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'It's not our problem. We didn't create this': N.S. advocates say RCMP apology pointless without action

A day after Nova Scotia's RCMP Commander announced the force would be apologizing to the black community for generations of street checks, some advocates say concrete changes are needed, or it's all wasted air.

"Those are just words, you know?,” said Halifax activist Trayvone Clayton, whose own experience with racial profiling in Ottawa resulting in a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau several years ago.

"It's what they really show us. It's not what we have to show them because it's not our problem," Clayton said.

"We didn't create this."

The sentiment was echoed by Clayton's father, co-founder of the group 902 Man Up.

"First of all, it has to be sincere, not just a generic apology," said Marcus James.

"You need to own and recognize why you're issuing this apology."

The street checks issue has been part of a broader public agenda since the 2019 Wortley report confirmed something Black people in Nova Scotia had known for generations: they were far more likely to be stopped by police than whites are.

The ink on the bombshell document was barely dry when the chair of the Halifax Police Commission at the time promptly apologized.

"And for this, the Commission, and I am very sorry," said Councillor Steve Craig at the time.

Eight months later, the force itself issued an apology, and now, nearly five years later, RCMP says it will do the same.

The man behind the initiative says it's personal.

"It's very important for me to fulfill this apology and most importantly, work together with the community on the action plan that will come post the apology," N.S. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley told CTV News Wednesday.

As recently as two years ago, the force ruled-out a formal apology to the Black community, leaving many wondering, 'what's changed?'

"I think it's a changing of the guard," said Vanessa Fells, the NS Barristers' Society Equity and Access advisor.

Daley took office last year, and Fells says she is encouraged with the new direction.

"It's a long time coming," she said.

“I think acknowledging that it is a long time coming is a very good first step because it's definitely something that needs to happen in order for the community and RCMP to move forward together, and change the relationship that's been going on for many, many decades and hundreds of years between the African Nova Scotian community and law enforcement."

The force says an apology and action plan will follow a series of 14 meetings with the community before the end of the year.

An accelerated-effort to make things right, after generations of getting it wrong.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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