African Heritage Month offers chance to honour community voices

- February 1, 2022

The pan-African flag, shown above right, was raised on Dal's Studley Campus and separately on the Agricultural Campus in Truro for African Heritage Month. (Cody Turner photo)
The pan-African flag, shown above right, was raised on Dal's Studley Campus and separately on the Agricultural Campus in Truro for African Heritage Month. (Cody Turner photo)

The Dalhousie community marked the start of African Heritage Month Tuesday with a virtual flag-raising ceremony featuring music, spoken word and remarks from senior university leaders.

Barb Hamilton-Hinch, Dal’s assistant vice-provost of equity and inclusion, paid tribute to the history of people of African descent who have helped shape our society and used their voices to press for change.

"I want to take this opportunity as a proud African Nova Scotian to acknowledge the contributions of African Nova Scotians and all people of African descent who have contributed to building this institution, province and country.”  

Dr. Hamilton-Hinch’s remarks were a nod to this year’s provincial theme, Through Our Eyes: The Voices of African Nova Scotians. This February marks the 38th year Nova Scotians have celebrated African Heritage Month.

"Although this year's African Heritage Month centres on the eyes and voices of African Nova Scotians, we believe that every month in every year should have this focus," added Dr. Hamilton-Hinch.

Tuesday's virtual stream — available to watch in full at the bottom of this article — included the raising of the pan-African flag on Dal's Studley Campus. The flag was also raised separately on Dal's Agricultural Campus in Truro.

University commitment

Dal President Deep Saini shared his greetings during segment as well.

"This month is an opportunity to reaffirm Dalhousie's commitment to supporting all people of African descent throughout our community," he said.

Dr. Saini spoke about a few of the steps Dal has taken over the past year to advance the university’s strategic commitments to peoples of African descent, including the creation of the Black Studies Research Institute, the hiring of Dr. Hamilton-Hinch in her role as assistant vice-provost, and the signing of the Scarborough Charter.  

"I would like to . . .  encourage everyone to look for more opportunities in the month ahead to learn, reflect and, most importantly, act."

Read more: Dal embraces Black studies research with new university‑wide institute

Further reading: Landmark Scarborough Charter launched

Rooted here

Poet, writer and educator Guyleigh Johnson, who works as a transition to university coordinator with Dal's Black Student Advising Centre, delivered a spoken-word piece titled "Residential Roots."

"Rooted in our history and rich heritage, ready to honour those who came before us, recognizing the needs of those who will come after us. Where are you from and what is your background? I am an African Nova Scotian. From sea to land and land to sea, there's no way you can see Nova Scotia and not see me."

Drummers from Home, a local musical trio, offered an audio backdrop for Johnson's piece.

For information on events at Dal and in the community during African Heritage Month, visit the links below:

Human Rights and Equity Services at Dal: African Heritage Month

Nova Scotia African Heritage Month Information Network: Calendar of events

Watch the full flag-raising ceremony below


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