Passing the torch - celebrating African Heritage Month


Published on January 29, 2017

By Trecia Schell Did you know that this province has more than 48 Historic Black communities?

Each year, during the month of February we celebrate the history, heritage and contributions of African Nova Scotians, one of our founding settler communities by recognizing Black History Month/African Heritage Month.

“Six years before the arrival of the Ship Hector in 1773 on the shores of New Scotland and 100 years before the birth of Canada, the first Blacks came to live in Pictou County. They were slaves brought to the rugged land of northern Nova Scotia from Philadelphia by Matthew Harris… and it is likely that Blacks set foot on Pictou County soil prior to 1767 since 104 Blacks were living in Nova Scotia by this time,” reads Native Born: a brief history of the Black Presence in Pictou County (1990), by Jack Kyte with the assistance of Denise Bowden, Sandra Andersen, Dr. Carrie Best, Catherine Clark and Francis Paris.

The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre located in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, tells the story of one of Canada’s best kept secrets, and was the site of the world’s largest free black population outside of Africa in the 1780’s. The Centre features guided tours and trails, historic buildings, exhibits, archaeological artifacts, and genealogical research. The Centre also has a virtual display of Carleton’s Book of Negroes, the 1783 registry of African American Loyalists seeking freedom in Canada; which provided the inspiration behind the award-winning novel, “The Book of Negros” by Canadian author, Lawrence Hill.  

The 2017 AHM theme is “Passing the Torch…African Nova Scotians and the Next 150” and focuses on the legacy of African Nova Scotians in the past, present and the future possibilities, acknowledges the struggle and adversity that African Nova Scotians have endured over the generations, and honors the significant contributions and impact on the development of the province and the country as a whole. For more information, please contact the Office of African Nova Scotia Affairs (ANSA),

This month, at the library we are very honored to be able to present two special programs recognizing and celebrating African Heritage Month.  We invite everyone to join us for a workshop of Traditional and Modern African Dance and Drumming, presented by the Maritime Centre for African Dance. The workshop is hosted by MCAD instructors and is open to all ages. The group is best known for performing at former President Obama’s African Inaugural Ball.

The session will feature cultural education, through the shared experience of music and dance – African Dance, Afro Beats, African Drumming and Caribbean Dance. The workshops will be held at the New Glasgow Library on Saturday, Feb. 4 starting at 10:30 a.m., and also later on in the month at the Westville Library on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m.

The second special program recognizes the struggles of African Canadians for equality, with the presentation of the National Film Board of Canada documentary, the “Ninth Floor” (2015). Over four decades later, 'Ninth Floor' reopens the file on the infamous Sir George Williams University Riot in Montreal - a watershed moment in Canadian race relations and one of the most contested episodes in the nation’s history. It ended in the most explosive student uprising Canada has ever known. The documentary will be shown at the New Glasgow Library on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m., and on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6:15 p.m. at the River John Library.

For more information on upcoming library programs, special events and services, please drop by your local library branch, follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook, or visit us online at