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Police board gets presentation on Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry

Representatives from the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry talked to the Halifax police board about their role in the inquiry.

Tony Smith and Chief Judge Pamela Williams present to the Board of Police Commissioners meeting at Halifax City Hall on Monday.

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Tony Smith and Chief Judge Pamela Williams present to the Board of Police Commissioners meeting at Halifax City Hall on Monday.

Halifax’s board of police commissioners got a presentation Monday on work being done on the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry.

The Council of Parties commission working on the inquiry filed a preliminary report last month outlining the ways African Nova Scotians continue to face systemic racism in the province. The inquiry was launched in 2015 after former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children received a formal apology from the province for years of abuse endured by residents of the orphanage.

At Monday’s meeting, Council of Parties members Tony Smith (a former resident of the home) and Chief Judge Pamela Williams presented that report to the board of police commissioners at the request of its chair, Deputy Mayor Steve Craig.

Smith and Williams told the board they spent much of 2016 building relationships with former residents of the home and others. They’ve also been holding sharing circles, where people talked about what happened to them, and the racism they continue to face in Nova Scotia.

Soon they’ll start holding what they call partners circles, where they bring in government and justice system officials to talk about what they can do.

“Folks from the policing community, for example, will be invited to partners circles to talk about issues surrounding discrimination and racism,” Williams said.

Smith said Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais and RCMP officers were brought in at the start of the process, and they’ll be invited back to work together with the council to combat racism.

“You know more about what goes on in a police department than we do,” Smith said. “There’s certain policies in place that may be positive may be negative, or whatever, but this is an opportunity to have a real dialogue, to talk about that in a safe environment.”

The Council of Parties for the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry will file a final report in spring 2018.

Also at the police board: An update on evidence

Halifax Regional Police are still looking for that missing evidence.

Chief Jean-Michel Blais gave an update to the board of police commissioners at its meeting on Monday on what’s been found and what’s still outstanding after the force’s drug exhibit audit.

Blais said the total amount of Canadian currency that was originally reconciled was up after review from $98,999 to $104,269, but police have found about $6,000 more of it, meaning just over $25,000 is still outstanding.

Blais told the board that four people are working on finding the evidence – three constables and one civilian RCMP member.

An original audit was conducted between June and November 2015 after an officer was accused of stealing from an evidence vault, and police started a full audit last year.

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