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
This year’s African Heritage Month provincial theme, Seas of struggle – African Peoples from Shore to Shore, outlines the struggles of people of African Descent faced from the shores of Africa to the shores of Nova Scotia. Recognizing that the one thing that has remained constant in our history is the Atlantic Ocean. The long-standing history of people of African Descent in the development of Canada, the sea has played a vital role. This theme explores the struggle and adversity that was overcome and examines the effects of slavery and sea faring of African Nova Scotians. The theme also aligns with the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (DPAD) 2015-2024. The goal of DPAD is to strengthen global cooperation in support of people of African descent, increase awareness and the passage towards presence in all aspects of society.
Nova Scotia has 52 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.
(The dates below reflect events happening in 2023.)
Wednesday, February 1
African Heritage Month Kick-off & Flag Raising
Time: 10:30 - 11:30am
Venue: LeMarchant Place atrium, 1246 Lemarchant St. & Studley Quad (flagpole location)
Hosted by: Dalhousie University
10:30am Gather for coffee/tea
11am Opening Remarks, Prayer, Reflections and Recognition
11:20am Walk to Studley Quad for Song and Flag Raising
Coffee/tea/cookies will be served.
Masks are encouraged.
Thursday, February 2
Take & Make: Painted Alma's Stripes
Time: 3:00 – 5:00pm
Venue: Central Library, 5440 Spring Garden Road
Hosted by: Halifax Public Libraries
Painter and educator Alma Woodsey Thomas, the first black woman to have their work entered in the permanent collection of the White House. She developed a unique style of painting that has come to be known as 'Alma's Stripes.' This kit includes all supplies required to make a painting using this technique and related educational materials.
Kits available while supplies last.
African Heritage Month – Calypso Celebration
Time: 7:00– 9:00pm
Venue: In-Person and On-Line
Hosted by: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
A burst of music kick off the African Heritage Month celebrations here at the Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, a captivating winter performance that brings a vibrant combination of musical traditions to the stage, celebrating the heritage of Caribbean immigrants to Canada. Trinidadian-born saxophonist and composer Jesse Ryan teams up with pianist Eddie Bullen and percussionist Garrett Burgess for a deep dive into the connections between jazz and afro-Caribbean music.
Tuesday, February 7
Experiencing Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace Challenges and Solutions
Venue: Dalhousie Student Union Building, Room 303, 6136 University Avenue Halifax, NS.
Hosted by: Dalhousie Black Student Advising Centre (BSAC) and Africa Festival of Arts and Culture Society (AFACS)
Dr. Pemberton Cyrus
Dr. Barb Hamilton-Hinch
Ms. April Howe
Ms. Tiwatope Ogundipe
Moderator: Dr Theresa Rajack-Talley
Entertainment by: Master Drummer Amadou Kienou
Light Refreshments will be served.
Thursday, February 9
Video Screening and Panel Discussion
Celebrating the life and legacy of Portia White: A Vibrant Presence.
Venue: Kings University, KTS Lecture Hall, 6350 Coburg Road
Hosted by: A Black People's History of Canada
Free admission and refreshment.
Register for the event at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/portia-white-a-vibrant-presence-tickets-519704258427
Wednesday, February 15
A Spike Lee Joint: Do The Right Thing
Venue: screening - Studley Arts Centre, room 406; refreshments - room 409
Hosted by: Dalhousie Association of Graduate Studies
Intro by Fallen Matters, IDPhD Candidate
Free admission and refreshments.
Thursday, February 16
Lift Every Voice 8: African Heritage Month Musical Showcase
Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm
Location: Halifax North Memorial Public Library
Hosted by: Halifax Public Libraries
A showcase of amazing talent from our African Nova Scotian music community, produced by the African Nova Scotian Music Association. Whether the subject be blues, jazz, rock and roll, folk, gospel, RnB, soul, pop, hip-hop, or rap, there is no way to talk about music without talking about Black music and musicians.
This annual event has a reputation for being good for the soul, energizing for the heart, and a grand-scale celebration of Nova Scotia talent.