The honouring of Black Canadians during Black History Month has an especially important significance within the Halifax community. Historically, colonial Louisbourg and early Halifax were the first locales that inhabited Black settlers. The largest immigration of former slaves to Nova Scotia, came from the United States in 1782. About 3,500 of these refugees settled throughout Nova Scotia in various communities such as: Annapolis Royal, Clements, Granville, Birchtown, Brindleytown, Preston, Little Tracadie, Chedabucto and Halifax. Also, about 600 Jamaican former slaves immigrated to Nova Scotia and were fundamental in the constructing of the Citadel Hill as well as serving in the military.
Escaping the war of 1812, about 2000 Black refugees sought freedom in many parts of Nova Scotia. Majority of these refugees settled in Halifax, Dartmouth, Hammonds Plains and Preston. In the early 1900s, a large migration of Caribbean steel workers migrated to Cape Breton to work in coal mines increasing the number of Black Nova Scotians. Today, there are approximately 20,790 identifying Black Nova Scotians within the province. As you can tell Black history is integral within our Canadian population and most especially within our Nova Scotia population. It’s something we take pride in and should openly celebrate. As many of you already know, the incredible Viola Desmond is about to grace our 10 dollar bill! If you don’t already know, Viola Desmond was a Black Nova Scotian beautician who refused to abide by the segregation rules within a theatre. She was defiant in her decision and made a statement. This act of defiance cost her sometime in jail, but it catapulted Canada’s civil rights movement. Being black myself, I owe a great deal of thanks to this courageous woman. Without her and many other significant Black heroes within our community, a lot of the rights that I and many of you hold dear, would be inexistent.
That being said, the notion of Blackness has increasingly been ostracized within our community and it’s something we can’t sweep under the rug. For decades Blackness was equated with unworthiness by the vast majority of people within society. That is why it is increasingly pertinent to celebrate Black pride and to condition ourselves to learn more about the remarkable Black figures within our community! Take a couple minutes out of your day and learn about the following noteworthy Black Canadians: The Honourable Jean Augustine, Donovan Bailey, our very own George Elliot Clarke, and many more.
Here’s a link to learn more about some phenomenal figures within our community: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month/black-canadians.html