The Dalhousie community packed the LeMarchant Place atrium on Studley Campus Thursday (Feb. 1) to launch a month-long celebration of African heritage.
This year, Dalhousie’s theme is Reflect, Rest, and Revive, to promote reflection, relaxation, and rejuvenation within the context of African heritage.
The event featured an opening by Drummers from Home, remarks from Dalhousie leaders, a singing of the Black National Anthem, a libation ceremony and shared prayer, student and alumni guest speakers, an awards ceremony, and concluded with a raising of the pan-African flag in Halifax. The African Nova Scotian flag was raised on the Truro campus and the two will switch mid-February.
The LeMarchant Place atrium was packed for the 2024 African Heritage Month launch event.
Nova Scotia has 52 historic African Nova Scotian communities with a long, deep, and complex history that stretches back hundreds of years, with many firsts along the way.
One such first was the “official” opening night for Black History Month that took place at the Halifax North Branch Library in 1985. The month was later designated by province in 1988 and renamed to African Heritage Month in 1996.
Many of Dal’s current students were born after these dates, further cementing the importance of the month’s reflection pillar.
“While we celebrate all year, this time and this month take the time to go to something — an event at the [Halifax] Libraries, at Dalhousie, the Dal Art Gallery,” encouraged Dr. Barb Hamilton-Hinch, Dal's assistant vice‑provost equity and inclusion, in remarks at the kick-off event.
Dr. Barb Hamilton-Hinch, Dal's assistant vice‑provost equity and inclusion.
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The theme of relaxation shone through in a libation ceremony led by Wayn Hamilton and a prayer led by Matthew Thomas, an advisor in Dal’s Black Student Advising Centre.
The libation ceremony included a series of affirmations.
“As I read these affirmations, I want us to take away those things that give us the mental strength that we need to deal with the realities in North America,” said Hamilton, including such phrases as “I am creative. I am a powerful figure. My thoughts can change the world.”
The shared prayer was a reminder and invitation to embark on a journey of self-discovery. “[We pray] that this month and this year, we prioritize self-care, grow in self-awareness, and grow each day in the face of adversity,” encouraged Thomas.
Matthew Thomas, an advisor in Dal’s Black Student Advising Centre.
Dalhousie faculty, staff and students were joined at the launch event by students from St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary and Clayton Park Junior High schools.
Trevor Silver, Dal alum and entrepreneur, spoke about revival and “empowering our future – you young folks,” gesturing to these students in the front rows.
“Revival is more than survival — it’s thriving with a sense of purpose, belonging and contributing to a legacy bigger than ourselves.”
Silver founded tREv Clothing, which stands for trust, Respect, Education and value. The company uses these key principles to inspire success by embodying its message through fashion and accessories.
Trevor Silver, Dal alumni and entrepreneur
Contributing to community
Dal President Dr. Kim Brooks brought a message of gratitude to all those involved in the "radical act of inclusion" at Dal.
"It's amazing to be in a room filled with so many extraordinary people connected to Dalhousie, and I want to thank those who are actively involved in combatting anti-racism on campus," she said.
Dr. Kim Brooks, Dal's president and vice-chancellor.
Six awards were presented to groups and individuals from the African Nova Scotian community during the ceremony Thursday in recognition of their contributions at Dal and beyond.
Recipients included photographer Allen D. Crooks, the Dalhousie African Students Association, the Black Wellness Co-operative. Anthony Jones, Percy Loppie and Raymond Bundy, three recently retired Facilities Management staff, received awards as well. (Look out for a separate article on award recipients next week on Dal News).
The awards were presented by Dr. Theresa Rajack-Talley, Dal’s vice-provost of equity and inclusion, and Grace Jefferies-Aldridge, vice-president people and culture.
African Heritage Month event organizers and award recipients.
The launch event emphasized the importance of self-care, self-awareness and renewal while exploring and celebrating the history, culture and contributions of African diaspora communities this month and beyond.
Events and activities
Visit the Human Rights & Equity Services website for a detailed event schedule including panel discussions, art exhibits and performances, galas and more.
More event photos