February is recognized internationally as African Heritage Month – a time to recognize and salute the many contributions and ongoing achievements of people of African descent from all over the world. The theme for African Heritage Month 2016 is The No. 2 Construction Battalion: Legacy of Commitment – They Fought to Fight, and will honour the 100th anniversary of the first and only Black Battalion in Canadian military history whose courage and legacy continues to inspire us today. 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.
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 2016.
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. Some examples of these activities include 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 very pleased to be launching its African Heritage Month celebrations at the Regular Monthly Meeting of the Board scheduled for Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 7:00 p.m., at the Afrikan Canadian Heritage and Friendship Centre in Guysborough. Along with municipal and community partners, the Board’s special guests for the celebrations include The Honourable Karen Casey, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development and The Honourable Tony Ince, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. The evening’s festivities will also include:
- The singing of the Black National Anthem;
- Board Members and staff proudly wearing scarves from West Africa, with the name of the Strait Regional School Board on the scarf;
- Student Performances;
- Reading of the Provincial, School Board and Municipal Proclamations; and
- A presentation highlighting the work of the Afrikan Canadian Heritage and Friendship Centre and School Board initiatives; and
- Remarks by Minister Casey and Minister Ince.
In addition, the School Board will be circulating its annual poster to 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.
African Nova Scotian Affairs
Afrikan Canadian Heritage and Friendship Centre
Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia
Black History Canada
Black Loyalist Heritage Society
Halifax Public Libraries
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.]