African Nova Scotian Community

A look back

The history of African Nova Scotians reaches back to the early founding years of the province. Many of today’s communities can trace their origins to centuries ago, when Nova Scotia held the promise of a better life for immigrants of African descent.

Explorer Mathieu Da Costa is credited with being the first to arrive as part of an expedition that founded Port Royal in 1605. In the 1700s, small populations of French and English Black settlers were part of colonial towns such as Louisbourg and early Halifax.

The first large group of immigrants were the Black Loyalists who came as refugees after the American Revolution between 1782 and 1785. About 3,500 people settled throughout Nova Scotia in communities such as Annapolis Royal, Clements, Granville, Birchtown, Brindleytown, Preston, Little Tracadie, Chedabucto and Halifax. A group of 600 exiled Jamaican Maroons followed in 1796, settling in Preston Township. They helped build Government House, worked on new fortifications at the Halifax Citadel and served in the militia.

The War of 1812 between the United States and Britain resulted in another era of significant migration. Roughly 2000 Black Refugees seeking freedom arrived in Nova Scotia between 1813 and 1816. Many settled in Halifax and Dartmouth, including two large groups in Hammonds Plains and Preston. Others went to smaller communities around the province such as Cobequid Road, Five Mile Plains, Beechville, Porter’s Lake, Fletcher’s Lake, Prospect Road, Beaverbank, Avonport, Pine Woods, Pictou and Mill Village.

The early 1900s saw the last historic group of black settlers arrive in Nova Scotia as hundreds of Caribbean immigrants, known as the “later arrivals”, came to Cape Breton to work in the steel mills and coal mines.

With a history that spans more than 400 years, African Nova Scotians have a rich legacy in the province. Strong communities established long ago continue to this day. The achievements and triumphs of ancestors endure as a great source of pride and inspiration for African Nova Scotians.

Black Cultural Centre – Learn more about Black migration and the establishment of African Nova Scotian communities.


African Nova Scotians today



There are 20,790 African Nova Scotians according to 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) conducted by Statistics Canada (which is the most recent statistical information available). 

African Nova Scotians make up the largest racially visible group in Nova Scotia. They represent 44% of the racially visible population which constitutes 2.3% of the total Nova Scotian population.

80.7% of African Nova Scotians were born in the province, while 6.7% were born elsewhere in Canada. 77.2% of the African Nova Scotian population are Canadians of three or more generation.

10% of African Nova Scotians today are new Canadians, coming primarily from Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. Most arrive as adults between the ages of 25-44.


Key Facts

What We Do reflects the realities faced by African Nova Scotians today. In particular, statistics highlight the need to focus on the key areas of employment, income and education. ANSA works with government departments, partners and the community to promote advancement in these areas on behalf of African Nova Scotians.


Employment and income

In 2011, African Nova Scotians had a rate of unemployment higher (14.5%) than the rest of Nova Scotia (9.9%) and African Canadians (12.9%) across Canada.

This gap is greater amongst males, with a rate of 17.2% for African Nova Scotians compared to 10.7% for Nova Scotians and 12.9% for African Canadian males across Canada.

In 2011, the average incomes for African Nova Scotians were $ 29,837 for males and $ 24,929 for females. In comparison, the average income for Nova Scotians was $ 42,545 and $ 29,460 respectively.

The 2011 National Household Survey found that 34.8% of African Nova Scotians had a prevalence of low-income versus 16.5% for the rest Nova Scotia.



African Nova Scotians are less likely to finish high school or attend university. 77.7% of African Nova Scotians aged 25 to 64 years have some sort of certificate, diploma or degree compared to 85.3% of all Nova Scotians.

18% of African Nova Scotians have a university degree compared to 22% of all Nova Scotians aged 25 to 64 years.


please note: The statistics/data above are based on 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) from Statistics Canada. Caution should be used when comparing NHS data to the 2006 Census or earlier censuses or other various data/statistical sources. For more details see ANSA Statistics and Research 2014-10.pdf