Descendants of black loyalists in Nova Scotia seeking help to gain land title

HALIFAX -- Residents of a black community in Nova Scotia say they're hoping for progress this week in gaining title to their land, 200 years after their ancestors were handed rocky plots without clear ownership.

See Full Article

The Nova Scotia government provided land to black loyalists in the 1800s, but the Crown didn't provide land titles - though it did for white settlers.

Dwight Adams, a volunteer with a community group in the North Preston area, says that up to one third of residents in the community of about 3,700 people still don't have title to the land.

"We don't want to continue paying taxes and find out down the road we don't even have a property to pass on," he said during an interview.

Journalism students at the Nova Scotia Community College released an online documentary Monday depicting how a government-funded process to gain title in the 1960s lapsed.

It includes interviews with current residents still struggling to gain title.

The students also cited a petition presented to the Crown in 1860 from black settlers saying their inability to confidently build upon or mortgage their lands was creating hardship.

In 1963, former premier Robert Stanfield promised to fix the problem, setting up the Land Titles Clarification Act, which laid out a process allowing the residents to gain title.

However, Adams said many families were unable to make use of the free land surveyors or legal advice, and -- over the course of several governments -- the funding for the program was cut.

Applications for title are currently made to the land services branch of the Department of Natural Resources, with individual residents responsible for providing the required documentation.

Angela Simmonds, a Dalhousie law student, completed a study last year that says after some titles were settled in 2009, "it has been increasingly difficult for people in the community to get a response regarding their applications."

North Preston resident Wylie Cain says in the student documentary that he wanted to grant land passed to him by his grandparents to his daughter Elaine Cain, but has found it a struggle to complete the process without a deed.

His daughter, Elaine Cain, said during the documentary she's been attempting to gain title for much of her adult life.

"I've been working to get this land title since I was 29 years old, paying taxes, putting in applications ... and no response," she said.

Darrel Pink, executive director of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, says his group has been working with Adams and other volunteers for over a year on a pilot project to finish the process of helping residents of the community.

The society has been recruiting volunteer lawyers to help with the project.

"One of the things that we are advocating is that government can use its authority to be a little more flexible on what standards need to be applied in order for people to be able to get title for land they've occupied for a number of years," he said.

Lloyd Hines, the minister of Natural Resources, declined an interview but provided an emailed statement.

"We understand some members of the community are concerned and we are working with anyone who wants more information," he wrote.

Pink said efforts are also underway to set up a method to resolve disputes in cases where various members of the community battle over properties and boundary lines.

"I hope we can approach it in ways that can resolve conflict with the minimal amount of strife," he said. "These title problems have caused problems in the community."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • N.S. closing all schools Monday ahead of teachers' work-to-rule job action

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is closing all its schools Monday as teachers prepare to take job action over failed contract negotiations. The provincial education minister told reporters Saturday that it cannot ensure student safety under the Nova Scotia Teacher Union’s planned work-to-rule job action. Source
  • Landlord charged with trespassing for sex in renters' bed

    World News CTV News
    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A Colorado landlord faces a felony trespassing charge after a renter with a video security system caught the man having sex in his apartment. An arrest warrant has been issued for Carlos Quijada of Colorado Springs. Source
  • General Tso’s Chicken creator Peng Chang-kuei dead at 98

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — The chef credited with inventing General Tso’s Chicken, a world-famous Chinese dish smothered in a sweet sauce that was never a staple in China, has died in Taiwan at 98. Peng Chang-kuei died of pneumonia last Wednesday in Taipei, his son, Chuck Peng, told The Associated Press. Source
  • Fidel Castro's ashes arrive in eastern city of Santiago

    World News CTV News
    SANTIAGO, Cuba -- Fidel Castro's ashes have arrived in the eastern city of Santiago, ending a four-day journey across Cuba. Thousands of people welcomed the leader's remains to shouts of "Fidel! I am Fidel!" The 90-year-old former president died Nov. Source
  • Proposed bill would guarantee coverage for B.C. first responders: MLA

    Canada News CTV News
    A B.C. MLA wants the provincial government to declare post-traumatic stress disorder a “presumptive illness” for emergency workers in order to guarantee coverage for health services. B.C. NDP MLA Shane Simpson says there is concern the British Columbia government isn’t doing enough to help firefighters, police officers and paramedics suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Source
  • Cat named 'Starvin Marvin' after surviving month inside church roof

    Canada News CTV News
    One tough kitty, nicknamed “Starvin’ Marvin,” has been rescued from beneath the eaves of a Vancouver church, where he’s believed to have been trapped for at least a month. Church Road Gospel Chapel says, over the course of the past month, it received several complaints about meowing soundsin the area but every time someone checked, the sounds could not be traced. Source
  • Syria: Thousands of Aleppo's displaced pack market shelter

    World News CTV News
    JIBREEN, Syria -- Azza Haj Hussein held out for four years in war-ravaged eastern Aleppo, moving from one bombed-out home to another and surviving mostly on bread, crushed wheat and rice for four months under a suffocating government siege. Source
  • North Dakota officials pledge 'humane' help for protesters as 'winter begins to take hold'

    World News CBC News
    The head of North Dakota's emergency management services says the state is prepared to respond to Dakota Access pipeline protesters who may need help during a winter storm or some other crisis. State Homeland Security Director Greg Wilz said it would be a "huge challenge," especially during a mass evacuation, but his office has winter shelter plans in place and various agencies are ready to respond. Source
  • 'It's just a ploy': North Dakota protesters reject help from officials to leave as winter descends

    World News CBC News
    The head of North Dakota's emergency management services says the state is prepared to respond to Dakota Access pipeline protesters who may need help during a winter storm or some other crisis. State Homeland Security Director Greg Wilz said it would be a "huge challenge," especially during a mass evacuation, but his office has winter shelter plans in place and various agencies are ready to respond. Source
  • At least 9 dead in fire at Oakland, Calif., warehouse party [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    OAKLAND, Calif. — At least nine people died in a blaze that broke out during a party in a warehouse late Friday night in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to fire officials. Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloche-Reed says at least another 13 people are unaccounted for as of Saturday morning. Source