‘Now Digby will come to us’

Long-awaited com­mu­nity cen­tre to be built in Aca­ci­av­ille

Tri-County Vanguard - - NEWS - SARA ERIC­S­SON FOR DIG­BY­COURIER.CA

It’s been four decades in the mak­ing, but cer­tainly worth the wait – the Jor­dan­town-Aca­ci­av­illeCon­way Bet­ter­ment As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mu­nity Cen­tre is a go.

$5.6 mil­lion in multi-level gov­ern­ment fund­ing was an­nounced Nov. 30 at the Aca­ci­av­ille Bap­tist Church, which stands across from where the cen­tre will be built. in the 1970s af­ter black stu­dents faced sys­temic racism and reg­u­lar dis­crim­i­na­tion within the county’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. The com­mit­tee was re­formed in 2003 when such in­ci­dents were again re­ported en masse, and con­tin­ued its ad­vo­cacy work for bet­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tion, in­clu­sion and even­tu­ally pushed for a re­newed com­mu­nity space.

To­day, that space is nearly here. The cen­tre, which the com­mu­nity has dubbed its ‘cen­tre of ex­cel­lence,’ will be shared by Jor­dan­town, Aca­ci­av­ille, Con­way and Digby and will con­sist of 14,000 square feet of space des­ig­nated for a pre-school, youth and adult learn­ing, and cul­tural and recre­ational pro­gram­ming.

Bar­ton was not the only long­time mem­ber of JACBA who gave re­marks. Kerry Johnson and Brenda Francis-Clarke also ad­dressed the crowd – each hail­ing the event as a well-de­served vic­tory af­ter years of re­silience, and one that will help their com­mu­nity pros­per.

“Our com­mu­nity has suf­fered, both ed­u­ca­tion­ally and eco­nom­i­cally. Each space within the build­ing, we fell will ad­dress this dis­par­ity,” said Johnson, adding the cen­tre will pro­vide space to “gather, to en­gage and to learn in a com­mu­nity that re­spects di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion.”

Many young mem­bers of Digby’s African Nova Sco­tian com­mu­nity were present, in­clud­ing Alexan­dria LeBlanc and Tay­lor Johnson.

LeBlanc said the com­mu­nity cen­tre means the com­mu­nity will fi­nally have a place to gather in pub­lic.

“It’ll be nice to see peo­ple of colour, be­cause you never re­ally see them,” she said.

The cen­tre will also be a net-zero build­ing – mean­ing its to­tal en­ergy used will nearly equal the amount of en­ergy it cre­ates – to en­sure build­ing costs re­main sus­tain­able.

Gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives of all lev­els were also at the an­nounce­ment – Clare-Digby leg­isla­tive mem­ber Gor­don Wil­son, West Nova mem­ber of par­lia­ment Colin Fraser, mu­nic­i­pal war­den Jimmy MacAlpine, town mayor Ben Cleve­land, and African Nova Sco­tian Af­fairs min­is­ter Tony Ince – all of whom owed the project’s suc­cess firstly to JACBA’s de­ter­mi­na­tion, and sec­ondly the gov­ern­ment’s cross-ju­ris­dic­tional work.

As he con­cluded, Bar­ton spoke of why he’s con­fi­dent this build­ing will suc­ceed. He said it’s be­cause the project is an in­clu­sive one and that the cen­tre is to be used by all com­mu­ni­ties that live near Digby – no mat­ter their cul­ture or skin colour.

“That’s what the dif­fer­ence is this time – this cen­tre will be shared,” he said.

“Now, Digby will come to us.”

SARA ERIC­S­SON

West Nova MP Colin Fraser, Brad Bar­ton, Kerry Johnson, African Nova Sco­tian Af­fairs min­is­ter Troy Ince and Clare-Digby MLA Gor­don Wil­son stand to­gether and for­mally give the green­light to the Jor­dan­town-Aca­ci­av­ille-Con­way Bet­ter­ment As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mu­nity Cen­tre project, which has re­ceived $5.6 mil­lion in gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

SARA ERIC­S­SON

Alexan­dria LeBlanc and Tay­lor Johnson were among the sev­eral youth who at­tended the an­nounce­ment, and gave a stand­ing ova­tion to JACBA mem­ber and com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate Brad Bar­ton. “It’ll be nice to see peo­ple of colour, be­cause you never re­ally see them,” said LeBlanc.

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