Celebrating African Heritage Month 2024

Celebrating African Heritage Month 2024

Dear King’s community,

I write to recognize and celebrate the start of African Heritage Month 2024, or Black History Month as it is known around the country. Nova Scotia is rightly called the birthplace of Black culture and heritage in Canada: its 52 historic African Nova Scotian communities go back over 400 years. The deep history of these communities and the vitality of their culture is highlighted in this year’s African Heritage Month theme, “Our Smiles, Our Joy, Our Resilience as African Nova Scotians.”

As we celebrate this month, King’s will have the great joy of honoring Sherri Borden Colley, BJ(Hons)’97, the influential African Nova Scotian journalist who brought the story of Viola Desmond’s 1946 civil disobedience in response to segregation in Nova Scotia to the attention of the country. Sherri has told many more stories about social injustice over a career that includes 21 years with the Chronicle Herald and more recently, a career with the CBC. Later this month, we will award Sherri with the Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa) first announced in 2020, in a special ceremony to be held at the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia (BCCNS).

The location is an appropriate one. As Canada’s first museum dedicated to Black culture and history, BCCNS is a national leader in researching and telling the stories of African Nova Scotians and of Black Canadians. As a journalist and committed member of the African Nova Scotian community, Sherri has pushed that mission forward.

Our relationship with BCCNS began with another very special event: in the fall of 2023, King’s, the BCCNS and Dalhousie University hosted the first annual Universities Studying Slavery Conference (USS) to be held outside of the United States. It was the first USS conference to foreground the experience of African Nova Scotians and it provided a long-overdue forum to represent perspectives, histories and insights that are vital to understanding Nova Scotia’s history within the transatlantic slave trade and the Black diaspora.

If you were unable to attend the conference, I encourage you to read this thoughtful account of the keynote delivered by the former President of Ghana, His Excellency John Mahama’s speech, written by King’s student Seleste David, and the piece by fellow student Sophia Wedderburn that captured the energy of Dr. George Elliott Clarke’s address.

As part of the USS conference, King’s and BCCNS announced an exciting new partnership that will lead to more opportunities to collaborate.

We announced another new working and learning relationship in June, with the PREP Academy of Dartmouth. An organization that addresses systemic barriers and challenges facing African Nova Scotians’ access to higher education, PREP is ideally placed to help us understand in what ways King’s must do better, to become an environment where African Nova Scotian and Black students, faculty and staff flourish.

Throughout African Heritage Month we will raise the African Nova Scotian flag and the Pan-African flag on campus, and all month long there will be opportunities in our shared King’s and Dalhousie communities and throughout the HRM to learn more about and celebrate African Nova Scotian culture and history. I encourage you to review the BCCNS events calendar to learn about events for African Heritage Month, as well as other events taking place throughout the community. Closer to campus, the King’s-Dalhousie Black Student Advising Centre will host “Experiencing Inclusion & Diversity in the Workplace – Challenges & Solutions” on February 9, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at 5793 University Ave (CHEB – Room 140/150).

In this, the final year of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024, let us at King’s and throughout Nova Scotia, contribute through our learning and work to create positive change in our communities. The many joyous celebrations and thought-provoking events going on in Halifax and across the province this month will surely benefit our efforts and enrich our experience.



William Lahey
President, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Law

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