GIBSON WOODS – A former segregated school in rural Kings County will soon be transformed into an educational tourism destination.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is committing $69,770 in Innovative Communities Fund cash in support of renovations at the Gibson Woods United Baptist Church. Funding has also been allotted for land improvements to the Mathieu Da Costa African Heritage Trail.
“It is a pleasure to recognize the community spirit, passion and leadership exemplified by Geraldine Browning and other community members who are volunteering their time to honour African Nova Scotians’ rich contributions to the province and country,” said President of the Treasury Board and Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison in a press release Feb. 7.
“The entire region will benefit from the positive impacts of their commitment to transform the historical setting of Gibson Woods United Baptist Church into a tourism destination for visitors and residents alike.”
An Order of Nova Scotia recipient in 2017, Browning has been a tireless advocate for the African Nova Scotian community in Gibson Woods - and beyond. Her list of accolades continues to grow as puts knowledge gained through such experiences as being a founding member of the Black Business Initiative, Black Cultural Society and Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association to use.
Browning’s thrilled to see her beloved church, established in 1902, recognized for its cultural significance.
“Gibson Woods United Baptist Church’s goal is to strengthen the legacy of the historic and culturally significant African Nova Scotian community of Gibson Woods. We are excited to improve the standard of this community space and expand its public use for cultural, tourism and economic development activities. This aligns with the global observance of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent,” said Browning in a prepared statement.
The provincial Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage is on board for offering an additional $40,000 in funding, and the Municipality of the County of Kings is contributing $14,512.
“This investment is indicative of the value that the investing partners, including the Municipality of Kings, place on our history and culture, here, in this place,” said Kings County Mayor Peter Muttart in the Feb. 7 press release circulated by ACOA.
“The project enables us to freeze a moment in time. All such projects are placemarks in our history as a people. We celebrate that; and we acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Gibson Woods community in bringing this initiative forward.”