2015 marks the launch of the Provincial Heritage Day holiday, honouring Viola Desmond. In addition, the United Nations has declared 2015 to 2025 the International Decade of People of African Descent, embracing the theme of recognition, justice and development. In recognition of these events, it is quite appropriate that the provincial theme for African Heritage Month 2015 is Justice: People, Places and Events and as such will focus on celebrating the contributions of African Descent People who have contributed to the Nova Scotia social justice system.
Each February, in particular, schools in the Strait Regional School Board focus on the history, culture and achievements of people of African descent. This is also an opportune time for each of us to reflect on our own understanding of the contributions and traditions of the African community. The Strait Regional School Board encourages students, parents/guardians, staff and community members to share in the celebration of African Heritage Month 2015.
Throughout the year, and especially in February, teachers in the Strait Region incorporate a variety of educational approaches and thought-provoking activities in their classroom instruction in an effort to highlight the connection of our past to today and how this information shapes our understanding. In addition, schools have a number of activities planned to further promote African Heritage and recognize persons of African descent who have made significant contributions to society including but not limited to guest speakers, presentations, musical performances, student research and discussion, creation of African Art and other visual representations, displays, and visits to the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry in Stellarton and the School Board’s Afrikan Canadian Heritage and Friendship Centre in Guysborough.
The Strait Regional School Board is launching its African Heritage Month celebrations at the Regular Monthly Meeting of the Board scheduled for Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 6:00 p.m., at the Afrikan Canadian Heritage and Friendship Centre in Guysborough. The evening’s festivities will include:
- Board Members and staff proudly wearing African-woven scarves, made in Africa, with the name of the Strait Regional School Board on the scarf;
- Performances by an African student drumming group under the direction of St. Andrew Junior School teacher Morgan Gero;
- The singing of the Black National Anthem; and
- A presentation highlighting the work of the Afrikan Canadian Heritage and Friendship Centre and School Board initiatives.
At the Board’s Working Committee Meeting scheduled for February 18, 2015, 6:00 p.m., the celebrations will continue with:
- A libation ceremony led by Crystal States; and
-The Kujichagulia youth group from Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy performing “I Have a Dream”.
In addition, there is a student art poster contest planned and, for the first time, the School Board will be developing its own poster which will highlight those in various roles who support Strait Regional School Board students and school communities.
History of African Heritage Month
In 1875, two ex-slaves gave birth to a son whom they called Carter (Woodson). As illiterate ex-slaves, they had few resources and could not afford to put him through school. Instead, he had to go to work to earn money to help support his family. He eventually did go to school, and even went on to become a high school teacher. Woodson started the American Negro Academy with the main purpose of studying and celebrating the important things black people had accomplished. As a result, in 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson established "Negro History Week". In Nova Scotia, the celebration of Black History Month was initiated in the early 1980s. Today, this national and international observance is now known as "African Heritage Month" and has been expanded to encompass the entire month of February to recognize and celebrate African heritage. February was also chosen to coincide with the birthdays of both Frederick Douglas (February 14, 1817) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809). Douglas, an escaped slave, became a famous speaker and presidential candidate. Lincoln is known as the US President who abolished slavery.
There are valuable educational resources on the subject of African History at our disposal. The on-line resources listed below that will provide information and insight into the contributions of people of African heritage in Nova Scotia, Canada and the world.
Nova Scotia Archives Heritage Exhibit
George Borden’s Poetry Collection Brings African Nova Scotian Experience to the Classroom
Virtual Museum of Canada
[NOTE: The above links are provided for information purposes only. The Strait Regional School Board is not responsible for the information contained in these resource links.]