The population of the town of North Preston, Nova Scotia try to clear up their reputation as a haven of sex traffickers and drug dealers in This is North Preston. North Preston is a small community with a population of 4000, located outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The town is historically Canada’s largest black community, being a safe haven for escaped slaves, who entered Canada through the Underground Railroad. However, in recent times, the community has gained the reputation for harboring sex traffickers and drug dealers, though those who live in North Preston have a different story to tell.
This is North Preston is a documentary designed to tell the story of Canada’s largest black community from the point of those who live there. The film’s primary subject is aspiring singer Justin “Just Change” Smith, who had left life on the streets for a career in music. The population of North Preston try to explain that the crime in the town doesn’t define who they are as people, with the positive aspects never being reported by the media.
With This is North Preston, director Jaren Hayman has the challenge of trying to provide an objective examination of North Preston and the reputation that the town has gained to outsiders. This includes some ethical grey areas, such as interviewing a wanted criminal, who is shown wearing sunglasses and a bandanna. Then there is the fact that This is North Preston also at times seems like a platform for Justin Smith to promote his music career, which includes some music video like lip-syncing sequences. While, I’m sure this is to illustrate the success story of someone from the town, it does end up somewhat overshadowing the larger issue of systemic racism and North Preston’s poor reputation to the outside world.