Former orphanage reopens as business incubator and hub for African Nova Scotian community

HALIFAX – A former orphanage for black children in Nova Scotia has been renovated and reopened as a community center and incubator for black businesses.

Kinney Place is located in the building that housed the former Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, which opened in 1921.

The Halifax-area building stood empty after the orphanage closed in 1978 until a local, black-run charity, Akoma Holdings Inc., launched a restoration effort in 2016.

Akoma Board Chair Kathleen Mitchell said her organization recognizes the historical significance of the building, which was granted municipal heritage status in August.

Kinney Place will enhance services for the African Nova Scotian community and include space for reflection and healing, she said.

The institution has become a symbol of the province’s ongoing fight against racism and discrimination after former residents told stories of neglect and abuse at the orphanage, prompting a public inquiry and an apology from the first minister.

“Today we reflect on the building’s past 101 years as we look to the future,” Mitchell said in a statement on Sunday.

Kinney Place will include offices, a cafe and catering business, as well as a hair salon and spa.

It also offers a gathering space for seniors and a studio for rent by community members for art classes, workshops or get-togethers.

The building has additional space for businesses to rent.

The renovation cost about $2.7 million, with funding mostly from the federal government and some from the provincial government, according to Akoma property manager Veronica Marsman.

Kinney Place is named after James Alexander Ross Kinney, founder of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children and its first superintendent.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 23, 2022.

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