy home.

General Assessment

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports Grade 5-9 Social Studies units that are exploring issues related to discrimination, civil rights and cultural diversity in Canada.  Students will learn how race and poverty contributes to the marginalization and environmental degradation of some communities.  Africville also teaches students how government and societal oppression can be changed through citizen action that demands equality.  

The article provides an excellent introduction to "Black History Month".  The Africville Heritage Trust has a museum located in a replica of the former Seaview United Baptist Church.  The organization website offers a Virtual Tour and video of former residents discussing their experiences. Students could organize a whole school assembly that features this film and promotes equity and universal human rights.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

Human Health & Environment (2)

  • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
  • Quality of Life

Human Rights (2)

  • Environmental Racism/Justice
  • Social Justice