Message from the Chair: African Heritage Month
February marks African Heritage Month in Canada and provides many opportunities for us to enrich our understanding of Black and African Nova Scotian culture and history. The richness and diversity within these communities exemplify perseverance and strength in ways that each of us should honour by taking some time this month to learn more.
While public health guidelines are changing how we celebrate African Heritage Month this year, virtual and online events can sometimes provide greater opportunity for us to participate from home or work, individually, in small groups, or with our families.
The theme for African Heritage Month this year is Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act. It describes our responsibility and invites us to be part of necessary change.
The Black Lives Matter movement that emerged in response to unforgiveable acts of violence against Black people has shone a light on the undeniable fact that anti-Black racism exists all around us; in our schools, justice and healthcare systems, and the institutions we rely on to serve us.
We are long past a time when simply saying “I’m not racist” is an acceptable standard position to hold on the subject of anti-Black racism. Being an ally requires us all to stand with those who require our support, to examine our biases, values, privileges, and relationships with White supremacy, educate ourselves on the circumstances that have permitted discrimination to occur, and to speak out against racism.
African Heritage Month is a chance for each of us to learn more – to take steps to become better allies and neighbours.
There are many events scheduled during the coming weeks that you can take part in online this month. Below are links to calendars posted by organizations coordinating festivities. Find some events, mark your calendars and participate to show your support.
Cheryl Knockwood, Chair
Ms. Knockwood was appointed to the Commission in 2015 and subsequently appointed chair in 2019. She is s a lawyer and currently works for the Membertou First Nation as its governance co-ordinator. She has also taught Aboriginal and Treaty Rights at Cape Breton University. She lives in Sydney.