May 21, 2021 , Halifax—Nova Scotia
Today marks a powerful and significant occasion for all Canadians of African Descent with the launch of a national petition to the House of Commons in the Parliament of Canada to see the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia designated a “National Black Cultural Centre and Museum”. “This historic day is the culmination of a dream to showcase more of Nova Scotia’s Black History and Culture “said retired Senator Donald Oliver who is leading the launch. “We established our provincial Black Cultural Society in May, 1977, and, once this petition is approved, all of our research and documentation will be shared through the Museum program with all of Canada”, he said.
Senator Oliver, CM ONS QC was instrumental in having the “Nova Scotia Society for the Protection and Preservation of Black Culture” launched as an Act of the Provincial Legislature, and he became the founding President and first Chair. The Centre was the longtime dream of his visionary brother Rev. Dr. W. P Oliver. With the ribbon cutting in 1983, the Centre became the first and largest cultural centre in Canada dedicated to the preservation of Black History and culture and the extensive Black Nova Scotia legacy in Canada.
Nova Scotia is the birthplace of Black Culture in Canada, with the arrival of Mathew de Costa in Annapolis Royal in 1608. Today we honour the legacy of the 52 historic black communities that can trace their origins to the 17th Century. Nova Scotia is home to the oldest and largest multi-generational indigenous Black Community that predates Confederation. The early migrations of the Black Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons, Refugees of the War of 1812 and other Caribbean Migrants who came to Nova Scotia, contributed to the rich, contemporary, diverse landscape of Canada.
Today we celebrate that important legacy and heritage through study and research revealing more of the incredible stories of Canadian trailblazers like William Hall, Marie-Joseph Angelique, Viola Desmond, Josiah Henson, Portia White, Rev. Richard Preston, Mattie Mayes, Elijah McCoy, Willie O’Ree, Rev. Dr. William A. White and the members of the No 2 Construction Battalion to name a few.
The Nova Scotia ‘Black Cultural Centre’, as it is commonly called, is a precious store house of important Canadian Historical documents that all speak to the rich cultural heritage Blacks have contributed to Canada. They include hundreds of original letters, diaries, photos, pottery, knitting, quilting, basket-weaving, mementoes, posters, pamphlets, videos, films, recordings, precious artifacts and rare paintings showing the road Nova Scotia Blacks took from Slavery.
“The designation of Nova Scotia’s Black Cultural Centre as a National Black Cultural Centre and Museum will enhance understanding of the history and contributions made by African Nova Scotians and African Canadians not only to our province but also to Canada and the world. This essential move will help expand the education about Black History, equity and the significance of Black culture.” – The Honourable Dr. Mayann E. Francis, ONS
“As Member of Parliament for several of Nova Scotia’s historic black communities, including the Preston Townships, it has been truly inspiring to witness the impact the Black Cultural Centre has had on Nova Scotia and, in fact, Canada. The Centre has been a leader in telling the rich and vibrant stories of African Nova Scotians and African Canadians as well as promoting the impact these communities have had on the history of our province and country. Now more than ever, Canada needs to have a national museum dedicated to the Protect, Preserve and Promote the history and culture of Black Canadians, and I can think of no other organization that could better achieve this than the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.
It has been an honour working with the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, to achieve their goal of designating the Centre as a National Black Cultural Centre and Museum. I am proud to sponsor this petition in the House of Commons and look forward to seeing the tremendous impact the Centre will have on the national stage.” –Darrell Samson, Member of Parliament: Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook
“To have the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia recognized as a National Museum, is a testament to the vision across several years of Preserving and Protecting a vital and important part of Canada’s great History. I congratulate the petitioners” – Dr. Wayne Adams, CM, ONS, Founding Member
“Adding our African-Nova Scotian voice within Canada’s museum system will enhance how we portray and explore Canada’s complex story. “ – Dr. Les Oliver, Former Board Chair
The Designation of a National Black Cultural Centre and Museum is an important action in deepening Canada’s commitment toward eliminating anti-Black racism in our society and recognizing the contributions of Black Canadians, both past and present. It also celebrates the UN Decade for the People of African Descent, providing a greater understanding of a diverse culture in an inspiring way.
I am strongly urging all Canadians to support this important cause and support the House of Commons, Public Petition: e-3345.
About Black Cultural Society / Centre for Nova Scotia
The Society for the Protection and Preservation of Black Culture in Nova Scotia (better known as the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia) was incorporated as a charitable organization as an act of provincial legislation in 1977. The Society has provincial Board of Directors, made up of representatives from various Black communities throughout Nova Scotia. The Centre is funded in part by the Government of Nova Scotia.
The genesis of the Black Cultural Centre lay in a proposal put forward in 1972 by Reverend Dr. William Pearly Oliver for the creation of a Cultural Educational Centre to meet the needs and aspirations of the Black Communities of Nova Scotia.
The sod-turning ceremony took place on April 24, 1982. Seventeen months later, on September 17, 1983, the Centre officially opened as a provincially mandated Museum and Cultural Centre. Many events have taken place at the Centre, such as cultural portrayals in the form of music, plays, concerts, as well as educational activities in the form of workshops, lectures and guided tours. Programs of the Black Cultural Centre extend beyond its doors to the broader community of Nova Scotia. This outreach is achieved through cultural events across Nova Scotia.
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