The 2023 African Heritage Month theme, Seas of Struggle – African Peoples from Shore to Shore, 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 theme highlights the role the sea has played in the long-standing history of people of African descent in the development of Canada and Nova Scotia. This year’s theme aligns with the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (DPAD) 2015-2024. The goal is to strengthen global cooperation in support of people of African descent, increase awareness and recognize their full and equal participation in society.
Nova Scotia has more than 50 historic African Nova Scotian communities with a long, deep and complex history dating back more than 400 years. African Heritage Month provides another opportunity to celebrate and promote the culture, legacy, achievements and contributions of people of African descent in Nova Scotia – past and present.
From the Beginning
The beginning of African Heritage Month can be traced back to 1926 when Harvard-educated Black historian Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week to recognize the achievements made by African Americans.
Woodson purposefully chose February because of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln who were both key figures in the emancipation of enslaved Blacks.
Black History Month was first celebrated in Canada in 1950.
Black History Month in Canada
In the past, the contributions of African Canadians have been acknowledged informally. Nova Scotia has been a leader in officially promoting and recognizing African Canadian heritage.
Some efforts include:
- 1985 – The official opening night of Black History Month at the Halifax North Branch Library
- 1987 – First meeting of the Black History Month Association
- 1988 – First Black History Month in Nova Scotia
- 1996 – Black History Month renamed to African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia
Some of these actions have influenced Canada to act on a national level:
- 1995 – The House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month following a motion introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament.
- 2008 – The Senate officially declared February as Black History Month. Nova Scotia Senator Donald Oliver, Q.C., was the first Black Canadian appointed to the Senate. His motion was the final parliamentary procedure needed for Canada’s permanent recognition of Black History Month.
About the African Heritage Month Information Network
The African Heritage Month Information Network (AHMIN) is a partnership with:
- African Nova Scotian Affairs
- the Black Cultural Centre/Society
- African Nova Scotian Music Association
- African Heritage Month Southwest Network
- Black History Month Association
- Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association
- Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association
- Halifax Regional Municipality’s African Nova Scotian Integration Office
- Guysborough, Antigonish Strait African Regional Network
AHMIN selects the theme and promotes African Heritage Month events and municipal proclamations across the province. The AHMIN also produces an educational poster that is distributed and displayed in community gathering centers, schools, churches, government offices and businesses.