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Environmental Racism in Africville, Nova Scotia, Canada

In this stark case of environmental racism, Africville residents were exposed to toxic waste while denied basic services like water and sewers. In the 1960s the town was bulldozed and residents evicted.


Africville was a small community located on the southern shore of Bedford Basin, in Halifax, Nova Scotia that existed from the early 1800s to the 1960s. It was founded by Black Nova Scotians from a variety of origins. "Many of the first settlers were former slaves from the United States, Black Loyalists who were freed by the Crown during the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812" [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Environmental Racism in Africville, Nova Scotia, Canada
State or province:Nova Scotia
Location of conflict:Africville
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Land
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The City of Halifax sited polluting industries and services in Africville in the second half of the 19th century. This included a fertilizer plant, slaughterhouses, Rockhead Prison (1854), the “night-soil disposal pits” (human waste) and the Infectious Diseases Hospital (1870s). In 1915, Halifax City Council declared that Africville “will always be an industrial district". Many Africville residents believe anti-Black racism was behind these decisions" [4]. In the 1960s, residents were evicted and their homes were bulldozed to make way for industrial development. The land of Africville has been turned into private housing, ramps for the A. Murray MacKay Bridge, and the Fairview Container Terminal. The central area was turned into a dog park called Seaview Park [4].

Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:400
Start of the conflict:1960
Relevant government actors:Halifax Municipal Government
Nova Scotia Provincial Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Africville Action Committee
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Africville Action Committee
Forms of mobilization:Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (undecided)
Negotiated alternative solution
Public apology, a lawsuit that was settled between the parties
Proposal and development of alternatives:Africville has done much to raise up struggles against environmental racism in Canada.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:This is a story of blatant racism, including environmental racism.
There has been official apologies and compensation provided. But many residents who were evicted argue this has not been adequate considering the impacts to their lives and community.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Documentary. Remember Africville.
[click to view]

[1] (Wikipedia, Africville)
[click to view]

[2] (Lawlor, 2010) Eddie Carvery, Africville and the Longest Civil Rights Protest in Canadian History. Transmopolis.
[click to view]

[3] (Beaumont, 2015) Africville Residents Want Compensation for the Homes Halifax Bulldozed Decades Ago. Vice.
[click to view]

[4] (Tattrie, 2014) Africville. The Canadian Encyclopedia.
[click to view]

Other documents

Historical photo of Africville from 1940s. Photo by Ross Dunn. Sourced from:
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Jen Gobby
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:4150
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