Akoma History

History

The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children was formed by J.A.R. Kinney, on June 6, 1921. The NSHCC was a private non-profit agency funded through the Department of Community Services. It has a long and proud tradition of serving youth in the Maritime Regions. Originally incorporated in 1921, the Home continues to provide the best possible care to children from all walks of life. Founded to meet the needs of disadvantaged black youth, the Home has always reached out to young people from all races, creeds and colors. The Home is a co-educational residence serving children and youth who are experiencing emotional or behavioral problems. Due to a breakdown in their family unit these children and youth have been removed from their home environment and are referred to our Home for emergency and/or short-term placement. As society changed throughout North America, the mandate of the Home shifted in accordance. Two world wars, the civil rights movement, the closure of large orphanages and the de-segregation of schools all contributed to the closure of the Old Home building.

 

Over the years the Home’s residential capacity has ranged from 100+ residents as an orphanage to 12 residents as a group home with semi- private rooms.

 

Situated on 325 acres of land in the HRM, the Home provides an ideal setting for adolescent growth and maturity. Facilities include two residences, an outdoor basketball court, a baseball diamond and a playground. The former H.G. Bauld Schoolhouse on the Old Home site now serves as a recreation centre.

 

The opening of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children in 1921 was described as “the greatest event in the history of the colored people of Nova Scotia”

 

A 3/4-mile parade of dignitaries and a crowd of 3, 000 spectators heralded the opening of this Home, which significantly was the largest gathering of blacks since the arrival of the Loyalists to the Province in 1783.

 

From the onset, it was the leadership and dedication of Mr. J.A.R. Kinney, Superintendent and Mr. H.G. Bauld, President, that sustained the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children for the first 21 years of its existence.

 

After ten years of operating, the Home was forced to launch its first annual broadcast for funds, due to the deteriorating financial situation which threatened to close the orphanage, a positive response from the African United Baptist Association churches, local residents and other white community supporters met this challenge. The tradition lives on today in the form of an annual Christmas telethon.

 

Although the dream of an industrial institute for black students by Lawyer James R. Johnston never materialized, the on-site H.G. Bauld Memorial School filled this void. This two-room school offered such studies as K-9, industrial arts and domestic science to residents and community-wide students alike. The school played a major role in the lives of teachers of segregated schools throughout the Province, many of whom taught their first classes at this location.

 

Under the guidance of Board of board president, Dr. Melville Cummings, or “Mr. Agriculture”, the Home prospered as a commercial farming outlet and placement centre for agricultural students who worked the fields alongside of the older residents.

 

As contemporaries, Mr. Noel Johnston, teacher and Mr. J.A.R. Kinney, Jr., co-founded the George Washington Carver Credit Union on the site of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.

 

It was the inspiration of Dr. Rev. W.P. Oliver, board member, that gave rise to the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia which was constructed on the Home’s property.

 

The Home has leased property to the Watershed Association Development Enterprises (WADE); a black community development group since 1983.

 

The former schoolhouse is used as a training facility for the Home and a meeting place for community organizations such as the Cole Harbour and District Lion’s Club, Boy Scouts etc.

 

Over the years the superintendent’s cottage has been leased to local families with the goal of long-term leases.

 

In 1985, the Rev. D.E. Fairfax Chapel was dedicated to commemorating the inspirational work of this individual, on behalf of the Home, over a 35-year period.

 

Mr. Wilfred Jackson, who served as the longest Executive Director in the history of the Home retired in 2005.  Under Mr. Jackson’s reign, Mr. Charles R. Saunders, local Daily News columnist, wrote Share and Care: The story of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, chronicling the compelling history of this great institution.

 

On October 17-18, 1996, the Home sponsored “Black Family Focus: Year 2000”, a conference featuring guest speaker Dr. Clifton Davis, acclaimed movie, stage and television actor.

 

On February 1st, 2010, the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children appointed Ms. Veronica Marsman to the position of Executive Director. Ms. Marsman came to the Home with a vast amount of social work experience, having been employed with the Department of Community Services for 27 years where she conducted frontline child protection, post adoption services, coordination of the provincial foster care program and the management of various department offices within the Halifax Regional Municipality.

 

In January 2016, a new Executive Director was hired, Ms. Debbie Carver who came with extensive experience in residential care having previously worked at Homebridge Youth Society in the Halifax Regional Municipality.  Ms. Carver was also an instructor in Child and Youth Care at the Nova Scotia Community College and Success College prior to joining the Akoma staff.   

 

In 2017 Ms. Carver assumed the position as Executive Director and Ms. Marsman assumed the part-time position as Property Manager for Akoma Holdings to initiative the development process.