Friday, May 20, 2011

letters supporting eddie carvery pour in - help a hermit today!

the hermit of africville was up for the d250 atlantic book award for historical writing last night - it didn't win, but it was great seeing eddie's face on the giant cover projected at the front of the room when they announced the finalists. halifax's mp, megan leslie, read out the short list - she hasn't replied to the social media campaign yet, but at least i know she's fully briefed on eddie's protest.

the first week has seen 12 emails sent so far, but no response to any of them from the africville heritage trust. some people have sent the basic letter, which you can copy and paste from here, while many others have taken the time to write moving, thoughtful letters of their own. with their permission, i'm going to include a couple below. i've printed them off to take to eddie today - i'll shoot a short video on his response to all of the support and post it next week. 

it is important to act soon, because the land eddie moved his protest to is in transition to hrm/aht - and when they get it, they have stated they intend to evict him. we need to change their mind now, before eddie finds his home demolished yet again. you can see the eviction letter here and here. the second page makes clear he must leave all hrm/aht land - or face 'more formal measures.' read police.

it's the same old story in africville - after the rush to run eddie off the land - a one-week notice expiring may 5 - absolutely nothing has happened. no construction, no water piped in - just empty space where the church is not. 

as you can see in this herald article, other key promises from the apology 15 months ago remain nothing but paper.  

'A living testament' 
Dear Daurene Lewis,

On behalf of community members who value the preservation of our city’s history, I congratulate you and the AHT on the upcoming construction of the Africville Heritage Project.  Upholding the spirit of Africville through the replica Church and Interpretive Centre is an important step in the right direction.
This construction will become a symbol of victory over injustice; an important lesson for today’s diverse HRM community to take to heart.  As it stands presently, our community only has one symbol left standing for Africville, and that is Eddie Carvery.  So it was with great surprise and heartbreak that I recently learned about the Africville Heritage Trust’s attempts to evict Africville’s only remaining reside

As you well know, Mr.Carvery has proudly withstood over forty years of injustice, and for the people who have the pleasure of meeting him, his memories serve as a living testament of the fortitude of the former Africville residents. Though this gentleman’s past has been less than perfect, Mr.Carvery has been bravely forthcoming and repentant regarding his personal flaws, and over the years has become a source of pri­de for many Halifax residents.  Though his methods of demonstration may not be sophisticated, it is ­Mr.Carvery’s unconventional residence in Africville, and the ensuing media attention it garnered that has helped your cause persevere. His actions greatly contributed to the city’s willingness to acknowledge the Africville tragedy and subsequently grant funds to the Africville Heritage Trust.

I am sure you can understand, then, why a move to evict Mr.Carvery at this point would be viewed by the community as an act of disloyalty to a man who is himself a symbol of loyalty to Africville.  As such, I ask that you do not actively pursue this eviction and instead campaign for Africville’s only resident to find a home within the land that rightfully belongs to its people.

You mentioned in your eviction notice there are municipal issues that you feel you do not have the “authority nor resources to negotiate a benefit to an individual.”  However, I feel that the resource you do have at your disposal is the strong support of the community and of the media. If you so chose to file applications for rezoning and go through the proper channels, or to simply not take further measures to expel Mr.Carvery, the authority and support of many municipal taxpayers would be in your favour.

I thank you for your attention in this matter.  As you know, Africville was never a conglomerate of wood, brick and mortar as much as it was a kinship of its people, and the only way to bring dignity to the memory of Africville is to bring its last resident home. 

Respectfully yours,
Michelle Thornhill

Honour our heroes
Dear Daurene Lewis,

I was born in the North end of Halifax, within a few miles of Africville  and within a month of  Eddie’s birth. As I have said to Eddie we both grew up in Halifax, but it was not the same city.

At one time I thought that the whole Africville relocation was something done in the best interests of the community of Africville, although not handled well. As I got to know Eddie through books, interviews and actually visiting him over this past year I came to understand  the force that racism has played in our city over the years.

Another factor that has opened my eyes was my visit to the Museum of Civil rights in Memphis in the Lorraine motel where Dr. King was assassinated. I saw the way that the civil rights leaders in the United States  are now honoured and are an example to us today.  We have too few people that we honour in the Nova Scotia history of civil and human rights, only recently Viola Desmond, was named as such an example. You also are an example, as the first female  black mayor in North America along with many of your achievements.  I believe that Eddie also will go down in our history as such a leader. We need to honour him, not evict him.  

Some civil rights leaders protested by  working within the system  to change history, others by standing still and saying “ here I am”. The 50th anniversary of the Freedom riders this month celebrates people who just sat on a bus and said “here we are”, we are not going to stop until changes are made.

Eddie Carvery is actively engaged in the longest civil rights protest in the history of Canada. At the heart of his protest is a refusal to accept racism, the social poison that caused the destruction of Africville, his childhood home. To this end, he has lived on the land of Africville for 41 years, despite many past efforts to evict him.

For you, as a person representing the taxpayer-funded property rights of a trust, to tell Eddie Carvery that he “will be part of the overall story” of Africville, but to ask him to leave Africville, is disrespectful. He has happily moved off the site slated for the replica church he has worked so hard for and he should be safe in the knowledge that he will not be evicted from his new location on the waterfront of Africville.

I ask that you and the AHS apologize to Eddie Carvery and drop your threat to evict him from his civil rights protest in Africville.

The Rev Canon Jack Tattrie

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