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. In the early years of development a pledge from the African United Baptist Association (AUBA) to donate projected contributions of $200 to the Home Fund. At the AUBA’s annual meeting in September 1920, $1,000 was guaranteed by the AUBA to go towards the Homes development. Pg.36 Excerpts taken from Share & Care The Story of the Nova Scotia Home For Colored Children by Charles R. Saunders
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 AUBA churches, local residents and other white community supporters met this challenge. The tradition lived until 2014 when the broadcast was cancelled due to the concerns voiced by the college students who were hosting the show.
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 2013 after several years of allegations of physical, sexual and psychological abuse by former residents of the Home, a class action $30m settlement was reached and a Restorative Inquiry Process was established. The Restorative Inquiry looked at the past with a focus on future solutions: not only preventing any more harm but making meaningful changes that will help us treat each other more justly and equitably in the future”. (2) The Restorative Inquiry has helped with the healing process for the ANS community and there is support for moving forward to help build and restore the positive aspects of this legacy space. It should be noted that the seeds of abuse were planted and fertilized through systemic racism faced by the African Nova Scotian community for over 200 years.
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.
Lawyer James R. Johnston presented a proposal to the African United Baptist Association (AUBA) to establish a Normal & Industrial Institute for Colored Children.1915 – The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children (NSHCC) was incorporated.
Mr. James Ross Kinney served as the first Superintend, 1915 – 1940
Henry Gibson Bauld was elected as the first president for the board of directors, 1915 – 1948.
Halifax Explosion demolished the original NSHCC building.
The NSHCC officially opened on June 6, 1921.1931 – The 1st Annual Broadcast for Funds airs on radio.
James A. Ross Kinney, Jr. became superintendent following the death of his father.
Dr. Melville Cummings succeeded H. G. Bauld as president, and served from 1948 – 1966.
The George Washington Carver Credit Union was built on the NSHCC property.
Robert Butler was hired as the first executive director.
Two new group homes are opened on September 16, 1978.
The employees staged a forty day strike.1979 – Mrs. Jane Earle, a social worker, was hired as interim executive director.
Wilfred A. Jackson was hired as executive director, 1980 – 2005.
The first collective agreement was signed.
The Watershed Association Development Enterprise (WADE) has been a tenant of the NSHCC since March of 1983.
The Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia opened on NSHCC property on September 17, 1983
The former Superintendents Cottage is rented to local families, following major renovations and upgrades.
An outdoor basketball court was built at the NSHCC.
After several restoration contracts the original Henry Gibson Bauld Elementary School has been reopened as a community meeting centre.
The book Share & Care: the Story of the NSHCC is launched by Charles Saunders.
The Home’s conference entitled Black Family Focus: Year2000 was held at the Halifax Westin Hotel during its 75th anniversary and featured actor, Rev. Clifton Davis as the banquet speaker.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien, writes to the Home on its 75th anniversary praising the Home for adding “to the quality of life of the nation’s young people.”
In a partnership agreement with the HRM Department of Recreation, a fenced regulation sized baseball field was constructed on the Home’s property.
Former residents commenced a 17 year journey of allegations of abuse at the Home.
State-of-Art Computer Lab facility is established for residents.
The Home receives the Trail Blazer Award by the Preston Area Board of Trade.
The NSHCC launched the Akoma Family Centre. Akoma is a short term residential facility for sibling groups ages 0-19 years of age
Class action court settlement was completed with a $30m suite for former residents.
Mandate changed to accept all children including those with diverse abilities between the ages of 3-13yrs
Restorative Inquiry final report was completed.