African Heritage Month

The commemoration of African Heritage Month can be traced back to 1926 when Harvard-educated Black historian, Carter G. Woodson, founded Negro History Week to recognize the achievements of African Americans. Woodson purposefully chose February for the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, both key figures in the emancipation of enslaved Blacks. In 1976, as part of the American Bicentennial celebrations, Negro History Week was expanded to Black History Month.  

The vast contributions of African-Canadians to Canadian society have been acknowledged informally since the early 1950s. However, Nova Scotia, particularly the Halifax Region, has been a leader in the promotion and awareness of African Heritage Month. Highlights of the development of Black History Month in Canada through the efforts of Nova Scotian trailblazers include the following:  

  • 1985   First “official” Opening Night for Black History Month (January 29) at the Halifax 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

It is important to note that Nova Scotia and the Black History Month Association set the path for Canada in the recognition of African Heritage Month. Further, the significance of this influence as one of national proportion in the following occurrences compels recognition: 

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

Source: Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs/ African Heritage Month Information Network

(The dates below reflect events happening in 2020.)

Saturday February 1st, 2020

Young African Nova Scotians Leading Through Excellence

3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Halifax North Memorial Public Library; 2285 Gottingen St; Halifax

Organized By: ONE North End

The upcoming African Heritage Month event combines the opportunity to mingle, network and hear from young African Nova Scotians paving the way in their professional fields. Join us on the first Saturday of this celebratory month as we hear from and lift up youth in the community pursuing leadership roles in fields that have historically left out African Nova Scotian voices.

Everyone is welcome to attend, including little ones. The gathering will start with light food and the chance to speak with organizations that support young people pursuing careers in music, health, politics and other fields. We will then hear from a panel of young African Nova Scotians on professional paths that have been paved by those who came before them.

Please join us to celebrate the past and present of young African Nova Scotians leading through excellence while we create space to hear from organizations that want to support future leaders in the community.

Dr. Cinera States, Psychiatry Resident
Bradley Daye, Co-Founder, Placemaking 4G
Reeny Smith, Singer & Songwriter
Councillor Lindell Smith, HRM, District 8

Contact Information:

Jalana Lewis

Sunday February 2nd, 2020

African Catholic Mass

3:00 pm

St. Thomas more Parish; 15 Caledonia Road; Dartmouth NS

Organized By: St. Martin de Porres - African Catholic CommSunity

We are the community of St Martin de Porres - people of the African diaspora living in Nova Scotia that celebrate a monthly Catholic Mass rooted in African traditions.  We will have a moment of silence to remember our African ancestors who were lost at sea and for those who survived the trans atlantic slave trade.

Enjoy a fantastic music ministry with an African choir and musicians playing African rhythms. 

Beware you may want to dance.

Reception to follow.

Follow us on Facebook - @africancatholic (African Catholic Mass- HRM)

Contact Information:

Lisa Dennis
(902) 580-7342

Monday February 3rd, 2020

African Heritage Month 2020 : Focus on Us
Flag Raising and Launch

12:00 – 1:30pm

Atrium, LeMarchant Place Atrium

Everyone is welcome to join Dalhousie University in commemorating African Heritage Month 2020.

Black Student Advising Centre African Heritage Month Event

5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

McInnis Room, Dalhousie Student Union
6136 University Ave, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Join BSAC as they celebrate 30 plus years as the "Home Away from Home" for all students of African Descent through a story line event with Dr. Renee Horton who has excelled in her career despite going through many obstacles in her journey. She graduated with a Ph.D. in Material Science with a concentration in Physics from the University of Alabama as the first African American to receive this degree. Dr. Horton serves as a NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Quality Engineer at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans. Throughout her academic career, Dr. Horton, has received numerous accolade and awards including the Black Engineer of the Year Trailblazer Award in 2011. Dr. Horton will be sharing her story of success, challenges and future aspirations to our students to encourage them in their educational journey. Join us for an evening of empowerment while celebrating BSAC's many years supporting black student success!

Topic: The Power of Believing in Yourself: Reflections of a Rocket Scientist

Speaker: Dr. Renee Horton

Moderator: Quenta Adams

Entertainment: Eriana Willis-Smith, Lyris Daye and more!

Refreshments will be served

Making It Count: Assessing the Impact of the Decade for People of African Descent on Policy in Nova Scotia.

5:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building, 6135 University Ave, Halifax

This panel will feature experts from the African Canadian community who will discuss the N.S. government's Count Us In report and its implications on policy-making efforts in Nova Scotia.

Free public event featuring:


  • Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, James Robinson Johnson Chair for Black Canadian Studies


  • Wayn Hamilton, Chief Executive Officer for the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs
  • El Jones, Poet and Activist
  • Lindell Smith, City Councillor for District 8, Halifax Regional Municipality
  • Crystal Watson, PhD candidate and Executive Director of Recreation Nova Scotia

In 2014, the UN declared the years 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent.  In 2017, the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent visited Nova Scotia as a part of their report on the welfare of Black communities in Canada. The Working Group found that, in this province, people of African descent are still suffering from the historical and contemporary effects of racism, segregation and discrimination. This report, combined with the advocacy of community groups including the DPAD Coalition led to the Prime Minister and the Premier acknowledging the Decade. Both federal and provincial governments committed to addressing anti-Black racism.

Nova Scotia is the first province in the country to release a policy framework designed to respond to the Working Group's report. With the release of Count Us In, Nova Scotia's Action Plan for the Decade for People of African Descent, the province has an opportunity to embark on a critical conversation about the best policy approaches to address anti-Black racism and discrimination.

This event is hosted by the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance with support from the Dalhousie Black Students Advising Centre, The Dalhousie Community of Black Students in Nursing and The Health Association of African Canadians.



Wednesday February 5th, 2020

Exhibition Opening: Jamaican Nova Scotia Connections

6:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21; 1055 Marginal Rd; Halifax

Organized By: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Join us for the opening to see the new exhibition, enjoy presentations about the history of the Jamaican community in Nova Scotia, sample Jamaican food and hear musical performances.

Jamaican Nova Scotian Connections: From the Maroons to the Present Day is a Community Presents exhibit by the Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia. This special exhibition explores the growth and contributions of the oldest Jamaican community in Canada.

Contact Information:

Beatrice Houston Gilfoy
(902) 425-7770

“Reparations!” Exploring a Basis for a Claim

6:30 PM to 9:30 PM

Halifax North Memorial Public Library; 2285 Gottingen Street; Halifax

Organized By: Halifax Public Library

Community leaders Lynn Jones, Dr. Rachel Zellars, and guests explore the basis for a Reparations claim, through their research, activism, and materials from the Lynn Jones African Nova Scotian and Diaspora Heritage Collection.

Sponsored by the Department of Social Justice and Community Studies (Saint Mary's University) in partnership with Global African Congress-NS Chapter

Contact Information:

Heather MacKenzie
(902) 490-6789


Friday February 7th, 2020

Turning Passion Into A Profession 2

9:30 AM TO 12:30 PM

Paul O’Regan Hall; Halifax Central library; 5440 Spring Garden Road; Halifax

Organized By: Teens Now Talk

African Nova Scotian Guest speakers come together for the 2nd Turning Passion into a Profession event. The innovative and powerful Youth African Heritage Month event. Designed to truly empower, enhance, engage and inspire grade 9-12 students of African and Indigenous heritage.


Contact Information:

Jessica Bowden
(902) 492-2474 ext 1

Saturday February 8th, 2020

2020 Black History Month cultural Activities and Dinner

6:30 PM to 11:30 PM

Rosary Hall; Mount Saint Vincent University; 166 Bedford Hwy; Halifax

February is Black history month, the significant of this event goes beyond heritage celebration; it is a month for celebrating inclusion and diversity.

During the two world wars and other wars, Canadians of African descent volunteered to serve, defend and protect Canada, some of them paid the greatest sacrifices to keep the democracy you and I are enjoying today in this country and elsewhere. At the end of these wars, they were denied the heroism recognition bestowed to their anglophone and francophone counterparts, those that were lucky to return home alive were excluded from the victory parades organized to appreciate and recognize their service to our country.

AFACS is marking the 2020 Black History Month with activities on Saturday February 8, 2020 at the Rosaria Hall, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax. This event will honor and showcase the activities of African Canadians me]n and women that served during the wars. The activities include historical presentation, cultural performances and full course dinner.

Highlights for the night include percussion performance by Master Drummer Amadou Kienou and the Djeli Sira group and Conquerors for Christ of North Preston

Contact Information:

George Mbamalu
(902) 210-0447, or (902) 462-4350

Robert Edokpayi
(902) 292-2973

Event cost: $40.00

Monday February 10th, 2020

Taste and Learn: Foods to Celebrate African Heritage Month

10:30 AM to 12:00 PM

Community Room Sobeys Extra Tantallon; 3650 Hammonds Plains Road; Upper Tantallon

Organized By: Sobeys Dietitians

Explore the flavours of African Nova Scotian Heritage. Learn how to make traditional foods healthier and some history of food in African Nova Scotian communities.

Watch a cooking demo and sample "Curried Chicken" as featured in the Pioneer Cookbook (Upper Hammonds Plains) and Creating Good Food Cookbook (Black Social Workers) Taught by Sobeys Dietitian Jennalle Butcher, RD

Contact Information:

Jennalle Butcher
(902) 826-9122

Additional Information:

Free cooking-demonstration class - please register in advance to reserve your seat as spaces are limited to 16 participants.

Thursday February 13th, 2020

Beyond Striving to Thriving: Helping African Nova Scotians Succeed in Education

6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Halifax North Memorial Public Library; 2285 Gottingen Street; Halifax

Parents, educators, students, and life long learners have been invited by the ALI to sit as a panel and discuss what is needed to nurture academic, cultural, and personal success for African Nova Scotian learners in public educational institutions.

Presented by TD and in partnership with the

Africentric Learning Institute (ALI).

Contact Information:

Heather MacKenzie
(902) 490-6789

Tuesday February 18th, 2020

I Want To Make Myself: Evelyn White on Toni Morrison’s Sula

7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Halifax North Memorial Public Library; 2285 Gottingen St; Halifax

Organized By: Halifax Public Libraries

In celebration of Toni Morrison (1931-2019), Haliax writer and official biographer of Alice Walker, Evelyn C. White will discuss Sula, Toni Morrison's 1973 novel about the complex friendship between two Black women.

Contact Information:

Heather MacKenzie
(902) 490-6789

Canada’s Storytellers: Esi Edugyan

7:00-9:00 PM

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21; 1055 Marginal Rd; Halifax

Organized By: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

In honour of African Heritage Month, we welcome internationally acclaimed Canadian author Esi Edugyan to speak about her experience writing the Giller Prize-winning novel, Washington Black and answer your questions. Book sale and signing to follow.

Space is limited. Registration is required:

Contact Information:

Beatrice Houston Gilfoy
(902) 425-7770

Thursday February 20th, 2020

African Heritage Month 2020
Focus on Us Storytelling Café 

5:00 – 7:00pm

Council Chambers, SUB

Join us for an exciting and informative event as we share in an evening of storytelling. Speakers, from various intersecting backgrounds, will give you a peak into the lived realities of focusing on the margins.  


Saturday February 22nd, 2020

Affirmations of Black Loyalists

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

BMO Community Room; Halifax Central Library; 5440 Spring Garden Road; Halifax

Organized By: Halifax Public Library

Affirmations of Black Loyalists is an illustrative story that draws attention to a military unit known as the Black Pioneer Corps, following their detailed journey from America to Nova Scotia, and the untold stories about settling in this province.

The presenter, Allister J. Barton, uses his genealogical research to reveal biographical sketches of Black Loyalists who established a Black settlement in Nova Scotia without Crown Land.

Contact Information:

Elliott Gish, MLIS
(902) 490-5722

Tuesday February 25th, 2020

J-School Noire

9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Nova Scotia Community College – Ivany Campus; 80 Mawiomi Place, Dartmouth NS

Organized By: The Canadian Association of Black Journalists

J-School Noire is Empowering the Next Generation!

The Canadian Association of Black Journalists is pleased to announce the creation of J-School Noire, a media training and mentorship session being held on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at Nova Scotia Community College’s Ivany campus in Dartmouth. It’s a partnership with NSCC, University of King’s College and Global Halifax.

Brian Daly, Atlantic Director at the CABJ, says now is the perfect time for young people to get involved in telling their own stories.

“The world needs to hear the voices of Black youth in Canada, whether it be as sportscasters, filmmakers, or social media influencers,” says Daly.

“Technology makes this easier than ever before. I want to see our young people create bold and exciting content that will drive the culture forward, as our people have done for many years.”

After completing J-School Noire, the CABJ will pair students with a senior journalist for yearlong mentoring as they begin their journey towards media careers.


- Provide an opportunity for youth to explore a career in journalism

- Inspire a new generation of storytellers.

- Foster a grassroots effort to increase the number of Black youth pursuing journalism.

Contact Information:

Brian Daly
(902) 266-8374

Nadia Stewart
(604) 612-2134


Thursday February 27th, 2020

Artist Talk with Shauntay Grant

7:00 PM

Paul O’Regan Hall: Halifax Central Library; 5440 Spring Garden Road; Halifax

Organized By: 2b theatre company

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process as storyteller, playwright and award-winning author Shauntay Grant workshops scenes from a new theatrical work-in-progress, and talks about her poetic approach to playwriting.

Shauntay’s play The Bridge was produced at Neptune Theatre in 2019 in collaboration with 2b theatre company and Obsidian Theatre. She has received many awards and honors for written and performance works, and she served as Halifax’s third poet laureate. Shauntay's love of language stretches back to her storytelling roots in Nova Scotia’s historic Black communities. She teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University.

Contact Information:

Karen Gross
(902) 453-6267

Shauntay Grant

Friday February 28th, 2020

African Heritage Month 2020 
Black Block Party

7pm – close 
The Graywood, Student Union Building

In partnership with the DSU, we welcome all students of African descent to join us for the block party of the decade. The Graywood will be all ages from 7pm – 9pm and 19+ after 9pm.