Much of Nova Scotia is Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq. From 1725-1779 the Mi’kmaq signed the Peace and Friendship Treaties with the British Crown, agreeing to share the land with British settlers. They did not cede or surrender their land rights to the Crown. These treaty rights are still in place today and were affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 through the case of R v. Marshall.
Nova Scotia is also home to a distinct African Nova Scotian population with a rich legacy extending from Black Loyalists who sought refuge after the American Revolution, to recent immigrants today. Historic Black communities in Nova Scotia include (but are not limited to) Birchtown, Beechville, North and East Preston, as well as parts of Dartmouth and Halifax.
In the province of Nova Scotia today, most environmental hazards, such as waste disposal sites and polluting industries, are located in proximity to African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq communities. Thus, those communities are left to suffer a myriad of negative impacts, such as a lack of fresh air, clean water, access to unspoiled nature, dwindling property values, and resulting mental and physical health impacts, which work to perpetuate their historical oppression. In the academic literature, this societal issue is referred to as “environmental racism,” which theorizes that intersections between race and class result in the trend in which historically marginalized communities are disproportionally located nearby environmental hazards. This thesis deconstructs the issue of environmental racism in the African Nova Scotian community of Lincolnville as portrayed through mainstream and alternative internet news outlets. Using the methodology of framing analysis, this thesis uncovers underlying themes and tones associated with news discourse on the issue of environmental racism in Lincolnville, and explores whether news discourse is impeding or assisting the transcendence of this issue in present day Nova Scotia.
On April 12th, 1998, Kirk Johnson, a well-known professional boxer and Olympian from North Preston, Nova Scotia, was pursued in his vehicle, on a local highway, by a Constable from the Halifax Regional Police Service. Mr. Johnson was eventually pulled over at a shopping plaza in Dartmouth. The constable asked for proof of insurance and vehicle registration for Johnson’s Ford Mustang and was not satisfied with the documents offered. The officer then ticketed the driver, and ordered the car towed. In fact, Mr. Johnson’s documentation was valid under Texas law. The next day an unidentified police official determined that the seizure and towing of Mr. Johnson’s vehicle had been erroneous and ordered the car released. This case ultimately resulted in Mr. Johnson filing a compliant with the Nova Scotia Human Right’s Commission alleging racial bias and/or racial profiling by the Halifax Regional Police Service (HRP). A Human Rights Tribunal was eventually conducted, and the case was decided in December 2003 (Girard 2003).