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Sharing the History and Culture of African Nova Scotians

This year’s African Heritage Month provincial theme, Our History is YOUR History, recognizes the unique history of African Nova Scotians and how it is interwoven with the past, present and future of all Nova Scotians.  Our theme also aligns with the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (DPAD). The goal of DPAD is to strengthen global cooperation in support of people of African descent as they strive for full inclusion in all aspects of society.

Nova Scotia has over 50 historic African Nova Scotian communities with a long, deep and complex history dating back over 200 years. African Heritage Month provides us with another opportunity to celebrate our culture, legacy, achievements and contributions of our people – past and present.

When we all acknowledge and understand the truth of our province’s shared history, we can all look to the future with confidence and optimism.

From the beginning

The commencement of African Heritage Month is traced back to 1926. Harvard-educated Black historian, Carter G. Woodson, founded Negro History Week to recognize the achievements made by African Americans.

Woodson purposefully chose February because of the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln who were both key figures in the emancipation of enslaved Blacks.  In 1976, Negro History Week was expanded to Black History Month before being celebrated in Canada in early 1950.

Black History Month in Canada

For over the past decades, contributions of African-Canadians have been acknowledged informally, however Nova Scotia has set a path for Canada’s recognition of African Heritage Month. Our province has been a leader in the promotion and recognition of our African heritage to our country.  Some efforts of Nova Scotia include: 

  • 1985 – The “official” opening night of Black History Month at the North Branch Library
  • 1987 – First meeting of the Black History Month Association
  • 1988 – First Black History Month in Nova Scotia
  • 1996 – Black History Month renamed to African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia

We believe some of these efforts have influenced our country to take action on a national level:

  • 1995 – The House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month following a motion introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament.
  • 2008 – The Senate officially declared February as Black History Month by Nova Scotia Senator Donald Oliver, Q.C., the first Black man appointed to the Senate.  His motion was the final parliamentary procedure needed for Canada’s permanent recognition of Black History Month.

About the African Heritage Month Information Network

The African Heritage Month Information Network (AHMIN) is a partnership between the Black Cultural Society, African Nova Scotian Affairs, African Nova Scotian Music Association, African Nova Scotian North-Central Network, African Heritage Month Southwest Network, Africville Heritage Trust, Black Educators Association, Black History Month Association, Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association, Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association, Halifax Regional Municipality’s African Nova Scotian Integration Office, and Guysborough, Antigonish Strait African Regional Network.

Each year, we produce an educational poster that is distributed and displayed in community gathering centers, schools, churches, government offices and businesses. Those interested in ordering a copy, please visit www.bccns.com/ahmposter.

The AHMIN also facilitates African Heritage Month events and municipal proclamations across the province. A full listing is available at http://www.ansa.novascotia.ca/african-heritage-month.

For more information about African History Month, please contact:

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

Phone: (902) 434-6223

Email: contact@bccns.com

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