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African Heritage Month launched with special signing in Digby


DIGBY, N.S. – It was a joyous event in Digby on Jan. 26 as African Heritage Month was officially launched.

And not only was this special month – to be marked throughout the month of February – launched, but the kickoff included the official signing of an agreement regarding support for the creation of a centre for the local African Nova Scotian community.

That memorandum of understanding was signed by the Jordantown-Acaciaville-Conway (JAC) Betterment Association, along with three educational partners: Acadia University, Université Sainte-Anne and the Nova Scota Community College.

Representatives of Tri-County Regional School Board were also at the event.

And not only was this special month – to be marked throughout the month of February – launched, but the kickoff included the official signing of an agreement regarding support for the creation of a centre for the local African Nova Scotian community.

That memorandum of understanding was signed by the Jordantown-Acaciaville-Conway (JAC) Betterment Association, along with three educational partners: Acadia University, Université Sainte-Anne and the Nova Scota Community College.

Representatives of Tri-County Regional School Board were also at the event.

The community centre concept emerged from a prior settlement agreement with the provincial Department of Education resulting from decades of African Nova Scotia struggle within the school system.

One of the items identified in the settlement agreement was the establishment of a community centre in Digby County.

 "This is an historic day for our African Nova Scotian community and all residents of the Digby area", said JACBA Chair, Kerry Johnson, adding, "The community centre will symbolize how each culture contributes to making an inclusive and prosperous community."

Brad Barton spoke about the community centre concept.

“We are pleased with the progress that has been made over the past three years,” he said. “We also believe the efforts by members of the Black community in the Digby area, and the partners within the wider Municipality of Digby is evidence that we can indeed work together in partners in achieving our goal of a community centre for our citizens.”

He said a location near the Acaciaville United Baptist Church in Digby has been selected for an eventual centre.

"We welcome the opportunity for our faculty and students to promote educational, cultural, and academic exchanges through this community centre,” said Acadia University President and Vice-chancellor, Ray Ivany, who signed the MOU at the launch ceremony. “We especially look forward to continuing the relationship between Acadia and the African Nova Scotian community which has been a rich part of our institutional heritage for more than a century.”

Also participating in the MOU signing along with Ivany and Johnson were Cathy MacLean, NSCC Vice-President, Campuses and Communities and Sébastien Dol, Director of Student Services and Internationalization at Université Sainte-Anne.

"We look forward to further strengthening our relationship with the African Nova Scotian community in the Digby area,” said MacLean. “We have identified areas where we can provide skills development and training opportunities that we hope will help open doors to future employment for those participating.”

The launch event also including a reading of a proclamation declaring February African Heritage Month. There was musical entertainment by Alfie Bright and drumming by Patrick and Joanna Jarvis. There was also an African Libation ceremony.

"Digby is proud to officially launch African Heritage Month, and to acknowledge that a diverse community is a strength for us, not only culturally but economically as well", said Mayor Ben Cleveland.

The theme of the 2017 African Heritage Month is “Passing the Torch…African Nova Scotians and the Next 150.” The month will focus on the legacy of African Nova Scotians in the past and present and will also explore future possibilities.

 

THREE THINGS TO KNOW:

1. The intent of this year’s theme of African Heritage Month is to acknowledge the struggle and adversity that African Nova Scotians have endured over the generations.

2. Nova Scotia has more than 48 historic Black communities.

3. The United Nations has declared 2015 – 2024 as the Decade for People of African Descent with the themes: Justice, Recognition and Development.

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