The 2024 African Heritage Month theme is Our Smiles, Our Joy, Our Resilience as African Nova Scotians. This month is a time to celebrate and recognize the history and culture of people of African descent. The theme aligns with the final year of 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 all aspects of 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 an opportunity to celebrate and promote the culture, achievements and contributions of people of African descent in Nova Scotia – past and present.
The African Heritage Month 2024: Virtual Provincial Proclamation Launch and Poster Unveiling Ceremony can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nsgov
To order a poster, visit http://www.ahm.bccnsweb.com/wp/home
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 for Nova Scotia
- African Heritage Month Southwest Network
- African Nova Scotian Music Association
- Antigonish-Strait African Regional Network
- Black History Month Association
- Cape Breton African Heritage Month Regional Committee
- Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association
- Guysborough African Heritage Month Committee
- Halifax Regional Municipality’s African Nova Scotian Integration Office
- Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association
The African Heritage Month Information Network collaborates in developing the theme and promoting 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.