Residents of North Preston, a community outside Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, are upset after a shocking description of their community appeared on a popular urban mobility app. While the description has been removed, many in the community say it should have never happened.
Halifax police are investigating a possible hate crime after receiving complaints about a smartphone app that used a racial slur to describe a predominantly Black community west of the city.
The Israel-based owners of the public transit app Moovit -- used by 50 million transit riders in 112 countries -- issued an apology Wednesday and removed the offensive description of North Preston, saying the use of the N-word was highly inappropriate and racist.
"It's absolutely inappropriate, and especially during these heightened times where anti-black racism is a big thing," says resident Shauna Crawley.
Prior to the change, users of the app wanting to catch a bus to the Preston area would be shocked to see the area referred to with a vulgar and highly offensive racial slur.
After being screenshotted and posted online, the description generated many complaints to Moovit, which quickly removed it.
In a statement, Moovit wrote, "We agree with you that this is highly inappropriate and racist content, and should not have happened. We deeply apologize."
The company went on to say it "uses external databases of addresses and points of interest, including ones that are crowdsourced and user generated (which is where this racist and false address came from came from.)"
Moovit says it doesn't tolerate racism and is taking steps to fix the problem.
In East Preston, the outrage is felt just as much.
"That's a terrible statement," says Rev. Joyce Ross, a local pastor who says the post is upsetting and hurtful – especially in 2021 during Black History Month.
"We worked hard. We've been here back in the 1700s; we built this area, this whole community, we built Citadel Hill," says Ross. "We've been doing a lot here. We have a history, and we are very proud of our history, and we don't need to take that stuff."
Meanwhile, Crawley says no space should be made for racism.
"It should never be tolerated, and I think there's a lot of complacency," says Crawley. "If you are not a person of colour, [that] you think these things don't happen; but on a day to day continuum, it happens to us."
Keith Colwell, the provincial politician who represents North Preston, says his constituents are outraged by an incident he described as on the "edges of a hate crime."
Colwell says he's hoping Halifax Regional Police will find the person responsible for posting the ugly slight.
With files from the Canadian Press.