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African Heritage Month kicks off in Cumberland County

This year’s African Heritage Month theme ‘Educate, Unite, Celebrate Community’ was unveiled Feb. 1 in Springhill by [from left] Allison Gillis, Theresa Halfkenny, the Honourable Tony Ince and David Kogon.
This year’s African Heritage Month theme ‘Educate, Unite, Celebrate Community’ was unveiled Feb. 1 in Springhill by [from left] Allison Gillis, Theresa Halfkenny, the Honourable Tony Ince and David Kogon. - Christopher Gooding

The conversation about history is changing.

Nova Scotia African Heritage Month kicked off in the province at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill Feb. 1. The dignitaries were in place, the speeches were at the ready. As the lead-up to the unveiling of this year’s theme and poster approached, however, a few words reflecting on where society carried more weight than any well-crafted address.

Following his prepared remarks to kick off Nova Scotia African Heritage Month, African Affairs and Public Service Commission Minister Tony Ince went off-script and noted the times are, indeed, changing. A more detailed account of history and the rights and wrongs that took place is emerging. Rather than shy away from the dialogue, Ince called on the audience to acknowledge the story of Canada in its raw form.

“We’ve got a change that is happening in our education system. A change that is making a number of people uncomfortable,” Ince said. “As an educator myself, I know that we have in many areas not stepped up to the plate in a manner we should have as educators. So, I ask all of you, please, help our young people to know the real history that should be taught of the Mi'kmaq, the Acadians and the African Nova Scotians.”

Fittingly, the theme of this year’s African Heritage Month is ‘Educate, Unite, Celebrate Community.” In his formal address, Ince called the theme an opportunity to learn the story of African Nova Scotians who found recognition abroad, like Alton White and Max Lucas, and those who stayed yet still captured the attention of the world like Springhill’s Maurice Ruddick

“This month is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people of African descent in the province,” Ince said.  It allows us to honour the past while looking forward to the future with optimism. I encourage all Nova Scotians to participate in cultural events, meet new people, celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of people of African descent in Nova Scotia.”

Locally, two concerts are planned. In Springhill at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre an evening of music is being planned for Feb. 17, and in Amherst on Feb. 24 a dinner and dance at the Lions Hall will feature Linda Carvery and her band.

Amherst Mayor David Kogon participated in the launch in Springhill, saying the celebration of heritage and education is key to a community’s vibrancy; and Cumberland County Municipal Warden Alison Gillis lauded the Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association for its leadership role during the month and throughout the year.

Christopher.Gooding@AmherstNews.ca

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