Racial Injustice in Nova Scotia: A Call to Action

March 21, 2016


The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, March 21st, is a day for us to acknowledge—and commit to ending—racism in Nova Scotia.

In addressing our legacy of discrimination against the Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians, New Democrats will join with new social movements, like Idle No More and Black Lives Matter, in calling for racial justice.

Our voices must be heard alongside all those who believe that racial justice and equality will be key components of the better society we are working to create.

I have asked Lenore Zann, MLA for Truro‐Bible Hill‐Millbrook‐Salmon River, to serve as the NDP’s Critic for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission—a new position paired with Critic for Aboriginal Affairs.  The Commission made than 30 Calls to Action that fall under provincial jurisdiction.  Lenore will soon begin a consultation process with First Nations, seeking their advice on how best to implement these recommendations. The NSNDP Caucus will also be pressing the provincial government to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, demanding a regular report to the legislature on its progress.

The first Call to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Report begins, “We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care…”  Even though persons of Aboriginal ancestry represent 2.7% of Nova Scotians, Mi’kmaq children are 21.9% of those in care in the province.  Similarly, in the Capital Region, while African Nova Scotians make up 2.3% or our total population, 30% of the children in care are of African descent.

Surely this is the place for us to begin.

And in the Spring legislative session, the NSNDP Caucus will once again push for passage of Bill 111, the Environmental Racism Prevention Act. This legislation seeks to address the inequities faced by many Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities, especially in rural Nova Scotia, as a result of racist development assumptions, and the rules and decisions that have followed.

These three steps—following the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations, dealing with our history of environmental racism, and making a determined effort to solve the conditions and biases that place in care so many Mi’kmaq and African Canadian children—are concrete steps our province could begin tomorrow.

Today, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, New Democrats stand side by side with those who are experiencing and challenging racism.   Every day, we will continue our work with activists who are committed to building a non-racist society.

In solidarity and hope,