Some members of Nova Scotia’s black community say they are outraged that a white person has been hired as executive director of the Africville Heritage Trust and are calling for her resignation.
"I find it insulting to all black people," said Burnley (Rocky) Jones, a local lawyer and well-known human rights activist.
"Surely we, within our community, have many people fully qualified to do such a job."
The trust was set up to establish a memorial to Africville, a major African-Nova Scotian community destroyed on the orders of Halifax officials in the 1960s.
The trust’s board of directors, which includes six representatives of the Africville community, recently hired Carole Nixon, a white Anglican minister, for the position.
The executive director’s post, which pays $66,000 annually, is to lead the development of the replica Seaview African United Baptist Church and an interpretive centre on the Africville lands.
Veronica Marsman, president of the Association of Black Social Workers, said Wednesday that many people in the black community that she has talked to weren’t even aware the position had been advertised.
"When people aren’t seeing the job (posting), there is a problem with the process," Marsman said.
She knows of at least one African-Nova Scotian who applied and was turned down for the job.
Marsman, Jones and others have organized a town hall meeting Sept. 20 at the Bloomfield Centre in Halifax for members of the black community to discuss Nixon’s appointment and come up with an action plan. In a flyer, they demand the Africville Heritage Trust cancel Nixon’s appointment and hire an African-Canadian person.
They also plan to meet with the trust’s board of directors to discuss the issue.
Nixon, who has a certificate in black history from the University of Toronto, is taking the controversy in stride. She said Wednesday that she has no plans to step down.
"I don’t take this personally. This is their perspective on a hiring process...Yes, their racist perspective. Which is rather ironic condsidering that this memorial memorializes a time when blacks were victims of white racism.