Rocky Jones

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rocky Jones
Rocky Jones.jpg
Born(1941-08-26)August 26, 1941
DiedJuly 29, 2013(2013-07-29) (aged 71)
Known forStudents Union for Peace Action

Burnley Allan "Rocky" Jones (August 26, 1941 – July 29, 2013) was an African-Nova Scotian and an internationally known political activist in the areas of human rights, race and poverty. He rose to prominence first as a member of the Students Union for Peace Action (SUPA) during the 1960s and later as a successful lawyer.


Born to Elmer and Willena Jones in Truro, Nova Scotia as one of 10 children. His grandfather, Jeremiah Jones, was a hero during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I. Jones was a fifth-generation African Canadian and can trace his Canadian roots back to the late 18th century.

Civil Rights Movement[edit]

In March 1965, Jones joined the Students Union for Peace Action (SUPA) in a demonstration outside of the American Consulate in Toronto, Ontario. Shortly thereafter the media began to refer to him as "Rocky the Revolutionary", and he was often considered to be Canada's Stokely Carmichael. He was a leader with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and was responsible for bringing the Black Panther Party to Canada. Jones was a founding member of The Black United Front of Nova Scotia, National Black Coalition of Canada, Dalhousie University Transition Year Program (where he taught for 10 years), Dalhousie Law School Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq Program, African Canadian Liberation Movement, African Canadian Caucus of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Project to name a few. Along with his wife at the time, they formed Kwacha House; Eastern Canada's first inner-city self-help program for the culturally diverse, lower socio-economic population. Jones created the Black Historical and Educational Research Organization (HERO Project), a pioneering oral history project on Black culture.

Prisoner rights[edit]

A strong advocate of prisoners rights, Jones was involved in the establishment of the Black Inmates Association and the Native Brotherhood of Dorchester Penitentiary and Springhill Institution. Jones developed programs for women in the Kingston Prison for Women, Halifax County Correctional Centre and in the community. He developed a wilderness experience program for ex-inmates and oversaw two production companies also staffed by ex-inmates. Jones was the Executive Director of Real Opportunities for Prisoner Employment (ROPE), a self-help organization for ex-inmates.


In 1980, Jones ran unsuccessfully for the New Democratic Party in a Nova Scotia by-election for Halifax Needham.[1] At that time, he was one of the few known Black Canadian politicians. Jones was chairperson of the Popular People's Summit; An Alternative to the 1995 G7. Jones has had other roles with the New Democratic Party and in 2009 helped Lenore Zann with her successful campaign run for member of the legislative assembly.

Legal career[edit]

Jones received his law degree from Dalhousie University in 1992 and spent several years working with Dalhousie University Legal Aid before forming his own law firm, B.A. "Rocky" Jones & Associates. While at Dalhousie, he provided legal services and taught law students. Jones' firm concentrated on human rights cases, criminal, prisoner rights and labour law. Jones was particularly interested in human rights issues involving Black people and people of colour. He worked closely with the Aboriginal community on land claims, justice and educational issues and was a Canadian expert on environmental racism. In 1997 he successfully argued the groundbreaking case of R. v. R.D.S. before the Supreme Court of Canada. This case set a precedent for race related litigation and contextualized judging. Guelph University bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Laws to Jones in 2004.


Jones died of heart failure on July 29, 2013, at the age of 71.[2][3]


In August 2016, Fernwood Publishing released the autobiography Burnley “Rocky” Jones Revolutionary. Written by Dr. James St. G. Walker and Dr. Jones, it includes an afterword by Dr. George Elliott Clarke.

In September 2018, a petition was started by Angel Marcus Panag requesting Cornwallis Street in North End, Halifax be renamed to honour Rocky Jones.[4] The petition was signed by over 1,700 people, and presented to Halifax City Council by area Councillor Lindell Smith. [5]


  • Order of Nova Scotia
  • Meritorious Award of Excellence: The *Black United Front of Nova Scotia
  • Distinguished Service Award: The Canadian Association of Black Lawyers
  • H.Carl Goldenberg, Q.C. Award: Dalhousie University Law School
  • Hon. G.I. Smith Trust Award: Dalhousie University Law school
  • Founders Award: The Transition Year Program, Dalhousie University
  • Graduate Scholarship: Dalhousie University
  • Community Involvement Award: The National Black Coalition of Canada
  • Race Relations Committee Award: The Nova Scotia Barristers Society
  • Apex Community Award: Town of Truro
  • Honorary Doctorate of Laws: Guelph University
  • Wall of Honour: Nova Scotia Black Cultural Centre

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Return of By-elections for the House of Assembly 1980" (PDF). Elections Nova Scotia. 1980. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  2. ^ "Rocky Jones, lawyer and civil rights activist, dies at 71". CBC News. July 29, 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  3. ^ "Premier Stephen McNeil welcomes 16-member cabinet". The Chronicle Herald. July 29, 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  4. ^ Boon, Jacob. "Petition to rename Cornwallis Street delivered to city hall". The Coast Halifax. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  5. ^ "September 18, 2018 Halifax Regional Council Action Summary" (PDF). City of Halifax. Retrieved 27 November 2018.

External links[edit]