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Glancing Back to Move Forward: African Heritage Month Kickoff Inspires

Posted by Matt Reeder on February 7, 2019 in Outreach, Undergraduate, Women in Tech, Students
Aisha Abawajy, BIPOCUS co-founder (Danny Abriel photo)
Aisha Abawajy, BIPOCUS co-founder (Danny Abriel photo)

When Dalhousie first raised the pan-African flag on campus in February 2017, it added a symbolic new tradition to its African Heritage Month celebrations.

On Monday, the university once again raised the flag to kick-off the month of activities and action — only this time it was one of several institutions and communities across Nova Scotia doing so.  

The City of Halifax held its first pan-African flag raising Februay 1, while St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish did so a day earlier. Each made history with the gesture, signaling solidarity with all peoples of African heritage.

“It’s an acknowledgement of the critical role of people of African descent, not only in Nova Scotia, but across Canada,” said Isaac Saney, director of Dal’s Transition Year Program (TYP) and a professor in the Department of History, who served as MC of the event.

Shaping the future

Attendees also heard from a number of other speakers as well, including Reverend Rhonda Britton of New Horizons Church and moderator of the African United Baptist Association and Aisha Abawajy, co-founder of the student-led Dalhousie Black, Indigenous and People of Colour Caucus (BIPOCUS).

A fourth-year applied computer science student, Aisha spoke about her motivations for supporting BIPOC students, mentioning her younger brother’s experience of anti-Black racism at school.

Many people’s remarks drew on the Sankofa principle, often illustrated with a bird moving forward while looking back, symbolizing how the past can inform the future.

“We do not live in the past,” said Dr. Britton, “but we glance backward to see from whence we have come while keeping our feet and bodies on the journey aimed toward the future.”

Visit Dal News to read the full article.

To find out more about this year’s African Heritage Month activities, visit the Human Rights and Equity Services website.