CENTRAL NOVA REPORT BY PETER MACKAY
African Heritage Month gives Nova Scotians – and all Canadians – the opportunity to pay tribute to the significant contributions those of African descent have made to our province and country.
Throughout February, important and informative events will take place right across our province. African Nova Scotians have made major and lasting contributions to our province, and the commemorative events that take place this month help to educate and inform citizens on our shared history and culture. More importantly, African Heritage Month contributes to the spirit of inclusiveness, diversity, and respect for human rights that has helped make our province and country among the best places in the world to live.
Our reputation as staunch defenders of human rights could not have been achieved without the efforts of African Nova Scotians and Canadians. Legislation such as The Abolition Act of 1793, the Act of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807, and the British Imperial Act of 1833 would have not been in place without their active citizenry and push for equality in this country. In particular, African Nova Scotians have played pioneering roles in their respective fields: politicians like Senator Donald Oliver, artists like Portia White, athletes like Stan “Chook” Maxwell, war heroes like William Hall, and activists like Viola Desmond have made immeasurable contributions to our province and helped pave the way for future generations to follow.
As the theme for this year’s African Heritage Month is “Celebrating Our Youth,” it provides the opportunity to encourage young Nova Scotians to get involved in civic life and continue the proud traditions and triumphs of Nova Scotians of African descent. By celebrating African heritage in this province, youth will also draw upon this as inspiration to continue to fight against discrimination and inequality, and make our province and country richer and better for it.
While African Heritage Month is celebrated each February, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that the principles of freedom, human rights, and diversity continue to be reinforced throughout the year giving our province and country a stronger legacy for future generations.
Peter MacKay is MP for Central Nova and federal Justice Minister.