Celebrating African Heritage Month

Celebrating African Heritage Month

Dear King’s community,

Today marks the start of African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia, recognized nationally as Black History Month. In Nova Scotia we celebrate the culture and history of the 52 historic African Nova Scotian communities that trace their collective history in the province back more than 400 years. This over-400-year history is the reason why Nova Scotia is called the birthplace of Black culture and heritage in Canada.

This year’s African Heritage Month theme engages with that history directly: ‘Seas of struggle – African Peoples from Shore to Shore.’ The Nova Scotia African Heritage Month Information Network describes it as one that “recognizes the resiliency, strength, and determination of people of African descent from the shores of Africa to the shores of Nova Scotia — with the Atlantic Ocean being the everlasting connection.”

The culture and heritage of African Nova Scotians enriches the social fabric of this province, though these contributions, and the “resiliency, strength, and determination” remain too little recognized. This month a variety of opportunities will be offered to learn more about this community’s historic and ongoing importance. There will also be events related to other people of African descent, examining associated cultural, social and historical topics. Here are some of the events taking place on the King’s and Dalhousie campuses this month:

  • February 7
    King’s Public Lecture Series, Dr. Charmaine Nelson
    In a lecture delivered as part of the series ‘Representations of Colonization and De-colonization,’ Dr. Nelson, Provost Professor of Art History, Department of History of Art and Architecture and Director, Slavery North Initiative, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, will deliver a lecture titled ‘‘He is remarkable for…wearing a Handkerchief tied round his Head’: Resistance as Escape and Cultural Retention in Art and the Fugitive Slave Archive.’
  • February 14
    King’s Public Lecture Series, Dr. Philip Zachernuk, Associate Professor, History Department, Dalhousie University.
    King’s Public Lecture Series continues with Dr. Zachernuk’s lecture, ‘Of Good Africans & Witch Doctors: The Entangled Story of How West African Activists Worked to Decolonize Late Colonial Film.’

The theme of this year’s African Heritage Month also brings to mind the upcoming Universities Studying Slavery Conference that King’s will host in October of this year together with Dalhousie University and in partnership with the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia. The USS consortium is a multi-institutional collaborative effort working to address historical and contemporary issues that deal with race and inequality in higher education and university communities, and the complicated legacies of slavery. The 2023 USS Conference will be the first meeting of this important organization to be held outside the United States. It will undoubtedly facilitate the coming-together of important African Nova Scotian voices with those from Africa, the Caribbean, the United States, from across Canada and from many more places besides, to recognize “the resiliency, strength, and determination of people of African descent from the shores of Africa to the shores of Nova Scotia…” More information about this conference, including keynote speakers and ways to become involved, will be announced shortly.

I hope you will join me in attending some of the many wonderful and important events taking place this month and throughout the province.



William Lahey

President, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Law


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