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BEHIND THE SCENES: James Russell refuses to give up despite ending hunger strike

Niagara-On-The-Lake Local reporter Mike Balsom takes us behind the scenes
James Russell, a 76-year-old film producer from Toronto, had planned to stay chained to a plaque at the Negro Burial Ground in Mississauga Street, Canada, until Saturday. He wanted Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa to promise to restore the headstones buried at the site. Russell had contracted Archaeological Research Associates to work up a quote for the work, which was estimated to cost $59,000. However, a family emergency led him to rethink his plan and he ended his hunger strike on Tuesday evening, having attached himself to the plaque at noon the day before.
Although Russell was disappointed, he felt positive that the town would move forward with the restoration, and said he would return if the motion was not discussed at that evening's council meeting. Despite this, the town issued a press release stating that it is committed to restoring and preserving the burial ground in partnership with the community group Friends of the Forgotten.
Russell had been campaigning for over a year to have the headstones lifted and restored so that the graves of black parishioners of the old Baptist Church could be marked. He believes this will restore the dignity of those buried there.  
Video Summary:

James Russell, a 76-year-old Toronto film producer, has ended his sit-in hunger strike in Niagara-on-the-lake, where he was fighting to restore the burial ground. Russell had stumbled upon the site back in 1985 while covering a water quality issue, and since then, he had been fighting to restore the cemetery to its former glory. He hired a company to do the ground penetrating radar that found 28 potential caskets and 19 potential headstones buried under the ground. However, the town council has no budget for the restoration project.

The group Friends of the Forgotten wants to create a park-like setting with a memorial to those people who have been buried there. Russell, on the other hand, feels that it has to return to its former glory as a cemetery. He wants to see the headstones up and dedicated to the people whose graves they marked. He is also not happy with the fundraising effort from the general public. Some people have supported him, while others have not. The battle lines have been drawn, and some people feel that he is doing this for a film project.

The restoration involves compliance from several bodies, including guidelines from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, and Tourism and the Funeral, Burials, and Cremation Services Act. The town has been speaking with the BAO, the bereavement authority of Ontario, who oversees any changes to cemeteries.