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Nova Scotia’s first black lieutenant-governor claims province is still racist

N.S. in denial on racial profiling, first black lieutenant-governor says

Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis inspects the guard at the opening of Nova Scotia legislature in Halifax on March 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis inspects the guard at the opening of Nova Scotia legislature in Halifax on March 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s first black lieutenant-governor says the province is in a state of denial when it comes to racial profiling, saying she has often been the victim of “shopping while black” since she left her viceregal post four years ago.

Mayann Francis says she decided to speak out this week after Nova Scotia-based grocery chain Sobeys Inc. announced it will appeal a human rights inquiry decision that found one of its Halifax stores discriminated against a black customer.

Francis, who served as CEO of the rights commission until she was appointed lieutenant-governor in 2006, says hearing about the case of Andrella David motivated her to attend a protest outside a Sobeys store and talk publicly about her experiences.

Francis says steadfast denial has been a part of Nova Scotia’s long history of racism, which is why racial profiling continues to be a problem.

She says it’s not unusual for her to be constantly “shadowed” by staff when she enters a store in Nova Scotia, an unsettling experience that has prompted her to avoid some merchants and be wary of what she is carrying.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil also weighed in on the issue today, saying it’s intolerable that any citizen should face discrimination in 2016.

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