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Ex-orphanage reopens as business incubator, hub for African Nova Scotian community

HALIFAX — A former orphanage for Black children in Nova Scotia has been renovated and reopened as a community hub and incubator for Black businesses.
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The former Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children is seen in Dartmouth, N.S., on Jan.8, 2013. The home has been renovated and reopened as an incubator for Black businesses and community hub. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — A former orphanage for Black children in Nova Scotia has been renovated and reopened as a community hub 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 sat empty following the orphanage's closure in 1978 until a local Black-led charity, Akoma Holdings Inc., launched a restoration effort in 2016.

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

Kinney Place will enhance the services available to the African Nova Scotian community and include an area of reflection and healing, she said. 

The institution became a symbol of the province’s ongoing struggle with racism and discrimination after former residents came forward with stories of neglect and abuse at the orphanage, sparking a public inquiry and an apology from the premier. 

"Today we reflect on the past 101 years of the building while looking towards the future," Mitchell said in a statement on Sunday. 

Kinney Place will include offices, a café and catering business and 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 meetings.

The building has additional space for businesses to lease.  

The refurbishment cost about $2.7 million, with funding mainly 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, a founder of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children and its first superintendent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2022.

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

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