Irvine Carvery was born in Africville into a large family who were landowners and community leaders.
As a young boy he enjoyed berry picking, swimming, fishing and boats on the picturesque shores of Bedford Basin, but this all ended abruptly when his family along with many other Africville residents was forcibly removed and relocated by the city into public housing. This event had a powerful impact on the young lad of 13 and he would spend many, many years of his life trying to right the wrong that had been done to his community. As he went to school at QEH and St. Mary’s and Dalhousie and worked at Canada Post and later managing rental apartments, he forged ahead with the struggle for social justice.
Married to his wife Monica for many years, as a father and now a grandfather, he volunteered countless hours in community work, notably as President of the Africville Genealogy Society. He has been described as focused and relentless but also as an optimist, who worked with many volunteers and met with many politicians and community leaders to make the case for action.
Irvine was one of the most successful basketball coaches in Nova Scotia high school basketball, and is a builder of the sport at the YMCA and in the community. He says that sports helped him see the potential in people and the results that can come from teamwork and hard work. Sports was there, as was family to keep him positively motivated even when it seemed there would never be an acceptable resolution to the Africville struggle.
But the hard work of many people did come to a positive solution, when all three levels of government agreed to fund the reconstruction of the Seaview Baptist Church on its original site and the opening of the Africville Museum. Africville is now a park available to all people in Halifax and when the apology from HRM was made and accepted and the church and museum were opened. Irvine at last could remember himself as a 13 year old boy who saw his father’s life disrupted forever, and realize that his own life’s work to win social justice had successfully brought about a meaningful resolution.
His success at bringing a fractious school board, showing he could make a difference inside large organizations. He saw that there is a place for focus, determination, and optimism in government, and he is committed to make a major contribution to Nova Scotia and the people of Preston-Dartmouth.