Halifax, Nova Scotia

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Halifax Central Library | 10am - 4pm

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2018 Word on the Street Halifax Schedule

The 2018 Word on the Street Halifax Schedule is now available for download.  Please select the red Download Schedule tab on the left of the screen to access a PDF file containing complete festival details at a glance.  

Africville Past and Present

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

Shauntay Grant – Africville

When a young girl visits the site of Africville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the stories she’s heard from her family come to mind. She imagines what the community was once like —the brightly painted houses nestled into the hillside, the field where boys played football, the pond where all the kids went rafting, the bountiful fishing, the huge bonfires. Coming out of her reverie, she visits the present-day park and the sundial where her great- grandmother’s name is carved in stone, and celebrates a summer day at the annual Africville Reunion/Festival.

Africville was a vibrant Black community for more than 150 years. But even though its residents paid municipal taxes, they lived without running water, sewers, paved roads and police, fire-truck and ambulance services. Over time, the city located a slaughterhouse, a hospital for infectious disease, and even the city garbage dump nearby. In the 1960s, city officials decided to demolish the community, moving people out in city dump trucks and relocating them in public housing.

Today, Africville has been replaced by a park, where former residents and their families gather each summer to remember their community.

Shauntay Grant is a writer and storyteller from Nova Scotia. She teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University, and she served as Halifax’s third Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2011. A descendant of Black Refugees, Black Loyalists, and Jamaican Maroons who came to Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries, Grant’s love of language stretches back to her storytelling roots in Nova Scotia’s historic Black communities. She is a multidisciplinary artist with professional degrees and training in creative writing, music, and theatre, and her homegrown artistic practice embraces African Nova Scotian folk tradition as well as contemporary approaches to literature and performance. Her awards and honours include a Best Atlantic-Published Book prize from the Atlantic Book Awards, a Poet of Honour prize from Spoken Word Canada, and a Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in Writing and Publishing from the Canada Council for the Arts. She is the author of five books for children, most recently Africville (Groundwood Books, 2018). Visit her online at shauntaygrant.com