AMHERST – Amherst is getting ready to celebrate African Heritage Month.
Mayor David Kogon signed a proclamation declaring February as African Heritage Month in the town.
“The provincial theme this year is Educate, Unite and Celebrate Community, and that is what we hope Amherst residents will do during February,” Kogon said in a news release. “We hope they, through the events organized by CANSA, will educate themselves on the important role African-Nova Scotians have played and are playing in the Town of Amherst.
“Educating ourselves about this important part of our history will help unite us as a community and help us celebrate the diversity that makes Amherst a strong community, a great town in which to live, work and play.”
The proclamation was signed in the presence of Brian Martin, chairman of the Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association.
Celebrating African Heritage Month is “very important,” Martin said.
“As I look back over the years, from when I was a kid, there has been a big change. There is a bigger black presence in the community and there are more opportunities for blacks,” Martin said. “It’s also important that young people know the history; that they know they are able to apply for jobs and positions. It’s important they how far we’ve come over the years.”
Martin thanked the town for the “support you have shown us over the years. It shows that we can all work together.”
Liz Cooke-Sumbu, the association’s executive director, said educating, uniting and celebrating community “has been a longtime goal of our organization, as well as our lived experiences.”
“CANSA has partnered with the African Nova Scotian Network for many years to bring forth a better understanding of the history and culture of persons of African descent for the purpose of sharing and understanding not only the differences, but also the similarities.”
The association has done this during the past 17 years through the sharing of information - publications, historic research and interpretive work - that preserves the “legacy of a 400-year presence of persons of African descent in our communities,” Cooke-Sumbu said.
It is her hope residents will continue to embrace the opportunity to share in the events organized for African Heritage Month by the association, beginning with the official Cumberland County launch on Feb. 1 at noon in Springhill.
Attending the public event at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre will be African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince as well as local politicians like Cumberland County Warden Allison Gillis, Mayor Kogon and other municipal leaders.
The provincial launch of African Heritage Month was held in Halifax at Province House on Jan. 23. The event included the unveiling of the 2018 African Heritage Month poster.
On Feb. 17, there will be a special community variety show in the CIBC room at the Springhill community centre. Tickets are $7.
Back in Amherst, CANSA will present displays on Feb. 19 reflecting the Educate, Unite and Celebrate Community theme at the Community Credit Union Innovation Centre on Ratchford Street, beginning at 10 a.m. and running to 5 p.m. The documentary Weaving the Story will run between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
In addition to the CANSA displays, there will also be exhibits from Amherst Heritage Trust, the Cumberland County Museum and Archives and the Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum.
On Feb. 24, the association will present My Soul, a turkey dinner and dance at the Amherst Lions Club featuring Dr. Linda Carvery, the Bill Stevenson Trio with Corey Adams and keynote speaker Robert Wright. Cost of the event is $20. Tickets are available at the association’s office, CFTA or by calling 902-661-1509 ext. 221.
Other events can be found on CANSA’s website or Facebook page.