St Catharines woman spearheads drive to replace Harriet Tubman bust at Salem Chapel

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Published October 15, 2021 at 1:40 pm

A St Catharines woman, who was awarded a Niagara Impact Award by the region back in June, is spearheading a Go Fund Me to replace the damaged bust of famed freedom fighter Harriet Tubman at the Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church.

Natasha Bell, best known locally as the owner-operator of BlackOwned905, a site that steers people toward black-owned businesses, started the Go Fund Me yesterday (October 14), hoping to replace the broken Tubman bust with a more durable bronze one at a cost of $13,000.

In less than a day, St Catharines residents have responded in kind, already donating over $2,300.

The crime, which happened on Thanksgiving weekend, was initially seen as a  racially-motivated attack. However, after watching a video and then catching the suspect, a 24-year-old transient man with no fixed address, Niagara Police now suspect it was just random vandalism.

However, Bell is bound and determined to see Tubman’s bust replaced for a couple of reasons. One, she’s a member of the Salem Chapel BME church. And two, she is a descendant of an Underground Railroad freedom seeker, the cause for which Tubman is best-known.

In her Go Fund Me, Bell said, “I am saddened and sickened that the bust of Harriet Tubman that has graced the church courtyard for 10 years was destroyed. And I know many of you are too.”  

“We can all agree that it was a senseless act of vandalism. Because of this senseless act, the church no longer has the Harriet Tubman statue the members and community were proud of and once cherished.”

At the pace it’s going, it seems likely the drive will reach its $13,000 goal by sometime next week and Bell can then spearhead the work to get a more durable bronze statue onto Salem Chapel property.

When Niagara Region honoured her with a Niagara Impact Award in June, it said that she has taken “remarkable steps to help enrich our community by supporting diversity and black-owned businesses across Niagara.”

Noting she’s been nominated numerous times, the region added, “Natasha’s positive and constructive outlook has helped to make Niagara a more welcoming and inclusive community, while also putting a spotlight on black business owners who have persevered and prospered in the face of adversity and systemic prejudice.”

If you’d like to see Bell’s Go Fund Me page, the direct link is: https://www.gofundme.com/f/replace-harriet-tubman-statue-at-salem-chapel?utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet+spider1c&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer

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