The 2021 African Heritage Month theme, Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act, recognizes the important legacy of people of African descent and the long-standing history in the development of Canada.
The theme brings focus and increased awareness of racialized issues of a community that has overcome great adversity for inclusion. It further calls on us to listen, learn, share and act to make society a better place.
Nova Scotia has over 50 historic African Nova Scotian communities with a long, deep, and complex history dating back over 400 years. African Heritage Month provides us with another opportunity to celebrate our culture, legacy, achievements, and contributions of people of African Descent – 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 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
- 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.