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Nova Scotia's Black communities meet with RCMP ahead of apology

People gathered in Upper Hammonds Plains Thursday night ahead of the RCMP’s apology to Nova Scotia’s Black communities for its historical use of street checks and other harms.

The discussion, which took place behind closed doors, was described as being open and honest.

“I heard stories of trauma, stories of dehumanization, I heard a cry from the community for recognition of wrongdoing of historic anti-black racism,” said Késa Munroe-Anderson.

“I hear a lot of harm. I hear a lot of impact. I hear the need to do better,” said Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, the commanding officer of Nova Scotia’s RCMP.

Thursday’s meeting was the second of 14, as RCMP prepare to apologize to Nova Scotia’s Black communities for the force’s historical use of street checks and other injustices. An action report will follow the apology.

“I really think that it’s made a difference to be able to have that interaction with each other,” said Iona Stoddard, HRM Councilor for District 12

Community members said they were asked what they want to hear when RCMP say sorry. They were also asked where it should happen, who should be there and what should be included in the RCMP’s action report.

“What would make it important for us. What would make it feel genuine,” said Curtis Whiley, describing the questions from the discussion.

Whiley thinks the timing of the apology needs to be explained. Nearly five-years-ago a Wortley report found Black people were disproportionately stopped by police. Halifax Regional Police apologized but Mounties did not.

“So why is that happening now? That was a question, and what is the motivation for that?” said Whiley.

An apology may help bridge a fractured relationship but people at the community consultation expressed they want the apology to be reinforced with concrete action.

“I believe a proper apology and action report would look like change. We would have to see positive change,” said Munroe-Anderson. “It would have to come from a lens of equity and anti-racism and decolonization and only the African Nova Scotian community would be able to answer the question at the end of the day, so a number of years from the apology, was that a sincere apology based on a change?”

Whiley noted the community also recommended RCMP undergo cultural competency training that’s mandatory.

Cynthia Jordan, another community member in attendance, said people want there to be resources available to African Nova Scotians who were actually impacted.

“Other ideas were around recruitment and retention of African Nova Scotians within RCMP,” Jordan said.

Nova Scotia’s top Mountie says he’s listening.

“I come to these with open ears and I really do and I open up you know with some sincerity to say this is long overdue. I want to make it meaningful,” said assistant commissioner Daley.

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