Dr. Lynn Jones has loved collecting and sharing stories about her community since she was a child. When she was around 8 years old, she became curious about the articles and other “exciting things” her mother collected on the kitchen table of their family home in Truro, Nova Scotia.1 The joy she found in exploring her mother’s collection quickly turned into a lifelong passion for scrapbooking and collecting material of her own interest.2 Now, after more than 50 years and a career as an athlete, politician, activist, and community worker, Dr. Jones has collected thousands of news clippings, meeting minutes, programs, reports and other material documenting Black life.
The University Archives at Saint Mary’s is proud to provide a home for Dr. Jones’s extensive collection, called the Lynn Jones African Canadian & Diaspora Heritage Collection. This year’s African Heritage Month theme, Through Our Eyes: The Voices of African Nova Scotians, “recognizes the long-standing history of people of African Descent in the development of Canada … and examines the affects of anti-black racism and the voice of African Nova Scotians who blazed the trail for change.”3
This month we’re honoured to present a virtual display that provides access to newly digitized items from the collection’s Africville Files. Africville was a small, historic Black settlement on the outskirts of the Halifax peninsula. Against the will of the community, the settlement was razed in the 1960s by the city of Halifax to make way for infrastructure. This display offers a snapshot into important moments in African Nova Scotian history, as collected by community leader and activist Dr. Lynn Jones. A theme found across the collection, and reflected in the Africville files, is reparations for the numerous injustices committed against Black communities in Nova Scotia.
- “Don’t give up what’s yours, Africville speaker warns”: A news clipping from August 1, 1988 describes the 5th annual reunion of former Africville residents after the community was razed in 1967 to build infrastructure for the MacKay Bridge, and later, Seaview Park. A memorial sundial dedicated to the first Black settlers, former Africville residents and the Campbell Road settlement was unveiled. Rev. Donald Skeir urged Africville residents to not forget the community’s forced eviction and pointed out the injustices carried out by city officials against the community. Former residents came from across Canada and the United States for the reunion.
- “Africville trash cash sought“: In 1994, Halifax gave the Sackville community council $5 million in compensation for hosting a city garbage dump for 17 years. The Africville community also lived beside a hazardous city garbage dump for about 12 years, without proper city water and sewage facilities, and by this time had received no compensation for these claims. A news clipping from January 28, 1994 describes former Africville residents’s frustration that Sackville received compensation priority over Africville, and shows the community’s intention to pursue reparations.
- “Protesters not happy campers”: A news clipping from March 1995 provides coverage from Halifax City Hall during a council meeting where members debated a by-law that would make staying overnight in Seaview Park illegal. In attendance were activists Eddie and Victor Carvery who had been camping in Seaview Park in protest for 8 months and were pressuring the city for reparations. The Carvery brothers received strong support from Africville descendants who attended the meeting, especially when council members questioned the community’s unity and the validity of their calls for more compensation.
- “Tent City”: A flyer from June 1995 urges people to join an organized tent city campaign in Seaview Park to support Eddie and Victor Carvery. The brothers had continued to camp in the park to protest the expropriation of Africville and the City of Halifax’s efforts to silence discussions and protests on the issue of Africville. Africville descendants received $5 million in compensation, a formal apology from the city, a memorial park and a heritage centre on former Africville land in 2010.4
- “The Hermit of Africville”: This record depicts a large photograph of Eddie Carvery, clipped from a newspaper. “The Hermit of Africville” is the title of his biography published in 2010. The Carvery family was one of the original families to settle in Africville, and in the years following the community’s destruction Eddie lived in Seaview Park for many years. He is a well known community member and dedicated activist.
Material from the Lynn Jones African Canadian & Diaspora Heritage Collection is also on display on the ground floor of the Patrick Power Library throughout the month of February. To learn more click here to watch an interview with Dr. Jones about her collection.
For more information about material in the collection and how to access it, visit the University Archives website. The collection is available to researchers, community members tracing a family tree, educators and students, community organizers and more.
- “A Conversation with Lynn Jones on the Lynn Jones African-Canadian & Diaspora Heritage Collection,” Vimeo, Atlantic Live Stream, 2021, https://vimeo.com/565854567
- “A Conversation with Lynn Jones on the Lynn Jones African-Canadian & Diaspora Heritage Collection.”
- “African Heritage Month,” Black Cultural Centre, 2022, http://www.ahm.bccnsweb.com/wp/home/
- “Halifax apologizes for razing Africville,” CBC News, 24 February, 2010 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/halifax-apologizes-for-razing-africville-1.894944
2 thoughts on “Take A Look Inside the Lynn Jones Collection for African Heritage Month”
Thank you sister Lynn Jones for your years of continuous work to preserve, promote, protect and progress our African Nova Scotian history.
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Thanks for your comment, Natasha. We are honoured to take care of Dr. Jones’s collection and to share some of the stories within it.