Police are investigating after members of a Halifax church made a sad and sickening discovery when they arrived for their Sunday service.

They found a racial slur had been scrawled on a commemorative plaque outside the Cornwallis Street United Baptist Church.

“It makes me feel sick and I think that the one that do it is cursed,” says Virtue Martell-Middleton, who has attended the church for nearly 30 years. “It’s a unique and diverse church and all the members, we get along.”

The church has 235 members, 75 per cent of which are African Nova Scotians.

“We have some narrow-minded people in our midst and that’s where, you know, if they came for the elimination of racism day that they have at the church, they would realize that we’re all the same,” says Coun. Dawn Sloane.

Each year the Cornwallis Street United Baptist Church hosts a service to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which they hope will prevent this kind of behaviour.

The plague that was vandalised honours Rev. Richard Preston who, after escaping slavery, became a leader for African Nova Scotians.

“I find it very sad and I find that the person who did that, I feel sad for them too,’ says church employee Twila Bailey.

Police say the racial slur was scratched into the plaque sometime between 4 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Investigators are canvassing the neighbourhood, looking for anyone who may have noticed suspicious behavour in the area overnight Saturday.

City crews have cleaned graffiti off the plaque, but Martell-Middleton says getting rid of the racism will take more than a fresh layer of paint.

“It’s all around. It’s all around. It’s there under a blanket,” she says. “You cannot see, but it’s there.”

Police are asking anyone with information on the incident to contact them.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell