Black Washington events aim to connect the production team to black communities in Nova Scotia

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The showrunner of a television series based on Esi Edugyan’s novel Washington Black says filming in Nova Scotia over the past few months has made her feel like coming home.

Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, who is also the writer and executive producer of the Disney+ series, called Nova Scotia “one of the most beautiful places” he has ever photographed. He also said that the cast and crew particularly enjoyed the connections to local communities.

“To be able to touch and feel the black community in Nova Scotia here in a concrete way, which is such an important part of the book and an important part of the show,” he told CBC Radio. Information morning Friday.

“One day a barber cut my hair and just mentioned that his family had been here for 500 years.”

Listen to Selwyn Seyfu Hinds full interview with Portia Clark:

Information Morning – N.S.10:17End of production of Washington Black in N.S.

The novel Washington Black follows a young black man, George Washington Black – Wash for short – on an extraordinary series of adventures after fleeing his former life as a slave on a sugar cane plantation in Barbados.

Wash’s journey takes him all over the world, but one of his first stops is Nova Scotia.

The TV adaptation of Edugyan’s story began filming across the province in March, including locations in Lunenburg, The Ovens, Mount Uniacke and Halifax. Production is expected to wrap here next week.

Edugyan told CBC News in a recent interview that she wanted to show the complexities of black settlement in Nova Scotia.

Esi Edugyan is the author of Washington Black. (Radio Canada)

Wash’s character expects Nova Scotia to be a haven for him, given that Canada’s connection to slavery is the Underground Railroad’s last stop.

“He goes there expecting to find that he is fully accepted and welcomed,” says Edugyan, “and that ends up not being the case. He finds it to be a place of great grumbling.”

The migration of Black Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War made Shelburne, the town where Wash takes refuge in his book, the site of the largest colony of free blacks outside of Africa at the time.

However, due to the racism and discrimination faced by Black Loyalists, Shelburne is also where the first recorded race riots in Canada took place in 1784.

Will the black community benefit?

An open letter written by Shekara Grantfounding member of the Change is Brewing collective, and posted on Instagram in February, expressed concern that people are taking advantage of this difficult history without sharing the benefits or addressing the current issues facing the community the article is about. story.

Grant’s letter questions the inclusion and consultation of black Nova Scotians in the show’s production planning. She wrote that while it’s important to share their stories of historical inequality, the black community in South Shelburne still grapples with environmental racism.

Since 2016, a group called the South End Environmental Injustice Society (SEED) has been lobbying unsuccessfully for access to uncontaminated drinking water.

Left to right: actors Sterling K. Brown and Iola Evans, showrunner Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, Dwayne Provo of the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs, director Wanuri Kahiu and actor Ernest Kingsley Jr. (Adam Photography)

Asked about these concerns, Hinds said, “I wanted to be able to come into this community and make and leave a tangible difference as much as possible.”

Hinds said his crew hired black cast and crew from Nova Scotia. In order to engage and involve the community, the production organizes a series of events called Washington Black Talks.

“No amount of production can completely change the face of things, but I certainly think we were able to make a substantial impact here,” Hinds said.

The Washington Black Talks

Hinds said the events are open to the public and a chance to meet and have open conversations with himself, other black writers, actors and co-executive producer and star actor Sterling K. Brown.

While not exactly consulting events, he hopes direct access to black people making a living in Hollywood will make the dream more accessible to black Nova Scotians who are also interested in careers in the arts. ‘industry.

“[It’s] just talk to us about the community,” Hinds said. “I can tell you personally that my own path, what I’m doing now, didn’t see the light of day until I met a director, Mr. Reggie Hudlin, who looked like me. “

The next Washington Black Talks event will take place on Sunday, June 19 at the Black Cultural Center in Cherry Brook from 1-3 p.m. AT.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Being Black in Canada highlights stories about Black Canadians. (Radio Canada)

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