Truro's Rocky Jones remembered as pillar in his community

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Rocky Jones received the Order of Nova Scotia in 2010. Jones, a social activist, died on Monday after suffering a heart attack.

TRURO - His nickname was Rocky - sometimes simply ‘the Rock' - and for many among Nova Scotia's impoverished minority communities he stood as a solid pillar in the fight for racial equity.

Burnely (Rocky) Allan Jones, who grew up on the corner of Ford and Cross streets in Truro died Monday night of a heart attack. He was 71.

"The Jones family, they've always been a pillar," said Truro councillor Raymond Tynes, who grew up in the same neighbourhood and continues to live across the street from the site of Jones's boyhood home.

"But I remember Rocky when it was really rough here in Truro. He promoted black pride and that opened a lot of doors."

Jones was the fourth eldest in a family of 10 children who received a strict Christian upbringing and grew up to become a well-known lawyer and civil rights activist.

A graduate of Dalhousie law school, Jones was a strong advocate for minority and human rights in general. He set up his own law firm in Halifax and devoted his time to criminal and labour law while also fighting for social reform in the areas of education, employment, justice and housing.

Jones became renowned for community leadership and for changing the lives of many Mi'kmaq and African Canadians. He was also a strong believer that African Canadians need to work together for change, and to that end Jones helped establish the Black United Front of Nova Scotia and the National Black Coalition of Canada.

He also helped create two Dalhousie University programs - the Transition Year Program and the Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq Initiative.

In 2010, he was awarded the Order of Nova Scotia, the province's top honour.

"What I liked about Rocky is that he opened the eyes up of all Nova Scotians and then took our case outside of Nova Scotia, which helped give support," Tynes said. "It's a tough loss ... He's going to be remembered for a lot of things but what's important to not just the black community, but everybody, is what we do with what he gave us. That's what's going to be important."

"Rocky was a great man," said his older sister Marie (Jones) Francis, 74.

But coming from a large, close-knit, but humble family, he held no more of a special place among her siblings than anyone else, she said.

"He was one of the family and he didn't have a special pedestal within the family."

At least while he was alive.

"We realize more and more now how special and distinct and different our family was and the love that flowed through," Francis said.

 

Organizations: United Front, National Black Coalition of Canada, Dalhousie University Order of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: TRURO, Nova Scotia, Ford Halifax Nova Scotians

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