Our History is Your History
The 2019 provincial theme, Our History is Your History, recognizes the unique history of African Nova Scotians and how this story is interwoven throughout the past, present and future of all Nova Scotians. The theme reminds us that when we all acknowledge and understand the truths of our shared history through awareness, cooperation, dialogue and learning, we will be able to facilitate positive change in Nova Scotia.
This year’s theme also aligns with the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent, commonly known as DPAD, with the goal to strengthen global cooperation in support of people of African descent as they strive for full inclusion in all aspects of society.
From the Beginning
The beginning of African Heritage Month is traced back to 1926. 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 Douglas and Abraham Lincoln who were both key figures in the emancipation of enslaved Blacks. In 1976, Negro History Week was expanded to Black History Month before being celebrated in Canada in early 1950.
Black History Month in Canada
Over the past several decades, contributions of African Canadians have been acknowledged informally, however our province has been a leader in the promotion and recognition of our 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 efforts have influenced our country to take action 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 man 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 and the Black Cultural Society, African Nova Scotian Music Association, African Nova Scotian North-Central Network, African Heritage Month Southwest Network, Africville Heritage Trust, Black Educators Association, Black History Month Association, Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association, Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association, Halifax Regional Municipality’s African Nova Scotian Integration Office, and Guysborough, Antigonish Strait African Regional Network.
Each year the AHMIN promotes African Heritage Month events and supports 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.