The Jordantown Acaciaville Conway Betterment Association (JACBA), formerly known as, Acaciaville- Conway Betterment (ACBA) is a non-proﬁt organization since its incorporation in 1973. The founding members, George Barton, Gertrude Langford, Bevis Miller, Hubert Johnson, Evelyn Miller, Robert Robinson and Imogene Barton, organized the Acaciaville-Conway Betterment Association, to address inequalities of the Black Communities, regarding, employment, housing, education and lack of social activities.
The Directors utilized the former segregated school building in Conway as their base of operation; the building was closed in 1961. They held programs such as educational upgrading, sewing classes, summer school Head-Start program, talent shows, public health services such as immunization to promote health and wellness, community dances and bazaars. The Betterment (aka), applied for housing and building repair grants which employed members of the community including development of the Gerald Barton Freeman Barton Memorial Park.
The Seniors and Youth Social (SAYS) program offered a successful and well attended educational and relationship building program through cultural, social, spiritual and recreational activities as well as opportunities for socializing and working with Youth.
JACBA hosts a Veteran Commemoration Luncheon recognizing Black Veterans from our Community. We also, participate in the Town of Digby Veteran Day Ceremony, placing wreaths in honour of our Fallen Soldiers. An application for a Cenotaph has been completed and will be placed at the Community Centre upon completion.
For Canada 150, JACBA hosted the 4th Community Reunion, with attendance of over 200 past and present Community members from across Canada and USA.
While this was a time to look to the future and to celebrate our past, we couldn’t overlook a history where racial equality was not our reality.
JACBA has a Board of Directors representing the African Nova Scotian and the broader communities of Digby. Our meetings are opened with prayer & libation honouring our ancestors and recognizing our children as our future. JACBA’s objectives are to develop education and recreational programs to both our youth and seniors.
JACBA has signed a memorandum of understanding with Acadia University, Université Sainte-Anne and Nova Scotia Community College. We want our children to have a quality education, our youth to have pride in their culture and our adults to be productive, contributing members of Canadian Society.
In the future, JACBA anticipates beginning construction of our community centre. It will be open to the wider community in the Digby area as well as tourists, speciﬁcally those from the eastern coast of the United States and the Continents of Africa and Europe. It will symbolize how each culture contributes to making an inclusive and prosperous community.
Located in Digby County, the communities of Jordantown, Acaciaville, and Conway have a rich cultural heritage dating back to the days of the Black Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia after the American War of Independence. Our history is the subject of the Lawrence Hill bestselling novel “Book of Negroes”.
The Black Loyalists and the Black Pioneers make up one of the four founding cultures in Digby County. In 2014, the ACBA added Jordantown to the name to become JACBA; this now included the three Black Communities in the Digby area. It has always supported the Black community of Jordantown-Acaciaville-Conway since its beginning.
The Story of a Remarkable Man
Thomas Peters was a fugitive slave originally from Nigeria, Africa. In 1776 he left Wilmington, North Carolina and joined the all black regiment called the Black Pioneers. He fought on the side of the British in the American War of Independence and with his excellent leadership ability, achieved the rank of sergeant.
He received rations from the government for a time, but he could not secure farmland and moved to Saint John, N.B. Unfortunately, the Black Loyalists did not fare any better there, and the very articulate Peters became their representative and advocate. In 1792, 1,192 Black Loyalists from Digby, Annapolis and Saint John, led by Peters, left Halifax on a government ship bound for Sierra Leone, Africa.
In Sierra Leone, Peters is considered a hero for his contributions to the founding of the country. In 2011, a statue in his honour was erected in Freetown.
In 1783, the Black Pioneers were among the Loyalists transported from New York to Nova Scotia. Peters became a resident of Brindley Town, near Conway (later to become Digby).