Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Eugene Anderson receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Carolyne Aremo, RN, at the first vaccine clinic in an African Nova Scotian community, in Upper Hammonds Plains, N.S., on April 8, 2021.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The parking lot at Emmanuel Baptist Church was overflowing on Thursday morning for the first time since the pandemic began.

But the people coming to the sprawling rural church outside Halifax weren’t here for prayer. They came for the COVID-19 vaccine, as part of a pilot project to better immunize the province’s African Nova Scotian community against the coronavirus.

Nova Scotia has enlisted the help of some of its historically Black churches to fight vaccine hesitancy among older African Nova Scotians, using pastors and community leaders to encourage people to get their shot. It’s fuelled in part by data out of the United States suggesting Black people are as much as three times more likely to be admitted to hospital with the virus.

Story continues below advertisement

Rev. Lennett Anderson, Emmanuel’s senior pastor, used his Sunday sermon and social-media channels to urge people to come to the church for the one-day clinic. The Association of Black Social Workers also called people directly, using census records, to book appointments for a community that sometimes mistrusts health officials because of racism or mistreatment they’ve experienced in the past, he said.

“There’s an apprehension, people are uneasy, because history plays a role,” Rev. Anderson explained. “So we’re trying to remove any barriers, any hindrances that people might have. We knew that people would feel more comfortable going into their own community.”

Tracking Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans: A continuing guide

Coronavirus tracker: How many COVID-19 cases are there in Canada and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

The clinic will move to a church in Cherry Brook, another predominantly Black community, next week. More vaccination clinics are planned at other African Nova Scotian communities later this month.

Rev. Anderson, whose church was established by Black refugees from the War of 1812, acknowledged not everyone is happy to see a clinic serving only one group of people. Nova Scotia has largely relied on pharmacists and doctors to administer its vaccines, and lags the rest of the country with fewer than 7 per cent of the population partly vaccinated.

To appease non-Black members of his congregation, the church tried to help others connect with pharmacies in the area offering the vaccine. But in a province where COVID-19 has largely been kept at bay – there are only 40 active cases and one person in hospital with the virus – there has been little public protest, he said.

“Our congregation is a mosaic, and we didn’t want to cause any offence, like ‘Why is there a clinic only for people of African descent?’” he said “But the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

In late February, Nova Scotia held its first of 13 vaccination clinics at Mi’kmaq communities around the province. The province’s top doctor says some racialized communities need to be approached differently because of inherent distrust in the health care system.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have heard from community leaders that for these reasons, there is mistrust of the vaccine in these communities,” Dr. Robert Strang said. “This is why it’s so important that the vaccine be offered in a culturally responsive way that takes the lived reality of African Nova Scotians into consideration.”

Debra Gannon, the project co-ordinator for the African Nova Scotian clinics, said the flow of people coming through the doors was “unbelievable.” More than 250 people, all 55 years old and over, were vaccinated on Thursday. Many more signed up for a waiting list.

“Having this clinic available, not just in this community but all the African-Nova Scotian communities, is certainly a great advantage to those who don’t have the opportunity to go to outside clinics, pharmacies or wherever the other clinics may be,” she said.

Dean Smith, who also volunteered to set up the clinic, was among those vaccinated at the church. He said the clinic and others like it will play an important role in protecting African-Nova Scotian communities, which have been “impacted disproportionately by COVID-19.” People trust their church, and that goes a long way, he said.

“Emmanuel Baptist Church is the bedrock of Hammonds Plains and a number of African-Nova Scotian communities in the surrounding area,” Mr. Smith said, while waiting in the recovery area. “So I think it’s a perfect opportunity for people to come to the church and to get their inoculation at the same time.”

Andrew Boudreau, a public-health nurse, was one of 10 vaccinators stationed at tables inside the church’s main sanctuary. He said he was proud to be part of a project to promote health equity, and said “it’s really special” to see how well people responded to the clinic.

Story continues below advertisement

Rev. Anderson, whose congregants helped stack chairs after their Easter Sunday service in anticipation of the crowds, said he expected a large turnout. But was stunned at what he saw when he walked inside the church.

“The energy in the building was electrifying,” the pastor said. “I was surprised to see how excited people were to get the vaccine. I thought there would be some uneasiness or some nervousness, but no. It was amazing.”

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies