HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Liberal government is committed to doing the right thing to help African Nova Scotians gain clear title to land that has been in their families for many generations, a cabinet minister promised Wednesday.“African Nova Scotians have suffered, more than anyone else in Nova Scotia, great indignities and injustices with respect to land,” Tony Ince, the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, told a gathering at a church in Cherry Brook, near Halifax.Ince announced residents of five predominantly black communities will get $2.7 million over two years to help clarify their land ownership.Ince said the province is taking action to address disparities and “systemic discrimination” that blacks have faced.“As an African Nova Scotian I understand what land means to our people. I can only imagine the frustrations you have felt and as minister … I can assure you that my government is committed to doing the right thing for you.”Land was provided to black and white Loyalists by the Nova Scotia government in the 1800s, but land titles weren’t given to black settlers, creating longstanding confusion and in many cases the inability for owners to pass property on to relatives.The communities to get initial help include North Preston, East Preston and Cherry Brook in the Halifax area, and Lincolnville and Sunnyville in Guysborough County. In all, 13 communities will eventually see government assistance, officials said.The initiative includes funding to assist with legal fees and other costs, and to hire two community liaison officers to assist residents through the process. A land surveyor and two survey technicians will also be hired to complete surveys and to compile support plans.The government says it will also consider amending legislation to reduce barriers to land ownership.The Land Titles Clarification Act was introduced in 1963 to help people of African descent get title to land given to their families long ago, but this week a panel of United Nations experts said the province had failed to properly implement it.The UN panel, which looked at anti-black racism in Canada, heard from residents that the funding had dried up over time for a program that had become expensive, unjust and discriminatory.Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell, who also represents some of the areas affected, agreed Wednesday.“I have been trying to help the community but with zero resources,” Colwell said. “Now today … we are putting in this first phase of this program and it will be resourced more if we need to resource it more, that’s the difference.”Still, some in attendance, like Evangeline Downey of North Preston, expressed displeasure with the government’s plan to do much of the work through the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission. She also thought the formal announcement should have come at a community meeting to discuss the government’s plan.“We’d like to pick our own lawyers, that way nobody can steal our land,” Downey told the ministers.“We’d like to know what’s going on, not you telling us this, this or this.”Colwell promised Downey that a community meeting would be held at a future date. Downey later told reporters that meetings should be held in each community.Spencer Colley, chair of the East Preston Ratepayers Community Development Association, said while he doesn’t believe there is widespread mistrust of the government’s plan, there are historic grievances at play.“People want to get something that they own that they have been on for so long,” said Colley. “Yes there is mistrust, but again we have to learn to start trusting and get the work done.”A pilot project involving volunteers in the North Preston area and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society has been working for the past few years to help residents with their ownership battles.Dwight Adams of the North Preston Land Recovery Initiative said it’s still not known how many African Nova Scotians are affected by land ownership issues.Adams said it is something the new government program will have to sort out.“We have to find out exactly what those numbers are. We have people that have been battling this forever and a day.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly stated that Keith Colwell is Nova Scotia’s natural resources minister.
Charlotte Morritt-JacobsAPTN NewsBob McLeod has a few remaining weeks governing the Northwest Territories.The Métis man from Zhahti Koe, Fort Providence was the first person to be re-elected premier of the N.W.T.But now he’s decided to retire.“I felt that I didn’t want to be committed for another four years and I didn’t really want to be in politics when I’m 70 years old,” McLeod said.He noted his leadership style as inclusive and cited his success on “letting the managers manage” in office.“Our first get together our cabinet said is that one of the things we should all aspire to is not to lose any ministers. I’m really proud that we had eight years of good government and didn’t lose a single minister.“We didn’t lose any motions on non confidence,” he said.During his time as premier there were several significant infrastructure projects including the $350-million hospital in Yellowknife, the $300-million Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway and the $202-million Deh Cho Bridge, the last major river to be bridged.McLeod said there are still some pages left unturned as he gets ready to call it quits.“The one that everyone always talks about of course is land claims and self government. We made some progress not as much progress as we wanted to but some of the claims have been negotiated going on thirty years.“It’s disappointing to me that I’ll have to join the list of Premiers that weren’t able to,” Mcleod said.Unlike its neighbours Nunavut and the Yukon, the N.W.T. never fully recovered from the 2008 recession.“It’s worrisome especially because exploration is down. Even with that we have mining projects, Mackenzie valley natural gas pipeline was approved and yet it never got built,” he said.In 2017, the Premier made headlines as he issued his “red alert.” He suggested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had acted out of colonialism after a moratorium on Arctic oil and gas development was announced in 2016.“Over a period of time we hadn’t produced a single molecule of oil and gas in a territory that historically has been producing oil and gas since the 1930s.“We had an immediate response from the federal government the next morning and I think our relationship has improved significantly,” McLeod said.The 19th Legislative Assembly will be elected on Oct. 1, [email protected]@aptncharlotte