Home for Colored Children inquiry dealing with the legacy of racism

An interim report from the restorative “council of parties” released Wednesday morning.

click to enlarge Tony Smith, co-chair of the restorative inquiry council of parties. - LENNY MULLINS
Tony Smith, co-chair of the restorative inquiry council of parties.
Former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children are still dealing with ongoing systemic racism and the need to maintain infrastructure and resources, according to a public report from the NSHCC Restorative Inquiry’s governing council of parties.

The report includes feedback from sessions held throughout Nova Scotia, in which participants spoke about the ongoing effects of systemic racism in the province.

"We've heard very clearly that many African Nova Scotians still feel the impact of systemic racism on a regular basis," Tony Smith, council co-chair writes in a press release. "It may show up differently in Yarmouth than it does in Halifax or Sydney, but many of the concerns are similar, and they're not new."

The NSHCC opened in 1921. During its time of operation, many children who lived there faced physical and sexual abuse. Years later, some of those former residents came forward about their experiences and launched a class action lawsuit, which was settled in 2014.

The inquiry into the NSHCC has been ongoing since last year, on a mandate to investigate “how the history and legacy of the NSHCC has affected not only African Nova Scotian communities but all peoples in Nova Scotia and consider how to address this part of the harmful legacy.”

Former residents and abuse survivors are included as members of the council. The interim report says that group has been working on building relationships with those who wish to participate in the restorative process, as well as community organizations and service providers. Accounts from those participants point to a desire for a better rapport with the government and the need for strong community role models.

The inquiry’s next phase involves “sharing circles” for former residents, which will be closed, safe spaces. Researchers have also been examining records of the NSHCC in order to create a historical account of the orphanage and compile relevant data.

Going forward, a task group will “identify and make progress on action items that arise from the Restorative Inquiry as the work unfolds.”

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