People who moved away from the area were making plans to come home to visit with family and friends, but Jack Kyte and Sandra Andersen wanted it be something more. They wanted people to know why it is important to celebrate their history and remember those who made a difference.
“My oldest daughter Laura was in Grade 5 at the time and during Black History Month, she was given some assignments, but they never had anything to do with local history,” said Kyte.
He and Andersen, who worked together at the local pulp mill 25 years ago, started talking about the need to publish something that would draw attention to the local accomplishments.
“We felt it was time,” he said.
A lot of the information was collected orally from people in the community, including Dr. Carrie Best who published Nova Scotia’s first black newspaper.
Kyte said the information that was gathered for “Native Born” was a bit of an eye-opener for him.
“I wasn’t aware of a lot of it,” he said. “It made me aware of the No. 2 Black Battalion and the critical role that the church played in the black community. It has been their rock. A lot of people from the black community really were encouraged and have a foundation through the church.”
The six-page brochure was given a positive response at the homecoming, so much so that more copies had to be printed, and it is now kept in the heritage room of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library. It can also be accessed online at www.novastory.ca.
Andersen said the historical sketch isn’t perfect but it continues to serve a purpose by giving people an accurate view of the black history in the county.
“Today, we have people within the church who are leaders and involved in lots of organizations across the province,” Andersen said. “A lot continues to be done. Some people have moved away but it a close-knit community for those that hold an interest in maintaining and promoting black history.”
For example, Andersen said, the 2015 Black Homecoming was another success and this summer a special celebration is planned to honour the 100th anniversary of the No. 2 Construction Battalion.
Native Born excerpt:
Encouraged by their families and the inspiration of their church, there have been many individuals from the Black community who have become well known and highly respected far beyond Pictou County's borders. The following list includes some of these people who have
represented well their people and their county:
J. Calbert Best, Canadian High Commissioner in Trinidad and Tobago and holder of several former senior federal government positions in Canada and Great Britain.
Dr. Carrie Best, author, activist and journalist; publisher of Nova Scotia's first Black newspaper, "The Clarion", recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree from Saint Francis Xavier University as well as many other national awards, Including The Order of Canada
Captain George Borden, career officer, Royal Canadian Air Force; First Black Executive Assistant to a Provincial
Lester Borden, First Black from Pictou County to graduate from Police Academy, Holland College, P.E.I.
Walter Borden, internationally known Canadian actor and playwright Delmore "Buddy" Daye, First Black Sergeant-at-Arms in the Nova Scotia Legislature, Canadian Junior Lightweight Boxing Champion.
Cassandra Dorrington, First Black in Pictou County to receive her C.M.A.
Francis Dorrington, Councillor, Town of New Glasgow; First Black elected official in Pictou County (served as deputy mayor for five years); First Black elected to Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities; First Black on the Executive of the Nova Scotia School Board Association; First Black on the executive of Recreation Association of Nova Scotia (R.A.N.S)
Lyndon Dorrington, First Black from Pictou County to graduate from the R.C.M.P.
Gussie (Borden) Ellis, First Black to receive her R.N. from the Aberdeen Hospital School of Nursing
Yvette (Lawrence) Maxwell, First Black
teacher in Trenton
Pearleen (Borden) Oliver, well known author and educator, first woman moderator of the African United Baptist Association
Ann (Johnson) Paris, First Black Teacher in Pictou County
Cherry M. Paris, first black teacher in New Glasgow
Francis Paris, owner of the first black business in downtown New Glasgow