“I can’t imagine not raising my kids here,” says Miranda Cain, founder of North Preston’s Future organization. “It’s so close-knit, and people here help each other. I want my children to learn from this place.”
Cain started the group to harness the energy of youth, and to showcase the spirit and culture of this historic African Nova Scotian community on the outskirts of Dartmouth.
And that youthful energy is why Clean partnered with North Preston’s Future to help spread the word about HomeWarming, a program that helps lower-income homeowners in Nova Scotia save money on heating bills, feel more comfortable year-round, and reduce their carbon footprint.
This past summer, youth working with the organization went door-to-door, helping seniors cut their grass, picking up litter, hosting events for kids, and letting people know about programs such as HomeWarming. The youth covered North Preston, and also nearby East Preston and Cherrybrook.
Nova Scotia Power, a sponsor of HomeWarming along with the province of Nova Scotia, offered honoraria to supplement the employment grants that Cain received, so more youth could get out there and help the community. “In addition to the random acts of kindness they did, the youth also learned transferable skills and gained confidence,” adds Miranda.
“I learned a lot,” agrees Alondrea Johnston, one of the youth employed this summer. “And I think all the youth got leadership experience, learned patience, and got to show the positive side of youth in this community.”
The portrayal of North Preston in the media has been a source of frustration for many. “We’re usually in the media because of crime or negativity,” says Cain. “It’s so frustrating. When bad things happen in other communities you don’t paint everyone with the same brush, but that’s what happens here. People outside of the community don’t see how welcoming it is, how it’s a beautiful place to raise a family. As Canada’s largest Black community, we’re part of Canada’s history.”
“We’re not in North Preston because it’s lower income on average than other communities – it’s not – or because the need is greater than other communities,” says Sean Kelly, managing coordinator of marketing for Clean Foundation. “We worked with North Preston’s Future because we recognize that historically, communities such as this one can be overlooked. “
Everyone has the right to be comfortable in our homes, regardless of income. Clean Foundation and Efficiency Nova Scotia work together on HomeWarming to offer low-income Nova Scotians no-charge energy efficiency improvements that can help them feel more comfortable while reducing heating and power bills.
And these upgrades are provided at no cost to qualifying homeowners thanks to the support of Nova Scotia Power and the Government of Nova Scotia. Clean works on the electrically heated homes while Efficiency Nova Scotia looks after non-electrically heated homes.
Upgrades like improving insulation and draft-proofing can help keep a home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. And since heating and cooling make up around 60 percent of energy costs, reducing these bills can make other household expenses more manageable
“HomeWarming is for all Nova Scotian communities, including North Preston,” says Clean’s Sean Kelly. “This isn’t charity, it’s an investment in the province.”