African Nova Scotian activist Joan Jones has died.

Jones was in her 70s and worked for decades to fight for civil right in Canada. She was also one of the founders of Black History Month in Halifax.

Walter Borden, an actor and activist who has known Jones since 1965, confirmed she passed away on Monday.

“Joan was always behind the scenes, she did not like to be out front,” Borden told CBC News in a phone interview Monday night from Toronto.

“And so therefore, the public at large didn’t know that much about her but those of us in the movement and in the community knew that she was the glue that held everything together — everything.”

Jones and her husband at the time, Rocky, started The Nova Scotia Project — a social activism organization that tackled racial discrimination.

Joan Jones with her children from file video from the 1960s. (CBC)

“Rocky was the founder of that, but Joan was the power behind the throne — the queen of the movement as we called her — and she was to the organization and indeed to the civil rights struggle in Canada,” said Borden.

“Joan was the Angela Davis for us and it was so fitting she and Angela should meet a couple of months ago…. Those of us who had been there since the beginning understood how significant the two of them standing there together was.”

Davis is a well-known African-American civil rights activist who played an integral role in the Black Power movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jones, Borden said, played a powerful role behind the scenes. 

“Those of us who now have a profile, we all know that we got our learning at the round  table in Joan Jones’s kitchen and she was the one who was our biggest supporter, out biggest critic, our everything. She was behind it all,” he said. 

CBC News was unable to connect with anyone from Jones’ immediate family on Monday. 

Her son Augy posted a Facebook tribute to his mother, writing: “The strongest woman I have ever met. Everyday I see the influence Joan Jones had on my life. RIP.”

Borden said Jones’s family was like his second family. He said he lived with them for 25 years. When Jones passed away, he said her daughter called him to let him know.

“Because she knew, well, she just knew Joan and I were extremely close and really, the two of us were the only real remaining two from that original organization, really,” Borden said.

Borden said he was shocked to hear of Jones’s passing.

He had been in Halifax recently to be in Neptune Theatre’s production of Noises Off and had dinner with her.

During supper, Borden said he and Jones would talk about politics and social issues.

“It was just a normal thing to launch immediately into that area of our interest and have another round table conversation about all that was going on and how we viewed things. And that was just a couple of weeks ago,” Borden said.



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