Two years ago this week, George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. He wasn’t the first person of colour to be killed by police, and he wasn’t the last. But something about Floyd’s death was different—it gave a visible push to the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement, one that made waves around the globe.
In Halifax, the response included thousands of people taking a knee, public signage put up by the community, numerous events, and local sports teams showing their solidarity.
At the government level, the municipality made the decision to paint a large Black Lives Matter mural in September 2020. Without community involvement, the mural was accused of being all talk and no action—but still, the city painted the large yellow letters across Brunswick Street in Halifax and Alderney Drive in Dartmouth.
At the time, The Coast spoke with artist and activist Aaliyah Paris, who accused HRM of hijacking their idea for the murals in the first place. “I wanted the mural to be a community-based thing,” Paris said. “Not city workers doing a street installation.”
The murals were first painted by construction company Gramac Ltd. for a cost of $9,125.
The following summer, HRM made the decision to repaint the murals, which at that point had faded. They were repainted in July 2021 by J&W Canada at a cost of $2,290, HRM spokesperson Ryan Nearing tells The Coast.
Once again this summer, the murals have noticeably disappeared from the asphalt, likely thanks to a combination of vehicle traffic, snow and salt. HRM says the lettering will be repainted for a second time by July 31. According to the tender procurement website, this project will be completed by Carvery's Construction in Dartmouth, which is a Black-owned business.
When asked about involving the BIPOC community in the project, Nearing said the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office just finished consultation on HRM’s Anti Black Racism Strategy. “This will inform the municipality’s ongoing work in the African Nova Scotian community and communities of African descent,” says Nearing.
A Halifax Regional Council report on the BLM mural's repainting, along with various rainbow crosswalks, was approved on February 8. While the BLM mural is supposed to be temporary, the report says it will remain “until HRM’s work with the AntiBlack Racism taskforce identifies alternate ways to permanently, and appropriately, acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Update: This article has been corrected to say the Dartmouth mural will be on Alderney Drive, not Ochterloney Street.